I got these for Christmas.
I have never used other IEMs in this class - I've had the RE0s, the Brainwavz M2s and most recently the Sony MH1Cs - so I don't really have a great point of reference for how 150 dollar IEMs should sound. I am also a novice to this hobby as my brief review will surely reveal. But I thought I should try to say at least a few words given how many questions I've asked about these IEMs.
I have heard people say that the MH1Cs can compete with IEMs costing 5 times their price. If that's the case, then the IE800s must be well above above average for their price range because they sound far superior to the MH1Cs. Where they most differentiate themselves most to me is in four areas.
1) The soundstage is more expansive with the music not sounding nearly is an your head as with all the other IEMs I've used. One possible concern, and it may just be psychological, is that while the soundstage is very expansive it may not be accurate. I hear instruments all around me, but for some reason the space doesn't feel real - spacious but somehow chaotic and not coherent so that if I had to point to where the instruments were coming from I'm not sure I could. Maybe its just an adjustment period my brain needs to go to get used to the increased space and details? More on this below.
2) The instrument separation and "black background" of the IE800s is excellent.
3) The highs are much more prominent and airy than the MH1Cs.
4) The bass is much tighter and more controlled than on the MH1Cs. However its not lacking at all, as it was on the RE0s.
I've started a separate thread about build quality so I won't rehash too much but in short these feel pretty cheap to me. Cheaper than the M2s and MH1Cs. The housings are very lightweight plastic with a visible seem. The jack is straight and tiny. The cable is thin. Hopefully that's just the feel and not the reality.
They don't seem quite as smooth or liquid-y as the MH1Cs, but that seems to be improving with use/burn-in.
Overall, outside of possibly only OK build quality and perhaps the less than accurate soundstage these are excellent. They are remarkably balanced from low through highs and have a spacious soundstage with excellent instrument separation.
One question I have for others is whether it should be expected that a higher end IEM would initially be more fatiguing than a lower end IEM. These feel a bit like that to me and I'm wondering if its just because they reveal more auditory information than any other IEM I've used which will take my brain more time to adjust to? Is it because of the somewhat disorienting soundstage? The brighter highs? Or maybe I'm listening extra hard because they're new and nice?
Edited by Stuff Jones - 12/27/12 at 12:04pm