Sennheiser IE 800 review: Hands-on

Can the Sennheiser IE 800 in-ear headphones justify the price £599 tag?

What is a hands on review?
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Sennheiser IE 800 review
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Sennheiser IE 800 review
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Sennheiser IE 800 review
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Sennheiser IE 800 review

As the maker's top-of-the-range pair of earphones, with a £599 price tag to match, the the Sennheiser IE 800s have certainly got to prove their worth. We took a closer look at the IFA show in Berlin...

Sennhesier IE 800: Design

The first thing you’ll notice is the sleek silver design and rear firing back ports - they look like jet exhausts to deliver high bass in a small space. The IE 800s feel incredibly light and opening the lavish box reveals a new selection of four ear bud sizes, rather than three, with a protective mesh so dust and dirt avoids hitting the speaker section of the earphones.

The cable is a striped green lead which doesn’t feature inline controls - an inline lead for iPhone will be an optional extra. Finally, the box also includes a neat oversized leather carry case embossed with a silver Sennhesier serial number.

Sennhesier IE 800: Comfort

The lightweight design instantly feels different to many in-ear headphones and we found the simple selection of buds managed to provide secure comfort. The earphones sit well in the ear and the cable is light enough (and long enough) not to drag the headphones from your ear when tilting your head.

Sennhesier IE 800: Durability

The cable itself is detachable and features an extremely rugged gold plated connection at either end. The headphones are solid and the mesh protection means the IE 800s are among the most rugged in-ear headphones we’ve ever played with. The carry case is still essential, however.

Sennhesier IE 800: Sound Quality

Delivering a huge amount of bass when required, the Sennhesier IE 800s are all about sonic detail even when passed a tricky dose of Skrillex. We tried some Apple Lossless John Lee Hooker followed by The Race by Yello on iPad: all trumpet parps and fast beats.

The tracking of the pace and sound staging was excellent and the vocal detail is clearly defined against loud percussion. In short, you’ll struggle to find sound quality like this is any in-ear headphones - or many on-ear headphones, in fact.

Sennhesier IE 800: Verdict

As the most expensive in-ears we’ve played with, the Sennhesier IE 800s manage to beat all comers and the closest rivals are pro audio Shure headphones with custom ear-moulds, the kind of headphones you see live musicians use during concerts. The IE 800s are more attractive and consumer friendly.

They scream luxury and deliver the goods from first listen. At twice the price of a very good pair of giant, over ear headphones, you’ll need to be convinced that in-ear headphones are your favoured option for commuting though...

Sennhesier IE 800 availability: TBC

Sennhesier IE 800 price: TBC

Words: Richard Melville

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.