Sennheiser launches its first audiophile Bluetooth in-ear headphones
Sennheiser fans can stop holding their breath, because the iconic German brand has finally produced an audiophile-quality set of in-ear, Bluetooth headphones. Based on the successful IE 80S wired model, the new IE 80S BT offers voice assistant control, cool connected features driven by a smartphone app and can even function in wired mode when you're out of charge – or perhaps because you just feel like it.
Introduced this week at the Hong Kong High End Audio Visual Show, Sennheiser has high hopes for the IE 80S BT. These are by no means the first in-ear wireless headphones from the iconic German audio house, but they're certainly the first that the company is prepared to slap the audiophile tag onto. A three-button remote, a range of ear tips, smartphone connectivity and noise-reducing microphones all add to the package.
The specs for the IE 80S BT aren't exactly the same as its wired sibling, the IE 80S – as you'd expect for a Bluetooth version – but they're pretty darn close. Sennheiser has gone to a heck of a lot of effort to ensure that the wireless aspect of this new model doesn't impede the audiophile experience. To this end the engineers have jammed a top-notch AKM DAC and support for hi-res codecs (LHDC, aptX HD, and AAC) into the IE 80S BT as well as 11-mm drivers with powerful neodymium magnets for accurate, clear rendering of your tunes. And, with integrated support for aptX Low Latency (via Bluetooth 5.0) you're assured of spot on audio/video synchronization when watching movies on your mobile devices.
While many audiophiles prefer clean, unadulterated audio, there are times when they like to tweak things a little. With the IE 80S BT, this is made possible via the Smart Control App and its intuitive 5-band equalizer or by employing the supplied Bass Adjustment Tool (pretty much a proprietary screwdriver) to attenuate the bass response on the earphone housing itself. Clever, and refreshingly old-school.
In addition to all the work that's gone into the audio quality of the IE 80S BT, Sennheiser hasn't forgotten that our modern lives require convenience, flexibility and connectivity. So it's thrown in touch-enabled interaction with common voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant, a veritable smorgasbord of ear tips (choose from silicone, lamellar or the much-loved Comply-brand memory foam tips) in three sizes, and six hours of constant playback time. Oh and don't forget, the neckband can be removed and the earphones converted to wired-mode with an optional cable.
"The IE 80S BT earphones have been meticulously crafted to the most demanding standards," says Ronja Harste, Product Manager Audiophile at Sennheiser. "They not only meet Sennheiser's exacting criteria for a high-end audio product and match the exceptional performance of their wired predecessor, but also offer a real wireless option for refined audiophiles who don't wish to compromise on sound quality."
Sennheiser has been a leading brand in the audio field for decades, giving the world the first directional microphone in the 1950s, the first open headphones in the 60s, and has been an early innovator in wireless field, so it's a little surprising that the company has taken so long to release a truly audiophile-quality, in-ear product. Now the IE 80S BT is finally here though, what we really need to know is, how good does it sound? Since it costs US$150 more than its wired sibling, all one can really say at this point is, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
The IE 80S BT will be available from mid-August for $499.
Source: Sennheiser US