When most people look to upgrade the bundled headphones that came with their iPhone or Android smartphone, we suspect the budget isn’t around the £600 mark. Sennheiser’s new IE800 in-ear headphones are priced so, but they’re aimed at the audio enthusiast – the audiophile, as they prefer to be called.
Boasting the fidelity and technical brilliance you’d expect from a set of headphones worth that sort of money, the IE800s are billed as sound experts Sennheiser’s latest and greatest in-ear stereo headphones. “What makes a pair of headphones cost so much, and are they worth the price?” We hear you ask. Read on, dear reader, and we’ll try our best to answer your questions.
Design and build
Where premium sound is found, a high-tech and fancy design is never far away. Sennheiser has not shied away from the trend, opting to use a selection of top-notch materials to craft a unique design.
The two ear buds are made from a hard yet lightweight scratch resistant ceramic, with a tapered design running from the wider and rounded end that goes into your ear down to a very thin edge at the opposite end. On this end there are two silver ‘exhausts’ which are designed to improve the bass response and also help with noise isolation – which it does. With the right tips selected from the five that come bundled we would rarely have our listening enjoyment disrupted by noisy colleagues or loud sounds around us.
The cabling is tough but not overly thick, and thankfully it has pretty much no memory, and so it doesn’t tangle itself up or get into knots. The cable appears to be braided and then coated with a clear and tough plastic, which itself is nicely flexible and allows for plenty of movement.
Around 10cms down from the ear buds is a 3.5mm jack which allows alternate inline control cables to be hot-swapped – Sennheiser has them for Android and iOS devices, it says. Right at the end of the cable is a thick and rubberised right-angle 3.5mm jack connection for putting into your device, which feels very sturdy.
The crux of the matter is of course sound quality. Unless you’re a Beats Audio buyer, you don’t purchase headphones because they look nice. Thankfully the IE800s sound beautiful to match the impressive and well-made physical aspects.
Somehow Sennheiser has crammed a tiny, tiny 7mm extra wide-band sound transducer into these headphones and yet still obtain a frequency response of 5 – 46,500HZ. This gives the headphones an impressive sound stage that’s both detailed and well separated, allowing the listener to pick out each instrument and element of a song with relative ease.
Bass on the IE800s is impressive, and perhaps the nicest we’ve heard on a set of in-ear headphones. It’s not at the thumping levels of some headphones but it’s well defined and weighty, whilst not drowning out other elements of the sound. Trebles are well pronounced and easy to pick up, which combined with that defined bass make the IE800s a beautifully balanced pair of headphones.
If you were to put £600 in our hands and force us to buy a pair of in-ear headphones, we’re pretty sure that these would be our pick. Whilst we know that few will want to splash out this sort of money on a pair of headphones, those who do will be able to really appreciate the IE800s for what they are, and that’s beautifully designed and great-sounding headphones.
If you’ve the money, we’d highly recommend them.