Sennheiser HD 800 S Headphones
Sennheiser HD 800 S Audiophile HeadphonesA 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.
HD 800 S at a Glance...The striking industrial design combines form and function seamlessly, the layered metal and plastic headband construction attenuating vibrations to the earcups while the handmade microfiber earpads offer exceptional comfort for even long periods of listening enjoyment. Crafted for perfection, the HD 800 and the HD 800 S are precision-built in Germany from only the finest materials and components. The transducer is encased by stainless steel, while the headband and headphone mounting utilises the most advanced materials developed in the aerospace industry for high strength with minimal weight. The new HD 800 S offers even better high precision connectivity options and is now supplied with two connection leads, a 6.3mm connector and a XLR-4 balanced cable to offer even better quality sound from sources with balanced outputs such as the Sennheiser HDVD 800 headphones amplifier.
HD 800 S Absorber TechnologyAbsorber technology of the 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 ear struggles to hear frequencies of sound when lower frequencies of a higher volume occur at the same time. 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.
Such enhancements build on the formidable achievements of the classic, with the 56mm sound transducer – the largest ever used in dynamic headphones. The unique ear cup design directs sound waves to the ear at a slight angle to create an impressively natural and spatial listening experience. While much appears the same, the enhanced performance within is revealed by a distinctive new look, with the silver finish of the 2009 classic HD 800 making way for high-class matt black for the HD 800 S.
Ratings & Reviews
These headphones allow you to hear into the music in a way which you haven't before, unless you already have the highest-end equipment. You can hear the position of individual instruments in a well recorded orchestra arrayed around you in space. The resolving power is such that you can hear the characteristic timbre of individual instruments, the fidget of a single musician in an orchestra and the exact location. I'm powering my HD800s with a Rolls Bellari HA540 class-A OTL zero-feedback tube headphone amplifier fitted with a gold-pin Tungsol 12AX7. I've read that this may not be the best amp for the HD800s, but if so I can only imagine how good they will sound with a better pairing. The headphone price may be very high, but in my opinion they are worth every penny given that unless you already have very high-end transducers they will immediately transform your entire music collection. And frankly by some criteria they will outperform speakers which run into tens of thousands of dollars. They are not for bass-heads, but if the recording has heavy bass they will provide heavy bass all the way down as far as human hearing can go such as giant pipe organs or synthesizers. They are very physically comfortable and the sound is non-fatiguing and utterly uncolored. It's such an individual preference that I encourage you to hear before buying - they might be a little bright for some tastes. I use a CD transport through a Rega DAC, and with the tube amp and Rega the sound is warmer. With good budget equipment (such as my AT-120E record cartridge) you can hear that your equipment is budget, but the headphones still help you hear into the music and enjoy detail you've never heard before. However, with poor recordings be warned - you can hear every issue. Professional reviews have suggested that unlike most headphones the sound is forward of your head, not inside it. I'd say this is somewhat true, but only marginally. They will not array the soundstage before you in the room like good speakers, but rather around you. It's like being in the room among the musicians. If you can't run to the price, or you like a strong lower midrange and upper bass, I'd also recommend Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 headphones - they also provide an excellent soundstage, are supremely comfortable if you have a huge head, and excellent detail (although not up to the supreme level of the HD800s). By comparison with the HD800s, the ATH-AD700's sound is colored accentuating the midrange. In sum, the HD800s are an utterly spectacular dynamic headphone with uncolored sound, huge frequency response range, and an almost supernatural resolving power. The build quality is superb. Best used with an excellent headphone amplifier.