Sennheiser is a German company that was founded in 1945, just after the end of World War II. It is a privately held company that was set up by Fritz Sennheiser. They are known worldwide and have received countless awards over the years for their technical innovation and design achievements.
That’s enough history…
I was given a pair of HD800 headphones by a Sennheiser representative on the George Michael 25 Live Tour back in 2009. The tour was using Sennheiser wireless microphones, so it was a gift for the publicity garnered by Sennheiser during a busy tour.
They were probably for George…
I’m not sure if they were actually meant for me, but with me they stayed, and I found the HD-800 headphones to be really outstanding. The problem is, at the price, they were way out of my price range, and most peoples I expect. It feels hard to justify spending as much as a good pair of speakers, for a pair of headphones.
However, let’s find out why these babies are such a class act in our in-depth Sennheiser HD-800 S Review…
The Sennheiser HD-800 S open-back headphones were released in 2016, and are the successor to the legendary HD-800 of 2009 that I was given. The upgraded ‘S’ version comes with an upgraded price, but they are not a replacement.
They are seen by many as being the leaders when it comes to imaging and precision audio detail, and they certainly live up to that.
Past harshness issues…
The HD-800 headphones had some issues, which made them a bit harsh at around 6k. The addition of a Helmholtz resonator within the Driver compartment of the HD-800 S is an attempt to subdue that harshness.
The Sennheiser HD-800 S headphones look like a prop that might sit comfortably in a sci-fi movie, with the superb headphone and earpads that are so precisely designed. They are black this time on the earpieces, but there’s a lot more going on here than just aesthetic changes.
The ear-cups are very spacious indeed. They are quite bulky, it must be said, but do seem to mold to your features, leaving you without that pressure you feel from many other headphones. The design of the cups ensures that your ears receive sound waves at an angle, which is meant to give a more natural sound picture.
They weigh in at 330 grams, which is far less than I expected considering the size. In fact, they are one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones I’ve ever worn, in part due to the smooth microfiber cloth covering the earpads.
Sennheiser claims that the HD-800S has a wider frequency response of 4Hz to 51KHz. This might look like a small change, but it certainly matters. These headphones have the ability to make a piece of music sound special and truly unique in a magical way.
The driver is still a large 56mm radiator, as used on the original model. They are the biggest drivers ever installed within a dynamic pair of headphones.
Treble and Bass
The HD-800S have a well-balanced mid-range but do feel a little bright. The high-mids and up are around 6db louder, which isn’t an issue really and can be tweaked easily with a good graphic eq.
They also have a good amount of bass for most music styles but can feel like they are lacking in that low-end thump.
Once you get used to them, you will find yourself listening to your favorite tunes for hours and hours without any sense of fatigue.
Precise imaging is really what these headphones are all about. The sound-staging is unique, and it really is mind-blowing the precision they create in the placement of the various instruments.
Just put on a few of your old records, sit back, and bathe in this glorious experience. I promise you’ll hear things in the clarity and placement that you missed before and probably didn’t even know where there.
Performances will sound wonderfully textured and full of dynamic nuance, with instruments sounding more convincing than you remembered and full of body.
The width and separation in the Sennheiser HD-800 S headphones will certainly leave you wanting more with this new found listening experience.
- Open back, over-ear headphones.
- Impedance of 300 0hm.
- Frequency response of 10Hz to 39.5 kHz.
- Weight of 300 grams.
- Distortion <0.02%, which was measured at 1kHz sine wave.
- Will require a good headphone Amp.
- Connector is a 6mm stereo jack.
- Three meter cable with a high quality 6.3mm Jack.
- One balanced cable to use with the HDVD 800, the Sennheiser headphone amp.
- Beautifully delivered in thick packaging with the much-loved headphones lying in a bed of silk.
Sennheiser HD-800 S Review Pros and Cons
- Outstanding imaging and sound-staging.
- Very high resolution.
- Superb Design.
- Beautifully luxurious packaging.
- You will need a good Amp to get the most out of these.
- Highs are still a bit harsh.
- Some distortion in the sub-bass when cranked up.
- The rather steep price.
In search of some more excellent headphone options?
Then take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Neckband Headphones, the Best Headphones with Microphone, or the Best Travel Headphones on the market in 2023.
Also, check at our reviews of the Best Running Headphones, the Best Waterproof Headphones, the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones Under $200, or the Best Lightweight Headphones you can buy.
Sennheiser HD-800 S Review – My Verdict
The Sennheiser HD-800 S headphones are very similar to the original pair, which is a good thing. However, the wider frequency response of 4Hz to 51KHz does add something special to the imaging. However, you may feel that spending so much money on headphones cannot be justified, but if you are all about sound quality at its finest, then here it is.
It’s hard to find out the real secrets behind these headphones, as Sennheiser engineers are so guarded and probably signed some serious non-disclosure agreements.
I felt they were still a little bright, but some engineers I spoke with seemed to feel that it was an issue that had been dealt with in a satisfactory way.
Sound-staging is a thing of beauty, with the superb resolution and imaging achieved here, which is so warm, unique, and intimate.
The Sennheiser HD-800 S headphones are for domestic use, and a good amplifier is essential to really get the whole experience. Once you try them, you won’t want to let them go.
I really was super impressed with the Sennheiser HD-800 headphones when I first got my hands on them. I used to walk around outdoors wearing them, using a small pocket-sized amp (I did get some bemused looks). My HD-800 headphones (or George’s) were later stolen or misplaced (karma, I guess).
Never got a chance to try mixing with them, which I think would have been a very interesting experience.
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