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Universal Fit item created by jacksonchansf, Oct 1, 2012
Pros - Neutral mids, amazing clear lows, great highs! Great soundstage for such a small driver!
Cons - Where do I begin...they fall out, they don't fit, cord's too short, insane microphonics...never before have I heard my own heartbeat while resting.
You can read tons of reviews actually discussing the audio aspects of this set, I'll just stick to saying the lows are unforgivably clear and they have a great soundstage for IEM's. They sound amazing!
Anyways, I mainly came to knock these down a peg - be sure these are for you before you buy! I never realized how bad a high-end IEM could be for me personally. I've loved my IEM's in the past, even enjoyed some cheap Senn's more than these.
- Horrible microphonics! Just breathing sends scratching sounds right into my ears!
- Short cord, can't be wrapped behind ears. (Can't detach and replace either!)
- Heavy inline cord connector, makes microphonics worse. I can hear my resting heartbeat, never had this issue with prior IEM's!
- They don't fit...HOW!? It's a struggle to get them in my ears and all they do is constantly fall out! Never had this issue before, even other Senn's weren't this level of bad!
I really don't understand, is everyone nearly deaf and blasting these into their ears while sitting still? (No offense; these are rated all so well by many with such excruciating flaws!)
These might be for you - they do sound amazing, but I just can't stand the flaws.
Pros - Amazing SQ, Excellent soundstage, comfortable to wear, small, light, built like a tank
Cons - Cable makes noise, cable is not replaceable, limited eartip selection
I'll keep this short cause I'm not good at writing reviews.
I just wanted to say that I have tried Shure 846 and I really did NOT like it. The sound from Shure is too condensed with not much soundstage (unlike its full sized cans which sound very nicely!)
These IEMs (IE800s) are the ONLY IEMs that I've tried which sound like a full-sized headphone. You can't go wrong with the sound quality!
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! ). 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!
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.
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.
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!
Pros - Sound, Stage, clear image, Heart Thumping Bass, Detail Mids, Crystal Clear High
Cons - Some might find it tooooooo dynamic, little bit laid mid, some might find its too sharp, bright, and edgy.
Pros - consumer oriented product, nice aesthetics
Cons - unfavorable sound tuning, weird and poor treble reproduction
I like the IE 800. I like *uncomplicated* earphones, those you can easily insert without searching the perfect fit to quickly enjoy music. I'm a fan of the build quality and the nice leather pouch. The earphone sits hardly noticeable in the ear canal and the sound is airy and effortlessly reveals smallest details from its digital source. Yet the small housing blows out an incredibly strong bass that distracts but not overshadows. Sonic flaws can be reduced by low volume.
However, I cannot accept the IE800 as reference. Introduced as in-ear alternative to the big HD 800, officially marketed as high-end product, it falls short of expectations.
Sound is *special* and thus personal opinion plays a huge role. But compared to some other (cheaper) in-ears, I think the performance of the Sennheiser is inferior (especially treble). I highly recommend to audition the product prior to trusting the big brand name.
Comparison review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/664229/review-inear-stagediver-series#post_9443353
Detailed review (in German): http://www.hifi-forum.de/viewthread-211-542.html
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.
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.
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.