Sennheiser IE800S in-Ear Headphones
First things first: as you’ll have already noticed (and, most likely, already commented on), these Sennheiser IE800S in-Ear Headphones are in the top-end of the market, and not only in price. The unavoidable initial response to this information goes like so: “how can a pair of earphones possibly justify a price tag like that?” and that’s assuming you’re polite and not given to foul language.
As you’d expect, Sennheiser is at pains to point out the numerous innovations incorporated into the IE 800s. And to be fair, these unassuming earphones are, relatively speaking, packed with high-end technology. The extra-wideband (XWB) transducers, for instance, are (at just 7mm) the smallest currently available and promise distortion-free sound even at uncomfortable-going-on-dangerous volume levels.
Harmonic distortion levels are so low as to be (apparently) non-existent. Ceramic housings and dampened two-chamber absorbers also let you know that these small, unassuming-looking earbuds mean business. As if the price-tag didn’t shout that already. While there isn’t much space to express the idea of premium materials, or painstaking construction or finish, the Sennheisers’ single-piece ceramic enclosures feel solid, and the relatively hefty cable resists tangling and transmitting noise.
Once in place (the IE 800s are supplied with five different-size ear adaptors and are simplicity itself to fit comfortably and securely), the scope of the Sennheisers’ abilities is apparent from the get-go. Where authority and control are concerned, the IE 800s are simply unquestionable. Low-frequency stuff is delivered with speed, definition and superb tonal variation, and as you move up the frequency range the Sennheisers just get on with the job of serving up top-notch fidelity.
Where midrange communication and articulacy are concerned, the Sennheiser IE800S rank among the very best in-ear headphones we’ve ever heard. At the top end, they attack crisply, grip transients fanatically and describe the beginning and decay of individual notes or hits with an attention to detail that borders on the fanatical. Integration and timing are absolutely first-rate, dynamic headroom is considerable, and stereo focus and sound staging are entirely lucid while, crucially, the Sennheiser’s maintain a completely neutral attitude to the music. They’re not disengaged or disinterested, just unwilling to impose themselves.
The Sennheiser IE800S prove supremely adaptable. Where sheer musicality is concerned, the IE 800s make a pretty much watertight case for themselves. No matter what gets piped in, the Sennheisers pipe it out again intact and unmolested.
The one glaring problem among all the eulogising of the IE 800s’ numerous and prodigious talents: the source player. As in-ear headphones, their whole purpose is surely to make the best of your digital music while you’re on the go and in our experience the portable players that demand/deserve/require headphones as capable as these are few and far between.
To all intents and purposes, these Sennheisers require hardware that takes full advantage of such raw power. The Sennheiser IE800S are superbly made brilliantly accomplished in-ear headphones. If you can justify the cost, and if your source player can justify it too, we think you’d be hard-pressed to find better. At any price.
The bass is great and but not too thumpy, the individual instruments can be heard cleanly and the vocals are just like they are singing in your ear. I can hear clearly now all the small nuances. Rarely a higher price tag has such an instant and obvious justification, yes, the price tag is steep, test them out and judge for yourself, but you might end up being a bit more out of pocket once you’ve tried them. The sound is simply breathtaking (literally). Once you try these on, you’ll be ruined forever, comparisons are simply, futile.