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Sennheiser’s new IE 800 S earbuds up the ante (and the price)

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Tiny package, hefty price

Sennheiser IE 800 S earbuds Image: Sennheiser

Sennheiser is updating its audiophile IE 800 earbuds, debuting a new model called the IE 800 S. This next generation of the IE 800 not only has improved acoustics, but has been given a face-lift to the design, as well. This follows Sennheiser’s recent announcement of the over-ear HD 660 S, which succeed the HD 650.

The IE 800 S earbuds have a tweaked version of the company’s Extra Wide Band (XWB) driver, which promises to up the ante when it comes to distortion-free listening. There’s also in-house designed 7mm transducers, which are actually a tad smaller than what most other companies offer in earbuds. But when it comes to speakers, bigger does not always mean better. The quality of the build ultimately wins, and Sennheiser has a sterling reputation in this arena. Sennheiser says the earbuds’ transducers will deliver “detailed, lifelike sound image” with crisp trebles and an improved low end.

This new model also sports the company’s dual-chamber absorber (D2CA) system, which is designed to neutralize what’s called the “masking effect” — an audio phenomenon where a listener can’t hear high-frequency sounds at a low volume if there are concurrent sounds happening in a lower-frequency range. This absorber removes energy from masking sounds.

The package comes with Comply memory foam ear tips and a wider choice of cables (including 4.4mm Pentaconn and 2.5mm balanced connectors). There were a couple gripes with the previous IE 800 model in terms of cabling. Not only were they not detachable at the earphone itself (something that’s pretty standard with other high-end IEMs), but the top portion of the cable was truncated, meaning it didn’t rest comfortably. It’s hard to tell from Sennheiser’s photos if any of this was changed, though it looks like detachable at the earbud is still a no-go. It did change the cosmetic housing a bit, including a switch to a matte black finish. Sennheiser’s IE 800 S will be available starting this October for $999.95.