Sennheiser have been rather quiet since Sonova took the reins last year, but all of that came to an end today with the release of the Sennheiser IE 600; the departure of Axel Grell to start his own company (our review of his brand new true wireless earbuds will appear next week) sent shockwaves through the Head-Fi community because it was like Apple losing Steve Jobs. The brand new IE 600 are the first step in a new generation of high-end Sennheiser headphone/earphone products.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sonova Holdings GA, they are a Swiss manufacturer specializing in hearing aids and medical hearing products that purchased the Sennheiser consumer division (headphones, earphones, and sound bars) in mid-2021.
We heard from both Sennheiser and Sonova on the direction of the company and the market; including possible new product directions, the possibility of new soundbars in lower price brackets, their first foray into the personal sound amplification device market in the USA, and the probability of seeing new Momentum III headphones.
There was some talk of the upcoming lossless Qualcomm chipset but it was quickly pointed out that until drop-outs can be solved, lossless doesn’t change the game so for now, don’t expect a wireless IE 900.
The big announcement of the day though were the new IE 600 which will start appearing on March 8th in Japan and will become available in Europe and America in Q2 2022. The price is set at $699 USD putting it firmly between the IE 300 ($199 at Amazon) and IE 900 ($1,299 at Crutchfield).
The shell looks nearly exactly like the IE 900 as the shape is largely unchanged; although the machined edges of the 900 are a stark contrast to the somewhat unfinished look of the surface of the IE 600.
Some leaked photos on Reddit and other forums had suggested maybe this was an unpolished prototype with a cast aluminum shell as a cost saving measure compared to the more labor intensive machined 900 shell. It turns out that it isn’t cast, and it isn’t aluminum, so all the speculation was off the mark.
The shells on the IE 600 are made of ZR01 amorphous zirconium. While this may seem completely foreign to the average reader, chances are some of you have this same material in your mouth as it is now being used for crowns due to its hypo-allergenic nature and very high durability.
The video was quick to point out that the drill probe on the Mars Rover is also made of this material and used a photo that led me to Heraeus which made that probe and specializes in working with amorphous metals. I have linked an article explaining more about the process for those who are interested to learn more.
Amorphous metals are used in high stress applications as they combine high strength with high elasticity and will survive in applications where crystalline metals would shatter.
The shells are created using a 3D printing process using liquid metal that is then flash frozen to keep the metal from forming crystals during the cooling process. This creates a metal that is up to 3 times denser than typical air-cooled metal which gives it considerably higher strength and a very different resonance profile than most other metals.
This also explains the reason for the rough surface. Polishing this material is just not realistic as it would eat tools and make the finished product prohibitively expensive. The good news is you don’t have to worry about scratching these in a backpack, a purse, or for that matter a blender or food processor. They are all but impossible to damage.
The Sennheiser IE 600 utilize their 7mm True Response Driver as produced in their factory in Ireland, but this time with dual resonators instead of the three chamber design found the IE 900.
The result is an IEM that while similar in both impedance and sensitivity, has a more neutral tuning than the IE 900 which is slightly bright in its overall presentation.
Being a fan of classical music, I love my IE 900’s but can see where others might find it a bit too forward for some other genres. The IE 600 promises to be the most “neutral” sounding IEM they have ever offered.
The IE 600 will ship with two cables, one with 3.5mm termination and the other using a 4.4mm Pentaconn jack, 6 sets of tips (3 foam, 3 silicone), and a soft-sided clam-shell carrying case similar to the kit provided with the IE 300.
We look forward to reviewing these in Q2 2022.
Price & Availability
The Sennheiser IE 600 will be available this Spring/Summer for $699.95 USD (MSRP).
- IE 300 –
$299$199 at Sennheiser
- IE 900 – $1299 at Sennheiser
- Transducer: Dynamic extra-wide band
- Transducer diameter: 7mm
- Frequency response: 4 to 46,500Hz
- Impedance: 18Ω
- SPL: 118dB at 1kHz 1 Vrms
- THD: <0.06% (1kHz, 94dB)
- Attenuation: -26dB
- Cable: Oxygen-free copper
- Connectors: 3.5mm balanced, 4.4 Pentaconn balanced
- Weight: 6g per ear