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Sennheiser IE 500 PRO (and newer models) vs Sennheiser IE 800 S

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  1. JasonCA
    I'm excited that Sennheiser is releasing a few new IEM's this year in the US:
    • Sennheiser IE 40 Pro - $100
    • Sennheiser IE 400 Pro - $350
    • Sennheiser IE 500 Pro - $600
    I have been in the process of looking to replace my aging Shure SE530's (the newer equivalent replacements today being the Shure SE535's). The last few months I've been reading through the forums for alternatives in the crowded field of IEM's. Going the path of Shure and staying under the $1000 range, I'd be going with the Shure SE846 ($1000) as a possible replacement and something beyond the Shure SE535's that they would replace for my current SE530's. Yet for the price I would pay for the Shure SE856 ($1000), many say there are better IEM's that are better and cheaper for the money and considering the Shure SE856 is simply older technology by todays IEM standards.

    For example, some say that for the money, the BGVP DM6 ($200) would get me closer to the Shure SE846 but for a far less of cost. And that to really achieve anything better than the BGVP DM6, you would really need to go beyond the $1000 range to get an IEM that is beyond the quality of what you would get for something like the BGVP DM6. Of course, there are probably other IEM's even better than the BGVP DM6 but fall under even $500 that go a bit beyond the Shure SE846's.

    Near to the $1000 mark some say the Campfire Audio Andromeda ($1100) is better bang for the buck over the Shure SE846 ($1000). And that there would be a good audible difference between say the BGVP DM6 ($200) and Campfire Audio Solaris ($1500), but of course you would have to pay for the improvement by quite a lot: $200 vs $1500. Making this up a bit: but If the Campfire Audio Andromeda's are only %5 better in sound quality over the BGVP DM6 where the Campfire Audio Solaris are say only %10 better in sound quality over the BGVP DM6, then someone would have to determine how much they are willing to pay for that slight improvement.

    Looking at the new Sennheiser models to be released sometimes in March, the bigger question I have is how these will be any better then the current Sennheiser IE 800 S ($950)? Looking at the IE 500 Pro and considering that Sennheiser has given these all a lower model number (ex: 40, 400, 500) when compared to the IE 800, I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm as to if even Sennheiser expects the IE 500 Pro to excel over the IE 800 S given the price and model number? Assuming they would, then why didn't Sennheiser give it a bigger model # like 1000 (ex: IE 1000 Pro)? Considering they did not, then is it safe to assume that the IE 500 Pro will fall under the IE 800 S in terms of audio quality? Or, has Sennheiser with the newer technology it has put into the IE 500 Pro expecting this IEM to excel beyond the IE 800 S?

    As the IE 500 Pro's are not out just yet here in March and there don't appear to be any reviews yet in audio comparison's between other IEM's, I'm curious to know what others anticipate for the new Sennheiser models when released?

    For example, product manager Jannik Schentek says:

    "For the IE 400 PRO and IE 500 PRO, we have reinvented the single dynamic driver principle. Other in-ears in the same price range work on the balanced armature principle, which we find to be inferior to a wideband dynamic driver".​

    Other claims by Sennheiser is the new IEM's are:

    "a completely natural, clear and spacious sound stage with a total harmonic distortion (THD) as low as under 0.08% at 1 kHz and 94 dB. When the sound is so precise and detailed, the acoustical stress for the wearer is reduced, and they discover that they can set their monitors to a lower level."​

    Yet, if you look at the THD of the IE 800 S, they are speced at "< 0.06% (1 kHz, 94 dB)" on Sennheiser's website which is already lower than the newer THD for the IE 500 Pro.

    Should I assume the IE 500 Pro's are meant to satisfy those at the $600 price range, but to still remain under the IE 800 S in terms of audio quality? Or, should I be excited that Sennheiser may be offer something (the IE 500 Pro's) for half the price that will excel over the IE 800 S ($950)? I'm a bit doubtful about this.
     
    Cevisi likes this.
  2. yong_shun
    The pro series is very different from the original IE series. I heard from one of the local retailer's manager, the pro series is developed by another group of engineers from Sennheiser. From the experience of IE40 Pro, the entry level IEMs, it really surprised me with the sound quality. I would like to wait for the new release of IE400 Pro and IE500 Pro for sure :)
    https://www.theaudiolocheese.com/home/sennheiser-ie40-pro
     
  3. JasonCA
    As there hasn't been much information yet out on the IE 500 Pro, I've taken another look at what is out there:

    According to B&H:

    "The IE 500 PRO's SYS 7 driver system withTrueResponse technology features a 7mm single driver that delivers natural and differentiated sound reproduction across the frequency spectrum, eliminating distortion, overlapping frequencies, and feedback peaks associated with multiple drivers."
    Acording to reviews on the IE 800 S:

    https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/sennheiser-ie-800-s.22832/reviews

    "Based on all the pictures and info I read about the IE800 model, seems that IE800S kept a lot of the original design elements, from a proprietary 7mm Extra Wide Band (XWB) dynamic driver to a dampened dual-chamber absorber (D2CA) system which utilizes a unique tapered shell design with 2 vents in the back."​

    The IE 800 S has a 7mm Extra Wide Band (XWB) that as show in the picture in the review they refer to as "XWB-Transducer SYS 7".

    I didn't realize it until now, but it seems then that the IE 500 Pro is perhaps really just a lower end model of the IE 800 S. They both use the SYS 7 driver system. The IE 500 Pro driver system, I guess, is exactly like the IE 800 S but with a narrower frequency response.

    Looking at:

    https://en-us.sennheiser.com/news-r...rinciple-sennheiser-ie-400-pro-and-ie-500-pro

    They show their "New Wideband Transducer" has a max frequency response of 5 Hz to 46,500 Hz. Yet, when looking at the IE 500 Pro they report the frequency response to be 6 Hz to 20,000 Hz.

    Answering my earlier question, it seems to reason then that the IE 500 Pro would be no better than the IE 800 S? In which case, reviews of the IE 800 S may already show the pro's and con's of the IE 500 Pro?

    For some reason, I thought perhaps the IE 500 Pro was even something better than the older IE 800 S. But perhaps this isn't the case. I think I had the impression the IE 500 Pro may be better than the IE 800 S perhaps because the design looks different in the IE 500 Pro when compared to the IE 800 S.

    Admittedly, I like the newer look of the IE 500 Pro then the IE 800 S which doesn't seem to interest me.

    The IE 40 Pro seems to be quite different. It's running a 10 mm transducer where the IE 400 Pro and IE 500 Pro, including the IE 800 S, seem to use the 7mm transducer which must be the newer "Wideband Transducer" with the TrueReponse technology.

    Just curving my own expectations I guess.
     
  4. talan7
    Are these things ever coming out? Merchants have had them on preorder for like forever. No early reviews either?
     
  5. Earbones
    I’ve had my IE 500 for a couple of days. They are a very nice IEM, but for my money, I think there are perhaps better choices at the price point.

    A few quick and dirty impressions:

    The good:

    -Extremely comfortable. The tiny form factor fits nice and flush in the ear. Very lightweight.

    -Some of the finest low bass at any price point. The lower bass hits with authority, but is never unmannered. Extremely detailed. Sub bass extension is excellent.

    -Great over all detail.

    -They are never sibilant, unless the recording is.

    -Insanely fast. Perhaps the fastest IEM I’ve ever heard. Quick, quick, quick.

    The bad:

    -Isolation is not great. I am aware that most DD IEMs make use of a port which makes them less isolating. I couldn’t find such an opening on the IE500, but regardless, the isolation was only so so... Even when paired with Comply foam tips.

    -They feature a somewhat recessed midbass. There is an odd gap between the upper mids and the midbass. Notice I didn’t say the gap was between the lower mids and the midbass; that’s because...

    -The lower mids are also recessed. Almost entirely, as a matter of fact. It makes for a strange sound signature. Very clean, as there is no bass bleed, nor lower mids congestion... but kind of bizarrely empty for lack of a better term. Some might interpret it as the “crystal clear” signature Sennheiser advertises. I hear more of an unnatural void.

    -The upper mids and treble are slightly flat and ocassionally brittle. Leaning towards bright, but they pull it back before it gets uncomfortable. As stated above, sibilance is not a problem. However to my ears, these registers are just plain quiet compared to the lower ones.

    -The cable is probably a poor match. Based on what I’m hearing, a silver-plated cable is a very bad idea for the IE 500. I’d bet my Plussound copper EXO could add some much-needed weight to the mids, and some rounding and sweetness to the uppers. Unfortunately, with the IE 500’s propriety not-quite-MMCX connectors, this isn’t happening anytime soon. I imagine custom cables will eventually become available. Or I suppose one could buy an IE 40 cable for $30, just to cannibalize the connectors. If I end up keeping my IE 500, that’s probably what I’ll end up doing.

    Overall:

    There is a lot to like about the IE 500. What they do right they do very right. But for me, I could never get past how anemic the mids and treble felt compared with the bass registers. I couldn’t shake the feeling of watching a poorly mixed movie on an excellent sound system. The action sequences are glorious; rich, bassy explosions... but whenever any dialogue is being exchanged, you can barely hear what’s being said.

    These are by no means a bad set of IEMs, but at $600... I dunno. You can find the SE846 for around $700 now, and that is a much better IEM, in my estimation. These would be a real winner at around $399 in my opinion. The Billie Jean, for example, is $349, and the IE 500 sounds like more of a side-grade to me than an upgrade.

    As always, YMMV.

    *Listening was done on a 2018 iPad Pro through, at various times: direct connection via USB-C to 3.5mm dongle, Chord Mojo, iFi Nano iDSD, Apogee Groove, Sony PHA-2A (the last two constituted the best matches, IMO).
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2019
    candlejack and XERO1 like this.
  6. oknidius
    Unnatural void. Exactly!
    There’s something totally off with the IE 500 Pro.
    The sound is so hollow/void in the middle it’s seriously annoying me when I listen to them.

    I loved the IE 40 Pro and IE 400 Pro. Figured the IE 500 Pro would be a more refined version. It’s a different tuning. And there’s something cheap, plasticky, or again “unnatural” about the signature.

    Listening to an orchestral recording right now. The violins sound terrible! Like someone carved out part of their frequency/tone; and there’s a weird coloration or void where the missing range should be. Ugh...
     
  7. oknidius
    Problem partially solved: the stock Sennheiser foam tips shipped with the box I got are different from those in the IE 40/IE400 boxes that I have; and are different from the replacement foamies I bought from the Sennheiser website.

    They’re nearly identical, but: When squished before insertion, the foamies in my IE 500 Pro box re-expand to full size about three-four times faster than the foamies from the IE 40/400 boxes and the replacement pack.

    I squished a IE 500 Pro foamie with my left hand and a IE 400 Pro foamie with my right. Opened all fingers at the same time leaving the foamies on the table. The IE 500 foamies were back to full size almost immediately. The IE 400 Pro foamies took about 4 seconds more to finish expanding. Repeated comparison a few times and compared to the IE 40 Pro foamies and the replacement pack. Same results. Wherever Sennheiser is sourcing their foamies from, they’re getting different quality tips and shipping them with the final product.


    Putting the 400 Pro foamies on the IE 500 Pro fixed the complaints I expressed above regarding hollow, void, unnatural sound.

    This, added to receiving the IE 400 Pro with a missing medium silicone tip makes me seriously question Sennheiser’s “Made in Germany” quality control.
     
  8. Otto Motor
    Here another review of the $600 Sennheiser IE 500 PRO...

    Two versions: a single take on Head-Fi and a double take with the dollar-store audiophile on my blog.

    I thank Sennheiser for trusting our reviewing qualities.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  9. Earbones
    Seems like our reviews largely agree, ha ha. There is something very nice about the IE 500 Pro. A few aspects of the sound are stellar, and almost make it a keeper, despite the things it does poorly. But at the end of the day, the things it does poorly coupled with the fact that the fit and finish is identical to Sennheiser’s entry-level offerings means this is simply not a $600 IEM. At $200-$300, they’d be a winner.

    Unfortunately, this has larger ramifications for the entire line. The IE 400 Pro is overpriced by proxy, and the long-in-the-tooth IE 800 (S version notwithstanding) is affected as well. Sennheiser should have made the 500 the 400 (and dropped the price $50) and given us something better in the $600 category. Then we’d all be salivating to see what the next-tier “Pro” replacement for the IE 800 would be.
     
    Otto Motor likes this.
  10. oknidius
    I tend to agree with both of you, but also with @iems0nly ’s more positive take on them.

    Having spent now 4 days straight with the IE 500 Pro, including a 13 hour straight day on Saturday, and a few geeky comparisons in between, I still agree with you that they’re somewhat overpriced, but I can’t help but love them. I’m definitely keeping mine. The pleasure of listening to them is too great to give up and go looking for something better that I likely won’t find since these hit the right spot.

    Having found proper tips, the IE 500 Pro sound to me refined, clear, unified, wide, deep. They’re very versatile: I can pound my brain with EDM and heavy metal, make out rap lyrics I couldn’t catch before, and air-play a cello concerto or hear a twinkling sleigh bell deep in an orchestra I’d never noticed before.

    Better yet, I’ve always been sensitive to phase/frequency issues on multi-BA IEMs, hence my preference for single-drivers. I fully buy into Sennheiser’s marketing regarding the coherency of their full range drivers vs multiple balanced armatures. Massed violin sections kill most multi-BA IEMs for me (with the exceptions of Westone ES60, UE 900s and Sony XBA-H3): part of the orchestra almost always sounds audibly out of phase; when Jerry Goldsmith’s unified violin parts sound raspy like an accordion, there’s something wrong. Single drivers don’t sound like that (even single BA), and the Sennheiser IE 500 Pro just nail it for me.

    With that in mind, I would even be tempted to argue that depending on what you compare them to, they may be underpriced. I’ve gotten burned a few times by spending obscene amounts of money on overhyped junk, some of which the Head-Fi consensus proclaimed was the best advent since life itself, and the IE 500 Pro deliver sound that is much more rewarding to me at a fraction of the cost of some of those multi-BA monstrosities. One of those cost three times as much as the IE 500 Pro and was in my top 3 worst-sounding head/earphones I have ever heard.

    But like you said, the pricing discrepancy relative to their own IE 40 Pro is unjustified. As much as I love the IE 500 Pro, I would have been perfectly happy with the IE 40 Pro. The improvements in sound don’t match the difference in price. The Sennheiser folks might have to adjust that a bit.
     
    talan7 and Otto Motor like this.
  11. cfc7
    Can someone compare IE500 Pro with IE800S?
     
  12. iems0nly
    @oknidius - Nice write up. It's nice to read many different takes on the IE500 Pro sound. In my opinion, i would still say the sound coming out of these cannot be faulted. These are the fastest dynamic drivers in my collection, and being dynamic really helps in achieving it's natural and precise tone. The mid-bass, for me, is perfect and snappy. Voices also carry enough warmth, maybe slightly dry on some tracks, but i enjoy the details.

    It was not until i did the A-B comparisons that i was really impressed by the IE500 Pros. Before this point, all i thought was " Yes, they sound great, but are they 600 dollars great!".

    For my own personal taste and preference, these are spot on. I'm listening to the 500 Pros as i type this, and there is not a song where i feel some other IEM might have done this better. Very rarely, i feel that the micro details and the resolution are a little overwhelming with the IE 500 Pros. On such occasions, i pick the 400 Pros, or my CKR100s.

    And, of course, let me mention this for the thousandth time here, sound is subjective, and it's definitely entertaining to read diverse opinions. To really cut across this subjective taste barrier some side-by-side comparisons always help. While we're here, l second @cfc7, and call for a 500 Pro vs IE800S comparison.

    And here i will end my (unintentional) rant :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  13. Otto Motor
    Sound preferences are subjective, sound accuracy is not. Yes, I also like the IE500 PRO but even more so the IE 40 PRO as they fit my wallet better.
    I had approached Sennheiser RE: pricing and we are currently in discussion -- I forwarded them the qualitifed opinions on this thread.. They asked me explicitly what I thought of the IE800S's pricing. I don't know the IE 800S and (very subtly) suggested to send me a loaner based on this discussion.

    Quite frankly, in this day and age, where BAs are cheap to produce, and DDs even cheaper, no DD should cost $600 or even $1300 (Campfire Audio Atlas). I was told that a store in Vienna carried the Atlas but didn't sell one. The marketing of such products relies heavily on "honest review in exchange of a free sample". Example on Head-Fi (when I last checked): 12 reviews, 177 photos, no measurement, no one paid a dime. This morass does not look good on Campfire either.
     
  14. iems0nly
    I'm not sure i understand what you mean by sound accuracy.
    Is sound accuracy the ability to resolve all the artifacts completely? If yes, which IEM can you say resolves so completely? this will again be subjective.
    Or is it approaching the DF/Harman neutral curve?

    I wish no earphone costs more than 50 dollars, no smartphone more than 200 dollars, and so on. Sadly, this is not the world we live in. Today is worse than ever before when it comes to expensive earphones. I don't exactly know why. But, I wouldn't be surprised if China provides 10 man-hours for every single German hour. I would assume all of this go into the pricing.

    To be fair, even i believe the IE500 Pros are expensive, they could be a 100 dollars cheaper than the asking price. But sadly, this is the price Sennheiser quoted.
    Like Moondrop wants 200 dollars for the new Kansas Pro single DD IEM.
     
    Earbones likes this.
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