Sennheiser iE80 review

High-end earbuds let you dial-in bass to taste Tested at £270

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The iE80s might cost a bit, but they’re a truly quality in-ear option


  • +

    Quality finish

  • +

    selection of accessories

  • +

    open presentation

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    exceptionally detailed sound

  • +

    adjustable bass delivery works well


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    Not cheap

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The last thing you'd expect to take to a pair of headphones is a screwdriver, but Sennheiser actively encourages you to tinker with its iE80 in-ears.

Within each of the housings is a small screw: turn it clockwise to dial in more bass, or the other way for a more neutral sound. We got the best balance with a quarter-turn clockwise.

How low can you go? Just turn the screw
Here, extra bass weight makes itself felt just enough to help fill out the sound. Otherwise it's a little too full, and the hefty low-end can soon prove overpowering. Turn the screws too far counter-clockwise and the headphones sound a little thin.

The iE80s have excellent separation and clarity. They dig out a serious amount of detail, which you'd arguably be expecting at this kind of money; Arcade Fire's Ready To Start ticks along nicely with rhythmic, punchy drum kicks and zingy guitar, while the very natural-sounding vocals shine through.

The headphones have a premium price, but they're presented in a manner which suits. Build quality is first rate, with the solid, brushed-metal housings catching the eye. There's a robust carry case, too.

Premium price, but they're worth it
Ear hooks are also included to keep cable noise to a minimum and make the fit even sturdier.

There's no inline remote, but the cable can be replaced should anything happen: you simply disconnect it from each earpiece and connect the new one.

If you're looking for a cut above entry-level heaphones and are keen to give your MP3 player or phone the right tools to make the most of your digital music, the iE80s will help. They're really impressive earbuds.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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