Sennheiser HD 800
Supremely versatile Sennheiser headphones that are comfortable, powerful and have fantastic sound quality
- Incredible sound quality, comfortable
- Incredible price, require amplification
Despite the price we were very impressed with the Sennheiser HD 800 headphones. They consistently handled every bass and treble note we threw at them, and the build quality is exceptional.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
The Sennheiser HD 800 headphones are a symphony of exacting build quality, new-age technology and great specifications. These headphones sound better than any others we have used, but the privilege comes at a hefty price.
The Sennheiser HD 800 headphones are impressive to behold. Their styling is unlike any other Sennheiser headphones we have encountered; it seems to be a triumph of function over form. That is not to say that the HD 800s are ugly, though — they have the same industrial appeal as Toshiba’s SD-P91SKY portable DVD player. They are heavier than most other headphones at 260 grams, but this does not present a problem for long-term listening thanks to the good headband and ear-cup design. They never become uncomfortable if properly adjusted and positioned, in part thanks to the alcantara padding, which cushions the ear-cups well and also dissipates heat.
These dynamic headphones are manufactured with exceptional precision. The materials used are high-quality plastics and stainless steel, and we found them sturdy and damage-resistant — we think these headphones will stand up to the tests of time very well. The ear-cups are attached to the headband with a single pivot point, which allows them to sit as comfortably as possible. A Y-style, Kevlar-jacketed 3m cable runs from each ear-cup and terminates in a 6.3mm stereo jack for connection to a dedicated headphone amplifier.
On the top of the headband a serial number will tell you which pair of HD 800s — from Sennheiser's limited production run — you own. While this seems like just a pleasant gimmick initially, Sennheiser has records of the exact frequency response for each individual speaker driver; if there is ever a fault with the HD 800 headphones, near-identical parts can be swapped in to maintain the unique aural signature you have come to expect from your particular pair of headphones. It is after-sales commitment like this that makes these headphones a serious investment rather than just an expensive toy. The only other headphones from the company that have a similar commitment are the legendary Sennheiser HE 90 Orpheus, with a retail price of over $15,000.
The Sennheiser HD 800s are no slouch when it comes to specifications. A sound pressure level of 102dB and a frequency response of 6-51,000Hz are an incredible base to start with, while a total harmonic distortion level of less than 0.02% means there is no alteration of frequency response even at the highest reasonable volume level. Putting this in perspective, a regular audio CD has a frequency range of 20-20,000Hz and a healthy, keen-eared human can perceive a frequency range roughly equal to that. Having an even frequency response outside these borders is overkill for most users, but is useful for those with Super Audio CD setups that can use these frequencies.
You will have to team the Sennheiser HD 800s up with a dedicated headphone amplifier — their rated impedance of 300 Ohms means they will not be easily powered by an MP3 player or computer sound card. We used the Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear, while our sources were an Apple iPod touch and a PC running lossless audio files through a Trends Audio USB digital audio converter .
Put simply, the HD 800s are the best headphones this reviewer has ever heard. They are an open design so a lot of ambient noise is audible, but in a quiet listening environment they are a pleasure to listen to. Once a high-quality track is started it is easy to notice the headphones' pedigree — audio sounds very ‘alive’ and there is an extremely wide sound-stage, giving music a very encompassing quality. The HD 800 headphones are designed to perfectly mimic human hearing response — essentially they are designed to flawlessly transmit every sound that you would hear if you were present at a live concert.
Bass notes are reproduced with a powerful punch but the Sennheiser HD 800s never struggle or distort — they always seem as though they have plenty of volume and power left to give. Treble is sweet and detailed and there is no artificial cut-off of high notes. This makes high vocals especially clear and defined, adding to the live-music sound of the HD800s. Mid-range is balanced as well.
As usual, one problem is that the headphones are too good. They were able to expose all the compression artefacts in our test MP3 music and Internet radio stations, and made listening a downright uncomfortable experience in the case of some YouTube audio clips. If you purchase the HD 800 headphones you will need an equally high-quality amplifier, source and listening material.
If you can afford the painfully high price, you will be impressed with Sennheiser’s HD 800 dynamic headphones.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo Find X3 Pro review: An all around performer with a touch of class
- 2 MSI GS66 Stealth (2021) review: A gaming powerhouse with 300Hz display
- 3 Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station review: Good for venturing off the grid
- 4 Dynabook Portégé X30W-J – a very good all-rounder
- 5 Realme 7 Pro review: Further progress
Latest News Articles
- Bowers and Wilkins launch the PI7 and PI5 wireless headphones
- Huawei releases the FreeBuds 4i earphones
- Belkin has new earbuds and wireless charger stand on the way
- JBL unveils Tour-, Tune-, and Live-branded wireless headphones at CES
- AirPods Max impressions roundup: A great fit with ‘really good sound’ and a terrible case
PCW Evaluation Team
Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.
This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.
It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.
As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.
The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.
This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.
- MSI Summit E15 (2021) review: A productivity workhorse with a gaming pedigree
- Every TV in Samsung's 2021 TV line-up explained: Neo QLED vs Crystal UHD vs QLED
- Best Australian EOFY 2021 Laptop Deals
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?