Sennheiser IE 80 S - Reviews
Pros: Its like you have 3-different IEMS all in one.
Very comfortable tuning, no harshness at all.
Cons: curly cable.
It does not get tangled easily, its just too curly and very hard to straighten.
I am really greateful that this IE80s has an adjustable bass, its like you have 3-different IEMS all in one. Others say the adjustments are not noticeable but I observed otherwise using my Mojo. I normally use the lowest setting for guitars/acoustic songs and the middle for pop/R&B and the full bass setting for chill/dance/jazz music. Lowest setting bring out the mids and high, the full bass setting dampen the vocal, adding the boomy bass and widen the soundstage while the middle setting balances the overall clarity. But overall, the middle setting is the best, just put it there and you're good to go.
With my Mojo, I don't get a cloudy bass when in full bass setting because Mojo's separation is excellent.
Ie80s is very comfortable and light to wear, sound isolation is also good. The only complain I have is the pubic hair cable!! the earhook also can easily fall off when curling the cable for keeping.
I had this IE80s last 2018 but my sister took it so I scouted for other IEMs in same price range but ended up buying the IE80s again. lol! I'm just very comfortable with its tuning, no harshness at all.
I've tried FH5, XBA-N3AP, E5000, DK-3001 but I'm not comfortable with too bright tuning.
Pros: An Improved IE80, Spacious Soundstage, Warm & Smooth Signature, Comfort, Build Quality, Reliability, Amazing Carry Case
Cons: Modified, Yet the Same Tuning as IE80, Recessed Mids & Vocals, Bright 6kHz Peak
I would like to thank Sennheiser for providing the IE80S for review. This review was originally posted on Twister6's review blog and now I would like to share it on Head-Fi.

Sennheiser hardly needs an introduction in the headphone community. Although, they may be best known for their over-ear headphones, their portfolio is not limited to just headphones. Sennheiser has a line-up of IEMs and earbuds in various price ranges, suitable for different use cases and budget. Among the IEM collection, the models from the IE line-up seem to be made for the audiophile market. Until Q3, 2017, the IE line-up consisted of IE60, IE8i, IE80 and IE800. In Q4, 2017, Sennheiser added 2 new models, namely the IE80S and IE800S, which are updates to the IE80 and IE800.

The original IE80 that was released back in 2011, has been a popular IEM among audiophiles, preferring a warm and smooth sound. But the main attraction of the IE80 was its large soundstage. To this day, many manufacturers are still playing catch up to match its soundstage. But like any product, it wasn’t perfect. The biggest and the most common complaint however was with regards to its enhanced upper-bass, which cast a veil on its mid-range. After 8 years, Sennheiser has finally released an update to the IE80. An update that many of us have been eagerly waiting for. An update that will tell us if Sennheiser listens to its customers’ complaints. Let’s find out.

Going forth into the review, I will be referring to the IE80S as 80S.


Packaging and Accessories:
The 80S comes with an adequate set of accessories, such as a carry case, selection of ear-tips and cleaning tool. When Sennheiser announced the 80S, I was anxious to find out if they repeated the mistake of including the same case that came with the IE80. That case was an anti-thesis of practicality. I was relieved when I found out that the 80S comes with a semi-hard zipper case. This zipper case, does a fine job of fitting the IEM and seems quite capable of protecting the internal contents. But you should know that, this is not a small zipper case that you could easily fit in your denim pocket. The case actually measures 6” x 4” x 1.5”. Yes that is a large case. Right out of the box, there are foam inserts that are stuck to the inside of the case. But you can easily remove the foam. Once the foam is removed, it can comfortably fit a DAP, or a portable DAC/Amp on one side, and hold the 80S on the other. This case makes a lot of sense especially if you carry a DAP. But it won’t hold your 4” screen smartphones. While this case may not be ideal for someone who prefers a small case, you could at least put this case to use at home to store audiophile accessories.

As for ear-tips, you get 3 x pairs of each type: silicone, dual flanges and Comply foam. Foams give you a smoother, warmer and woolly sound. Silicone tips make the sound a little open, brighter and less thick. I could never get a good seal with the dual flange tips. One of the most preferred after-market ear-tips for the IE80 is the Spiral dots. And I can confidently say, it works great for the 80S too. You also get a cleaning tool, which has a flat wedge on the other end, to adjust the bass dial on the IEM. The last item is a set of pre-shaped ear-hooks, which helps the cable stay in place over your ears, during workouts.

Build Quality, Fit, Comfort and Isolation:
If you thought that the IE80S looks good in pictures, it looks even better in person. That is due to the quality of BOM used on the IEM, as well as the perfect finish. I have been quite appreciative of the build quality of my IE80. But 80S takes it up a notch. The cable on the 80S is thicker and has a matte finish, compared to IE80’s cable. There aren’t any micro-phonics, when the cable is worn over-ear. The stress relief on right connector of the cable is red in color, to let you easily distinguish between left and right. It is also terminated with a straight 3.5mm connector that is thin. So if your phone case has a narrow cutout for the 3.5mm port, you wouldn’t have to worry.

As the overall shape and size of the 80S is, no different than the IE80, the fit, comfort and isolation is the same. It has a short nozzle with a flange at the tip that helps to hold the ear-tip in place. The fit is fairly shallow. As a result, the isolation is less than average. Being small in size and light in weight, this is a very comfortable IEM. It sits sufficiently flush in your ears, that you shouldn’t have a problem if you fell asleep with the 80S.

(The Stock Case without the Foam Insert)

While I had owned many entry level Sennheiser earbuds during my college days, it wasn’t until I got my IE80 back in 2015, that I got hooked on to this hobby. Although, I have upgraded my setup since then, the IE80 remains to be one IEM, I keep going back to for its warm, soothing and relaxed sound. And the 80S continues on the same path, but with a touch more balance in the tuning and lower distortion characteristics.

The tuning of the 80S is quite similar to that of the IE80, with a slightly enhanced bass and a treble bump, resulting in a U shaped sound. Given the tuning choice, it isn’t an IEM that would be applicable for critical listening, as it is quite far from a neutral signature. The stock tuning makes it a great IEM for a very easy listening. And it is quite versatile of genres, if you are okay with listening with a colored signature. It is a fun type of tuning that works well for genres like; Pop, Electronic, Techno, and Psychedelic. It also works alright for Rock, Hip-Hop and Metal. Some genres that don’t work well are country, jazz and classical.

The biggest complaint from the community, about the IE80 was, the IEM had a significant mid-bass/upper-bass bump that not only cast a veil on the mid-range, but it also made the mid-range muddy. Many of us on Head-Fi and other audio forums, resorted to doing the tape-mod (applying a small piece of tape over the bass dial) to control the mid-bass, to bring the mid-range slightly forward and thereby improving the mid-range transparency. While the tape-mod helped reduce the warmth, there was still a bit of muddiness in the mid-range. The 80S not only has a more controlled bass that lets the mid-range pop out better, but it also seems to have better distortion characteristics, that seems to remove that muddiness in the mid-range.

The 80S has an enhanced bass section, with a tilt towards mid-bass. Although it may not be as bassy as its predecessor, 80S is still a bassy IEM. It becomes evident, if you compare it to an IEM with neutral bass. As a result, it is responsible for the warmth in the presentation and the thickness in the lower-mids. As it is a DD IEM with an enhanced bass region, what you get is that natural bass decay and an easily perceivable sub-bass extension. The bass is not completely clean nor agile. This is a bass for people preferring warmth and power. As a result of reduced bass on the 80S, the bass is no longer over-powering the rest of the spectrum, like what you find on the IE80.

For those who find the bass on the 80S insufficient, you do have the option to increase it, using the Bass Dial that sits on the faceplate of the IEM. Although, it is marked as 5 discrete steps, it is really a continuous adjustment that goes smoothly from Level 1 (Minimum), all the way upto Level 5 (Maximum). My sound impressions is based on the bass dial set at Level 1 (Minimum). Dialing up the bass, increases the quantity of lower-bass and sub-bass frequencies (20-100Hz). As a result, sub-bass is now more prominent, bass now goes deeper, bass notes gain weight & size and the rumbles are heavier. The bass region starts to take a darker tone.

The mid-range on the 80S is a definite improvement over the IE80. IE80’s midrange was not just recessed, but it lacked definition and transparency. The mid-range on the 80S sounds clearer and more resolving in comparison to the IE80. But still, the mid-range is fairly recessed compared to the bass and the treble peak. Asa result, the vocals do not have the immediacy, size and density. So this is not an IEM I would pick for vocals, especially the female vocals as they may sound delicate. But given the enhanced bass, there is a certain thickness to the mid-range that helps the presence adequately, especially the male vocals. The mid-range overall is a bit relaxed. If you are looking for an engaging mid-range, something like the Simgot EN700Pro might be the better suited one.

The treble on the original IE80 was anything but bright. It did have a small peak in the lower treble at around 6kHz. The peak has followed suit on to the 80S. On the IE80, this peak was hardly noticeable for 2 reasons. One, it wasn’t a very prominent peak, and two, the warmth from the bass masked the brightness from this peak. On the 80S though, the peak seems more prominent, as the peak by itself seems to be a dialed up by a few dBs. And the reduction in the warmth in the bass doesn’t mask it completely. Whether this brightness is a positive or a negative aspect, depends on one’s preference and tolerance for the treble. While there is definite brightness from this peak, it doesn’t put the IEM in the ‘Bright IEM’ category. It’s still a warm IEM, with some brightness showing its head once in a while. Except for this peak, the treble is linear and smooth otherwise. It also has better treble extension than the IE80 that makes the notes feel more complete. The controlled warmth and brighter treble, allows the 80S to retrieve more details than the IE80. As a consequence it is not as forgiving as the IE80.

One of the biggest highlights about the IE80 was its huge soundstage and the 80S is no different. Many IEMs in the price range have come close to match or surpass the width. But what makes 80S’ stage special is its depth. Although, there is not an abundance of air in the stage, the depth makes the stage appear more 3D. While the imaging is not pin-point precise, it has a certain realism due to the instruments in a 3D space. The abundant space allows for good instrument separation and layering. But the IEM can tend to congestion as it is warm and its speed is not the best.

I should also add that, the 80S is an IEM that works great for watching movies and gaming, due to its spacious soundstage and powerful bass. Watching action movies in particular, is a very engaging experience on the 80S. If you play First Person Shooter games, you would know that you have a strategic advantage, if you were able to locate the enemies from their foot-steps. As 80S’ stage is 3D in nature, it is able to locate the enemies from the depth perspective and not just from width perspective.


Power Requirements, Hiss and Source Matching:
One of the nice things about the IE80 is, it is quite efficient and doesn’t desire power to sound good. But the problem was, the IEM picked up hiss with some noisy and powerful sources, as it was too sensitive. Sennheiser went ahead and made the 80S less efficient and less sensitive. As a result, it needs a few more positive clicks on the volume, to get to the same level of loudness you got on the IE80. So, it’s slightly more difficult to drive now, but it is still within the comfortable powering levels of your smartphone. For example, I listen to the IE80 at 2 clicks on the volume on my iPhone 6. With the 80S, I am at 4 clicks, which still gives me plenty of headroom for volume adjustment. But the best part about making the 80S less sensitive is, it no longer hisses like the IE80.

Unlike some DD IEMs like the Rhapsodio Galaxy or Dita Dream, which require really powerful sources to unleash their true performance, the 80S doesn’t require a powerful source to sound good. So the source pairing basically comes down to synergy with the source in terms of tonality. Given IE80’s warm tone and thickness, it is better to use a neutral source. But due to the slightly prominent 6kHz peak, avoiding bright sources would be a good idea. So a neutral source, that is smooth in the treble like the Shanling M3S would be an ideal source for the 80S.

IE80S vs IE80:

TL;DR: The 80S is a more refined and an improved version of the IE80. It is less warm in the bass, clearer in the midrange and brighter in the treble. But it still maintains the same stage.

The IE80 is warmer and looser in bass. It doesn’t have the definition and detail of the 80S. But the IE80’s bass has more authority. Once the IE80 is tape-modded, the bass quantity is reduced to the same level as the stock 80S. While the tape mod on the IE80 helps control the bass, it still doesn’t help get rid of the mushy and veiled mid-range. 80S is free of this mushiness and veil for the most part, as it is more resolving and transparent. Imagine taking IE80’s midrange and maintaining its laidback nature, but improving its clarity and resolution. That is exactly how the 80S sounds in the mid-range. So the vocals and the instruments in the mid-range sound clearer and have better presence. The treble is slightly brighter on the 80S, and it helps the IEM retrieve more details. 80S also has better treble extension which improves the overall technical capability of the IEM. In terms of staging, separation and imaging, both IEMs seem to have the same amount of space, but the 80S is a step forward in terms of background blackness, separation and imaging precision.

IE80S vs Simgot EN700 Pro:
Both these IEMs are very different in their tunings and so their use case would be quite different. 80S’ U shaped signature makes it a fun and laidback IEM, which is great for enjoying genres like; modern pop, electronic, psychedelic etc. The 700Pro has a more balanced tuning, that is more serious in nature, and will be better suited for classical, rock, blues etc. 700Pro is also the better one for critical listening or monitoring, as it is less colored and gets close to neutrality. For watching action, sci-fi and adventure movies, I’d pick the 80S. But for drama, or any genre where vocals are important, I’d go with the 700Pro.

Both the IEMs have an enhanced bass region. But 700Pro’s bass is not as enhanced as 80S’ bass. And so it is not as warm nor thick as the 80S. The midrange on the 80S is warm and relaxed in nature. It also sounds slightly veiled. 700Pro’s mid-range is more forward, sounds clearer and is better articulated. Actually, it is slightly bright due to the tilt towards the upper-mids. As a result, female vocals and instruments, come across more melodically on the 700Pro, while the male vocals have more body and authority on the 80S. The treble resolution is similar on both the IEMs. There is a bit of brightness in the treble region on both the IEMS that help with the articulation and details. But the 700Pro showcases better details as it is less warm and is more transparent in the mid-range and treble.

700Pro’s soundstage is very wide and is quite airy, but it lacks depth. The 80S provides a more holographic feel due to its 3D structure of the stage. The left-right instrument separation is better on the 700Pro. Not that the separation on the 80S is poorer, but it’s not as easy to perceive the separation due to the warmth from the bass and the recessed mid-range. But 80S has the advantage in the layering due to its better depth. In terms of imaging, both seem to have the same level of precision. But the 80S provides a more natural sense of imaging, in accordance to its 3D soundstage.


Critical Comments & Suggestions:
- In an attempt to improve the sense of clarity and detail retrieval, Sennheiser seems to have increased the 6kHz peak by a few dBs. While some might welcome this change, this peak is going to be bright for some listener.
- Sennheiser could have explored other tunings than simply revising IE80’s tuning. There are other versions of U shaped tuning that are more versatile.
- The IEM market has become highly competitive and many manufacturers have caught up to the competition in the recent years. A headphone giant like Sennheiser needs to start pushing boundaries, rather than just fixing the negatives or making incremental upgrades to the existing line-up.

Protect Yourself from Counterfeits:
One of the challenges that Sennheiser has been facing for many years with their high-end IEMs (IE8, IE80, IE800) is that, these models have been counterfeited and sold online for very tempting prices. If you find a price that looks too-good-to-be-true, then it most likely is a counterfeit. Protect yourself by buying the IE80S from Sennheiser or, authorized retailers of Sennheiser products.

Product Link on Manufacturer's Website:
Price Price: $349.99


Sennheiser IE80S is a clear improvement over its predecessor, as result of the controlled bass, more resolving mid-range and a slightly brighter treble, that helps with bringing more details to the presentation. It also retains the large stage that the IE80 is popular for, and improves the imaging precision further. You could say, it is an improved IE80 across the board. So yes, it looks like Sennheiser does listen to its customers. But, make no mistake, it is still an IE80 at core. So if you had a chance to try the IE80 sometime, and did not like its tuning at all, the 80S is probably not going to work either. On the other hand, if you are looking for an improved IE80 or, a very reliable and versatile IEM that has a warm and laidback sound, with a large soundstage, IE80S may be a great buy, as it also a very reliable IEM.