Sennheiser HD 800

If you're looking for the ultimate hi-fi experience in a pair of headphones, then the Sennheiser HD 800 should be on your audition list.

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury

What is hi-fi? And how much should you have to pay? For some people, the pursuit of high-fidelity is never-ending and forms a hobby all of its own. But like any obsession, once you get past a certain level it stops being fun and just becomes analytical. Many people wouldn't dream of spending two and a half grand on a pair of headphones, but for others it's another step to reaching music nirvana. Is the HD 800 "It"?

The Sennheiser HD 800s are handmade in Germany, and the materials used in their construction range from suede-like Alcantara on the ear cups to thin wire mesh on the ear cup surrounds. The overall effect is of solidity. Though the Sennheiser may seem a little heavy at 330g with the cord, you can wear these things comfortably for hours.

To give you an experience closely resembling listening to loudspeakers Sennheiser employed a couple of different techniques. Firstly, the headphone drivers are angled at 45 degrees, which means the sound hits your ears with a slight delay. Secondly, the drivers use what the company claims is the largest headphone transducer in the world to deliver more of the frequency range. The driver is also doughnut-shaped to eliminate distortion, and the 'phones have a claimed response of 13Hz – 44,100Hz as a result.

After using these headphones for a while we quickly realised one thing — you really need a good amplifier to get the most out of them. We used what could be described as a very good amp in the form of Yamaha's A-S700, but found it couldn't keep up with the HD 800s. Turning the volume up made snare drums blinky and uncomfortable, for example — these headphones need a lot of juice! Ideally, you'd need a dedicated headphone amplifier, and the Lehmann Black Cube Linear USB fitted the bill nicely!

Something that surprised us, given the price and "audiophile" nature of the headphones, was how good the Sennheiser's sounded with every type of music we lobbed in its direction. Normally, you'd expect high-end cans to be great with classical and jazz but flaccid with rock music. Not so. They combine low-end punch with a detailed mid-range that isn't too analytical, and they can definitely bring the rock. As the Lehmann amp is also a USB DAC, we connected it to our PC and listened to everything from a lossless copy of Nick Cave's trashy Red Right Hand to the light, choral touch of Everything That Happens Will Happen Today by David Byrne and Brian Eno. We even strayed to some singer/songwriter guitar tunes by Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and Augie March and they were also deftly handled. Jazz, as expected, sounded great.

Two and a half grand is a lot, and given that the Lehman headphone amp we used is also worth two grand on its own, it becomes clear that you need to make quite an investment to get the best out of these headphones. But if you're a hi-fi hobbyist, or simply love music, then this is perhaps the best set your money can buy.

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LouisL1 Facebook

LouisL1 posted a review   

Paraphrased: "This is the best headphone I've ever heard, perhaps the best that has ever been made. I think I'll give it a 8.3"



Francois Viljoen posted a comment   

Agreed. From a professional stand point 8.3 score? Really that is humiliating not for the Sennheisers, but for the "person" who actually gave it that score.

"Honestly? have you not maybe double checked your rating with other reviewers since you know ..... NOT TOO MUCH ABOUT what you are reviewing"

Case and point if your going to buy one of thee most expensive headphones there is on the market. Why did you think your going to get away with just bare minimals? The rest of your equipment is going to have to be up to scratch. Your in the "audiophile" segment with these HD800's......

Shame on you Ty Pendlebury
Hope they replaced you for this mistake.


Cnet fan posted a comment   

There's a lot of reviews of these headphones in here:

lol @ Angry!

lol @ Angry! posted a review   

learn to speak english Angry!


Reverend posted a comment   

The Good:Sound (especially the treble)

The Bad:No mini-jack. Expensive

They sound noticably superior to the HD600/650's (both of which I own) and therefore are probably the finest headphones available. The top-of-the-line Audio Technica headphones are also in the same league as these methinks (although I haven't compared them directly).


eeeeh posted a review   

If this is the ultimate hi-fi experience, then what's a 9/10 or a 10/10?


Angry posted a review   

And the worst review I have ever watched... What this guy thinked when he gave them 8... Go review some underwear...

sennheiser hd800

sennheiser hd800 posted a review   

It is the best headphone i ever heard

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User Reviews / Comments  Sennheiser HD 800

  • LouisL1



    "Paraphrased: "This is the best headphone I've ever heard, perhaps the best that has ever been made. I think I'll give it a 8.3"


  • Francois Viljoen

    Francois Viljoen

    "Agreed. From a professional stand point 8.3 score? Really that is humiliating not for the Sennheisers, but for the "person" who actually gave it that score.

    "Honestly? have you not ..."

  • Cnet fan

    Cnet fan

    "There's a lot of reviews of these headphones in here:"

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