Sennheiser IE 8 Review

IE8main Sennheiser IE 8 Review

For years Sennheiser, one of the world’s leading headphone manufacturers, was only known for one model of in-ear phones, the CX 300 – and those weren’t even Sennheiser designs, but an OEM product made by Foster Japan. With the success of the relatively inexpensive CX 300 and other models of the CX series it was only a matter of time until Sennheiser went for the higher priced market, competing with brands like Ultimate Ears or Shure, with products aimed at more discerning listeners and audio professionals.

Thus the Sennheiser IE series of in-ear phones was born. In this case ‘IE’ very likely stands for ‘In-Ear’, unlike certain web-browsing software from Redmond, WA. While they’re not exactly IEMs suited for professional monitoring applications, they sure are among the quality choices for hi-fi listening… The audio snobs we are, we’re not wasting any time on the IE 6 or 7 – we’ll go for the fancy flagship IE 8 right away and put them through their paces.

  • Specs
  • Driver: dynamic
  • Impedance: 16 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 125 dB (1 kHz, 1 Vrms)
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Cable: 1.2 m, symmetrical, user replaceable, 3.5 mm angled plug
  • Accessories: Aluminum case, silicon and foam tips, ear guides/hooks, cleaning/bass adjustment tool, shirt clip
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Accessories

When you first open the already very shiny and glossy outer box of the IE 8 you’re in for some serious jaw-dropping action once you see the gorgeous brushed aluminum case inside. However, on closer inspection the case is so over-engineered and obsessive-compulsively designed, it’s bordering on the ridiculous. German engineering in the haus, ja. The case has a compartment for some desiccant silica gel to keep the IEMs dry, a compartment for the cleaning tool and bass-level screwdriver, four stems to proudly display some ear tips of your choice, and a few more shenanigans. The only thing the case doesn’t do is being portable – it’s just huge, ostentatious, and generally useless. Not to mention tightly wrapping the IE 8’s cable around the provided spindle might actually damage the cable or at least give it some undesired memory effect in the long run. Well, at least the case provides a place to store all the accessories one doesn’t need on a daily basis.

The huge variety of silicon and foam tips the IE 8 come with all have one thing in common: they’re not particularly good. The standard varieties of single-flange silicon tips are cheap and thin, similar to the ones one could find on the old CX 300 and other OEM phones. The double-flanged ones are too short and don’t provide enough seal for my ears, the foam ones are too slim, and those… spiky torture devices are just absurd. None of those provide a remotely decent fit and seal for my ears. Good thing that’s a flaw that can easily be fixed by using tips from other brands. Ultimate Ears’ grey Super.Fi/Triple.Fi tips are of excellent quality and fit the IE 8 like a glove. These tips are made of thicker, smoother silicon, and don’t have any visible injection mold ridges. Other very high quality tips are Sony EP-EX10A, often called ‘Sony Hybrids’, due to them being made of two different kinds of silicon. They’ve got thinner material strength than the Super.Fi tips, with somewhat rougher texture, and they seem to fit the majority of human ears just fine. They are harder to fit onto the IE 8 nozzle, but they stay on very securely. I would highly recommend either of those third-party brand tips to any IE 8 owner; they make life a lot easier.

The included shirt clip is not really needed in my opinion – the IE 8 cables are worn up around one’s ears, they are secure and don’t transmit a lot of cable noise. Sennheiser’s ear guides are a bit too bulky and not very comfortable for my ears (I wear glasses), I prefer Phonak’s softer silicon guides with most phones that need these kinds of guides. With the IE 8 however I don’t feel the need to use them anyway.

The tool with the bass-level screwdriver and the little wire loop on the other end doesn’t make much sense. The IE 8’s nozzle is closed with a metal mesh and no grime gets in. The wire loop tool makes much more sense with IEMs like the UE 11 Pro or Shure SE530, which have open nozzles. In my opinion a rigid brush end would have been more efficient than a loop to clean ear wax off the IE 8.

What can I say? Sennheiser sure put a lot of stu
ff in the box, but not so much thought into it. Good thing nothing of that is detracting from the sonic qualities of the phone – but it sure adds needlessly to the retail price. I wish they released an ‘IE 8 Lite’ version for a lower price – without all the superfluous stuff, just with a normal portable zipper case à la Shure or Future Sonics, and the usual three or four pairs of quality silicon tips. That might not look as exclusive as the available version, but it would be less waste of materials and resources.

Design, Specs

The grey industrial design-ish housing of the IE 8 might look a bit menacing initially. My first thought, same as with the Phonak PFE, was, “Who in their right minds puts sharp edges on an IEM housing?” It turns out they’re quite comfy to wear and the edges on the outside don’t matter much – contrary to the aforementioned PFE. I can even sleep comfortably with the IE 8, without having sore ears in the morning. What works for me, for good comfort (and good stereo imaging) is to not put these IEMs too deeply into my ear canals. I just let them rest on the outside of my ear, just so the Super.Fi silicon tips get enough friction/suction to stay in place. I can get a good seal every time, and a very secure fit to boot. With the IE 8 it’s pretty obvious when one has an insufficient seal, by the way – all bass response disappears. Ergonomically, the IE 8 perform very well and hassle-free – at least with the right silicon tips for my ears.

The cable on the IE 8 is nothing short of excellent. It’s arguably the best cable on any IEM I’ve used so far, even surpassing Ultimate Ears’ custom cables. Sennheiser chose a very unique wire coating for the IE 8, very slick and smooth, not sticky/rubbery at all. The cable feels almost a bit squishy, as if it was filled with gel. It’s as soft as silk and transfers very little cable noise to one’s ears. The excellent build quality is only surpassed by the fact that the cable is user replaceable. If the 120cm cable is too long for one’s needs, one can buy an optional 60cm cable to use with the phones. Not to mention one doesn’t have to replace the whole phone when the cable gets damaged. The only minor nitpick I could find with the cable’s construction is that the angled 3.5mm plug is “iPhone compatible” – meaning it sticks out too far and thus would fit the non-standard headphone jack of the first generation iPhone – the device that forced the whole headphone industry to adapt all their products to its botched design. The first generation iPhone is long gone, but the unshapely plugs still linger on. Oh, and the cable is grey, not black. I like black. Other than that all is fine – be it strain reliefs, Y-splitter, the securely fitting connectors on the IEM-end of the cable, or even Sennheiser’s decision to go against the grain and use a nickel-plated 3.5mm plug instead of the ubiquitous gold-plated ones, as found on almost all other IEMs.

Sennheiser claims outside noise attenuation up to 26dB. That’s about as much as my custom-made UE 11 Pro isolate, but for the IE 8 it is unfortunately nothing more than a sad joke – the IE 8 isolate less than many generic cheap in-ear phones available. Sennheiser’s own inexpensive CX 300 model actually isolates a bit more than their flagship IE 8. It doesn’t really matter which silicon or foam tips one uses, they just don’t keep a lot of noise out. Some companies like England’s ACS offer custom molded ear pieces for the IE 8, which might or might not improve isolation by a bit. Personally I haven’t tried any custom molds yet since they’re a bit too pricey for what they are. The situation is, the IE 8 do not deserve the label “professional” they’re sold under. Professional IEMs are used for on-stage monitoring and mixing at concerts and for keeping undesired sounds out of one’s ears. The IE 8 fails at those applications. On the other hand, they’re almost safe to use in traffic.

The quite overblown tech specs of the IE8 (16 Ohm, 125dB) might give trouble with some sub-par amp circuits, but even on problematic players like the Cowon S9 they sound rather focused to me. They’re very nice on the inexpensive Sansa Clip+, where I really don’t hear any huge differences compared to the higher quality headphone outputs of my Echo AudioFire sound card or portable Headsix amp. Sure seems to me the single dynamic driver of the IE8 is less problematic to drive than multi-armature IEMs with crossovers. For my ears, the main issue a quality headphone amp fixes with them is a slight background hiss they have on most sources. All in all they’re well behaved though for their ridiculously high sensitivity and low impedance.

Sound

The next paragraph has to be preceded with a few words of warning. I am pretty confident I’m able to differentiate between real physical/psychological phenomena inherent to the perception of audio products – and the raving lunacy of certain ‘audiophiles’, often ridiculed for tendencies towards confirmation bias, placebo effect, and general nonsense. Sometimes it’s difficult to see where one ends and the other starts.

That being said, I never heard a headphone change its sound characteristics as much over such a long time as the IE 8 did. Some of my phones did indeed change remarkably in a short time, like the Shure SE530, which sounded muddy for half an hour before they opened up, or the Hippo VB which took even a few days. Other phones however, which certain people attribute with gigantic changes over the course of hundreds of hours don’t change at all in my experience, like the Ultrasone HFI-780 for example. Those phones sound the same after thousands of hours of usage as they did in the first minute. I double checked that by comparing my phones with a fresh pair in the music store. Unfortunately I can’t do that with the IE 8 – the salesperson just won’t open another box for obvious health and hygiene reasons, not to mention resale value.

This brings me back to the IE 8. Some people say these phones ‘burn in’ with time – though I would almost call it ‘burn out’, but that would sound too negative. Many people complain that the IE 8 don’t sound good right out of the box and improve after many hours of usage. For me however they sounded stellar when they were new – with a big, punchy bass response and sparkling treble, just the right amount of both to match the equal loudness contour my ears seem to perceive as natural. Now, 300-400 hours later, the IE 8 indeed changed – I don’t find them that ‘exciting’ and forward sounding anymore, they got a bit more, well, boring, to put it bluntly. Other people might call that ‘balanced’ or ‘neutral’, but that of course is as much a subjective personal opinion as anything else. One would think the world’s leading headphone manufacturer would inform you about those quite noticeable changes in their flagship IEMs, but apparently they didn’t put a big yellow ‘burn-in warning’ sticker on the box. Everything that follows are ‘post-burn-in’ impressions.

The IE 8’s bass is not the absolute best quality, but it definitely is very good. It does have a quite noticeable midbass hump which often is more prominent than real sub-bass. All in all, it’s not an extremely bassy sounding phone by my definitions, but it certainly is far from linear, or ‘neutral’, as some people might call it. Bassheads might still need to EQ it up a notch to achieve the desired low-frequency SPL, while fans of the Phonak PFE or Etymotic ER-4 certainly would be scared witless by the IE 8’s more realistic loudness-contour. Despite the midbass, the IE 8’s bass is rather controlled and punchy, far from an overly
flabby one-note bass response as heard on many cheaper bass-heavy phones.

By the way, the bass control dial on the IE 8 does not really increase the perceived bass by a lot. It does seem to extend it by a few decibels below 100Hz, but the midbass hump stays the same, thus the effect isn’t so obvious. The one thing that makes Sennheiser’s tunable bass dial better than the removable port designs by Hippo, Sleek, and others is simple: it’s fixed to the phone; there are no tiny parts to lose.

The midrange of the IE 8 is up there with the best in-ear phones, such as the Shure SE530. It’s a warm, lush midrange with precise instrument separation. Instruments, voices, and other noises are all treated equally well; nothing is too much in the foreground or in the back with the IE 8’s dynamic drivers. That’s a good thing, I find the IE 8 to work equally well with any music genre. Just like its bigger sibling, the Sennheiser HD 650, the IE 8 appears to have the tiniest hint of a veil over the music; it is not the IEM with the last word in crystalline clarity. That might be partially because of the midbass emphasis, but in reality it does not matter much to my ears – the IE 8 are very enjoyable, euphonic sounding phones compared to super-precise monitoring equipment like the Etymotic ER-4. Another word to describe the IE 8’s overall sound is ‘coherence’. From the midrange to the bass to the treble, they are sounding cohesive – something multi-armature IEMs with crossovers might struggle with. What the IE 8 do best is playing music – analyzing and separating frequencies is the forte of other phones.

On my fresh pair of IE 8 I perceived the treble response as very sparkly and forward. This is maybe the biggest noticeable change after a few hundred hours; the sparkle has faded quite a bit. One could call it ‘natural’ now. Still, they are definitely no overly dark sounding phones like the Future Sonics Atrio. The IE8 have quite a bit better treble quality and more quantity than the SE530, but they’re not overly forward like Phonak PFE or q-Jays. You guessed it: they’re just about right. Maybe a bit recessed in the grand scheme of things, but not rolled off. They handle sibilant material with ease. While they’re never harsh sounding they also don’t hide fine nuances of the upper frequency regions – another attribute they share with the big HD 650.

I’ve noticed lots of people saying how excellent the stereo imaging or ‘soundstage’ of the IE 8 is. While it sure isn’t as confined and ‘in your head’ as some other IEMs out there, it isn’t anything overly remarkable either. It’s neither expanding very wide to the left and right of one’s ears, nor do I perceive vertical sound alignments, as I do with some with other IEMs. Other vented dynamic driver phones like the Hippo VB or the V-Moda Vibe have quite a bit better stereo imaging. The IE 8 are ok in that aspect, but there’s nothing to really rave about.

To sum it up, for my ears the IE8 have a realistic bass response with just a smidgen too much midbass, a very solid and pleasing midrange, and slightly recessed yet refined and precise treble. For the overall sound that makes them neither dark nor bright for me, it’s rather a nice, mellow equal-loudness contour to my ears. The IE 8 are excellent all-rounders, they are really great for listening to music on them – instead of writing about them.

Conclusion

What a rollercoaster ride… first they sounded like the IEM-equivalents of the Ultrasone HFI-780 or Beyerdynamic DT770, or something like the Phonak PFE with additional subwoofer. Now they sound like the HD 650, like the Atrios with a decent tweeter, or the RE0 on steroids. Makes no sense to you? Well, get in line.

When I first heard the IE 8 I thought they’re the best thing ever made, their impressive sound signature simply floored me – now a few months later they’re still absolutely great IEMs and I would definitely recommend them to anybody, for pretty much any style of music – but they’re just not as ‘exciting’ sounding to my ears as they were right out of the box. The IE 8 are undeniably top-notch phones, I just wish they wouldn’t have ‘settled down’ and changed their sound. Or maybe the ‘exciting’ sound would have become too much over time and it’s for the better, the way things have developed. I will never know. Not to mention lots of people seemed to experience the opposite of my impressions and didn’t like the sound of fresh IE 8 at all.

They might be a bit overly expensive in North America compared to European prices, but considering they’re some of the best sounding universal-fit earphones, they might be worth it. At least with Sennheiser one gets a two-year warranty as well.

If one can live with mediocre isolation and feels no guilt about the plethora of superfluous stuff in the shiny aluminum box – the IE 8 make up for all these things by being exceptionally good tools for smooth, euphonic music reproduction. I really like them – and I have been using them every day since I got them. I think that tells more about them than any formal recommendation.

Pros

  • Rich, cohesive sound with realistic bass, precise midrange, and natural treble – one of the best sounding universal-fit IEMs
  • Very good build quality, comfortable to wear
  • User replaceable cable with excellent build quality and low cable noise

Neutral

  • Sound character changes over time – if to the better or worse is up to one’s personal preferences

Cons

  • Low noise isolation for a high-end IEM
  • Huge but sub-par selection of included silicon and foam tips
  • Useless bulky aluminum case which adds to the IE 8’s price

Purchase

As usual, Americans will find them for a good price on Amazon. Europeans might get the best price on Amazon UK or in local stores. It varies a lot, but at the time of writing they can be found for less than 180 Euro.

38 Comments

Jnthn on February 14, 2010 2:56 PM

I’m relieved that you had just the problems with these that I’d been worried about (except for the interesting “burn out” phenomenon, which I’ve never heard of). I’ve been wavering between these and the Westone 3′s for 6 months, and ordered the latter today. I felt like people’s experiences with the IE8 were just too all-over-the-place. The soundstage claims were the only thing that really attracted me, but I couldn’t see the lack of isolation as being an acceptable trade-off.

Simon on February 14, 2010 3:06 PM

Worst name ever :)

Martin Sägmüller on February 14, 2010 4:07 PM

Jnthn: Glad the IE8 review helped you, even if in a very unexpected way. I was promised some Westone 3 for reviewing months ago, but the Westone representative didn’t keep his word.

jupitreas on February 14, 2010 5:31 PM

Great review, as always! I am glad you finally wrote about these phones actually, they are not exactly a new product after all.Some comments that come from my own personal experience:- the right tips make a huge difference with regards to isolation. Sadly, as the review says, they are far from perfect. After testing them all out, I’d say go with the foam tips – they isolate the best and make for the best bass experience. Other people might have different experiences though. Eventually I decided to buy some Comply foam tips and i gotta admit, that really improved the whole IE8 experience. Custom-mold silicon tips are another option; however, that is somewhat of a hassle.- I found the initial sound of the IE8s to be too harsh in the high frequencies, too sparkly and too annoying when listening to low-bitrate material (after all, FLAC is not always available). After many hours of burn-in, the IE8s became far more agreeable and less irritating. In other words – I appreciate your ‘burn-out’ conclusion; however, I simply had the opposite experience.

jnthn on February 14, 2010 5:34 PM

Actually Martin, weirdly, I had finally placed my order about an hour before finding your review. If you’d given the IE 8 unqualified praise, I’d have died.I got a rather good deal on the Westone 3′s. $328 from an eBay seller with a lot of good feedback.

pootpoot on February 14, 2010 10:07 PM

“They might be a bit overly expensive in North America compared to European prices”I’m surprised. It’s the other way around with German cars that are significantly less expensive in the US than in Germany (to be priced more competitively, I guess). Personally, I’d prefer cheaper cars over cheaper headphones. :)

David Johnson on February 15, 2010 1:17 AM

I would be interested on what ear tips other people are using and where they are buying them.I currently have the IE7′s and after about 6 months of use, they are my primary IEM. I looked at the IE8′s but couldn’t justify the coast of 300+ dollars.

Dan on February 15, 2010 1:51 AM

David, the EP-EX10A from Sony works great with the IE8. I have tried almost all possible eartip combinations, from the UE to the foamies. While foamies give good isolation, they tend to muddy up the sound a bit (more bass, less treble). The Sony Hybrids finds the balance quite well. It gives great isolation which equals better bass frequency without sacrificing the mids and highs. I got mine from Ebay.

Trysaeder on February 15, 2010 5:42 AM

The bass knob is actually an open tube. Turning it around will change the size of the tube to allow the transducer to use more or less air for more or less powerful bass. This mostly affects the

Trysaeder on February 15, 2010 5:44 AM

Just wanted to add that I don’t think these are really worth the price, I’d hate the extra crap that comes along with it if I payed full price.I was in Hong Kong for a few days and managed to buy mine for 360 AUD, about 310 USD.

Benjamin on February 16, 2010 12:42 PM

Martin,Will the Ultimate Ears’ black Super.Fi/Triple.Fi tips would work the same as the gray ones?Is there any difference regarding SQ?

Martin Sägmüller on February 16, 2010 6:19 PM

They should have the same inner diameter, so they should work. I do not have those black tips, but I’m sure the sound won’t be affected very differently by same brand silicon as the gray ones.

jleewach on February 16, 2010 8:32 PM

Nice review man. I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since I read on head-fi that you picked up the IE8′s. I was thinking about ditching my SE530′s to grab a pair of these, but I think I’ll be sticking with my Shure’s now. Since they’re still under warranty, if the cable craps out within the next year, maybe Shure will replace them with their SE535′s (REPLACEABLE CABLE! :) )

Martin Sägmüller on February 18, 2010 5:37 AM

Jleewach, I hear you. I’m pondering sending my stiff, crackling, strain-relief-less SE530 to UniqueMelody or Fisher for remolding into customs…

Nick on February 19, 2010 8:15 AM

I’ve got the Comply eartips with my SE530s, and they really improved the sound and the isolation. So much so that I wonder Shure don’t do a deal and bundle them in the first place.

otter on February 19, 2010 2:50 PM

Awesome pics. These phones look damn sexy. Too bad they are so expensive.

otter on February 19, 2010 2:52 PM

By the way, most of your reviews include the ‘comfort’ aspect of the head phones, which I missed in this one. Are they comfortable enough to fall asleep with?

cowonaut on February 19, 2010 6:51 PM

Martin, you spoke from my heart here … though I use the IE6, almost everything you write just perfectly meets my experience with IE6 :-) As a German I really loved your expression of the flight-case being everything but mobile hahaha – great! Sad to say the Sennheads already showed how to store and transport inears damn well with the bad sounding cx6 :-OCable is the same with IE6 compared to IE8: Just adorably strong and preventing microphonics. Not replaceble though.Tips: Attention for people with large ears and wide entry to ear-channel! The nozzle is too short and all provided tips too flimsy at size “L” for proper seal. I compared all three IE against each other and they are the same in this point. all of them are too short for me.Sony Hybrids are way better, but in my case (very large ears with very wide channel opening) also not reaching deep enough for proper seal when wearing hoods or winter caps. They seal well but sit too loose for biking (MTB, rough in the rush hour, lotsa looking round and moving head a lot)Other than that, the IE6 are just great, soundwise there is the same amount of change over the first few days like Martin felt with IE8, I guess, but to me it seemed to the bright side. I use a bit of bass enhancement on my Cowon D2+ for I’m a basshead. The amount of “bassy” feeling the phones lost during burn-in seemed to equal – if not exceed – the bass and middle qualities they gained though. I love the brutal punch of separated, deep kickdrums (knocking my skull), the bass guitars for being there as natural as possible, voices sounding just great and human, and trebles … well, for the first time I need to touch them in EQ to push them up – very, very successful I think, since for the first time this basshead LOVES highs !!! Without sibilance I can push and enjoy them – great.Martin, “professional” doesn’t mean they are made for mixing and at least not for monitoring. They are made for professionals who like to enjoy their daily work after work, right? That’s what they seem to me: Very enjoyable, comforting inears with passion for a lot of different genres. Oh my, I wished, Sennheiser had nailed this into their discription! Would have saved me from loosing lotsa time and money with trying to find what I need.Genres: (Jazz)Rock, Death Metal, Progressive/Acid Rock, Blues, Americana, Singer/Songwriter, Classic, World MusicStill looking for tips that are long enough to seal permanently without letting the sharp shaped IE slipping in the channel. Other than that I love thes IE’s big time.

Martin Sägmüller on February 20, 2010 9:01 AM

Otter: I did write that they’re comfortable – first paragraph in the design chapter.Cowonaut: Heh, thanks for your IE6 micro-review. :)

Artas on February 23, 2010 7:42 AM

I believe it should be in Britsh Pounds instead of Euros on amazon UK..

Afo on February 24, 2010 7:58 PM

Martin,Thank you for your very informative review, as usual. I value your well thought-through and balanced opinions and had previously bought PFEs on that base. I certainly did not regret the purchase: I found them every bit as clear, precise and of great value (if overall a bit less impressive and with some music genres brighter / more forward on treeble) than your review had lead me to think. My PFE (v0) failed however and I did not trigger the warranty since I felt I might have had some responsibility in it (I had glued the silicon guides to the cable; also that happened at a time when the cable weaknesses for some batches and Phonak’s stellar replacement policy had were not as well know as they are today).Now, to the point and linking back to the IE 8: I am about to buy replacement earphones and though I was on the verge of ordering PFEs v1, since the IE 8 can be found at 179EUR incl shipping in my country at well established physical+on line resellers (yes, this is less than 179 GBP and astoundingly less than the 300+ USD I am hearing of here, even at the currently low GBP/EUR and USD/EUR ratios), your and general IE 8 reviews make me hesitate. At the aforementioned price, I would consider both earphones to be in the same price range (you cannot get PFEs for less than 120EUR where I am + shipping from abroad) though obviously the IE 8 remain more expensive.So I would love have your feeling on comparing PFE and IE 8s… :) . I sill then throw my appreciation for the PFE filters system (for variety and durability) into the mix and decide + order. Huge responsibility on your shoulders ;) Please take into consideration that the PFEs were my first serious (non OEM or

Afo on February 24, 2010 8:07 PM

Hmm it seems that the comments system does not handle well special characters). So my last sentence before the end should have read:Please take into consideration that the PFEs were my first serious (non OEM or less than 30EUR) earphones, so maybe I am a bit spoiled and my expectations were raised fairly high thanks to your reviews ;) Cheers,Afo

Martin Sägmüller on February 25, 2010 3:55 PM

Afo, glad my review helped you to find phones you enjoy… and too bad about said phones breaking ASAP.IE8 have a bit less clarity, less precision/speed, less noise isolation than the PFE. IE8 have more bass, more midbass, a ‘beefier’ more lush sounding midrange, and treble that works with any music without getting too harsh. IE8 are more euphonic, PFE are more analytical.Keep in mind that both are very excellent phones, you can’t lose with either choice.

Afo on February 25, 2010 6:47 PM

Thank you, MartinIf I add up the fact that I am no basshead, listen mainly to music genres which are light on bass and for which mids and high are important, and the price points… Then, I’ll go for the PFEs again (oh, and did i mention the filters? I already lost a pair of entry-range sennheiser due to obturated filters…)Cheers, and keep up the good job! :)

Dan on February 28, 2010 4:07 AM

If you wear it “not looping the ear style” but the opposite way, the sound and isolation is much better. I don’t understand why Sennheiser designed the IE8 with these flaws.I managed to get the Shure Olives on them but it hurts my ears after wearing them for a long time. One of the best tips I’ve used was the Comply’s, but they don’t last long.

swldxer on March 17, 2010 12:46 PM

The earbud material is SILICONE.SILICON is a hard crystalline metalloid element.

AndreiD on October 18, 2010 8:12 PM

I just got these headphones almost 2 weeks ago and I want to say that they are incredibly fun to listen to!
I too am not getting that much of a great seal with the supplied tips, but it’s at least decent.
The burn in period is terribly long for them and at one moment there was a period in which I thought they started to sound bad, but the next day, after some additional burn in hours, they seemed to get a lot better.
Atm I have about 180 hours and the sound is just incredible for a pair of IEMs!
Thanks for your review, it definitely helped me in my decision, even though your experience with them wasn’t that pleasurable.

conditionals on December 27, 2010 4:33 AM

I just bought a pair of these. I’ve been using Sennheisers for about 8 years, mainly PX200s, which I consider to be the perfect “street” headphone. I’ve owned about 15 pairs. I’ve also got a few other Sennheisers, like the PXC450 and various other models. This is my first experience with IEMs, and I have to say… they suck. Bad. For mobile listening, the sound is so ridiculously inferior to my PX200s, which cost 1/6th the price. In home-listening situations, the PXC450s destroy them. Not to mention that any perceived benefits, such as the soundstage or better treble quality, are lost when the earbuds slip further out of my ear canal. Which is 96% of the time (I’ve tried all the various buds). What’s the point of supposedly sounding good if you can’t achieve that sound without constantly pressing them in your ears? I’m no audiophile, but I listen to music for hours on hours a day, and quality is important to me. These are trash.

make_or_break on January 19, 2011 7:32 PM

With AUTHENTIC IE-8s I found that the big problem in achieving good sound seems to be with getting a proper fit out of the supplied tips. Seems to be hit and miss with a lot of folks. I’ve bought my set shortly after they went live and at first I had to try all sorts of tips before I got the sonic performance down right. It was frustrating and drawn out to say the least. But that doesn’t work at all if you were unfortunate enough to have purchased a counterfeit set, examples of which started showing up around the world nearly a year ago. The IE-8 can be a great-sounding IEM, but there are serious caveats that come with them.

Rick on April 29, 2011 10:56 AM

I own both IE7 and IE8 for a long time. After I read you column about the terrible fit of the ear tip. I bought the Ultimate ears tip to try out. I tested on the IE8 and the sound suddenly changed. All the bright sparkle became soft blended and the powerful base attack became muddy blur. When comparing to the IE7 wearing it’s original tip the differences became so obvious. That’ perhaps the effect you have of sound degrading over time. Of couse changing the tip also effects the sound stage, as the IE8 is designed as an open IEM to provide greater dimension. It was not intended to isolate noise, comparing to the CX model and other closed types. So I would truly recommend you to tryout the IE8 with their original tips again. Yes it does not provvide perfect fit and I had weeks to get used to it but after thet the sound quality just blows me out. Another tip I would like to share is that the IE8 does present it’s output based on the input you give it. In a very sensitive way than other IEMs. I tried it with different players and many different music geners from many tracks. High quality recorded symphony gives an amazing output details of every single instrument as if I was sitting there in the or chrestra. No hard base attacking the low mids at all. When putting it to normal MP3 tracks, depending on how they were recorded LF can have interference. I tried the same track from the original CD and the change was truely different. The isolation of instruments are so clear. So again, I would recommend any one testing the IE8 needs to take quite some time. First to get used to it’s fit then playing around with your music source. In the end music is a personnal preference. Sennheiser does offer it’s unique characteristic of full body music. Some call muddy or overblown base. I have tried alot to be able to conclude that this is from the music source. So if your preference is soft bright music but you do not have a good record track the UE10 or X10 will provide you the solution. For everything else IE8 gives the best details in all frequency levels with an amazing sound stage. Value wise, I would say the IE7 is more worth. The quality comes very close comparing to the $100 I payed.

Mark on May 16, 2011 1:02 AM

What’s the purpose of the round silver disc in the bottom of the drawer of the IE8 storage case? Mine seems to just rattle around.

Martin Sägmüller on May 16, 2011 11:06 AM

It should keep the desiccant box in place, I suppose.

Mark on May 18, 2011 3:53 AM

Martin,
I understand the ‘cage’ for the silica gel pack, but how does the disc/pill relate to it?

The pill seems to be loose in a slot in the drawer, just enough to rattle around. Mine looks like it’s made of ceramic w/silver splotches. WTF does it do? Everything else in the case seems to have a purpose however insignificant and/or impractical.

Mark on May 18, 2011 4:03 AM

The disc/pill doesn’t actually touch the silica gel cage or seal the chamber since it has a groove in it. Also, it moves back and forth (rattles) in it’s slot regardless of the drawer being open or closed.

Is it made of something in particular that has a purpose? Mine looks like a ceramic.

Mark on May 21, 2011 12:10 AM

Does the IE8 bass adjustment knob have detents or clicks, or is it just a smooth turn with no distinct steps?

Johan Bogg on June 11, 2011 10:06 PM

Mark: The Silver disc is a magnet, it sticks to the backside of the shell. Look into the outer shell of the box and you’ll understand.

Mark on July 1, 2011 9:37 PM

Johan: Thanks. Guess another one of the clues of fake IE 8′s is…Yup..No magnetic plate in the storage box. Ask me how I know…
I returned those and bought real IE 8′s from a Senn Dealer. Ahhh..what a difference! Now I also have sonic bliss AND a functioning magnetic latch in the storage case.
My Advice:
Avoid Caveat Emptor…by from a Sennheiser Dealer. Period.

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