Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sennheiser IE 8 first impressions

The IE 8 is Sennheiser's flagship high-end in-ear monitor headphones. Costing around £200, the IE 8 is designed to compete with established high-end universal fit IEMs like the Shure SE530, Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 Pro and Westone 3. The IE 8 is unique as it is one of the very few high end IEMs that uses a dynamic transducer instead of the more popular approach of using multiple balanced armature drivers. It is also Sennheiser's first IEM that allows the user to fine-tune the bass response and also the only in-ear headphone by the company that is fitted with a modular cable.

I've only had it for less than two days, so please bear with me. After all this is merely an impression. I've read that many had problems getting the correct fit with the IE8 (and to a certain extent, the IE 7). Maybe I am lucky but I have not experience such a problem. They do not go as deep as my Klipsch Custom 3 or CX 95, but they do seal well. On the other hand the isolation isn't as good as the Klipsch Custom 3 with the stock single flange tips, but proved adequate for Tube journeys. Sennheiser has also provided a vast selection of tips, including bi-flange silicon tips as well as foamies that resembles Shure's black olives. I've not tried them yet.

The initial sound (out of box, new) was harsh. The bass was muddy and the soundstage practically none-existent. I do not believe in the requirement of burn-in period (manufacturers should do it in the factory level), but I did burn it in for an hour before my second listen to avoid some form of mental burn in. Upon listening the IE 8's initial muddy bass is gone, but the treble were still recessed. The initial sharp sound that gave me fatigue when listening to female vocals were also gone. Today after roughly 20 hours of burn in, the bass response has improved dramatically and while the highs were still recessed, I found that the soundstage to finally open up.

I will continue listening to them, but if the burn-in are of any indication I believe this would be one of the best in-ear headphones I've ever have the pleasure of listening to. The clarity is already as good as my Klipsch Custom 3 but with more bass impact. Look out for a review sometime next week.

The Sennheiser IE 8 is available at Amazon UK for £199.99 or Advanced MP3 Player for £220.02 inc. worldwide delivery (use the voucher code head10 to obtain 10% off). US residents can also order them from

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