Sennheiser HD800S Review: A Virtual Reality Experience for Your Ears

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones Review

If you're not looking for thunderous sub-bass, Sennheiser's top-of-the-line open-back headphones still provide an attractive option for headphone enthusiasts.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

In the past, if someone wanted to buy good headphones, they could choose from brands like Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, AKG, and Grado. However, when the original HD800 headphones were released, it was a surprise to everyone. The headphones were very expensive and had a unique design that caught people's attention. This caused people to raise their eyebrows and be surprised.

In 2009, a new model of headphones called the Sennheiser HD800S was introduced, seven years after the popular HD650 model. The HD800 was very comfortable to wear and had very clear and detailed sound (for the time), but it had a bright tone. Years later, an improved version of the Sennheiser HD800S called the HD800S was released, with the goal of enhancing the original model's qualities.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones overview

The listening experience with the Sennheiser HD800S headphones is really good, with high-quality sound and a 3D-like effect that makes you feel like the music is all around you. If you're interested in headphones, you should definitely try these out, and maybe even buy them.

However, the way the headphones are tuned may not be for everyone. They have a specific type of tuning that can make them sound too bright for some people, and others may wish they had more bass. Because of this, the headphones may not be the best for all types of music or listening preferences.

Positive Explanation
Top-tier imaging rarely found elsewhere This camera takes really great pictures, and you probably won't find similar quality in other cameras.
Faithfully renders recording ambiance When you take a picture with this camera, it captures the atmosphere or feeling of the environment accurately.
Ergonomics to die for This camera is designed to be comfortable and easy to use for extended periods of time.
Good accessories The accessories that come with the camera are of high quality and add value to the overall package.
Superb build quality The camera is well-made and durable, so it can withstand wear and tear over time.
Easily serviceable If the camera needs repairs, it can be fixed without too much trouble or expense.
Stellar spare part support If replacement parts are needed for the camera, they are readily available and of good quality.

 

Drawbacks Explanation
Diffuse-field tuning Refers to a specific way of tuning the headphones which may not be preferred by everyone
Treble too hot High-pitched sounds may be too loud or pronounced for some people's liking
Low-end extension Bass may not be as deep or powerful as some people would prefer
THD in low end When playing low-pitched sounds, there may be some unwanted distortion or fuzziness in the sound
Used HD800 A used HD800 can be purchased for much less money than a new one

 

In this article, the writer is going to talk about a type of headphones called HD800S and compare them to other headphones available today. They want to figure out if the Sennheiser HD800S is still the best choice for people who want to spend around $1500 on headphones, or if there are other good options that cost less.

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Technical Specifications

These technical specifications are describing a type of Sennheiser HD800S headphones.

  • Form factor: Open-back, over-ear means that they are designed to fit over your ears and allow some sound to leak out of the back of the headphones.
  • Drivers: 56mm dynamic ring radiators are the parts inside the headphones that produce sound. These are relatively large drivers that should be able to produce high-quality audio.
  • Nominal impedance: 300Ohm is a measure of how much electrical resistance the headphones have. These headphones have a high impedance, which means they may require more power to drive them than some other headphones.
  • Sensitivity: 102dB/V at 1kHz is a measure of how loud the headphones can get. These headphones should be able to produce a good level of volume.
  • Max power handling: 500mW continuos is the maximum amount of power that the headphones can handle without being damaged.
  • Frequency response: 4 – 51 000Hz (-10dB) is the range of frequencies that the headphones can produce. These headphones can produce both low and high frequencies well.
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.02% at 1V/1kHz is a measure of how much distortion is produced by the headphones. These headphones should produce very little distortion, which is good for accurate sound reproduction.
  • Cable entry: 2-pin ODU circular connectors are the type of connectors that the headphones use to connect to the cable.
  • Weight: 330g without cable is how much the headphones weigh without the cable. These are relatively heavy headphones, which may be something to consider if you plan to wear them for long periods of time.

Package for Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

The Sennheiser HD800S is a type of headphones that come in a black cardboard box. The box is covered with a glossy paper sleeve. When you open the box, you will find the headphones placed on a cushion made of foam and covered with velvet fabric. The overall quality of the packaging feels expensive and high-end.

However, the writer of this text prefers a practical carrying case over fancy packaging. This means they would rather have a case that makes it easier to transport the headphones safely instead of having a luxurious box that they may not use or need.

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If you're considering purchasing the Sennheiser HD800S headphones, the packaging you receive may vary depending on the date of manufacture. It's worth noting that newer models may come with simpler foam padding packaging that resembles that of the Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

In the Packaging box

In the Sennheiser HD800S packaging box, you'll find a pair of HD800S headphones along with two different types of cables:

  • A 3m silver-plated OFC 6.35mm TRS cable and a 3m silver-plated OFC 4.4mm TRRS cable.
  • There's also a cloth pouch to store your headphones in when you're not using them.
  • You'll also get a USB stick that contains the instruction manual in PDF format, along with information about the headphones' individually measured diffuse-field frequency response.
  • Lastly, there's a printed instruction manual and a microfiber cloth included to help you keep your headphones clean and looking great.

Sennheiser HD800S headphones Design

The OG HD800 headphones had a unique and futuristic appearance that was influenced by German science fiction. However, the new Sennheiser HD800S headphones have a more simple and less eye-catching look, with most of the parts being black.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

The speaker prefers the new design because the old one had mixed opinions - some people liked it, but others did not. Additionally, the new black paint is less likely to chip off or come off compared to the old design.

The HD800S headphones from Sennheiser are designed in a way that makes them feel very special and unique. They're not just ordinary headphones that you can buy anywhere. They're lightweight and have a very modern, high-tech feel to them that makes them stand out.

Compared to other high-end headphones made by Focal, the HD800S headphones may not look quite as elegant or fancy. However, the Focal headphones don't have that same futuristic, high-tech feel that the HD800S do. So, while the Focal headphones may look nicer, they don't have the same unique and special feeling that the HD800S do.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

The Sennheiser HD800S headphones have a special feature where they can be taken apart easily without any tools. This is great for people who use these headphones professionally because if something breaks, they can easily fix it. You can buy all the different parts of the headphones separately from Sennheiser, so you don't have to replace the entire headphone if only one part breaks. And if you need to replace the earpads, it won't be expensive.

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Cable

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

The Sennheiser HD800S is a pair of headphones that comes with two different cables - one with a regular-sized headphone jack (6.35mm) and one with a special balanced jack (Pentaconn 4.4mm). The only difference between the two cables is the type of jack that plugs into the headphones.

The cable is 3 meters long, which might be a bit too long if you're using the headphones with your computer or other desktop devices. However, the cable is flexible, so it can be easily moved out of the way or adjusted to suit your needs.

The article is talking about a type of cable that can be used with a specific type of headphones (Sennheiser HD800S). There are two options for the cable: one that comes with the headphones and another one that needs to be purchased separately.

The author of the article would have preferred that the second option (the XLR cable) be included with the headphones when they were originally released. However, at the time the headphones were released, a different type of connector (Pentaconn) was very popular, so that's what was included instead.

Adding a pair of 4-pin XLR connectors to both cables is a straightforward modification. The cloth cover can be easily cut open, but handling the enameled wiring may prove to be difficult for some. Creating cables from scratch can be a costly endeavor, especially when utilizing ODU circular connectors, which are quite expensive.

Comfort

In simple terms, the person who wrote this statement is saying that the HD800 and HD800S headphones are incredibly comfortable to wear. They have tried many other headphones but find these two to be the most comfortable. The HD800S is so comfortable that they hardly notice that they are wearing them, thanks to their lightweight, large earpads, and padded headband.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

"Clamping force" refers to how tightly the headphones fit on your head. In this case, the "clamping force" of the HD800S headphones is strong enough to keep them securely on your head even if you lean forward or move your head around quickly (i.e. "headbanging" to music). Despite the tight fit, the headphones do not cause any pain or discomfort to your cheeks or the top of your head. This means that you can enjoy listening to music without worrying about the headphones falling off or causing discomfort.

Internals

The development of the ring radiator driver for the HD800 and HD800S by Sennheiser deserves more recognition than it currently receives.

The HD800 headphones are often grouped together with other headphones that use similar technology to produce sound, called dynamic headphones. However, the HD800 actually uses a different type of technology called a ring radiator, which is built differently and produces sound differently than dynamic headphones. So, even though they may seem similar at first glance, the HD800 is actually quite different from other dynamic headphones.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

A ring radiator is a type of speaker driver that is used in high-end headphones like the HD800S. It's made up of two half-rolls of surround material with a voice coil attached to the middle of it, near a permanent magnet. The diaphragm, which produces the sound waves, is attached to both the outer and inner circumference of the surround material, making it more stable and less prone to distortion.

Although the ring radiator is larger in diameter than traditional drivers (56mm vs 40mm), it doesn't necessarily mean that it has a bigger piston area. This is because the surround material takes up some of the space, reducing the effective piston area of the driver. This has an impact on the low-end response of the HD800S, which we can see when we examine its performance in that frequency range.

Sennheiser HD800S Sound

The impressive technical jargon about acoustics would be meaningless if the Sennheiser HD800S fails to meet expectations when it comes to sound quality. However, this is not the case, as the headphones do indeed deliver. While they are not flawless, the HD800S can provide an exceptional auditory experience with the appropriate recording.

According to Sennheiser, the HD800S headphones are specifically calibrated to align with the diffuse-field headphone standard.

To put it briefly, the diffuse-field headphone tuning dictates that headphones should produce a sound that is comparable to a flat-tuned speaker heard in a highly reflective room. This was once a globally recognized standard, but was later replaced by Harman International Industries' own target, developed by their team of headphone experts.

Sennheiser HD800S Headphones

From a scientific standpoint, the diffuse-field target is a reasonable choice. Nevertheless, in practical situations, it tends to lack bass and sound overly bright to most listeners. What I find intriguing is that Sennheiser's top headphone designer, Axel Grell, had previously created the HD600 and HD650 models, both of which have a more neutral tuning.

The HD800 headphones were designed to compete with other high-end headphones made by Beyerdynamic and AKG. These brands were known for using a tuning method called diffuse-field tuning. When the HD800 headphones were first released, they were compared to the Beyerdynamic T1 headphones, which were also popular at the time.

Although both headphones were popular, over time the T1 headphones became less popular, while the HD800 headphones became a classic in the industry. Many people who love headphones still wish for a "unicorn" headphone that combines the HD800's comfort, soundstage, and technical performance with the tuning used in the HD650 headphones, which are known for being easy on the ears.

The HD800S was anticipated to provide an ideal blend, but it didn't quite meet expectations.

Tonal balance

In general, the Sennheiser HD800S provides an accurate portrayal of the entire audible range, spanning from the low-frequency bass to the upper midrange. However, the treble stands out as the main culprit, exceeding the midrange by about 6 decibels. Although this adds a lively quality to the HD800S, it also causes ear fatigue to set in rapidly with intense genres such as metal.

Bass at Sennheiser HD800S headphones

Despite its 56mm driver, the HD800S has a bass extension that is comparable to that of smaller open-back dynamic driver headphones.

This passage is discussing the bass response of different headphones.

"Roll-off" refers to how quickly the bass frequencies decrease as you go lower. A "gentler" roll-off means that the bass doesn't drop off as quickly as in other headphones.

The HD650 is a type of headphone with a more pronounced roll-off than the one being discussed, meaning that it doesn't have as much bass extension.

The Focal Clear MG is a newer headphone model that has even better bass response than the HD800S, especially in the lowest frequencies, by about 3dB (decibels).

Planar magnetics, like the Audeze LCD-2, are a type of headphone technology that can produce even better sub-bass extension than the HD800S.

As we move up from sub-bass to the bass and mid-bass frequencies, the HD800S is still very enjoyable and satisfying, and provides plenty of impact and dynamic range when the music calls for it. In general, the passage is saying that while the HD800S has good bass response, there are other headphones that are even better at reproducing certain types of bass frequencies.

Midrange

The HD800S is capable of delivering a remarkably realistic rendition of music, particularly when it comes to capturing the nuances of vocal or string performances with high-quality recording.

The Sennheiser headphones mentioned in this statement are designed with an open-back style. The middle range of sounds produced by these headphones is of high quality and doesn't have any noticeable problems. The sound is even and consistent throughout this range. However, there is a slight reduction in the volume of sounds in the higher part of this range. This reduction is not significant enough to negatively affect the overall quality of the listening experience.

HD800S Headphones Treble

It becomes challenging from here on out. There is no denying that the HD800S headphones lean towards the brighter end of the spectrum.

This passage is discussing a specific model of headphones called the HD800S. The author is saying that these headphones are not as harsh on the high-frequency sounds as the previous model, but they can still be bothersome with certain types of music or equipment combinations.

The author finds that the frequencies around 5kHz and higher are too loud for their taste, and they prefer them to be about 6 decibels quieter. This can be especially noticeable with music that has a lot of high-frequency sounds, like metal or hard rock. Additionally, there is a particular peak around 10kHz that can be uncomfortable to listen to if it's emphasized too much.

Overall, the author is not happy with the treble (the high-pitched sounds) of these headphones and thinks that it might steer them away from listening to certain types of music that have a lot of high-frequency sounds. They also mention that this is a big problem for them, as they are an audiophile (someone who is really into high-quality music).

Technicalities in HD800S headphones

Although the HD800S may not be considered as much of an audio microscope as the HD800 in present times, the listening experience they offer is still truly awe-inspiring.

The HD800S headphones have difficulty producing clear and detailed sound at the lower end of the audio spectrum because their driver, which produces sound, is not powerful enough to handle those frequencies. When the listener tries to increase the bass using equalizer (EQ) settings, the sound quality gets worse quickly due to distortion.

The HD800S's ability to create stunning audio experiences is largely attributed to its impressive imaging and headstaging features.

Until now, no other headphones have surpassed the Sennheiser HD800S in terms of image depth and width. Even the renowned AKG K1000 and Utopia headphones fall short in this aspect.

When it comes to resolution, Focal's open-back headphones with metal drivers outperform the HD800S by a significant margin. Additionally, their less bright sound profile makes them suitable for a wider range of music genres. However, it's worth noting that the HD800S can be adjusted to reduce its brightness through equalization, and using digital attenuation can also enhance its total harmonic distortion performance.

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Final Words

The HD800S headphones are really good and can give you an excellent listening experience with high-quality sound and good headstaging. They are so good that if you want to impress someone with headphones, these would be a great choice. However, some people may find them too bright or lacking in bass, which limits the types of music they can be used for.

The main problem with the HD800S is that it has a diffuse-field tuning that may not be suitable for everyone. This means that the headphones are designed to sound like the original sound in a room, which can make them sound too bright or lacking in bass.

Although the HD800S is an excellent pair of headphones, it has a predecessor called the HD800 that can be found for a much lower price and can be adjusted to sound even better than the HD800S with some modifications. Additionally, for those who don't want to modify the headphones, there are also ways to adjust the treble to make it more comfortable to listen to.

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