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Product Review

Sennheiser HD 800
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Sennheiser HD 800 Product Reviews

Top Ten For AudiophilesFrom the finest German audio manufacturer comes "The World's Best Headphones", Sennheiser HD800. Perhaps praise a tad too high but the expressive clarity, tonal coherence, lightning dynamics and impossibly deep soundstage imaging prevent us from saying anything but the HD800 wear a bejeweled crown. In addition to exquisite sound, the stringent quality of engineering plus the striking materials and workmanship will have you longing for every chance to enjoy these amazing headphones as they uncover new details previously unheard in all your favorite music.

The Sennheiser HD800 can only ship within USA due to strict manufacturer restrictions.

 

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Outstanding in every regard

Posted by Pete from Apple Valley, MN on 2014-02-18
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Soundstaging and Imaging
Cons: None that I can think of

I am absolutely delighted with the sound, build quality, and comfort of the Senn HD 800. The sense of spaciousness, open soundstaging, and superior imaging that they convey brings them a giant step closer to the experience of listening to high-end speakers.


Prior to my experiencing the HD 800, I tended to confine my headphone listening (via AKG 240 and Senn HD 600) to chamber music and solo performances -- the reason being that conventional headphones did not reproduce a convincing, spacious soundstage (e.g., on orchestral music or rock).


Listening to an orchestral music collection on the HD 800s was a revelation. As mentioned above, they brought me closer to the experience of speaker listening than any other headphone that I have tried.


I confess that I had some reservations about the high cost of these headphones. After hearing them, I'm convinced that they are well worth the price of admission.

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Best that I have listened too

Posted by Trojan from Pasadena, CA on 2013-11-07
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: crisp, wide range
Cons: none

Balance head phones are the best, worth every penny.

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2 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Stradivarius

Posted by Vyacheslav from Belarus on 2013-10-09
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Superior resolution, timbre fidelity, wide dynamic range, excellent sound staging, fast, comfortable
Cons: Demanding

I was very fond of my d7000, but after buying HD800 find D7000 pretty rough. LCD-3 I did not like because of the relatively low resolution and a claustrophobic effect. FostexTH900 - kitschy perfection. Stax009 - watercolor painting, but very expensive with a good amplifier. So my unconditional choice - HD800. This is headphone-Stradivarius! And, I'm not sure that would change my HD800 on Stax-009 even at the same price - voice in the HD800 more bodily, aggressive music more convincing.
PS
My amp - WA6SE at 6EM7. Previously, my favorite tube was 6DR7 but 6EM7 is the next level. I listen to: 90% - opera, symp and chamber classic, 10% - Slipknot, MeckongDelta and very rare even Rihanna.
I am 48 years old and I'm a designer.
PPS
By the way, I hate HD650.

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10 out of 13 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Never more satisfied

Posted by TCKKR from Hawaii on 2013-07-08
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Everything
Cons: Nothing?

I mean, yes, these are expensive. I ended up trading in my LCD-2s to get some money towards these at a local hi-fi store because they gave me a chance to try them out.

Errr, I don't wanna make this long-winded since there are a lot of technical reviews of what this headphone is all about. Buuuuuut-- if you like the AKG701s, this is a great step in the direction of ideal.

These are seriously amazing and they're comfortable (I've been told if you have stronger, protruding cheek bones they can be uncomfortable though.)

Another note though, before I go, they're actually really solid construction-wise. They don't look it in the pictures, but they've got a strong feel to them.

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11 out of 11 people found this review helpful. Did you?

HD 800

Posted by x on 2013-07-07
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros:
Cons:

5/5

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11 out of 13 people found this review unhelpful. Did you?

Sennheiser HD800 Open-Back Stereo Headphone

Posted by dale from Akron Ohio on 2013-01-27
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Sound, comfort
Cons: Not portable

I bought this in June 2009 and have listened with it quite a bit. It may be the most comfortable headphone I've used, although I had to learn how to adjust the earcup extensions so that some of the weight could shift from the headband to the earcups. The tonality is slightly bright compared to many modern headphones that have recessed trebles, and does not work well with most solid state amps and low quality music sources, not to mention genres that contain extremely bright percussion. The bass is what I think of as truly neutral, and most modern adjectives such as "slam" or "thump" are non-starters here. You will discover what's in your music, like it or not. The better amps will provide the best bass control. The midrange is tonally correct, although different music tracks can yield different impressions, due in no small part to the very large earcups and the extra sonic space created therein. I'm not 100 percent convinced that the large-ish soundstage of the HD800 is entirely natural, but it certainly doesn't offend. The presence and treble are accurate and very enjoyable given good quality recordings and the experience of enjoying accurate reproduction. In fact, in all comparisons I've done to other headphones, the HD800 has out-resolved all others in upper harmonic details. This particular superiority does not require the better amps to validate however, as I've done such comparisons on the simplest of headphone amps or desktop sound cards, and the differences between the HD800 and other headphones were clearly audible in all cases.

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15 out of 16 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Outstanding at any price

Posted by reeltime from Studio City, CA on 2012-10-28
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Sound is just about perfect
Cons: Needs decent amplification and custom cables.

What can I add-- the HD-800 is the most perfect headphone I've ever heard-- and I don't even have the best amping. Shockingly detailed. Sonically neutral. Extremely comfortable. Worth every penny.

They benefit from great amping and good cables. They are headphones that make you go back and listen to every decent track you have on file.



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13 out of 17 people found this review helpful. Did you?

One of the Very Best Headphones at any price.

Posted by Audio Supremus from Hong Kong on 2012-07-26
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Superb sound and great looks!
Cons:

Sennheiser's flagship model is a superb headphone that sets a benchmark in resolution, soundstage presentation, and imaging rendition. While the overall sonic signature still leans towards the warm side and reminds of its' sibling HD650, the HD800 is overall very neutral with excellent delivery of musical timbres. Compared with other top-flight more 'up-front' headphones, the presentation of the HD800 is laid-back while sonically engaging, which would appeal to many listeners. A high quality DAC/Headphone Amp set-up is of course mandatory to bring out its' magic. For portable amps, only the Class-A or Class-A/B biased type would have good enough current drive to do the job. Required 'burn-in' time between 150-200 hours recommended.

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51 out of 52 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Love Them

Posted by JefferyK from San Francisco on 2012-02-02
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Terrific sound, comfortable
Cons: Tricky fit

I drive these with a balanced HeadRoom amp -- built-in DAC, stepped attenuator, Astrodyne power supply -- and I absolutely love how they sound. I primarily listen to stereo opera recordings from the 1950s and 1960s, and many of them sound live. To me, the biggest differences between balanced and unbalanced are (1) no hole in the middle; (2) tighter, deeper bass; and (3) less fatigue.

People have complained that wearing these is uncomfortable. I had some trouble with the headband hurting the top of my head until I realized that I wasn't wearing the headphones properly -- you need to turn them forward to move headband further toward the front of your head. Not only did the pain go away, but the sound became more focused.

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47 out of 51 people found this review helpful. Did you?

AMAZING. But, uncomfortable.

Posted by Mitch from Seattle on 2011-12-16
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: *INCREDIBLE* sound stage, clarity, accuracy.
Cons: Terribly uncomfortable, and scratch easily

This is just a quick and dirty review, but I purchased these headphones and run them with a BUDA and UDAC. The combination was unparalleled. I recommend them, even at their insane price. They're the only headphones I've used that cost over $1,000, so I can't give you any relative comparisons within the price range. However, I can tell you that of all the headphones I've heard for under $1,000, the HD800s blow them out of the water. Specifically, the clarity, accuracy, and *RIDICULOUS* sound stage stand out. It's amazing.

The significant downside is that these are terribly uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. They're probably some of the least comfortable expensive pair of headphones that I've ever worn. They feel awkward and heavy when you wear them.

Another minor downside is that they seem to scratch easily -- though since most people will take impeccable care of a $1,500 set of cans, this probably isn't too concerning.

But, seriously, if you want some of the best sounding headphones on the planet, look no further.

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38 out of 44 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Better than all the rest

Posted by booboo from atholville, new brunswick on 2011-09-24
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Superb sound, openness, balance, looks...
Cons: None

These have amazed me when I first tried them this past week. Absolutely blew me away with it's soundstage, clarity and just plain awesomeness. The vocals are to die for, every musical note is precise (no matter what you listen to) and they are only going through the pink noise breaking in stage now, although, I can't imagine how they could sound any better. Even my wife who never liked headphones, loves them. These are the best I have ever listened to and I could never part with them now. So, a big "THANK YOU" to my wife for this wonderful gift.

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26 out of 29 people found this review helpful. Did you?

These are the "oh my god" headphones

Posted by Darellmatt from Minneapolis, Minnesota on 2010-12-01
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: You won't believe recorded music could sound that good
Cons: You'll want to buy 4 pairs to have headphone parties

OK, first I am not a 4 star audiophile. I'm just a guy who really enjoys music and I want a system that allows me to enjoy recorded music to the maximum extent possible. I am not interested in the ultra-nuanced, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin kind of discussions that go on in some audiophile circles. I just want to plug in and kick back. So I will start this review by quoting my 16 year old daughter the first time she listened through my system with these headphones: "oh my god, oh my god, dad, that's like the musical equivalent of sex". OK like I said she's 16.
I have a headroom "home" amp with the max module. I run uncompressed digital out from my computer thru the digital USB in on the amp. I have the balanced amp but I am reviewing the nonbalanced version of these headphones, because for various reasons I no longer listen in balanced mode. I know there are tweaks I could to to polish the digital signal a little, I could probably get a better usb cable or run optical out from my computer. But right now that's what I listen to. I had a pair of sennheiser 600's that I was pretty happy with, although in some ways their sound was a little "tame" at times. That is, they sounded clean and precise and had a nice soundstage, but there was a feeling of something missing. Somehow my 600s got lost, giving me an excuse to purchase 800s
Now I know what that missing something is. For me the purpose of music is not intellectual discussion but emotional engagement. These are the most profoundly engaging headphones I have ever heard. People talk about the soundstage. Analytically that's true but personally I don't think that fully expresses the experience. The feeling is that the sennheiser 800's somehow reach inside your head and grab hold of your soul. Absolutely freaking amazing. The next level beyond this would have to be some kind of direct chip implant in your auditory cortex or limbic system. Probably not coming to an audio store near you anytime soon.
Are they comfortable? Absolutely. They pretty much disappear on my head after I've had them on for a few minutes.
Are they well built? Yes, everything about them says german engineering. If they were a sports car they definitely would not be street legal. But they would be sooo fun to drive.
Are they good looking? A matter of taste. Actually I was put off at first by the futuristic design, I thought I preferred more of a traditional understated look. I thought visually they belonged more on a star trek set than my bedroom. But funny things happen when an object tears away the curtain that has separated you from a universe of amazing musical sound. You kind of fall in love.

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146 out of 153 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Astounding Headphones

Posted by Bubu1 from Dayton, OH on 2010-02-05
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Comfort, Sublime sound
Cons: Price

I purchased the HD800's in late October and was anxious to hear them after all of the accolades that had been bestowed on these headphones.
When I first put them on, I was a little underwhelmed. I thought that the headphones were good but nothing special. That was before I went back to my AKG 702's for comparison. It was then that I realized how special the HD800's really are (this does not in any way imply that the AKG's are not good headphones!). As many have said before, the sound staging abilities of this headphone are nothing short of amazing. Sometimes late at night when I close my eyes and listen to my favorite recordings, I feel that I am transported to the venue where the performance was recorded.
As a classically trained violinist and classical music lover, what I find most amazing about these headphones is the incredible detail retrieval that in my opinion allows the nuances in the performance by the artist(s) to really come through. Things such as the sound of the bow moving across the strings of the violin can be heard in addition to the actual sound coming from the instrument. While this amount of detail has the potential to come across as sounding analytical in nature, it amazingly does not.
As a test of the tonal accuracy of the headphones, I have played my violin while listening to these headphones. What surprised me is that the headphone portrays music so well that the intonation on the recording matches that of my own violin. What I mean by this is that an A440 on the recording sounds the same as an A440 on my violin. I find this truly amazing and a testament to the accuracy of the headphones. In my opinion the HD800's are true to the performance and the artist. If it is on the recording, you will hear it! Likewise if the recording is of low quality, you will hear that too!
After listening for the last few months, I am still amazed at how good these headphones reproduce music! I listen to them through my Headroom ultra micro amp (an excellent amp which has sadly now been discontinued) connected to the Ultra Desktop DAC that is being fed by my Macbook. I wear a silly ear to ear grin the entire time the headphones are on my head. These headphones have exceeded all of my expectations.

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124 out of 132 people found this review helpful. Did you?

The Holy Grail of Dynamic Transducer Headphones

Posted by DavidMahler from New York City, NY on 2010-01-31
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Most neutral headphone I have ever heard, Most comfortable headphone I have ever worn, Very durable
Cons: They do not isolate, nor are they efficient enough to sound great directly out of a portable player

As I write this revision, I have owned the HD800 for close to two years. While certain headphones excel over the HD800 in some areas, the HD800 is still my reference for a solid, well-built, close-to-neutral / reference-quality-sound headphone. Up against Sennheiser's own long-touted greatest headphone, the HE90 (aka Orpheus), I find that the HD800 is comparable in sound quality. Keep in mind that you need an amplifier to bring out the best quality sound which these headphones have to offer. I've found that a Tube amp is preferable for these headphones as they often are able to round out / smooth out the highs for an even more natural and resolved sound. But once these are paired to your preference, these headphones can take you almost anywhere!

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126 out of 130 people found this review helpful. Did you?

One of the best headphones I've heard

Posted by Howard from Arlington, TX on 2010-01-28
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Extremely comfortable, accurate sounds, super spacious soundstage, good bass (for me), cool looking
Cons: On the expensive side

The Sennheiser HD800 is one the best headphones I've heard. On first wear, it is extremely comfy with my ears covered in the cans and doesn't feel hot after long wears. It is fairly light, in a good way, because it almost disappears once you put it on and you really feel being engaged with the music you are listening and not something over your head. It is also not tight on your head. For example, I have a fairly big head and my HD650s feels tight to me so I can't really wear them for long sessions. But for the HD800s, I can keep them on all day and don't break a sweat.
The sounds coming out of the HD800s are very clean and accurate. Few people complained about the bass being lacking, but it's perfect for me. I prefer the bass on the HD800s over the HD650s because the bass on the 650s are too heavy for me and hurts my ears after long sessions.
And the thing I most like about the HD800 is its massive soundstage. It almost felt like sticking two monitors on your ears which in fact you were listening with headphones. You feel like you are in the room where the music is being played. I really like the feeling of the spacious soundstage and I believe that's what Sennheiser pioneered to do in these headphones with the development of the new sound elements that circles listener's ears. It brings some form of surround sound to the listener's ears.
And lastly, it's simply a very cool and futuristic looking headphone and the design of it is just terrific.
I believe even though the HD800 is on the expensive side, I will still recommend it to others because I believe that what you pay is what you get and HD800 is certainly like no other headphones. You pay a price to listen to the latest from Sennheiser and the HD800 is the latest in headphone technology that feature the big round sound elements that bring listeners surround sound feel with their favorite music.

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33 out of 37 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Best I've ever heard--with an aftermarket cable!

Posted by Balisarda from Beantown on 2010-01-22
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Imaging, texture--heck, everything!
Cons: Pronounced treble with stock cable

If you can invest in an aftermarket cable, the HD 800 can offer the best sound I've ever heard from headphones. If you're unwilling to make that investment, look elsewhere.
With the stock cable, the HD 800 exhibits pronounced treble that sounds unnatural on some lyrics and all classical music. Cymbals are downright unpleasant. Even so, imaging is astounding.
With an aftermarket cable, the HD 800 SINGS! I am using the Stephan AudioArt E-Series, and it brings the frequency spectrum into perfect balance. Having found the HD 800 with the stock cable so pronouncedly imbalanced, I really doubted that a cable swap could fix the problem--so much more my surprise, then.
I will never let these headphones go!

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20 out of 38 people found this review unhelpful. Did you?

Worth the Price? One man's opinion.

Posted by Dinoluna2001 from Minneapolis, MN on 2010-01-20
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Excellent sound, quality design, easy to wear
Cons: Expensive, Best used with Headphone Amp

For some reason I keep spending more and more on headphones as I grow older (I either thank or blame the great Headroom). The thought of spending more money on a set of cans than I spent on my first stereo was somewhat hard to reconcile at first. Then I realized that over the years as "disposable" income became available, my stereo system grew piece by piece to include Headroom DACs and Headphone Amps. My high end Shure in ears work great, the AKG 701s better, and the Sennheiser 800s rule the roost. These are the best resolving headphones I have ever used either through my reference system or the portable Headroom rigs. What I especially appreciate is even at low volumes, detail is deep and wide, with an excellent soundstage. My listening habits include classical, acoustic jazz, "soft" rock, and a LOT of heavy metal. Each genre from low volume late night listening to 90db + headbanging is distortion free and clear of colorations or distortion. Added bonus is ease of wear. The cans are light and very comfortable, plus the cable is long enough not to tangle-I appreciate the straight cable as opposed to the "phone cord". Most if not all studio phones have one wire to Left and is a straight cable - kudos to Sennheiser for the straight cable. The storage box is amazing-it's fun to snuggle the 800s into luxury after each use. Love 'em - worth every penney and quite likely at my age, the last pair of headphones I may buy.

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27 out of 29 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Costly but very good

Posted by Chicago OTL from Chicago on 2010-01-16
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Excellent sound, good comfort, top build quality
Cons: COST!!!! Heavy, too.

These are the best headphones I've ever heard. Overall, top to bottom, in terms of balance, detail, and musicality they beat everything I've compared them to: electrostatics, in-ear, modded hyper-rare 'cans, etc. Of course you will get the most out of them if you use them with a good, dedicated headphone amp, but they sound so good they even sound good on a "regular" headphone jack. (Though your iPod will not have enough power to play them very loud.) Great low end, great detail top to bottom, and a subtle quality of balance-which allows them to sound eerily realistic on the right material.

Comfort is very good, and since they fit AROUND the ears, not ON them, they don't "squash" your pinnae or make them hot, etc. However, they ARE heavy- lots of aluminum alloy in them.

They do NOT sound like other Sennheisers - they are not as "muted", they are much more detailed and neutral.

Build quailty is beyond reproach.

They DO cost an arm and a leg, and I think phones like the Beyer DT880, AKG 701, etc can provide ALMOST as satisfying a listening experience. The operative word here is ALMOST: if you want the BEST, the 'phones that have that extra margin of balance and detail, then you got to pony up the cash and get these.



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18 out of 19 people found this review helpful. Did you?

best headphones

Posted by Philzie from Venice, FL on 2010-01-16
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: fills your head with sound - good highs and lows
Cons:

Love 'em. Just wish I could use them more. My good amps at work and at work I sometimes have to be a little more "available".

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18 out of 24 people found this review unhelpful. Did you?

The best I've heard, but be ready for the workout

Posted by Adam from Sunnyvale, CA on 2010-01-15
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: The best soundstage I've ever heard from headphones, insanely sharp response, great fit and finish
Cons: Fatigue, heat, size, somewhat unfriendly cabling

A bit of background on gear and habits as context for my review: I own the HD580, HD600, and HD650 headphones as well as the HD800s. I've also owned and still use a variety of IEMs, such as the Etymotic ER6 and ER4, Shure SE530, Klipsch Image X10, Westone 3, and a few others. The 'phones are all driven by my Headroom Portable Desktop or Desktop Ultimate. Nearly all of the music is sourced from one Mac or another via USB, and is generally compressed with lossless encoding (Apple Lossless or FLAC, which is a bit less friendly on the Mac). My Headroom amps also function as DAC and preamp. I listen to a wide variety of music, from opera to indie rock to hip hop, and I'm partial to well-recorded and well-engineered albums.


On to the review.


I'm bittersweet about my HD800s, because I've never heard anything like them, but I can't listen to them for more than 30 - 45 minutes at a time. The experience is revelatory, and I treasure these 30 minute listening sessions, but wish that they lasted longer.


I don't have much experience with the direct price competitors to these headphones, but I can tell you that they are leaps and bounds beyond any previous Sennheiser offering, excepting perhaps the Orpheus and Baby Orpheus, which were even more ludicrously priced. The soundstage is better than anything I've heard short of a Wilson Audio Maxx/Krell setup that cost ~$250k in a custom-built acoustically-engineered room. They provide an overwhelming sense of depth and detail, and are more involving by an order of magnitude than any of my other gear.


They're also incredibly well constructed, and finished to a level of detail that befits the very high price tag. I appreciate the exceptional attention to detail, and the feeling that Sennheiser left no stones unturned in pursuit of the best headphones they could imagine.


For all of the praise, though, I cannot get past the fatigue that I experience when I wear these headphones. I've seen some messages in communities like HeadFi which suggest that the exceptional clarity and transient response causes people to listen at higher volumes than they might with other headphones, but this has not been my experience. I've tried dramatic reductions in volume, different positions on the head, different styles of music, different amplifiers-- all to no avail. I've never lasted longer than an hour before feeling that my ears have run a marathon. I usually have a pair of IEMs in for 4 - 8 hours a day, and have never experienced anything like this fatigue. I used to listen to my 580/600/650s for hours before tiring out. The experience of the HD800 is equivalent to a vigorous workout for your ears.


Take this with a grain of salt, as there are plenty of HD800 owners out there who don't experience any fatigue at all. If you're in the market for these cans, my advice would be to find a way to audition them for at least an hour or two, if not a few days. I sometimes feel like Tantalus, forever reaching for fruit that's just out of my grasp, but will have to be content with brief, albeit wonderful, listening sessions.


Also, to clarify, my two star rating for comfort has nothing to do with the fit of these 'phones, as they are at least as comfortable to wear as any of Sennheiser's other offerings, if not more so. They've applied the best of what they used to call bionetic design, which is just a fancy way to say that they're shaped to fit your head very well. The ear cups are very generously sized, so there's little chance that the 'phones will actually touch your ears, which is something that I don't like about many competing products. They get a bit warm, but even that isn't so bad. The two star comfort rating is all about the fatigue.

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42 out of 47 people found this review helpful. Did you?

The Worlds Best ? Perhaps.

Posted by DrLawrence from SW Washington on 2010-01-05
Posted on Sennheiser HD 800

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Very spacious, SRS type sound , and accurate bass.
Cons: Way, way too expensive.

I tried a set of these at a local dealer with the thought of trading in my old Beyerdynamic DT 880 250 ohm 4 year old Headphones; That on some new dynamic "sound miracle." I have also owned AKG K701'S and many other fine headphones, over my 40 plus year Stereo obsession. Trouble is, it is a judgement call between these Sennheisers and the Beyerdynamic DT 880'S. Double click the Frequency graphs and Distortion graphs of the DT 880'S and overlay them with the Sennheiser 800'S, and you will notice something astonishing. Your ears will tell you the same thing. The old Beyerdynamics are still a Paragon of Comfort, Velour clothed earpads, superb sound quality, with good heat dispersion, and they look better too. Go for the drastic savings, in my opinion.

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32 out of 41 people found this review helpful. Did you?


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