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Sennheiser IE8 Impressions Thread

post #1 of 8033
Thread Starter 

I thought I'd get in early, seeing that as soon as these are released in the US, there will be a flood of reviews / opinions threads... I picked these up from Amazon (UK) at a good price of $275 (converted) - They've been burning in for just over 24hrs now... so - preliminary thoughts as below

There are ten types of tips (single / double / serrated flange, and 'Olive' tips) that come in the box, along with a shirt clip, carry case and bass adjuster tool... For me personally, the best fit is the medium double flange, but - your mileage will vary, and it will make a BIG difference as to how you hear these IEMs, so you definitely will need to experiment to find the right tips for you...

Comfort is very good, moreso than that of the Shure E5x0 and UE TF10, and more snug than the Sony EX700, cable microphonics are very low - the cable is about halfway in thickness between the Sony and Shure cables, so flexible, but without feeling like they'll snag very easily - To me personally, the cord could do with being 1.5m rather than 1.2m, but I'm splitting hairs there.

The tonal quality can be best described as a happy halfway house between the Shure E5x0 and UE TF10... The IE8s have a certain amount of warmth in the midrange (although not as rich as that of the Shures) but have most of the treble extension of the TF10s (without being harsh / sibilant like the Sony EX700). Bass extension is deep and tight even on the minimal setting of the bass adjustor, and whilst not quite as defined as the EX700s, is still crisp, and if you have never heard the EX700, you will not notice the lack of bite as they still sound great, easily on a par with the Shure/UEs...

Talking of that bass adjustor... It definitely works, these IEMs can be VERY bassy, but - to be honest, I believe them to be bassy enough on the minimum setting (although this is definitely a case of YMMV)

Where the IE8s really set themselves apart is first of all with their airiness... Listening to Sia's live set, her voice is holographic in the soundscape, well seperated from the busy musicians around her... at no point yet have I heard the IE8s lose control, even on complex tracks, these still pick everything apart, laid bare for you to hear... The other way that the IE8s really excel is their power handling - These can be driven harder than any of the other IEMs that I have mentioned here, and still want to give you more... It really does appear that diaphragm based earphones are back on top!

All isn't quite perfect though... The nickel jack plug (rather than the customary gold tip) is a bit of a let down, as contact definitely is not as good as you would expect (spinning the plug in the jack can lead to crackling - something I haven't heard for a few years!!), the other negative point of note is the bass adjustor - there are little notches showing the levels of base, but the 'tuner' itself is totally analogue. By that, I mean that there are no clicks when you reach the levels, so there isn't accurate matching other than at minimum and maximum (although I really have no idea just how much this would matter... Someone with a scope would need to verify if this really makes any difference)

As mentioned in the title of this thread, these are only brief opinions, and most definitely not a review... If anyone has any specific questions, please post them below, and I will do my best to answer until these IEMs become more readily available...

One final point of note - All listening at this point has been done with a 3G iPhone, just from the headphone jack - I personally am not that keen on lugging an amplifier along as well, although maybe later, I will plug the IE8s into my microamp and see how they fair...

I can definitely see these IEMs as a new FOTM, and also as a new contender of best universal IEM - They really are that good - Sennheiser may well be late to market, but - it looks like they have done their research!!  

post #2 of 8033
How do they compare to say CX-95s? Or are they just a different class?
post #3 of 8033
Thread Starter 
Sorry PJW, these are the only Senn earphones that I have (other than some MX500s that I lost somewhere)... So I really cannot answer your question

Maybe someone who has the CX95s will have the Shure / UE / Sony earphones and will be able to compare
post #4 of 8033
Wow, IE8 is certainly cheaper in the U.K. than the U.S.

Hopefully we can see a better priced IE8 on the rest of the world as well. Finger crossed.
post #5 of 8033
Actually a lot cheaper compare to US retail price. Initial response pretty good.
post #6 of 8033
So i see from the review that the stronger points of these phones are it's sound-stage and it's instrument separation?
post #7 of 8033
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ljcii View Post
So i see from the review that the stronger points of these phones are it's sound-stage and it's instrument separation?
Hi.

I would agree with that summary, yes - although that does not mean that they fail in other areas - they really are great all-rounders (unless you prefer a bass light sound, in which case, it might be a good idea to stay away)
post #8 of 8033
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duncan View Post
Hi.

I would agree with that summary, yes - although that does not mean that they fail in other areas - they really are great all-rounders (unless you prefer a bass light sound, in which case, it might be a good idea to stay away)
So its clarity is no match for the SE530/UM2?
post #9 of 8033
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by scytheavatar View Post
So its clarity is no match for the SE530/UM2?
Hi Scytheavatar...

That is definitely NOT the case, as stated in my opinions at the top, the IE8s have got better clarity than either of the other two IEMs - their openness, soundscape, tone, everything is tredding the fine line inbetween the E5x0 and TF10...

I have not listened to the UM2 though so I cannot comment there...
post #10 of 8033
I got $310 when i did the conversion the other day on Reuters. Interesting. This is assuming they were £195 when you bought them.

Do you have any pics? Im interested to see the range of tips that come with them. I wonder if they are usable on UE's?
post #11 of 8033
Thread Starter 
Hi JDN...

I got the last pair available from Amazon themselves (rather than the third party supplier now showing) so they were cheaper than currently listed (£152.02 + 17.5% VAT - so, £178.62)...

Re the tips, no pictures as yet, but, other than the olives (which work quite well actually) the IE8 tips are slightly too large for the TF10s, so unless you want the nozzle of the TF10s to be FULLY in ear, then I wouldn't advise it as a way to go... - I haven't tried the other way around though, putting the TF10 tips on the IE8s, because - to me, the IE8 tips are more comfy.

I hope that update helps
post #12 of 8033
Based on the CX95, 24 hours of burn-in is not enough. CX95 has the same clarity of UM2 when burnt in enough. The resolution is quite lower though. The interesting thing is the bass that on the CX95 approaches dynamic headphones behavior. I mean impact, power, placement within the image. More akin to the Atrio bass but capable of more speed down low and a better decay and precision. Atrio is more resolved/detailed down low though.

That said I have high hopes for IE7/IE8. If they made the improvements on the CX95 they should have a more true dynamic headphone performance like we haven't seen yet.

I think it is a good chance that after enough burn-in they should match or surpass the EX700 down low for definition. I think these new Sennheisers need added impedance to gain more bite(125db SPL as with armatures is a bit too sensitive). They would seem to have gone the quick transient route and it seems both the IE8 and CX95 share the ability to separate well and handle fast complex music and basslines well but that will tend to hurt texture and bite. Finding just the right amount of impedance to add bite and texture without slowing them enough to hurt the transients noticeably.
post #13 of 8033
Thread Starter 
actually jant, that is one thing I omitted - The IE8 do not exhibit hiss (with the iPhone) whereas the E500s do...

...I will leave the IE8s playing pink noise for a few days... Do you remember when the CX95s hit their sweet spot? - 200hrs? - I may just leave the IE8s on for a week anyway...
post #14 of 8033
Yeah I was not talking about hiss either but that high sensitivity lends itself to things like transient speed/separation/control but too much may hurt bite and texture.

I would say by 100 hours. They might not turn out the same way but look out for a noticeable change, mostly in the bass. I would guess that the bass will lessen and the bass notes will become more placeable in 3D space and depth and each bass frequency should have more of its own tone and impact. So, I still think you may come back to them and change your opinion and place the IE8 over the Sony for bass definition. The CX95 does this better than the UM2 and has more clarity down low but the UM2 is more detailed. The CX95 has more bass/impact, bass clarity and more 3D bass imaging than the UM2 but not the detail retrieval/refinement or extension.
post #15 of 8033
Very interesting early impressions Duncan- I'm most definately gna have to check these out when I can afford it! I'm interested to hear a dynamic driver styled IEM and to see how they fair against the balanced armature styled models I currently own and have listened to and it appears as though Sennheiser has produced a quality product here.
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