1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. dan.gheorghe
    The best headphone I have heard to date
    Written by dan.gheorghe
    Published Apr 14, 2013
    Pros - Amazing soundstage & instrument separation, detail monster, awesome PRAT and bass, top notch mids
    Cons - Sometimes sibilant, very fragile
    Hey guys,

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


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

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

    Lets take this from the start.

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

    How I actually look like:

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

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


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


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

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

    I will tell you my impressions on a few songs.

    ACDC – You Shook Me All Night Long

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

    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – Time

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

    Infected Mushrooms – IM The Supervisor – Noon

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

    Tristania – Illumination (symphonic gothic metal)

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

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

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

    Leonard Cohen – The Traitor

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


      Pidgeon likes this.
    1. Pidgeon
      Good review, thank you! :)
      Pidgeon, Apr 14, 2013
    2. dan.gheorghe
      Thank you, glad I could help!
      dan.gheorghe, Apr 15, 2013
    3. Arniesb
      Wow man, really good and entertaining review!
      Arniesb, Feb 14, 2016
  6. Takeanidea
    The HD800 before and after - now lambswool modded and Sorrodje SuperDupont Resonator modded
    Written by Takeanidea
    Published Mar 25, 2013
    Pros - Accuracy Comfort(moddable with 30 minutes fully reversible work)-revision Nov 2015-rev 2016 Bass lifted treble spike toned down
    Cons - Price- First hours of listening were a little worrying-(treble may eventually grate)Revision Nov 2015 new rev Nov 2016 grating treble all but gone
    Hi there,
    This review is based on my honest impressions of the HD800. I have no technical background little technical knowledge but I listen to music an awful lot. This comes from the heart and I in no way intend to cause any personal offence to any of the gear anyone else has. I simply wish to put on record what my personal findings have been on this set of phones and the reader can compare to other reviews out there.
    First of all, I have to say it has not been possible to find a way to give you an unbiased comparison of these headphones against any others on the market. This is because double blind testing only works when you are using ancillary equipment.
    If you know your existing headphones then you know how they feel on your head so this immediately destroys any chance of knowing what the true differences are. Leaving aside all the tricks your ears can and will play on you....
    This is a good and a bad thing. On the one hand it gives reviews like this an added importance to the prospective buyer and on the other hand theee is no esy of proving whether any of this is correct.
    The closest one might get to a really good comparison would be those people lucky enough to have a sound card dac or headphone amplifier that had 2 headphone outputs. Switching between headphones could therefore be done faster and the memory of the sound characteristics of each arguably clearer in one's mind. I believe jude has a benchmark dac that has this facility. The added complication is that every headphone has a slightly different sensitivity so volume matching is arguably needed. I have not got these facilities they are more suited to the regular reviewers out there.
    I have had the hd800s since early December 2012 so have listened to them for several hundred hours. I have owned denon ahd2000's westone um2s shure ecl5s ue triple fi 10s monster gratitudes klipsch x10is srx mk3 pros and audeze lcd2's during this time. A comparison between these headphones is all I can do. There might be headphones out yhere that blow the hd800s out of the water for the type of sound quality I like but that's the mystique of our hobby- we will never truly know what the best out there is. David Mahler must be getting there with the number of top end phones he has I guess. But for mere mortals....
    The hd800s are my favourite headphones. Whatever I plug them into whatever music I listen to. When it is practical to listen through them (they leak a huge amount of sound) they're amazing. The music is reproduced in a way I never believed was possible until I heard them. The audeze lcd2's are renowned for the live feel and the bass they produce and their beautiful finish. All of this I believe to be true from the time I owned them. My ears much preferred the sound of the hd800s and I will try to explain why.
    There is something about the precision of the mix of the music the wideness of the sound that I have not experienced with any other headphone in the same way. The hd800s to my ears excel in this aspect. You will read numerous articles which will make you think twice about spending so much money on these phones. I have read they need hugely expensive headphone amplifiers , dacs, cabling, modding, 100s of hours of burn in time, special recordings, special ears probably. The list is endless. Who knows maybe some of that stuff is right especially for those who have pursued those paths to the nth degree.
    Some of these paths are expensive toll roads, from my viewpoint I think I'll catch the bus :D
    I am therefore not going to describe the hd800s as having shortcomings of needing any of the above because my ears are telling me they don't. Which is surely good news if youve just spent $1500.
    Other criticism I've read is that they sound harsh or the treble has too much 'sparkle'. Not to my 46 year old ears they don't. Not one bit. The higher frequency stuff sounds just great. Another criticism levelled is that they lack bass. Again, I have found this to be untrue. All instrumemts are presented accurately so if there's metallica softly tapping way at the drums on enter sandman or the orchestra limbering up on jeff waynes the eve of the war it's worth taking some time out to hear it if you haven't before.
    The only detrimental thing I can say beyond the obvious that they leak sound is that when I first listened to them out of the box they sounded very thin and strained like a cheap pair of iems. This was quite worrying to me. They started to improve after a few minutes and certainly gave me a sigh of relief after 30 minutes when I realised my new phones werent broken. Whether this phenomenon was what is described as burn in or whether it was down to the headphones being cold having been stored in a box for a long time I could not tell you. I left the phones connected to an ipod night and day for a week listening to them when I had a chance. This was just as much to make absolutely sure there wasn't a manufacturer fault than it was to burn them in and it did the phones no harm at all in the process. In hindsight I had nothing to fear but for those of you buying new I would advise it for the peace of mind that you haven't got a broken pair
    I find most of the headfiers out there are on a budget. Am I right? If I had a budget of $1500 and I wanted to get the best sound quality I could I would buy a pair of these 2nd hand and spend the rest on wine, women (your loved ones deserve a treat for letting you get these), and song.
    I hope I have not trodden on anyone's toes or caused anyone any upset in writing this. It was a simple impulsive wish to share some of the pleasure I have had in owning this amazing set of headphones. :)

    AMENDMENT 10/11/15

    I thought I would tell you of what life is like after a few years of use. I have dropped these phones a few times and had to repair the stock cables at the termination, they have been taken around with me during my journey to and from the various places I live so they show signs of wear.


    The HD800s still live up to their initial impressions, I have bought and sold many other phones; LCD2.2, T1, Stax Sigma Pro, IE800, X11i, Alpha Dog, Encore Pro Studio, Stance S1,T20 etc. I have listened to many other phones including the SR009, Orpheus, K1000, Abyss, GS1000i, PS1000, Ultrasone, Noble, LCD3,W1000,HE560 and HE1000. Whilst some of these have been better sounding to me (SR009,K1000,HE1000,Orpheus,Abyss,HE560) I have not been tempted to spend those sorts of sums on replacement.
    Some 2 months ago I decided to mod the HD800 using the Anaxilus Mod. I was really disappointed with the results, to me they sounded muffled, lost too much of their soundstage and were too prominent in the bass. Rather than discarding all the research and damping material I decided to tone down the effect of the mod. I put wool felt over the metal rings of the driver reducing the thickness of the original mod by a factor of two thirds.


    The cutting is crude, the felt doesn't 100% cover the surface of the ring. It doesn't even stick hard and fast the surface. Yet the felt does what it needs to do.
    This has made a noticeable difference in bass response and ringing around the upper treble region, although a word of warning ; the upper mids and treble region is where I believe the magic of the illusion of the huge soundstage is created. Of course the size and angle of the drivers plays a part in the soundstage too , the mod does pull it in. The soundstage is further refined and pulled in with an EQ I have set up on my Audivarna Plus music player.


    I am reaping the fruit of my labours with these phones, in spite of the HD800S launch. The S Model is intended to rectify some of the perceived shortcomings of the 800 Model, I have to say I have changed the stock sound of mine using damping and eq to the point where I have no interest in replacing them with the S Model.
    There has been one recent major purchase; this is the HE6 and a huge speaker amp based on the First Watt F6, @dill3000 diy built "The Mini Beast". More on that in another review. The HE-6 is a different tone and the soundstage is altogether different. The HD800 is still with me and enjoying a new lease of life despite the HE-6.

    Revision Nov 2016
    More modding
    The half felt half lambswool has now been replaced with a full lambswool layer to the ring around the drivers of my HD800.

    Listening to the S model made me realise there was still more that should be done with these phones. My friend @dill3000 pointed out to me @Sorrodje had another layer of sophistication to add to the mods already done out there.
    Dillan got some resonators and I set to work on the drivers. 10 minutes later and I was finished. They work! Wonderful work @Sorrodje. Thank you. You have made the great even greater.
    The HD800 , at £1099 , is looking at ever more of a bargain. Although , even with the mods , I would put my money on the S model for the extra £100. the soundstage is not quite so wide and the imaging perhaps not quite so pin sharp, but I think the tonality still just edges it.
      gevorg, pedalhead, Wilashort and 7 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. aizik1992
      my question is how they work on bus,street any public place i believe they would still sound great but is it worth the price? and if they aren't too loud from the outside?
      aizik1992, Apr 16, 2013
    3. guntur
      Well. I am sure these are meant to be used at home. Though I do wish we could carry them everywhere!! It would be worth the price if you can carry these babies everywhere 'carefully' and secondly find a place where you wont be disturbing others and where others don't disturb you!!
      guntur, Oct 17, 2013
    4. reihead
      Love this kind of review revisions after some months or years
      Thank you very much
      Very informative
      reihead, Dec 2, 2015
  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. YoengJyh
    HD800 is my DieHard Headphone for now
    Written by YoengJyh
    Published Mar 3, 2013
    Pros - It makes my LCD2.2 leave in dust
    Cons - It keeps me away from other flagship headphones for certain period
    But why i give 4.5 stars?
    Because Stax009 is better to my ears.
      jtinto likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. XxDobermanxX
      XxDobermanxX, Mar 7, 2013
    3. interpolate
      This is not Facebook. Geez it reminds me of the iVerge forum. 
      interpolate, Jun 20, 2015
    4. YoengJyh
      I have been using my HD800 more than 3 years now. HD800 is the only headphone on my head at all times. Thanks Sennheiser!!
      YoengJyh, Jul 25, 2015
  9. reeltime
    Expensive Cans Enjoy Expensive Power
    Written by reeltime
    Published Dec 29, 2012
    Pros - 21st Century Design. Detail Kings. Soundstage Kings. Comfort Kings.
    Cons - Price. Needs Expensive Amplification.
    Not that there haven't been a hundred thousand things written on this most-controversial headphone-- but what the heck are we here for if not to give our opinion, right?  So sit back with a cup of coffee, while I'll tell the story of my HD 800 experience.
    It's funny-- there's a growing Apple-Microsoft type environment growing in the Head-Fi community.  It's between HD 800 owners and fans, and Audeze owners and fans.  If you read any forum with the omni-present headline "Which Headphone Should I Buy?" the two sides make themselves known in subtle ways.  "Well if you're looking for comfort, you can't go wrong with the HD 800," writes one post.  "Way more comfortable than the LCD-2."  Next post: "What?  You're crazy!  I've had my LCD's cranked on my head for like 10 hours today.  Look!  There's still on my head and I didn't know it!"  "Well Sennheiser has been around for seven hundred years.  You know they'll be here after the world explodes and you need new earpads after the firestorm scorches them."  "At Audeze, they hand craft every single component and skip Valentine's Day because the love goes into their products."  And on and on the debate goes. 
    Point is-- Everyone is going to be predisposed to one type of headphone or another.  I haven't owned an Audeze headphone yet.  I will in the next year or two.  Right now I'm still finding the edge of the envelope for the HD 800, and it's getting interesting.
    I started my Head-Fi journey in the shallow end.   I needed wanted a custom in-ear headphone which really blocked out sound, so I stumbled across Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors and went through the process of acquiring a pair.  Amazed by the fidelity, I started looking for opinions and found Head-Fi and Headfonia-- which led me to the Slim Pico Amp.  Impressed, I thought I'd try an open ear set of cans for home-- so I bought the HD 650.  Then I thought-- let's put some power down-- so I bought a Burson 160D.  Great, but lots of treble-- let's find a smooth tube amp!  Enter the Woo WA6.  Then I rolled a thousand+ dollars in tubes into it-- and bought the HD 800.  You can already see-- this story isn't going to end well. 
    The HD 800 out of the Burson and the WA6 were a subtle upgrade over the HD 650.  The bass was certainly tighter, the soundstage wider, but honestly-- the change between the two wasn't all that remarkable.  Still, I kept the HD 800 figuring I can scale them up if I wish, and they were more comfortable on my head than the HD 650-- so the HD 650 were sold so my wife wouldn't murder me.
    Sure, there were other headphone purchases-- Audio Technica ATH-50s (those still live at work), Grado SR225, Beats (yes, Beats-- wanting to see what the fuss was about-- that's another review), and some in-ears-- Shure SE425 (still for sale), Klipsch, HifiMan, among others.  But the main focus now was my home rig and bringing the best out of my HD 800.
    The WA6 tube rolling experiments got all the way to a NOS 1957 GZ34 rectifier with a metal base, which cost around the price of the amp-- The HD 800 responded every step of the way.  The bass deepened as the headphone broke in, I upgraded the cable to Toxic silver (exciting another debate over whether pure copper is a better match for the HD 800).  Things were improving but the knock still was that the sub bass wasn't kicking, and the highs out of the Burson made that combo particularly bright to my ears-- damn near to the point of sibilance.  
    In October, one Head-Fier suggested-- maybe you should think about more power for the HD 800, suggesting a move to the WA6-SE.  I started an eBay search.  This wasn't going to be pretty.
    After losing a few auctions-- something really bad happened.  A Woo WA5LE appeared-- and no one was bidding.  Yep.  That was the winner.  $1800 dollars later I started looking for FedEx trucks everywhere I went.  
    This was a major change in the HD 800.  The full range of the audio spectrum was now pumping through my skull.  It was like getting a much-needed pair of glasses after years of squinting.  I never realized how power hungry this headphone really was.  Sure, I can drive the HD 800 with a Fiio E17, they are efficient headphones, but to bring this set of cans to life, it wants pure, clean power, as much-- and as clean-- as you can muster.  
    I'm not talking about a marginal improvement anymore.  Here's my best analogy:  Say I purchased a Ferrari.  I get behind the wheel and take it for a spin.  Well, it's a Ferrari, so I'm going to be impressed.  What I didn't know-- is that the car came only with a four-cylinder engine.  And while I thought I was getting this good performance, when I dropped a (edit) Prat & Whitney jet engine in, suddenly you are holding on for dear life.  Everything about the car's characteristics changed.  The car can move with the four-banger, but it was really made to handle a lot of power.  Same goes with the HD 800.
    Now here's another problem with this new system-- every musical flaw is up front.  Putting MP3 files through it-- you hear every artifact and dropout.  It's brought the worst out of the Burson's DAC stage.  So much so-- I'm now selling the Burson for a cleaner DAC.  
    Stepping back for a second-- you have to wonder-- what was wrong with the HD 650 and the WA6?  Nothing.  I'm crazy.  I admit it.  
    But for folks who complain that the HD 800 lacks sub-bass, my first question from now on is going to be-- What are you using to drive it?  Because with the right power, you understand why this is a $1500 dollar headphone.  It's the closest thing I've ever heard to sonic perfection-- yet I'm still rolling thousands of dollars in tubes through the WA5LE, to see where the edge of the envelope is with the HD 800.
      zellous likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. TheKillerPiglet
      I still have to get used to the idea of 6SN7's as power tubes, they have been pre-amp tubes in my mind for so long. There's a certain appeal to a head amp that burns these You see, I have another "world may explode" stash of American 6SN7's. Somewhere. Not sure where. Somewhere.
      That's the danger with tubes: you have to be careful what you listen to. Once one comes across a set that just lights up in particular circuit, it is hard to pull away. I have a couple of Cuban cigar boxes full of European e88/6922 types. Sadly, I only have two spare sets of 60's Siemen's CCa's and one pair of Telefunken <> (<> is not an emoticon). Last totally silent set of grey plate CCa's went into the AN DAC last year along with one of the Bendix rectifiers. Ten years use on the Bendix, 8 on the CCa's before one got a little noisy, power on 24/7.
      Would it be possible to live with the Amparex's, Valvos, Mullards? Well, unless I have horribly miscalculated and/or there is a substantial increase in life expectancy during, well, during my lifetime I may never find out.
      TheKillerPiglet, Dec 30, 2012
    3. TheKillerPiglet
      Ah... see what you have done?
      I just dragged the big Audio Note off the music room rack, cleared my desk, move my monitors. Nothing fancy: feeding it SPIDF RCA from motherboard, going the the V200, HE500's... but this, this is the "why" of tubes...
      ....this story isn't going to end well...
      TheKillerPiglet, Dec 30, 2012
    4. Night Crawler
      reeltime, you certainly weren't kidding. I received my first ever HD800's today, and came to the very same conclusion. The HD800 is very source dependent! Most of my amps left me completely underwhelmed, save for two in particular. The first is my DACmini PX, which has served as my all time favorite amp for notably the LCD2 and HD650 (among a few other cans I own). Suffice to say, the HD800 sounds simply incredible with the PX. The second amp will take many by surprise, and while I'm sure there are a 100 better, much more powerful alternatives out there (for which I care not at this point in time, lol), the Headstage Arrow 3G has never once ceased to impress me. In fact, before the PX, it was my most preferred go to amp for the HE-300, HE-400, HE-500, and HD650, and to this day it remains one of my absolute favorites. Reason being, the Arrow not only packs enormous power (considering it's size), it also features one of the cleanest bass boosts I've encountered, period. That's inclusive of the Zo (both the original and second generation), I might add. In any case, the Arrow serves as merely a portable solution, whilst the PX is my official at home, go to amp for the HD800. In either case, I'm very content with how the HD800 sounds. Now, my only other concern is which of the three (HD650, HD700, HD800) I intend to keep. :p
      Night Crawler, Jan 2, 2013
  10. 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.