Sennheiser’s famous IE 80S has just gone wireless. But at a cool 500 bucks, it’s quite an investment considering that it’s a Bluetooth earphone. What makes this model so pricey? And does it retain all the same sound qualities as the wired version? Let’s take a closer look in this Sennheiser IE 80S BT Wireless Review.
Reviewing Sennheiser IE 80S BT Wireless
IN the BOX
I’m not usually a fan of neckbands, but considering how light this model is, I didn’t even notice it against my skin, even after hours of wear. And this type of design is a great option for folks who generally have trouble keeping their in-ear headphones in place. Not only do the small earbuds provide a snug fit, but the ear hooks and neckband offer added stability without feeling obtrusive. You’ll also get a variety of eartips to optimize the fit, including double flange and the squishy and moldable Comply tips, which are great for isolating sound.
Controls and Functionality
The only thing that initially bothered me about the design was the buttons on the neckband. Once the IE 80S BT is around your neck, you can’t see the controls. So, you have to get acquainted with the placement of the buttons to know what you’re pressing. However, after a few tries, I got a feel for how they were situated, and navigating the controls became easier.
The IE 80S BT will offer the standard functionality, including play/pause, volume control, track skipping, call answering/ending and voice assistant activation.
The great thing about these buds is that, like the wired IE 80S, the cable is detachable. This means that, essentially, you’re getting the original IE 80S with a wireless cable. So, if you want to go for a higher resolution sound, all you have to do is buy a separate cable designed for the original IE 80 S. And this is the factor that explains the price tag.
You’ll only get about 6 hours of playtime from these buds. And there are other neckband earphones (like the Klipsch Reference) which provide longer battery life. But given how light these earbuds are, it’s a fair compromise.
Sennheiser has employed a micro-USB connection for charging.
The IE 80S BT supports high resolution Bluetooth codecs, including aptX HD, AAC, LHDC and aptX Low Latency. Low latency is important if you’re using the earbuds to watch video. It means that there won’t be any lag, and the sound will stay in sync with the picture.
Call clarity is excellent on these earbuds. And it beats the Momentum True Wireless in this respect. Not only does the caller’s voice sound clean, but the microphone is also very sensitive without picking up too much ambient noise.
Forward leaning with tons of meat on the bone, those with a taste for bass will certainly gravitate towards this low-end. This range lends plenty of warmth to rock tracks and gives ample punch to energetic pop tracks. Fans of hip-hop will also find that there’s enough sub frequency response to make their bellies jiggle. In terms of transparency, you’ll notice more smoothness than detail when listening to string instruments in the lows. But the cohesiveness of the sound gives classical pieces a graceful fluidity that’s oh so pleasing to the ears.
As Sennheiser fans may know, the mids on the IE 80S aren’t as forward as they are on the IE 800 or the Momentum, for example. And the bass frequencies on the IE 80S BT tend to overshadow the low mids at times. So, on certain tracks, the mix feels a little hollowed out in the middle. In fact, the balance is the only factor that stops me from being a hardcore IE 80S fan. But it's a matter of taste. And actually, this kind of dynamic feel is ideal for pop. Still, because there’s so much flesh in the bass frequencies, you’ll get a decent amount of body in rock and pop rock tracks. And the snare sits forward in the mix, offering plenty of impact and energy to rock tunes where the snare drives the song.
The level of separation and detail is also solid for a wireless pair of buds. Fans of folk and acoustic rock will enjoy the clean definition of guitar picks and strums. At the same time, there’s a gentleness or tenderness in the way the the IE 80S BT handles acoustic instruments. (Sennheiser fans will certainly recognize this characteristic). And the impressive level of articulation makes these instruments feel absolute in their presentation.
Even in the high frequencies, the IE80S BT presents a very lush character. Female vocals, for example, have a weighty, velvety feel. But because the sound is so transparent, the breathiness and nuance in the vocal performance remains. At the same time, there’s some extension in this range. So, listening to pop, percussion sounds crisp, snappy and vibrant.
You can expect a generally spacious sound. Live recordings have a stadium-like feel. And you’ll get a nice sense of dimension as well. Instruments placed along the vertical axis show plenty of height, and small gradations in depth were audible as well. That being said, instruments placed at a distance didn’t have a tremendous amount of richness or definition. But all in all, it’s a pretty multidimensional sound for an in-ear wireless headphone.
Yes, these earbuds certainly have the IE 80S sound signature. If you’re a fan of Sennheiser, you can expect the deep, warm and lush flavor that the brand’s IEMs are famous for. They may not be as detailed as the original version. But given that the cable is detachable, you still have the option of upgrading the sound fidelity through a wired connection. So, it’s almost like getting two sets of earphones for the price of one. And considering the excellent call clarity and light weight design, the IE 80S BT is a great option for commuters who expect high performance sound on the go.
You can find these earbuds here: