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Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

Rating:
4.54386/5,
  1. monsieurguzel
    Amazing headphones that will reward you with every system upgrade!
    Written by monsieurguzel
    Published Jun 1, 2010
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Bass, Mids, Highs, Soundstage, Solid Construction, Supreme Comfort
    Cons - Needs better cable to excel, paint job a little fragile
    P1050650.jpg
     
    What is there to say about the new flagship Sennheiser that hasn't already been said over the past year.  With that in mind, I will give my impressions about this headphone and why I believe that most people that don't like it haven't listened to it properly amped and for long enough time.  This is a headphone that easily wows for the first few minutes you try it on....often blowing away any other headphones you've heard before.  However after that initial honeymoon is over, many are very bothered by the highs, lack of bass, large soundstage on certain kinds of music, and being overly analytical.  To me, the HD800 is very much of a Chameleon, like the Stax SR-007 Omega, meaning that even though they are easily amped, they are extremely revealing of the power, source, cables, amp, etc. and will drastically change in sound signature depending on what equipment you have them hooked up to.
     
    As other have said, these are probably the biggest and most comfortable headphones you'll try on.  They are so airy that you don't feel that your ears are enclosed inside the cup of a headphone.  The construction is impeccable with perfect weight distribution and styling to match.  The cable / connectors are very well designed for a stock cable and reeks of quality.  I upgraded mine eventually and found there to be positive benefits.  Otherwise, the paint can get slightly dinged up over time, but that is nitpicking.
     
    These headphones are ruthless (much like the Stax O2) and have caused me to upgrade my source to a Perfectwave DAC and my amp to a Woo Audio 5.  Even then I wasn't content and had to roll in a bunch of tubes until I found the ones that had the best definition, bass, and impact.  Because of the difficult nature of these, I've had a love hate relationship with them but believe that I've recently built my system such that I'm extremely happy with them with almost all music I listen to.   I have tried the HD650, Denon D7000, Beyerdynamic T1, Hifiman HE-5, and Stax Omega 2 hoping that they will displace my HD800s, but at the end none of those were good enough in my eyes to keep.
     
    For people that own HD650s, you will be in for quite a change of sound.  Gone is the Sennheiser veil and the enclosed soundstage, but the mids in my eyes are pretty close to the signature Sennheiser sound.  When not amped properly, these will sound thin, sibilant, with too much instrument separation.  When properly amped with an amp that has enough power and has a sound signature that will complement the HD800s, they will have the deepest bass you will hear (if the song is meant to have bass), wonderful instrument separation and soundstage, and beautiful highs without being sibilant or shrill.  Because they have such an amazing dynamic range, songs are rendered beautifully, with good timbre, and with a ton of impact.  Songs that have acoustic passages like jazz or guitars are the best I've ever experienced by far.  Granted they are not bassy like the D7000s, but in my eyes those are overly bassy even on songs / passages that aren't meant to be.  On a good system play "Hyper-Ballad" by Bjork and you will be amazed by how deep these headphone can go, its astonishing!
     
    With all of this said, I highly recommend these headphones only if you are willing to invest in the rest of your system to make these shine.  There are easier headphones out there such as the T1, but in my book the HD800 rewards extremely well as your system progresses up.  I also suggest that you don't look into too many people's impressions of these based of a few hours of listening because they require a whole lot more time to adjust to and fully appreciate.  As for price, based on the recent trend of headphone flagship pricing (Audeze LCD-2, Stax O2, AKG K1000, Beyer T1, W5000) I think they are very appropriately priced for their amazing technical proficiency that I find unrivaled, especially in the dynamic headphone arena.  Good job Sennheiser!! Its pretty obvious that you have spend countless years of R&D to make these headphones just right!!
    1. SilentFrequency
      These are pretty great headphones and I really love them!
      SilentFrequency, Feb 12, 2015
  2. stainless824
    Smoothing out treble and giving more bass
    Written by stainless824
    Published May 21, 2010
    4.5/5,
    Get a different cable. One fault is the stock cable of the hd800, it's 36AWG, perhaps the bottleneck you are finding with this headphone. Get a different cable because the anemic bass and the hot treble on this is mainly due to this fault in engineering, using 18awg will make it a lot better
    1. View previous replies...
    2. nicholars
      Maybe you should go and work for Sennheieser and inform the engineers what they are doing wrong... All that R&D and they used too thin cable! Solved!
      nicholars, Jun 24, 2013
      basdek likes this.
    3. DarKen23
      Theres nothing wrong with the stock cable. Does it fair better with aftermarket, sure. Doesnt mean the stock is bad. Go stick the 1/4' plug into a vintage pioneer receiver, I doubt youd shame the stock cables again.
      DarKen23, Aug 31, 2013
    4. Headzone
      Trolls are not funny anymore.
      Headzone, Nov 5, 2013
  3. mikemalter
    HD 800 Startles
    Written by mikemalter
    Published May 8, 2010
    4.5/5,
    Just a short review to add my experience of the HD 800.
     
    There are times when I am simply startled at the aliveness of the music.  There will be silence after a musical passage or between pieces, and when the music starts up again, it's like when someone walks into a room and you don't hear them and then they start talking to you.
     
    The sound is so real, so natural so alive, for that moment it is as if the ensemble were next to me.
     
    I did jetteson the stock cord and replaced it with a Cardas single ended for better results.
     
    I am very happy I got them.
  4. Suntory_Times
    HD800 review
    Written by Suntory_Times
    Published May 8, 2010
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent sound, very comfortable, excellent sound stage and bass extension
    Cons - Are quite big and are expensive if you wont to properly frive them (amp, dac etc).

  5. dpmaui
    HD-800
    Written by dpmaui
    Published May 7, 2010
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Certainly Unique, Nothing else like it , however,
    Cons - Sure have my "personal preferences" these aren't quite,,
    Have tried them all now, after reading all of your fine reviews,,,,, whew,,, what an experience!  HD-650, DT-990, AK-702, AD-2000, AH-D7000, and of course the HD-800.  First, I am in complete agreement with SKYLAB's review,, remember it's mostly positive and I will write more later.  My initial impressions?  Give me the AH-D7000 with it's wonderful smooth, articulate mid definition, and a bit less "over" bass, give me the even consideration of the DT-990 with more of the air that the HD-800 offers and a whoop of the .AH-D7000 bass, and finally, please give me the HD-800 with all it's own built in delivery,,and a bit more of the wooomfy 7000 bass so low, even some of the even, comfortable wallowing serenity of the DT-990 upper mid definition ( that freq isn't  there in the other cans?)  and ,,,, I will have the perfect headphone!  I will sans comment on the AK-702 and the HD-650, neither of which I believe can provide anything near the "overall" package of the aforementioned.  The HD-800 is quite breathtaking, yet lacks in just these few areas. A bit anemic in the bass department, although very well defined. A bit over concerting in the high end register, just enough to muddle the middle a bit, enough to confuse it's awesome soundstage a bit.  Since I can't have it all? For the money. I'll take the DT-990, wire it up, amp it up and have a whole lot of fun and money left over. For a lot more money, give me the AH-D7000's too.  I'll still have some left for  an amp, and some extra cans for my girlfriend,  I am an retired sound engineer/recordist and performer, forced to headphones by proximity.  My Hi Def sound is in the closet.   DP
     
    ps: something of interest,, the AH-D7000 is an awesome headphone but can be overbearing on BASS material.  try this, flip the left with the right and voalla!  Less boom and still excellent!!. It's that pointed driver config? Like having 2 headphones?
  6. shabta
    My HD800 equals Aural Bliss
    Written by shabta
    Published May 6, 2010
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Incredibly Detailed, Amazing Sound, Especially Classical
    Cons - cost is high
    Will enter Later
  7. zellous
    A remarkable audio experience, truly amazing cans!
    Written by zellous
    Published Jun 4, 2017
    4.5/5,
    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, many reference attributes
    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, picky and too bright for some
    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...

    Update 1.

    I have to be fair to my other reviews so I'll adjust this one.
    Over time I have gained even more experience with more headphones.
    I have to deduct half a star off the rating because it is pretty bright, too bright for some.
    This is one of the most picky and demanding headphones there is, but there is a reason why so many people build and create setups around it.
    I recently heard it with a single ended Graham Slee Solo headphone amplifier with PSU1.
    I believe it has many reference qualities, I will try to list them:
    detail,
    precision,
    definition,
    clarity,
    imaging,
    sound stage,
    separation,
    resolution,
    accuracy,
    maybe airiness and spaciousness.
    The bass is pretty deep with good extension and texture but it is not as present as other cans, it lacks a little impact and slam.
    The vocal sound powerful and stunning and the mids are just brilliant.

    Feed this legend a warm DAC and/or a warm headphone amplifier and use copper cables and this combination will be very difficult to beat.
      volly likes this.
  8. asymcon
    Expensive for what they're worth
    Written by asymcon
    Published Mar 10, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Good instrument separation, good efficiency
    Cons - Harsh in 6kHz region, more pronounced bass than reference
    With somewhat high expectations I auditioned a pair of original HD800 today for about 90 minutes (enough with correct test methodology).
    Just when the first track started, an idea came to mind that those sound close to modded AKG K702. Supposedly though, some headfiers refer to HD800 as being in "different league" and thus incomparable to headphones costing magnitude lower. Actually it was a very close call.
    I divided the listening test into 3 parts - listening without reference, headphone and source comparison.
     
    In the "just listening" part, HD800 did somewhat well, managed to uncover this "micro detail" of musical performance (classical genre tested), however, concluded in comparison with AKG K240DF and K601 had the same level of detail, in specific cases, even higher than HD800.
    Listening to HD800 becomes tiresome after just 20 minute session, the clamp force is okay, but ears become sweaty fairly quickly.
    What I also noticed is how more efficient HD800 were compared to AKGs.
     
    In spatialization aspect, they pretty much mimic K702, immensive width, shallow depth, thus poor mono performance (approx. 10% of the image). I prefer both K240DF and K601 in that aspect - circular "soundstage" not as wide, but with depth and good mono compatibility (20%).
     
    Extreme quiet listening (45dBA) surprisingly retained most of the qualities of the headphone.
     
    Bass (20-100Hz) is more pronounced compared to K601, but also less accurate. DFs are by design bass-light so no comparison there.
    Mid range (100Hz-1kHz) retains same qualities compared to AKGs albeit being approximately 2dB quieter
    Vocal range (1kHz-4kHz) this might be one of the stronger points of HD800, it's more neutral than AKGs
    Highs (4kHz-18kHz) that 6kHz 4dB bell gets tiresome quick, but unmodded DFs are suffering from the same issue. Mod should remedy this in both cases, however get much more complicated with HD800.
     
    In short, I enjoyed Music of the Spheres by M. Oldfield more on K601, where all parts of the spectrum played well with each other and still managed to extract all this "micro detail" same as with HD800.
     
    Moving onto source comparison (this'll be real quick). I tested Fiio X5II and Sansa Clip+, both direct and fed through TLE2062-enabled Objective2. Regardless of where I plugged the HD800 they sounded always the same. I also verified this with switchbox, where switch times are no more than 2mS.
    In conclusion, I wouldn't buy HD800 for the €1100 price tag. To me they seem to be worth €200 maybe €300. One could get similar sounding signature with modding K702's bass ports and K702 are nowhere near the MSRP for HD800.
      vapman likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Redcarmoose
      Read Stuart1927's post. We are really saying much of the same.
      I totally agree, still the higher end stuff is also incremental, it's just not all of a sudden $$$. Absolutely his words have merit and maybe even more so with-in a special equipment level. Maybe my most amusement comes with how the AKG k701 and k702 signatures are compared today to the HD800. In 2009-2010 there was a level of understanding which due to price and reputation didn't allow side by side comparison. When in reality looking back the signatures do seem closer to the same.
      Redcarmoose, Mar 11, 2017
    3. DoctaCosmos
      I couldn't agree more!!!!! That 90 minutes is enough to test with correct test methodology.......when your methodology actually is correct. Listening to hd800 through those two setups however is 100% a waste of 90mins.
      DoctaCosmos, Mar 16, 2017
    4. PETEBULL
      A greedy guy like me would rate every over 150$ headphones crap. Just because not worth it in any case.
      PETEBULL, Mar 18, 2017
  9. Aornic
    Sizzling detail and otherworldly soundstage
    Written by Aornic
    Published Sep 21, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Analytical and detailed sound, vast soundstage for supreme instrument separation, light and comfortable, aesthetics, dynamic clarity
    Cons - Harsh treble (although recording dependent), not an all-rounder, thin sound due to lack of low-end and bass
    [​IMG]
     
    Background
     
    I would like to start this off by stating that this is not a review of the Sennheiser HD800, but rather a review of “possibilities.” Yes, this is not the stock HD800 I am going to be discussing, but rather one with the Superdupont Resonator mod installed. In short, the mod helps to tame a well-documented treble peak in the headphones that can put off many listeners.
     
    When I started in the headphones game, with my Beyerdynamic DT990 in 2012, it seemed that the HD800 was the most coveted headphones that I saw on internet forums amongst the mid-fi crowd. Due to Sennheiser’s place in the industry, it seems that there are three headphones that they have produced that have been in enthusiasts’ journey at one point or another: the HD600, the HD650 and the HD800. What is most interesting to me about this transition is that the HD800 could not be further from the 6XX series. Gone is the veil I heard when I had my HD600. Also, gone is the warmth and traditional design – for the HD800 is one of the most unique looking cans out there.
     
    Specifications of the Stock HD800
     
    Frequency response (headphones) 14 – 44100 Hz (- 3 dB)
     
    Frequency response 6 – 51000 Hz (- 10 dB)
     
    THD, total harmonic distortion 0.02 % (1 kHz 1 Vrms)
     
    Contact pressure ~ 3,4 N (± 0,3 N)
     
    Jack plug Jack stereo ¼” (6,3 mm)
     
    Cable length 3 m
     
    Weight Without cable: 330 g
     
    Nominal impedance 300 Ω
     
    Build, Design & Comfort
     
    I know people who would not ever think of upgrading from their Apple Earpods who have told me that the HD800 looks “cool.” It does indeed, incorporating a simultaneous industrial and futuristic design that showcases a large diaphragm surrounded by black and silver. Looking at it, I see it as an alien in the design that Sennheiser have gone for in everything from their basic models up to the Orpheus. The HD800 is like Roger from American Dad, obviously the outsider but one that demands all the attention of the audience.
     
    The comfort is absolutely stellar. I feel like I’ve been in a semi-abusive relationship with some headphones this year, or rather a love-hate relationship. I love, love the sound they emit but I hate how they fit and the comfort issues. The relatively low (compared to the others) weight is another big plus in my book, as I found the 330g weight a breeze compared to the likes of the Hifiman HE-500 in its full-metal glory. The earcup design is another innovative factor, as it is abundantly large and ear-shaped – due to which the HD800 simply disappears on my head. The headband does not have a high amount of padding, but it does not need it either. It does not slip or fall off my head either if I position them at an angle. Simply put, you can pull these on and not have to worry about them till your listening session is done.
     
    The trade-off of such comfort is the build quality. It is not flimsy by any means, but the low-weight was achieved by a design that could very well be damaged if you are not careful. I met a fellow at the London Can Jam who, like me, had brought his HD800 along in his backpack to try with the various amps. Sadly, it had knocked on something while it was in there and one of the soft areas on the diaphragm (in the area behind the ear) had dented inwards. Apparently he had recently bought it too, bad luck. I was already careful with mine, but that made me slightly paranoid going forward.
    I do not know where I had read that the HD800 earpad-removal was problematic because it just was not when I needed to give them a good scrub down. As they are so distinct, I cannot imagine mounting any other earpads (Alpha pads, ZMF pads, FocusA pads etc.) on the HD800. I am sure it has been done, but it does not seem all that viable and might be a detriment to the sound – as the padding is quite thin.
     
    Overall, a beautiful to look at and comfortable-to-wear pair of headphones and one that I can confidently say is one of the frontrunners in the audio community in this. However, that is not the reason this has been so well-sought for so many years.
     
    Sound
     
    Well, damn.
     
    The HD800 are nowhere near my sound signature preference, but they do so much so well that it is hard not to nod and appreciate the audio characteristics of these headphones. I generally prefer a denser sound, with a rich and warm midrange – something I glean from both the ZMF Omni and Hifiman HE-500. However, the HD800 had a leaner and cleaner sound to it – for better or worse depending on how you like your music.
     
    Before I dive into the subsections of sound, I want to state that this headphone is really sonically dependent on what you use as an amplifier, something I will address further down in the “Amping” section.
     
    The bass on the HD800 is both easy yet complicated to describe. If someone simply asks you “does the HD800 have a lot of bass?” you can just reply in the negative. If you strip away the layers behind that “no,” you’ll find an answer that goes far beyond a yes/no question. You won’t be listening to EDM on this, that is for sure, but I found the bass to be a superior listening experience than some other headphones with deeper reach and more body – with some genres only. Take classic rock, my “classic” example in my reviews, and stuff like Pink Floyd. I have not owned a headphone that can present Pink Floyd as incredibly as the HD800 for several reasons, but what I want to call attention to is the bass in those recordings.
     
    You see, if we talk about the instrument known as the “bass guitar” then the HD800 does a stupendously good job at reproducing the tones needed for a good listen. Not once have I listened to a rock song and thought that the bass guitar was too thin or low in the mix. Far from it, it sounded simply realistic. There is a sharpness to the sound of bass guitars with the HD800 that I have not heard yet in other headphones that I have personally owned – it just feels so tight and controlled. However, I did listen to the HD800S for a bit at CanJam and noticed that they have bumped up the bass to a level where it sounded more “musical” and bloomy – ever so slightly. However, that bump alone, while it may be ideal for more musical genre pairings, made the tight ship that the HD800 was running edge out of its seams a bit.
     
    If you throw synthetic genres, and I in no way say this in an elitist manner because I enjoy such music too, at the HD800 – you’re going to have a bad time. This goes beyond just the lack of sub-bass extension and into the territory of top-heavy analytical listening. You won’t feel the rush of the low-end in songs in such genres, so I would really not recommend it for them.
     
    The midrange of the HD800 is stellar in a way that is starkly different from how the midrange of the Omni and HE-500 are stellar. While it does not sounded forwarded or, the word I used to describe the HE-500’s midrange in my review, “syrupy” – it holds its own in a manner expected of a top-of-the-line headphone. As with the bass, the mids are leaner yet so much more controlled and accurate than many headphones out there. What really impresses me is how the separation finds different degrees to point directional audio in than what I’ve heard before – for the soundstage is simply vast and the imaging is everything you have heard about them. There is no lower-mids bloom that gives a realistic touch to instruments like acoustic guitars or male vocals, but there is clean reproduction among both instruments and vocals across the board. The transients are quick and relatively accurate, not laid back nor startling like electrostatic headphones.  
     
    Guitars and vocals shine so brightly on the HD800. A track I return to often, one I even did so for my recent time slot with the Sennheiser Orpheus, is the third chorus and beyond of Prince’s When Doves Cry. The vocal stacking is brought out so beautifully by the HD800 due to its penchant for detail, pulling out vocal harmonies that would otherwise be drowned out in headphones that push for more musicality over analytics. Following the chorus is a guitar solo that is panned slightly to the left of where I thought it was for so, so long. It stands out in the mix but does not overpower anything else, leaving Prince free to adlib all over the place.
     
    However, as nice as I find the presentation of this Prince song, it is helped by the fact that the vocal production is warm. As with the bass example above, your enjoyment of the vocals in songs depends heavily on if they have a natural tint or over-processed and digitised production and mastering. In the latter, it can downright hurt – even with the Superdupont Resonator mod helping to tame some of it. In songs with such mastering, even “ssss” sung will be felt harshly and, for your own sake, volume should be reduced.
     
    The treble range also puts it beyond other headphones I own currently. With the mod taming the 6k peak, the listen is far more enjoyable and you can really appreciate what it is exactly that the HD800 does in the top range. While there is the occasional sibilance, especially in the over-processed genres and recordings I mentioned earlier, a boatload of detail is brought forth due to the treble.
    The Fostex x Massdrop TH-X00, that I reviewed a few months ago, had some annoying treble peaks to my ears that would get fatiguing after a while. When I briefly demoed the Fostex TH900 at CanJam, I was hit over the head with what sounded like one consistent treble spike. What both lack, especially the TH-X00, is the trade-off – there simply is no immense detail up there that would make me take it in stride due to what it brought to the listening table.
     
    I have no doubt that it is the treble extension that is one of the primary reasons that the HD800 sounds as resolving and detailed as it does. Cymbals I never took notice of before in songs are suddenly at the front, and while it can get a bit jarring at times (especially if they sound sibilant), I appreciate that a more complete package of the song I’m listening to is presented. That being said, it almost feels too emphasized. I’ll be honest, there are times where I wonder if the people in the mixing room themselves wanted the cymbals to sound as front-and-centre as they do on some tracks – leading to a slight sense of artificiality.
     
    But if that is what it takes for this headphone to sound how it does, then I really can’t fault it. Yes, it sounds thin compared to the likes of the Omni, HE-500, Focal Elear and so many other headphones in this price range – but it offers something they don’t along with the control and analytics that even the HD800S toned down slightly to appeal to the wider market/more musical genres.
     
    The soundstage, as mentioned before, is just so vast…man. While I can’t put it in numbers accurately, I’ll just wing it and say that it scores a good ten percent lead over anything else I’ve reviewed yet. This is a level of soundstage that I did not hear in the Elear, the Focal Utopia or even the Orpheus. With so much shift going on in the electrodynamic headphone market currently, it’s safe to say that the HD800 still holds one crown at least – of soundstage and imaging. Best headphone I have heard yet for gaming, although not the most cost-efficient for such usage alone. You might have to turn it down lower than usual because those gunshots can hurt sometimes.
     
    Amping
     
    I roamed around CanJam London 2016 with my HD800 in my backpack. Why? Because I wanted to try different amplifiers and see how they paired. That is the reputation of the HD800. Literally everything you just read above was with the HD800 being run out of my Schiit Gungnir into my Cavalli Liquid Carbon - from which I have it connected with a copper balanced cable. While I personally really like this setup, it is not the best I have heard – but it sure as hell is better than me plugging it into my Magni 2 which just takes the harshly detailed nature of the Gungnir and pushes it at me. The Liquid Carbon, while being solid-state, has a warmth to it that pairs really well with the HD800. I wish I still had my Schiit Asgard 2 to try it with, for that too was warm and would have made for an interesting listen.
     
    The best pairing that I’ve heard yet would be how it sounded from the prototype of the Cavalli Liquid Tungsten, hands down. I would not say that it transformed the HD800 completely, but I did let out an audible “whoa” when I first plugged in. It added some body to the sound while maintaining its clarity, detail and precision. I was very impressed. I also had a really nice sound, with the top end a bit smoothed over, from the Vioelectric amps at their booth. Interestingly, they had a stock HD800 that sounded quite comfortable too so kudos to them for such an achievement.
    I don’t want to say that colouration is the name of the game, but it is something I have seen in some owners of the HD800 – that they seem to prefer tube amps to add some warmth and a bit of that coveted musical distortion. A linear amping experience, like the Magni 2 or the Rupert Neve amp I tried at Can Jam, will leave the treble unchecked and make certain genres just that much harder to listen to.
     
    As for volume, at 300 ohms it does require a good amount of power to get loud enough. However, I was most surprised by how it sounded out of my Venture Electronics RunAbout Plus – where it not only got loud enough but had a tinge of warmth to the mids. Where the portable amp falls short of the Liquid Carbon, however, is in the bass control.
     
    Comparison with the ZMF Omni and Hifiman HE-500
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Conclusion
     
    I really, really hope the day does not come around where I have to give up the HD800. A little backstory on me, I rarely am in the same place for longer than a year and this nomadic lifestyle makes it difficult to accumulate possessions. I recently moved and it was such a pain because I tend to break the rule of common sense and get a bunch of headphones that I switch between. I envy some of you who have wall hangars covered in headphones and a long line of headphone stands to pick and choose from. That being said, I do need to keep others in my possession (currently the ZMF Omni and HE-500 in the over-ear department) because I simply cannot get a well-rounded experience, for my library with its vast array of genres, from the HD800 alone.
     
    This headphone has its strengths, but I would not classify it as an all-rounder unless you only listen to a small number of musical genres with more “organic” recording methods in their presentation. I also notice that some HD800 owners were getting annoyed at the hype around the Focal Elear and Utopia being unveiled recently, with reviews saying that the Utopia provides incredible detail without the trade-offs of a thin and treble-heavy sound that the HD800 and HD800S provide. While that is quite true, it is $3999 and has a smaller soundstage than the HD800. The HD800 can be found for as low as $899 on Amazon US these days so, while I would not call it economical still for a majority of headphone users, it provides a great price-to-performance ratio for detail and an analytical sound. Simply put, these headphones all do different things – with the similarly priced Focal Elear said to sound like a “HD650 on steroids.”
     
    Definitely a keeper for me, barring unforeseen circumstances.
     
    Comparisons
     
    Bass Quantity: TH-X00 > Classic 99 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE400i > DT990 > K7XX > HE-500 > HD600 > HD800
     
    Mids: HE-500 > HD800 > HD600 > ZMF Omni > Classic 99 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > K7XX > TH-X00 > DT990
     
    Treble Quantity: DT990 > HD800 > HE400i > TH-X00 > K7XX > Classic 99 > HE-500 > HD600 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I
     
    Soundstage: HD800 > K7XX > DT990 > HE-500 > ZMF Omni > HD600 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > Classic 99 > TH-X00
     
    Comfort: DT990 > HD800 > K7XX > TH-X00 > HE400i > HD600 > ZMF Omni > Classic 99 > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE-500
     
    Aesthetics: HD800 > Classic 99 > TH-X00 > ZMF Omni > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > HE400i > DT990 > K7XX > HE-500 > HD600
     
    Lightness: HD800 > Classic 99 > K7XX > DT990 > TH-X00 > HD600 > HE400i > ZMF Vibro Mk. I > ZMF Omni > HE-500
     
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      Asymptote123 likes this.
  10. uncopy87
    amazings
    Written by uncopy87
    Published Nov 4, 2015
    5.0/5,
    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.