Wireless earbuds might be hugely popular right now, but for the ultimate sound-per-pound quality you simply can't beat a wired pair. And so, the latest pair from Sennheiser: the IE 600, which sit between its flagship IE 900 and more modest IE 300, and they look like a compelling proposition.
Let's start with the build. The middle-sitting IE 600 have been constructed using a patented 3D printing process, with their housings made from ZR01 amorphous zirconium – this metal has an atomic structure similar to glass, which gives it triple the hardness and bend resistance of high-performance steel. It's the same material used in the drilling head of the NASA Mars Rover, which gives you an idea of just how tough it is.
The durability – combined with "multiple elaborate treatment processes" – of this new benchmark housing makes the headphones resistant to corrosion and scratches, meaning they should retain their box-fresh looks (and consequently sound their best) for years to come.
To develop their acoustic prowess, Sennheiser's engineers have chosen acoustic back volume and precision-moulded resonator chambers, which should theoretically enhance the sound's presence and intimacy. Inside the nozzle are dual resonator chambers which aim to mask resonances and thus ensure higher frequencies aren't obscured.
This goes hand in hand with Sennheiser's TrueResponse transducer, a single 7mm driver. The promise here is a "tonally neutral, intimate and emotional" performance that Sennheiser says should be especially noticeable on vocal performances, along with a powerful, fast and accurate low-end response.
There are some neat design flourishes, too. The gold-plated MMCX connectors are recessed in their housing for greater stability. They support cable diameters of 4.8mm and smaller, too, so you can plug in a wide array of audio sources (including hi-fi components with balanced outputs). They come with both 3.5mm and 4.4mm cables, two types of earbud tips (silicone and memory foam) in three sizes, and ear hooks for added comfort and security.
Look out for their imminent release (March 8 for Europe), priced £599 / AU$1199.95 / €699 (about $800).
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