Sennheiser IE 200 review: affordable wired earbuds but with audiophile-grade sound

 Sennheiser IE 200 plugged into music player.
Credit: Future

Sennheiser IE 200 review

The Sennheiser IE 200 are USB-C wired earphones that aim to deliver high-fidelity sound at a relatively low price. And my expectations were high. The company is one of the biggest names in the sound world and has an excellent reputation for crafting top-class wired headphones. So, you can imagine my delight upon discovering that these earphones live up to the hype, serving up bold, meaty audio, a sleek design, and plenty of comfort.

Let’s delve into what matters most: sound quality. The Sennheiser IE 200 stoke up excitement with weighty, immersive audio that instantly captures your attention. Sound is excellently balanced, and when tuning in to St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins, the characteristics of the smooth double bass, playful percussion, and flowing saxophone were all faithfully captured to create a fantastically well-rounded listening experience. Furthermore, tracks never sound muddied or convoluted when using the IE 200, even with the volume cranked up all the way. The high caliber of separation will be of great use to musicians involved in the mixing process or listeners looking for a step up from an average pair of wired buds.

When listening to I Want You by Moloko, low frequencies came through with strong levels of control and clarity – exactly what I’d expect from a set of the best wired headphones. Bass doesn’t get super deep, but it still hits with a strong level of intensity on tracks centered around low-frequency sounds. If you really want booming bass, it may be best to go for something on our best wireless earbuds guide that’s compatible with an EQ adjustment app.

I Want You was a particularly useful track for measuring the IE 200’s audio quality overall. As the track develops, instrument after instrument is woven into the piece, though the energetic percussion, layered synths and strings all keep their individuality in the mix. The intro – focused around powerful, yet controlled vocals – sounded natural and instantly gripped me. In general, vocals feel prominent when using these IEMs, especially those in the mid-range. However, they never disrupt the balance – it's more that if they’re meant to steal the show, they’re given license to do so. Higher-frequency vocals, such as those in Rains again by Solji were also delivered with crisp precision expertly capturing the expressive nature of the song. All in all, you’re getting fantastic quality across all frequencies in a balanced package, and the IE 200 left me with no sense of disappointment sonically.

These IEMs are also dual-tunable, meaning you can place the ear tips all the way onto the earphone or have them on ‘outer’ position – each setting serves up a significantly different sound signature. When setting the tips to the ‘outer’ position, the treble gets a bit more limelight, especially at the highest of frequencies, whereas the bass, especially at the lowest level, is dialed down compared to the standard position. Of course, the better option will depend on your personal preference and the sort of audio you’re consuming, but I almost always stuck with the standard setup in order to get more low-end power.

All right, so far so good on sound, but how do they fare comfort-wise? The Sennheiser IE 200 have what I’d describe as a very minimalistic feel, perhaps thanks to the fact that they tip the scales at just 0.14oz / 4g (per bud). The IE 200 create a tight seal in the ear canal and are attached to bendy, adjustable wires that curl behind the ears – I found that it was quick and easy to find a great fit, and at no point did I feel irritated by the earphones throughout multiple full days of listening. Comfort levels are also enhanced by noise isolation, which helps to dull harsh sounds, particularly higher-pitched ones. Passive noise isolation is solid if you use the foam ear tips, but not so good with the silicone ones – so make sure to choose wisely if you’re on the go or generally keen to block out external sounds.

The IE 200 don’t just feel good, they look good too. Well, actually, Sennheiser has gone one step further, claiming that “wires have never been this sexy” – and I’m here to say that I’m in full agreement. Even the silver wire’s braided, chain-like design looks classy and feels quite satisfying to handle (is that weird to say?). The adjustable ear hooks further enhance the earphones’ discreet, stylish appearance, ensuring that the IE 200 hit the right notes in the looks department. The earphones themselves are curved and clean, but their plastic housing doesn’t quite have the luxury feel or durability of the metallic Sennheiser IE 600, for instance.

One gripe I have with the IE 200 model’s design is the lack of an onboard controller. Not being able to adjust volume, skip tracks, or pause music unless I reached for the device playing audio was a tad inconvenient, especially when on the go. This sort of issue would be borderline unforgivable for earbuds designed for workouts or runs, for instance, but here it’s less of a deal-breaker. The IE 200 aren’t exactly pitched as wired headphones to wear while you sweat it out at the gym, but bear this in mind if you’re looking for a wired option for when you’re out and about or getting active.

Back to the positives though – the IE 200’s wire is detachable, so you can attach the earphones themselves to a replacement MMCX cable. Another great thing about the included wire is that it doesn’t cause too much cable noise when you move around – you can hear a little bit of this, but it's pretty constrained and never felt overly distracting. Perhaps the best aspect of the wire though is that it seamlessly untangled any time I took it out of the included carry pouch, earning it extra points in the convenience department. Alongside the carry pouch, additional foam and gel ear tips in small, medium, and large sizes are included in the IE 200’s box.

So, despite setting a very high bar for itself, Sennheiser has easily cleared it with the IE 200 model. They offer awesome all-round sound and manage to look pretty cool while doing it. And considering they won’t leave your pockets feeling all too empty, I simply have to recommend these.

Sennheiser IE 200 next to carry pouch
Sennheiser IE 200 next to carry pouch

Sennheiser IE 200 review: Price and release date

  • $149.95 / £129.99 / AU$239.95

  • Launched on January 31, 2023

Sennheiser’s IE 200 don’t cost that much considering the quality, and many competitors charge a fair bit more for products of a similar ilk. For instance, the Shure AONIC 3 earphones, which are very similar in quality, come in at $199 / £209 (about AU$300) – more on these later.

The IE 200 certainly sit on the lower end of Sennheiser’s IE range given that the Sennheiser IE 900 command a far loftier list price of $‌1,499.95 / £1,299 / AU$2,399.95. Though you may not get the supreme quality on offer there, the IE 200 still deliver stellar sound and make for an excellent pick for audiophiles on a budget.

Sennheiser IE 200 review: Specs

Sennheiser IE 200 between person's fingers
Sennheiser IE 200 between person's fingers

Should you buy the Sennheiser IE 200?

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Sennheiser IE 200 review: Also consider

Sennheiser IE 200 review: How I tested

Sennheiser IE 200 on counter
Sennheiser IE 200 on counter
  • Tested for one week

  • Used in the office and while on walks

  • Predominantly tested using Tidal on Fiio M11S

I used the Sennheiser IE 200 over the course of a week. I predominantly tested them while working in our office, but also on walks near busy roads in order to trial their noise-isolation capabilities.

To test musical output, I used the Tidal app on the FiiO M11S hi-res music player. When listening to tunes I played tracks from the TechRadar testing playlist, which contains tracks from a variety of genres. I also tried the IE 200 on my Windows laptop and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 while watching YouTube videos or tuning into the latest news on the BBC website.

Read more about how we test.

  • First reviewed: June 2024