Pros: Detailed, balanced, powerful
Cons: Somewhat heavy, warm, expensive
I haven't had the chance to audition the new Audeze phones, but it would difficult to fault the sound and build quality of Senn's HD800 - a model that has been praised by some as the best dynamic headphone, ever. Given its reputation as top of Sennheiser line, and considering its price, it's a good idea to elevate expectations. This is a fine headphone - but there's a lot to expect. However, instead of regurgitating a fine review like Skylab - whose systematic evaluation covers the important points - it may be just as important to provide a more personal review of these phones.
What I Didn't Like
1. Weight. While I've owned heavier headphones (including all-wood designs), the HD800 is modestly heavy. Some of the wood/leather models compensate with a luxurious look and feel; that said, one can easily imagine wearing the HD800 for extended periods of time. Compared to the lightness of, say, an AKG-K701, which can be used alternately as ear-muffs, the HD800's heft leaves one feeling comfortable but truly comfortable.
2. Comfort. There's no question, Sennheiser has done an impressive job balancing sound and comfort. The padded cups don't exert too much pressure - but don't expect the feather lightness of a DT880 or AKG-K701. Your ears might feel a little hot after an extended listening session.
3. Cost. I don't intend to harp over the "value" issue; if you're paying a grand and a half for headphones, value probably isn't a paramount issue. That said, I believe you should at least sample the phones before making a decision. You might find that a dramatically cheaper phone would be more to your liking.
What I Liked
1. Detail. These phones emphasize quality bass and detailed mids, giving a convincing sense of accuracy. The more you spend on a pair of headphones, the more subtle the differences in sound; however, with the HD800, one comes away with the feeling that the music takes priority. It's detailed, but truly a generalist's headphone.
2. Brightness. It's easy to fall into the trap that the HD800 is a lighter-sounding headphone - when in fact it's extremely accurate. Don't expect a boomy bass; the HD800 sounds remarkably like well-mastered studio recordings.
3. Build. As you'd expect, the HD-800 has a rock-solid build. To be honest, I'd prefer real metal over faux metal, but in terms of overall quality, these phones are reassuringly strong.
There's probably no such thing as a "perfect" headphone, but the HD800 renders a variety of genres very well, indeed.