It’s always a tricky move when manufacturers introduce a new flagship. Whenever an updated version of a top-level product gets released into the market, previous owners may perhaps think, “Gee, if this one is ‘new & improved’, does that make mine old and lousy?”
Well, fear not audiophiles, for while the improvements heard in the HD 800S are certainly noteworthy, the sonic differences are not revelatory nor do they absolutely demand that you throw your current HD800 headphones into the flaming trash heap of history.
In fact, the Sennheiser HD800S retains an almost an identical overall presentation as the original HD800 but with a fractional bump up in audible bass presence due to new anti-resonator dampers within the driver assembly that serve to mitigate a 6,000 kHz peak noted in the upper midranges. Sennheiser states the attenuation of these potentially prickly upper resonances works to reduce the ‘masking effect’ audio phenomenon where the human ear struggles to hear certain sound frequencies when louder lower frequencies occur simultaneously.
The near-elimination of these unwanted mid/upper frequency reflections - and the resulting improvements in tonal balance - creates the sonic impression of a fuller sound in the lows while also smoothing the treble ranges. So while the HD800S bass response does not exhibit a huge increase in low-octave heft or in actual low-end extension over the HD800, the overall musical presentation sounds slightly warmer and fuller given the nullification of that troublesome mid-treble spike.
Fortunately, all of the really good things heard in the original HD800 basically remain intact in the HD800S. The massive 56mm dynamic transducers deliver deep imaging and a spatiality that is still second to none and its nearly microscopic level of analytic detail resolution also remains wonderfully unaffected. The HD800S widescreen soundstage spreads out before your ears as deep and dimensional as always with a world-class transient quickness and clear dynamic grasp that’s hard to beat by any other headphone. In our opinion, the prudent bass tweaks of the Sennheiser HD800S do present a deeper color in the low-end and this improved level of tonal balance makes it a more engaging and musical headphone to enjoy your listening than the slightly colder, more clinical sound of the original HD800.
In terms of ergonomics and fit, nothing has changed between the two models. The wearing comfort of the HD800S remains a strong salient feature and folks of all sizes and head shapes can easily wear this headphone and use it for extended periods without suffering from neck fatigue. The proprietary extra-soft microfabric earpads are comfortable and are typically less warm on the ears than the usual leather pads.
The HD800S package includes two individual 9.5ft cords, one with a standard ¼” stereo plug termination, the other a high-end balanced cord for use with XLR-output balanced-drive headphone amplifiers. As before, the HD800S low sensitivity, high 300 Ohm impedance, and open-back earcup construction renders this can unsuitable for most portable applications. So there’s still no question that iPhone and computer-based listeners should invest in a quality headphone amp for maximized audio performance.
The full 2-year Sennheiser manufacturer’s "free repair or replace" warranty is included with your Headphone.com 'authorized dealer' purchase - we have been an authorized seller of Sennheiser audiophile headphones since 1992!
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