Sennheiser IE 400 Pro & IE 500 Pro Review
With the Sennheiser IE 400 Pro and the IE 500 Pro, Sennheiser has two in-ear models that have been specially developed for on-stage monitoring. As a result, the headphones should be convinced on stage with a powerful sound and offer transparent mids and clear highs. In our short test, you can read whether this works.
- Bass, midrange, and treble quality
- Soundstage, imaging, and instrument separation
- Very easy-to-drive
- Made in Germany (higher QC standards compared to other countries)
- Has a lot of bass
- Not detailed-sounding
- Midrange would sound veiled to some (takes some listening to get used to)
- Cable shouldn’t be like this in a 350 USD IEM (release price, 2019)
- As stock tips are part of the tuning, third-party tips might cause issues
- Proprietary connectors – gotta go custom-made
Details & practice
Scope of delivery & processing
The Sennheiser IE 400 Pro and the Sennheiser IE 500 Pro come with a gold-plated adapter plug from mini-jack to jack. There are also six pairs of ear tips: three pairs made of silicone and another three pairs made of memory foam, all in three different sizes. There is also a cleaning tool that can be used to clean the small pads after use. A highlight for me is the soft case of the two in-ears. It has a washable nylon surface, closes securely with a zipper, and has a small mesh compartment inside for storing ear pads and adapters. What I particularly like about the transport case is its roll-up aid. It makes it possible to stow the headphones neatly and space-savingly so that there are no tangled cables.
The headphones themselves are well made, and generous kink protectors are used. The interchangeable cables can be easily changed despite being firmly seated. Towards the in-ears, the feed line is provided with a bending wire that is sufficiently flexible and yet remains in good shape. The IE 400 Pro also has a small slider on the cable that can regulate the splice. The IE 500 Pro cable is twisted to transmit less structure-borne noise. But, of course, it has to do without said slide. Both headphones are available in the transparent CL version tested here and with the suffix SBK, which stands for a smoke-gray, transparent in-ear housing.
Both headphones use dynamic 7 mm drivers that use Sennheiser’s low-distortion “TrueResponse” technology. Their impedance of 16 ohms makes them a good match with headphone amplifiers that don’t have too much power. As is the case, for example, with bodypacks for radio systems. Their low weight of 18 g makes both devices a stage companion, whose wearing does not negatively affect even after a long period. Both are at eye level when it comes to damping outside noise. Depending on the frequency, the in-ears can reduce external noise by up to 26 dB. While the frequency range of the Sennheiser IE 400 Pro extends from 6 Hz to 19 kHz, the Sennheiser IE 500 Pro can reproduce sound up to 20 kHz. If you choose the IE 500,
Both the IE 400 Pro and the IE 500 Pro sit comfortably and securely thanks to their differently sized ear tips, ergonomic shape, and low weight. The earpads all have a small protective grille and can be adjusted in two stages on the hearing process of the in-ears. In this way, the headphones can either extend far or not as far into the ear canal. The sound and damping change slightly as a result. This kind of flexibility is rare. The 1.20 m cable length is ideal to operate the headphones on pocket receivers and to be able to stow the cable without much overhang.
Sennheiser promises us powerful sound, transparent mids, and clear highs with the IE 400 Pro. A promise that is kept. Their deep bass reproduction is good and perceptible. The basses are full and round. In the mids, however, the in-ears tend to emphasize the sibilance of speech and vocals. Guitar music can also tire the hearing due to this midrange reproduction. I like the heights better. They ensure a detailed sound, which brings with it a corresponding gradation of depth. I also like the stereo image. It is not clear to me in the hearing test that the IE 500 Pro goes up further in the heights of around 1 kHz.
But in contrast to the IE 400 Pro, it sounds more present in the middle. This is why it ensures particularly good speech intelligibility in the frequency range between 1 and 2.5 kHz. Both headphones bring a good portion of volume into the ear without distorting them. Their attenuation of outside noise is convincing.
A large scope of delivery and, last but not least, their differentiated, louder, and yet distortion-free sound mean that the IE 400 Pro and IE 500 Pro can rightly be classified as Sennheiser’s top-in-ears. The Sennheiser IE 400 Pro delivers the promised powerful sound and clearly defined mids and open highs but tends to hiss here and there with voice signals. The Sennheiser IE 500 Pro follows this sound aesthetic but also emphasizes the frequency range around 1.75 kHz. This leads to an even better speech intelligibility with them than with the “smaller” model. Both headphones blow a lot of volume into the ear canals without distorting and can provide good shielding of the ear from a sound that hits the ear from the outside. Who as a sound purist wants that extra touch of treble, additional volume? If you need less structure-borne sound transmission by the headphone cable and the above-mentioned higher speech intelligibility, you should use the IE 500 Pro right away. For everyone else, you should also test the IE 400 Pro. In any case, the price-performance ratio is right for both in-ears. A small highlight for me is the length adjustment of the auditory processes using adjustable ear pads.