In January 2019, I reviewed the Sennheiser IE 40 PRO. It was, in my opinion, a keeper for an entry-level offering and have gotten me excited in anticipation for the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO, also announced during the International Broadcast Equipment Exhibition (IBC2018) held in Amsterdam from 13 to 17 of September 2018 together with the IE 40 PRO.
Manufactured to exacting specifications on a brand-new production line at the Sennheiser’s German factory, the IE 400 PRO and the IE 500 PRO are the latest members of the company’s new series of professional In-Ear Monitors (IEMs).
Design and Build
The IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO continues to adopt the single Dynamic Driver (DD) principle of the series. Sporting a new high-performance DD, which measures only 7mm in diameter, the transducer is based on a single-driver technology, termed TrueResponse by the company. According to Sennheiser, the technology allows a distortion-free, detailed, and accurate sound reproduction with a completely natural, clear, and spacious sound stage coupled with a total harmonic distortion (THD) as low as under 0.08% at 1 kHz and 94 dB.
Encased in a plastic enclosure similar to that of the IE 40 PRO, the use of a driver that is 30% smaller than the one found in the entry-level model has allowed the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO to sport a low profile design while maintaining coherence in the look and feel of the series. The comfort is exceptional, the IEMs fit snugly in the ear and sits securely even with vigorous head movements. While one would critic about the use of a plastic enclosure, the material used on all three models of the Pro series is hardy, allowing them to survive knocks and drop, showcasing the robust quality. The material also ensures that the IEMs are lightweight, allowing one to wear it comfortably over a long period without feeling fatiguing. Both the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO are available in two different colour variants, namely “Clear” and “Smokey Black.”
Similar to the IE 40 PRO, the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO is fitted with detachable cables featuring the company’s patent-pending break-proof cable ducting designed to reduce the risk of cable breaks. The IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO, however, uses the Pentaconn Ear connectors engineered by Nippon Dics, a Japanese high-end professional audio component manufacturer instead of the proprietary connectors found on the IE 40 PRO.
The Pentacon Ear connectors are easy to remove, yet holds firmly and securely in place when in use. The IE 400 PRO comes with a black, straight cable while the IE 500 PRO is paired with a clear, twisted-pair cable that provides optimised resistance to structure-borne noise. Both 1.3m cables feature a reinforced ear hook, which is flexible enough to conform to the shape of the ear. The use of Pentaconn Ear connectors made it possible for third-party cable manufacturers to provide replacement/upgrade cables for the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO. In October 2019, Nippon Dics released a series of replacement cables for the IEMs.
Sennheiser has included a selection of silicone ear tips (S, M, L) and foam ear tips (S, M, L) with the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO. The nozzle of both models features two rest positions which were first introduced on the IE 40 PRO; this is to accommodate the variances in the length of ear canals, resulting in better seal and comfort which according to the manufacturer reduces the ambient sound by up to 26 dB putting them on par with the entry-level model. Other items included in the box are a transport case, a cleaning tool, a 6.3mm jack-adapter as well as the quick guide and the safety guide.