Last week we were shown Sennheiser's latest earphones, the IE 6, IE 7 and the flagship IE 8. Questionable Microsoft-esque naming conventions aside (seriously, what is with product names at the moment?), these are single-driver, dynamic earphones we're surprised Sennheiser hasn't brought to market sooner.
Each model has been tuned with an emphasis on powerful bass, as is the Sennheiser way. But the flagship IE 8s offer something unique: they come with a tiny screwdriver so you can physically alter the shape of the diaphragm inside the earphone in order to tune bass more to your liking.
That's something we admitted to Sennheiser we'd have to test (the environment we played with these in wasn't exactly quiet), but our first impressions with some Ingrid Michaelson and a touch of Decapitated, was that they offer a warm voice, heavy on the bass -- without appearing too boomy, mind -- and a subtle, less-than-sparkling treble.
The IE 6s, IE 7s and IE 8s all feature comfortable over-the-ear securing and sound-isolating enclosure designs that reminded us enormously of the Klipsch Custom series. Comfort wasn't initially that inspiring, but neither was the Custom series until we experimented with fit -- something we didn't have time to do with Sennheiser on our visit.
Now the good stuff: specifications vary only slightly between models. Each version begins responding at the 10Hz level with a sensitivity of 115dB/mW, rising up to 18kHz in the IE 6s, 19kHz and 120dB/mW in the IE 7s and 20kHz and 125dB/mW in the IE 8s. All offer a low impedance of 16Ohms, which is extremely suitable for all portable music players.
These will be interesting earphones to follow, and we'll be getting all three models in for review very soon. Expect prices of £120 for the IE 6, £170 for the IE 7 and £250 for the top-end IE 8. That £250 price point puts these single-driver 'phones smack bang up against the triple-driver Shure SE530s and the dual-armature Audio Technica ATH-CK10s. Bring on the side-by-side comparison article!
All models are now on sale in the UK. Some bonus photos are over the next couple of pages. -Nate Lanxon
A close-up of the enclosure of the flagship IE 8.
A close-up of the enclosure of the IE 7.
A close-up of the enclosure of the IE 6.