Three months ago at IFA 2017, Sennheiser introduced a trio of new headphone products to the world. According to the press releases, each of these three headsets (CX 7.00BT, HD1 Free, and IE 80 S) are aimed at different areas of a broad consumer market. The IE 80 S, in particular, is aimed at audiophiles–those who expect the accuracy and details within sounds. Want to know if this headset hit the mark? Without further delay, let’s take a closer look in this Sennheiser IE 80 S review.
• Incredibly detailed sound quality
• Solid construction w/sharp design
• Aimed at audiophiles
• Bass setting customization
• Very comfortable fit
• Nine sets of ear tips, plus ear clips
• Only one color pattern available
• Uses 3.5mm jack instead of USB-C
• Lacks Hi-Res Audio capability
• Lacks wireless capability
• Lacks wear detection
Sennheiser IE 80 S Review
Per Marcel Salzmann, Product Manager Audiophile at Sennheiser, “The IE 80 S brings together professional sound quality and high-end aesthetics – the best of both worlds for those seeking to upgrade their portable audio experience.”
Design and Accessories
So…what do you need to know before operating these new Sennheiser in-ear headphones? Simply stated, next to nothing. The beauty of this audiophile-level headset is that it requires only two steps to operate. 1) plug in the 3.5 mm jack, and 2) hit Play.
If you wish to take it one step further, the IE 80 S (like its IE 80 predecessor) offers bass customization through the setting dial. And before you ask does it work, the answer is Yes. I made adjustments to a handful of albums (see list below,) and it worked as advertised. Be careful though. The first time I used the adjustment tool, I turned the dial in the wrong direction, past the point of no return and the plastic tool twisted.
The IE 80 S are stripped down to their bare essential components. There are no buttons for features like Forward, Reverse, Pause, Skip, End Call, etc. They’re just not needed.
There will be haters who will complain that the IE 80 S should have these features. Sennheiser has you folks covered too. Per the product’s press release, “an optional smart remote cable with one-button control and an in-line microphone will be available at the Sennheiser webshop and participating retail partners.” It’s as easy as swapping out the detachable cable.
Determining which side is left and right is simple. The “L” & “R” designations are visibly marked on the inside and easy to read. Furthermore, a red band is added to the right side. If you associate Right with Red, you’re all set. There’s the Sennheiser logo on the exterior. This way all will know what brand you’re wearing.
The headphones come with a pair of ear hooks and three sets of each type of ear tips: standard silicone, lamella silicone, and ComplyTM. If you haven’t worn the latter, your ears are in for a treat.
Overall, the headset’s construction is well executed and assures high quality. Included in the packaging is a hard carrying case to protect your $350 investment.
The IE 80 S in-ear headphones are currently available in one color. Should an additional color be introduced, this post will be updated.
• Impedance: 16 Ω
• Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 20 kHz
• TDH: < 0.1%
• Cable Length: 1.2 Meters
• Attenuation: -26 dB
• Weight: Approx 5 Grams
What’s In The Box?
• Hard Carrying Case
• User Manual
• Ear Hooks
• Sound Adjustment/Cleaning Tool
Amazon Music Playlist
• Lana Del Rey – Paradise
• Lorde – Pure Heroine
• The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
• My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
• Zedd – Clarity
• Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
• The Black Keys – El Camino
• 30 Seconds To Mars – 30 Seconds To Mars
I repeat this time after time again when reviewing speakers and headphones; the most critical factor is the quality of sound. These in-ear headphones were tested across a broad range of music using the playlist listed above. When you’re a brand that states “brilliant authentic sound with outstanding sonic accuracy and clarity,” you expect them to deliver on their words. It’s a good thing then for Sennheiser that their IE 80 S headphones delivered the goods.
The IE 80 S produced so much high-quality sound that the volume needed to be turned down to prevent any hearing loss. This is precisely what I had to do with Zedd’s Clarity. Songs like Codec, Stache, and Fall Into The Sky required a lower volume because the audio was so loud and clear. The quality of vocal and instrumental reproduction (guitars, keyboards, drums, etc.) was ridiculously impressive.
On a couple of occasions, one in particular with My Chemical Romance, vocals became a bit drowned out at the highest volume setting. Even clarity has its limits.
Bass settings were adjustable, and we often took advantage of this feature. Since all music isn’t produced equally, it’s a good thing that bass tuning was available.
Overall, audio truly came out at a music enthusiast’s level, and free of distortion. After having played much of each of the albums listed above, I can report that this headset met and exceeded my expectations. These are exactly the type of in-ear headphones you wish you were wearing when sitting back in a chair or couch.
A Few Things Worth Mentioning
Now, I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I didn’t find some fault(s) with these headphones. The feature I disliked the most is the old style 3.5 mm jack. It’s late into 2017, and many mobile device makers have been eliminating the 3.5 mm jack and replacing it with the newer USB-C style connector. I have two mobile phones, the LG G6 and the new Google Pixel2 XL. I couldn’t use the IE 80 S with the Pixel2 XL, and from my perspective, this was a disappointment.
The other main issue is that this headphone is not High-Resolution Audio capable. I would have loved for these wired in-ear headphones to be rated so. For the price you’re asked to pay, they should have been rated so. Fortunately for Sennheiser, the IE 80 S produces incredible audio quality.
The non-present Bluetooth and wear detection capabilities are minor issues and only barely worth mentioning. I can do without either.
From the moment you place them into your ears, the IE 80 S headphones are very comfortable and continue to be so after hours of continuous use. This is a statement we can make regarding the majority of in-ear headphones we’ve tested.
Regardless of the two main issues mentioned above, the Sennheiser IE 80 S headphones tested amazingly well. It’s genuinely an audiophile-level product. The highly detailed audio quality was impressive and a pleasure to listen to.
These are one pair of headphones we wish we didn’t have to send back to the manufacturer. It’ll be difficult to go back to listening to the typical $100-150 in-ear headphones and their inferior sound quality.
At a price of $349, the IE 80 S is easily the best in-ear headphones we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in 2017.
The price will undoubtedly scare some, but if noticed ‘Price’ was never marked in the Cons up top. If you believe in listening to detailed audio, it’s an item highly worth considering. Maybe you know someone, possibly a loved one, who’s an audiophile and would love such a gift during the upcoming holiday season. It can comfortably fit in their red stocking over the fireplace.the Sennheiser IE 80 S headphones tested amazingly well. It's genuinely an audiophile-level… Click To Tweet
What do you think of this Sennheiser IE 80 S review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
Don’t hesitate to head over to the Press page to see their latest announcements. The IE 80 S wired in-ear headphones come with a two-year limited warranty.
FTC Disclosure: Sennheiser provided Beantown with one (1) IE 80 S ear-canal headphones sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC © 2017.