Review: Sennheiser HD800S – The New Kid In town

Disclaimer: The Sennheiser HD800S was sent to us by Sennheiser Belgium directly. There is no financial gain to Headfonia for publishing this review. The sample will be returned to Sennheiser after publication of this review.

Sennheiser HD800

The famous Sennheiser HD800 is one of the most written about headphones in the world and it incorporates Sennheiser’s most advanced driver technology. Mike did a diary like series of articles on it a few years ago but we never really officially reviewed the HD800 at Headfonia, except for that comparison with the T1. Shame on us!

Sennheiser’s Marketing team states: “These open, circum-aural dynamic stereo headphones redefine what reference-level audio is all about. Matching these headphones’ reference-grade audio performance is their striking and visually effective industrial design. Premium parts have gone into their production – the transducer is encased by a precision material made of stainless steel. The ear pads are handcrafted from a high-quality microfiber fabric. The headband and headphone mounting utilizes the most advanced development from the aerospace industry. In terms of connectivity, these headphones utilize specially-designed, four-wire, high-performance connections.”

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)

Price:                                                                   € 1299,00

It took me quite a few years to get used to the HD800’s sound signature but the more listening experience and better equipment I got over the years, the better the HD800 started sounding. The week the new HD800 was announced, I finally decided to buy the original and almost everyone said I was crazy and that I made the wrong choice. I just had to get the original before Sennheiser decided to stop making them (they won’t but it’s an excuse, right?) and as the online prices dropped because of the HD800S being newer, I had no other choice. Right now I absolutely love the HD800 and together with the Hifiman HE-1000 it is my favorite Top Of The Line headphone for personal, non-review listening.

Did I make a mistake by getting the original and not the new “S”? I was about to find out.

Sennheiser HD800S


Why change an already iconic headphone? Sennheiser tries to explain:

“A modern classic, Sennheiser’s reference class HD 800 headphones deliver sound that is as natural as possible and true in every detail. Improving on a seemingly perfect formula is not a task undertaken lightly, but Sennheiser’s engineers have succeeded in enhancing still further the sound reproduction in the open, circumaural HD 800 S. The enhanced sound reproduction of the HD 800 S is achieved through the addition of the innovative absorber technology that was pioneered in the Sennheiser IE 800 – a breakthrough that preserved the audibility of very high frequency sounds by eliminating a phenomenon known as the “masking effect”, where the human hear struggles to hear frequencies of sound when lower frequencies of a higher volume occur at the same time.

Sennheiser HD800 S

By absorbing the energy of the resonance, Sennheiser’s patented absorber technology prevents any unwanted peaks and allows all frequency components – even the finest nuances – in the music material to become audible. This innovation was a key element in making the IE 800 the world’s best sounding in ear headphone, and in the HD 800 S it helps to bring even greater purity and precision”.

I truly believe that Sennheiser wanted to make the original HD800 even better but I personally also believe that they wanted to make the HD800(S) loved by a bigger group of people. While the HD800 is a sublime headphone, you really have to like its sound. A lot of people adore it but an equally big part just can’t get used to its highs and the more analytical character. Another often heard point is that the HD800 doesn’t have enough bass body or bass punch. While this last point strongly depends on the amplifier used, I personally can’t really agree with that comment. The HD800 to me has great bass with superb layering, speed and detail. It just needs a good amplifier, and exactly that is one of the other weaknesses. People nowadays however seem to want more of everything (except treble) and so the HD800S was tuned with more body to the lower mids and bass itself, and softer treble.

The story continues after the click HERE or below, on Page Two