The Sennheiser IE 300 asks: How much are you willing to spend on a pair of wired earbuds? At $299 and change, the IE 300 would be expensive even by the standards of the best wireless earbuds. And you wouldn’t have a cable flapping around with those, either.
Cable length: 42.9 inches
Connectivity: 3.5mm, MMCX
Size: 0.7 x 0.3 x 0.7 inches
Weight: 0.7 ounces (with cable), 0.1 ounce (buds only)
But the IE 300 isn’t nearly as old-fashioned as you might think. In fact, Sennheiser has spared little expense in making this one of the best-sounding sets of in-ear headphones around. For genuine audiophiles, it could well be the pocketable pair they’ve been waiting for — although, as our full Sennheiser IE 300 review will explain, most listeners would be better served elsewhere.
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Sennheiser IE 300 review: Price and availability
In fairness, that’s a lot less than the $799 Sennheiser IE 800 S: another pair of audiophile-grade wired earbuds. Still, this is one of the few occasions where the AirPods Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds look cheap.
Sennheiser IE 300 review: Design
It’s fair to say that the Sennheiser IE 300 targets a very specific type of consumer. It’s also fair to say that other types of consumer may look at the IE 300 and find it all a bit too simple.
The earbuds themselves are an interesting shape, and there’s a good reason for that. But in addition to the inherent conservatism of a wired design, there aren't even any extras, like integrated controls or an inline microphone. Nor are there any big features, like active noise cancellation or transparency modes. For $299, that’s awfully spartan.
That said, the design is also a clear step up from most wired earbuds. The monitors themselves are detachable, connecting to the cables via Fidelity+ MMCX connectors. This lets you swap in your own cables, should you wish.
Specifically, the monitors attach to a bendable section of wire that acts as a freely adjustable ear hook. These are better than the chunky, awkward hooks of the Bose Sport Open Earbuds, though contending with the weight of the main cable makes seating the IE 300 in your ears rather fiddly. I always needed to use two hands: one to guide the monitor into my ear canal, and one to stop the cable falling out of place.
It’s a noisy cable, too, all too happy to transmit vibrations from rustled clothing directly into your ears. And while the cable is Kevlar-coated for toughness, I’m not a fan of the rubbery, almost sticky finish.
Fortunately, the buds look and feel a lot better than the cable does. They’re plastic, but nicely lightweight and don’t stick outwards at all. This makes for better aesthetics, even with the cables.
Sennheiser IE 300 review: Comfort and fit
The upside of the IE 300’s two-handed seating procedure is that it ends with a very secure fit. Between the shape of the buds nestling into my concha and the ear hooks doing their job, I couldn’t work the IE 300 loose at all during exercise.
Unlike most of the best workout headphones and best running headphones, however, there’s still the cable to contend with. This bounces around as much as you’d expect when running. Between the cable and the lack of IP-rated waterproofing, the IE 300 shouldn’t be your first choice for workouts.
Still, that’s not what the IE 300 is for. These earbuds are for playing high-quality music in situations where you can focus on enjoying it. To that end, it’s a very comfortable set.
You get three sizes of replaceable tips, and unlike with most earbuds, these all come in a choice of silicone or foam. I found both were comfortable to wear for a couple of hours at a time, the foam tips slightly more so.
The pleasant-yet-snug fit also provides a strong degree of passive noise isolation. For this much money, you could easily get ANC on a pair of wireless buds, but this is the next best thing.
Sennheiser IE 300 review: Sound quality
The IE 300 comes with various enthusiast-pleasing acoustic armaments. There’s the 7mm 7mm Extra Wide Band (XWB) transducer, which has been upgraded since its appearance in the IE 800 S. There’s the resonator chamber in each bud, which reduces masking resonance in your ear canal for cleaner treble. There’s the “newly developed membrane foil,” which minimizes distortion even further.
The important thing is this: The IE 300 sounds fantastic. Like its cable-free cousin, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, the sound signature is crisp, sharp and impeccably detailed, but not in a harsh or sterile way. The IE 300 can sound warm and smooth, bright and sparkling, intimate and delicate or epic and dramatic – it ultimately depends on the song. Sennheiser has produced a pair of headphones that sounds great with everything.
The IE 300's handling of stereo is particularly excellent, with such a strong sense of left and right that the soundstage almost seems to start bending behind you. This helps the IE 300 deftly avoid the more closed-in sound of many in-ear headphones.
Masters-quality tracks on Tidal showed how well the IE 300 handles Hi-Res Audio. Hard rock tracks like Flying Colors’ “The Loss Inside” showcased the IE 300’s confident control of heavy guitar effects, allowing the bass plenty of punch without letting it run riot. Meanwhile, in Chris Potter’s jazzy “I Had a Dream,” the subtle acoustic intricacies of individual instruments were on full display. That went for everything from the crisp hi-hats to the soulfully brassy saxophone.
Vocals come through clearly, too, and are neither recessed nor overpowering. And, for those times when you just want to crank it up, the IE 300 can get uncomfortably loud without a hint of cracking.
Sennheiser IE 300 review: Verdict
If you want the Sennheiser IE 300, you have to answer one question: How much are you willing to spend on a pair of wired earbuds, even on one that sounds as good as this?
That level of clarity, power and balance certainly makes the price seem a lot more palatable. At the same time, though, it’s not a transformative experience if you’ve used good-quality headphones already.
There are absolutely music fans who’d be willing to make concessions on design and features to get the absolute best sound. And yes, they may even be willing to pay $299 for the privilege. Unless you’re one of these hardcore audiophiles, know that your money will go a lot further with a pair of premium wireless buds like the AirPods Pro, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or Sennheiser’s own Momentum True Wireless 2. The IE 300 is a much more specialised piece of audio gear.
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