Summary – Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones
When we first reviewed the Sennheiser HD 800s we were extremely impressed by the sound performance and the level of clarity the HD 800s can take your music up to. The HD 800 uses a patented ring radiator transducer to deliver exceptional sound performance together with 56mm drivers – which are by far one of the largest used for headphones. It also comes with its own dedicated 40mm aluminium voice coil with a 42mm magnet structure for crisp highs and excellent vocals. The transducers have two contact points at the inside and the outside of the ring for better sound control. The HD 800s are open back headphones which help to deliver a level of spaciousness and clarity with full details and dynamic sound reproduction. The transducers are also angled forward to deliver a wide and open spatial presentation which allows you to feel as though you are sitting in a live studio or concert hall enjoying the full orchestra or concert in real life. These headphones are manufactured in Germany with quality components and feel very luxurious. Overall, the Sennheiser HD 800s are really top-tier headphones built for audiophiles that want an emphasis on sound clarity and texture in their music.
The Pros & Cons
The Pros. The Sennheiser HD 800s are some of the best sounding headphones we have ever tested (when coupled with a good headphone amplifier), with depth, tonal clarity and impactful bass. The level of detail that you get with these headphones is on another level. These are headphones that laser focus on delivering pure fidelity and sound clarity.
The Cons. The Sennheiser HD 800s are relatively expensive headphones and are suited for discerning audiophiles who want to take their listening experience to the next level. Because of the open-back design of the HD 800s, the bass response may not be as “tight” for bass heads.
The sound signature of the HD 800s gravitates towards the more studio line of headphones with an emphasis on clarity, depth and spatial separation. That being said, it does produce a good deal of bass and lower-midrange frequencies which help to enhance the overall listening experience particularly for bass-heavy music genres. While listening to instrumental and orchestra music through the HD 800s, we were stunned by the level of clarity and depth these headphones had – they could easily pick up instrumental notes in songs that you may never have heard before. The music produced by these headphones have a level of detailed separation and spatial imaging that sounds pretty much real life – you can hear where each sound in the music is reproduced and where exactly the vocals are coming from. In short, you can actually picture yourself in a real life concert hall and hear the sound as though you were sitting there in real life. The bass performance on the HD 800s is relatively good although do expect some level of diffusion due to the open-back design of the HD 800s – they still have pretty good low to midrange frequency response. The midrange tones feel open and spacious, the highs are pristine and clear and the bass is impactful but not overwhelming. In terms of sound performance, we would say that the HD 800s definitely leans more towards the midrange and highs with studio-like clarity.
Design & Construction
The HD 800s are very sensitive to the audio source – so be sure to feed a good quality audio file such as compressed FLAC formats for the best sound quality. They will also require a good headphone amplifier to drive them considering that these headphones have a much higher impedance. Ergonomically, these headphones are designed like a tank and can actually feel slightly oversized, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the kind of setup you are looking for. These are definitely not the portable type of headphones that you can carry around. The HD 800s have an ergonomically structured ear cup frame crafted of Leona which is an ultra-lightweight non-resonant material with great strength. It also has stainless steel mesh which protects the transducers. The HD 800 has a damped headband which is sandwiched between several layers of resonance dampening polymers to eliminate unwanted vibrations from being transmitted to the headphone mountings. It also comes with luxurious ear cushions which are made from microfiber ear padding to provide a comfortable listening experience. The HD 800s also come with insulated cables which are impedance matched with a low capacitance feature to shield against any frequency disturbance caused by ambient noises. In terms of design and construction, you are really getting top of the line features with the HD 800 and quality German engineering.
The Sennheiser HD 800s are no doubt some of the best headphones on the market with huge 56mm drivers that delivers exceptional music quality. We would say that the HD 800s are best suited for audiophiles looking for depth and sound clarity – the spatial imaging and separation that you get with the HD 800s are simply on another level. The highs and midranges are fully reproduced without any distortion at maximum volume levels and you get really clean and distortion-free sound. The soundstage feels extremely realistic as though you are transported into a live concert hall. The headphones are open-back headphones and do suffer from some of the downsides of an open-back design such as less bass response, although they do arguably well on the lower-midrange frequencies. The HD 800s definitely require a good headphone amplifier to drive them, as well as good quality audio source to really allow these headphones to shine and pick up the subtle details in the music which you might not have noticed before. Overall, the HD 800s are built for audiophiles who want to take their music listening experience to the next level and want to hear every single minute detail in their soundtracks with pristine accuracy.
If you are looking for audiophile headphones for high-end listening, be sure to check out our top picks for the best sounding headphones here.