Sennheiser HD800s vs HD820

Sennheiser HD800s vs HD820 – Which is the better headphone?

Summary – Sennheiser HD800s vs HD820

The Sennheiser HD 820 and HD800s are both high-end headphones from Sennheiser designed to deliver audiophile sound performance. The main difference between the HD800s and the HD820s is that the HD800s have an open-back design for spacious soundstage, while the HD820s have a closed back design for more bass and a more intimate sound signature.

Let’s talk about the HD 820s – these headphones are designed to provide a vivid and wide transparent sound signature with a wide soundstage, but with slightly more bass. The sound-field of the HD 820 is spacious and wide, allowing you to appreciate finer details for vocal and instrumental music. Despite its closed-back dynamic design, the HD 820 incorporates innovative technology which makes them sound transparent and natural. These headphones are an absolute joy to listen to with their level of detail and soundstage, but be sure to pair them with a portable headphone amp for better sound reproduction.

By contrast, the HD 800s have a more spacious and open sound signature. You can tell straight off the bat that these headphones are designed for instrumental, orchestra and vocal performances where you can appreciate every note and instrument. The HD 800s are great for subtleties and nuances that can be picked up only by high-sensitivity drivers with fast frequency response.

Either way, be sure to pair both these headphones to a powerful portable headphone amp for you to get the best sound performance and quality out of these headphones.

Be sure to also read our article on the best headphones for bass that can emphasize the lower-frequency ranges accurately with their closed-back design.

Sound Performance

The sound quality on the Sennheiser HD 820 sounds surprisingly spacious and well-define. Compared to the open-back Sennheiser HD 800 headphones, the HD 820s have more bass and deliver a much more solid backend sound. The mid-ranges are well-defined and crisp, and vocals are impeccably reproduced with gusto and nuance. These are high-fidelity headphones that can really bring out the best (and the worst) in your audio source recording, and are great for vinyl listening if connected to your turntable.

We really enjoyed every single aspect of the HD 820s. Apart from their crystal clear sound, the soundstage in the HD 820 is wide open and spacious which is a pretty rare thing for closed circumaural headphones. The Sennheiser HD 820 allows you to explore and re-discover nuances and details in the music which you may not have heard in your audio recordings. They provide superb reference-class audio quality – the soundstage, detail, timber, extensions and separation are on a level that we have never experienced with any other headphones.

If you prefer more bass and sound impact, the HD 820s have definitely much more to offer than the HD 800s, and they sound spacious and wide even with a closed-back design.

Comfort & Design

Sennheiser HD 800
A closer look at the Sennheiser HD 800

Both the Sennheiser HD800s and the HD 820 headphones are actually pretty comfortable headphones to wear. They come with soft micro-fiber ear pads which are hand-crafted to provide good sound isolation while blocking outside noises from entering. It also uses a robust metal headband which includes an inner damping element for added comfort. They are also equipped with Sennheiser ring radiator transducers which are fitted with glass covers which look really sleek and modern. The concave glass reflects sound waves from the rear of the transducer to reduce standing waves and resonance.

The HD 820s weigh (360g) roughly the same as the HD 800s (330g) without cables attached and the large headband helps to distribute the weight evenly. These headphones have a wide over-ear design, so they don’t cause any pressure or fatigue on the ears for long listening.

Both the HD800s and HD820s are virtually the same in terms of comfort and design –both also need a powerful headphone amp to drive them due to their high impedance.

How does the HD 820s compare with the Sennheiser HD800s?

The main difference is that the HD800s feels like a more technical pair of headphones with a more open sound signature, while the HD820s sound more musical and intimate with more bass. The soundstage on the HD 820s sounds huge but not as vast as the HD800s, but you get much thicker sound and punchy bass with detailed sound. The HD800s, on the other head, feel much thinner and brighter sounding.

The Verdict?

If you are an audiophile looking for a pair of high-fidelity headphones, you can’t go wrong with the Sennheiser HD 820s. These headphones have a closed-back design and feel more bass-heavy with a fun sound signature. Despite their closed-back design, they also feel rather spacious and have detailed sound performance. Although the HD 820s sound not as bright as the Sennheiser HD 800s, they do have a fun sound signature and also provide high-fidelity sound with crystal clear frequencies and midranges.

The HD 800s, by contrast, are for those who want to listen to spacious sound (the kind of sound you’ll hear from a concert hall) with subtle nuances in the music. These headphones are very good at doing what they do best – projecting sound with great soundstage and openness.