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  1. iems0nly
    IE 500 Pro - More power to ya!
    Written by iems0nly
    Published May 13, 2019
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Single dynamic driver, amazing clarity and detail, great sub-bass, bass-definition, incredible treble extension.
    Cons - Not cheap.
    Simple Man’s review – Sennheiser IE 500 Pro (599 USD)
    This is called simple man’s review because they are based on the sound of these earphones directly from my mobile phone (HTC 10), using 320 Kbps mp3 tracks. No expensive gears nor lossless tracks,no EQ, and all that hi-fi stuff.

    Product Specs :
    Driver: 7 mm “broadband transducer” Single Dynamic Driver
    Impedance: 16 Ohms; Sensitivity: 126dB/mW
    Weight: 18g
    Cable: 1.3m; proprietary detachable cable
    Shell: Hard Plastic Shell
    Nozzle: ~5mm
    Total Harmonic Distortion: < 0.08 %
    Release year: April, 2019

    500 box.jpg

    Accessories – 5/5
    The unboxing experience was really nice, and i was impressed with their elegant presentation.
    Apart from the earphones themselves, we get the following accessories.
    • 3 Silicone tips (S, M, L)
    • 3 Foam tips (S, M, L)
    • 1 Transport case – really spacious and can hold 2 of these earphones easily.
    • 1 Cleaning Tool
    • 1 6.3 mm jack-adapter
    Neat!

    500 look.jpg

    Build – 4.5/5
    The build quality is the same as their brothers. The family resemblance is uncanny. They retain the same plastic housing in this expensive model as well. This does help to keep the weight of the housing and wearing comfort at an optimal level. Since they’re also using their expensive 7mm micro driver, I believe using these shells is a cost-cutting initiative to bring the sound of the IE800s at a relatively accessible price. I’m happy with this as I had no complaints against the design or build of their little brothers. The nozzle lengths are prefect and not overly protruding. They are also equipped with a plastic-mesh closure which prevents any dirt from entering the housings. You also get the proprietary detachable cables which are easy to remove and connect. I don’t see these breaking with any regular or even rough use. All of this is exactly same as the IE 400 Pro.

    Of course, we have the more attractive cable with the IE 500 Pro, whereas the IE 400 and 40 Pros have the same regular black cable. Here they use a twisted pair cable for “excellent resistance against structure-born noise”. I guess this is something special compared to their lower offerings. However, I must say that my experience with these silver cables were that they tend to turn into a buish-green colour over time. This doesn’t affect the sound in any sense whatsoever, but the aesthetics of it is marred over time. To know if the Sennheiser cable will fall for this malady I must wait and see.

    All things considered, i give this section a 4.5/5 because for 600 bucks i would like to see a more robust material in the housing, maybe even a solid die-cast alloy(?). For all practical use I really have no complaints with the build.

    Fit – 5/5
    Fit is excellent. Over ear universal fit can’t get better than this. The slim housing sits very comfortably and seamlessly in the ear concha. Sleeping with this won’t be a problem at all.

    Isolation and leakage – 3.5/5
    Sound Attenuation is rated at <26dB, and they are OK with music ON. Perfect for indoor use, however, if you are talking a walk outside, outside noise tends to creep in letting you know of your surroundings. The earphones even allow you to have a conversation without taking them off when no music is playing, as would be preferable for on-stage musicians to get together for a small chat between tracks. Sound leakage is very minimal at normal listening levels and shouldn’t bother a loved one trying to sleep.

    Microphonics – 5/5
    I’ve been walking with these every day the last 3 weeks, and i must say there is absolutely no sound transferred from the cables when i have a good fit. This is really great, and using these on the go has been a very satisfying experience.

    Drivability – Very easy to drive with a smartphone, easier than its siblings due to higher sensitivity. With my HTC10s i’m mostly around 35-50% of the volume.

    Eartips: I’m using the stock tips, which have some foam filter in it. These tips are right in between Final E tips and JVC spirals in terms of bore width. I think the stock tips works as good as any.

    Sound –
    The sound signature is balanced and highly detailed. Rather than going that neutral way, they aim to sound “precise”, which has a little punch in the bass and some splash in the highs. The mids stay neutral without any forwardness or retraction. The clarity throughout the spectrum is simply incredible and you can clearly see that the driver is really fast. This is the definition of dynamic sound in my opinion.

    Soundstage:
    Like all of the Pro line-up IEMs, the IE 500 Pro has a very wide soundstage with only a little bit of height. The stage isn’t too tall because these are not V shaped or do not have that upper-mid or treble spike. The positioning is highly disciplined, and the note separation clear. We also see a lot of blacks between the instruments which presents music in a certain “glowing” fashion, it also indicates quick decay. The presentation is more lateral somewhat like the Etys, with a little added depth from the bass and height from the treble presentation.

    Bass:

    The IE 500 Pro takes its bass seriously. The attack is very impactful and yet stays really snappy. Sub-bass extension is really impressive. North of neutral for sure, but thankfully it does not have an overly emphasised sub-bass which makes an IEM sound boomy, and one would not mention the word “bloat” when we talk about mid bass. The driver is no slouch when it comes to speed. They fire and disappear all in an instant. This aids in presenting a very refined bass and prevents any leakage whatsoever into the neighbouring bands. The decay is quick and micro definition is apparent. A fun song will be fun to listen to with the IE 500 Pro. From what I read about the original IE800, the IE500 Pro sounds like it has a more balanced bass, that is less boomy, in comparison to the bigger bass of the IE800. Alas, I’ve never tried the IE800.

    Mids:
    The mids are awfully clear and has great definition. Considering the impactful bass delivery this is quite an extraordinary feat to have this great midrange clarity. The timbre is top-notch and the driver squeezes out all the micro-details in the track. The vocals are life-like with all the little details- breaths taken, clicks of the tongue, and what-not. The voices also have just enough body without ever getting into the lush territory. Thanks to the dynamic driver the notes also enough weight and soul to boot.

    Treble:
    The accented treble extends greatly. They paint the signature bright, but not overly so. It flashes with a splash and sometimes comes across as brittle, with sharp edges – carrying all that definition with it. If your rock song has too much crashes and cymbal hits, they have the tendency to dominate the song. However, despite the slightly forwarded treble, sibiliance is completely avoided and stops short of hitting any resonance peaks. The drivers are quick throughout the spectrum and extracts all the details in the region, at the risk of coming across as slightly thin. And of course, having this great extension, transient harmonics are magical, and any reverberating echoes fill up the soundscape in an impressive, encompassing display.

    Comparisons
    Comp.jpg

    Round 1 –Vs Sennheiser IE 400 Pro (350 USD)
    First, an obligatory comparison with the younger brother IE 400 Pro. We will straightaway see where the two stand against each other.

    IE 500 Pro sounds slightly louder than its sibling at the same, and along with this the you can see an overall increase in clarity. The IE 500 bass is more impactful, and has better punch, rumble and definition. This relative increase in sub-bass makes the IE500 slightly darker, relatively. The IE400 has a breathier feeling to the sound switching from the impactful, thicker, delivery of the IE 500. The upper-mids of IE400 sounds more prominent compared to IE500. IE400 plays the female vocals a little more up-front, and the region appears more spread out in the sound stage. Aided by greater bass definition, the timbre shines with the IE500. Male vocals sound thicker and more soulful. Bass hits are quicker in IE500 compared to a slower impact with IE400. The IE500 driver also comes across as a touch faster throughout the spectrum, presenting more information with greater clarity and micro-definition, gives a sense of speed to the song, as a whole. Instrument positioning is also easily better with the IE500.

    Round 2 – Vs Etymotic ER4XR (~300 USD)
    Another essential comparison when you talk about earphones for monitoring. I'm using the ER4XR with spinFits.

    The soundstage of the two are quite similar in height and width. The ER4XR has a decent sub-bass thump when the beat reaches deep. But the impact and the amount of meat delivered is significantly higher with the IE500 Pro. The biggest difference you will notice between the two is with the amount of body that the musical notes have. Dynamic driver works its magic here. ER4XR is known for its thin presentation which enables it to squeeze every drop of detail in the track. IE 500 Pro has a satisfyingly thicker note presence which aids in timbre. Still, the IE500 doesn’t lose on the detail extraction as it stands toe to toe against ER4XR detail delivery. The ER4XR however, being BA and all, is a snappier driver and is faster, and this slightly helps in singling out certain notes that are more subtle with the IE500 Pro. ER4XR can be called a touch cleaner as a result. The highs have a little bit of splash with the IE500 Pro compared to a smoother delivery with the Etys. I would venture to say the treble extension is better with the IE500 Pros. In terms of overall musical enjoyment, and also for monitoring, i would take the IE500 Pro over the ER4XRs as i don’t lose much detail and get that extra bass and weightier notes.

    Round 3 – Vs InEar SD2 (450 USD)
    Of all the earphones I own, these are my highest rated IEMs. Let’s see how the IE500 Pros stand against these.

    First off – the most obvious thing anyone would say – the sub-bass delivery and impact of the dynamic driver leaves nothing wanted in the bass department. Here, the impact of the SD2 is soft and lacks punch in comparison. The sheer clarity and separation in the mids help the SD2 to make up for the loss of the bass body. The IE500 pro, as expected, pays the price of delivering all that good bass, by losing just a little bit of that extra clarity in the mids. The SD2 also has a certain magical depth in the sound field, which makes for a mesmerising listen. That little bit of warmth in the mids adds the perfect amount of weight to the notes as well. The upper mids of the SD2 are also a little up front and high-pitched vocals sound crystal clear with the SD2. The even-handed treble delivery of the BA driven SD2, surprisingly, doesn't out-do the clarity offered by IE500 Pro’s dynamic drivers. They both resolve equally when it comes to micro-details in the treble region.

    In a word, we can say SD2 focuses on the mids more than the extremes of the sound spectrum, and does, as intended, provide a more interesting and immersing mid-range presentation. The IE 500 Pro handles the entire spectrum masterfully, and using the dynamic driver to its full potential delivers a great overall sound experience. Calling a winner here will be driven by one’s taste and the genre of music.

    Round 4 – Vs Ultrasone IQ (~600 USD)
    Equally expensive, the IQs are armed with one dynamic and a BA driver.

    IQs have a big bass, with great sub-bass impact and mid bass attack as well. As a result, the IQs tilt a little towards V or W shaped compared to the relatively more balanced IE 500 Pros. The mid-bass of the IE 500 Pro being more disciplined , therefore are able to present a little more detail in the mids in a cleaner and less coloured manner compared to the IQs. The Sennheisers also wins in the timbre game. The IQs also have a taller soundstage and the vocals also play a little forward in comparison. The highs of the IQs as well are a little boosted to stand against its impactful bass. The detail extraction is about the same, but here the Senns come out as a little thin sounding in the treble. The IQs clearly go for a very exciting sound signature as opposed to a more balanced sound of the Senns which strives to present a precise sound. The soundstage and presentation of the Senns are more linear with lateral arrangement. The IQs are quite special when it comes to stage depth and layering. Instrument positioning is as good in one as in the other. The IE500 Pros will definitely suit better for monitoring purposes. I will take the IQs when i want to jump about in excitement.

    Round 5 – Vs Audio Technica ATH-CK100iS (~400 USD)
    Armed with 2 dynamic drivers, the CKR100s are a close favourite of mine.

    The CKR100s have the best bass tuning i’ve ever heard in an IEM. It has the perfect quantity vs quality ratio. The sub-bass impact is just enough and the mid-bass has that perfect amount of air (not literally), but you know what i’m talking about! In comparison, the Sennheisers have a greater sub-bass impact and gets a to downward slope toward neutral mid/upper bass. The mids are popped up front in the CKR100s, and an extra boost is given to the upper-mids. ATH has a very unique colouration which is very japanese-y. I personally go nuts for this kind of tuning. The IE500 Pros sport a very neutral-ish vocal presentation, and don’t try to grab your attention unlike the CKR100s. The soundstage of the CKR100s is very rounded with good width and equally good height. The layering and depth of the soundstage is readily apparent and very tastefully done. On the other hand, the IE 500 Pro takes a more monitoresque approach in their wide and lateral soundstage. In terms of sheer detail extraction the Senns will edge the Audio technicas. The CKR100s hide some of their details in their layers and they are more subtle and coloured. The highs of the CKR100s are laid-back and present micro-details in measured doses where one might be confused if they are super-detailed or not. The Senns have greater extension in treble and present more information in this range.

    This is a matter of taste. Technically, the sennheisers have a greater range and a straight-forward approach to presenting sound. CKR100 has perfect bass, and the vocals are forward and mids have better depth and more layers, albeit coloured. IE500 pros have a faster driver and excel in clarity. Instrument separation is also stronger with the IE500 Pros.

    Round 6 – Vs Sony EX800ST (~250 USD)
    One of the best single DDs made. I use these un-modded with Final E tips

    The soundstage of the EX800 are freaking massive and gives a whole new experience. Timbre of the EX800 is top-notch. There is a certain warmth in the mids that is very similar to that of SD2 – only dynamic this time. Female vocals are amazing. The sound as well is very clean with great detail extraction and clarity. The mids in general are really great in the EX800. IE500 Pros reach deeper in the sub-bass against the stock configuration of EX800. The Senns are a faster driver and we can easily notice this. The impact is greater and also quicker when pitted against the slightly laid-back bass action of the Sony drivers. In terms of sheer detail retrieval the Senns will inch ahead of the Sonys. The treble is also greatly extended with the IE500 Pro, a little greater than the Sonys. The faster IE 500s are also better with instrument positioning and separation. The Sonys win excel with their massive soundstage and timbre, and a very natural, magical presentation. The Senns edge the Sonys out with greater extension, speed and positioning.

    Round 7 – Vs Ocharaku Donguri Ti Plus (~550 USD)
    Single dynamic wonder, my secret lover and guilty pleasure.

    Again, the Donguris is so coloured and unique that one can easily love it or hate it. You know where i stand in this matter.

    The sub bass and mid-bass quantity are almost on the same level with the Donguri, there is great slam when called for. With the Senns the sub-bass is greater and the driver starts to drop to neutral levels as it approaches mids bass. The soundstage of the Donguris are unique. Flip the soundstage of the Senns 90 degrees, and you have the Donguris. All sense of positioning and placement is out of a Lynchian dream. The detail extraction is on par, and i would even say the Donguri is capable of extracting more information than the Senns. The upper mids are greatly boosted to achieve a new sound and a unique place for the female larynx. As you approach the treble the Donguris takes a big step back and acts like a shy maiden, displaying only the bare minimum of extension. The Senheisers extract a lot of information in the upper frequencies and have great transient harmonics.

    Of course, there is no comparing an IEM with the wildly ambitious tuning of the Ocharaku Donguri. IE500 Pros take music very seriously and presents them in a very precise and balanced manner.

    Overall Sound rating of Sennheiser IE 500 Pro: 9.4 / 10
    Vocals 4.5/5
    Soundstage 4.5/5
    Instrument Separation 4.8/5
    Positioning/localisation 4.5/5
    Details 4.8/5
    Timbre 4.7/5

    IMAG3561.jpg

    Conclusion –
    The IE500 Pros are an incredible set of IEMs. This new iteration of the Pro series are made to put Sennheisers back in the audiophile scene. The bass is very precise, vocals clear, and the detail extraction and extension of the treble is second to none. The IE500 Pros are clearly tuned with stage professionals in mind, and has all the monitoring qualities one might need without sacrificing bass. Any audiophile would be impressed with the detailed and accurate presentation of the IE 500 Pro. Though a bit pricey, i think i would be right in saying these are fairly priced, seeing we have IEMs running into several thousands today.
      iBo0m, requal, Malfunkt and 6 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. iems0nly
      @XERO1 @Malfunkt @starfly Thanks! IE 40 Pro is an excellent IEM for the money, and yes, the entire Pro series have the same overall signature, just getting better in resolution and speed as you progress. My detailed IE 400 Pro review will be out this weekend. Wait for it!
      iems0nly, May 16, 2019
      XERO1 likes this.
    3. audionewbi
      Thanks, this review came in perfect time
      audionewbi, May 18, 2019 at 12:10 AM
    4. iBo0m
      Simple man's review was simply good! :) I like the comparison to ER4XR like mentioned above also somebody using other that Etys tips :D. It's quite interesting that the level of details is at similar (maybe even better) level.
      iBo0m, May 20, 2019 at 2:31 AM