Sennheiser IE80S – An Old Classic Reborn
Sennheiser is a company which seems to have painted itself into a corner in recent years; how do they improve on the models they’ve had on sale for the past few years? It’s either a testament to their design teams of years past, or a damning indictment of the design team they have now. They’re recycling old designs, and adding an ‘S’ so we can’t pluralise without causing confusion. What trickery is this?
- Nice warm sound
- Good assortment of tips and accessories
- Carry case
- Could have more midrange clarity
- Straight jack on cable
Design and appearance
A new version of an old classic is simple enough to achieve; round off the corners a bit more and you’re done! There’s probably more to it than that, but this new IE80S bears more than a passing resemblance to the original IE80. However it’s a good look, and Sennheiser obviously knows that it’s not necessary to have flashy designs or gimmicks to impress their fans.
The supplied case is sturdy and sleek, with a non-removeable foam insert which houses the earphones when not in use. Also there are plenty of eartips and accessories, such as a pair of earhooks if your cable keeps popping over your ears.
Durability & build quality
There’s nothing bad to write here, the Sennheiser IE80S is as expected with excellent build quality. The jack on the cable is a straight one which may be a problem for some; if you want a right-angle jack then spare cables for the IE80 will fit just as well.
The tuning is what we expect from Sennheiser; there’s no drastic departure from the typical Sennheiser sound which is warm, with a smattering of treble to keep things interesting but staying comfortable.
Bass is fairly plentiful and should please lightweight bassheads; however the dials on the sides of the capsules can be adjusted to give a bit more grunt. Control is pretty good, but where it’s loose it feels as if that’s the way it should be. It’s loose with a touch of panache! Subbass is quite powerful if it’s in the music, and you’ll be in no doubt
The level of the midrange is lower than the bass, but pretty clear and enjoyable nonetheless. Harmonics are clear enough and there is no congestion here, but there is the feeling that the IE80S could do better; at least with the supplied eartips. Aftermarket eartips (such as Blackbird) seem to improve things in this regard.
Treble is gentle; we’re fond of a warmer sound but the IE80S still takes some getting used to. If you’re a fan of an airy, shimmery sort of presentation then the IE80S is not for you. If however you’re a fan of laid-back music then the IE80S is a contender. Plenty of detail is present though; it comes across as an extension of the midrange with a smooth transition.
Soundstage & Separation
Soundstage on the IE80S is pretty good for an IEM but there’s a lack of depth to the sound, apart from the bass which appears to spread out in front of the listener. Separation is good, but limited with the supplied tips. If you’re splashing out on the IE80S, then try some tips such as Blackbird or Spinfit.
Music genres good for and why
Due to the bass presence, the IE80S is best suited to dance music, pop and rap. Fans of classical, jazz and opera may still enjoy those genres with the IE80S but they will likely miss the airiness and the reverb ‘feel’ of the space the recording was made in.
Sennheiser’s souped-up IE80 design is here, and it’s an enjoyable listen for many modern genres but some may find the sound lacking air and space for genres such as classical.