Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Sennheiser HD 800: My review
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Sennheiser HD 800: My review

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
First of all, I must thank Jude for offering me the chance to listen to Sennheiser's new HD 800. I'm glad to be one among the very few people who've got to listen to this phone so far. Now, it's time to share my experience with you guys. Here you go...

My current reference headphone is HD 650. After several headphone auditions and comparisons HD 650 stood out at the top of my list and being my favorite can. But it doesn't mean that HD 650 is my 'perfect' can. I do have some complaints about it too. I dislike the clamping force of its headband, overwhelming darkness etc. I don't want to go over in detail as this thread is not meant to discuss about it. Despite those shortcomings, HD 650 occupies a special place in my rig because it's the closest can that's up to my expectation. When Jude gave me the opportunity to test HD 800, I decided make a comparison between HD 650 and HD 800. So I took my Gilmore Lite, Micro DAC and some music files (that listen very often) with me to the meet.

At first sight HD 800 did not make me say WOW!! or anything. At the same time I was not disappointed either. It just doesn't look bad. That's it. After I put it on my head, I felt it was very comfortable. God! you've given me big relief from HD 650/600 clamping force. Pads are softer than previous models. Headband is more stronger than HD 650's. Ear cups look and feel very light. Overall, it's cool and comfortable than HD 650s. Surely I can put it on my head for very long time. I, then calmly listened to some tracks played from my laptop, which is linked to MicroDAC and G-Lite. The vast soundstage of HD 800 is very clearly noticeable. It opens up new space where music can flow freely from everywhere. No darkness, no veil. HD 650 usually gives me a feeling that a virtual vacuum is created around my ears. This vacuum lobe actually puts some pressure on my ears (on my mind too) and cause uneasiness to some extent. I did not find that difficulty in HD 800. My ears are left free, I don't feel it's covered by cups at times. With the advantage of big sound stage and excellent tonal balance, I was very close to getting a feel of live performance.

When I played some Organ pieces, it was evident that HD 650 resonates a little bit. I think Sennheiser already knows about it. HD 800 did not have that problem. Its ear cup and head band didn't take any vibration. They remained unaffected by the vibrant Organ sound. I guess that's why Sennheiser is using a special plastic for the ear cups. I played some violin and piano pieces to check tonal quality. I have no complaints about it, it's exceptional. By all means, HD 800 is a huge improvement from HD 650. The look of HD 800 may not please everyone as it may look like a cheap plastic. But I understand the plastic they chosen has some purpose. After all I don't care very much about the look and color. My priority is sound quality and comfort. My only complaint about HD 800 is the ear cup attachment with the band. It is not as strong as HD 650. Make sure you don't fall asleep with this can on your head. A flip over might break the joint.

After the audition, I left Jude's place with immense satisfaction. I feel very happy that there is a phone out there which performs best of its kind. It beats every phone that I have had tried and owned. But now I'm thinking how I could own them. I should sell all my headphones and amp to meet the price. I don't think I'm ready for that yet. May be if the price is reduced after a year or so I will go for it. For now, I'm just jealously watching people (like elrod_tom, Jude) who are ordering this phone :-(
post #2 of 38
Murugesh, thanks for your impressions. It was nice seeing you again, man.

(I'll post the few mini-Meet photos I took in the impressions thread later; and I'll also post a link there to this thread.)
post #3 of 38
Nice review man! Can't wait for mine.
post #4 of 38
Good review. I'm surprised the impatient hordes are not all over this thread yet, but give them time!
post #5 of 38
Thanks for the build quality info and comparison with HD650. It was a worthwhile read.

I wish I could own it too now, but have to wait. Its not a bad price in its class at all (internal dialogue: what am I saying!? $1400! but the UE11 with refits and shipping... yeah...). It sounds like an absolute steal next to R10, L3000, et. al that it competes with and many well trusted long term headphone enthusiasts have attested that it seems to be winning for their tastes. I need to wait at least two years and see where my money and job security status is at then.

On a bright side, I have high hopes to make all the rig upgrades needed to make them sing.
post #6 of 38
It's always good to hear different impressions like this. Makes it easier to justify the pre-order for something one has never heard.
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by manaox2 View Post
It sounds like an absolute steal next to R10, L3000, et. al that it competes with and many well trusted long term headphone enthusiasts have attested that it seems to be winning for their tastes.
Verdict is still out in this regard. I dont think anyone has directly compared the HD800 to any headphones over $500 so to say its in the class of the L3000, Qualia, R10, Omegas, K1000 etc... is jumping to conclusions. Other than its price, there has yet to be an indication that its in league with the best of the best.

That said, i do hope we can get some impressions from people who DO currently own and regularly use equipment in the $1500-$2500+ range. As understandable as the comparison is to, for example, the HD650 because thats what you use, the HD800 is priced way out of the HD650s league. Its nice to give people an idea of the quality of sound, but one would suspect and hope that it would surpass it anyway at that substantial of a price difference.
post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skin View Post
Verdict is still out in this regard. I dont think anyone has directly compared the HD800 to any headphones over $500 so to say its in the class of the L3000, Qualia, R10, Omegas, K1000 etc... is jumping to conclusions. Other than its price, there has yet to be an indication that its in league with the best of the best.

That said, i do hope we can get some impressions from people who DO currently own and regularly use equipment in the $1500-$2500+ range. As understandable as the comparison is to, for example, the HD650 because thats what you use, the HD800 is priced way out of the HD650s league. Its nice to give people an idea of the quality of sound, but one would suspect and hope that it would surpass it anyway at that substantial of a price difference.
For what little it may be worth to you, I have some experience in audio and headphones of virtually all types. And I do admit that my experience shouldn't necessarily be relevant to you or anyone else.

I don't pay as much attention to price when gauging what to expect, only to say that we reasonably should expect more when we pay more. The HD600 and HD650 scale very well. Very well. (In my opinion, of course.) Put world class gear in front of those headphones, and many would agree that they'll give you world class sound. (It's not unusual to see these headphones plugged into some very expensive amps 'round here, by people who aren't making that headphone choice based on budget, but on performance.) Last year I sold my Grado HP-1. What I sold it for (and what it would cost to buy one) far exceeds the price for the HD 650, but I prefer the HD650 (otherwise I wouldn't have sold the HP-1). Price isn't my main measure. I've heard the L3000 and didn't like it. I've heard the Qualia 010 (and had it here for three months) and didn't like it. Etc. When it comes to headphones, price doesn't tell me much, even though it'd be nice if it was true for all people that we could know for certain that we'd all agree that a headphone that is priced at X*2 will always sound better one priced at X, but that's just not a truth, and I don't think will ever be.

The verdict is still out. But a handful of very experienced ears have listened to the HD800 (and I will include myself in saying that). It's a special headphone, in my opinion. Really special.
post #9 of 38
Well said, Jude! I fully agree.

As in your case, my choice of dynamic headphones isn't made on the basis of price at all. It's solely based on sonic preference. I've auditioned many of the «top tier» headphones, but even their price didn't particularly impress me.
.
post #10 of 38
Almost forgot: Thanks for the insightful review, Murugesh!
.
post #11 of 38
I agree with Jude as well but also think I understand what Skin is trying to say. I prefer to listen to the K-1000 (which still goes for a bit less than the HD800s) than the HE-90, R10 and L3000, so price definately doesn't dictate where headphones stand.

However, taste does matter and the HD600/650 doesn't really hold a candle to the top phones for my taste regardless of cable and amp, balanced, etc. I could only compare them to the K701 and phones in that price range.

So, I would say the price is pretty much accurate for my taste in regards to the HD650 (Well, I'd price the HD600 higher than the 650 cuz I like them better - so I do understand what Skin is trying to say, I think and will back him up a bit while also stating that the HD650 is at the top of the heap for those with different tastes. It's a great phone in general, that is undeniable. But I think Sennheisser decided to go in a different direction because they realized things can be better. They seem to have added speed, lifted the veil, and fixed the soundstage issue - and most important to me brought the highs back (no more darkness).

I'm sure there are many here that would place my beloved GS-1000 at about $100 and that's just fine. Price definately doesn't tell the story.

Either way, I trusted Jude and Tylls first impressions enough to preorder them regardless of what headphones they were originally compared to. They both know what is out there and have a very good gauge on how it will compare to the best.

I really appreciate your impressions Murugesh. I'm not saying you SHOULD but there is always credit if you really really want them
post #12 of 38
THanks for the review Murugesh. a delight to read
post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jude View Post
When it comes to headphones, price doesn't tell me much
I agree completely, all the same they are in different price leagues and unless you're lucky enough to be one of those people that money doesnt matter to, then you are going to want to know how equipment of similar prices stacks up to one another before making an investment. Like it or not many people do shop for performance based around an items price bracket rather than simply shopping for what sounds best as you and a number of others here do.

And secondly most HD650 owners probably wont be interested in the HD800 precisely because of its price. Because of this Sennheiser is catering to users who probably are more familiar with high end, $1k+, Stax and Dynamics so comparing the HD800 mainly to those high end setups becomes quite relevant.
post #14 of 38
thanks for the impressions.
post #15 of 38
Nice one, cheers!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Sennheiser HD 800: My review