For the past six years or so, the Sennheiser HD800 has entertained a reputation as a premium headphone. And even though this reputation may have been somewhat eclipsed by the release of the new-and-improved HD800S, the $1399 HD800 still delivers a damn good sound.
Sennheiser HD800 Review
The HD800 comes in a huge box that holds the headphones, instructions and warranty info, and a removable cable with a 1/4” stereo plug.
Construction is largely metal, giving the impression of headphone you could thoroughly abuse without compromising its sound. Despite the weight that this type of build lends to the headphone, comfort is still a dream – no doubt helped along by ample velour padding on the headband and earcups.
Wearing style: Headband
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
As these specs show, you’re looking at a headphone with a wide frequency response, very low distortion, and a high nominal impedance. While detail should be crisp and clean, you’re definitely going to want to amp these bad boys. For this review, I used the AKG HP4E, a $99 studio staple that can pull double-duty as a high-powered amp for critical listening.
The low end on the HD800 is deep and full, and sports some strong detail. Bass has fantastic impact and “oomph,” with excellent control that leads to a remarkably clean sound with no bleeding whatsoever.
Delivering delicious detail and an accurate sound overall, the midrange on the HD800 is near perfect. Vocals and instrumentation are equally pristine, without a whiff of compression or distortion between them.
When it comes to the high end of the HD800, sound quality is a mixed bag. On one hand, there is plenty of detail at play in the high end. On the other hand, that detail is marred by a lingering thinness that gives way to high highs that can be piercing at times. While this may not be a mixed bag, it was a noticeable flaw for many audiophiles, and was a hurdle that was only overcome when Sennheiser released the HD800S earlier this year.
With a great sense of depth and placement, the soundstage on the HD800 is some next-level stuff. Downright beautiful, it threatens to immerse you in a vast sound that just oozes exacting articulation.
The Sennheiser HD800 is fast becoming that forgotten model of yesteryear, but the sound still strikes a chord on my audiophile heartstrings. Sure, it’s no longer at the summit of the Sennheiser product lineup. Sure, it’s got some shenanigans going on in the high end. But unless you’re a violin junkie, that problematic high end may escape notice. Indeed, for many a listener of rock, hip-hop, or EDM, the sound on these cans is going to be more than amazing. And it could still pump out some classical or acoustic tunes, albeit with less than perfect highs.
Need detail and soundstage at $1400 or under? The Sennheiser HD800 will give you what you seek – and then some. Fans of bass-centric music like rock, hip-hop, or EDM will love the luscious, immaculate low end and mids that the HD800 offers. For fans of classical and acoustic music, the HD800S will offer better control in the high end, but at a higher price. Whether that increase in price is worth the upgraded performance is up for debate, but if you’re in the market for some high-end cans, the HD800 should definitely be on the list.
You can find these headphones for the best price at:
Audio 46 (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get 10% off)