Truck Month Best Books of the Month Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc A. Sinclair Father's Day Gift Guide 2016 Fire TV Stick Luxury Beauty The Baby Store Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Cash Back Offer DrThorne DrThorne DrThorne  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Outdoor Recreation

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging|Change
Price:$757.97+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on August 8, 2014
Background: Class and jazz musician. Currently own and use Etymotic, Shure, Ultimate Ears in front of ALO audio DAC/Amp listening to hi-rez audio records (24bit/88Mhz) off an Astell & Kerns AK100.

These are the finest IEM I have listened to. I took great pause seeing the price of these. However, I have to say they are well worth the price given their phenomenal imaging, outstanding sonic resolution, and superior noise isolation. These are precise yet musical. They are vastly open and three-dimensional, but naturally and musically so. These have now become the IEM standard for any indication, including noisy airplane travel.

They are essentially "open ear" in ear monitors, as opposed to most/all other IEMs I've used, which have a closed-ear design. This improves imaging characteristics because the speakers are not projecting into a closed cavity where air has nowhere to move. Looking at the open-ear design, I was initially concerned that noise isolation would be compromised and that these would not be suitable for airplane travel. I have not found this to be the case. Noise isolation is quite excellent. Of the various IEM's I own, I would rate the noise isolation characteristics as follows: Etymotic > IE800 > Ultimate Ears > Shure.

The soundstage on the IE800 is phenomenal, far better than any other IEM I have tried, and better than most headphones as well. The soundstage on these is similar in characteristics to the Sennheiser HD800. Though the latter (open ear headphones) are obviously superior, the IE800's are similarly expensive and discrete. The soundstage is 3-dimensional, though obviously not as realistic as the HD800. It is vastly superior to any other IEM's I have owned or auditioned.

The sonic resolution on these is also outstanding. You will hear details (such as musician's breathing, swallowing, fingernails on keyboard, etc.) that you have not heard before.

In summary, it is simply amazing what Sennheiser has been able to achieve in a sub $1000 IEM. Astounding.

Added note: These are extremely well made, and the you will immediately perceive the care and love that went into crafting these IEMs. The quality shows from the outside packaging all the way into the box and into the IEM's themselves. Nonetheless, despite the build quality, be quite careful when travelling with these babies. Sitting in an airplane seat, the guy next to me got up to go to the bathroom and caught the cord, treating the cord from the plug. The cord snapped like that. I sent this to Sennheiser. They issued me a completely brand new set of IEM's, complete with accessories, case, cords, and the IEM, within a week--FREE, even though I did not have proof of purchase. Outstanding service, Sennheiser!
0Comment|38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 7, 2014
UPDATE: 8/17/2015
I have since sold the SE846's as they weren't getting much head time and replaced them with some Astell&Kern Layla's (insanely expensive, I can't say they are a good value but they do sound great)... Anyway, I was going to sell the IE800's as well but couldn't bear to part with them... Every time I put them on the sound out of these always reminded of why I like them so much!

On a side note, I did buy a double helix custom cable for these. I'm not sure I can say that the sound improved drastically but I wanted to give it a try and since they could also put in an music control remote/mic it was an added bonus... sure wish Sennheiser would come out with an iPhone compatible cable!

Let me preface by saying that I'm not a hardcore audiophile but that I do enjoy listening to music and travel quite a bit for work and am constantly on the hunt for new IEM's and headphones to use when traveling on planes/etc. That being said, I'd probably describe myself more as an enthusiast rather than a hardcore audiophile.

I was in the market for some high end IEM's and was choosing between the Shure SE846-CL Sound Isolating Earphones with Quad HiDef MicroDrivers, Crystal Clear and Sennheiser IE 800 High-Performance In-Ear Headphones (Black). I was looking to upgrade from my Shure SE535-CL Triple High-Definition MicroDriver Earphone with Detachable Cable (Clear) and Westone UM 3X In-Ear Musician's Monitor, Universal Fit Earphone with Removable Cable, Clear, 79292 (I have the RC removable cable version of the UM3x's). Anyway, I ended up buying the SE846's and found a pair of used IE800's on another site so now I have all four of these IEM's and plan on selling the SE535's and UM3x's. I know I really don't need two sets of IEM's but with the SE846 and IE800 I love them both so much that I don't really want to sacrifice one or the other. In any case, since I have all four of them now I thought it'd be helpful to some of you out there who may want to know a bit more about these at least in terms of how I rank them.

I'll be ranking them using the following criteria (which I adapted from a well known user on head-fi) on a scale from 1-10 each:

Bundled Accessories - Which ones come with the best and most comprehensive list of accessories
Build Quality - How well I feel they will hold up over time
Isolation - How well they block out ambient noise
Microphonics - How much cable noise you hear when moving around
Comfort - How comfortable each one are after wearing for extended use (over an hour on plane for example)
Sound - This is a bit subjective as all people tend to hear details differently in the sound so I'll do my best to describe why I rank them the way I do
Value - For the money which one is best?

::Shure SE846:: - 65/70
::Bundled Accessories::
9.5/10 - Shure really didn't leave anything out when they put this package together. It comes with a large plastic case like a pelican case as well as a zippered case. It also comes with a plethora of tips and most interestingly a set of 2 additional tubes that can be inserted in to the IEM's that change the sound of the SE846's. I opted to stay with the pre-installed neutral tubes. The only thing that would have been nice is if they included an iPhone/Android compatible cable. At the price they are asking it should be a throw in...

::Build Quality::
10/10 - All plastic with the exception of the ear nozzle which is metal. From what I hear this is the most susceptible part to break so it's nice they changed them to metal from the previous generations plastic nozzles.

10/10 - I use some Comply Tsx-100 Comfort PLUS Earphone Tips (Black, 3 Pair, Small) with these and they isolate noise very well.

9/10 - Shure cables are long and slightly thick. Microphonics are generally not that big of an issue unless you're really moving around a lot.

8.5/10 - These are LARGE IEM's. With everything packed in to the SE846's I suppose you could say that they are small but compared to the SE535's these are noticeably larger and if you have smaller ears you may have some comfort issues with these. I've found that I can wear these for extended periods of use but find myself adjusting them from time to time depending on how much I am moving around.

10/10 - The sub bass is incredible in these little IEM's. I thought I could hear bass in some of my other IEM's but these take it to another level with the low frequencies it can go down to. The bass is there and not overwhelming and the highs are crisp and clear. I find the soundstage to be wide on these but not as wide as the Sennheiser IE800's. Overall, the sound on these is excellent! Also worth noting is the VERY low impedance of only 9 ohms! This means that they can easily be driven from mobile devices and get good volume without having to turn it all the way up!

8/10 - At the price they ask for these, I can't say that they are the best value but they are some seriously great sounding IEM's.

The SE846's seem to be an evolutionary step in a long line of IEM's. I've had many Shure's dating back to the e2c's, SE425's, SE535's and now the SE846's. As time progressed and Shure refined and improved their products I've been with them along for the ride and I'm happy to say that the SE846's have many welcome evolutionary steps above and beyond what they've done before. The sub bass is amazing in an IEM and the other improvements like the metal nozzles and removable tubes to change the sound are great. Coming from their previous flagships, the SE535's, I can see that they've put a lot of thought and effort in to these and can say that the higher price is fully justified... if only they'd redesigned the iPhone compatible cable and included it with them too! Honestly, though, that's the ONLY downside I see in these IEM's is that they don't include an iPhone compatible cable like their competitors. Other than that, these are some of the best IEM's on the market today and I highly recommend them.

::Sennheiser IE800:: - 60/70
::Bundled Accessories::
9/10 - Not a lot comes with these but what it does come with is REALLY nice. The case is by far one of the best cases I've ever used for IEM's. The case has a cutout inside the case to put them in and the cable wraps around the case nicely so you never have to deal with tangled cords. The IE800's come with a set of replaceable silicone tips that can be cleaned and reused by just running them under the sink with some soap and water... NICE! The only thing as with all of these is that at the price they ask for them they should include an iPhone/Android compatible cable. The other thing you should know is that the tips are proprietary so there are no officially documented comply tips that will work but I hear that some of the comply tips will work.

::Build Quality::
10/10 - Ceramic housings and a kevlar cable... no other IEM on the market can say that as far as I know... built like a tank

8/10 - The bundled silicone tips do an adequate job of blocking ambient noise but they aren't going to block noise as well as others.

5/10 - By far the worst microphonics I've heard out of an IEM. Try not to move much when using these... I think it's mostly due to the downward position of the IE800's when inserted in to your ears. If you're lucky enough to be able to wrap the cord around your ear so you can use them as over ear IEM's then do it. It vastly improves the microphics of the cable. Unfortunately it's a bit uncomfortable when I wear them this way as the upper part of the cable past the Y is only about 9.5 inches.

10/10 - These are so small and light that they really disappear when you insert them in to your ears. I find that I can wear these for extended periods with ZERO problems. They may be the most comfortable IEM's I've had to date.

10/10 - The frequency response on these IEM's is really really nice! It's amazing you can get such rich sound out of a single driver IEM. I was skeptical at first since I'm used to multiple driver IEM's but after hearing these I can say that I'm convinced! I do feel that the mids are more pronounced on these than the SE846's which is nice for certain types of music. The bass is also good on these IEM's... Overall it's a nice and rich full sounding IEM. It's worth noting here that the designer of the acclaimed $1500 Sennheiser HD800 Over-Ear Circum-Aural Dynamic Premiere Headphone also designed these... I've never heard the HD800's but I've read that the IE800's are like mini HD800's. Also, the low impedance of 16 ohms means that it can be driven relatively easily by mobile devices. On my iPhone I can get more than adequate volume from these without having to turn it up too much.

8/10 - Yes they are expensive but they sound great and are extremely comfortable to wear.

These are great little IEM's and I mean little! I'm wearing these right now going on over an hour with them on at my desk and I don't feel any fatigue at all... and the sound!! The sound is nice and crisp with good bass response and instrument separation despite being driven only by a single driver. Although the Shure SE846's do have some more bass response in the low low end, sound wise I still put these on the same level for it's overall richness and sound. Great IEM's and highly recommended!!

::Shure SE535:: - 60.5/70
::Bundled Accessories::
8/10 - Comes with a case, tips, and various other accessories that I don't use... The bundled accessories are acceptable for an IEM in this price range but I feel like they could have included a bit more like an iPhone/Android cable.

::Build Quality::
8/10 - All plastic but I've had no issues with them in the year+ use I've had with them.

10/10 - I use some Comply Tsx-100 with these and they isolate noise very well.

9/10 - Shure cables are long and slightly thick. Microphonics are generally not that big of an issue unless you're really moving around a lot.

9/10 - These are fairly light IEM's and feel great in the ear and I have had no issues with them wearing them for extended periods.

8/10 - Nice and crisp highs and mids! The bass lacks a bit when compared to the Westone UM3x's and of course when compared to the Shure SE846's it will be lacking too but nonetheless if you're more in to mids and highs then you can't go wrong with these. These are some nice and neutral IEM's IMHO. These impedance on these is 36 ohms which means that it can be driven from most mobile devices without the need for much amplification.

8.5/10 - If you're in the market for a pair of neutral IEM's these are the ones to go with.

The SE535's have now been eclipsed by the SE846's but not everyone will want to spend that kind of $$ on the SE846's. At their price the SE535's are still a tremendous IEM that has a great neutral sound with good mids and highs but lacking a bit in the bass department. They are still enjoyable to listen to and are actually more comfortable (to me) than the SE846's due to their smaller design. Recommended for those looking for a really good, neutral IEM.

::Westone UM3x RC:: - 63/70
::Bundled Accessories::
7/10 Comes with the standard case, tips, and various other accessories that I don't use. The zippered case is nice and compact but I feel like they should have also included their Westone Monitor Vault - Smoke Gray for them as well. Also, like all of these, they should include an iPhone/Android cable.

::Build Quality::
8/10 - All plastic but I've had no issues with them in the year+ use I've had with them.

10/10 - I use some Comply Tsx-100 with these and they isolate noise very well.

10/10 - The Westone Epic cable is by far the best I've used in terms of microphonics. The cable is thin and light so it really causes no issues in this regard.

9/10 - These feel about the same to me in ear as the Shure SE535's... great for extended use.

9/10 - The mids and highs on these IEM's are crisp and clear but these also pack a punch when it comes to bass. They don't pack as much punch as say the Shure SE846's or even the Sennheiser IE800's but at this price point they are very nice full sounding IEM's. These IEM's have an impedance of 56 ohms... they can be driven from mobile devices but you'll definitely find yourself turning it up a bit.

10/10 - For the price I feel that these are a very good value... good sound, good comfort, and good price!

I initially bought the UM3x's on a whim at the airport mostly because I craved something with a bit more low end bass over the SE535's... this was of course before the SE846's came out and the Sennheiser IE800's... nonetheless, after auditioning these I bought them on the spot. The highs and mids sound good (not as good as the Shure SE535's but good enough for me) and these IEM's do provide the bass response that I was looking for that the SE535's were lacking. They're warmer sounding to me than the SE535's and more fun because of it. Depending on my mood (before I got the SE846's and IE800's) I'd switch between the SE535's and UM3x's. I recommend these highly!

As you can see from above these are ALL really nice IEM's and for various reasons I've ranked them all very highly.

If you have the money definitely go for the Shure SE846's or Sennheiser IE800's... They are both well worth the money IMO. The SE846's may be better for those of you on the go a lot (because of the low impedance and low microphonics in the cable) while the IE800's are probably better suited for at home use or for people who won't be moving around much (due to the microphonics issue).

If you're budget is on the lower end of the high end IEM market then I have no hesitation in recommending either the Westone UM3x RC's or Shure SE535's... the difference between those is mostly in the sound signature. The SE535's are more neutral sounding to me while the UM3x's have a bit more umph when it comes to bass response.

It should be noted that Westone has recently released the Westone UM Pro 30 Smoke (Universal Monitor Earphones) and Westone UM Pro 20 High Performance Dual Driver in-ear Headphone of which I auditioned both at a store... These would definitely both be worth looking in to... the accessory bundles alone would be worth it over the competition. They come with a regular cable and iPhone/Android compatible cable and a nice plastic pelican case-like case. My wife got the UM Pro 20's and she's very happy with them and uses them every day.
66 comments|64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 3, 2014
This product is for people who want and demand excellent sound quality and are willing and able to pay for it.

I have used Shure 530, the Westone 3, Audeo PFE 232, Westone 4 (my former favorite) and now for the last week, the Sennheisers. My home full headphones system includes Beyer T1, Woo Audio WA 2 (upgraded), First Watt J2 amp and Meitner MA-1 DAC (incredible product). I mention these so you know what my reference point and preferences are.

Simply put, the Sennheisers are in a class of their own and you can tell that in the first ten seconds. It's that obvious. All the others sound muffled and unenvolving in comparison (apart from the Audeo which sound open but harsh to me).

There is no area of weakness. Bass is rock solid and deep, midrange is very involving and the treble is smooth and extended. You hear many more nuances in the recordings driven from iPhone 5 or MacBook Pro 13 inch retina late 2013 model. The beginning of We Belong (Pat Benetar) actually startled me with it's dynamics and clarity. Other tracks were from All the Little Lights by Passenger, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and HD music including Ben Howard (Linn Records), Paper Tiger from Beck or Rebecca Pigeon. All were wonderful with super detail and separation of all the instruments instead of the jumbled mess one often encounters.

I know very well that some people cannot distinguish between some free earphones and high quality sound. That's great in a way as you can save a ton of money. But, for those of us who can only enjoy the music when it's well reproduced, these are a wonderful solution short of custom-fitted IEMs.

My one criticism is the earbuds. They will not fit everyone and cost a ridiculous amount to replace but I've read that Comply 200 and 500 series fit these and have ordered some to try. Update: I've now tried some Comply tips and they radically affect the sound making it too full and heavy for my taste. You could get that kind of sound for less money. So back to the stock tips and very happy with the product.
22 comments|34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 27, 2016
When I was shopping around, I narrowed down my list to these two: the Sennheiser IE 800's and the Shure SE846-CL's. I was initially more impressed with the Shure SE846's (and loved the clear housing option), but after reading numerous reviews, I ended up deciding to go with the IE 800's for the following reasons:

- described as having a more open, airy soundstage and being a lot of fun to listen to
- was already a fan of Sennheiser's circumaural sound signature, having used HD555's and later HD600's as my primary go-to's
- certain reviewers indicated that the IE 800's were better for classical music -- while I primarily listen to rock, I do listen to a lot of acoustic guitar and occasionally switch it up with piano, and always loved how my HD600's treated such pieces
- a number of reviews lauded the IE 800's braided cables

A couple points that held me back from getting the Shure's:

- complaints about the cables
- certain people indicating that they could not hear much, if any difference between the SE535's and the SE846's, despite a $300+ difference in price
- some reviews where people complained that the Shure's gave them ear discomfort
- a typical trend towards various people stating that the Shure's, while outstanding and delivering superior bass, were not as "fun" to listen to as the IE 800s

Basically, it seemed to me there was no way I could go wrong getting the IE 800's, but it was possible that I could drop a grand on the Shure's and end up having gripes with it later. Since the IE 800's were also $200 cheaper, I took the plunge --

And boy, I am beyond impressed. Words cannot describe how much the IE 800's blew me out of the water -- it was like listening to a pair of high-quality circumaurals for the first time all over again.

Part of my awe derives from the fact that I never really believed IEMs could be on par with, or even exceed circumaurals. This bias itself derives from a long history with cheap, low-quality IEMs. Up until buying the IE 800's, I had only once tried a pair of audiophile quality IEMs. However, those IEMs were custom-molded to someone else's ear shape, so they did not fit snugly and I didn't get true sound isolation and the "full experience." I could tell they sounded good, but not necessarily better than a pair of quality circumaurals.

Moreover, I have always had a sort of personal private war with cheap IEMs, as they never felt comfortable in my somewhat narrow ear canals. The "around the ears" approach had always been a requirement for me, not an option. Oftentimes, even with smallest tips, the monitors still felt uncomfortable and would pop out. A large part of that, doubtless, had to do with low-quality housings (again, these were cheap IEMs).

My remaining awe and love for the IE 800's comes from the fact that it has NONE of the problems I have encountered in the past with IEMs. I have no idea what Sennheiser did (I'm sure those slightly-angled nozzles have something to do with it) but the IE 800's fit like... magic. I can't properly describe how amazed I was by how easily and snugly these fit into my ears, how comfortable and lightweight they were, and how well they isolated sound. Now, going around the ears is no longer a necessity... I just happen to prefer to do that because the headphones feel "tighter" that way.

In fact, the IE 800's are so comfortable (being so much lighter than circumaurals) that these days I often prefer to wear them rather than utilizing my Sennheiser HD 600's. Granted, occasionally I want "headshaking-bass," but for 97% of my listening, the IE 800's are more than adequate in their delivery of lows for my tastes.

I am still keen on one day trying out a pair of Shure SE846's (and hopefully the SE535's and AKG's K3003i's too!) -- but more than likely, these IE 800's will be my go-to's for a number of years to come.

Thanks to all the kind people whose reviews helped to steer me in the right direction!
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 12, 2015
When you use one driver, you get a cohesion and a crispness that you just can't achieve when you're trying to coordinate 4 or 12 drivers; and when you use a dynamic driver you get a natural sound that is difficult to create with balanced armature drivers. That's the story of the ie800.

First, this review is for serial number 32xxx (since Sennheiser is known to make tweaks over time to their products).

1. It has a detailed and crisp/fast sound. This driver is just excellent. It sounds like a top of the line over the ear headphone. You can't get this sound with multiple drivers; you would have to match and time the drivers with a precision that's practically impossible. I've heard every TOTL iem out there and this out-details all of them. I'm guessing the Shure KSE1500 will be as good or better than this, because that too uses a single driver (and an electrostatic at that), but that's going to cost $3,000 and require its own dedicated amp!

2. This produces a natural sound. BA drivers have a slightly synthetic and kind of weird sound when compared to dynamic drivers. If you like the dynamic driver sound, you'll like these.

3. These produce bass, mids, highs, and everything in between. Other iem manufacturers have to use multiple drivers and engineering tricks to get all the frequencies, and it never comes out perfect. There are always spikes and valleys, and a lot of them have treble roll-off, because they have to make compromises when tuning the drivers, cross-overs, resistors etc. But Sennheiser didn't seem to compromise at all; they nailed it with this driver (which, by the way, is made by Sennheiser as opposed to most other iem makers, who buy their drivers from third-parties like Knowles).

4. It has a neutral sound signature. DO NOT TRUST the frequency charts on innerfidelity. Something is wrong with Tyll's measurement of the ie800. They do not sound anything like the frequency chart on his website. His chart shows a bass boost, followed by a massive 20db roll-off above 1000hz, suggesting this is warm headphone with very weak mids and highs. But in reality, the ie800 sounds flat across the frequency range and its bass is like the hd800's; it has the hd800's neutral and dry-ish sound.

5. Many other reviewers complained about microphonics with these, and I have to believe them because I saw this complaint in so many reviews. I don't know if Sennheiser fixed the problem in the latest batches? I can't get the cable to make much microphonic sound. There's a tiny bit of easily-ignorable cable noise if you tap it, but all iems have that. And you can get rid of that by wearing them up with the cable hooked over your ears, in which case I hear zero cable noise even when exercising.

6. You'll need to experiment with tips and position to get the best sound. I can't fully angle them into my ears when wearing them down, so I wear them up and hook the cable over my ears. That produced a noticeable improvement in sound for me.

7. There are tons of fake ie800s out there. Get yours from an authorized dealer. Checking the hologram on Sennheiser's authentication website is a first step -- but it's not enough. That's because counterfeitors have even faked the hologram sticker ( [...])!!! So the only way to be sure is to call Sennheiser, give them the serial number, and ask them when they sold your particular ie800 and which retailer they sold it to (when I did this, they said they sold my ie800 to Amazon three weeks before I purchased it from Amazon, which all makes perfect sense.) I could have gotten mine for $650 from an unauthorized seller on Amazon ("sold by xxx and fulfilled by Amazon"), but I paid $800 to get it directly from Amazon because the cheaper ones are probably fakes. Not to mention that you won't get warranty coverage from Sennheiser.

8. These sound particularly good when paired with a great dac/amp; and they really distinguish themselves at higher volumes.

Every top of the line IEM has its positives and negatives.
• The Roxannes sound warm, gooey, fun and they produce a great 3D image, but they're colored-sounding as opposed to neutral, and they're not quite as detailed as other TOTL iems causing them to sound "veiled" to some.
• The Laylas are a more neutral and more detailed version of the Roxanne, but they're bulky, super expensive, they lose the Roxanne's interesting sound, and they're still not as precise as the ie800.
• The Shure SE846 sounds fun, and it's highly resolving, but it has a notorious spike in the lower treble region that can sometimes be annoying.
• The Noble K10 is very good but it really can't distinguish itself from the pack in any way.
• The ie800 has a clean, detailed and crisp sound, but it's perhaps a little sterile sounding, it doesn't isolate as well as the others and its treble may be tiring after a while.

So it all depends on your tastes. I personally alternate between the ie800s and the Roxannes. But at $800, the I think the ie800 is the best value in the TOTL iem field.


ADDENDUM AFTER TWO WEEKS OF USE -- Why I returned them even though I like them: For the first ten days, the tips stayed on tight. But then the left tip started to come off in my ear, forcing me to use tweezers or pinky nail to get it out. Note this only happens if you insert them completely into your ears, something you can only do if you wear them upside down. Do you know why I wear them that way? Because that gives you the best sound. If you don't insert them deep, you will miss a TON of the clarity/detail/imaging etc .

So any way, I inspected the tip and noticed that there are four hooks that keep it on the IEM. On the problematic tip, one of the hooks had degraded over these ten days, and that's why it kept falling off and staying in my ear. But if you look at the picture I uploaded, you'll see that these hooks are poorly designed. They're only 1/2 of a millimeter long (a deeper hook would cling better), made of silicone (a harder substance would cling better).

If you check the internet, this is a common complaint about the ie800. I don't understand Sennheiser. It would be so easy to engineer a tip that stays on. Just make the hook like 1/2 mm longer or harder!!! So although I really like their sound, I will have to return these to Amazon for a full refund. Super annoyed about it too.

SECOND ADDENDUM -- I purchased them again. I'll switch to a smaller tip (will lose a little isolation that way) so hopefully that'll help.

So the new ones came and they sounded off. They sounded kind of muddy and not as clear as I remembered in the first one. I thought it was my imagination but then I put on the Roxanne iems and the Roxannes sounded super crystal-clear. But the Roxanne is kind of a muddy headphone in the top-of-the-line category. And the old Ie 800 sounded clearer than the Roxanne so something seemed wrong. I contacted Sennheiser and they said that the iem800 with this serial number (334xx) was sold in Hong Kong in August 2013 and they cannot tell me anything more about it . I can only speculate on what happened. It could be that this is authentic and the ie800s made in 2013 just sounded different than the ones made now. Or it could be that this is a counterfeit although I do not know how it got into Amazon's stock. But even if it is authentic , I don't understand why Amazon is selling a headphone that was manufactured well over 2 1/2 years ago. Anyway this is going back and I guess I'll have to buy my next one directly from Sennheiser.
22 comments|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 13, 2014
After reading glowing reviews of both of these in ear monitors I was still unable to decide which one would be right for me so I bought both, first the Shure and a few weeks later the Sennheiser. I already own the JH Audio 16 Pro, Ultimate Ears 10 Pro Earphones Gun Metal Blue with Roadie Case, HiFi Man HE-500, Sennheiser HD 650, Shure SRH940 among others. My music files are all in FLAC format and I play them through an Astell&Kern AK120 Mastering Quality Sound Portable Dual DAC Hi-Fi Audio System and also used a Samsung Galaxy S4 also playing FLAC files for comparison purposes. To boost the signal for some of my headphones I use an ALO Rx Mk2, a Schitt Lyr, and a JDS Labs O2 headphone amplifier.

I begin this review with the following disclaimer, since we all have different tastes in music and how we like it to sound, there is no universal "right" way for all music and sound gear to sound. I will try to convey how I like my music to sound and why I preferred one of these fine IEM's over the other though they are both excellent in their own right.

I used to work in a recording studio in NY where I was taught that it was our job to capture the sound from the room behind the glass or auditorium as if it was a picture. Get as much detail as you possibly can without altering the overall sound signature while eliminating as many artifacts as possible that could distort or mask some of what we are attempting to preserve. So, I prefer my music to sound as close to "being there" as possible, I want to hear everything that was on the original recording with nothing added and nothing taken away. This of course is a difficult goal to achieve as there are always sonic imperfections inherent in music reproduction so we all make compromises when purchasing gear.

In my opinion, the standout area for the IE800 is what I call the "presence" area - that part of the lower treble that makes voices and some instruments sound more (or less) "alive". Being a vented, open-back design, the IE800 have a wider more convincing soundstage than the SE846. They have 2 vents, one is for the sound and the second one is to equalize the air between the eardrum and the outer ear, so the pressure goes away after you insert them. Although they are open backed in-ear headphones, don't worry as the people around you can't hear what you hear due to the small size of the vents. Yet, it is their unconventional single dynamic driver design coupled with their vented ceramic non-resonant enclosures that gives them their remarkably spacious soundstage especially for an in-ear model. They are breathtakingly clean with deep, extended, punchy bass response which never impinges on or overrides the rest of the music which to me is amazing. On the high end, the treble sparkles with clarity and incredible detail without a trace of stridency or harshness. That said, the mids, one of the strongest points of this headphone, are excellent and all the instruments and voices have a good, natural and well textured presentation which surprised me given how deep the bass presentation can be when it is present in the original source material. Up until I listened to the IE 800's, I felt that the HiFiMan - HE-500 Headphones Planar magnetic headphones coupled to the Schitt Lyr headphone amp had the widest, most realistic soundstage I had ever heard - not so anymore! (You can read my review of the HE-500 on Amazon)

Contrasting the IE 800 with the Shure SE846, I found their bass to be somewhat exaggerated especially in the mid-bass region which in my opinion overwhelmed the midrange at times. They reminded me of the Ultrasone PRO 900 S-Logic Surround Sound Professional Headphones - Black that I used to own but sold because although they had powerful bass, it came at the expense of the upper midrange. The other area where I really found the Shure's to be lacking was in the treble, especially in upper end. Compared to the Sennheiser's they sounded veiled or muffled however, before I actually had the Sennheiser's, I didn't realize how much the Shure were lacking. As I already own and frequently use the JH Audio 16 Pro IEM's, I compared them to the Shure and there too, the Shure came up short. The JH-16 Pro, also a multi-armature IEM blew them away for just a $150.00 more however, both have that "congested" IEM sound when compared to an open backed planar headphone like the HE-500. The JH-16 Pro's have a more extended treble with far more detail and transparency and when it comes to the bass, the JH 16's have deep extended bass that does not mask or in any way obscure any other portion of the music. The only negative to buying custom IEM's is that they are yours forever as they will only fit your ears so you can't ever sell them if you decide you no longer want them - something to consider.

What truly amazed me about the Sennheiser IE 800's was the openness, the spaciousness of their soundstage, coupled with the speed and detail they amply provide. They can even compete with the HE-500 amplified by the Lyr with custom pure silver cables and that to me was amazing. They have a low impedance of 16 Ohms across their frequency range and are very efficient so they can easily be driven by any portable devices and don't require amplification to sound great. What these IEM's coupled to a good digital audio player (DAP) provide is an amazing high end sound system that you can fit in your pocket. Although they work very well with phones and other mobile devices they really shine when coupled with a high quality DAP so if you really want to hear all that the IE 800's have to offer, use a good DAP or DAC and play lossless files otherwise save your money and buy something like the UE 10 Pro for half the price.

The comfort of the IE 800 is really good and superior to the Shure. As the Sennheisers are an open back design with a single dynamic driver rather than a closed back multiple balanced armature design, getting a "perfect seal" did not seem to be as much as an issue as it is with BA designs. The IE 800s are super small, incredibly lightweight and the least intrusive of any IEM's I have used. I can literally keep them in my ears for hours without any discomfort in fact, I sometimes forget they are in there! Another quality of the IE 800 that I really appreciate is that they sound great even at lower volume levels which for me was a big surprise. Typically, I tend to enjoy listening to music at higher volumes because it just seems to sound better that way. The reason for this is that we perceive different frequencies, especially the deep bass and treble at higher loudness levels then we do midrange frequencies, which was first discovered by Fletcher and Munson in 1933. This is commonly referred to as the Fletcher-Munson equal-loudness contour which means that a listener perceives a constant loudness when presented with pure steady tones at different dB levels across the frequency response. Sennheiser designed the frequency response of these IEM's to compensate for this and therefore, they sound good even at lower volume levels which is a big plus.

I really thought of finding some cons to these headphones but other than the price I couldn't find anything. The non detachable cables are not an issue for me as they are very well made and appear to be quite sturdy. They are more microphonic than the Shure cables however I position the IE 800's with the cord up so I can wrap it over my ears cancelling out their microphonic tendencies. Given the very small size of the earpieces and the fact that they are solid ceramic, it would be nearly impossible to install removable cables without increasing their size and weight as well as altering their sonic character.

All in all, the Sennheiser IE 800's, connected directly to my AK120 are now my favorite headphone/IEM's, they're smaller, lighter, more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and if I had listened to them before purchasing the HiFiMan HE-500 and the Schitt Lyr, I would be $1200 richer!
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 26, 2014
I am an earbud snob, so always willing to try the next great pair. Bought these as a present for my partner and immediately wanted a pair of my own. Great sound. Very comfortable fit. Durable and non tangling cord. Only complaint is cord length - could be a few inches longer so I have some extra slack when on my iPad.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 14, 2014
Having experience with different headphones (hifiman re400, sennhieser ie80, vsonic, sure, beats, bose and a few others that have slipped my mind) I was so amazed by these headphones.
The depth of the sound, the soundstage was unreal, I've never heard something like that from in ear headphones.
Everything is crystal clear, the bass is defined and the highs are sparkling.
The ceramic housing and the Teflon coating make it seem indestructible and beautiful.
There were two problem, however. The cord was too short and the connection in between where the cord separates to both sides was very heavy and would need constant adjustment to keep it in ear.
Second, the treble, although it was clear was also sibilant at times and not comfortable

All in all though they were the best listening experience I've had. would recomend
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 3, 2016
I have never been comfortable with in-ear phones, but these really are comfortable. I am still learning how to tune my Walkman to work best with these, but they seem otohave very good sound, give a sense of space, and are both easy to use and resistant to wire-snarling. I'm very pleased, and can't wait to travel with them, which is what I bought them for. I am an amateur violist and chamber-music fanatic; SOUND quality in classical music is what I look for, and so far, these deliver - though they do tend to make poor recordings sound poor!
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 16, 2015
Best sounding earphones. I recommend listening with Tidal 1411kbps to really experience the sound.

Comparing these to Apple's earbuds, those sound like songs are played with toy synthesizer. You won't be able to tell if you have never listened with the ie800 before but once you do you will know. I have also compared these to the v-moda zn which I had before and returned. The v-moda sound very unidimensional and lack clarity.

For example, imagine an ocean of sound, listening with the v-moda zn, it sounds as if the sound is just swimming on the top of the water. Now, listening with the IE800 the sound is going much deeper in the ocean and not just floating on the surface.

Another thing is also happening when you use Spotify, at 320kbps, the sound seems to be missing the details and even very small sound effects are just not there. Or the vocals and instruments seem like they're held back or as if a veil is covering them. There is a certain kind of liveliness that appears with Tidal especially when it comes to clarity of vocals, synths are more organic and bass is more punchy and dynamic. It is hard to explain but if you listen to the same song with both Tidal and Spotify you can tell.

About the cables. Contrary to the constant parroting of fellow iem owners, in particular ie800 owners, the cables are actually very thin, soft and have an expensive feel. Cable microphonics is there but not as bad as others make it seem. Any iem will have cable noise. It's not the cable, it's the way iem work. You are sealing your ear canal and any type of external thing touching your body or cable will cause some noise especially since these are meant to be worn cable down. Now if you listen to music at whisper quiet level you will notice it more but at 50% volume is just fine. You can buy something that has that over ear cable, but then again I don't recall if any of those earphones ever looked as cool as the ie800.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.
See all 22 answered questions

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.