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Sennheiser IE 800 review

Richard Easton
16 Dec 2014
Sennheiser IE 800 earphones cable close-up
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
599
http://www.hificorner.co.uk/sennheiser-ie-800-in-ear-headphones.html

Page 1 of 2Sennheiser IE 800 review

A ludicrously expensive pair of earphones that sound fantastic, but lack accessories for the price

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Sennheiser's IE 800 is a seriously expensive pair of earphones. Just from the price alone, it’s clear they are aimed at a very specific demographic of high-end audiophiles rather than the mass market.

As with many objects of audiophile lust, at this price you begin entering the realms of diminishing gains when it comes to sound quality. While the audio fidelity differences between earphones costing £20 and those costing £200 is quite pronounced, the more you spend at the higher brackets the more difficult it becomes to perceive differences in sound quality.

Make no mistake, the IE 800s undoubtedly sound fantastic; there is an incredible amount of quality, richness and detail in the mid-tones and treble. Everything is so crisp in sound that it was a joy to listen to songs we were long accustomed to, just to hear the difference. Interestingly, while many high-end earphones have an emphasis towards a relatively ‘flat’ sound or towards the higher frequencies, in order to really bring out the detail in your music, the IE 800 has a stunning bass presence to match.

The extremely tight bass isn’t without its problems, however, although these can’t necessarily be attributed to the earphones themselves. Certain modern music isn’t always mixed with such high-end equipment in mind, meaning certain tracks felt overpowered by the IE 800’s bass reproduction. The ever present computer-generated bass beat in a modern R&B track like Miguel’s Adorn is normally background noise, but the IE800s suddenly bring it to the forefront and makes it hard to ignore. This isn’t something we’ve noticed with lower-quality headphones.

However, aside from these isolated incidents, the bass produced by the IE 800 is wonderful in its lack of distortion and has just the right amount of warmth. Songs have real depth towards them and the sound signature is well balanced, without any colour. At no point did listening to them become fatiguing and the IE 800s sounded universally impressive across numerous music genres.

Sennheiser IE 800 earphones and accessories

The IE 800s use an extra wide band transducer system, allowing for a stunning frequency response of 5-46500Hz. This means the earphones are capable of producing detailed sound across the frequency spectrum and are a good choice to pair with a high resolution audio device. To put this into perspective, we are used to seeing a frequency response of 20-20,000Hz in more reasonably priced headphones.

Sennheiser has managed to squeeze the size of its dynamic driver down to just 7mm, meaning each IE 800 earbud is surprisingly small. Sennheiser's use of a single dynamic driver in each headphone to produce all of the frequency range raised a few eyebrows as we're used to seeing balanced armature and dynamic driver pairings in high-end headphones. Balanced armature drivers are designed to handle different sound frequencies, so multiple drivers are used to cover the entire sound spectrum. These drivers sometimes struggle with the lower frequencies, however, so are sometimes paired with a dynamic driver to give a helping hand with bass. The fact that Sennheiser has managed to get such good frequency representation from a single dynamic driver is therefore an impressive feat. With an impedence of 16 ohms it doesn’t require much to drive these headphones, either. Combined with the isolating nature of the earphones, you shouldn’t have to turn the volume up too much.

Page 1 of 2Sennheiser IE 800 review