Pros: bass, sound quality, accessories,priced right though expensive
Sennheiser HD 8 DJ Review
I am NOT a DJ so I dont fully understand this product in the light of its intended application SO I am hesitant to call this a review because I am not a DJ. I am an individual who listens mainly to every music genre that the modern DJ is known to produce/mix etc including but not limited to EDM, Hip Hop, R&B,glitch hop, Dub-Step, Reggae, Electronic Music and similar. For those who are curious about buying this product for portable or home listening then maybe this will provide some useful insight.
The HD 8 is a headphone that was tuned specifically for being able to listen at loud volumes without being piercingly bright but capable of providing sufficient bass and attack for the beat matching needs of the modern DJ. If you are browsing the internet and looking through various DJ websites for headphone recommendations it wont take long for you to notice the specific needs of Dj's and the conditions their headphones should be able to weather. They are not going to take these pretty little things and place them on a lacquered up headphone stand like the one in my pics. They may or may not be treated like they are are expensive but that money had better have been put into sound quality, DURABILITY, and functionality. I can without hesitation say that from an outsiders view that Sennheiser delivers on those three fronts and that this product was very well thought out. For the audiophile looking for balance, or the music enthusiast looking for enhanced details , spritely life like vocals that give you goose bumps then I would say.... Nah, this isn't really for you.
Personally speaking, it's hard for me not to want it all. So lets get into specifics to see what all of it is and isnt. Or better yet from a personal and subjective point of view, where I am and am not impressed.
Straight up from JUMP Sennheiser does it again. The only other packaging I can think of that can match it is VMODA. I received the Pandora HOPE VI and it has this cool hexigon box with fur on the inside but IMO it still doesn't touch the practicality of the HD 8 DJ box and carrying case. I can actually use it and it it feels more sturdy than the Focal Spirit Pro box. It has the sweet bright blue trim inside of the box with blue ribbon to keep the lid from opening all of the way. I will just leave it at that for packaging because honestly I am not really good at describing it. I will just say that of all of the headphone packaging that I have had to get through to get to the headphones, this is my favorite.
Included with the HD 8 DJ is everything that you can ask for. It comes with:
- An extra pair of velour ear pads
- Two cables coiled and straight
- A box that can be reused
- A carrying case
- Ofcourse the headphones
-1/4 inch adapter(with pretty blue rings!!)
So how do these headphones feel? Do they feel like 389 dollars? In short, yes. I cant find really any cheapy plastic parts on them. The headphones are metal crafted and feel reinforced/supported by metal on every part. The headband is a thick rubber. The swivel joints, which turn 210 degrees, are metal as well with what looks like a sterling silver ring(I'll let someone else figure it out). I also cant think of another headphone besides VModa that feels as sturdy. Now, I also wouldn't stomp them and throw them on the ground like the German Maestros that I used to have but they do feel like they can take a beating more than any other headphone that I have had besides them. They are slightly heavy and chunky but, fold very easily. The ergonomics are outstanding! I often have grabbed a pair of headphones and immediately ideas come up on how I would have done it a lot different. These are the opposite; they may me wonder how they designed them and drew the sketches of them. I don't feel like me folding them and unfolding them is going to damage the set. They were extremely thoughtful in the development of the build. The owner should have little worries here.
I have done enough praising of the amazing job that Sennheiser has done in designing the headphones. If I could have somehow thrown my two cents into the design of these headphones I would have asked for a couple of things to be a lil' different. Namely I would have suggested the cord not to be proprietary, or only for the hd 8 dj, so that I could swap cables. The cable has a twist lock connection into the headphones. Though the connection can be plugged into either cup I don't imagine that someone will be able to try or upgrade cables with this design. I also would have been like"YO shorten the cord a little bit, or a lot bit, and hook it up with some volume controls". I have to use the straight cord and tape or tie a bundle of wire that would only look decent close to end of the jack. They probably would have told me to buy a momentum or they wanted this to be officially for DJ's alone so I need not apply. Any way, those are basically my only gripes with the design.
I will mention here that I have read a couple of people complaining about creaking. I have yet to hear one creak at all but that is not to say their complaints aren't valid.
I will admit that I am not picky here and only have had two headphones I couldn't live with. My ears snuggle up inside tightly, but way more easily than with the Momentum and Focal Spirit Pro. It's actually a great fit and the closest thing to my ideal fit of the Sony 7520. The velour pads are basically an upgrade that comes in the box. So Sennheiser IMO shipped these with an upgrade. The velours feel better, sound better(could be just me) and isolate just as well. It takes some getting used to putting them on the right way but its no problem. When I turn the one cup up to hear my surroundings it feels just right and I can move around without feeling like they are going to fall off. I actually can wear it with both cups turned off the ears and they stay on while moving about.
Decent sized gripe:
I didn't know where to put this gripe at. One thing for sure is that Sennheiser may have some confusion about what to call their headphones. Lets do the math:
- the box says elliptical circumaural
- the site says HD 8 DJ on ear(atleast at the time of this review) hence the reason I listed them that way
- they definitely will fit over most ears
- they list the Momentum as over ear which have a smaller opening than these.
Well I dont know what is going on there. To me these are OVER EAR.
Another home run. Let me put it like this:
German Maestro GMP8.35d>Sennheiser HD 8DJ>>>>.....then a moderate gap in between >Focal Spirit Pro>>then a less decent gap>>>all the rest I have heard. That is for isolation and leakage. I am satisfied there to say the least.
dun dun dun....
I dont mind telling you ahead of time if I was impressed or not. Just be sure to do yourself a favor and not magnify my complaints or praises into deal breakers or trigger pullers. There is no perfect headphone and I have learned that some wow you right away and others grow on you. This definitely belongs to the latter. I was initially unimpressed from jump. I will say that the sound quality has a ton of really great things about it but to be blunt is not balanced anywhere and wasn't meant to be. What I thought I was listening to out of the box was a lot different than I expected. People posted graphs of them and impressions etc. but I was so zealous for these that I ignored them. No one could tell me not to get them because I was thrilled at the thought of having these. I placed all my eggs in one basket so hopefully this will spare you from doing the same thing. The preface of this impression in the beginning of this thread, should be a good reminder of its intended design.
I read or heard(can't recall) that Sennheiser tuned these to have deep and strong bass, full mids and smooth treble. So lemme break it down:
The bass is very tasteful yet alpha male-type dominant in the mix. It sounds like how I used boost my bass with hardware eq settings on a fiio x3, e11, or any EQ software that I have when I am not really caring about whats going on in the music. Of course software EQ can make anything distort but if you are planning on trying to test this thing to see how loud you can turn it before the bass distorts then retire from your ventures and save your ears, straight up. The housing of this headphone does not give way to much rumble or vibration. Sometimes I really enjoy rumble and to be honest I love impact. These do fairly okay in impact but the volume of bass is definitely boosted. This is not one of those headphones that shows you it has bass and then backs off when its time to. It does impart its dominance into every track. It doesn't do it with rumble or distorting everything with vibration etc, it doest it with its balance. The bass anchors the music in a way that makes the rest of the FR feel tethered to it unwillingly. I also don't think it's the tightest bass even though it's not sloppy. The bass is very unique in experience to me. On bass heavy songs like Flying lotus Zodiac sh*#(i hate that title) it is very satisfying and I allllmost feel the impact I desire. This IS basshead certified. I would argue someone 'till I am blue in the face that said otherwise. The bass resolution down there is decent. Its not like the focal pro or not even close to the 7520. Its kind of like the yamaha mt220 in sub sonic resolution which is not bad at all.
Now this is the part that was most challenging to me. The mids are there. I can't quite say they are recessed even though they tuck behind the bass. They have a dip in the lower mids but its not as audible as I thought I first heard. I would like to express my reasons for tying them together with the treble. When I have eq'd vocals after recording or watched the guy at the studio do it I learned that putting too much bass in the vocals makes them sound muted or weird and too much of a boost at the wrong part of the lower treble can make it sound nasally. Well the dip in the treble around 4khz or something along with the boost in the bass takes the life out of what could be a spectacular vocal presentation. Male vocals are effected by the dip in the treble severely. While the mids have a round and smooth sound to them, they don't have that realistic breathe in the projection during the vocalists run. "Veiled" would surely apply here. The treble doesn't sound ill extended as much as it is too subdued. Sennheiser is known for treble roll off. Them aiming at making the treble smooth for high volume listening for DJ's makes a lot of sense but they also may have not taken it into account that they default to smooth treble anyway and this may have been over kill.
The instruments have a really good timbre in general. They don't sound fake or plasticky but wholesome and sweet. Despite the fact that they miss some bite to them, the instruments in the mids don't sound distant or flat. These headphones demand that you take them and crank them up. When you do they keep their cool and truck right through the song without making you squint once. I can enjoy the treble parts of the song and can still tell when a song is mixed with too much treble but I would imagine that a little sparkle would help beat matching as well because high hats, cymbals and snares are all valuable to rhythm keeping. I will say that I prefer the balance of the Pioneer HDJ 2000 minus the bass roll of. Both have a dark signature that is enjoyable but the Pioneer doesn't have the same treble dip at the same spot. On the other hand the sound quality of the HD 8 dj technically whoops the hdj2000.
The details in the HD 8 DJ don't pop at you but nothing is missing. There obviously is a difference between a headphone that adds treble to boost detail perception and one that lets you hear low level noises without blending the instruments together. This headphone belongs to the latter. Though they are very smooth and rounded, they still provide adequate details. The background is blacker than the momentum or Yamaha hph mt220 but nothing really to boast about. The HD 8 DJ is also not grainy at all. There is nothing fizzy or fuzzy about the sound. If it lacks details compared to anything it would only be because its more blurred than blotchy. Kind of like out of focus vs big pixels, or smooth over instead of messy. I honestly find it pretty good with details and enough so that I wouldn't argue with anyone that said it was a detailed headphone.
I will admit that the lack of air and bass dominance persuaded me that it was closed in sounding. Closed in and closed(vs open) are two different things. The positioning of the instruments, width and depth are satisfactory for this kind of headphone and after listening more made me regret complaining about the soundstage. They sound fine to me there. The 7520 for example is very narrow IMO and can be a bit overwhelming with too much going on despite its resolution. I don't get that feeling here. Its just that the veil and lack of air gives it a thick sound. The Spirit Pro has a thick sound in the mids that I really enjoy and isn't really airy but its soundstage is actually pretty good. This headphone is a bit smaller in soundstage but nothing to complain about. Because it has decent separation it can handle busy songs VERY WELL. I cant think of too many other headphones in its price that I have listened to that handle floods of instruments as well without overwhelming you. Yet another reason to crank it up.
Veiled but not congested.
I wish I could write a full review as a DJ that took these to a club and tried to beat match vs some other well know headphones. Then I would feel like I would be doing them justice. They do sooooo many things really well but the balance isn't what I am used to after coming from the Yamaha, Pro, Q40, MD 3.2, Pandora VI, ZMF and others that have been here lately. Coming from the midrange and vocal presentation of those may leave you a bit underwhelmed in a way that can make you over look some of the other amazing qualities and package of this headphone. I think that the plan was well executed by Sennheiser apart from the treble dip. I would like to say that it is more of the dip in a part of the treble than a complete treble roll off that is bothersome. Later I hope to post some of my eq settings from Audioforge that I found to help problem a little bit. If you take the isolation, sound quality with some EQ, comfort, build and ergonomics into consideration then it would be extremely hard to find a better BASSHEAD portable headphone. Its not a genre master but those that listen to what most modern DJ's play then this headphone does very well. I was initially very upset with the vocal presentation and the way the bass dominates a bit too much in the balance. I also would like a little more impact and rumble but I can be happy with this headphone with some eq when I want to listen to vocals.