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Sennheiser ie800S Review – Exercise in Restraint

Pros – 

Terrific end to end extension, Engaging yet coherent tuning, Flawless comfort

Cons – 

Still unstable with silicone tips, shorter, semi-removable cable, Not especially linear

Verdict – 

The ie800S is a fine update that executes its incredibly crisp, clear tuning with great refinement and remarkable technical aptitude.


Introduction –

At its time of release, the ie800 was considered by many to be the pinnacle of portable audio. In its time, 4-digit in-ears were an absurd proposition, making the ie800 and competing SE846 from Shure immediate talking points. Years later, this is no longer the case. One can expect to pay upwards of $1000 for a midrange IEM and several times more for a flagship. Still, though it may no longer represent a TOTL model in price or driver configuration, many still consider the ie800 to be a very capable dynamic driver in-ear. Of course, the ie800 was not an earphone without its quirks with an especially polarising design. Additionally, their sound, though undoubtedly clear and resolving, also suffered from a lack of linearity, especially with regards to treble.

These are all areas where modern flagship earphones pull ahead, providing similar resolution with greater realism and within a more practical form factor. In accordance, Sennheiser unleashed the all-new ie800S; boasting a retuned driver, improved cable and more extensive connectivity. Much remains the same, retaining an identical design and the same $999 USD asking price as the original at its time of release (now discounted to $800). However, with such extensive competition, one can’t help but wonder whether the ie800S still has a place within the modern market. You can read all about the ie800S here and purchase the earphones here.

 

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Heather from Sennheiser very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the ie800S for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

 

Accessories –

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The ie800S is packaged similarly to the original however the renders are no longer printed onto the hard box, but an external sleeve. Inside, the unboxing experience is very much the same.

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Removing the lid reveals the earphones within laser cut foam and a genuine leather carry case below. The case is nicely textured and engraved with the specific earphone’s serial number. However, it’s also bulky with questionable portability.

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Underneath, buyers are greeted by a new second row of accessories. Senneiser now include an altered ear tip selection, swapping the oval tips of the original for Comply foam tips that conform to the individual’s ear. They offer greater isolation and a smoother high-end. In my experience, they should also greatly aid users that struggled with fit in the past.

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Sennheiser provide 3 cables in the box, a regular 3.5mm cable as on the original in addition to 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced cables. They all attach via a female 2.5mm port at the y-split of the ie800S.

 

Design –

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The ie800S very much resembles Sennheiser’s preceding flagship in-ear with an identical earpiece design. Some may be disappointed, but like the ie800, the S is stunningly compact and formed in an ergonomic fashion. They assume a traditional cable down design that will be familiar to every user and have a comfortable, albeit shallow fit. The housings are sculpted from a ceramic alloy that’s incredibly hard; for reference, my original ie800’s have remained pristine even after years of daily use.

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The S does differ in finish, assuming a svelte matte black colour scheme over the Giger-esque grey of the original. Sennheiser has also added colour coded strain reliefs for easier orientation. Besides the aesthetic changes, the ie800S provides an identical ergonomic experience to its predecessor. Its minute housings disappear in the ear, delivering faultless long-term comfort matched by few competitors.

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As they’re shallow-fitting and vented, fit stability heavily relies on individual ear anatomy, though in general, they’re best suited for stationary use. With a shirt clip, they suffice for commute during which they offer adequate isolation. The newly included foam ear tips appreciably bolster both noise attenuation and fit stability, a simple but effective remedy. I also noted reduced wind noise compared to the original that was practically unlistenable outdoors. Somehow, the ie800S produces barely any noise at all.

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The cable on the original ie800 further compounded upon its unstable fit, garnering complaints of hardening and excessive microphonics. Luckily, the cable on the ie800S is hugely improved. Not only is it immediately softer and more compliant, it’s slightly thicker and sturdier while retaining the same smooth texture of the original. It’s also noticeably less microphonic, though cable noise is still present by nature of their cable-down fit.

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As before, the cable is fixed to the earpieces with a 2.5mm connector enabling replacement from the y-split down. The length of the cable remains the same as the original which can make the portion above the y-split a little short for inverted over-ear wear. Sennheiser now includes 2 additional balanced cables in the box to take advantage of balanced sources. All terminations and connectors are also slightly beefier than the originals.

 

Sound –

Tonality –

With a clear U-shaped signature, the ie800S is an engaging earphone with a slightly warmer, more natural low-end paired to a crisp, clear high-end. Though laid-back, its midrange is never overshadowed and it retains both pleasing vocal size and body. The ie800S makes several notable changes when compared to its predecessor, effectively appending most user complaints while compounding upon its widely acclaimed technical ability. As aforementioned, it does retain a light v/u-shape signature but offers greater balance on account of its more linear bass and smoother treble. As a result, the S is noticeably more natural than the ie800, has a little more midrange presence and retrieves a higher amount of detail alongside portraying a cleaner background.

 

Bass –

Lows are impactful and well-controlled, delivering a dynamic yet insightful bass response. Sub-bass extension greatly impresses, stretching beyond the audible and into perception, unlike any BA IEM. It may not sound quite as visceral and aggressive as more emphasized earphones such as Campfire Audio’s Vega, however, it is more balanced and realistic in timbre in return. Relative to diffuse-field neutral IEMs, both sub and mid-bass are emphasized, though it’s well-considered, avoiding obvious bloat and rounding of notes. Furthermore, the S has slightly reduced sub-bass quantity than the original ie800, sounding more linear and even-weighted, greatly enhancing articulation. The result is a slightly warmer tone relative to the ie800, and a presentation that lies tastefully on the more natural side of neutral.

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What hasn’t changed is its upper-bass tuning that remains neutral to slightly attenuated. It’s well-integrated with the ie800S’ similarly recessed lower-midrange, both serving to create a more exaggerated sense of separation. But though not perfectly linear, the ie800S greatly impresses with the quality of its bass; with tight, controlled sub-bass delivering concise impact and accurate decay preventing congestion and smearing of fine details. The ie800S is very discerning of texture and smaller nuances within its low-end, a by-product of impressive transience and great sub/mid-bass linearity. Sennheiser’s updated flagship in-ear thereby provides a defined and highly resolved bass presentation whose heightened engagement is well-balanced by a natural tone.

 

Mids –

Though less revised than bass and treble if at all, the ie800S’ midrange sounds notably improved over its predecessor on account of reduced colouration from neighbouring frequencies. It’s a meticulously orchestrated signature that isn’t perfectly linear, but highly engaging. When compared to its predecessor, mids are more present, more realistic in timbre and presented with greater vocal/instrument balance. The ie800S does retain a mild u-shaped signature, its midrange slightly laid-back relative to bass and treble. However, it sounds fairly balanced and substantial, never failing to draw attention with its delicate vocal reconstruction and exceptional clarity. As with the ie800, the S is not a dark earphone, but its upper midrange is slightly attenuated. Accordingly, it delivers smoother vocals despite its lifted lower-treble.

Due to its sculpted nature, the ie800S is not ideal for lovers of absolute realism and timbre. However, in return, it delivers a highly articulate and revealing presentation. As aforementioned, its lower-midrange/upper bass are neutral to relatively recessed, delivering a slightly thinner midrange, but also one with great transparency and pleasing adaptability between genres. By contrast, its centre midrange is slightly elevated, bringing vocals forward and imbuing them with greater body. In addition to a smoother treble tuning, vocals lack the exaggerated articulation and raspiness of the ie800 while retaining the same exquisite clarity and resolution. The ie800S, therefore, retains much of the charm of the original, with a delightfully clear expression that doesn’t skimp on the smaller nuances in the background. However, on account of its revised tuning, the S is not only more detailed, but also appreciably more natural in its voicing.

 

Highs –

Crisp, clean and extended all effectively describe the ie800S. It’s still a brighter, slightly thinner earphone and one that I wouldn’t characterise as perfectly natural, though its more gradual emphasis’ create a fairly well-bodied instrument reconstruction and a highly detailed image. Moreover, as lower-treble is slightly emphasized, foreground details are delivered with great clarity and precise attack without compromising too much body. In particular, both cymbals and strings are defined while retaining nice texture and decay, while high-hats, a great indicator of lower-treble linearity, remain wholly resolved with accurate shimmer. And, in accordance with user feedback, the ie800S more linear middle-treble effectively alleviates the splashiness and metallic sheen of the original.

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Extension remains very strong, similar if not slightly improved over its predecessor delivering very high resolution that complements its clear tuning. This impression is further bolstered by a small upper-treble peak that heightens sparkle. As it no longer carries such an obviously spiked presentation, the S retrieves more fine detail previously overshadowed by middle-treble glare. Resultantly, though not quite as articulated and remorselessly revealing as the original, the ie800S has more defined layers, greater air and increased separation; providing a more profound presentation than its predecessor. Of course, such a presentation isn’t for every listener, some may prefer a smoother sound and some may even find the more vibrant, contrasty (albeit superficial) tuning of the original more to their liking. As always, signature is a matter of personal preference, however, the objective upgrade in technical ability offered by the S is undeniable.

 

Soundstage –

A spacious stage has always been a strength of Sennheiser’s in-ears and the ie800S is no exception. Though its midrange is slightly more forward and its low-end is slightly warmer, the S retains impressive stage dimensions on account of its terrific treble extension and airy tuning. Width stretches beyond the head as does depth, and the ie800S is also nicely rounded in its presentation. Moreover, as linearity is notably improved, the ie800S has more accurate instrument placement. Directional cues aren’t quite as razor sharp as competing armature in-ears, but the ie800S has very pronounced separation on account of its transparent midrange and enhanced, but not excessive air.

 

Driveability –

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The ie800S is identical to the ie800 with a 16ohm impedance and 125dB sensitivity. It well-balances efficiency with hiss resistance, picking up notably less than the majority of competitors such as the Beyerdynamic Xelento. From testing with my various sources, I can subjectively ascertain that it retains the mostly linear impedance curve of the original, maintaining a consistent signature from sources of varying output impedance. That doesn’t equate to a similar experience from all sources as the ie800S is a highly resolving in-ear well-equipped to take advantage of a similarly resolving source. That said, its combination of hiss resistance and linear impedance make it better suited to smartphone use than most competitors, especially multi-armature IEMs. A dedicated source is still recommended to take full advantage of their technical abilities. Select pairings below:

HTC U11: Softer sub-bass impact, looser bass but still nicely defined. Laid-back vocals, aggressive treble brings details to the fore. That said, thinner instrumentation lacks micro-detail. Claustrophobic stage, nice separation but lacking expansion. Zero hiss. Perfectly listenable and similar signature on the surface but its presentation lacks immersion.

Fiio Q1 MKII ($100): Smoother bass texture, nice extension. Slightly warmer, retains pleasing definition. Smooth midrange, upper-midrange slightly laid-back. Touch of additional lower-treble, well-detailed. More intimate soundstage but well organised. No hiss on low-gain.

Shozy Alien+ ($450): Very well-controlled low-end, well-extended with slightly enhanced sub-bass impact. Very defined. Fairly transparent midrange. Very well-detailed, a hair of aggression. Spacious soundstage combined with a very clean background, well separated. Zero hiss on low-gain.

Echobox Explorer ($600): Tinge of warmth within bass, great extension and nicely defined. Well-balanced midrange, slightly laid-back centre midrange combined with a touch of additional articulation. Nicely detailed treble, organically bodied. More intimate stage, well organised with pleasing separation. Fairly audible hiss on low-gain.

Fiio X7 II w/AM3A ($650): Well balanced and resolving. Great bass extension, controlled and defined. Transparent midrange. More linear high-end, very detailed with a clean background. Very refined presentation, spacious stage with great separation. Zero hiss on low-gain.

iBasso DX200 w/AMP5 ($800): Very controlled, extended low-end with tight impact and great definition. Slightly more full-bodied midrange but very linear. Excellent detail retrieval, slightly aggressive but well-bodied and resolving. Very spacious stage with great layering and separation. Zero hiss on low-gain.

 

Balanced –

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As a new hallmark feature of the ie800S is its ability to interface with various connectors. Though balanced outputs vary wildly, I thought it apt to compare the standard TRS 3,5mm output on my Fiio X7 MKII w/AM3A to its 2.5mm balanced output. Of note, both outputs have the same circuitry, just doubled up on the balanced output so its signature remains the same. The most notable difference was an increase in volume. Once volume matched using an SPL meter, I detailed some subjective impressions below.

From the balanced output, the ie800S sounds a little more composed. Bass has is slightly cleaner, with greater mid-bass definition and a more neutral tone. Mids are mostly untouched, with just a little more lateral expansion creating a slightly more layered presentation. Highs are slightly more detailed though other qualities such as extension, resolution and air remain the same. The balanced output also offered a more naturally expensive soundstage with slightly improved separation. Of course, the effects will vary from source to source, but it’s always good to have options.

 

Comparisons –

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Sennheiser ie800 (~$800): The ie800 is slightly more v-shaped with more elevated sub-bass and treble. The ie800 has greater sub-bass impact, but it sounds muddier and less separated compared to the more even-weighted S. Otherwise, both are fairly similar, the ie800S is cleaner within its mid-bass by a hair and appreciably more defined overall. Both have a slightly thinner midrange though the ie800S sounds more natural, with more present vocals. The ie800 has a little extra raspiness to its midrange that the ie800S lacks, it’s also less layered. The biggest difference in high-frequency reproduction is detail retrieval, with the S being immediately more nuanced. The ie800 is actually clearer and crisper, but its instruments sound thin and metallic by comparison. The ie800 also has a brighter background where the ie800S is cleaner and more separated. The ie800 has a slightly larger stage due to its more laid-back midrange, but the ie800S is noticeably more layered with improved imaging and separation, its tuning is considerably more coherent overall.

Accoustune HS1503AL ($400): The HS1503 is immediately more V-shaped than the ie800 with very laid-back vocals mated to powerful sub-bass and pronounced treble tuning. The ie800S’ bass extends a little more and its impact is tighter. The HS1503 has more sub and especially mid-bass emphasis resulting in fuller but also more bloated notes. It’s less defined by a fair degree as a result. The HS1503 has a thinner, more articulated midrange that isn’t natural but very vivid and clear. It’s brighter with a forward upper-midrange while the ie800S is more natural and balanced. It also has more body where the HS1503 sounds clearer but also quite raspy. The HS1503 is brighter up top, with greater lower-treble and a large middle-treble bump delivering a brighter background. It’s still impressively detailed and surprisingly well-bodied, but isn’t as clean and composed as the ie800S. The HS1503 doesn’t extend as far as the ie800S and has a smaller soundstage. It also isn’t as separated nor are instruments as accurately placed.

Sony EX-1000 (~$400): The EX-1000 is brighter and leaner than the ie800S. It has a more typical diffuse-field neutral signature in-line with earphones like the Noble Katana. The EX-1000’s bass extends slightly more than the ie800S. It has a more neutral quantity, both with regards to sub and mid-bass. The EX-1000 is more defined and aggressively textured. The EX-1000 has a similarly tuned midrange that’s slightly thinner and cooler, but it also has more centre midrange vocal presence. As the EX-1000 is brighter in its treble its midrange isn’t as natural and smooth as the ie800S. Both lower and middle treble are more emphasized on the EX-1000, especially middle-treble that grants it a noticeably brighter background. The ie800S is a more grounded, cleaner sounding earphone with better extension and superior detail retrieval as it is more balanced and linear. The EX-1000 has an enormous stage though it isn’t as coherent as the ie800S nor is its brighter high-end quite as separated.

Dunu DK-3001 ($480): The DK-3001 is more balanced than the ie800S, it has a fuller sound and a smoother high-end. The Dunu extends just as well down-low, it has more mid-bass emphasis and is a little slower than the ie800S, sounding less separated and defined than the ie800S as a result. The Dunu has a fuller midrange with greater upper-midrange presence. It’s a little more vocal forward and very clear but also a little less transparent. The ie800S has a more pronounced lower-treble which grants it a noticeably more contrasty sound while the Dunu is more linear. Both are very well detailed, the ie800S is a bit cleaner while the Dunu is slightly smoother. The Dunu has a brighter background on account of a modest middle-treble bump, both extend well, the ie800S a little more so. The ie800S has a larger stage with better separation on account of its more controlled sound.

Flares Pro ($500): The Flares Pro is slightly cleaner down-low with a more laid-back midrange and greater detail presence. The ie800S has slightly more sub-bass extension combined with greater emphasis. The Flares Pro has a more neutral, linear low-end with similarly excellent control, it’s more defined as a result. The Flares Pro has a less natural midrange, it’s a little metallic and more laid-back, similar to the original ie800. The ie800S has more vocal presence and far more natural body. It sounds less artificial in its delivery despite being just as clear. The Flares Pro has a spiked lower-treble that gives it a very aggressive detail presentation. That said, though extremely crisp and clear, it lacks linearity and the ie800S is more detailed as a result. The ie800S also extends further, it has a larger stage and far superior imaging on account of its more balanced tuning.

Campfire Audio Polaris ($600): The Polaris is a more v-shaped earphone with greater bass and lower-treble emphasis. Its sub-bass extends equally well, delivering greater impact on account of its increased emphasis. Mid-bass is also slightly more present, producing larger bass notes and a less defined image. The Polaris has quite a recessed lower midrange paired with a forward upper-midrange. Its vocal reconstruction is cooler and thinner as a result, but also very clear. The ie800S is more linear and balanced, it sounds more natural and refined but less revealing. The Polaris also has an aggressive lower-treble response though the ie800S is even crisper in its delivery. The ie800S is more detailed and extends much further with greater air and sparkle. The ie800S has a larger soundstage with better imaging and separation on account of its greater extension and more linear tuning.

Campfire Audio Lyra II ($800): The Lyra II is slightly more balanced but warmer and fuller in its delivery. The Lyra II’s bass extends just as well, it has greater sub and mid-bass delivering a fuller presentation. The ie800S is cleaner within its low-end and more controlled, it’s more defined as a result. The Lyra II has more lower-midrange and a little more vocal presence. It’s fuller in its delivery and similarly well-articulated. The Lyra II has a bit more upper-midrange presence, but it isn’t as transparent as the ie800S due to its warmer tone. The Lyra II has a modest lower-treble boost, though it’s nicely linear with its upper-midrange, producing an organic detail presentation. By contrast, the ie800S is a little more aggressive and isolated, but it’s also slightly more detailed. The ie800S extends further, it has more middle-treble air and greater sparkle up top. The ie800S has a larger soundstage in all axis, it is also more separated.

Campfire Audio Jupiter ($800): The Jupiter is a more balanced, full-bodied earphone. It lacks the sub-bass extension and impact of the ie800S but has similar mid-bass quantity. It has a smoother bass texture but is more agile and a little more defined. The Jupiter has a fuller-midrange with greater lower-midrange presence. It’s more balanced than the ie800S with greater vocal presence and a more realistic timbre. The Jupiter has a more modest lower-treble emphasis contributing towards its more refined midrange. That said, though smoother, the Jupiter is more linear, delivering a similarly crisp and detailed presentation, albeit one that isn’t quite as aggressive. The Jupiter also has a clean background but extends a little further, delivering greater air and sparkle. Both have spacious soundstages, the ie800S is a little larger while the Jupiter has a more layered presentation with superior imaging.

Hyla CE-5 ($915): The CE-5 is more v-shaped with greater sub-bass and detail presence. The Hyla extends a touch further at the very bottom and delivers greater impact on behalf of its more emphasized sub-bass. It has slightly more mid-bass, but also greater control delivering greater definition. The CE-5 has fairly recessed upper-bass and lower-midrange in addition to a rather laid-back centre midrange. As a result, vocals are noticeably pushed back even compared to the ie800S and it lacks the same natural body. On the flipside, it’s very clear and vivid, it also has high transparency and a very nice tone. The CE-5 has a more aggressive lower-treble paired with an attenuated middle treble. It’s not quite as linear, delivering less detail though the Hyla sounds more composed due to its cleaner background. The CE-5 extends just as well above, retaining separation and air. It has a huge soundstage that’s a little larger than the ie800S due to its extension and laid-back midrange. That said, the ie800S has superior imaging as it’s considerably more linear and balanced.

Noble Audio Django ($1000): The Django is a slightly more balanced earphone but also more organic, with a smoother high-end. The Django extends impressively for a BA earphone but still lacks the impact of the ie800S. Both have boosted sub and mid-bass with the Django focussing a little more on mid-bass. As such, it sounds a bit fuller, but as it’s slightly faster and more controlled, it’s actually more defined. The Django has more upper-bass and lower-midrange presence than the ie800S delivering a smooth, full-bodied midrange. The Django has slightly greater vocal presence that’s better balanced with the surrounding frequencies. It’s not as transparent nor as clear, but musical, smooth and well-bodied. The Django has a hair of lower-treble emphasis. It isn’t as aggressive as the ie800S but remains quite crisp and very well-detailed. The Django extends well, it’s also more linear up top with a cleaner background and more refined presentation. The Django has a slightly smaller stage, but it’s more layered. The ie800S is a little more separated as it isn’t quite as full-bodied.

Beyerdynamic Xelento ($1000): The Xelento is probably the main competitor to the ie800S so this comparison will be slightly more in-depth. Chiefly, Beyer’s earphone is smoother and warmer than the ie800S. It has greater sub-bass extension combined with a little more emphasis. The Xelento also has a fuller mid-bass presentation, delivering larger notes. As it remains very well-controlled, it only sacrifices a little definition to the cleaner ie800S though its tone is notably warmer. The Xelento has a noticeably fuller midrange that trades the clarity and articulation of the ie800S for a smooth, natural and well-layered image. It has a little more upper midrange and is slightly more vocal forward than the ie800S but also less transparent and revealing.

Both have a lower-treble bump, the ie800S is considerably more aggressive where the Xelento has a more gradual, organic elevation that delivers more bodied treble instruments. As it’s more linear, the Xelento is slightly more detailed, but it’s not nearly as crisp in its delivery as the ie800S. Furthermore, the Xelento is quite restrained through its middle and upper-treble producing a clean, dark background. On the contrary, the ie800S has a lot more air and sparkle and it’s more discerning of micro-detail as a result. Both have grand soundstages that expand laterally beyond the head. The ie800S has a little more width while the Xelento has greater depth. Both image well, the ie800S is more neutrally toned and separated while the Xelento is more linear and layered at the cost of low-end separation.

Noble Audio Katana ($1850): The Katana represents the modern flagship that has risen far above the ie800S in pricing and driver count. It has a more diffuse-field neutral signature with less bass, a more forward midrange and a brighter treble tuning. The ie800S extends a little further than the Katana down low and has greater emphasis through its sub and mid-bass. The Katana is more neutral and transparent, it’s a lot tighter and faster, delivering a very concise punch. By comparison, the ie800S is smoother in its texturing and less defined, but also slightly more natural and more organic. The Katana has a more forward midrange. It has a little more lower-midrange body but also a brighter tilt into its upper-midrange and treble. As such, the ie800S is noticeably smoother and more accurately articulated while the Katana has even greater clarity and is generally more revealing.

The Katana has a similarly aggressive lower-treble though it’s also more linear from its similarly emphasized upper-midrange. It climbs to a gradual peak around its middle treble and extends exceptionally well above. As such, it has more air and sparkle than the ie800S in addition to greater resolution. However, it has a much brighter background and doesn’t sound quite as clean as a result. Still, on behalf of excellent control, the Katana is just as composed if not more so and its instrumentation is both more bodied and more detailed in addition to being more forward. The Katana has a similarly spacious soundstage with superior imaging. It is a lot more layered with greater separation on account of its more neutrally sized notes.

 

Verdict –

Like the HD800S, the ie800S represents a step up in balance over the ie800 before. The changes may be subtle, however, a 9.8 only requires 0.2 to make a perfect 10. Of course, the ie800S isn’t perfect, no IEM is. This analogy simply illustrates how expecting the ie800S to drastically differ from its predecessor is fundamentally wrong, not to mention, counterintuitive. It’s also rationale for my own personal enjoyment as I did walk away impressed by Sennheiser’s revised flagship in-ear as minute the differences may be. It’s more natural, more linear and more resolving while remaining just as suitable for portable sources. Its unchanged form factor does disappoint, alienating the same users as the original. However, the inclusion of substantially more stable fitting Comply foam tips offer a partial fix. Moreover, those that found a great fit with the ie800, will find a similarly practical and ergonomically invisible experience with the S. Its new cable is also a big step up, aiding stability and appreciably reducing microphonic noise.

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Still, like many others, I would’ve liked to see an over-ear design or longer cable above the y-split to enable more comfortable inverted wear. Regardless, with the ie800S, Sennheiser took a great earphone, addressed its sonic weaknesses and compounded upon its strengths. My extensive comparisons demonstrate that, at least sonically, the ie800S remains very relevant in the modern market as one of the most polished u/v-shaped in-ears. It doesn’t aim for perfect timbre, and won’t suit users searching for such, but executes its incredibly crisp, clear yet natural tuning with great refinement and remarkable technical aptitude. You will hear complaints about its hefty $999 USD asking price. However, one can argue that Sennheiser retaining the same RRP as the original is a feat in itself, especially within a market of perpetual inflation. In a world where we’re taught to be sceptical of the powerful and apprehensive of the economically inclined, industry juggernaut Sennheiser exercise their experience and expertise to produce a compelling product for the consumer.

The ie800S is available from Amazon (International) for $999 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.

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