TouchMyApps » earbud http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Sat, 30 Aug 2014 19:47:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Klipsch Image S4 in Review – Double the Bass with Twice the Pace http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/05/klipsch-image-s4-in-review-double-the-bass-with-twice-the-pace/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/08/05/klipsch-image-s4-in-review-double-the-bass-with-twice-the-pace/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2009 08:27:43 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=17117 introduction After 2008′s popular Image X5, which debuted at $100 less than the X10, Klipsch began expanding the affordable line of their inner earphones. In 2009, the S2 and S4 join the Image line at the more reasonable prices of $49.99 and $79.99. When Klipsch designed the new earphones, they utilised brand new drivers which … Read more]]>

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introduction
After 2008′s popular Image X5, which debuted at $100 less than the X10, Klipsch began expanding the affordable line of their inner earphones. In 2009, the S2 and S4 join the Image line at the more reasonable prices of $49.99 and $79.99. When Klipsch designed the new earphones, they utilised brand new drivers which were made specifically for their sound signature. So, the S4 houses a special 8mm dynamic driver which packs dual neodymium magnets and the audio performance for which Klipsch is famous. Happily, Klipsch also introduced the iPhone-friendly S4i which features a mic and remote and is priced at $99.99.

Specifications
Variation: Black with Silver Accents only
Transducer: Single KG25, 8mm Dual Neodymium Magnet Dynamic Driver
Impedance: 18ohms
Frequency Range: 10Hz-19kHz
Sensitivity (1mW): 110dB SPL
Weight: N/A
Cord Style: Y-Cord
Mini Jack Style: 3.5mm right-angle gold plated

Accessories
Kllipsch’s crush-resistant aluminium case is the accessory which first attracted my attention. The shiny silver oval houses all the S4 accessories is simple, strong and elegant. The overal accessory package is very neat and well designed, but lacks a few extras. Standing in front of me is one of the best protective cases at any price. Despite this, the Image S4 comes with only an earwax/sound tube cleaner, and an assortment of exclusive silicone oval gels (S,M,L sizes) and a small/medium combination dual flange for the S4.

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Fit
It is easy to be fooled by the design of the S4. Instead of putting the “Klipsch” decal on the front side, facing forward, Klipsch put the decal on the opposite side, so that only those behind you will see which company’s earphones are plugged into you. The Image S4’s housing angle is similar to Ultimate Ears’ design – the concave bend in the earphone faces the same direction you are looking, allowing the S4 to provide an ergonomic seal.

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During first insertion, I found the Image S4 to be extremely comfortable and isolating – in fact, one of the best fits I have ever encountered. In addition to the comfortable and lightweight earpieces, the contour bend to the housing of the Image S4’s is just perfect (for me at least), placing the oval gel in the “sweet spot” for comfort and isolation. Even after long listening sessions, the Klipsch Image S4 isn’t at all irritating; instead, it melts perfectly into the ear.

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Audio
“What a great sound for the price” – should be the preamble for the sound of the S4. I have logged hundreds of hours and lots of music on the S4 and loved what I have heard. However, I noticed that classical and orchestral music are not that well-suited to the S4. Because Klipsch’s earphone lacks some sparkle up top, its sound signature may be considered too dark for those genres. Pop, metal, and trance: genres which go well with the harmony of smooth, rich mids and punchy lows, are better matches for the S4.

Highs
At first, classical instruments such as violins were disappointing, but after giving them more time, I feel that the Image S4’s treble is rather good, if not mellow, for the price and that strings, such as the violin are decently rendered. High edges are audible, but dampened. Though devoid of sibilance or irritation, they lack clarity and are quite dark – not giving up the “ring” which can enrich certain instruments. Listening to any sort of music: orchestral, classical or pop, Soprano vocals are darker than some competing earphones – listening to the remarkable voice of the Celtic Women is just short of what I would have expected to hear. The Highs of the Image S4 disappointed me on one of the Chinese songs which I have listened to for years: Little Love Song by SodaGreen. The song’s Piano and its high-pitched singer’s voice are dulled, lacking the crisp sound which I crave.Overall, the highs are very good, but not nearly as good as other earphones, especially when compared them to similarly priced offerings fron Etymotic.

Mids
Smooth with a good amount of detail, the S4 renders Celtic Woman’s Mo Ghile Mear fabulously. Each voice is detailed, with great depth, body and feel. Instruments are lively, drawing the listener in. If you’re a BIG BANG fan or listener, you’re in for a treat. Since I am a BIG BANG listener myself, Lie and Last Farewell, whether in Korean or the English, is powerful. It’s presented as one of the most enveloping sound experiences in the price bracket. In fact, only Altec Lansing Backbeat Pro has been similar. All in all, midrange frequencies are detailed, full bodied, and deep in buttery-smooth wrappings.

Lows
The low frequency is the S4′s “Sweet-Spot”. Listening to pop and metal is extremely good with deep, thumping drums, full body, and impact. For this reason, the drum-heavy Dulaman by Celtic Women, is captivating. Trance is detailed enough, catching every focal and non-focal beat; as the S4 catches its rhythm, this genre is lively. Last Farewell was the party piece with the Image S4, the kick drum and bass drum in it is so powerful yet accurate it brings the song into “hyper” mode where you just want to tap your foot and dance! Overall, the Image S4’s bass is powerful, quick, and full-bodied with an ocean-like depth. In fact, its bass is one of my favourites even compared to much higher-priced earphones.

Soundstage
The Image S4’s soundstage isn’t spectacular, but definitely not disappointing. While decently wide, the Image’s front to back musical tapestry isn’t very deep. The soundstage of the Image S4 leaves your music sounding as a really well done recording: tight, but not too expansive. For orchestral music, instruments tend to cram together, losing some of the essence of the massive collection of players and instruments. But for most faster music, the S4 does a good job for the price, but there is definitely room for improvement.

Quality
Like the S2, Klipsch’s higher-end earphone is rigid and smooth and of great build quality. While not metal, the S4 isn’t the most expensive looking of earphones, but don’t let that fool you! The Cable is designed to be sweat, chemical, and crack resistant (and doing its job well in this Vancouver summer which has reached above 40 degrees!). Relatively flexible and thin, there is little microphonic noise in Klipsch’s earphone which means walking around is great. Thankfully, it is also lightweight and won’t drag your earphones from your ears or put excessive pressure on your ear canals. Plug is a gold-plated right angle 3.5mm, with a soft flex end that acts as a strain relief. Taking all into consideration, the quality of the Klipsch Image S4’s is better than many earphones in its pricerange.

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Conclusion
Klipsch’s attempt to bring an affordable, high-quality earphone to the market was successful with the S2 and is equally so with the S4. Offering good, yet laid-back highs, excellent mids, and mind blowing bass, Klipsch S4 is definitely a top-tier performer. Quality is great – certainly among the best at the price, and despite lacking some accessories and some detail and clarity on the high frequencies, we would recommend these the Image S4’s to anyone entering the “High-Fi” world. This especially rings true for listeners of Pop, Metal, and Trance music. In the end, though the Image S4 is highly recommended in the under $100 category, it lacks a few accessories which hold it back. Never mind though, the S4 is grabbed with two big thumbs up from an over-eager TMA!

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App Summary
Title: Klipsch Image S4 Developer: Klipsch
Price: $79.99
  • Smooth highs
  • Excellent and detailed mids and lows
  • Excellent build
  • Ergonomic design
  • Excellent cable and low microphonics
  • Lack of Accessories
  • High frequencies lack clarity and body

If you are like the geeks at TMA, you can’t get enough of headphones. Check out some of our latest reviews below:
Mingo WM-2 Inner Earphones in Reviews-Jays Inner Earphones in ReviewMonster Beats Tour Earphones in ReviewKlipsch S2 Inner Earphone in Review

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MEElectronics Ai-M6 & Ai-M9 Review – Royalty on a Budget http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/13/meelectronics-ai-m6-ai-m9-review-royalty-on-a-budget/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/07/13/meelectronics-ai-m6-ai-m9-review-royalty-on-a-budget/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2009 16:05:02 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=15312 . Established 2005 in southern California, MEELectronics focus on providing customers with quality products and services at the best prices possible. MEElectronics’ products are aimed at iPod and iPhone owners, offering a multitude of earphones and portable speakers. Today, we have their top-tier earphones with us, the Ai-M6 and the Ai-M9. Both house the same … Read more]]>

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Established 2005 in southern California, MEELectronics focus on providing customers with quality products and services at the best prices possible. MEElectronics’ products are aimed at iPod and iPhone owners, offering a multitude of earphones and portable speakers. Today, we have their top-tier earphones with us, the Ai-M6 and the Ai-M9. Both house the same driver, same specifications, and the same sound. The difference you ask? The Ai-M6 is a $39.99 “over the ear” style inner earphone and the Ai-M9 is a $19.99 “straight down cable” style inner earphone that has a mic’d brother for only $10 more.

Specifications
Variation: Ai-M6 is available in Black and Maroon, Ai-M9 is available in black with/without mic.
Transducer: 9mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver
Impedance: 16 ohms
Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
Sensitivity (1mW): 95dB SPL/mW
Weight: N/A
Cord Style: Y-cord
Mini Jack Style: Gold Plated Straight (First Gen iPhone adaptable)

Accessories
The MEElectronics Ai-M6 and Ai-M9 come with nearly the same accessory packages. Each is adorned with 3 sets of single flange silicone rubber sleeves (small, medium, large) along with one pair of specialty sleeves. The Ai-M6 comes with a pair of memory foams, while the Ai-M9 comes with a pair of dual flange silicone rubber sleeves. (Note: As you may see below, our pair of Ai-M9 arrived with an extra pair of Medium silicone sleeve by some gracious accident). In addition to the sleeves, both models come with a semi-stiff carrying case, a wire organizer, and an airplane adapter and can be considered very well-equipped for their respective prices.

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Fit
Fit wise, both are comfortable and as for isolation, both models are comparable, if slightly less than the $249.99 Phiaton PS200. While wearing these earphones on the busy streets and buses here in Vancouver, they kept me in a well-separated world of silence where only the music and I were interacting.

“How do these feel?”, you’re wondering. I find that the Ai-M6 are a bit lighter on my ear canals, causing less pressure-discomfort than the Ai-M9. However, the rubber memory wire around the ear causes slight discomfort around my ear. The Ai-M9 on the other hand, doesn’t have memory wire (and consequently, the same problem), but like I said earlier, they exhibit a bit more pressure on my ear canals. Overall, I prefer the Ai-M9 over the Ai-M6’s sometimes itchy fit.

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Audio
Before I start this section, just a reminder that both earphones have the same sound. From high to mid and low frequencies; and when considering soundstage or detail, the identical driver and musical tuning result in the same sound. As always, I made sure both models perform at their peak by giving them healthy doses of frequency sweeps and pink noise for over 200 hours. Audio quality is the party piece of both models. After a quick listen, I decided to give them the same test as the Phiaton PS200 and stray from my often-used Mariah Carey. This time, MEELectronics earphones will face Celtic Women’s lovely voice, their excellent crew of musicians, and the famed fiddler, Máiréad Nesbitt.

Highs
Simply put, Meelectronic’s M6 and M9 are detailed and Crisp. Listening to “The Last Rose of Summer” by Celtic Woman, they instantly shoot spot on to vocal detail and power. One thing they lacked on a small scale is the pitch of the notes which were presented just shy of truly emotional. This slight lack can detract from music like Celtic Women’s great vocals and some instruments like violins and flutes.

Mids
Smooth, Lush, and Buttery. Listening to “Mo Ghile Mear”, Méav’s voice is beautifully presented. The depth, richness, and clarity of her voice tangible, but not be as detailed and full as on the Shure Se420, or Se530 (both of which cost many, many times more). All in all, the mid frequency band is still top notch, comparable to Head Directs Re1, and detailed and able-bodied enough to draw comparison to much more expensive earphones.

Lows
The most powerful frequency band of the Ai-M6 and the Ai-M9 and the most attractive to the market is powerful, deep, and speedy. Not as quick as Head Directs Re0, but definitely on par with the Re1 in terms of speed, depth, and power. Once again, listening to “Mo Ghile Mear”, drums are captivating from the start. The two little MEElecs give drums a full-body punch, and an ocean-deep richness to keep you into the song – truly amazing for the price.

Soundstage
Both models were quite average when first out of the box. However, after breaking them in, the soundstage widened to reasonable levels which would compare to a spot in between the Head-Direct RE1 and RE0. The front-to-back depth too, is quite believable and again, for the price, one of the best in the industry – certainly a great choice for the smart buyer and the teenager!

Build Quality
Both are such affordable earphones that I found it surprising how well-made they are. The cables are flexible, thin, yet not super tangle-prone. Unfortunately, they are prone to a microphonic nature. If you’ve heard the Monster Turbine cable, then you will know what I’m talking about. If not, they are around 70% as loud as the similarly priced Skullcandy Ink’D earphones are. Of course, the over-the-ear M6 suffers much less microphonics than the M9.

Strain reliefs on the earbuds themselves work, are flexible and are well-made, however, there isn’t one on the cable, so no ‘insured’ feeling. Material and build wise, both earphones have a flawless plastic housing that is well-built, yet stylish – no complaints from me there!

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Conclusion
Affordable, well built, and stylish with astonishing audio performance rivaling competitors that cost more than many times their price, Meelectronics M6 and M9 are great. These cheap phones even nailed isolation and fit which means you can maintain a seal even when participating in sporting activities! What more can I say?! The Ai-M6 walks away with a grab from behind due to its slightly higher price of $39.99, while the Ai-M9 is definitely getting a doggy-pile full of kisses at its unbelievable $19.99 price-tag.

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M6

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M9

App Summary
Title: MEELectronics Ai-M6, Ai-M9 Developer: MEELectronics
Price: M6 $39.99, M9 $19.99
  • Great construction
  • Inexpensive
  • Great sound
  • So many accessories
  • comfortable
  • Microphonic cables

Buy Now from MEElectronics:

Ai-M6: $39.99

Ai-M9: $19.99

Please also take a look at our Headphone section or, if you want to read other low-cost hifi earphone reviews, check below:
Klipsch Image S2 inner earphone in review – Head-Direct RE2Nuforce NE7M Mobile Phone Compatible Inner Earphones in Review


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Sennheiser IE8 in Review – The Ace of Bass http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/05/05/sennheiser-ie8-in-review-the-ace-of-bass/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/05/05/sennheiser-ie8-in-review-the-ace-of-bass/#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 00:07:49 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=10466 Sennheiser: TMA’S Short Intro If you haven’t heard of Sennheiser in your sojourn in the audio world, you have probably been living under a rock. If, however, you are new to the world of headphones, then you are forgiven, but need to be informed. Sennheiser have set many landmarks in the world of personal hi-fidelity … Read more]]>

sennheiser_ie_mainSennheiser: TMA’S Short Intro

If you haven’t heard of Sennheiser in your sojourn in the audio world, you have probably been living under a rock. If, however, you are new to the world of headphones, then you are forgiven, but need to be informed. Sennheiser have set many landmarks in the world of personal hi-fidelity audio including manufacturing the HE90 Orpheus which is the most expensive production headphone to date. They remain among the largest manufacturers on the planet with a resume that would embarrass Stephen Hawking and boast an impressively expanding portable line-up.

IE8 Packaging

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Fit Kit/Accessories

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Tips: Sennheiser includes a generous ten pairs; including regular single-flange and double-flange silicones, plus an ingenious semi-hard foam tip which is my favourite. I call it the ‘Soamie’. It’s not squishy like a Shure Olive and doesn’t need compressing before use, which makes it quicker to insert, more durable and likely to last longer. Sadly, these don’t appear to be on general release as yet, although I hear there are plans to change this at a later date.

Carry case: Very good quality and nice to look at in brushed aluminium with a slide-out insert to wind the phones around. However, in real-life usage, I found it more trouble than it was worth. If you like to sit and methodically wrap cables a bazillion times around inserts, and then try in vain to find somewhere free to wedge in the headphone plug, then this will appeal to you. But if you like to wrap and stash your phones quickly like I do, then a semi-hard padded pouch does the job perfectly. I don’t like forcing my cables into the same position around inserts, for fear of putting strain on the same part of the cable all the time.

Other: A shirt clip, ear-hook guides and the bass-adjusting screwdriver which houses the ear-cleaning tool at the opposite end.

* The bass-adjuster is clipped (hidden), in an inverted holder at the bottom of the insert, so if you can’t find it, either turn it upside down, or turn yourself upside down.

IE8 Specifications – Dynamic Driver

Technical Details:

  • Cord: 1.2 m symmetrical (earphone to separator: 0.4m; separator to plug: 0.8m)
  • Ear coupling: intraaural (ear canal fit)
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Plug: 3.5mm L-shaped stereo jack plug
  • Sound pressure level (SPL): 125 dB(SPL)
  • THD:
  • Transducer principle: Dynamic
  • Weight: 5 g

A NOTE FROM TMA:
The above is of little importance if you are not really into your audio. If so, then just skip over this bit. Sennheiser’s cable is at 1.2 metres, an enjoyable length for lounging around and cable which is a great length for portable use. Since it is light and soft, it does not impede movement and its supple surface is hardly microphonic.

If you care about how easy the Sennheiser IE8 is to drive and how much hiss they will exhibit, then the above spec will help you. An impedance of 16 ohms presents difficulty for many portables including the iPhone and iPhone 3G with regards to bass detail. It simply is a hard to drive ohm spec. However, Sennheiser’s IE8 is tuned somewhat specifically toward portables which are bass deficient to start. Sensitivity of 125 dB means that the IE8 can be driven to volume from many sources. Certainly keep care when listening as they can damage your hearing as can any earphone but rest assured that you will be able to pump the music above the background.

As for soundstage, iPod and iPhone users – you are in luck. The iDevice remains to this day on top in terms of left-to-right separation even when under load. Phonak’s PFE are the kings when regarding the effortless rendering of a black background even with rather hissy sources, but Sennheiser’s earphone is the king and all the king’s men.

IE8 Cable and Construction:

ie8-disconnected ie8cable

It wouldn’t hurt Sony to take a leaf, or even a tree… out of Sennheiser’s book and start making decent cables for their own high-end earphones. My similarly priced EX700 had the traditional bendy-liquorice feel to the cable – thin, cheap and flimsy. The IE8 cable is the complete opposite in every way. Better still, it’s been strengthened with Kevlar, a light, man-made fibre used for reinforcing cables and bullet-proof vests!

The result is an impressively strong cable which feels supple, light, unobtrusive and doesn’t tangle. There’s no cable noise either (hello Image X10…) and at 1.2m long, it’s the perfect length for me. The distance to the Y-splitter is more than adequate and the shirt clip takes care of any cable slack.

But wait! There’s more. The cables are detachable, (see pic) which means if they break, you need only replace the cable and not the earphones. So if you’re a serial ‘snagger’, the IE8 could be a wise financial investment! And of course, there’s always the option to upgrade to custom cables for those who wish to travel that route.

Fit

The IE8 nozzle is the short stumpy type, like the CX300, Sony EX series and Triple.fi 10 pro. There are lots of compatible tips, although some might need to be wiggled on a little, as the actual nozzle has a rim around the edge which makes it a fraction wider than regular ‘fat’ nozzles.

The sound varies widely depending on which tips you choose. The regular silicone tips were the least efficient for me, producing horrible sibilance and taking all the richness out of the music, and the double-flange tips were just too big. In fact, the only tips I liked were my beloved Soamies. They give me the best isolation, comfort and sound quality. However, if I jam them in to achieve a complete seal, the bass is overwhelming, the midrange too aggressive, and they hurt my ears.

I solved all three problems by pulling them out just far enough to avoid the edge of the earpiece rubbing on my inner ear. But you need to experiment to find the best fit. While they look fairly big in the photos, they actually sit flush with the ears and don’t stick out at all (hello Triple.fi 10 pro…)

Soundstage

I have to mention this before any other reference to sound, since it’s quite honestly the biggest and most enjoyable soundstage I’ve ever heard from any of my previously owned earphones… and there have been a lot. But the IE8 crush them all. Soundstage is insanely big, so big that I was worried I might miss out on some of the intimate musical detail. But that wasn’t the case at all. Despite the huge soundstage, the detail is comparable with closer-fitting IEMs, like my Westone 3 or my previously-owned Phonak PFE. To my ears, the IE8 sounds more like a full-sized headphone rather than a regular IEM, and yet it still presents the details as closely as a deeper-seated IEM. In other words, nothing is lost within the big soundstage.

What did I listen to?

Jesse Cook: “Gravity” and “Montreal Live” – Flamenco with a ‘twist’. (Both are very good recordings).

I saw Jesse Cook in London last year, and he really put on a good show. This isn’t traditional flamenco at all; it’s a blend of exotic Middle Eastern influences with violins, bass and acoustic guitars, complex African percussion instruments and synthesisers, creating a riot of sound. With less than competent earphones, it’s all just a big splodge of one-noise sound, and separating the instruments is impossible. But the IE8 is amazing for this type of music. The large soundstage creates such a feeling of space between the musicians, that you can really hear and place each instrument clearly. With so much going on in the music, it’s a tough thing to do, but the IE8 does it effortlessly. I prefer a large soundstage for this type of music; it’s more involving and enjoyable, especially for ‘live’ music.

Nils Lofgren: “Acoustic Live” (another very good recording).

I was lucky enough to see this tour in 2007, and while it was a wonderful concert – the acoustic guitars were piercing at times, and the echo from the hall didn’t help either. Listening to the CD through the IE8 is an out-of-this-world experience. Although they don’t replicate the extreme clarity and precision (brutality?) of the acoustic guitars of the W3, they do add some welcome warmth which makes it less ‘trebly’ and fatiguing to listen to. The IE8 is great for anything remotely too ‘trebly’, since the warmth softens the harshest edges. It may not be accurate, but it does the trick, and that’s all that matters for certain tracks!

The Eagles: ‘Hotel California’ from ‘Hell Freezes Over’

The opening kick drum is very prominent and weighty, and the IE8 presents it with as much impact as I remember hearing it played live when I saw The Eagles on their comeback tour. You can almost feel the bass thumping in your heart, that’s how much power it has. But at no point does it feel too much, it just feels enjoyable and very natural.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: ‘Raising Sand’

The bass in “Killing the Blues” is very heavy and deliberately distorted, and this is exactly how the IE8 presents it – as it is. In fact, I prefer to listen to this on my main speakers, just to get some space between my ears and the bass. That’s positive though, because is tells me that the IE8 portrays the same amount of bass as there was in the original recording, despite the sound signatures between earphones and speakers being very different from each other.

Beethoven: ‘Piano Concertos 1-5’

Very enjoyable, and the large soundstage helps immensely with instrument separation, which is especially important for orchestral works. However, I prefer the cleaner and sharper detail of the Phonak PFE and W3 for individual piano works, as the IE8 adds a certain ‘thickness’ which isn’t apparent with either of the other earphones.

Bass

ie8-close-up

Although Sleek Audio and Phonak Audeo (PFE) can both be ‘tuned’ for different sound signatures (Sleek provides additional bass ports and treble tubes, while Phonak provides grey and black filters to change the sound), the IE8 is the first to feature a bass-adjusting dial on the side of each earpiece. This means non-bassheads (me), and bassheads can be happy with the same pair of earphones.

My preference was for the default setting of minimum, which provided more than enough bass quantity. Dialling it up more than a few notches made quite a difference to bass volume, but on the maximum setting, I wanted to run screaming from the house! Seriously, unless you’re a fan of extremely heavy bass, or your source is weak on bass, you wouldn’t need this setting. Of course, it’s nice to have the option to go to eleven if you want to go ‘one louder’…

I was also able to compare the IE8 bass with the Atrios M5 v2 bass, and was hard pressed to hear which one went lower. Sometimes it felt as if the Atrios reached lower, but that could be because the midrange is more recessed and allows the bass to stand out more. But both of them were able to produce low levels of bass that were inaudible with the Phonak PFE.

Midrange/Treble

Having already read some glowing reviews over at Head-Fi before I bought the IE8, I was especially keen to hear this wonderful midrange for myself. I like forward vocals with a touch of warmth, but not so forward that vocals play in my head (hello UM2 and Shure E4), and not too distant (hello Atrio M5 v2), so I was pleased to note that the IE8’s didn’t disappoint at all in this area. Both male and female vocals sound wonderful; smooth, rich, and more forward and open than the Triple.fi 10 Pro, with plenty of detail, although crystal-clear detail is masked slightly by the midrange warmth. If you want the utmost precision and clarity for vocals, then these might not be the best choice. But if you like vocals with warmth and body, you’d be hard pressed to find something that portrays them as beautifully as the IE8.

In fact, I wasn’t actually able to find any vocals that didn’t sound good with the IE8. Vocalists like Robert Plant and David Bowie often sound suspiciously ssssssssibilant on my other earphones, but the IE8 softens the edges and smoothes out any harshness. This is a nice bonus if you have any similar sibilant-prone vocalists in your library!

As far as treble is concerned, I don’t have any complaints about the amount of detail, only about the lack of ‘twinkle’. Although it’s very smooth and non-fatiguing, I still prefer the added sparkle of the TF10 and Westone 3. Cymbal crashes and piano notes tend to have a slight cloud with the IE8, but I’m really nitpicking here, because the overall enjoyment factor is huge – and I’ve yet to find a pair of earphones that does everything 100% perfectly.

Out and About with the IE8

Since the IE8 doesn’t sit deep in the ear like a true IEM, background noise does filter through, but it’s tolerable if you have a good seal. Engine noise on the tube is something I’ve never been able to eliminate, but a 20% increase in volume helps reduce it to an acceptably low rumble.

As for microphonics, they’re non-existent for me whether I wear them straight down at the front, or with the cable running down my back. I don’t know if the cable thickness is responsible for the lack of noise, but it works and that’s the main thing.

Final thoughts

The IE8 is a fantastic set of earphones if you like your sound warm, upfront and bassy. If you like your sound more neutral, but still full and rich, then the IE7 is a great alternative. It shares certain similarities with the IE8, big soundstage and huge bass presence for example, but is less upfront than the IE8 and more ‘polite’.

By the way, both of these earphones (being dynamic drivers), require a burn-in period before they sound their best. How much burn-in depends on you, the listener. But Head-Fi’ers opinions vary wildly from: “great right out of the box”, to “great after 300 hours of burn-in. Be your own judge and decide for yourself. I liked mine straight out of the box, and after about 20 hours I didn’t notice any further improvements. They sounded great with no EQ straight out of the Touch 2G.

I paid £179 for them from Amazon.co.uk and they were well worth the price. However, the US cost is much higher, and I’m not sure I’d have paid the MRSP of $449 (£300) for them when the Westone 3 was also available for the same price. But for under £200, they’re worth every penny.

Final rating is a 5-star TMA ‘Kiss It’  (and kiss it again)

Sennheiser IE 8 Premium Audiophile Noise Isolating Headphone

kiss

App Summary
Title: Sennheiser IE8 Developer: Sennheiser
Price: MMSRP: $449 USD    
  • Powerful bass with rich midrange and smooth detailed treble
  • Unique bass-adjusting dial
  • Huge and immersive soundstage
  • Top quality detachable cable
  • Unique foam tips, no need to compress
  • Very comfortable to wear
  • Impractical carry case
  • Foam tips not currently for sale
  • Isolation not as good as traditional IEMs
  • Warmth tends to mask treble sparkle
  • No airline adapter
  • More expensive for those outside Europe

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