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

Experience high-fidelity audio without breaking the bank

Sennheiser IE 200 plugged into music player
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

Sennheiser’s IE 200 in-ear monitors offer clear, well-rounded sound and look great too. They’re light on weight, but big on comfort, meaning you’ll be hooked on listening to your favorite tracks for hours on end. The lack of an in-line mic may frustrate some, but these still make for a brilliantly expressive, high-quality pair of wired earphones.

Pros

  • +

    Fantastic all-round audio

  • +

    Brilliant build quality and design

  • +

    Ultra lightweight and comfortable

Cons

  • -

    No mic or volume controls

  • -

    Some cable noise

  • -

    Plastic housing not the most luxurious

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Sennheiser IE 200 review

The Sennheiser IE 200 are 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

(Image credit: Future)

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

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Drivers7mm dynamic
Weight0.14 oz / 4g (per bud)
Frequency range6Hz-20kHz
Waterproof ratingNot stated
Other featuresDetachable cable, carry pouch, additional ear tips

Sennheiser IE 200 between person's fingers

(Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Sennheiser IE 200?

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AttributesNotesRating
FeaturesDual-tuning and detachable cable, but lack a built-in controller3.5/5
Sound qualityClear bass, rich mids, crisp highs, all wonderfully balanced4.5/5
DesignSleek look with tangle-proof wire, and very constrained cable noise5/5
ValueYou won’t find many IEMs this good at a price this low4.5/5

Buy them if...

You want to experience high-fidelity sound
The Sennheiser IE 200 deliver audio that’s a cut above the average wired earphone experience, with clear, meaty all-round sound. The dual-tuning feature also means you can tailor output to fit your personal preferences, or whatever helps a particular track hit its full sonic potential.

You’d like a discreet, yet stylish look
The way that the IE 200’s wires slip behind the ears makes for a lowkey, neat look, and the included cable is beautifully textured and designed too. If you’re looking for style, but still want plenty of substance, you could do much worse than these.

Don't buy them if...

You’re seeking some wired buds to take out and about
Due to the lack of an in-line controller, these are far from convenient if you’re on the go. The absence of volume buttons means you’ll have to reach for your source device to make adjustments – something that can be irritating if you’re on a walk or run. The same is true if you want to play, pause, or skip songs – not to mention the fact that the IE 200 don’t have a microphone, so they’re not ideal for taking calls either.

You want to totally escape noise from the outside world
The noise isolation on offer here is very good if you use the included foam ear tips. However, if you want to shut out almost all external babbles, these aren’t the best on the market. If you’re keen on a wired option, the Shure AONIC 3 are superior in keeping out noise – mainly thanks to their Comply foam ear tips – but you could also turn to a wireless option with active noise canceling if you want to achieve near-silence.

Sennheiser IE 200 review: Also consider

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sennheiser IE 200Shure AONIC 3Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Price$149.95 / £129.99 / AU$239.95$199 / £209 (about AU$300)$279 / £279.95 / AU$429.95
Drivers7mm dynamicSingle balanced-armature driver (per earbud)9.3mm dynamic
Weight0.14oz / 4g (per bud)0.73oz / 20.8g0.22oz / 6.24g (per bud)
Frequency range6Hz-20kHz20Hz-18.5kHz20Hz-20kHz
Waterproof ratingNot statedNot statedIPX4
Other featuresDetachable cable, carry pouch, additional ear tipsDetachable cable, 6.3mm connector option, carry case, controller with mic, additional ear tipsActive noise canceling, Bose music app support
Image

Shure AONIC 3
The Shure AONIC 3 earphones have such great noise isolation that it sometimes feels as if you’re using ANC. They offer so much more though – with elegant, balanced sound, brilliant separation, and plenty of customizability. Maybe the biggest one-up over the IE 200 is the presence of a controller with play/pause and volume controls, though it does look a little chunky. The AONIC 3 cost a bit more than the IE 200 as well, with a list price of $199 / £209 (about AU$300), so it's worth weighing up whether the added noise isolation and controller are worth it for you. Read our full Shure AONIC 3 review.

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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
If you’re looking to take things to the next level on the noise canceling front, then look no further than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2. Bear in mind that these are wireless, but if that’s an option for you, these offer excellent ANC, earning them a place on our list of the best wireless earbuds. These boast fantastic sound quality, a neat, diminutive design, and a comfortable fit, but you will have to splash a fair bit of cash to get your hands on them. However, in last year’s Black Friday sale, these dropped as low as $199 / £199 (about AU$300), so if you don’t mind waiting for a sale, these could be a top choice. Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.

Sennheiser IE 200 review: How I tested

Sennheiser IE 200 on counter

(Image credit: Future)
  • 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 
Harry Padoan
Staff Writer

Harry is a Reviews Staff Writer for TechRadar. He reviews everything from party speakers to portable battery packs, but has a particular interest in the worlds of gaming and smartphones. Harry has a background in business tech journalism, particularly around the telecoms industry.