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Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

  1. ag8908
    Wow, amazing (but here's why you shouldn't buy it)
    Written by ag8908
    Published Feb 14, 2014
    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.
    1. nigeljames
      I agree totally with your comments. I put off buying the HD800's for ages because people had said they were not good for rock/metal or for fast music.
      Now I just wonder what those people were smoking!! 
      nigeljames, Feb 15, 2014
    2. whitedragem
      Keep enjoying the low fidelity sources you seem to prefer.
      Glad the headphones you have decided to keep offer you a sense of superiority, (I had to read your review based on the smack talk you put on other members review')
      Based on what mistafuntasitco had to say regarding the same headset, basedon a year of use..
      Your limited real time, especially given you seem to be figuring out basic stuff like how to run a headphone amp from your laptop.. surely makes your experience definative.
      Whilst I have never been one to wish to bash, I just find the immaturity you bring to this forum kinda amazing. Ten drivers worth of amazing (in a well setup surround setup, speakers cease to have actual physical locations, and sound just extends seamlessly from the front plane around the room as programmed to do.
      There is no doubt that Jacksons music sounds phenominal.
      In fact many gold manufactured discs, oweing I believe to their higher reflectivity/ease to read, give phenominal,bass (the really long soundwave that errors in recreating will quite quickly diminish the integrity of).
      I hope that some time at headfi digesting some of the other passionate takes of similar hobbyists might widen your understanding significantly.
      Oh and I have little issue with compressed music (by file size) for some genres, as the playback has lost very little.
      I have no time, however, for mass market compressed (make the music louder to stand out equally well from the radio in the background) styles of music.
      headphones (great and small) benefit from great sources, being the file, the equipment and the user knowledge to match the right genres/recording with the right equipment.
      long time forum goers here, as well as people who have lived through the last four decades of format demise keep several setups to meet the needs of differing song requirements for enjoyable playback.
      Anyhow, I just hope you can chill out a little on a need to burn other people who's opinion differs to yours, no matter your level of expertise, cause even the 'lambs' need some helpful steering/honest answers to their quite often overwhelmed new experience and hobby.
      Outside of this forum some people just don't get that spending more than,$30 has any real worth to the audio. May the song remain the same...
      whitedragem, Feb 22, 2014
  2. clohmann
    With after market cables, you can have audio heaven!
    Written by clohmann
    Published Nov 25, 2013
    Pros - The DH800s have a great ability to show how good your upstream components can be.
    Cons - You MUST use aftermarket cables to make them sound their best!
    It took two months of burning in and finding the right aftermarket cables to make these my desert island cans! My system is made of an old Rotel cd player(9 + years) for digital out put and my pc with JRiver Media Center for flac files of my cd and vinyl recordings and high res audio files. I have had my Melos SHA-1 tubed headphone amp/preamp for almost 20 years! Transparent Audio Super cables for interconnects and Ultimates for speaker cables. From my PC to Pangea USB to my M-Audio Fast Track to Tara Labs RSC digital into my Bryston BDA-1 to said Melos SHA-1 headphone amp. I have HD600s, 650s as well as the 800s for ear pleasure. Recommended Moon Audio cables are use with all my 'phones. Audio Prism mkII power conditioner and Tara Labs, PS Audio and Cardas cables for power cords. I use Mapleshade Isoblock equipment stands. Speakers by Eggleston Isadoras and power amplification by Balanced Audio Technology's VK100. I've been a sound head for 30 years. I always have played with cables to get my sound as full and accurate as possible.
    The music I listen to goes from David Sylvian, Brian Eno to Coltrane and Shostakovitch...
    After my DH800s broke in with their stock cables I figured it was time to see if I could get them to sound fuller and less over bright. I shopped around until I found Drew Baird's website moon-audio.com, man was I impressed. Not only are his cables made of impressive materials but the terminations and construction quality are the absolute first class. I think I could use these cables for many, many years to come! With his Black Dragon cables sourced for the HD800s I was able to get very rich, warm and accurate sound from these cans! The highs were put into place with liquid highs and warm linear mids to full bodied bass(maybe not the end all bass but...). Image separation is amazing and the depth presented is unbelievable!
    So it's happy ending for me. Don't wanna know 'bout the latest plannar Magnetic cans out there. I'm done,,,,, for now!
    1. LoveKnight
      Hi ya,
      I have a question sir. Does your new HD800 Black Dragon cable support full balanced amplifiers? I heard many good compliments of Moon Audio cables and want to purchase ones for my future headphones.
      LoveKnight, Nov 26, 2013
    2. clohmann
      Hi LoveKnight,
      Yes the Black Dragon supports full balanced connections.
      clohmann, Nov 26, 2013
  3. guntur
    Written by guntur
    Published Oct 17, 2013
    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!
    1. AmberOzL
      Get Centrance Hifi M8, it is one of the a few amps that can drive HD800 perfectly, and it is a portable amp, well rather transportable actually.
      AmberOzL, Oct 17, 2013
    2. Sweden
      I suggest looking at tubes for the HD800. If you are on a budget and can use a soldering iron look at the Crack + Speedball + upgraded tubes.
      That new Schiit Vali might be a really cheap alternative as well.
      Otherwise are Decware CSP2+ and DNA Sonett 2 great match with the HD800, but I have only heard the Sonett.
      Amping the HD800 right makes a huge difference.
      Sweden, Oct 17, 2013
  4. jbarr1989
    My experience with the HD800s
    Written by jbarr1989
    Published Jul 24, 2013
    Pros - Crisp, Clear, Detailed, Neutral, Amazing soundstage
    Cons - Bass is light, Price
    I recently spent about a month with a pair of HD800s.  I was immediately more impressed with these upon my first listen than with any pair of headphones ever.  The amound of detail these present is just unreal.  The sound is VERY neutral, true to the recording, and because of this bass can seem a bit lacking.  To be honest, even with bass-heavy music these are a bit lacking.  However they have the fastest, most detailed response I have ever heard from a pair of headphones.  Midrange and highs are the best I have ever heard on any headphone without a doubt.  Soundstage is quite expansive, they sound very "open" and airy with outstanding clarity.  They are hands down the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn.  My one complaint with the design is how easily the paint chips, as many have said before.  They are expensive, and I while I feel that they beat my LCD-2's in every single way possible I still prefer my D7000s to these.  I guess it just comes down to personal taste.  If you like a robust bass response like I will admit I do, these won't be for you.
    1. xkonfuzed
      Would you mind posting your source and amp ?
      xkonfuzed, Jul 25, 2013
    2. Sweden
      This looks like a review where they used a SS amp with the HD800, prove me wrong any time.
      Still I would probably think a Fostex TH-900 would be a better choice for you.
      Sweden, Jul 25, 2013
    3. vinokurov
      My experience was different: I was very fond of my d7000, but after buying HD800 find D7000 pretty rough. LCD-3 I did not like because of the low resolution and a claustrophobic effect. FostexTH900 - kitschy perfection for house & dub step music lover. Stax009 - watercolor painting, but very expensive with a good amplifier. So my unconditional choice - HD800. This is headphone-Stradivarius!
      vinokurov, Oct 5, 2013
  5. lightningfarron
    detailed and unforgiving headphone.
    Written by lightningfarron
    Published Jun 16, 2013
    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.
  6. Fidelity182
    The Optimum
    Written by Fidelity182
    Published Apr 14, 2013
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. LoveKnight
      Well. May I ask what DAC and AMP do you use to pair with HD800 curiously?
      LoveKnight, Apr 16, 2013
    3. Fidelity182
      I am using just an Ipod Touch, pair it wit my newly purchase Port Tube, goes a little hot when its heated up, but who cares? The little fellow can push almost any headphones with 300ohms impedence effortlessly.
      You you like Jazz, or soundtracks, this combo, with the HD800 is one of the best I have own. The Ultrasone 10 Ltd edition is another, just as good, but much cleaner.
      Both deliver layering effect, holograhic feel, fluid sound.
      Fidelity182, Apr 16, 2013
    4. Fidelity182
      Have no chance to listen to ALO Continental tube amp as well, I suppose its similar.
      Fidelity182, Apr 16, 2013
  7. bedlam inside
    Amazing headphones, very capable, yet they cost more than a good pair of speakers...
    Written by bedlam inside
    Published Mar 17, 2013
    Pros - Sound Stage Presentation, natural balance and tone, generally top notch sound quality
    Cons - They are way too expensive for just a pair of headphones
    Like with the HiFiMAN Headphones these are tantalising. If they cost 400 squid and could be driven well by a smart-phone or laptop headphone output, I’d buy them on the spot. At three times the price and only suited to home use, I can neither justify the expense nor do I have the slightest inclination to do much headphone listening at home. And I want the “magic” the HiFiMAN planar’s weave too.
    Combine the best of the Sennheiser and the HiFiMAN Phones, sell them at £ 700 and there is a good chance that the queues in front of the headphone shops start approaching those in front of Apple stores when a new iPhone comes out.

    Read the whole review here:

  8. DefQon
    When amped properly, sounds excellent!
    Written by DefQon
    Published Aug 13, 2012
    Pros - natural bass, build quality, comfort, fast and detail, alike high end stats.
    Cons - peaky treble, highs can be slightly bright on some tracks, paint chipping, may be expensive for some
    The HD800's has been around a long time so I'm going to wrap up this review in a few paragraphs. 
    Having owned 3 HD800's at one stage, Serials 51**, 136** and Purrins 103**. 
    Going through all 3 before selling the first two and keeping only Purrins HD800 I bought off him, the early serial based HD800's are to my ears a bit more bass light and more warmer then my original serial 136** and purrins 103**.
    I ended up selling mine and the early serial based HD800 and was thinking of selling purrins one due to moving onto speakers but I thought maybe I should keep it because its got the magical touch from purrin due to all the CSD plots he does LOL.
    Anywho, the HD800 paired with my Beta22 amp sounds extremely good, revealing some detail that I've never heard from my tracks similar to the amount of revealing detail some Stax rigs I've auditioned and owned. Certain music can sound slightly too bright, some music with vocals can result in the voice sounding like it's pronouncing everything with a "Sssss".
    Following the threads here or Innerfidelity (thanks to Tyll), performing the Anaxlius mod with a thicker but more denser felt material can fix the treble problems a bit, generally a bit of eq can fix this problem.
    Most people say the HD800s are too bass light or no bass at all, but with proper amping, you can put on some bass heavy tracks and put your hands over the outside filter dome and you can really feel the bass vibrations. I actually gave the bass of the HD800's a pro because it actually sounds very natural, if I wanted bass, I'd just grab my LCD2's or some of my other bass heavy can's. 
    Surprisingly for a plastic build, it is surprisingly well built and durable, the only thing I can complain about it really is the paint chipping problems that people have, the silver paint really is prone to chipping off no matter how much care is taken with the headphones, which is why I'm in the process of repainting mine through a professional painting service, unfortunately I've emailed Colorware before to do a one off type of job and they said the reason they stopped the custom painting services through Colorware is due to warranty problems and modded headphones.
    Other then that there really isn't anything else to say about these headphones, if there is one headphone you should try before moving onto high end electrostats it is the HD800's as there detail, accuracy and speed of its dynamics are similar to that of high end stats like the 007 MK 1/2's. etc.
    Pair the HD800 with a top of the line solid state amp such as the Beta 22 and you will be wowing at every song you re-listen to that you've heard probably heard a hundred times.
  9. Nordwestlicht
    The HD800 - My Favorite Headphones
    Written by Nordwestlicht
    Published Aug 13, 2012


    This is a completly subjective

    -or let's say in some aspects probably "subjective-neutral"-



    The HD800

    A condensed account after nearly two years of daily use

    My setup:
    Denon DVD-3910 SACD/DVD-A/HDCD/CD/MP3-Player ->
    Sommer Cable SC-Classique ->
    Meier Audio Corda Cantate.2 ->
    Sennheiser HD800
    - relatively high prices for spare parts (a pair of ear pads costs about 75 EUR)
    - relatively damageable silver paint
    - not comfortable for (very) small heads
    - sometimes piercing highs in bad recordings
    - not suitable for music that requires tons of bass
    - not suitable for music files encoded with a low quality
    - not suitable for very bad sources and amps
    o very wide soundstage
    o futuristic design/look with nice Volkswagen silver metallic paint
    o technical ability
    o mainly plastics, some metal
    o the price might seem to be high, but compared to e.g. SR009, it's kind of a steal
    o unique ring transducer
    o somewhat unforgiving sound
    o diffusfeldentzerrt (just a joke, because it's a normal feature and I like this German word... [​IMG])
    + easy to clean inside and outside
    + washable and replaceable pads
    + spacious earcups (the ears stay fairly cool)
    + nice feeling Alcantara fabric
    + luxuirous wearing comfort (for large and medium head sizes)
    + detachable cable
    + overall good haptic, finish and build quality
    + very good cable quality
    + can easily and reversible be modded with foam, felt or slices of wood, to raise the bass level, tame the highs and very slightly change the sound signature, too
    + "Made in Germany" (Hooray!!! [​IMG] -  no patriotism, I only want to express, that it's not "Made in China" like most audio/video products [even expansive ones of well known Western/Japanese/South Korean brands] today)
    + overall very pleasing sound quality and general sound signature
    + the Neumann/Klein&Hummel monitors sitting on your head [​IMG] (Sennheiser = Neumann/K+H)
    + one of the best headphones for classical music (opera, chamber, big orchestra, organ, etc.) and jazz
    + suitable for audio mastering
    + absolutely stunning with good audio recordings
    + also pleasing with medium quality rock/pop/some electro/"whatever"
    + analytical sound with a fun factor
    + extraordinary nice voice rendering
    + overall relatively balanced sound
    + no audible resonances
    + low distortions
    + very open and airy sound
    + holographic sound image (deep and very broad)
    + (somewhat) natural sounding coloration
    + excellent instrument separation
    + extended, detailed and fast bass
    + natural and detailed mids
    + very resolving highs
    + no artificial sound (like e.g. some "Ultrasones")
    + superb and refined detail retrieval
    + absolutely controlled sound (manages e.g. Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung perfectly)
    + very good positioning in width and depth
    + very good at lower volumes
    + is able to play very loud, paired with the right amp
    + better than the best of DT880/600, HD600, HD650 and K701 together
    A last thing to mention:
    Believe me or not, the HD800 can be perfectly driven by a Meier Audio Corda Cantate.2 and does not need recabling! (IMHO, because I tried out several setups and a highly recommended aftermarket cable and the very good results offered by the stock HD800 didn't get any better this way)
    PS: Sorry for every textual mistake in advance!​
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Dennis
      *Drinks Coke*
      Dennis, Sep 20, 2012
    3. mharidas
      This has to be the worst review of the lot, so many distracting lines and poorly formed descriptions. I had to login just to mention how bad this review is. Maybe you will take this feedback and put a better one together.
      mharidas, Nov 5, 2012
    4. Rianoris
      ::Still eating popcorn:: O_o
      Rianoris, Jan 25, 2016
  10. Snake Eyes
    Written by Snake Eyes
    Published Aug 7, 2012
    Pros - They look like something out of TRON
    Sold me Edition 9's because of these because they deliver a bigger sound stage and all that compared to the Edition 9's. Maybe it's because the Edition 9's are closed headphones. Whatever they're my 2nd favourite headphone after the SR-009.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Snake Eyes
      "Ed.9 is closed but the HD800 is better, just not as good as the HD800"
      "Just not as good as the HD800" is an understatement. Ed.9's are NOWHERE near as good as the HD800's. But then again everyone's different and maybe they'll float your boat. When I first heard them they were like that to me but when my HD800's came around I tried the Ed.9 again and my Ed.9 boat was nothing but an irrecoverable wreck. Anyway for the price of $1450 USD buy them if you want to stay dynamic otherwise save up, sell a few organs or whatever and go electrostatic like me. Even better... Visit someone who has both setups and then decide what you want other than taking a risk because that's a lot of money (to normal people like me anyway).
      Snake Eyes, Aug 8, 2012
    3. ardilla
      Haven't sold any organs yet - but I've sold off the HD800 ,) I found it too bright and lacking in bass quantity..
      ardilla, Aug 8, 2012
    4. Snake Eyes
      OK then and good luck in finding a headphone that meets your needs ;o) (if you haven't already)
      Snake Eyes, Aug 9, 2012