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Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

Rating:
4.54386/5,
  1. Covenant
    Sennheiser HD800 Review
    Written by Covenant
    Published Aug 2, 2011
    4.5/5,
    Introduction
    I’ve been a “headphone audiophile” for the better part of 5 years now, searching for the elusive holy grail of headphone systems. During that time I’ve had the pleasure of auditioning some of the best headphones from every significant manufacturer, including the AKG K701 and K1000, Beyerdynamic T1, Stax Omega 2, Sennheiser HD600/HD650 and HE60, Grado RS-1, PS-1 and GS-1000, Audio-Technica W5000, W11JPN, and L3000, Ultrasone Edition 9, and others. Some of these I’ve even owned myself for periods of time.

    Audio nirvana is a very personal thing. What sounds magical to me and sends chills down my spine might well sound artificial and grating to another. That is the nature of this hobby. With almost every top-tier headphone system I have tried, something has been lacking. Sometimes this “something” could be quantifiable – overly harsh treble response, lack of bass impact, flat or unrealistic soundstaging, and so forth – but often it could not be. The headphone simply didn’t move me, didn’t connect with me emotionally throughout the gamut of diverse musical genres I listen to. The Sennheiser HD800 is one of the very few headphones that have done so.

    I have very eclectic musical tastes, ranging from psytrance and electronica, to Celtic and new age, metal, pop, progressive rock, modern jazz, and even some blues and easy listening. Sting and The Corrs are frequently queued right alongside Tool and Shpongle on my playlist, for example. Any headphone that aspires to a long term place in my rig, therefore, needs to be first and foremost a capable all-rounder. One-trick ponies often have a big initial “wow” effect; “The bass on these is incredible!”, “I’ve never heard so much detail before!”, and so forth. This kind of focussed excellence is often found in high end headphones whose manufacturers are known for having a “house sound” that appeal to a niche market. Grados, for instance, tend to excel at rock. Their unique combination of lush, tonally rich midrange and fast, well-textured bass impact make them ideally suited to the genre. But you won’t often find a classical music lover relying on the RS-1 as their primary headphone. Grado have addressed this in their own way, with the GS-1000 being the soundstageous departure from their typical house sound, but such an approach doesn’t appeal to me personally. I’m not a headphone collector, and I don’t want to be reaching for a different headphone every time a new song starts on my playlist. Is a headphone that excels at everything and has no glaring weaknesses an unrealistic expectation? Not any longer.


    Build quality and comfort
    An aspect of high end headphone listening that’s often overlooked is comfort and build quality. To me, this area is every bit as important as how a headphone sounds. What good is it to find a headphone that sounds sublime, only to be prevented from losing yourself in it because your ears are being rubbed raw?

    The HD800, thankfully, doesn’t suffer from this shortcoming. In fact, it’s one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. It might lack the luxuriance of leather padding found on some high end Ultrasones, or even the Denon imitation pleather, but it makes up for that with huge earcups that do not touch the ears at all. And despite the size of the headphone, the HD800 is remarkably lightweight, which contributes to the feeling of the headphones simply disappearing when one puts them on.

    The stock headphone cable is also one of the very few that I’ve actually liked. It seems very resistant to kinking, is not microphonic at all, and is lightweight enough not to cause cable drag. A cable that gets out of the way and doesn’t remind you it’s there is a good cable.

    [​IMG]


    Listening Impressions
    It’s far too easy to simply forget about critical listening with the HD800 on, and just enjoy the music. However for the sake of this review I’ll bust out the reference tracks and see how the headphone performs when put under the microscope. The HD800 was burned in for at least 100hrs prior to critical listening, and run through the following system:

    Foobar configured with WASAPI for bit-perfect output, playing FLAC > HeadAmp Pico DAC > Jaycar 80W pure class A discrete amplifier > HD800 with stock cable.

    First up is Shpongle’s Dorset Perception, a complex electronica passage that excels at testing a headphone’s imaging abilities. Throughout the intro of this track the HD800 keeps up with the increasingly chaotic soundstage, isolating each musical image in its own space and minimising “bleed” between them. I was able to take in the whole picture, as well as isolate and listen to each individual instrument in the soundfield without much effort on my part.

    [​IMG]

    Moving on to Porcupine Tree’s Heartattack In A Layby, a test of ambiance and midrange presence. There’s a deep reverberation present in this track that underlies the vocal, and the challenge for a headphone is to present this reverberation in such a way that it emphasises the vocal rather than swamps it. Again the HD800 performs admirably, Steven Wilson’s voice rendered faithfully amidst the layers of electric guitar. More importantly, the overall emotional message of the track is communicated, creating an eerie feeling of transposition out of oneself and into the story of the music.

    [​IMG]

    Alright, let’s try something with some grit. Onto Metallica’s Enter Sandman, from their celebrated Black album. An unhealthy few decibels of increased volume later and I was out of my chair yelling “Eeeeexit light! Eeeeenter night!”, much to the annoyance of my neighbours I’m sure. The power metal of Hammerfall was likewise rendered with sufficient crash-of-rhinos impetus to get me head banging. Sure, the Denons and Grados can rock harder, let that never be questioned. But the HD800 CAN rock, and it can rock well.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Lastly, Loreena McKennitt’s The Highwayman to test the HD800’s capabilities with female vocals. Her sweet, effortless voice is rendered with such conviction on these headphones that this proved another moment of eerie transposition for me. The palpability of Loreena’s voice, combined with the wide, holographic soundstage of the HD800’s transport me to the lonely road in the moonlight, up to the old inn door... linked arm in arm with Loreena as she sings the story of the Highwayman. I do not feel the HD800 lacked anything in conveying the atmosphere of this track.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion
    The HD800 is one of the best all-rounder high-end headphones I’ve heard. To my listening experience, it has 3 main competitors – the Stax Omega 2, the Sennheiser HE60, and the bass-heavy AKG K1000. All of them perform similarly (or even slightly better) than the HD800, but all cost considerably more, only one of them is still in production (the Omega 2), and they all demand very specialised systems to drive them. This is not to say the HD800 isn’t a picky beast to drive as well, because it certainly is. Sennheiser designed them to be as open a window into the music as possible, and that goal is what they have achieved. If anything is lacking in your connected equipment, you’re going to hear it.

    Regardless, anyone who (like me) values a headphone which excels at many things rather than one, and has the ability to connect the listener to the emotional message of their music definitely owes it to themselves to try the HD800. I doubt you will be disappointed.
      DavidMatlab likes this.
    1. treebug
      How did they sound with your Soloist Covenant?
      treebug, Sep 23, 2012
    2. Covenant
      Hi treebug, I do not actually own the HD800; the pair used for the above review was a loaner.
      Covenant, Sep 23, 2012
  2. Nawin Sapchinda
    HD800 with Game and Movie Song is awesome
    Written by Nawin Sapchinda
    Published Oct 28, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality comfort easy use
    Cons - too havy
    I am us this for Gaming and Movie is awesome
    1. branislav
      hd800 too heavy?
      branislav, Oct 29, 2016
    2. smial1966
      Most succinct review ever?!? 
      smial1966, Oct 30, 2016
      Atgm1 and Asymptote123 like this.
  3. Jeremypsp
    As many have said, "A Technological Marvel"
    Written by Jeremypsp
    Published Jul 26, 2016
    5.0/5,
    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. Luric
    Using as a 'control'
    Written by Luric
    Published Jun 2, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sharp, Clean, Quite Neutral, Wide Imaging
    Cons - This is a Machine not an instrument, I think.
    After I bought HDVD 800, it felt like I should change my control headphone. Sure, I was in love with AKG K812 for a long time. But, if using HDVD 800 as a main headphone amplifier and DAC, HD800 made me feel right. So I bought CH800S cables, too. (Oh, that was 'uselessly' expensive.)
     
    HD800 sounds really nothing with balanced connection. I mean, Nothing is Nothing. In my personal and subjective view, Highs too dry, Lows too simple. But why? It makes sense all the time. When I'm reviewing headphones, HD800 acts as a control with high satisfaction. This headphone tells you what is different and what is a character in other headphones.
  5. techboy
    I'd even say if they could take care of the bright treble of the old HD 800, it would be perfect.
    Written by techboy
    Published May 7, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - fast, clear, excellent transients, huge soundstage, very real
    Cons - fatiguing and extreme treble, not as lush as HD 650
    Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!
     
    I'd like to clear a few things before you read the review.
     
    1. Sennheiser India was kind enough to lend me their HD 800 for a home demo, for an undetermined length of time. Knowing fully well that I won't be buying them. As I can't afford them at this point in time. So I'd like to thank you Sennheiser India for this kind gesture. 
     
    2. The demo unit is a piece from 2009. One of the first 250 HD 800 headphones that Sennheiser built. So it is the old version. And doesn't need more burn in either. 
     
    3. You'll be disappointed to know that most of the review was done with the Sonarworks Headphone Plugin. SW is a VST plugin that corrects the headphone's frequency curve to bring it as close to neutral as possible. I also enabled the Linear Phase option in SW alongside. 
     
    4. The reason for doing this was because in its stock form, the HD 800 was way too bright. And coming from the HD 650 I was unable to adjust. Nevertheless, the HD 800's sound fantastic even with SW enabled. 
     
    The Test Setup
     
    Headphones - HD 800 (old), HD 650 (2013 - silver), HD 700 - All burned in heavily due to their age.
     
    Amplifier - Project Ember Hybrid Tube Amp by Garage1217.com (with supercharger) -> Sylvania 6SN7WGT
     
    DAC - Asus Essence One Muses Edition
     
    Software - JRiver with Sonarworks for HD 800, HD 650 and HD 700 (HD 800 setting)
     
    Music - Recent Bollywood
     
    Now. 
     
    You should get ready to read the review. :)   
     
    REVIEW
     
    Long story short, you'll be delighted to know the HD 800 blows away both the HD 650 and HD 700. 
     
    The HD 800 is clearer, cleaner, faster, more detailed, has much less distortion and just better all around. 
     
    In comparison, the HD 650 sounds ***led and distorted. It almost seems like a toy compared to the HD 800. Now. You may not like to hear this. But this is indeed the truth. 
     
    The only advantage the HD 650 has over the HD 800 is that it is a touch more musical and lusher. But the HD 800 is plain and simple better. And so much better than you'll never touch the HD 650 if you buy the HD 800 once. 
     
    After hearing the HD 800 for a few days, I'm finding it really hard to go back to the HD 650. 
     
    You name it. Breaking through congested passages. A larger soundstage. Better sound isolation. The HD 800 nails it nearly every time. 
     
    Even with SW, the HD 800 is a bit brighter than the HD 650. But no big deal. Without Sonarworks, yes, you'll find it hard to listen to the HD 800 if you're not used to a bright sound. 
     
    But that too has perhaps been fixed in the 2013 revision of the HD 800, perhaps. 
     
    Anyway, both headphones were used with Sonarworks. 
     
    And there isn't much of a contest. 
     
    You should take the HD 800 over the HD 650 for anything and everything. For all types of music. 
     
    Comfort
     
    HD 700 >= HD 800 >> HD 650
     
    Both the HD 700 and HD 800 are very comfortable. The HD 650 isn't in the same league. Although it is pretty comfortable on its own. 
     
    Mids
     
    HD 800 is cleaner and clearer. HD 650 is lusher. But HD 800 is in a different league altogether due to its lower distortion. 
     
    Treble
     
    HD 650 has recessed treble. 

    HD 800 has forward treble. 

    With Sonarworks, I prefer the HD 650's treble over the HD 800's treble. But only because the HD 800 is still brighter. It is still better in every other way. 
     
    Bass
     
    Again, HD 800 has less bass. But better bass. You know that!
     
    Soundstage
     
    The HD 800 feels like it has a 50-100% bigger SS as compared to the HD 650. 
     
    Everything else
     
    The HD 800 is clearly a big step up. 
     
    To wrap it up
     
    I'd even say if they could take care of the bright treble of the old HD 800, it would be perfect. 
     
    The HD 800 deserves to be priced 3-5x the HD 650. IMO. Your mileage may vary. 
     
    And the above impression hasn't been formed over 10 minutes. Initially, I was a bit disappointed. But having heard the HD 800 for a while, going back to the 650 was shocking. 
     
    There is a big difference!
     
    I recommend the HD 800 wholeheartedly. To everyone. 
     
    P.S. HD 700 vs HD 650 review- 
    http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/03/sennheiser-hd-700-sennheisers-queen-in.html
     
    Source:
    http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/04/sennheisers-hd-800-you-nailed-it.html
  6. Modwright01
    Incredible soundstage but agressive treble
    Written by Modwright01
    Published Nov 26, 2015
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Widest soundstage ever
    Cons - Agressive treble. Unforgivable AT ALL. Forget about to listen bad and old records, bad mastering...etc.
    I had many many headphones, I had two sony R10, I listened to the best headphones ever made (qualia 010, orpheus...) and they are all amazing and they have soul and are really stellar for emotions.

    HD800 is unique. Maybe the most unique headphone ever created with the Qualia 010.

    The soundstage is the widest in the headphones history. It can be sometimes extraordinary, but sometimes it is a bad feeling because almost all the musicien will be too far from you. Especially with Rock/Pop, it can be a strange feeling. Don't expect to find intimate listening with it but it is the best simulation of a hifi speaker listening.

    To say it fast: the HD800 is one of the most neutral, analytical, unforgivable headphones you can fin in the history. But they are usually not fun, especially if you are listening old music which are very often badly mixed (most of Bowie are too on the high frequencies)

    In all the other cases, you HAVE to buy one and have one if you want to ear your records in a very special way. To me, the only one as detailed as the HD800 is the Qualia 010 and the LC4.

    If you can have it around 800 USD or less, go for it, you'll not regret if you understand what it is. I would not pay the brand new price to have one, simply because it is NOT an everyday headphones except if you are listening only masterpieces amazingly produced or use an equalizer for all the others .

    The treble is agressive, too much agressive unfortunately on most music...

    EDIT : Just equalize it at 6khz with -6.5db and the HD800 is transformed into a perfect headphone :)
    1. View previous replies...
    2. pbui44
      Of all the HD800 reviews I read, I have to agree most with yours with a few (costly) caveats: basically, you might have to spend some serious cash to make David Bowie recordings sound good on the HD800. A year ago I tried the HD800 with balanced cable (stock, I think) hooked up to a Ragnarok and Yggdrasil (or Ragy/Yggy) Schiit stack (control center, really) and MacBook Pro (~2013?) via USB cable (probably mono price).

      Listening to "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, I could hear a very faint hiss in the background and very faint hum from the synthesizer they were playing, even on high noted samples. It seems pretty obvious that the band was using their own mic and synth for the recording, but I also heard both of the guys feeling much more comfortable playing thoughout the song. This would probably sound obvious with any HD800, but with the Ragy/Yggy stack, I could hear very technical stuff that only they could do, like the synth string during the "yearning, yearning" part and head movements from the vocalist from the "baby, baby" part. The song presentation was still rather bright, but I feel the Ragy/Yggy stack made the presentation made the the technical stuff more smooth, as I also heard this from the LCD-X.

      So because I feel that the HD800 is best as a critical listener's can, you can make it musical, just as long as you have some deep pockets.
      pbui44, Nov 27, 2015
    3. Hal X
      Having had these headphones for a year, I actually have to say that i don't agree on the "Truth" statement. I actually found the bass to be very well balanced, not lacking at all. What really I could not digest on the long run was the exaggerated sibilance and the glare that the treble had wich spoiled vocals and made the tone of some instruments artificial. On the other hand, build quality, soundstage , distortion properties, impulse response were all great but I just couldn't stand the peak at 6-7 khz.
      Hal X, Nov 27, 2015
    4. Peti
      Peti, Nov 27, 2015
  7. dreamwhisper
    A headphone with a refined sensibility, clearly high-end
    Written by dreamwhisper
    Published Dec 16, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Imaging, soundstage, neutrality
    Cons - For casual listening the large soundstage is a little bewildering
    Me and my non-head-fi friend spent an evening listening to the HD800.
     
    We've both spent a lot of time with the HD650, but I had the SR-007 and HD800 available that we took turns listening to.
    The HD800 was powered by a Headamp GS-1 and Assemblage 3.1.
     
    Here are some notes:
    The HD650 has a 2-blob soundstage, which the HD800 don't have, and that makes the soundstage larger, and can be a little bewildering to listen to if you're trying to pick out detail and passages.
     
    Stax 007 provides details with greater ease. But it's really apples and oranges, the Stax and HD800 couldn't be more different.
    Since the HD800 is so critical and detailed it helps to take a step back and try to hear the music as it comes, without being hyper vigilant as you listen to it.
    This involves a new methodology of listening where you consciously focus on absorbing the information.
    This is why me and my friend decided it was best to use random music choices to keep us interested.
     
    In general, I agree with what someone else said about having other gear that you can enjoy before you acquire the HD800 for casual music listening.
    Because it's nice to take breaks from focusing on absorbing the HD800's musical information.
    If you don't have any other headphones, or simply can't enjoy music without hyper vigilance the HD800 likely isn't for you.
    In this way it follows logically that it would be helpful to have some experience with other headphones in the hobby before approaching the HD800.
    Compared to the 007, the HD800's detail and resolution power don't seem to match as well with a soundstage so big. There's so much information, but it isn't always possible to process it all meaningfully.
    This is something I commonly experience on other dynamic headphones. My friend has only really heard an HD650 and some low range AKG's so he couldn't comment.
     
    But even he was able to respect the HD800 for what it can do in analytical applications, where it's imaging can really shine, music production, movies, and turning up loudly to simulate being at a music festival.
     
    I've decided that the HD800, if personified, would be symbolized by a person with a sort of refined sensibility, who subscribes to moral standards and etiquette.
    They like to be 'understood' and not just 'listened to'. They like to be 'felt' as well as 'heard'.
     
    Is this some sort of poetic expression for the meaning of life?
    And the 8 in 800 an upright expression of infinity. Are the two 0's side-by-side really a symbol of infinity.
    "HD8∞." It's an interesting proposition.
    If I had an infinite amount of disposable money I wouldn't be surprised if I could discover new ways of appreciating the HD800 with IC upgrades, new cables, tube amps, etc.
    But I wouldn't be surprised if really all I was doing just that, discovering new ways of appreciating it.
    There's so much information to absorb. So much to experience and take in. d(*-*)b
    That said, if I turn up the volume to a higher-than-usual level it sounds like my favorite electronic music festival, so a little drum and bass now and then doesn't seem to offend the HD800's puritanical pursuit of truth and justice in the universe.

    EDIT: These headphones with a Dynahi is jaw-dropping. A little bit fatiguing, but it gives me most awe of any headphone setup I've heard. This shows imo that the headphones can scale well with equipment upgrades.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. dreamwhisper
      Not sure what you mean.
      I mean 'feel' as in physically sense the impact and vibration of the headphones. I'll edit that haha.
      dreamwhisper, Dec 17, 2014
    3. Jeff Y
      *cough*jk*cough* :)
      Jeff Y, Dec 17, 2014
    4. jk47
      i wonder how much your experience is determined by the dac and amp.  i have a metrum hex to a metrum aurix amp and don't experience the hd800 at all in the way you described.  it's just beautiful, beautiful music.
      jk47, May 9, 2015
  8. smitty1110
    Picky, but worth it if you find good synergy
    Written by smitty1110
    Published Nov 14, 2014
    5.0/5,
    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
  9. neilsberman
    First class, the best I've ever heard.
    Written by neilsberman
    Published Oct 9, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Best overall sound quality ever. Period.
    Cons - Expensive, open on the sides, and a tad thin in the middle ranges in my opinion.
    Let me say I am a serious regular music listener, not a techie. The earphones are worth it if you can afford them. The solution to the thinness was to pair it with a TEAC NP H750 headphone DAC and a Marantz 2285B amp, where you can boast the mid ranges independantly. If you listen to what I listen to, which is 1965 to 1980 basicly, it sounds amazing.
  10. gevorg
    A masterpiece headphone
    Written by gevorg
    Published Jun 28, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - natural, revealing, holographic, neutral, lightweight, comfortable
    Cons - fussy with amps, mediocre stock cable
    Contrary to a common complaint, HD800's are not bright and do not *need* a tube amp/coloration. In most cases, the cause is the recording quality, which can be "tamed" by EQ.

    Although HD800 has an expansive soundstage, you can bring it to another level by using a crossfeed like Redline Monitor. Overall presentation will be even more natural and easier to listen to.
    1. Sweden
      I suggest trying out another soundstage DSP with the HD800, TB Isone.
      Redline have nothing on this one. It actually makes the HD800 sound like a speaker rig. 
      Sweden, Jun 30, 2014
    2. gevorg
      I have both. TB Isone is great but it has a steep learning curve and needs occasional adjustment from one genre/album to another. For someone who is new to DSPs, I think a well designed crossfeed is a good start to test the waters (plus Redline a little more than a crossfeed).
      gevorg, Jul 5, 2014