My daily driver
Product: Sennheiser IE 80 In-Ear Monitors
I purchased this in March 2017. For a very long period of time before that, I’ve gone through multiple pairs of earbuds and IEMs including Apple Earpods, Sennheiser MX365, MM30g, and Symphonized NRG 3.0 but ultimately feeling unsatisfied with them either due to the sound or comfort. I intended to have this purchase to end my search for good daily driver in-ears. After some research on several different pieces within the desired price range, my eyes were caught by LinusTechTips’ video on the Sennheiser IE 80. Then after some further research on the IE80 on multiple forums browsing reviews both good and bad, I decided to make the purchase. Now after almost two years, I will say that it certainly accomplishes its job as my daily driver. I have been using it every day, even right now when I’m writing this review, carrying it with me to places around the globe. Here is the review of my most trusted earphones, IE 80.
Let’s first start with accessories. The box came with ten pairs of ear tips, a carrying case, a pair of ear hooks, a cleaning tool, and a cable clip. The multiple pairs of ear tips are good additions, though I cannot use the majority of them due to my small ear canal size. The case is very useful to carry the earphones with an extra pair of tips and the cleaning tool, and I have been using it for traveling, though I usually just put the earphones in my pocket and use the case to contain other stuff. The cable clip is probably the most used accessory, reducing cable noises when walking by clipping it on the shirt. Sadly my clip broke after a year of use.
For the earphones itself, it has a brushed-metal finish body with the around-the-ear, detachable cable. Some reviews said that it looks bulky, but I personally believe it has a modern look to it. The around-the-ear way of wearing further reduces microphonic noise. It also allows the earphones to sit nicely around the ears when taking a break. The detachable cable is a very nice feature, allowing me to replace the cable rather than the whole earphones when the cable has malfunctioned. One special feature of the IE 80 is that it has a dial on the side, which can be used to adjust the bass frequency. I personally have it dialed to the lowest setting as I think it is enough.
The first song I listened to after I got it is at’aek ON taitn by Hiroyuki Sawano. The performance has blown me away. The wide soundstage, the amount of details I can pick up, the strong yet clear bass all surprised me. It is undoubtedly the best experience I had with earphones. IE 80 has a relatively warm and dark sound signature. Combines with the wide soundstage, it works amazingly with instrumental music, especially orchestras.
Can it compare to over-ear headphones within a similar price range? Probably no. I do think my HD 58x and HE 400i are better sounding than this. However, it sure is the best sounding in-ears I have listened to. I’ve tried many other IEMs within the price range like the Shure SE 215, 535, ATH LS200iS, RHA MA750, and I do not think the IE 80 performs worse than any of them.
A Good Daily Driver?
Besides the sound, I think a great daily driver also needs to have good comfort, durability, and portability. Is it comfortable? Yes. I have no problem having long listening sections for multiple consecutive hours. It has solid noise reduction, great for using on car rides and flights. I still think the MM30g is the most comfortable earphones I own, but IE 80 is a close second. Is it durable? Yes. My default method of carrying it is to just fold them three times and keep them in my jeans pocket. I have paid no attention to special cares, but it is still in good condition. The original cable has stopped working, but I easily replaced it with a new one. Is it portable? Yes. As I have said before, I have been carrying it in my pocket to almost every place. Sure having a cable may be outdated and inconvenient, and wireless earbuds are most people’s preferred choice, but I have experienced no issues using them, either sitting or running around.
So, is it worth it? I think so. In the past two years, I never once not enjoyed using it. It never failed to deliver what I expected from it. I love using them for studying, traveling, or just listening and enjoying music. I have kept a list of IEMs for potential upgrades. But… I don’t think I will need this list in the near future. The IE 80 is not perfect, but it’s all I need for a daily driver.