The IE8 is a fairly recent model from the biggest name in hi-fi headphones and marks the top of the company's in-ear range.

It uses a single drive unit on each side, the design apparently benefitting from Sennheiser's experience with in-ear monitoring for musicians on stage. Isolation from outside sound is high (though not quite on a par with Etymotic) and a vast range of earpieces is supplied to ensure compatibility with any size or shape of ear.

Accessories aplenty

Indeed, this model comes with an impressive array of accessories and tools, including some very natty over-ear supports which we particularly liked. In-ear transducers like these rely critically on fit and anything that helps stop them becoming dislodged is good news.

Sennheiser claims that the cables are particularly resistant to transmitting mechanical noise to the ears, a claim we found justified. A small screwdriver adjustment on each unit allows tweaking of bass level.

We found a bass setting just slightly above minimum suited our tastes, but whatever one ends up with on that score will have little effect on the overall impression of this model, which is extremely positive. Midrange and treble tonality seems to us the best we've yet encountered from any in-ear transducer, similar indeed to very fine over-ear headphones.

That, of course, helps the IE8 make a good initial impression, but the long-term experience is just as good, thanks to excellent detail and imaging – again, perhaps, the best we've heard from such a device.

In this case, the detail is unfussy and presented without forcing itself on the listener. One can choose whether to listen specifically to it, or simply to enjoy the mellifluous and musical performance.