Review: Sennheiser IE 800 in-ear monitors

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The Sennheiser IE 800 In Ear Monitor Earphones (IEM’s) are the latest release from Sennheiser – a German audio manufacturer, based in Wedemark, Germany for well over 60 years.

The Sennheiser IE 800 In Ear Monitor Earphones (IEM’s) are designed for Audiophiles (Latin for Lover of Audio), and audio connoisseurs, who want the highest quality, best sounding, without compromised on design, quality, performance, and also have a visual signature all of their own.  I am proud to say that Sennheiser have mastered all these areas.

The IE 800 In Ear Earphones are the pinnacle of Sennheiser’s range, and use high quality construction materials, including scratch-resistant ceramics, Extra Wide Band (XWB) Transducers (7mm), and Two Chamber Absorbers (D2CA), and dual bass ports on each earpiece, which allows these earphones to produce astounding audio with punch and clarity, and soundstage, which I have never heard before in any IEM earphones.  Plus these can easily be powered by an iPod, with 16-ohm impedance.

Design and Build Quality

From the moment you see the design of the Sennheiser IE 800’s, you realise these look completely different to most IEM earphones on the market, including style and materials used – no plastic here.  The visual design of these looks like the exhaust to a Mercedes Benz car, its elongated, and dual bass ports on each earpiece.  The subtle Sennheiser logo, and the curves on these really make these a fashion statement also, but this is also done for technical reasons.

The cables are also supported with Kevlar enforced material to make the IE 800’s heavy duty, but without extra weight, plus the green colouring of the Kevlar adds to the overall look.  The cabling is two separate connectors – the “v-shape” from the earphones down to your neck, and then the additional length cable.  These use a standard 3.5mm L-shaped headphone connector, and yes its Gold plated.  Plus the IE 800’s are designed, developed, and Made in Germany.
Features

• Dynamic linear-phase driver with extremely wide bandwidth (XWB)
• Very low overall harmonic distortion
• Ergonomic, oval-shaped ear adaptors for maximum comfort
• Two protective meshes – one situated in the ear cushion and one in the cone, effectively protects against dirt contamination and for easy cleaning
• Attenuated dual-chamber absorber (D2CA)
• Extremely deep, distortion-free bass
• Premium leather carrying case
• 2 year warranty

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Performance

For testing and review purposes I used the Sennheiser IE 800’s with the latest generation iPod touch 64GB with a FiiO E17 portable amplifier with no EQ settings enabled.  This allows me to hear the 320KBPS audio without the restriction of the iPod amplifier, which is low powered.  However, these can be powered with only an iPod due to their low impedance of 16 ohms.  The silicon ear pads are supplied in 5 difference sizes.

The sound isolation with the IE 800’s is amazing, as long as you use the right silicon ear pads to complete the seal – less external audio means more internal audio – no sound leakage.  As for the actual sound quality and soundstage, etc I would rank these IE 800 In Ear Monitors as the best I have ever heard ever.  No distortion, no hissing, and all audio is well balanced due to the transducer and XWB wide-band drivers which are only 7mm in size in each ear.

I listened to a variety of pop / rock / classical / soundtracks / hip hop / orchestral and these never had an issue – perfect reproduction, in fact to such a point you could hear the hiss of synthesizers in the music before the orchestra kicked in – that’s German engineering at it’s best.  The soundstage (width of audio) is amazing, in fact it’s beyond comprehension how the Engineers at Sennheiser did this – well it worked.  Lows, treble, mids and highs are all spot on, and these can really crank the bass when needed – all with no distortion.

Specifications

• Ear Coupling -Interarual (In-Ear)
• Transducer Principle – Dynamic Vented Closed
• Frequency Response – 5hz to 46,500hz
• Sound Pressure Level (SPL) – 125dB at 1V 1kHz
• Impedance – 16 Ohms
• Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) – < 0.06%
• Weight – 8g (Without Cable)

Price

The Recommended Retail Price of the Sennheiser IE 800’s is $1,199.95 Australian (including GST of $119).

Advantages

• Solid Build – No Plastic – Ceramic Construction
• V-Shaped cable for easy cable replacement
• Kevlar cable system – tough and light
• 5 different size silicon tips
• Powerful 7mm XWB drivers
• Powerful full bass response
• 3.5mm – L-Shaped  – Gold Plated
• Easy to power of iPod (may not get full performance if not using a separate portable amplifier)
• Leather Carrying Case with individually serial number on metal plate with “Made in Germany”

Disadvantages

• Cable could be longer, by say another 10cm, especially if putting audio player in back pocket or side pocket
• Cable noise (audiophonics) is quite noticeable when walking and no audio playing.
• L-shaped earpieces do require more frequent adjustment in use.
• Price – however if you’re a lover of pure music you’ll understand why and Made in Germany.