Sennheiser Australia | Expect to pay: $179
If you’ve ever performed on a large-scale festivals stage or are even just staunch about getting the best possible live mixes at your gigs, then you’ll understand the vital importance of in-ear monitors for live performance.
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In the past, these units have been expensive and require specific receivers to transmit audio wirelessly, which limits their use in other environments and means they’re out of the equation for the average musician.
Nowadays, however, Bluetooth headphones have become the norm for consumers thanks to some clever marketing tricks by smartphone companies and you’d be hard-pressed to see wired headphones on public transport these days.
Now, imagine there’s a product that can both entertain you on your commute to work and for all your live performance needs, and bang: in comes the Sennheiser IE 100 Pros, a reasonably priced set of in-ear monitors with both wired and wireless connectivity that puts clarity at the forefront of your ears, perfect for use whether you’re onstage or simply just on the bus.
Given their impeccable German origins, Sennheiser products are usually beautifully crafted and extremely sturdy and reliable, and these IE 100 Pros are no exception. The professional black and grey aesthetic of our review buds are subtle but effective, but if you like a splash of colour dangling from your earbuds, they also come in red, and clear finishes.
Inside the box you’ll find both a wired connection that connects via a 3.5mm jack and an IE Pro BT connector which is easily interchanged via snapping in and out.
There are a range of different earbud sizes to suit basically everyone and a cleaning tool to ensure you’re getting the best sound all the time. The earbuds themselves I found to sit very comfortably for long periods of time and I have no doubt they would have no problem staying in while running around or throwing your guitar into an amp.
Using the IE Pro BT connector, you are able to connect to anything that uses Bluetooth which includes your phone. You can expect up to ten hours battery life out of the Bluetooth adapter from a full charge, which is more than substantial for a full day of use.
The adapter recharges in under two hours via USB C and comes with a cable to charge it with. The strap loops around the back of your neck which might take a little bit to get used to as opposed to the popular Apple Airpods in which the Bluetooth connectivity is inside the earbud itself.
That being said, the strap is relatively lightweight and the buds don’t feel like they’re going to pop out at any time. Phone calls and volume adjustment are a breeze with control buttons and a microphone neatly implemented on the strap.
Dynamic range is very important in live performance situations and these don’t disappoint. They can hit a whopping 115dB sound pressure level while wired which will be more than enough for well, everyone. These buds can represent frequencies from 20hz-18khz which is more than suitable and approximately the standard hearing range for most people.
The IE 100 Pros boast a relatively flat frequency response which might sound a little underwhelming in comparison to consumer Bluetooth headphones but the overall clarity will benefit you in live and studio situations where hearing exactly what’s happening is key.
Another thing worth noting is that while using the Bluetooth adapter, the maximum volume is not as high as consumer headphones. From the perspective of a casual listener, if you’re only looking to blast the latest techno releases on the tram to work and not use them in other situations, you might be better suited with a different set of buds.
That being said, these are in-ear monitors and not consumer headphones, so it’s important to bear that in mind before you get too critical on how they sound.
For purposes of testing their studio applications I used ambient soundscapes of birds chirping, rainforest noises and random chatter.
In this context they impressed me, I could hear minute details very clearly and the output was relatively uninterrupted by outside noise. In terms of sound isolation they function quite well, especially for in ear monitors that have no specific noise cancelling technology apart from the silicon buds gripping the inside of your ear canal.
As these headphones are designed as in ear stage monitors, sound is meant to remain clear and undistorted during extremely loud environments.To test this, I played a drum track through my DAW as loud as you would hear it live – which, as most of you probably know, is exceptionally loud. Unsurprisingly, they gave a substantial amount of clarity and fullness under this amount of stress, which should translate impeccably to any kind of live environment.
For live, studio and casual usage, these IEM’s by Sennheiser are a sturdy, clear and precise product that accurately represents a wide range of frequencies and does extremely well under demanding circumstances. They’re super affordable and easily malleable, and will suit the needs of the average gigging musician without breaking the bank.
It’s this competitive price-point and versatile range of use, that makes the Sennheiser IE 100 Pros a product that can be used extensively off stage as much as onstage. Two big thumbs up from us!
Find out more about the Sennheiser IE 100 Pro In-Ear Monitors via Sennheiser Australia.