Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

Average User Rating:
4.5625/5,
  1. zellous
    5.0/5,
    "A remarkable audio experience, truly amazing cans!"
    Pros - Imaging, sound stage, expansive, revealing, precision, separation, detail, accuracy, highs, treble, clarity, definition, mids (generally), deep bass, musical, captivating, comfortable, build quality, replaceable parts
    Cons - Sometimes recessed mids, lows not as meaty and weighty as other cans, fragile steel mesh/lining, sometimes sounds congested, some negative resonance and sibilance
    My audio set up & connective trail:
    16 & 24-Bit WAV lossless files,
    Foobar2000 with WASAPI event output,
    Cambridge Audio DIG300 digital optical toslink cable,
    iFi iPower 12 volt 1.8 amp power supply,
    Fostex HP-A4BL balanced DAC and amplifier,
    Sennheiser CS 800 S balanced 4 pin XLR cable.

    Where do I begin with these cans?
    So much has been written about them, the "great and legendary" HD 800. So much contrasting views, opinions, reviews and articles.
    I might keep this one short...
    I think the question you must ask yourself before hearing them is: how much information and data can I handle sonically?
    These cans are like nothing else I've heard, they create otherworldly sounds.
    The sound stage and imaging are without question the best I have ever heard, they create such an arena for your ears that it's almost like wearing closed back cans with gigantic ear cups.
    It's just so expansive and revealing, oh my Lord is it addictive!
    The separation, the detail, the precision, the accuracy... It's truly world class.
    I promised myself that I would not change my audio set up for a headphone, I said no. My set up is pretty good, so a great headphone should sound good. And the HD 800 sure did, really.
    I read so many people saying that these cans are extremely revealing and demanding of source, gear, equipment and cables. People have built expensive audio rigs around this headphone, to get the best out of them.
    Personally I wanted a balanced sound set up to hear the cans at their best, so annoyingly I changed my set up and tested a few amps and DACs (check out my profile for previous gear).
    I settled for the Fostex HP-A4BL DAC & amp and I'm really enjoying it, especially with the iFi iPower upgrade : )
    The HD 800 has great, deep rumbly bass when called upon.
    The mids are rarely recessed but are fantastic overall.
    The highs are the best I've ever heard, EVER! Outstanding with crystal clear definition.
    The HD 800 are musical, captivating and technically brilliant.
    They may not be as light as the Grado GS1000 but the weight is distributed well and they are extremely comfortable, no fatigue whatsoever. They are also very well made but the soft steel mesh/lining is not practical and a bit fragile. People have pressed in on them when handling.
    Almost forgot, I listen to my HD 800 without the fabric dust protectors installed inside. I prefer nothing getting in the way between my ears and the drivers, maybe a few people will call me crazy ; )
    I really like the fact that the ear pads, headband and cable are replaceable.
    For me, these are the most amazing and astonishing cans I have but I still just prefer my Grado's, they never get overwhelmed or congested and I prefer their weighty and meaty bass response. They also never have negative resonance and sibilance.
    I would recommend anybody with ears to hear them if they get the chance, it sure is a wonderful experience. And that's what it's all about right? To enjoy high end sound, listening to well known songs in ways you've not heard before and in turn, creating great memories...
  2. Nawin Sapchinda
    5.0/5,
    "HD800 with Game and Movie Song is awesome"
    Pros - Sound Quality comfort easy use
    Cons - too havy
    I am us this for Gaming and Movie is awesome
  3. Jeremypsp
    5.0/5,
    "As many have said, "A Technological Marvel""
    Pros - Sound quality, comfort, build quality
    Cons - Expensive(but great value when compared to other top-ends), paint chips off easily, requires good amplification to sound good
    BRIEF SUMMARY
     
    The HD800 has always been my goal ever since I started on my audio journey 5 years ago, but I was into portable audio back then and the price of the HD800 were fairly expensive so it was not something within my reach. But now 5 years later, I've gotten an UM miracle and thought I would concentrate on some home non-portable audio and the HD800 came back to me. I saw a fairly good deal, SGD$1250 used on carousell but were only about 2 months old then and in immaculate condition, and I'm in a better position to afford these than back then, so I thought to myself, why not?
     
    [​IMG]
     
    [​IMG]
     
    SOURCE
     
    As a general consensus, it is known that the HD800 does not run at close to full potential without an amplifier, and this rings quite true when I plugged them out of my iPad or computer with just an 1/4" to 3.5mm converter as it does indeed sound somewhat underwhelming. Not bad, but underwhelming. So what was the obvious step to do next? Right, buy an amp and a DAC and hope for the best. I was originally considering either the grace m9xx due to good pairing with the HD800 but since the transportable factor isn't going to do anything for me, I went with the Schiit Valhalla 2(due to rave reviews on pairing with HD800) + Modi 2U combo which costs about the same after shipping. 
     
    COMFORT
     
    Self explanatory, they are, I feel one of the only headphones out there that can feel like they disappear when on your head, yes they're that good, in my opinion of course.
     
    BUILD
     
    Although they're built quite well for a high-end headphone, while still being very light, it should be noted that the paint scraps off fairly easily, and it shouldn't really come as a shock if you do see some scratches after a while. 
     
    SOUND
     
    Sound, so how do they sound? Well as I do not have a disposable income I can only listen to them through the Schiit Valhalla 2 + modi 2 combo even though it is noted that these can sound very different through different amplifiers, so my review will be mainly based on this combo.
     
     
    Treble, ahh these are definitely where they shine, it extends really well and has a fairly huge amount of sparkle, any treblehead out there would probably be satisfied at the amount that these produce, as for those who hate treble, well too bad. That's not to say these are harsh as it does depend on your music and since they sound fairly true to source, they can sound harsh if it's intended to be harsh. 
     
    Mids wise you can hear the details really well. Vocals, especially female ones do shine and male vocals do not lack either. But after listening to a multitude of songs, I would say acoustic guitars sounds amazing on these, the amount of details outputted is just simply breathtaking and euphoric. While not being warm or musical, they are definitely good for those that want to get as many details out from their music as possible.
     
    As for the low end, don't expect much if you're a basshead, but these provide one of the most detailed, punchy and tight bass out there and simply is hard to beat and while not having lots of bass, they can still output it if that's what the song wants.
     
    So overall, they sound airy(not surprising for open-back, but still.), with an outstanding soundstage and effortless detail outputting and being very true to the source, if the source sounds bad it most probably sounds bad on these, and so on. While they're not the most euphoric headphones around, they do let you hear things easily that other high-end headphones have trouble showing, and that is in itself a bit feat. Also to note that 320kbps is the minimum required to not let your music sound underwhelming, while FLAC or ALAC is highly recommended. 
     
    CONCLUSION
     
    These headphones are very true to the source and absolutely a technological marvel as many would agree. They sound good enough on my Valhalla 2 + modi 2U combo and I have no plans on upgrading my source for years to come. While these are not for everyone like bassheads or people who think that beats are the best in the world, for everyone else they can be good enough to make a change in your life, as they did for mine. 
  4. uncopy87
    5.0/5,
    "amazings"
    Pros - clear
    Cons - expensive
    Im not good at reviewing, but its the best sounding headphone i have! I must say that although not all my friends think these are worth it, everyone can tell that its better than my hd598
    masterfuu likes this.
  5. smitty1110
    5.0/5,
    "Picky, but worth it if you find good synergy"
    Pros - Detail , Soundstage, imaging, tonal balance
    Cons - They lay bare all the flaws of a recording, there is no isolation whatsoever
    Audio setup -
        FLAC files in Media Monkey -> Amazon Basics TOSLINK cable -> Schiit Bifrost w/Uber upgrade -> Knukoncept Shielded RCAs -> Project Ember with  new Tesla ECC802S
    Music -
        Nabucco, Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus conducted by Lamberto Gardelli, 1965
        Why So Serious, Hans Zimmer, the Dark Knight OST
     
    I got these barely used off of the classified forums, and I even got two Norne cables to go with them as part of the deal. For the purposes of this review I used the single-ended stock cable, but I plan on fooling around with the other cables in the near future, and probably giving them a write-up. I've been listening to them on and off for a few weeks now, so they're nice and broken in. Also, these are picky headphones. Looking around, you'll find how people talk about the huge amount of effort that went into assembling a system that really sounded well with them. I got lucky, things worked out really well with the stuff I had on hand, so keep that in mind. You will probably have to work a bit to get the most out of these cans. Now, on with the review!
     
    Listening to Nabucco  with these was a very interesting experience, even though I thought I knew the recording by heart. The tonality of the headphones is extremely neutral, but with the Project ember and most of my tubes it sounded a bit too bright. Since this is a bit of a well-known issue, I used my Tesla to roll off the highs and make it easier to listen to. This did the trick, and the cans sound more neutral than anything else I have. They also passed the bass test with flying colors, which is nice because my HD558's really struggle with that bass extension.  Listening to the funeral march with these headphones was similar to listening to it with my GS-1000's, a very wide and undistorted soundstage, but it also improved on the GS-1000 in that the soundstage had much more depth. Instrument placement is well preserved, and you can feel how some thing are further away than others. The other thing that's important to mention with respect to soundstage is that the presentation is not too intimate, but not really distant. It's like sitting 5-7 rows back at a concert, intimate but not in your face. The detail of the headphones is also great, you can really get a sense of things like the room reflections that the mics are picking up, and you feel like you're literally there. This also makes the imaging amazing because you get great instrument separation, especially with instruments like French horns where it's possible to even pick out individual instruments from within the group. Also, the detail was really a hit at a meet a few weeks ago, where people (myself included) were proven wrong about power cables making a difference with sound quality. That honestly freaked a few of us out. This is the major downside sonically, they're too good at revealing things in the music. A piece can sound great on every other set of headphones I have, but this will reveal mastering problems that
     
    Now for build quality and fit and finish on these phones are very nice. The Headband might have a lot of plastic, but it's very study. The steel added a nice touch, especially the laser engraved serial number. The headband and the supports on the cups really just feel solid, and you very quickly learn that you don't have to baby them. The earcups are also spectacular, and are the largest I've ever seen on headphones. They also don't grip too tightly, and the headphone's relatively light weight makes them very comfortable for long listening sessions, like listening to an entire opera. The only real complaints are that the membranes that make up the earcup look nice but still make me worry about keeping them intact, and the connectors for the cable. The membranes are fine, but there's always the paranoia in the back of my mind that makes me be very careful about gripping the cups. For the cable connectors, I love that the cable is detachable, but I don't like that a custom connector was uses. Mini XLRs would have been better, but since there really isn't a standard in this space. I would prefer to be able to use a cable with multiple brands to make comparisons easier, but that's probably a pipedream.
     
    In the end these are great headphones, probably the best for critical listening I have, but they're just too picky to get a perfect score. It takes a lot of effort to tweak your system to make the most of them, so just consider that before buying a pair. Once you do get some synergy going, it's totally worth it.
     
    9.8/10
  6. ag8908
    5.0/5,
    "Wow, amazing (but here's why you shouldn't buy it)"
    Pros - Outstanding in every way, sound, comfort
    Cons - Nothing other than price
    Will fill this in later but based on the fact that it absolutely kills every single song and genre of music that I've throw at it, the final rating is clear.
     
    Edit 1: After listening to this and the Aude'ze LCD XC for four days, I've reached a point where I will never grab for the LCD XC if the HD800 are available. The HD800 simply sound more natural (all of the other headphones I have sound "synthetic," like they almost auto-tune or digitize the sounds very slightly if that makes any sense. With the HD800 it sounds like the band is singing and playing right in front of you.). The imaging on the HD800 is also incredible. It's like there are 10 speakers spaced all around your ears, each firing off in turn. Therefore, I called Aude'ze and the retailer and asked if I could please return them. The Aude'ze person said I would have to pay a 15% ($300) restocking fee, which I mention here only because it shows Sennheiser's superiority (they don't charge a restocking fee if you return the item within their 30 day money back guaranty period). Sennheiser is first class all the way.
     
    Edit 2: OK I found a design flaw. On the outside of the headphones, around the drivers, there is this very thin aluminum foil type cover/enclosure that I keep accidentally touching with my fingers when taking the headhones on and off, and which seems like a weak material that will eventually tear as a result of this touching.
     
    Edit3: To give you an example of the auditory magic performed by the HD800, open "the way you make me feel" by michael jackson, bad 25th ann. album, on spotify at 320 kbps. The whole song sounds great but focus especially on the drum that kicks in every 10 seconds or so. You hear this particular drum beat in the first four seconds of the song, at about 11 seconds, at 20 seconds, at 27 seconds. . . . The HD800 reproduces it amazingly, even providing that special and very faint echo that is produced by a real drum. If you can find a headphone that produces that drum beat better, please post it in the comments. The reason I like the HD800 is that it can make well recorded music like this shine like no other headphone.
     
    Edit4: On the other hand, with the HD800 you'll find yourself opening your favorite song from the past, hoping for the magic described above, only to discover that the song was poorly recorded. In these cases you need the right amp to mellow things down. Perhaps a tube; for me my Yamaha stereo receiver's output jack works well. But I am not going to ding the HD800 for making bad recordings sound bad, because I think it's solely the fault of the recording engineer but it's a complaint you'll hear from many HD800 users. Fortunately, there are enough very well recorded songs out there for me to enjoy the HD800.
     
    Edit5: I just discovered a great use for its super long wire, using it to listen to TV and movies! More outstanding sound.
     
    Edit6: One other advantage of this headphone is that, because its drivers are so far from your ears, there is less risk noise induced hearing loss.They are more like speakers in that sense.
     
    Edit7: Out of curiosity, I took the time to set up my stereo receiver properly in 5.1 surround mode. I used its microphone to perfectly calibrate each of the speakers, placed all around me, left/right rear each 3 feet away, and the others 10 feet in front, all perfectly calibrated so that no one sounds louder than the other. There is also a subwoofer in this mix. What did I learn? That this setup (which costs about $1,000 total including the receiver) beats the HD800 in every song. The HD800's benefit is that it sounds more "natural" and realistic than other headphones, but if that's what you want you should just stick with speakers, which offer better detail (and details are presented in proportion, not like headphones which make details sound louder than they should), better spatials, better sound -- just better. My conclusion from this is that although the HD800 are the best headphones I've ever tried, they can't beat a proper speaker system, which makes sense because no amount of magic engineering could turn a 1-2" driver into something that can compete with perfectly placed full sized speakers. I include this so that no one, who has the room and privacy to enjoy speakers, wastes their money on an HD800. Headphones are for people in apartments, people with families and people on the move. If you have the room, go with speakers.
  7. guntur
    5.0/5,
    "Earorgasim"
    Pros - Fantastic Curves & Design, Amazing Clarity, Perfect
    Cons - The price for sure. Cant carry them everywhere!
    Well Gents! I finally took the plunge after buying quite a few headphones! And at 1500 $ I must confess it is a pretty deep one! [​IMG]
     
    I am still gasping for breath as it is the most expensive headphone that I ever bought!
     
    The HD800 is surely not one that you would carry on a bus or train or plane. I was told that it is strictly for home use unless one spends most of his/her time in the office.
     
    Unfortunately I am yet to inform my wife of this rather big purchase and so using it at home is out of the question!! [​IMG]I am into marketing and so don't spend too much time at the office. I do spend a lot of my time driving and so I have been listening to my amazing HD800 in the car during extended lunch breaks and late evening marketing meets (!!??!!) [​IMG]
     
    I do use my other headphones but I cannot but admit that the HD800 is the best of the best! The bass rich, closed Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro, the lovely and true faithful Audio Technica ATH M50, the stylish VModa Crossfade M-100 and last but not the least the Bose QC 15 are all wonderful headphones and have given me a lot of pleasure over a period of time and will do in the future as well. But the HD800 reigns supreme over all of them, without any doubt whatsoever!!! Now to take another plunge! I will soon be looking to the forums to find information to buy a steeply priced (seems inevitable) headphone amplifier! The one that I currently use is not bad. Its a FiiO E12 which I bought for my Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro 250 ohms.
     
    I am afraid that I am now very slowly moving into the "not so desirable 'audiophile' world"!![​IMG]
     
    I am now so much in love with the 800 that I miss them badly if I am not able to hear them at least once in a day! God Bless Sennheiser![​IMG]
     
    Am sure I would be sharing more eventually!
  8. lightningfarron
    5.0/5,
    "detailed and unforgiving headphone."
    Pros - imaging,soundstage,detailed high,mids and lows,smooth,comfortable
    Cons - unforgiving on poor recording or wrong equipment.
    The HD800 is my first expensive headphones.
    its really comfortable to wear it and sounds great through my Fostex HP-A8.
    the treble is smoother than i first thought it would be but its still considered an bright and detailed headphone. bass is very neutral and punchy and mids is also very natural and uncoloured in my opinion.
    some people may find it too bright or not enough bass when paired with the wrong amp.
    the best part that i find with the hd800 is its imaging. i feel like band is playing in an nice big stage in front of me and every instrument is seperated and can be heard easily.
  9. Fidelity182
    5.0/5,
    "The Optimum "
    Pros - Extremely comfortable especially you need space, or if yo have a big head, drop in feels just nice.
    Cons - None
    Airy, extremely transparent, silky and fluid sound.
  10. dan.gheorghe
    5.0/5,
    "The best headphone I have heard to date"
    Pros - Amazing soundstage & instrument separation, detail monster, awesome PRAT and bass, top notch mids
    Cons - Sometimes sibilant, very fragile
    Hey guys,

    The last time  I listened to HD800 impressed me so much that I had to buy a pair for myself:

    [​IMG]

    Since then, the HD800 have grown on me even more. These headphones are absolutely spectacular on the right gear, in my case the Burson Conductor .

    These headphones deserve  post of their own. I almost feel responsible doing this, as I feel that I haven’t done them justice in my first post and I have to make up for it.

    Lets take this from the start.

    In my opinion they look quite nice and I really enjoy their futuristic design.
    Every time I put them on I feel like this:
    [​IMG]


    How I actually look like:

    [​IMG]
    However, they seem really fragile to me. I have touched the silver grill by mistake and left a print there. My hands were clean, but still managed to do that. I couldn’t remove it so it is still there and it bugs me . Audeze LCD2 feel like a tank compared the senns.


    I liked the stock cable from HD800. The build quality seems to be very good and it looks nicer than the usual stock cable ( LCD2 for example ). One thing I don’t like about it: the splitter seems to be made from cheap plastic and the cables that go from the splitter to the cups don’t look like high quality to me. Actually, I know a friend that had some problems with that portion of the cable, meaning that in time it opened up. This seemed to have happened to more owners.

    [​IMG]

    I feel I really must be extra careful and treat them with more care. Don’t put them  directly on your desk as the paint may chip off. I always put them on something more cushy and not directly on a hard surface.

    [​IMG]

    On the comfort side, I don’t think I have ever wore a more comfortable headphone. I really forget they are on my head after a while.

    So let’s get to the most important part, the sound. So many things to say and so few words to express all I would like to say about these headphones.

    I will tell you my impressions on a few songs.

    ACDC – You Shook Me All Night Long

    The first thing that struck me was the bass and the guitars. The bass is not at all shy. It is very present with a  very nice punch and tightness. Of course the sound was multi layered and very airy. The PRAT was awesome and toe tapping. One thing I had to do while listening to the song was to lower the volume as the treble got a little too tiresome.  The fact that I lowered the volume was not quite a bad move as I really got to enjoy the song like this with no problems. Yeah you heard me, I like rock on HD800. It is a little bright sometimes but lowering the volume solved the problem. It was quite ok as I can really enjoy music at even lower volumes with HD800 .

    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – Time

    Damn… The bells at the beginning were absolutely awesome. Every bell was so clear and so well defined in its place. The sounds came from all directions and you could easily concentrate on each and get it’s original location. The sound was pouring effortless and the dynamics were incredible. The soundstage is exceptional and you forget you are listening to headphones.

    Infected Mushrooms – IM The Supervisor – Noon

    Dat bass… Yes you heard me… Who said HD800 hasn’t got bass, clearly didn’t hear it on proper setup. The bass is so punchy, so deep and so damn fast. The PRAT on this song was awesome. The instruments were very detailed, excellent placed in space and very present throughout the song. The sound came effortless and HD800 handled it with extreme ease.

    Tristania – Illumination (symphonic gothic metal)

    One word. Excellent! The bass is superb. It really hits you with force and real impact. It is so punchy and so present. The sound was very opened and all the instruments were so well separated and well placed. The sound is multi-layered and not one instrument blended in with another. The voice could use a more natural tone but overall I really loved the song on HD800.

    Andre Rieu (Dreaming) – Air (J.S. Bach)

    The sound-stage is amazing. The sound is so opened that if you close your eyes you forget you are listening to headphones and that you are at home. You can see yourself in the concert hall, you can see the orchestra and pinpoint every instrument there. The details are amazing and the dynamics are the best I have ever heard in a headphone.

    Leonard Cohen – The Traitor

    The instruments in the beginning of the song are awesome. The details really tickle your ears. Again the instrument separation is absolutely beautiful. There is so much air between the instruments. You can hear everything and you can easily concentrate on the furthest instrument and still hear it clearly. The voice is quite nicely reproduced and has an excellent texture. It is not as natural as on LCD2, but the reproduction was still awesome.

    Conclusions

    These headphones are the best headphones I have heard to date.   The soundstage and openess of the sound is exemplary on them. I sometimes really forget I am listening to headphones.  The sound is so multi-layered that on the the most crowded songs I have listened to, never did I found, not even once, that two instruments blended in the same layer.

    The imaging and sound positioning is excellent and you can really pinpoint the location of any sound with great ease.

    They truly are detail monsters. The get all out of that recording. I expected to be annoyed by lower resolution files, but I enjoyed them greatly even on some mp3s I had listened to. Sometimes I got scared, as I thought some sounds came from my room and I was preparing for battle if any intruder had broken in my secret audiophile lair:

    [​IMG]

    Ok, the bass…These headphones DO NOT lack bass! I repeat…they DO NOT lack any bass! Their bass is awesome, actually. It goes very very deep, it is very punchy, very fast and knows how to jam.

    The mids are top notch too. The instruments and voices have a wonderfully detailed texture.

    The voices are well reproduced but they could use more body and a more natural tone.

    I did not find the HD800 to be bright headphones. They are very neutral to me. The times I thought them to be bright I realized the song was at fault being a bright recording. When something was bright on HD800 was even bright on LCD2. Be careful as  there are many bright recordings out there. So the treble is very very well defined  and is very sparkly when it is needed to. Unfortunately the sound is a slight sibilant but usually when it got too sibilant it was the recordings fault as well.

    The dynamics & micro-dynamics on these headphones are excellent . I can really listen to lower volumes with HD800 and still be fully satisfied.

    I have used it on some movies as well. They excelled here as well. In crowded open spaces you really feel that you are in that place. It is quite incredible.

    I am going to give you a little advice: Don’t use them on a HD horror movie if you have heart problems!

    [​IMG]

    Pidgeon likes this.