Sennheiser IE 8 Review


  • Overall excellent sound
  • Bass knob (but you won't use it much, trust me)
  • Improved highs over the IE7's
  • Extremely ergonomic shape
  • Removable cables
  • Durable case that looks nice when placed on a desk 
  • Excellent soundstage 
  • Earhooks take a lot of playing with to get right


  • There is a mid bass hump which may become distracting at times, but you can EQ that out
  • PRICE!!!!!!! 
  • Ear clip is real annoying to get right and easy to lose if you use it together with the shirt clip
  • Bulky case  is not really pocket friendly
  • isolation is moderate, sometimes its more then enough but may also be a little lacking depending on the situation 
  • you can't use the bass knob without taking off the headphones or without the tool 
  • nickel coated jack (microphonics are acceptable but still gold plated would have been much better especially for a pair of headphones at this price) 
  • mids and highs seem a tad veiled as they are not really upfront and engaging 

Comparison between the IE 7's and IE 8's

What the IE 8's have over the IE 7's

  • Bass knob
  • Detachable cable
  • One more type of ear adapter
  • Better highs
  • Better soundstage

What IE 7's have over IE8's

  • cheaper price
  • mids/vocals are more upfront (personal preference but I think hearing a tad more vocals on the IE 8's like the IE 7's are better)

Everything that comes in the box
Honestly sound-wise the IE 8's are definitely better but it depends on if you don't plan on a cable upgrade or don't mind changing not being able to change the bass, the IE 7's are perfect (shame it's gone).

The IE 8's themselves are nearly identical to the IE 7's in sound with the exception of the bass hump and the improved highs. But there are still differences.

Appearance and Cosmetics

Now as you all may have noticed, the appearance on Sennheiser's IE line is rather odd for an IEM. They seem like they're a tad wide and may be uncomfortable because of their awkward shape but there are actually a few reasons for this:
  • Sennheiser chose to use dynamic drivers instead of the multiple armature drivers other high and mid end IEM's use, so the larger drivers take up more space.
  • The shape helps with helps with the ergonomics of the headphones because, especially in the case of the IE7, the earbud is actually supported by the lower part of your ear making it incredibly comfortable and even harder to come out (its hard to explain so bear with me until I can get pictures).


The highs have definitely improved over the IE 7's sound as the speed of the treble has improved, it sounds clearer and doesn't seem to have that problem with sounding harsh. They sound nice and crisp and there is that nice sharp sound the treble should have.Though still not enough to compete with the HD 558 treble, which I would say is nearly unrivaled until you get the the high end 600+ spectrum.


You have the crisp and nice mids that you would expect from a high end headphone, though I found the IE 8's mids to be less engaging and outspoken when compared to some other headphones I've listened to like the Shure SRH 440, HD558, HD 650, or the IE 7's to name a few and took a little getting used to. In my opinion the mids can stick out a little more to prevent a small "veiled" effect that I found at times. But overall, they are still very much enjoyable but my personal preference tells me that these headphones would be just so much better if they weren't so laid back.


YOU HAVE A FREAKING BASS KNOB! But I do regret to tell you that this is a feature that you will most definitely rarely use except for EQ'ing your sound. I find the bass knob useful for when changing between genres but I barely use it as the IE 8's on lowest settings are more then enough.

So you have 5 bass settings, I'm not going to go into how each of these notches sound like but basically from it goes from a HD 558 sound signature to the near  unbearable Beats Studio, I just want to run out of my house and scream, sub-woofer level.

The Sennheiser IE 8's in the case
Now here is a little compairison of bass to all of you who may not have heard either of these headphones. For knob 1, its like you're listing to your average headphones/speakers with a balance of bass, mids and highs, but when you are on the 5th knob, you get nearly overpowering bass that makes a song like Maroon 5's Makes Me Wonder have ground-shaking bass.

The physical bass itself is nice and tight but it may block and mask some of the tiny details.

Just a friendly warning just in case you are tempted to listen to any bass heavy song with highest bass knob setting, beware that you may feel like that you're brain may be melting from the low rhythmic rumble of the bass simulating an earthquake around you.

The Infamous "Bass Hump"

The bass "hump" is referring to an "issue" to the frequency response which has a mid bass hump which veils the mids and highs making them sound veiled and recessed. Though this can be fixed a bit by lowering 150Hz frequencies by a few dB it still the mids will still sound a little veiled. Just to make sure we're all on the same page here, when I use the word veiled here means the bass sounds a little like it's a bit louder or on then the other frequencies. This might not be a bad thing, but sometimes it might seem the vocals are "too far back" or mixed with the music a bit.


Now going back to my statement about closed headphones, even though the IE 8's are closed and noise isolating to an extent, they still sound like they're coming from a speaker in the room, the headphones still feel like they're giving off 3D sound from about 3cm away from your ears. The soundstage is really dynamic on these headphones and it doesn't just seem like the sound sound is just coming from earbuds in your ears, but more like sound coming from around  you. There have been times that I thought some of the sounds in a song were sounds leaking in from outside and actually look over in that direction. So in my opinion, these headphones have amazing soundstage that can beat or rival most headphones. I swear, there are soo many times I've looked behind myself to see if a sound came from behind me.

Overall Impression

Being a person who usually listens to headphones/audio sources that have really upfront mids and highs, the IE 8's take some getting use to, but after that, they sound absolutely phenomenal. Comparing them to the IE 7's and other headphones, I find that the extra $120 or so that you may spend is very justifiable if you can afford to pay the extra as the improvements in sound and the extra features you get make this a very nice upgrade from almost any headphone. I find that this is a very user based headphone as you have the option of adjusting the sound as well as having the freedom to re-cable your headphones to increase their longevity and improve their sound depending on the quality of your new cable. The isolation is kind of iffy for me depending on where I am and what tips I'm using but it's generally adequate for every situation you may be listening to music to (with the exception of in the busy city, which is not a bad thing as it can become a serious danger hazard). I really love how these headphones manage to give you amazing sound without an expensive and/or bulky setup to run at its full potential, so I think that these are the perfect headphones for you if you're someone that tends to travel a lot and has high expectations for sound (businessmen and students, you'll like this one A LOT).

Effects of Burn In

Burn in, as I have already said in the Audio 101 is a phenomenon affects dynamic drivers. I've seen many who have said that the IE 8's suck and sound like a pair of, quote, "$40 headphones". I don't agree with them sounding that bad out of the box, but they definitely don't sound like $400 headphones either. Even though burn in isn't confirmed by or spoken of by any audio company (at least as far as I know of) because of various different reasons, it is clearly evident that it affects the IE 8's. With burn in, the bass hump and bass level improves along with the soundstage just to name a few. Currently I have about 100 hours of burn in on my IE8's and it's still changing so it's definitely true when people say that these headphones need 200+ hours of burn in.

Things to take note of:

Tranducer type: dynamic
Operating principle: closed
Frequency Response: 10-20,000 Hz

Impedance: 16 ohms
Cable Length and Termination: 1.2m cable 3.5mm

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are welcome but anything like promoting unauthorized dealers and related spam will be deleted on the spot