on 15 April 2012
I have upgraded from CX300 to CX400ii to the IE6 and finally I have saved for the IE80. The reason being that I was so impressed with the IE6, I hoped the flagship model would be and even bigger step up. Surely they would put the IE6 to shame, being twice the price? Well not quite in reality but I put that down to the IE6 bieng so impressive in the first place. It's true that the IE80s do have a deeper, punchier bass over a wider range and it is better balanced. The sound stage is also a little wider and the vocals are certainly a little more alive and rich. It seems absurd to call the IE6 noise 'tinny' but in comparison, they do seem a little bit. The IE80 no doubt beat them hands down and they are the most impressive sound I have heard anywhere. The issue here though is that all of these improvements in sound quality are actually very marginal. I had to compare with real scrutiny, (before burn-in), to be completely satisfied that I had spent my money well. They are the ultimate product Sennheiser have to offer, (and in my opinion, that anybody has to offer as I like my bass), but to justify the price hike over their little brothers is contentious. I think it's worth it as I'm a real sound geek but you need to be a self-confessed audiophile to really justify them. Just a little perspective though: I compared them to some £300 Beats Audio cans. They were an utter embarrassment, much like Bose. Do your research people. These IE80 are undisputed as the best dynamic driver headphones available. Nothing comes close. If you want to go for armature headphones in the same price range you can not get the same bass or as much range. This is a technological limitation. What Sennheiser have done is produce a sound to rival armature headphones but with the beautiful bass of a big dynamic driver. They are just incredible; the ultimate headphone and I will not be upgrading this time.
I won't lie to you here, these cost a lot for dynamic IEMs but the Sennheiser sound has been so refined over the years I knew they would be a decent upgrade from my Denon 551's.
Okay, what do you get for your money? First off the IE80s come in a nice card box that has a cool flap, there are various plastic trays that hold all the bits and pieces inside. Apart from the IEMs (which I will come to in a bit) you get a nice plastic carry case with brushed metal plates on the side. There are ear hooks which have a sort of memory wire inside so they can be molded to your ear shape, a shirt clip, numerous single and double flange silicon tips and small and large foam tips. Also in there is a was cleaning tool which has a small plastic screwdriver on the other side. This is for the USP of these IEM's - adjustable bass. Each IEM has a screw in the side that can be adjusted to increase bass, apparently it lets the diaphragm inside vibrate further.
The IEMs themselves are nice looking, not earth shattering but decent enough. The shape is pretty unique but it fits well in the ear. I am currently struggling to achieve a good, isolating fit with the stock tips so am going to try Comply TX500s. Apparently getting a good fit is a common complaint with the IE80s and I always struggle to get a decent fit with any earbuds or IEMs I use so I don't hold it against these things.
Anyway, I am using the stock foam tips (large) and can achieve an okay seal for a little while. I really recommend that, if you buy these then spend a good bit of time achieving a very good seal, the sound quality of these things is worth the effort
Okay, once you get a good fit the next step in making these babies fly is to give them a good 20 hours burn-in, everything beds in nicely and the sound loses any harsh edges.
Alright, the sound itself
Bass - In a word, Wow! I am by no means a basshead but the presence of the bass frequencies is just amazing, thumping but always well defined, nothing I throw at these causes any mushiness or problems. I just listened to a track on soundcloud that someone described as having bass like a 30 foot organ pipe and these things were literally booming in my head, yet I could still hear detail.
Mids - crystal clear with no sibilance or harshness, vocals and acoustic guitar just shine without being too forward
Highs - no issues here, the higher frequencies are rendered well without being fatiguing
Soundstage - I always find IEMs have a slightly smaller soundstage that over-ear cans but these do separate things out well.
Overall these things have blown me away, I have been using Sennheiser HD 595s, themselves are perfectly respectful unit and, whilst its not really comparing apples with apples, the IE80s are leagues ahead in terms of clarity and rendition.
I am convinced that, when I get past the issues with tips I will be editing this review and throwing an extra star up there. Sennheiser are onto a winner here and this is a definite challenge to the balanced armature brigade.
on 3 January 2016
These are not only the best IEMs but best headphones I have ever used. I have come from owning Shure SE 215, SE 425, Sennheiser momentum, Sony MDR 1R. The IE80s are simply astounding, bass response is excellent with very good low end 'thump' which you can literally feel on the bone behind your ear but never feels too overbearing and it helps that you can dial down midrange bass with the dial. Highs are good. Mids can feel a little recessed due to its v shaped sound signature. The sound from these really surprised me and are even better than full size headphones such as the momentums and MDR 1r I previously owned which were both excellent but ultimately had sound signatures which weren't to my taste. My only issue is that they provide very little sound isolation so sitting on the tube you need to crank up the volume to drown this out. I bought some JVC spiral dot ear tips in an effort to improve things and although sound isolation does improve still not to the level where I feel immersed in the music and background noise can be a little distracting. I may try some comply foam tips to see if this helps. Overall I am extremely happy with these IEM's
My previous in ear monitors were a pair of Shure E5's and I never felt that they were as good as the cash that I spent on them. Now the issue with earbuds is that you can never try a pair before you buy, unless you have a friend who's willing to let you have a go. Unfortunately most of my friends think I'm mad spending 200+ for earbuds, so no way to try them. I read all the reviews on various websites and decided to try these and if they didn't live up to expectations - there would be a fast turnaround back to Amazon and a refund requested.
Fortunately, they've been as good as I hoped and even though they haven't had time to bed in properly yet, they sound fantastic. Crystal clear sound and with the tiny dials on the sides, I've adjusted the Bass up a notch and they're 'just right', essentially this makes the IE80's flexible enough to suit a large variety of people and music tastes, see the pic that I've added above that shows this. Overall the quality of the earbuds, the box and even the adjustment / cleaning tool is outstanding and I have no hesitation in recommending them. I've added a pic with some of the key features highlighted, which should appear along with the main pics. Buy with confidence!
*Edit* After a month of daily usage, I'm over the moon with these earbuds and if anything, the sound is better now that they've bedded in.
on 16 September 2014
I have had these for just over two years now. The first pair had a problem with the cable, Sennheiser promptly replaced not just the cable but sent me a brand new pair. And the reason I'm writing this review now is because the second pair lasted about 20 months, with the sound degrading slightly toward the low end, and they just sent me another pair no questions asked. I cannot stress enough how good Sennheiser's customer service is.
Anyhow onto the review of the phones themselves. I have been through a lot of IEM's in my time and for my money, these are hands down the best standard driver, nay, best IEM's in the price range. They have the amazing top / mid response of balanced armature IEMs with the bass response and general power of regular driver based earphones. The sound is bright and powerful with a massively wide soundstage, exactly what most people would want. Tons of detail, plenty of bottom end oomph, and in a pair of very comfortable good looking IEMs.
I could only upgrade to the IE800's (Which are 700 quid) to possibly get better sound out of IEMs than these.
Seriously, if you're even vaguely interested in a pair of IEMs at this price bracket, get them. Do it. They are wonderful.
on 31 May 2013
I use headphones solely to listen to music when travelling with work or just generally out and about somewhere, and use a Samsung Galaxy S3 that's stuffed full of Spotify "Extreme Quality" files, and Poweramp playing FLAC (standard 16/44 and some 24/96 files). I also own a pair of Grado SR80 phones, Etymotic HF5 and previously Beyer Dynamic DT101, Sennheiser CX300 II. I rarely use headphones in my home domestic system, but have used it to compare them in a better quality system (I use J Rover MC17 streaming from a laptop into a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic+).
I've had the Etymotics for about 8 months, and have never quite got used to their bass-lite tonal balance, but I have to admit the level of detail and the sense of simply being in the same room as the musicians is uncanny. I liked the DT101, more bass sam, but less detail and bit less agile than the HF5. I decided to try the IE80 after reading lots of reviews on Head-fi and similar sites. The problem with IEMs is you can't try them out before buying them, unlike regular full size over ear or on ear phones. I had considered more expensive IEMs: Westone, Grado, Shure 535 etc, but figured good though the Wolfson DAC is in the S3, it's still just a phone playing mostly slightly lossy compresed files, and unless I bought a separate portable DAC amp such as a Fiio, then I'd be missing the potential of such high quality phones.
Ive had the IE80s now for a couple of day, and on the advice of another reviewer bought some Comply TX500 foam tips. they have been on constant play burning them in, and have dipped in and out of them when I've had the chance. I narrowed down the tip choice to the stock large silicon tips, and the large Comply tips, still not sure that the Comply tips are casting a bit of a veil over the sound, making it more bloated and almost muffled, but the isolation is better than the stock tips...more experimentation required here yet I think. Out of the box the difference in tonal balance to the Etymotics is immediately obvious, bass, bass and er lots more bass. Too much for me, it sounded bloated, with a pronounced rise in the upper mid bass range that overpowers and obscures slightly the midband. 24 hours later and it's calmed down a bit, bearing in mind it's set to minimum on the bass adjust setting. Treble is now sweeter, and it's certainly a very full sound, still very different to the Etymotics. I'm going to try to taped bass port mod and see if that balances things out better for me.
One advantage with these phones is the detachable cables, and there are some replacement upgrades out there that are interesting, if not cheap; try searching for Toxic cables for example.
In summary, I'm not completely blown away yet by the Sennheisers, but given that I might yet still find a better tip that may change. Part of the problem is that the tips have a large diameter to accommodate the dynamic drivers, which restricts the size and shape of tips you can use. If anyone has any recommendations then I'd love to hear them and try them out.
on 18 February 2014
Had these for about a month now and it's made listening to music much more fun. Very expensive though (hence the loss of one star) but overall I'm very happy with these IEM's - the build quality is very good and there's a good supply of earbuds to choose from. For those wondering about sound isolation, yes, it's not quite as good as I'd expected but I'm sure I could improve it with the foam tips. However, I'm quite happy hearing the occasional ambient sound as it means I won't get knocked over when crossing the street! I think there's too much focus on almost 100% sound isolation, not only is it dangerous but you don't need it all the time. I found the noise isolation on these worked perfectly on a bus, train and in the house. The only time I found the isolation to be sub-par is in windy conditions (you can really hear the wind blowing over these).
on 21 May 2015
I have not found a better sounding pair of earphones - and believe me I've looked.
Since my ie8's broke a couple of years ago I've tried top end earphones from Shure, Bowers & Wilkins, Final Audio and RMA. None of them matched the Sennheisers ability to make me listen afresh and agape to all my music.
So now I've come back to the fold - and my new IE80s are even better - stunning detail, breathtaking bass and... it just sounds like the musician is in the room with you.
Don't forget to splash out an extra £20 on Comply TX-500 tips to make sure there's a good seal. The difference in sound (and bass in particular) is massive.
Expensive? Yes - but I use my earphones for at least 2-3 hours every day. So I reckon the cost is worth every penny.
on 25 February 2015
Bought these from a high street retailer. I won't go into all the audiophile technical stuff as there are already lots who have and frankly I wouldn't have a clue what I'm talking about. I have never spent more than £40 on earphones until now so this is for anyone like myself who are thinking of taking an expensive punt.
I will just simply say that with these IE80's listening to Artists and songs that I lhave loved for years was like hearing them for the first time! The difference in clarity is night and day. You really do hear things in songs that you never knew were there. For me personally they're worth every penny!
on 10 May 2013
the only reason why this headset is getting a 3 star and not 5 is because of the extremely poor build quality of the headphone jack. it has an inerrant issue with breaking and is flimsy at best resulting in sound only being produced either intermittently or just from 1 earphone.
the good news is that the cables are cover in manufacturers warentee and that after market cables are available. - if you are planning to use these just at home there wont be an issue. if you are using them for out and about use i guarantee the headphone jack will break. so keep your receipts.