- Feb 16, 2012
The tape modification of the ie80 requires placing a piece of Scotch or other tape over the adjustment port aperture on each earphone ("the tape mod").
Without the tape mod, the ie80 is fatally flawed in my view. The mid-bass hump does it in, even on the best or smallest port setting. However, the tape mod saves the day and makes the i80 a decent contender. It much reduces the mid bass hump by converting the bass driver enclosure from a resonant ported reflex design to an acoustic suspension design. Warranty and longevity effects are unknown. but I do wonder why the designers did not design the port adjustment to allow for total closure so a tape mod would not be necessary. Maybe that is why Sennheiser abandoned this design when it went to the IE800.
The reflex's dominant resonance is compromised by the tape mod and that is a change for the better.The aural effects are to reduce the mid bass hump and thereby to strongly clear up and not mask the lower and sub-bass, increase bass control, augment and clarify the lower and middle midrange, and make the top end more augmented and open. It protects the drivers more from humidity rises as well, when in use. The midrange is moved slightly forward, the soundstage is slightly enlarged and venue ambiance is much more noticeable. The former mid-bass hump was bleeding into the midrange and masking many details there as well as in the sub bass. It is a more intimate, articulate and still a warm sound with the mod. Ambient noise is reduced as well, that is, isolation is improved by the tape mod.
I get a good seal on the ie80 with the large silicon single flange ear buds and proper insertion with ear manipulation and find the ie80 quite comfortable to use. I do not think it is quite up to the Westone W4 iterations, however. It is too colored and insufficiently neutral and level across its range, but still enjoyable to listen to, in my view.