Sennheiser IE900 Review, Measurements, & Harman Target Talk
May 10, 2021 at 5:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4,668
Sennheiser IE900 Review, Measurements, & Harman Target Talk

NOTE: If you can't see the embedded video above, please CLICK HERE to see the video.

We listen to, look at, and measure Sennheiser's latest flagship IEM, the Sennheiser IE900. However, before we get to the IE900, we discuss the Harman Target in a way that perhaps needs discussing.

The measurements in this video were made using:

Click on the following link for more information about the Brüel & Kjær 5128 hearing simulator mentioned in the video: Brüel & Kjær 5128

Sennheiser IE900 Review, Measurements, & Harman Target Talk - produced by Brian Murphy, Joe Cwik, and Jude Mansilla​
May 10, 2021 at 7:00 PM Post #2 of 4,668
In an attempt to keep the video at (or under) 15 minutes, I stupidly excluded things that definitely should have been mentioned.

The Sennheiser IE900 comes with the following bits and pieces:
  • Three (3) detachable cables with MMCX connectors (on the earpiece side, of course) with the following terminations:
    • 3.5mm unbalanced
    • 2.5mm balanced
    • 4.4mm blanced
  • Rigid zip-up travel case
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Cleaning tool
  • Cable clip
Here are some photos of these things:

Sennheiser IE 900 Accessories-02393.jpg

Sennheiser IE 900 Accessories-02408.jpg

Sennheiser IE 900 Accessories-03400.jpg

Sennheiser IE 900 Accessories-03448.jpg

Sennheiser IE 900 Case w Serial-03561.jpg

I'm not a big fan of MMCX, but understand that somehow it became the standard -- I still puzzle over that.

The IE900 cables also have memory wire ear hooks. I'm not a fan of those either, but the IE900's ear hooks are flexible and do well to maintain the shape I bend them into. So, while the IE900's memory wire ear hooks are among the best of the breed, I'd still remove them if I could, as I tend to use the cinch under my chin to keep the wires in place over my ears. (And don't get me started on ear hooks combined with swiveling MMCX connections!)

The carrying case is simple but very nice, maintaining its structure well even in the abusive environment that is the inside of my backpack. The outer material feels like ballistic nylon.

Also, the Sennheiser IE 900's MSRP is $1299.95 USD.
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May 10, 2021 at 7:01 PM Post #3 of 4,668
In this post I'll include some additional measurements of the Sennheiser IE 900 made on the Brüel & Kjær 5128 that I wanted to include in the video, but, again, I was trying to keep it at/under 15 minutes.

In the video, I included this measurement (Fig.1 below) comparing the frequency response of the Sennheiser IE900 with the Sennheiser HD650, normalized at 1 kHz. Since the other frequency response comparisons shown were normalized at 1 kHz I chose the same for this comparison. The frequency you pick to match up two frequency response curves for comparison can have a substantial impact on its interpretation. I wanted, then, to include the comparison normalized at 500 Hz, too (in Fig.2 below):

Fig.1: Sennheiser IE 900 and Sennheiser HD650 frequency response comparison, normalized at 1 kHz (as shown in the video).
Fig.2: Sennheiser IE 900 and Sennheiser HD650 frequency response comparison, normalized at 500 Hz.

Also, while in the video I mentioned the Sennheiser IE300 (which was released earlier this year), I did not show a frequency response comparison of the IE900 and IE300. Here it is (in Fig.3 below):

Fig.3: Sennheiser IE900 and Sennheiser IE300 frequency response comparison, normalized at 1 kHz.

In the context of discussing the Harman Target, I also thought about discussing the AirPods Max in the video. Deciding it might be a bit of a contextual stretch in a video that's supposed to be about the IE900 (and in the interest of time), I opted not to include it.

The Apple AirPods Max is Apple's first premium over-ear headphone, and AirPods Max has, in my opinion, the best default tuning of any wireless ANC (active noise canceling) headphone I've heard to date. I suspect Apple did extensive research to arrive at the tuning of the AirPods Max (yet will almost certainly never publish any research of this type), arriving at a tuning that is different from Harman but (to my ears) every bit as safe a tuning. That is, the Apple AirPods Max tuning is one I think many people will like (and that many people seem to like). It's worth reading comments about (and reviews of) the AirPods Max, even in audiophile circles. Is the AirPods Max my top reference headphone of any type? No. Is it the best sounding default tuning in a wireless ANC headphone? For me, so far, yes.

Compared to the AKG K371 (which is one of the closest matches to the Harman AE/OE Target), I find the AirPods Max to have more neutral sounding midband and treble. I understand some will agree and some will disagree, but that's part of the point I was making in the video.

While the IE900 and AirPods Max do not sound the same, they share some qualities I like, so I thought you might like to see the frequency response of the Apple AirPods Max compared to the Sennheiser IE900 (Fig.4 below):

Fig.4: Sennheiser IE 900 and Apple AirPods Max frequency response comparison, normalized at 1 kHz.

In the Sennheiser IE900 video I only touched on the topic of the Harman Target. There's a lot more discuss, and I think we should continue to do that.

The measurements in this post were made using:
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May 10, 2021 at 7:02 PM Post #4 of 4,668
Hey Everyone! I'll be here, trying to answer as many questions as I can! I even got to borrow a pair... playing through my FLAC library on shuffle :D
First song: "Violin Sonata in G Minor: III. Finale" with Julie Steinberg on Piano and David Abel on Violin.
“Lotus Flower” by Radiohead is an electric trip. I really like the sound of the hi-hats on this, and the little hand claps are very persistently placed front and left... good imaging.
“Urban Hymns” by the Verve sounds excellent, haven’t given this album a spin for a long time!
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May 10, 2021 at 8:01 PM Post #5 of 4,668
I honestly don’t think a lot of people saw this one coming!

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to hear these soon!
May 10, 2021 at 8:01 PM Post #6 of 4,668
This certainly looks interesting! Looking forward to see more of it.
May 10, 2021 at 8:17 PM Post #8 of 4,668
May 10, 2021 at 8:20 PM Post #9 of 4,668
And the price?
$1299.95 USD. In the sponsor forum thread there's a host of content that helps magnify and demonstrate the technology at work, as well as availability dates, specs, videos, etc. Cheers!
Sennheiser Stay updated on Sennheiser at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
May 10, 2021 at 8:24 PM Post #10 of 4,668
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May 10, 2021 at 8:29 PM Post #11 of 4,668
May 10, 2021 at 8:41 PM Post #12 of 4,668
Sennheiser Stay updated on Sennheiser at their sponsor profile on Head-Fi.
May 10, 2021 at 9:11 PM Post #13 of 4,668
Great video, very nice overview with contextual background. Also nice to have someone who is toward the front of a community, speak about directly to the community in a way that shows we all ARE speaking the same language and paying attention to the same developments.

Considerably better approach than this:
To the Gizmodo author’s credit, I’m sure some people will identify with the desire for wireless and have some of the same questions he did.

First Impressions, this is an in-ear to choose for a sparkling yet not peaky sound. Airy and detailed, yet smooth and coherent, it also picks up the acoustics of the recording venue really well. I feel like the back-volume and acoustic vortex at the nozzle are helping prevent sibilants from “sticking.” This may well be one of the most over-engineered acoustic chambers in an in-ear headphone.

I need to check out “Undisclosed Desires” by Muse, and “Why So Serious?” by Hans Zimmer to focus on the bass production.

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