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The Official Sennheiser IE800S thread!

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  1. Rob80b
    That's my observations to a "T", so good to know some of us hear more or less the same which gives credence to some graphs and a common point of reference although my hearing drops like a stone after 11kHz. : (
  2. Kunlun
    @Brooko I certainly never said that whoever had the most $$$$ was the best, that's all you.

    I did thank Jude and I mentioned his experience. Are you questioning that?

    People have a tendency to believe whatever they see in the form of a graph and whatever comes from an apparatus, regardless of whether that's justified. I do think some humility from those do it yourself rigs toward people who have put more time and experience into it would be great. Jude (and Tyll) deserve respect on this and it's not just more data, but rather better data, that should receive the most attention. That understanding seems to be missing, although you are a step ahead by talking about the limitations of your apparatus. That's not enough, though.

    If people with a starter measuring apparatus know that their measurements are limited to below 9khz (and maybe above 70hz, bass on these rigs often isn't quite right), then one way to decrease the garbage factor and gain respect would be to cut your graphs off at those frequencies. Why post information you know to be misleading? That's a real question and one that must be answered. This is a real step you could take to make your data better. We should ask the same of others with the same apparatus. It's not good when twister6, who has the same rig as you, I believe, posts measurements here and then later says he won't post them on his reviews for lack of faith in their accuracy.

    And, just to return to topic, I've picked up a pair of ie800S and will be listening for myself as soon as they arrive. It was the comments of people listening to them, primarily, that helped the most in making that decision, plus my experience with the original ie800. Jude's measurements certainly have been helpful as well.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  3. twister6 Contributor
    Sure, I broke my own rule and posted a measurement here with an explanation this is not a pro setup, elaborating on that I'm certain about peaks/valleys but not exactly about the amplitude. But it's certainly my choice not to feature FR measurements in my reviews because it creates more confusion than help. Look at the last few pages of this thread, we already got into a heated discussion about hobby setups used by Paul/Brooko, Chris/HifiChris, Crinacle, and I, and pro setups used by Jude and Tyll. Then, there is an argument of inconsistency based on what we are seeing vs what we are actually hearing (such as tone sweep test). And so on. It's my personal choice to describe the sound as I hear it (even though you already critiqued it as "word salad") and to compare it to many other IEMs. I actually think the analysis where you break down and compare lows/mids/treble/soundstage is the most helpful part of the review because we are not talking about objective or subjective description, but rather a relative comparison, hopefully to something you are more intimately familiar with.

    Just from my experience of close to a few hundred reviews and impressions I shared and continue to share in this community which I think people do appreciate (at least by the amount of Likes I received), I haven't featured FR measurements and I have no plans to feature it in the future. As a matter of fact, if I could get away from star/point rating - I would love that too :) That's another part of a huge misunderstanding where I'm overwhelmed with people continuously asking me why I gave 4.5 stars to one budget iem 3 years ago and gave 4 stars to another flagship iem 2 years later. It drives me nuts to go into those explanation lol!!!

    But anyway, let's get back on topic of IE800S. I actually think it was a good idea for Jude to bring up tone sweep test. We all hear the sound differently, based on our ear anatomy, ear sensitivity, ear "mileage", and personal preference of songs and pair ups with different sources. Tone sweep kind of brings it to a common denominator, so maybe it's a good idea to use it in our impressions when describing how we hear IE800S :wink:
  4. EagleWings
    I don't think anyone questioned Jude's experience. It seems IE800S's tuning follows the same tuning as the original IE800 with a slight variation. Pretty much all measurements on the internet including Tyll's measurements of various IE800 units show a peak at 10kHz. Now if the 800S follows a similar response, it makes us stop and think when a measurement of the 800S doesn't show a peak there. Even if the measurement is from a industrial level rig. May be Jude's measurement is correct and the IE800S doesn't have the peak. If that is the case, we need to investigate why there are differences instead of discrediting other measurements.

    What is disconcerting is, as soon as Jude posted his measurement, you decided to call the other measurements as 'garbage'. Measurement enthusiasts like @Brooko , @twister6 and @crinacle go through great pain to calibrate their rigs and provide some insights by sharing the measurements. But for time and again they have provided context of their measurements. Without context, measurements from even the most accurate rigs can be misleading. If you are someone who only believes in measurements from experienced people, then let me ask you this; if Tyll's measurements of IE800 all show a peak at 10kHz and if the IE800S possibly has the same peak (as stated by some trained listeners), would you start calling Jude's measurement garbage, because his doesn't show a peak there? You can't. We would have to investigate the possible reason for the discrepancy and understand why a certain measurement has the peak or doesn't.
    james444 and Brooko like this.
  5. Brooko Contributor

    I'll just drop this in here - so we go back to what you said:

    1. You automatically assumed Judes measurements are correct - and everyone else's are wrong (garbage is the term I believe you used) - this would naturally include Tyll's as well, as his are different.
    2. You talk about experience - yet Tyll's graphs are different and he has had years more experience with measuring and refining those measurements. Jude is a comparative newcomer in that regard.
    You made a blanket call aimed at hobbyists. I called you out on it. Nothing more nothing less. And yes - sorry - I mentioned the $$$$$ set-up, and thats on me. I'm just disagree with associating Judes set-up automatically with "the truth" and discounting all the other measurements which up to now we hobbyists have used (responsibly) to help us explain what we think we're hearing. They've definitely brought accuracy and objectivity to my own reviews. I provide disclaimers to my measurements - and I'm certainly not going to cut graphs off (if you have a problem with that - then ignore my reviews - in fact ignore most of those on the net including Tylls). People understand its a hobbyist measurement (albeit a calibrated one). On my rig I find it is a great tool for showing comparative frequency responses, and I've spent literally 100's of hours trying to get it as close to IEC711 as I can.

    If you look at the graphs posted to date, they aren't that different. Peaks and valleys in the right areas. Its just that one area, and we have people saying they are hearing 10 kHz peaks. That could be down to canal physics - but in that case who is the most accurate?
    james444 and EagleWings like this.
  6. jude Administrator
    @Brooko, you are correct that our headphone measurement rig is not like most others you're seeing measurements from on the web. As I said in the previous post, I think some of the measurement commonalities you'll see between different enthusiast measurements on the web is due to commonly shared opinions and recommendations on how to make and tune do-it-yourself measurement rigs. Also, most of the DIY measurement rigs we've seen make no attempt to simulate the interaction of the headphone/earphone and the human that wears it -- not in terms of external influencing anatomy, nor in terms of attempting to load the headphone or earphone in the same way as the human ear.

    Also, in many cases, we have no idea how a web measurement we're looking at was generated (how was position over the mic determined, for example?), what gear was used, what kind of coupler or mic was used, whether or not the system is calibrated, etc. For example, from one of your previous messages:

    The person that had the measurement showing the highest level 10 kHz peak with that headphone (the Sony MDR-Z1R) posted this about that measurement:

    That was a candid description of what he used, but, best I could find, it wasn't known until that comment was posted. Because so many are looking to find quick, definitive answers in numbers and lines, then the graphs and specs can have an outsize influence on the perception of a product. While measurements can certainly be useful (otherwise I wouldn't be wasting time and money doing them), I do think it's important to discuss how they're useful, considerations that need to be weighed, their limitations, and simply checking for yourself by listening whenever you can.

    "10 kHz" will forever be a hot topic 'round here! Again, while some may hear a 10 kHz peak of the magnitude shown in some of the IE800S measurements, I do not. There are some differences in our measurement setup here (versus most of the web measurement setups) that may explain some of the differences in some of the measured results. Again, Tyll discussed this briefly in a post on InnerFidelity (and in the video interview with Paul Barton that accompanies the post):

    Getting back to the reliance on numbers and lines, and a headphone measurement example that's not about frequency response:

    In a recent discussion about sensitivity of the new Sennheiser HD660S, there was some concern expressed when our sensitivity numbers varied a bit from Sennheiser's. Questions about the accuracy or integrity of their sensitivity spec arose (despite the fact that their lower sensitivity number actually would be viewed by most as disadvantageous not advantageous). It was clear to me at that point that there was probably not a clear understanding about how sensitivity measurements are done, and how variability is inevitable, affected by many different factors (mic position, earpad conditions, how tight or loose the headphone is, etc.). I never anticipated taking an in-depth look at headphone sensitivity, but, since it came up, we performed sensitivity measurements of the headphone, and then posted about it in some detail. You can read my post about this at the following link:

    Again, I think in our pursuit of easy, definitive answers, we sometimes fixate too much on numbers and lines, and finding out that there's usually variability and many other factors to consider -- that you can't just say that line or number is the gospel truth for all -- can be dissatisfying.

    Getting back to web headphone measurements, primarily frequency response (and distortion):

    Because I did not feel that a lot of the headphone measurements I was seeing on the web reflected what I was hearing (both based on normal subjective music listening impressions, as well as doing frequency sweeps to see if I was hearing the displayed peaks and troughs), we wanted to take a look at what was available -- and what was coming down the pike -- in terms of audio measurement technology, thinking that perhaps we could assemble a headphone measurement setup with the hope of providing measured results that make sense to most people, independent of preference.

    Which brings me to this:

    In my opinion, then, the best that one can currently do for the kind of headphone measurements we’re seeking as a community is to approximate the headphone on (or in, as they sometimes are) an average human -- how it wears on the human, simulating the anatomy and the working load that the headphone is subject to in situ. Since we can’t reasonably get a precise measurement microphone down a bunch of humans’ canals to the eardrum, the best we can currently do is a fixture or manikin that offers some amount of human dimensional simulation on the outside (and inside, where possible), and to simulate the working load the headphone is faced with when worn.

    So...is there a fixture or manikin that can perfectly simulate the average human in all these respects? Do we at Head-Fi have systems that perfectly simulate the average human in all these respects? No. And no. What we are doing is employing the best currently commercially-available technology with that goal in mind. It's an asymptotic goal, perhaps, because it's one we can get closer and closer to, but probably never perfectly reach.

    Now -- and this very important -- if hypothetically someone developed a measurement system that perfectly represented the human average for these purposes, what would be the best we could expect from it? The best we could expect from such a system would be measurements that, independent of preference, would make sense to most of those who have heard the headphones that were measured on it. Notice I said "most" -- not "all." I didn’t say “all” because there are always going to be those who deviate enough from the average that even a hypothetically perfectly-executed headphone measurement on the hypothetically perfect human average may not represent what those people (who deviate far enough from the norm) are hearing.

    Even if you had this hypothetically perfect human average headphone measurement system, would the measurements from it -- even if on-the-whole they make sense to most -- be representative of every peak and dip for every one of these people? No. Absolutely not, and perhaps especially as you move higher up in frequency, and the wavelengths shorten, where positional and other physical variables can effect increasingly substantial differences. Meaningful headphone measurements above 8 kHz have been a big challenge for decades, and I'll say more on that shortly.

    So what do we use in our measurement systems? For headphone measurements, we're working with a head or fixture with more or less fixed dimensions representing average human dimensions. Right now, those apparatuses are the GRAS 45CA and the GRAS 45BB-12 KEMAR manikin.

    (In the above photo, KEMAR is face-forward.)

    The pinnae / ear canals we use on the GRAS 45BB-12 KEMAR are anthropometric, based on 260 three-dimensional scans of human ear canals. These pinnae include the first bend and the second bend of the canals, with "flesh" all the way to the mics. Because they're more anatomically representative than traditional measurement pinnae, they have (among other features) a more realistic, more oval-shaped entrance point. Here's a photo of our current GRAS 45CA ears (which currently use standard measurement pinnae):

    Here are a photo showing the new anthropometric pinna / canal:

    Another advantage of the new pinnae is their increased realism externally. If you've ever felt measurement pinnae, they're typically stiffer than human pinnae and don't readily compress against the head, which is why many who measure headphones often have difficulty measuring supra-aural (on-the-ear) headphones with them. (They can also present problems with measuring shallow-cup circumaurals, too.) The new pinnae feel and move much more like human pinnae and compress against the head much more like (most) people's pinnae do. Here is a photo I took of the supra-aural Audeze Sine on the standard measurement pinnae on a GRAS 45CA:


    Here's the same headphone on the new anthropometric pinnae on the GRAS 45BB-12 KEMAR:


    Where in-ears are concerned, we've found the new pinnae/canals to help tremendously with more realistic and consistent placement, as the pinnae/canals are definitely more human-like now. With this improved realism, for example, we've found that characterizing the differences between eartip types via measurements (relative to our subjective experiences) is improved.

    Am I asserting that we've accomplished the perfect average human with our measurement rigs? Again, no. But we're trying to move in this direction as much as we reasonably can.

    The GRAS 43BB ear simulators we're using in the GRAS 45BB-12 KEMAR are also quite different than standard 60318-4 couplers. While they still meet the IEC 60318-4 tolerances, the single high-Q resonance above 10 kHz is replaced by two more balanced, more damped resonances. The splitting of the one high-Q resonance into two low-Q resonances may present an advantage in decreasing the uncertainty in the measurements around the resonance (above 10 kHz). Also, the GRAS 43BB is highly sensitive, and very low-noise, and extends the lower dynamic range below the threshold of human hearing. Given its extremely low-noise nature, the 43BB can be used to measure and characterize things like the self-noise of an active headphone (both with and without active noise canceling), which is something we'll be increasingly interested in with the growing prominence of high-fidelity wireless headphones and earphones. It can also help in measuring low-level distortion in headphones and earphones. NOTE: One thing to consider with this low-noise simulator is that it's not suited to very-high-SPL measurements, with an upper limit of the dynamic range to about 110 dBSPL. This hasn't been an issue for us, though, as most of our measurements are set at 90 dBSPL (at 1 kHz).

    A little aside:

    Speaking of wireless headphones, another update we're making to our measurement lab very soon is the addition of Audio Precision's new Bluetooth Duo Module to our Audio Precision APx555 audio analyzer. This new Bluetooth module can act as source and sink for AAC, aptX, aptX-HD, aptX-LL, and SBC. Last year we had two aptX-HD-enabled wireless headphones in our office. Now we have many more, and it will be exciting to be able to measure these headphones at their wireless best. We'll be covering this module more over time.

    Okay, back to ear simulators:

    A few weeks ago, GRAS announced still another coupler designed specifically for measuring high-resolution headphones. On Friday (two days ago) we took delivery of the new GRAS RA0401 High Resolution Ear Simulators, and we'll be installing them on our GRAS 45CA, along with the new anthropometric pinnae for the GRAS 45CA.

    GRAS-Anthropometric-Pinna_IMG_0156.jpg GRAS-Anthropometric-Pinna-and-GRAS-RA0401_IMG_0159.jpg

    This is still another very exciting development for headphone measurements, as obtaining meaningful measurements above 8 kHz with most systems can be enormously challenging. This new GRAS RA0401 High Resolution Ear Simulator also meets the IEC 60318-4 tolerances, but GRAS was able to design it so that its performance from 10 kHz to 20 kHz is substantially improved, that range through which it has a tolerance of +/- 2.2 dB. Here is a graph showing the RA0401's response (including the IEC 60318-4 tolerances) compared to a standard 60318-4 coupler:

    Again, meaningful headphone measurements above 8 kHz or 10 kHz have been a major pain point for decades, so I think these new GRAS High Resolution Ear Simulators may prove an important development in the world of headphone testing.

    Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to run our own measurements with the new RA0401 High Resolution Ear Simulators yet, as we shipped our measurement mic preamp power supply back to GRAS for a check-up and any necessary calibration (as it's now nearly three years old, and has been jostled around quite a bit). We should have that (GRAS 12AQ) back in the next few days, and we'll fire up these newest ear simulators just as soon as we do.

    I've not yet used a Vibro Veritas, and I'm not sure one can simply EQ it into something approximating a 60318-4 simulator, as the 60318-4 (or 60711) ear simulator was designed to mimic the input and transfer impedance of a human ear. It consists of a main volume and side volumes connected to the main volume by thin slits, and is a pretty precise piece of kit. Here are a couple of cut-through views of a standard 60318-4 coupler:

    60318-4-cut-through-1-of-2.jpg 60318-4-cut-through-2-of-2.png
    I'll order a Vibro Veritas to play with it and compare with it, as it's only $79 with mic.

    Actually, here's a link to a short discussion about ear canals (and eardrum impedance) that I had with someone at InnerFidelity:

    They state openly that their anthropometric pinnae / ear canals are based on 260 three-dimensional scans of human ear canals, with some adjustments made to adapt the ear canal to interface with the ear simulator. These pinnae include the first bend and the second bend of the canals, with "flesh" all the way to the mics. And of course they're averaged.

    And, as you stated, they're closer to human ear canals than perfectly cylindrical metal ones. If you've ever tried to put an anatomically angled IEM into a standard measurement pinnae, you'll know it can be challenging, and, with some in-ears, almost impossible. With the anthropometric pinnae, most in-ears (whether straight or anatomically angled) fit into the ear very much like they would with most real human ears. Just from the standpoint of fit, it helps with more realistic placement relative to the "eardrum," as well as more realistic deformation of the eartips upon insert (which is most obvious when you pull foam-tipped IEMs out of them). Like I said earlier in this post, I think that the best one might reasonably do for the purpose is to approximate an average human, and these more realistic pinnae/canal assemblies seem like a step in the right direction that's long overdue.

    In a LinkedIn discussion about headphone measurements, where the discussion of testing transducers apart from the headphone came up, Christopher J. Struck of CJS Labs (who is a living library and a wealth of knowledge, especially if you have audio and electroacoustics challenges you need solved) said this:

    Again, we're doing our reasonable best to find and use the best of what's currently available to provide the most meaningful audio measurements we can. You'll be seeing more posts and videos about this from us, as there is so much to discuss. Yes we've been posting measurements periodically for a couple of years, but, as far as I'm concerned, this is just the start, and with some key developments in the last year or two, and with more coming, it's an exciting time to ramp this up.
  7. Sound Eq
    after all this measurement talk is put on a side, and after reading some comments i feel this is not a big upgrade from sennheiser, maybe its because the ie800 already is a great iem and is difficult to improve upon sound wise

    i don't know I have mixed feeling about getting it
    kuebler and Dobrescu George like this.
  8. McCol
    Although I appreciate the hard work people may put into making measurements I don’t pretend to fully understand them!!

    For me I think the S is an improvement over the 800, better all round refinements, whether or not that is enough for people to buy is another matter. They haven’t left my ears in almost a month, truely astounding earphones.
    AndrewH13, Deftone and Kunlun like this.
  9. Sound Eq
    well i sold my ie800 so I might jump back again and buy the ie800s

    I have to think about it a bit
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
    Kunlun likes this.
  10. james444 Contributor
    IMO the changes in tuning are somewhat comparable to what they did with the HD800S vs. the HD800. A little less treble. A slightly fuller / warmer low range. Overall a bit easier on the ears than the older model. Similar to the HD800S, the changes come with compromises though, particularly in bass quality. In my book, it's not necessarily an upgrade. Some will welcome the changes, others will prefer the original tuning.
  11. Dobrescu George
    This lines up with most of my expectations from a retuning, although I really loved the HD800S whereas HD800 were a bit too much for me.

    IE800 has a playful and sweet midrange (hard to define it any other way). Very few IEMs and headphones have this sweet tonality that works so great with guitars and such, I wonder if ie800S keeps this as it was, or if it changes that tonality for something more mature, or thicker.

    To define what is so sweet about ie800, the guitars are so extremely vivid, well defined, well separated and their tonality is so extremely alive. I heard a ton of high-end IEMs and headphones, and only HE-1 from Sennheiser, LCD-4, and a very few others have this type of sound to their guitars. A metalhead will notice it almost instantly, but I think there are other people who have better ability to name this particular sound than I can...
  12. McCol
    I personally don’t think it has lost that special touch it has with guitars, I listen to a lot of indie type guitar driven music. The S retains that fun and detailed element that the original had, just a little less of a peak in the treble, and agin for me I don’t think it has really lost any of its overall signature that made it such a great item in the first place.
    It just seems to have tidied itself up a little bit - think of it as - it’s straightened the knot in its shirt tie but still left the shirt untucked
  13. twister6 Contributor
    and don't forget, IE800S bonus of a new modular balanced cable that let's you go easily between 2.5mm and 4.4mm or back to 3.5mm.
    davidmolliere likes this.
  14. Brooko Contributor
    Jude - personally I welcome anything that can start giving us higher levels of accuracy. An informed potential buyer is always going to do better than someone who is guessing on suitability based on subjective impressions (refer my recent discussions about the Kinera H3).

    What I was objecting to is the notion that the graphs provided by the hobbyists should be disregarded as rubbish. As you’re well aware, we can get pretty good readings on frequency response from 30 Hz to around 8 kHz (and some will be even better / go higher).

    Personally I put little emphasis on freq response above 10 kHz as once you get into this rarified air, you’d need massive spikes to have any really significant difference with most music.

    As I said on the phone to you a couple of years ago - I share your excitement regarding both our ability to measure more accurately and also to promote better understanding of the correlation between perception and measurements.

    If you do get the Veritas (I have and continue to use the older model) - my method continues to be:
    • Always using same DAC and amp set-up with impedance under 1 ohm
    • Always using same ARTA set-up , same settings
    • Always use same foam tips - medium bore setting. I use these primarily because with silicone it is impossible to get consistency in the coupler
    • Always use approx same tip depth and orientation (and this is as upright/ straight into the couple as I can get)
    • Always use it at night in essentially a very quiet room with no fans or other disturbances
    • Always measure multiple times until I can get consistently repeatable results
    • The calibration was done using exactly the same IEM on a fully calibrated IEC set-up and then applying compensation to equate the two measurements. Like I said earlier, it has been quite gratifying to get feedback from more than one source that my curves are not too far away from one of the industrial rigs being used.
    I certainly believe there is a place for the hobbyist, and would encourage those participating to continue what they are doing, and strive for more accuracy over time. Until such time as you start measuring all the gear out there (including a lot of the budget stuff), the hobbyist set-ups are going to be the only way to check between some of the very subjective opinions out there, and a more measured objective approach.

    Last point - I don’t generally use my rig for full sized earphones (so the Pinna does really not come into play) - simply because I could never have any degree of accuracy. I do see some affordable alternatives out there - so it’s exciting to think this could also help standardise the measurements of full sized headphones and earbuds
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  15. Rob80b
    Have to totally agree on this one....appears that the "10khz" of whatever has gone rampant. lol

    The mind is a powerful thing but also easily influenced, if one is told there is a 10khz anomaly it may be all but impossible to dissipate.

    Worth checking out, leave your pre (mis) conceptions at home. : )
    "Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth"
    Brooko likes this.
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