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Sennheiser IE800

83% Positive Reviews
Rated #28 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Amazing soundstage, incredible detail, deep impactful bass, very comfortable even for long periods, easy to drive, sound good even at low volume!

Cons: Price

After reading glowing reviews of both of these in ear monitors I was still unable to decide which one would be right for me so I bought both, first the Shure and a few weeks later the Sennheiser. I already own the JH Audio 16 Pro, Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro, HiFi Man HE-500, Sennheiser  HD 650, Shure SRH940 among others. My music files are all in FLAC format and I play them through an Astell & Kern AK120 and also used a Samsung Galaxy S4 for comparison purposes. To boost the signal for some of my headphones I use an ALO Rx Mk2, a Schitt Lyr, and a JDS Labs O2 headphone amplifier.

 

I begin this review with the following disclaimer, since we all have different tastes in music and how we like it to sound, there is no universal "right" way for all music and sound gear to sound. I will try to convey how I like my music to sound and why I preferred one of these fine IEM's over the other though they are both excellent in their own right. I used to work in a recording studio in NY where I was taught that it was our job to capture the sound from the room behind the glass or auditorium as if it was a picture. Get as much detail as you possibly can without altering the overall sound signature while eliminating as many artifacts as possible that could distort or mask some of what we are attempting to preserve. So, I prefer my music to sound as close to "being there" as possible, I want to hear everything that was on the original recording with nothing added and nothing taken away. This of course is a difficult goal to achieve as there are always sonic imperfections inherent in music reproduction so we all make compromises when purchasing gear.

 

The standout area for the IE800 is what I call the "presence" area - that part of the lower treble that makes voices and some instruments sound more (or less) "alive". Being a vented, open-back design, the IE800 have a wider more convincing soundstage than the SE846. They have 2 vents, one is for the sound and the second one is to equalize the air between the eardrum and the outer ear, so the pressure goes away after you insert them. Although they are open backed in-ear headphones, don’t worry as the people around you can’t hear what you hear due to the small size of the vents. Yet, it is their unconventional single dynamic driver design coupled with their vented ceramic non-resonant enclosures that gives them their remarkably spacious soundstage especially for an in-ear model. They are breathtakingly clean with deep, extended, punchy bass response which never impinges on or overrides the rest of the music which to me is amazing. On the high end, the treble sparkles with clarity and incredible detail without a trace of stridency or harshness. That said, the mids, one of the strongest points of this headphone, are excellent  and all the instruments and voices have a good, natural and well textured presentation which surprised me given how deep the bass presentation can be when it is present in the original source material. Up until I listened to the IE 800's, I felt that the HE-500 Planar magnetic headphones from HiFiMan coupled to the Schitt Lyr headphone amp had the widest, most realistic soundstage I had ever heard - not so anymore!

 

Contrasting the IE 800 with the Shure SE846, I found their bass to be somewhat exaggerated especially in the mid-bass region which in my opinion overwhelmed the midrange at times. They reminded me of the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Headphones  that I used to own but sold because although they had powerful bass, it came at the expense of the upper midrange. The other area where I really found the Shure's to be lacking was in the treble, especially in upper end. Compared to the Sennheiser's they sounded veiled or muffled however, before I actually had the Sennheiser's, I didn't realize how much the Shure were lacking. As I already own and frequently use the JH Audio 16 Pro IEM's, I compared them to the Shure and there too, the Shure came up short. The JH-16 Pro, also a multi-armature IEM blew them away for just a few hundred dollars more however, both have that "congested" IEM sound when compared to an open backed planar headphone like the HE-500. The JH-16 Pro's have a more extended treble with far more detail and transparency and when it comes to the bass, the Shure IEM's seemed to overwhelm the midrange while the JH 16's have deep extended bass that does not mask or in any way obscure any other portion of the music. The only negative to buying custom IEM's is that they are yours forever as they will only fit your ears so you can't ever sell them if you decide you no longer want them - something to consider.

 

What truly amazed me about the Sennheiser IE 800's was the openness, the spaciousness of their soundstage, coupled with the speed and detail they amply provide. They can even compete with the HE-500 amplified by the Lyr with custom pure silver cables and that to me was amazing. They have a low impedance of 16 Ohms  across their frequency range and are very efficient so they can easily be driven by any portable devices and don't require amplification to sound great. What these IEM's coupled to a good digital audio player (DAP) provide is an amazing high end sound system that you can fit in your pocket. Although they work very well with phones and other mobile devices they really shine when coupled with a high quality DAP so if you really want to hear all that the IE 800 have to offer, use a good DAP or DAC and play lossless files otherwise save your money and buy something like the UE Triple.fi 10 Pro for half the price.

 

The comfort of the IE 800 is really good and superior to the Shure. The IE 800s are super small, incredibly lightweight and the least intrusive of any IEM's I have used. I can literally keep them in my ears for hours without any discomfort in fact, I sometimes forget they are in there! Another quality of the IE 800 that I really appreciate is that they sound great even at lower volume levels which for me was a big surprise. Typically, I tend to enjoy listening to music at higher volumes because it just seems to sound better that way. The reason for this is that we perceive different frequencies, especially the deep bass and treble at higher loudness levels then we do midrange frequencies, which was first discovered by Fletcher and Munson in 1933. This is commonly referred to as the Fletcher–Munson equal-loudness contour which means that a listener perceives a constant loudness when presented with pure steady tones at different dB levels across the frequency response. Sennheiser designed the frequency response of these IEM's to compensate for this and therefore, they sound good even at lower volume levels which is a big plus.

 

I really thought of finding some cons to these headphones but other than the price I couldn’t find anything. The non detachable cables are not an issue for me as they are very well made and appear to be quite sturdy. They are more microphonic than the Shure cables however I position the IE 800's with the cord up so I can wrap it over my ears cancelling out their microphonic tendencies. Given the very small size of the earpieces and the fact that they are solid ceramic, it would be nearly impossible to install removable cables without increasing their size and weight as well as altering their sonic character. BTW, I would suggest buying these from an authorized dealer so that your warranty is valid given what they cost.

 

All in all, the Sennheiser IE 800's, connected directly to my AK120 are now my favorite headphone/IEM's, they're smaller, lighter, more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and if I had listened to them before purchasing the HiFiMan HE-500 and the Schitt Lyr, I would be $1200 richer!

Posted

Pros: Bass Mids Treble and Sound Stage are world class

Cons: The cable is too short - does not flex enough - and is too heavy for the drivers

The Sennheiser IE800

 

 

What hasn't been said about these flagship earphones from Sennheiser? 

My first wow moment for these was at a headfi meet sponsored by Sennheiser at the Great Russell Hotel all the way back in April 2014. This was around the launch time of the IE800s and was also the first time I was introduced to the Astell and Kern AK100. Club Orpheus were there in droves and one of the reps handed me an IE800 and AK100 and I was stunned. 

I subsequently bought both. Not there and then , but the need to acquire weighed heavily on me until the feeling was too much to resist anymore.

The IE800 is still the flagship IEM for Sennheiser and is still a single driver. This in the age of more and more drivers marked a real risk for Sennheiser to convince the Audio buying public that 1 was as good as 12. 

But remarkably , it is. 

 

Where other companies have the inherent headache of crossover distortions , Sennheiser don't. Where other companies are buying in from the driver factories of the World and trying to fit their sound signature into their own designs , Sennheiser made their own. 

And what a driver they have produced. 

The reproduction of these IEMs still amazes to this day. Whilst there is undoubtedly strong competition out there, at £599 the IE800s no longer look exorbitantly expensive as an endgame portable solution for a smart phone or maybe as I shall show you later on , through a pretty nifty sounding DAP/Mojo/Speaker amp setup.

 

 

My belief is this ; if you have the time and the daftness to do it , be over the top. I shall not be giving a review based on my learnt experiences -  although clearly you can't unlearn something. I shall be giving you a taste of what the IE800 can do against some competitors on a system comprising of @dill3000's unbelievable DIY built First Watt F5 power amp coupled to a Chord Mojo , coupled to a beauty of a cable my brother made for me using some Van den Hul cabling and neutrik connectors all going out to a speaker terminal to balanced cable custom built by @dill3000

For the review I have used a custom made balanced to single ended adapter , again by @dill3000 which I've plugged a 3.5 into . Simple!

 

 

 

What we have here is an ultra powerful but also ultra revealing system which will put the IE800s to an extreme test.

 

 

Needless to say , if you are trying this at home - keep the volume down very low indeed. The IE800s go loud through a smartphone , let a 50 Watt Per Channel Speaker Amp have it's way with them and they will be ravaged in a Medieval Crusades way that they may never come back from! 

The method in this madness is the opportunity I have to show you fine headfiers how a top tier IEM performs when put into a high end setup as opposed to a smartphone. The IE800s will perform under these less stringent conditions but something this special needs pushing.

With a slightly sweating nervousness (the temperature of the Mini Beast can reach towards 50 degrees) I carefully switched things on.  The results are impressive. So much so I treated myself to an extended listen to these before testing them against rival factions.

I shall divide my sound impressions into the following categories and try and explain the almost inexplicable and certainly subjective, hearing experience in as simple terms as I can , avoiding as much jargon as I can. There will be no cream mentioned in my findings or any other kind of dairy products. I am trying to be disciplined in my descriptions without becoming scientific. Or boring.

 

 

The categories are

Bass, Mids and Highs, Clarity and Soundstage.

 

I shall use this as a basis for my reviews because this is how I listen critically to my kit, the other stuff for me causes confusion.

 

Bass

 

The bass of the IE800s. Bear in mind this is from one tiny driver. I think sennheiser got the bass just right in the mix. Axell Grell , at a headfi meet in 2013 in London , said that he had boosted the low frequency response to allow for the music to come through past the sounds of commuting of walking of travelling and off the road. So there is a deliberate bass hump. The impact in a quiet listening environment is fantastic. It's enough to make you sit up but not enough to drown out the rest of the mix or cause a mini war between the frequency range. The bass is accurate and has no boom but has punch.

 

Mids and Highs

 

The natural reproduction of strings being played the clarity of vocals and the hitting of cymbals is often how my ears are drawn to the quality of the kit I have. Guitar drums singer and keyboards all joing together when a song peaks is a good place to look for harshness.

There are no IEMs I have heard that do these finer than the IE800s. There is a natural effortless sound through the mids into the highs and yet there is an extension to the highs that adds a level of detail to the overall signature that is seldom noticed in other In Ears.

 

Soundstage

 

The space in between the instruments and the size of the picture in my head that I have of the recording is how I work out the soundstage. The IE800s excel at this , there is so much detail in the highs and mids the sound stage is fit for a flagship model.

 

Comparisons

 

And talking of flagship models I checked the Sennheiser IE800s against 2 similarly priced IEMs I happen to own.

 

 

The ACS Encore Studio Custom IEMs have 5 drivers. The bass on these are superb , better than the IE800s even and they as customs have far more isolation and need far less volume. The mids and highs are not as impressive as the bass and are slightly rolled off , in my opinion making the soundstage more intimate.  I can of course wear the customs without problems whilst I'm running whereas this is not an option for my IE800s.

 

 

 

The oBravo Erib 2a is a dual hybrid diver IEM it is the world's first neodymium driver combined with a planar magnetic tweeter in an earphone. The low bass frequency has no punch but the mid and high bass has lots of impact as do the mids on these. They have not as good a low bass impact as the IE800s but more impact in the higher bass and mids. The treble , as good as it is , (and it is great) still does not outshine the IE800s. Obravo have done well to come so close to Sennheiser at a similar price (these retail at £579.99) but they are not the IE800 beaters I thought they were in the first month I had them. The soundstage of the Erib 2a is a similar size to that of the IE800s.

 

The Fit

 

Herein lies the problem, or if like me you love these enough , the challenge. Whole reams of threads have been devoted to answering the question as to what can be done to make the IE800s  stop falling out of the ears.

The 4 problems with the Senns are :

the weight of the Kevlar cables

their stiffness 

the lack of length between the driver attachment and the clip on cable attachment

the tips supplied are a patented design so no others will fit

the cable is not detachable from the drivers

 

The solutions are possible:

Get them recabled - but who would do this given their initial price?

Get custom ear sleeves made - I did this , through Snugs, but the Snugs after months of hard work and research done by me were not as good sounding as the Senn tips

New innovations - there are silicon wings which were sent with the oBravos which help to keep these and other large IEMs in place. Maybe some such customisation might do the trick?

Put up with them - that has it's level of wisdom too , but it does mean the IE800s are likely to be only used when sat down, and how many of us do that for too long?

 

Conclusion

 

Perfection is a very hard thing to achieve . The Sound Quality of these IEMs , for an IEM , is close to perfection. The bass mids and highs and soundstage are wonderful, no question in my mind. But an IEM has to fulfil a specific purpose and that is to be used out and about. The IE800s are not versatile enough to be put in the perfect bracket. But if anyone gets them modified to enable that, they have a world beater on their hands

Posted

Pros: Dynamic bass , coherency , comfort , featherweight , good soundstage and imaging.

Cons: Good DAC is required .

Bought at (Singapore) S$1140 

Audio
This in ear is a marvel. I've auditioned quite a number of Balanced armatures and dynamic drivers in ears , and  over time, I’ve come to love most of the dynamic drivers a lot , regardless of brand or price , dynamic drivers always seems to deliver a more organic , believable , full bodied sound . This one is no different either.
It outperforms many Balanced Armatures in my opinion. 


Its sound, is simply majestic.
Bass quality is superb, quantity comfortably amounted, full bodied, believable speed with a perfect tuning of boom and taut. Treble reach is beautiful never spiky in the highs, presence and quality is sufficient and satisfying, mids are comforting, lightly warm, and vocals slightly backwards, with instrumentals a little more forward.

The sound signature is amazingly appealing to masses.
Energetic, Powerful, Lively, Clear, Warm, Smooth, Vibrant, Intimate, Delicate.

The soundstage is wide, I wouldn’t say it’s true to life, but it is definitely very believable with good dimension. Instrumental segregation is superb, each instrument is heard on its own with no bleeding into one another, this leads me to instrumental positioning, where I could very precisely locate each instrument’s direction & distance, layering of instruments were so undisturbed and clean , you could tell which instruments are behind which instruments . Overall, the soundstaging is of excellent quality and realism for an inEar. At this stage, it is already hard to believe that all these were produced all by a single small 7mm transducer.

Detail retrieval was a delight.  Each instrument from the bass, up to the splash cymbal were beautifully illustrated. Strings such as the acoustic bass and violins had their texture and smoothness delivered with richness and quality. Acoustic guitars had strings are so tangible, the texture of individual strings could be felt with each strum, plucking had a very realistic string after-rebound. The detail and reverb were so good, one could easily characterize the type of wood and its density used in the acoustic instruments. Hi-Hats, crash, splash and ride cymbals were so clear, their metallic response were laid out like the authentic. The distortion-free sound were a big plus too. Instruments on the IE800 were delivered with the utmost integrity to the source.

The emotional delivery is a very important deciding factor in most headphones or inear I audition. No form of electronic measurements could display this information on data sheets, this is raw, heartfelt soul and emotion, different headphones and inear delivers them differently. The IE800 is a capable one, capturing your heart and mind into the music, and just dwell you in its presence as it portray its majestic wonder. Quite a number of music delivers little tingle and shivers of satisfaction and bliss down your from your neck, shoulder, back and your thighs, otherwise a phenomena known as Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). The IE800 is certainly a deliverer of ethos, you’ll be drowned in it wanting more.

However, behind all these positivity, there is a concern which I feel I should raise to everyone of, I’d realise the trebles are sometimes out-of-control if you plug it directly from a poor audio source like your phone or computer, Sibilance may be present in all the "s" and "t”. The treble at times, may sound thinner, brighter and splashy-ier. This is improved when I added my iFi iDSD Micro into the equation. Soundstage increased, noise reduced, treble reach remained, with spikes and sibilant significantly reduced. Which I believe a good source would be necessary; this includes a good Lossless file, DAC and even connecting cables. Check out my iDSD Micro Review for more information on it.

The ie800 is undeniably a well-respected piece in the dynamic inear category that has others fighting for its position of where it is now. Sennheiser made the right decision of not using balanced armatures or hybrids for their flagship. They mentioned it was not necessary, and they certainly proved it with the IE800.
A dynamic that delivers dynamically.

Build
The fit of the IE800 is discrete and modest. The housing is made of scratch resistant ceramic and finished in gloss, which sennheiser guaranteed longevity of the iem. The left and right housing of the IE800 tap each other like high quality dense metal billets when you are trying the keep them.

The construction looks promising and durable, cables that seem like they can take a rough tug, the cable is only detachable from the Y split downwards, making common interchangeable wire-rolling impossible. Aftermarket cables could still be made with a 3.5mm male and 2.5mm female.

The leather case with the metal IE800 plate in it feels premium and classy, however, I would feel safer with my IE800 in my bulletproof, waterproof, crushproof, pelican case. I would bring the provided leather case only on formal occasions.

The eartips on the other hand, looked rather cheap, probably due to the fact that the silicone flange were not very thick, for example, westones and shures have their silicone flange thicker than that of the IE800. This was of minimal concern, knowing the sound reproduced from the inear were not degraded in any way. The housing and the eartips each have their own wire mesh to prevent earwax or other materials from entering and disrupting the drivers.

I do not find the microphonics to be much of a problem, it is present, but definitely not as exaggerated as some of the other users exclaimed. I use the IE800 mostly at home, or public transport. Minimal time were spent walking while listening, even during the times I did, you do hear the cord hitting your thigh, but it was somewhat negligible as you know the source of the noise, so it doesn’t really feel out of place, or distracting. Even though this is an inEar, I enjoy music best when my body is at rest. 


There’s a lot to love, and very little to hate. Whatever you may hate it for would be put aside after listening to them, and that includes the cost they sit at. That is also why I’ve never listed “price” as a con. They’re worth it.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes to unwind and enjoy music for pleasure.

 
So here are some of the photos i've taken !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted

Pros: Superb bass, gorgeous mids, smooth-yet-sparkling highs, expansive soundstage, excellent imaging, very comfortable

Cons: Microphonics, no remote/mic included, short cord

The IE800 are the best IEMs I have ever tried. This includes the Shure SE846 & 535, Audeo PFE232, AKG 3003, JH13 and JH16 and many others. I also prefer their sound to many full size cans like the beyerdynamic DT-880, T70, T90; Sennheiser Momentum, HD650; Shure SRH1840 etc. The closest I've heard to the amazingly balanced sound of the IE800 is the LCD-2 rev 2, which I also own.

 

The critical thing to note is how cohesive and musical the soundscape is -- these excel with all genres of music that I've tried, from rock to jazz, acoustic to classical/orchestral, electronic to metal. It's laid back when you need it to be, and it can push out the PRaT like crazy when that's required.

 

The bass is full-bodied, with intense impact and extension but never encroaching on the mids. There is detail and texture regardless of whether it's the bass drum, the bass guitar or an electronic bass note. Having played acoustic and electric bass in countless bands and orchestras, I love the bass on these. The amount of bass on these is certainly more than 'neutral', but since they're probably going to be used in noisy environments, the amount of bass is quite appropriate. 

 

The mids are engagingly lush and full-bodied, never sounding thin. Vocals are refreshingly realistic, rivalling the LCD-2. Guitars sound realistic and piano! Piano sounds spectacular with these. Having played piano since the age of 5, with a performance diploma under my belt, I can say these produce the most realistic piano timbre I've ever heard, save a real piano (and maybe the LCD-2).

 

And the treble -- don't get me started. They are so splendidly detailed, sparkling yet never harsh or sibilant. You can hear the smallest details in acoustic records; the movement of fingers along guitar frets, the shuffling of feet, the fuzz of piano string dampeners as the pianist pedals up and down. It's surreal. Adding to this is an expansive soundstage rivalling many high-end full size open cans, with pin-point precision in instrument separation and imaging.

 

The caveat to achieving such spectacular sound is in the fit -- when I first auditioned them in the store the tips were too large for me and the sound was quite sibilant. A smaller tip meant slightly deeper insertion and the sibilance disappeared and instead became sonic bliss.

 

To (very, very) briefly compare the IE800 to the following, mentioning the main reason for my preference of the IE800: 

Shure SE846 & 535 -- these sound more upfront and almost congested in comparison, as there isn't as much soundstage depth and width compared to the IE800. I'm unsure what filters were on the SE846 that I tried.

Audeo PFE232 -- less cohesive sounding, less bass impact and body with slightly sibilant and artificial highs.

AKG 3003 -- way too much treble for my taste, tends to be quite sibilant.

JH13 (universal tip) -- very neutral and thus lacks the bass impact of the IE800 -- great for monitoring and use by live musicians etc but not as overall enjoyable experience, musically. Can also be sibilant

JH16 (universal tip) -- much bassier than JH13 but still produces noticeable sibilance at times. But otherwise a superb IEM, just very bulky (same goes for JH13)

Beyerdynamic DT-880, T90, T70 -- apart from two of these being open, the main sticking point is very neutral bass presentation, which means excellent transparency (at each price point), but lacks that punch and musicality at times.

Sennheiser Momentum -- brilliant closed cans but lacks PRaT and is very laid back, with somewhat loose bass.

Sennheiser HD650 -- quite neutral (and dark), very laid back

Shure 1840 -- neutral, quite similar to DT-880

 

Compared to LCD-2 rev. 2 -- the bass on the LCD-2 is renowned in its quality -- the IE800 has, however, noticeably more bass. But it still maintains excellent detail and texture even compared to the LCD-2. Mids on both are superb, with the LCD-2 ahead but not by leaps and bounds. With treble detail, I would give the LCD-2 a slight edge, probably owning to a slightly wider soundstage lending them an even more airy feel than the IE800 (which suffer in this regard by being IEMs, not open planar magnetic cans, of course! :p). But of course, thanks to the IE800's isolating properties, it can be much more immersive than the LCD-2 when there are ambient noises, especially when coupled with their extreme comfort (LCD-2 pads are too rigid!); this makes the choice between LCD-2 and the IE800 for listening at home a harder one than one may think!

 

In everyday use, the microphonics can be quite distracting when walking, particularly at the Y-splitter/2.5mm jack, as it knocks against your chest. Any contact with the cable above the splitter also introduces significant microphonics. Unfortunately the cord is too short to go over-the-ear without being somewhat choked under the jaw. However, if the splitter is secured, there is minimal cable noise. Noise isolation is also decent, but not exceptional. I personally find it is a good balance between isolation and environmental noise awareness.

 

The IE800 are, however, extremely comfortable (given the right tips are used) and never tangle thanks to the Kevlar cabling. They also don’t suffer from the annoying suction effect that plagues most balanced-armature IEMs, as the vents quickly equalise with the pressure of the outside environment. It's just a shame that at this price Sennheiser didn't include a remote/mic cable like they do with the Momentum.

 

I usually run the IE800 straight out of my iPhone 5s and they sound great. Out of my desktop amp (Matrix M-Stage), there's certainly an improvement in bass response and soundstage, but given how incredible they sound out of a smartphone, there's really no need for a mobile amp, (cue outrage from you hardcore audiophiles out there! ;))

 

And to those out there looking at frequency response curves and waterfall plots for these, I wouldn't bother. They don't seem to represent at all the sound these produce in reality, since the IE800 are designed with a human ear canal in mind.

 

The IE800 are simply brilliant whether you're out-and-about and listening casually; at home and wanting to truly focus on the music; if you're monitoring or anything in between (except maybe during exercise, due to microphonics).

 

If I could only have one pair of earphones or headphones, I would pick the IE800. Every time. So, what are you waiting for? Go get a pair!

Posted

Pros: Treble energy, detail, openness for an IEM

Cons: Treble energy and at a certain point, transient response

As I have recently started moving away from IEMs, I wanted to get some of my thoughts out there on the IE800 before I forget them, in case they may be helpful to others. I have owned the IE800s (and SE846) for 1.5 years and have had a chance to really get to know them. That being said, throughout those 1.5 years, my opinion on them has changed a few times as I upgraded upstream equipment and as time went on, leading me to wonder even now if I actually know them? Anyways, I will structure these notes chronologically in the order I upgraded upstream equipment. I will focus on sound quality and leave out most comments on form factor, noise isolation, practicality, etc. as I feel they have been very well covered elsewhere.

 

Let's start with SQ out of an iPad/smartphone with decent sound output:

At this point, the defining characteristics of the IE800 for me were:

1) insane treble energy: a sore point for many, the treble of the IE800 is very forward, aggressive, and bordering on sibilant and artificial. Artificial in the sense that when cymbals hit, they sound kind of like synths. And so on with other instruments. I actually love the treble energy of the IE800, but I can see why many do not. Compared to the the SE846, the IE800 has much more noticeable treble, and as a result, has noticeably more detail in the treble. The trade-off is that the SE846 is less fatiguing over longer sessions and has less of that "artificial" sound.

2) good staging, very open sounding for an IEM: may have something to do with the the treble, but when I hear the IE800's, the word "open" pops up in my head. Sounds feel like they have a better defined placement in terms of more specific depth and right-left placement. In comparison, on the SE846, the sounds just pop up "in your face" in the right or left channel. In addition, the IE800 has better separation and sounds "airier." In more complex passages, instruments remain more separate instead of mushing up. Songs that give off a sense of being in a large room are better able to convey that ambiance. Great in this sense for classical music. In comparison, the SE846 sounds more congested.

3) very deep bass: my first impression of the IE800 bass was that it was "deep." Over time, I came to realize that this "deep" feeling resulted from the IE800 having tremendous subbass without very much midbass. By subbass, I mean maybe sub 40 or 50hz, and by midbass, I'm thinking more 50hz-150hz. In comparison, the SE846 is more weighted towards the midbass. The result is that the SE846 and IE800 are, for lack of a better term, "different" when it comes to bass, but I wouldn't say either are lacking or "lesser" compared to the other. Depending on where the bass hits are in a certain song, either the SE846 or IE800 (or both) are able to convey sick quantities of bass while still maintaining control. With an equalizer, the sky is the limit. However, because each song is different, with some songs the IE800s may seem to have lighter or not-as-impactful bass as the SE846, and vice versa. In fact, this is one of the main reasons I ended up with both the SE846 and IE800- because of the different bass presentations.

 

The mids were great on both the IE800 and SE846. Overall the SE846 sounds "meatier," "fuller," (or some similar adjective) while the IE800 sounds "leaner" and more V-shaped. At this point, I would have said that if I were to choose only 1 between the IE800 and the SE846, it would be the IE800 because of the better staging, openness, and treble detail, and because I prefer the leaner sound signature. I kept the SE846 around because of its different bass presentation and better sound isolation.

 

Additional notes on the above:

-I listen to the SE846 with aftermarket pure silver cables. While the cables kinda maybe sorta improve the treble response and instrument separation of the SE846, it is still definitely not to the levels of the IE800. I keep the stock cables on the IE800.

-In the passage where I say open sounding for an IEM, note that I use reserved words like "more" and "better" rather than "magnificent sensational ultimate magical fairies." The IE800 has good staging and openness for an IEM, but I personally still cannot, say, pick out the exact location of blah-de-blah in this song, nor does it make me believe my room is now a live concert stage. In this respect, the IE800 still cannot match something like a good over-ear, and much less good speakers.

 

A few months later out of curiosity I got a $200 Schiit Magni/Modi stack and:

Overall, I noticed improvements in both the SE846 and IE800. Most noticeably, the SE846 gained a good amount of treble response, and enough detail so that I no longer would have missed the treble of the IE800 if I had to give it up. IE800 still had a bit more treble response though. The SE846 treble may have gained more of that "artificial" flavor where things sound steely or synth-y. The treble on the IE800 is not really tamed, but where the treble on the smartphone sounded brash and grainy, the treble out of the magni/modi is more of a brash and clean. Both IEMs gained openness and better staging. I no longer really lamented about the SE846 sounding congested sometimes. With the IE800 I started getting hints of being at live performance. With the right recording and correct celestial alignment, I could perhaps close my eyes and pretend I was there. With this setup, the IE800s would be the one I would keep if I had to choose, because of the better staging.

 

Inevitably a few months later I upgraded again, to a $1500 Burson Soloist/Bifrost Uber, probably as far as I plan to take it with amping IEMs.

The most noticeable thing I noticed with this upgrade was that the treble on the IE800 no longer sounded nearly as loud, steely or artificial- less volume but more detail. Though I never had a problem with the IE800's treble with lower end amps/dacs, the treble out of a smartphone now just sounded downright harsh and low-res. The treble out of the magni/modi was steely and less resolving, though it was more aggressive and still clean. Staging and openness on the IE800 may have improved, though only slightly. The SE846 improved in similar ways here, though in terms of soundstage and openness it is still slightly behind the IE800. It has certainly closed the gap with the IE800 in that respect since I first listened to it straight out of a smartphone, however. The biggest thing with the SE846 was its noticeably better transient response, and on this setup, it sounds more detailed than the IE800 even in the treble. This suggests to me the SE846 scales better than the IE800 here, with the IE800 perhaps starting to reach its limits. Because of this, on this setup, if I were to only keep one IEM, it would be the SE846.

 

Well, that's it for now, and probably for later. But I hope that these notes are of some help if you are looking at getting the IE800s. Do note that we all hear differently, have different tastes, and use different adjectives, so as usual with me and with anyone, YMMV, everything I say is IMO, etc., and there is no substitute for an actual audition using your system.

Posted

Pros: The best sound for universal in ear monitors, comfortable, pinpoint precision, big soundstage, mids, bass, treble, clarity, vivid sound

Cons: DAC/AMP deoendent to sound good

Hello!

 

When someone invests this much money would like to know as much as possible. I will try to express what is not already written in other reviews. I know that most people who read reviews are those who are thinking to buy a product, not people who have a certain product. I have bought the Ie800, and I am doing this for fun, and out of my own will, I did not receive anything to do this, and I paid for my Ie800. My pair is in the 12XXX series, so there might be differences from the first batches.

 

Introduction and my background :

 

I am a very dedicated listener. I used to play instruments and I re-master music commercially. I'm the type of person who would insist on using ogg -q10 soundtracks in the games he works on, check them out at https://www.facebook.com/seventh.heart.studios/

 

I listed music more than the normal person, around half of all the free time I have. 

 

I have quite the collection of equipment, to compare and use with Ie800:

 

- Sennheiser : Ie8, Hd380pro; 

- Ultrasone: Dj one pro;

- Fiio: X5, E12a, L2, X5II;

- Cowon: J3;

- Sony : Xb700;

- Htc: 820;

- Xiaomi mi max

- Shozy Zero

 

I will be using Fiio X5 and E12a for driving ie800. I think that it would be unfair to compare them with anything I own at the moment. Ie800 is in another class, compaed to my other equipment. 

 

The package (only the necessary included) : 

 

It comes pretty simple, a cardboard box, inside is ie800, tips, leather case, cable extension and a tool for cleaning; Exactly what you need to enjoy it, without having accessories that you will never use.

 

Keep in mind that the cable is not detachable from IEM's body, so there is an extension provided. 

 

Considering that the tips are proprietary, including 5 sizes in total will be enough for most people (3 round S/M/L and 2 oval S/L). I managed to use all the tips, and they all had different signatures.

 

The leather carry case (the premium beyond the premium) :

 

 

 

 

 

It is elegant and useful. It can hold the IEMs and a tool for cleaning wax. I consider that the case is better not having a place to store spare tips, most people would anyways find comfort in one set, not swap often. There are side holes, where you store the jack for protection. The storage method is pretty simple, you put the IEMs inside the case, and you wrap the cable around the sponge part, then insert the jack in the side hole. It has such a premium feeling, and the leather is enough high quality, that I consider that it would work much better with a elegant business suit than casual jeans. In fact, I store them insde another box when I need to put them in my bag, to prevent any damage to the leather case.

 

[After getting my hands on a new-er revision case is improved a little, so  will also post a few pictures of the new version]

 

Cable and details about it (not microphonic at all) :

 

As I said, the cable is not detachable from the IEMs themselves but at the Y split. 

 

I remember people complaining about this a lot. I remember reading that Sennheiser decided to do things this way to keep the housings of the drivers as small as possible, and because most cables break from the jack. I had a large share of cheap in ears throughout the years (about 10 pairs from 2007 to 2010) and they all broke at the jack (not even once at the point where the cable enters the driver's housing. I guess that Sennheiser was right to do things this way. 

 

 

 

 

 

The cable not only it looks sturdy, but also has a sleek and elegant look to it. I would totally take ie800 to an official meeting and feel content with the looks.

 

About the cable being microphonic, I think that most people stating this have not tried using the noise attenuator. With the cable being so short, I asked myself why is there a rubber separator between cables above the Y split. Well, if you raise it a little, it attenuates the cable noise. I felt liked wearing them while walking after discovering that. I am using my Ie800 as my only in ear. After hearing them, I immediately gave my Ie8's to my wife.

 

 

 

 

Tips (they do change the sound a lot):

 

I have been trying all tips and wearing Ie800 both over the ear and straight down. 

 

For me the insertion depth changes with every tip, and so does the signature. The changes are huge so I strongly recommend using Ie800 with the tip that produces shallow insertion for you. 

 

Worthy of mention is also the system that Ie800 uses to create the best seal possible. When you insert it, the IEM adjusts the internal pressure of air to the extent where the pressure is enough to keep it inside the ear, and keep the sound un-distorted. You really know when you have a seal. This is very useful, as I used to spend a lot of time searching for a seal with other cheap IEMs. With Ie800, you get a good seal, but another word of advice is cleaning the tips with soap and water (also stated in the manual for Ie800) because otherwise the tips become slippery and fall out of ears.

 

 

 

 

The SQ is relative to tips:

 

- First, the sound remains daylight clear across all tips. PRaT stays the same, pinpoint precision, and they have the best dynamics I heard. Most changes are due to the depth of insertion, and how the sound interacts with the ear canals, considering that the road the waves have to travel until hitting the ear membrane is different. 

 

- Shallow insertion. I cannot stress how important this is, because I had to re-write the entire review after figuring out that using shallow insertion (with big round tips in my case) would yield the best sound possible. All tips provide nice sound, but if the insertion is too deep, there is not enough air between instruments, and cymbal crashes sound rather harsh and distorted. Sennheiser mentions that Ie800 is to be used with shallow insertion, and this is why wearing straight down only permits this. 

 

 

Wearing comfort :

 

 

Comfort is quite good, considering that I have been wearing them for 4-6 hours a day for the last days. No microphonic noise or no problems. The cable is long enough to be comfortable.

 

 

 

 

Wearing over the ear is possible, but not necessary for most people, as you will have solved the problem of microphonic noise with the trick mentioned earlier. 

 

The cable Y split can be attached to the clothes using a shirt clip, which solves the last bit of comfort issues people could have. 

 

 

Isolation :

 

I have been using ie800 for some time outside, and I must say, the isolation is much better than I thought at first. It even happened to me to be walking in a store, listening quiet to X5+E12A+Ie800, and see someone I knew. I stopped my music, and said hello, and the person replied to me that I should not shout inside and I should stop the music I was listening. I can easily take a walk outside without being bothered by noise, if the noise is not too high (I can still hear cars honk, but I am not sure I can hear most cars pass by), so Isolation is a plus for me, living in Bucharest where background noise is very high.

 

 

Build quality :

 

They are brittle, this is what the manual states. You should avoid dropping them into solid surfaces. In rest, they are build like tanks. The ceramic housings are amazingly sleek and elegant. They have an out-of-this-world look to them, like being made of obsidian. The entire IEM, it's cables and the carry case looks very premium, expensive, and elegant. They look like they are build like a tank, but again, do not drop the IEMs to the ground. Ceramic can be broken if it hits a material with a higher density than itself. Like the floor of a subway or the concrete on the street. 

 

 

Sound (Sennheiser made this pinnacle of sound quality in the in the Ear Monitors industry) :

 

 

The new driver build by Sennheiser is made to be as small as possible, to be worn by anybody, no matter if the ears and ear canals are small, and to still feel very comfortable. It is named an extra wide bandwidth dynamic driver. This is exactly what it is. It has the sound of a dynamic driver, and it is able to reproduce treble up to the very high registers.

 

The two absorbers on the back are not design elements but Helmholtz resonators. Sennheiser stated that they manage to repair the spike in treble, at 10Khz that usually covers most higher register sounds. It works, because with Ie800 the treble is able to touch the highest of trebles that I can still hear. All cymbals sound clear, un-distorted and full. I think that these ports also have something to do with the full and detailed, rich bass. At least one of the holes is used for equalizing the air pressure with the ear. 

 

 

 

I will re-write the sound while using X5II. 

 

+Bass :

 

It is deep. It does not roll off at all, it is extended to the lowest register possible. The punch is exemplary, it is there when it is called for. Decay of low notes is exemplary as well, not being too long nor too short. It sounds natural, the notes last exactly as long as they would in a normal room, in a live experience. I would call Ie800 a IEM for bassheads. When listening to classical, the instruments have body, you are able to discern the texture of every single instrument. 

 

 

In metal tracks I am able to hear the bass guitars. Being able to compare with real bass guitars, I can say that the bass is reproduced exactly as much as it should be.

 

In avant garde and jazz music, acoustic guitars have enough expression in the low registers to sound realistic. 

 

In one word, over all generas, the bass sounds natural, it hits when it is called for. It never distorts, and never bleeds in the mids. Having enough sub bass is very welcome for listening to acoustic music, as acoustic instruments often do not get enough body. Ie800 is exemplary in this aspect.

 

 

 

+Mids 

 

Guitars, voices, and virtually everything sounds natural. Mids are very precise and the reproduction is very close to how everything should sound in nature. I think that having a dynamic driver helps a lot in this aspect.

 

Exemplary reproduction, is in guitars. Hearing every different note, and the differences between a hard press and a softer press on strings with every detail is very nice for a change. Dynamic range reproduction is also very helpful, it sounds vivid and un-compressed. I love it how it is possible to discern even 3 fuzz guitars playing at the same time (Kishida cult - HOTD), or two or more guitars playing similar notes at the same time (Dance Gavin Dance - carl barker, Closure in moscow - pink lemonade, Wintersun - sons of winter and stars) 

 

For synthetic instruments I am happy to say that the texture is reproduced with ease, and is not masked. For example most of Mindless Self Indulgence are very problematic because of the synths used that have very complicated textures. They come off masked in general, but Ie800 is able to retrieve a very good amount of texture from them. Or pieces like Korn - narcissistic cannibal are played very well, there is a clear need of texture in both bass and mids.

 

For someone who played the guitar in the past, guitars come off false easily with most equipment out there. I have to say, after listening for so long to ie800, guitars can be reproduced very natural, exactly as recorded. You can hear the air between the strings, the artist moving the hand on guitar, and the exact texture of each note. 

 

The mids are so detailed, that some un-wanted noise can get through, for example, on some acoustic guitar recordings, it was very easy to hear the artist breathing, or hands touching the guitar body. Practically everything that was picked up by the microphone comes out. Every little detail is under a microscope, and analyzed, but the general signature is never cold and analytic, but mids have a sweet, melodic sound to them. 

 

Reroduction of pianos and violins was my biggest surprise. Most of times, when hearing a piano or a violin live if the song is sad, you get a taste of that feeling. You can feel the emotion behind the strings. Ie800 manages to reproduce that exact feeling. For example, I am listening to Jill Tracy - Room 19 at the moment. The piano notes transmit the sadness behind the events depicted in the song. Her voice is so clear, you can feel the sorrow she is trying to inflict to the heart of the listener.

 

Using "I can't shake it" from the same artist, is a very good example of how the instruments can sound. Everything is in it's place, the violins in the background are crying with pain instead of being rendered cold and emotionless. The piano is clean, able to have the texture it is meant to.

 

Using a very complicated song, like Dance gavin dance - we own the night, It is harder to mentally imagine all the instruments than it is for Ie800 to reproduce them.

 

 

+Treble

 

I am a person who likes to have more treble with his music. Ie800 is very good in this aspect. If I were to compare Ie800 to what I already own, it has more treble. But the treble is not harsh. It is clear, and never sibilant. The cymbals ring for exactly as long as they should. 

 

In fact, I actually started re-listening most of my music collection, to hear the clear and un-distorted treble of Ie800. 

 

I love hearing a cymbal crash close to natural, where in reality, cymbals are loud, abrasive and lively instruments. Cymbals are not supposed to keep rhythm, they are supposed to create a sound of their own, they are not background but foreground instruments (as it should be with every instrument). There are enough details, that when there is a cymbal crash, you can tell if the drummer hits the cymbal close to the core, or on the outer surface. 

 

 

 

+Soundstage/Imaging

 

 

 

It is huge but precise. The soundstage is better than I ever expected. It is up to the best open headphones I have ever heard. Imaging and layering of instruments is done with pinpoint precision. Every single instrument is an entity on it's own, and you are able to tell it's limits, but it is not cornered to be smaller than it should be. It is like being able to see each musical note and playing instrument, played in it's own musical space, all around the listener. 

 

The soundstage has one of the best depths I had ever heard. You can hear sounds coming from a distance, and tell what the distance is between you and that instrument.

 

 

+PRaT and ADSR

 

It has one of the best PRaTs I ever came across. It is able to keep up with the most complicated things I thrown at it. Pace rythm and timing are up to the level of me calling Ie800 the ultimate in ear solution for music listening. 

 

ADSR - Attack Sustain Decay and Release. It is stunning how each note is the length it has to be.

 

 

 

Value:

 

 

 

 

 

[Time to review them after more than an year of usage and add a few things]

 

- I had to re-write the review, but in general I am very pleased with Ie800, though there are a few things to mention

- Tips are meant to be cleaned after a while, so if you fail to get a good tip, and they slip out of ears (lose seal) just clean both ears with hydrogen peroxide and tips with soap and water, and you are good to go.  

- Best way to use them is shallow insertion, sound is airy and soundstage is best this way. Also, every other characteristic of sound is best when using shallow insertion. 

- Wearing over the ear proved to be easy for me, though I also wear them straight down at times without any problems. 

- Ie800 is source dependent, you need a good DAC and AMP to make them shine (for example, using X5II proves very good, but when I tested them with X7 (Iem Module) from Fiio, it was on another level)

- I was very happy with Sennheiser customer service, they were very friendly and prompt.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was planning to buy ie800 as my final end game in ear monitors anyway, I am very happy that I was able to buy them second hand. I think that they justify their price, considering that Sennheiser has a very good warranty, and they have 2 years of warranty. 

 

I would totally recommend Ie800 as the pinnacle of In ear monitor listening, because they are truly end game IEMs!

Posted

Pros: FANTASTIC midrange quality. Very, very detailed without fatigue. Fun bass and extended high-end. Open sounding (for an IEM). Well built. Lightweight.

Cons: Cable microphonics. May sound bass-heavy to some. Expensive.

 

Still burning-in, but I can already say they are by far the best sounding IEM's I've ever heard. Fantastically clear/clean through the mids and treble - tremendous detail resolution without things sounding harsh or clinical. Treble is precise, rich, coherent and extended. Never piercing or bordering on overly bright to these ears, unless it's a crap recording of course. 

Midrange is where it's really at. Delicate, full-bodied and airy sounding. Vocals sound crisp, velvety smooth and true in tone. Maybe the best midrange I've heard from any portable audio system, no matter the type and size. 

Bass is a bit pumped-up down very low and, while still very well controlled and never hinting at midrange coloration, leans more towards fun than accurate. The thumping nature of the low-end covers up that last bit of texture definition, but for a portable unit meant to be used in noisy surroundings, I happen to think this is a wise and welcome trade-off. Extension is great and I've found the amount of bass very well adapted to on-the-go usage. 

 

While still an in-ear design and far from capable of the large, realistic imaging/staging of a great full-size headphone, they are certainly as open and expansive sounding as I've ever heard an IEM to be.

 

I'm also surprised how sonically different they are to their full-size TOTL equivalent, the HD 800. To my ears, the IE800's richer tone is far more appealing.

 

Construction-wise they are tiny (smaller than expected) and very lightweight. The minimalistic housings feel rock-solid and the kevlar-coated cable adds some fancy looks to it all. The case is nice and handy too. No issues whatsoever with comfort. 

My one major complaint is how microphonic the cable is. You can reduce this annoyance factor drastically by putting a clip where the cable splits and attaching it to your shirt/jacket. 

Oh, and they're expensive for something so petite. But they sound fantastic, so I'm a happy buyer. :D 

Posted

Pros: Amazing all around sound, superb bass, mids and treble, cool and modern design

Cons: Nothing for me. Non-detachable cable might bother some.

I'm not that much of an IEM guy. That said, I needed some IEMs as I sometimes travel. I wanted a good all-rounder, something with which I could listen to music on my phone and also play games on PS Vita.

 

I didn't want some "decent" IEMs though. I had those (Sennheiser CX-300 II, Audio-Technica ATH-CKX9IS) anyway. I wanted the best IEM out there. I've tried two that are said to be the best, Shure SE846 and Sennheiser IE800. I wanted a universal fit and these were said to be the best. SE846 are also great IEMs but to me they looked weird. IE800s look so cool and they are so small. Yet they sound amazing. I couldn't believe such small drivers could sound so good with any genre. Sub-bass is out of this world. Just listen to Daft Punk's Giorgio by Moroder with IE800s and you'll hear what I mean. Even though I can listen to these IEMs for hours without any fatigue, there's so much detail in the sound. These IEMs don't boost treble in order to create an illusion of a detailed sound but actually sound reference class without any coloration.

 

Also as gaming headphones on PS Vita (or multimedia) these headphones are amazing. Games sound great, and also movies. These also work well with Meridian Explorer.

 

I recommend these to everyone who want the best IEMs.

Posted

Pros: Good spatial imaging for an IEM; good sound; very comfortable and easy to put on

Cons: barely isolates at all (!); line noise (!); chord too short; even the case is designed poorly

Let me start with the good, and then explain why you should never buy this IEM.

 

Sound signature: The treble, mids and bass are sort of like that of an HD800, except downgraded. For example, one of the songs I use to test headphones is Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel. One of the key parts I listen for is that initial drum blast. On this, it sounds very close to the way it sounds on the HD800, except it's just missing a little bit. Moving on to a treble heavy song, it sounds similar to the HD800, but slightly muddier and the highs seem a little rolled off. Something is missing with the mids/voices as well -- they seem a little bit more distant. In general, it sounds like the HD800 but it's missing a little of that oomph, exhilaration or spine tingle that the HD800 gives (and a little is a lot when you're comparing headphones in this price range). Despite the fact that I keep noting differences between the IE800 and HD800, I do definitely sense a similar sound signature. For example, like the HD800, voices, instruments and all sound "natural" (they way they would sound right in front of you) as opposed to that synthetic and adulterated sound you hear in so many headphones. Well this is the best I can do now but when I can better articulate the similarities and differences I'll edit. But please do not misunderstand, this is a downgraded HD800, not at all an HD800. They're similar, yet also quite different.

 

Comparisons with Shure SE846: Is the bass as good as with the Shure Se846? No. Shure has invented a magical device in the SE846 that delivers beautiful, clean, tight and undistorted bass of whatever degree you want (depending on the filter you use). This is pretty good, not nonexistent bass (like, say, the Shure SE425), but I would compare it to something between the white and blue SE846 filters and even then the SE846 might be very slightly better in terms of quality. Is the treble as sparkly as the Se846 with a white filter? I'm not even sure about that; I would have to think about it a bit and do careful tests. But I disagree with reviewers I've seen that claim the Se846 sounds like its treble was rolled off relative to IE800. The IE800 has OK treble, but it also feels slightly rolled off relative to sparkly treble kings (like the HD800 and Audeze LCD XC).

 

Spatial imaging: For an IEM, the spatial imaging on this is amazing, better than the imaging of the Shure SE846 (but it's still no where near the spatial imaging of the HD800, and other over the ear cans can also do better; ultimately this is still just an IEM). It achieves that effect of making certain things feel closer and certain things feel farther away. On some songs you get a version of that cool echo/spaced out effect you get on the HD800, which is impressive in an IEM.

 

Detail and instrument separation: Detail and instrument separation is very good. Again this is not as crisp sounding as the HD800, but it does have a lot of detail. It's quite good. Of course, the cool aspect of the HD800's detail/separation is that the detail is placed in a certain virtual location, and as noted above this can't do that as well as the HD800.

 

Comfort: You do not need to go through an ordeal to insert these, unlike the Shures mentioned above. In addition, the wires are not stiff like the Shure wires which has to be another advantage. It's really hard to read which is left and which is right (but after you find out once you'll know forever based on their shape). In addition, it has a hole that equalizes the pressure between your ears and the outside, which is a good feature. Consistent with Sennheiser's other cans, this is extremely comfortable and easy to wear. I guess that deserves a 1/2 star boost.

 

Now for the negatives.

 

Design flaw #1: Isolation: I decided to take it outside near cars and busy activity to see how well it isolates. The first alarming thing I noticed was how loudly I heard the door close on my way out; not a good start. But I readjusted the tips and remained hopeful and optimistic . . . until I hit the street, when I was overcome with disappointment after hearing everything. I stopped, played with the tips, did every trick I could think of. Nothing. This isn't as bad as an open back headphone, but it's only a little better than a closed back. Sennheiser, don't you think that, perhaps, people wear IEMs to block out noise? If they want to hear outside noise they could easily wean an over the ear or on the ear can. Eventually, the only way I could listen to the music was to turn the volume up to a level that I later measured as 70-75 dbA (for comparison, the Shure SE846 isolate well enough to easily listen at 60-65 dbA). Thanks for the hearing loss Sennheiser!!! All the outside noise of an over the ear and the "pumping music directly into your ear canal to destroy your auditory hairs" dangers of an IEM. Great lose-lose combination you got there! Due to the risk of permanent hearing deterioration caused by this unacceptable and inexplicable design feature, it has to lose 1 1/2 points. (Edit: I measure dbA by putting the IEM tip right up against the port of a decibel meter).

 

Design flaw #2: Line noise. At first I decided to try it with the line hanging under my chin, the way you're supposed to wear it. But as soon as I started walking, it sounded like I was in a wind storm! There was no wind, but every time I would move, the chord would move, and apparently when the chord moves it has to let me know by sending this loud sound up and into my ear canal. Thud, thud, thud, thud. I get it chord, we're moving. You don't have to tell me every half-second. Let me move a bit without you machine gunning my ears. Sennheiser, did you even put this on and go for a walk with it before you decided to sell it to the public?! I wasn’t even exercising heavily. This is unacceptable, it has to lose 1 star over this. Edit: Sometimes I wonder if Sennheiser is playing a joke on us with this product. I say that because I just discovered that the Sennheiser HD800 has absolutely zero line noise. I tapped its line, shook it, whipped it . . . but I couldn't get it to produce even a tiny bit of line noise. So the HD800, which is designed for stationary use, has absolutely zero line noise, and the IE800, which is designed to be used while active, has insufferable line noise? Really Sennheiser? The fact that Sennheiser knows how to completely eliminate line noise means this flaw deserves another 1/2 star deduction.

 

Design flaw #3: So to cure the slight bit of chord noise you hear in every IEM, I discovered this trick I do whereby I let the IEM hang behind my head instead of under my chin. With the SE846 you hear nothing if you do this. I think your hair acts as some sort of sound baffle or cushion or something; whatever it is it works, and it helped a good amount with the IE800 too, but not as much as with the SE846 and the IE800 wasn’t as comfortable hanging behind your head. But whatever it's tolerable now and so I'm walking along and . . . I decide to put my player into my pocket, at which point I discover that the chord, from your ear to the jack, is only about 3 1/2 feet long! Sennheiser, did you test this on little people?! Did you think that perhaps customers would like just one measily foot of extra chord?!?! What terrible thing did you think would happen if you included a five foot chord like Shure? Fine, keep your chord short, but if I'm paying you $1,000, could you at least have thrown in an extra chord of a longer length? Shure includes two chords with the SE846 and their chords look to be of higher quality than yours, so why can't you? This inexcusable chintziness and lack of thought has to cost it 1/2 star.

 

Design flaw #4: This is minor but it shows how inconsiderate Sennheiser was when designing this. The case has no room to insert your extra tips. This four inch, by 3.5 inch, by one inch case (measure that out so you know how big it is) doesn't have room for the extra tips. The inside of the case is almost entirely foam, with a little groove where you insert the IE800 (you don't put the IE800's wire in the case, by the way, rather you must wrap the wire around the case). First of all, what happened to just being able to throw your IEM into a case and take it out with ease, rather than having to perform a complex lego piece insertion and removal each time? Back to the main point, Sennheier, if you're going to make a gigantic case as big as a fat wallet, could you let us use some of that room?! Cut a little area out of that foam where we can insert the extra tips you gave us. This is a small thing, but it shows such a lack of consideration and thought. It has to lose 1/4 star.

 

Conclusion: Ultimately, I am not going to keep these. Although I love the sound signature of the HD800 and this reminds me of that, I can't support a product engineered this poorly. It's of no use to me because if I'm in a loud area, I'll use my beautiful SE846 and if I'm in a quiet area I'll just use my HD800. This leaves the question of what rating to give these. Although the sound is very good, based on its hefty price tag it can't get more than 4 1/2 stars on sound (I have to save 5 stars for something that really wows you). Subtract 1 1/2 stars for lack of isolation, add 1/2 star on comfort, subtract 1 star for line noise, another 1/2 star for having line noise even though Sennheiser knows how to completely eliminate it, subtract 1/2 star for the chord, subtract 1/4 star for the case, and (this is very subjective) add 1/2 star for having something close to the HD800 sound signature (which I like) and for being made by Sennheiser, a very ethical headphone company that lets you return things you don't like for a full refund. So 4.5 -1.5 +.5 -1 -.5 -.5 -.25 +.5 = 1.75 stars, which I’ll round down to 1.5 stars because I expected better from a $1,000 headphone. For comparison, I gave the SE846 5 1/2 stars (capped at 5 stars). As anyone who has spoken to me on this board knows, I am a huge Sennheiser fan so I wanted to like this but this is just pointless.

Posted

Pros: Excellent well extended, tight and punchy bass, amazingly detailed mids, very detailed and sparkly treble without being bright. Good soundstage and positioning.

Cons: Other than price, I couldn't find any.

Hello guys,

I have been reading about the IE800 for some time now. I heard people saying it is a mini HD800. That intrigued me, as I love the HD800.

I usually hate IEMs for their congested and bassy sound. I also hate sticking something inside my ears, but was curious about Sennheisers' new addition.

It seems I am a lucky man,  as last week soundnews.ro asked me if I can write a review for them on their site.

Of course I accepted as I love their website. DarKu writes there and I have used it as a reference for many ears. In my opinion, It is the best romanian website about audio. It was an honor and an opportunity I couldn't refuse, so here I am, listening to IE800.

These headphones look quite nice. The cable has a good build quality and a nice sturdy feel.  The jack is with a 90 degrees angle so you can easily use a portable device in the pocket with them.

IE800 comes with a nice package that contains another 4 pairs of ear-buds of different sizes. What I love about them is that every ear-bud has an additional protective grill, keeping the unwanted stuff away from the driver that also has another protective grill.

The carry case it comes with is very elegant with a leather like material, well build and could easily fit in a pocket.

Also the comfort is quite nice. They have 2 vents. One is for the sound as they are opened in-ears and the second one is to vent the air between the earbud and your eardrum, so the pressure goes away.

Yes...but the sound..how is it?

The first time I put these headphones in my ears my jaw dropped on the floor. These babies are absolutely amazing. They don't have the typical IEM sound at all.

The first thing I observed is the soundstage, which was huge for a pair of in-ears.

It is quite weird. I felt like the sound is coming from inside my skull. I actually started with classical music and I felt like my head became a big, large scene with the orchestra inside it. I could not believe my ears. I instantly loved the classical music on these headphones.

The sound just hypnotized me, as I just stood still while listening to them. It is stunning.

I will start to explain some of my experiences with it on some songs:

Andre Rieu - Morning (Classical; Peer Gynt Suite) (E.Grieg)

The details are amazing and you can hear every instrument and every note. The dynamics, and micro-dynamics are on the same level, making you a part of the scene and making you feel the music in every part of your body.

Every instrument is well placed into space and easy to separate from the other. The treble is well defined with amazing details but still on the smooth side. The mids are very present and give the instruments a very good extension and a full body.

Pink Floyd - Time

The bells and ringing at the beginning of the song was really enjoyable. The treble had the necessary sparkle and detail but wasn't too hot. The sound was very opened for IEMS.  The IE800 surprises me everytime and I forget i listen to IEMs or even closed headphones. The sound is multi-layered with very good instrument separation, amazing details and very well balanced throughout the spectrum.

ACDC - Beating Around the Bush

The voice was very well textured and quite natural . The instruments did not blend in in one layer as with the other IEMS. These headphones know how to rock having a very good PRAT and energetic sound.

Infected Mushroom - Drum n' Bassa

I usually hate the bass on IEMS as it feels unnatural with too much pressure on the eardrum. Well until now the IE800 did not fit the  normal in-year standards and It was time to see if the bass really is better than with others.

Well...IE800 impressed me again. The bass is deep, punchy and tight, but not invading other parts of the spectrum. The PRAT was excellent and the overall experience toe-tapping.

Leonard Cohen - Be for Real

You know that this is my ultimate way of testing the  voice reproduction,  and I must say that Leonard's voice sounded very natural, well textured and had a very nice presence. I was not like Audeze LCD2 but it captured the essence of his voice.

I have listened to many other songs, but I will not add more impressions on songs as I have already stated the most important facts about IE800's characteristics and I would repeat myself.

Conclusions

These are without doubt the best IEMs I have ever listened to. I really think Sennheiser nailed it with IE800, and nailed it good.  As I said before, I usually don't like the usual sound of in ear headphones, but sennheiser somehow made it in a way that while listening to it, I forget they are in this category.

For their type, I think their openness is amazing. Also the sound is not at all congested, it is actually multi-layered, with very good instrument separation and good spatial positioning.

The details on them are quite stunning. This combined with very good dynamics  really give you goosebumps.

The mids are very good and all the instruments and voices have a good, natural and well textured presentation.

Also the bass is not at all typical to IEMS. It is well extended, punchy and tight and doesn't get over other frequencies.

The treble is very detailed and sparkly but not bright.

Overall the sound is very balanced throughout the spectrum and they were good with every genre I gave them.

I really thought of finding some cons to these headphones but other than the price I couldn't find anything.

And all of this can fit your pocket. They work very well with phones and other mobile devices but they benefit from some amplification and a good DAC . You can have high end sound with you, everywhere you go. For someone who is always traveling, these babies are perfect.

Sennheiser IE800
Description:

Key Features Very low overall THD Two protection meshes Dampened dual-chamber absorber (D2CA) Dynamic linear phase ultra-wide bandwidth (UWB) driver

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Video interview with Axell Grell, Senior Acoustic Engineer at Sennheiser discussing the IE800's.

 

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