The Sennheiser IE 300, which has recently appeared on the market, opens a new series of in-ear headphones from the German company. The good news is that the new product uses the same drivers as the flagship Sennheiser IE 800 S.
However, not exactly the same – for use in the Sennheiser IE 300, the proprietary 7-mm XWB (Xtra Wide Band) speaker has been further refined, in particular, a new diaphragm has been developed for it, optimized to reduce distortion. The material of which it is made significantly reduces the response time, which ensures greater fidelity across the entire frequency range. As before, this driver is entirely manufactured in the Sennheiser plant in Germany.
However, the main design feature is the precisely calculated acoustic compression chamber, which helps to control the airflow behind the speaker. It controls the direction and total volume of air passing through the radiator system. In addition, single-chamber Helmholtz resonators are used in the design of the headphones to reduce unwanted resonances in the ear canal and reduce the masking effect of some frequencies by others. The headphone housing itself is made of composite plastic, the surface of which imitates the structure of granite and, under certain lighting conditions, seems to be pierced with gold veins. A very nice solution!
The delivery set includes a detachable cable, which is equipped with gold-plated MMCX connectors, and the insulation of which is additionally reinforced with para-aramid fibers. The standard kit includes a cable with a 3.5 mm plug, but optional versions of the balanced cables with 4.4 mm or 2.5 mm connectors are also available. The Sennheiser IE 300 is supplied with silicone and memory foam ear cushions in three different sizes – small, medium and large.
The cable ends are equipped with adjustable flexible earhooks, which are designed to provide a secure fit and comfort even during long listening sessions. And the non-contact cable routing inside the earhooks minimizes contact noise that occurs when rubbing against the auricle or the frame of the glasses.
Listening to the headphones was paired with a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 smartphone, which has a good DAC and output stage, as well as a portable Hi-Res player Astell & Kern A & Futura SE100.
A few words about ear pads. Since the air ducts of the Sennheiser IE 300 are not the longest by the standards of in-ear headphones, the issue of high-quality passive isolation will be decisive in evaluating the sound. In my case, the best fit, and therefore sound, was achieved with medium-sized foam ear cushions. I note that although the earhooks help the headphones to stay in the sink to ensure a secure fit, people who wear corrective glasses or sunglasses should remember that it is quite difficult to achieve a perfect fit, the temples still interfere.
So, about the sound. I will say right away – for those music lovers who in recent years have become accustomed to using exclusively wireless Bluetooth headphones, the sound of the new Sennheiser IE 300 can be a real revelation. However, like the sound of any high-quality wired in-ear headphones. Of course, experienced audiophiles do not need to explain the advantages of wired connections, but lately I often have to deal with “advanced” young people who simply do not know how much the signal degrades when it is transmitted in compressed form via Bluetooth. So sometimes you have to carry out explanatory work.
Every time I listen to Sennheiser headphones, for some reason I remember the phrase of General Mikhalych from “Peculiarities of National Fishing”: “There is a fish, you have to be able to catch.” So there is adult sound in traditional dynamic in-ear headphones, you just need to know how to set them up. And Sennheiser’s engineers can do it better than anyone else.
When properly seated and matched with earpieces, the Sennheiser IE 300s deliver large, sweeping sound with excellent full-range resolution and great bass. Very often, when testing a wide variety of audio equipment, I have to catch myself thinking that I like everything, but it would only be nice to add a little pressure (resolution, speed) in one part of the range, or turn it down a little in another. Here, everything at once plays so correctly that the ear simply has nothing to cling to.
All genres are played out almost flawlessly, rock fans will delight in Chris Slade’s great kick on AC / DC’s Big Gun or John Entwistle’s mind-blowing bass on The Who’s Real Me. And fans of the classical repertoire will be surprised at how believably the headphones can reproduce fortissimo on Stravinsky’s “Firebird” – the model’s speed and overload capacity are excellent. Moreover, even at a very high volume, neither the underlining of sibilants, nor the notorious “porridge” appears, into which cheap headphones usually turn complex polyphonic works. Naturally, the better your signal source, the better the sound quality Sennheiser IE 300 will give, but even with a smartphone they play just fine. All in all, another stellar product from German engineers.
Sennheiser IE 300 convincingly demonstrates that good wired headphones are still the main weapon in the audiophile’s arsenal. And the Sennheiser IE 300 is its main caliber.