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Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

Rating:
4.54386/5,
  1. Snake Eyes
    ...
    Written by Snake Eyes
    Published Aug 7, 2012
    4.0/5,
    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
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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
     
    Thanks for reading, you can follow me at:
     
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aornicreviews
     
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    Twitter: https://twitter.com/aornic1024
     
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    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/aornic
      Asymptote123 likes this.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  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. 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.
  9. 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
  10. TwoEars
    The F1 Car of Headphones
    Written by TwoEars
    Published Jan 19, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Perhaps the world's most transparent headphone. Incredible details, extension and precision. Unmatched spacial presentation.
    Cons - Extremely sensitive to what's down the line, requires meticulous setup. Hopeless to demo, needs extensive listening to judge.
    I've owned the HD800's for the better part of two years, by now I have hundreds and hundreds of hours of listening time behind me. It is never easy to review a flagship product but the HD800 is harder still, it is not a random thing that I've held off doing this review for so long.
     
    The first time I demoed the HD800 I was of course incredibly exited to try Sennheiser latest and greatest headphone, who wouldn't be? I was impressed by the build quality, the "all-day-long-disappear-on-your-head" comfort, the attention to detail, the very German "rightness" of it all. As I listened to some of my favorite demo tracks in the hi-fi store I was amazed by the details, spacial presentation and precision. But at the end of it all I also came away more than a little perplexed, and there was no instant buy that day. Some of my favorite recordings had sounded a bit dry, hollow and sterile. Almost as if they had been stripped of emotion.
     
    So at the time I simply concluded that the HD800 was competent, but that it wasn't for me. And no great loss since I carried on with my HD650's, a pair of headphones which I to this day still hold in very high regard.
     
    But after a year or so I started thinking about the HD800's again, I guess curiosity is the only way I can describe it. Was I sure there really wasn't anything special with the HD800? This was Sennheiser we were talking about, could Sennheiser really be wrong? So I started reading about the HD800's, and how divided the opinions on them were. This didn't seem to be a "normal" pair of headphones which you could just demo for an hour or so. These headphones required you to actually buy them, install them in your system, set them up the way you want them, let the headphones break in and then let your ears acclimatize themselves.
     
    But even armed with this knowledge I still wasn't completely sold on buying them, it's a lot of money to put down on the table when you're not sure if you're going to like something or not. But one day I spotted a mint second hand pair from a professional reseller at a price that was just too good to pass on. So I decided just to go for it -  "heck for that price I can probably sell them for the same again if I don't like them" I said to myself.
     
    And away from the pressure of the demo room I slowly began to warm to the HD800's and appreciate what's so special about them. This isn't really a headphone that's built to be a headphone, this is a set of headphones that's supposed to sound like a pair of speakers standing in front of you.
     
    I have never before or since had a pair of headphones that image so well, it is simply uncanny and something that has to be experienced. Since they are so transparent they also respond extremely well to tweaking. If you change a cable, change the source or give them a +2 dB bass boost you can really hear the difference. This is both good and bad; it is good because they respond very well to changes down the line. It is bad because they are extremely demanding; if you have unclean power in your home, a low quality DAC, a humming amp or a low quality recording you will hear it.
     
    And in this regard the HD800's are extremely unflattering, they will show absolutely no mercy towards bad recordings. On the other hand; if you give them top-notch components and a good recording they will blow almost everything else out of the water. This is why I like to think of the HD800's as a highly strung F1 car. They can be a pair of demanding son-of-a-somethings, but if you get them set up right... boy do they perform.
     
    As such I highly recommend the HD800's, I've derived tons of listening pleasure from mine. It is a headphone that I like to think can do things which no other headphone can. But it is also a headphone that's best purchased when you've already owned a couple of other headphones, and you already have a very competent DAC and AMP setup. Even then it might not be a pair of headphones that you want to use all the time, or for all your recordings. But with the right setup, and the right recordings, you can experience "moments of greatness" which few other headphones can match.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. TwoEars
      Thanks guys.
      TwoEars, May 8, 2014
    3. Shape77
      Thank You for Your review!
      Shape77, Mar 26, 2015
    4. saalboy
      Great review, thank you. I'm using HD800 paired in balanced mode with Pono Player. It's probably not the best combination but worth of considering. Have to say that I can't go back to my long time favorite HD600, the difference between HD800 and latter is immense, not only in price.
      With Anaxilus mod (2mm narrow felt) my HD800 have the same characteristics we love about HD600 but with super wide soundstage, tight base and crisp clear highs which take the music to all new level. My ears are in heaven, especially with acoustic music. All sampled and electronic sounds which we find mostly in pop music have a little dirty effect to it no matter the source.
      saalboy, Jan 17, 2016