The HD800s is the flagship open back headphone from Sennheiser being the successor of the HD800. It features a 56mm dynamic driver housed in a very light body.
This unit was sent to me by a friend and has since been returned.
In the box
Build quality and accessories
Let’s start with the packaging, the headphones come in a premium feeling box with soft fabric lining inside which houses the headphones and the accessories. The headphones feel solid but the materials don’t feel as premium as the price would suggest. The hinges are smooth and feel solid, I don’t see those failing. The headband adjustments feel a bit too loose and it happened to me to change the fit when I wasn’t planning to.
The cables are plain bad in my opinion, they tangle, feel stiff and for me are too long. I kinda wish Sennheiser included a “desk” cable of say 1.8m.
Fit and comfort
Initially I received those with a set of Dekoni pads on. Those were less comfortable and sounded worse for me which made me replace them with the original pads almost immediately. After this change the fit and comfort was very good, I could easily wear them for hours without issues unlike their siblings in the HD6xx line. The way the cups sit on the head won’t be for everyone however since it feels a bit as if they swallow half of your face.
Clear, analytical, extremely wide with a cool tilt. With amazing detail retrieval which can sound artificial and fatiguing.
The bass on the HD800s is both and improvement and a decline versus the older HD800. On one side the bass quantity feels elevated thus why making the headphones a bit warmer and more inviting. On the other side it loses a bit of the accuracy, on “Hans Zimmer – Mountains” you can clearly hear the driver isn’t displaying the crisp and accurate response of the HD800. Other than that the bass even though still not very warm is accurate and well textured with high speed and good detail retrieval.
To me the midrange of the HD800s is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s extremely detailed, the drivers practically force the detail to you. The timbre is good but because of how the instruments are presented it lends itself to feel artificial at times. In the song “Death – Voice of the Soul” the detail is practically painful for me and I have to turn the headphones quite a bit down. The vocals tend to lose some of the intimacy too due to being pushed back by the very wide soundstage.
I can almost call it sterile, yet again extremely detailed, fast and accurate with a slight upwards tilt. Thankfully, the 6kHz peek is removed compared to it’s predecessor which makes them much less fatiguing. I still personally find it artificially detailed, to my ears detail isn’t presented, it’s almost forced onto you.
Imaging and Soundstage
Soundstage is pretty much as big as it gets, it’s extremely wide, with good depth and decent height. The imaging is amazing within the stage, it’s surprising something that expansive can offer such positioning. I can see this being an extremely good headphone for gaming due to this.
The HD800s are, to me, not for everyone. They are technically very apt, they do however present the music in a way I don’t find enjoyable, recordings that should be narrow are suddenly quite wide, detail is forced into you and if the recording is bad you’ll definitely hear it. With just the right recording they can sound incredible but this isn’t enough for me to recommend them especially when the HD800 with SDR mod exists and can be had for far less money and being technically superior in the end.