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Sennheiser HD800 Over-Ear Circum-Aural Dynamic Premiere Headphone

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Frequently Bought Together

Sennheiser  HD800 Over-Ear Circum-Aural Dynamic Premiere Headphone + Adapter Cable SENNHEISER Female 1/4" 6.3mm plug to Male 1/8" 3.5mm Mini-plug fit also GRADO with other Headphones
Price For Both: CDN$ 1,620.89

System Requirements

  • Media: Electronics
  • Item Quantity: 4

Product Details

  • Product Dimensions: 35 x 27.4 x 15 cm ; 331 g
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 Kg
  • Item model number: HD800
  • ASIN: B001OTZ8DA
  • Date first available at Amazon.ca: March 1 2011
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,101 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
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Product Description

From the Manufacturer

The Story of the Sennheiser HD800

The story of the Sennheiser HD 800 began with a dream: of developing headphones that go way beyond conventional equipment to become music phones, or even perfect sound phones. The dream of creating a hi-fi device that sounds as brilliant, clear, and undistorted as if you were sitting right next to the source. The dream of creating an acoustic experience more incredible than anything ever heard through dynamic headphones: in spheres that no other category is capable of reaching--right there where perfection begins.

We couldn’t go beyond physical boundaries--but we did cross the boundaries of thought. The HD 800 is equipped with a completely new transducer and only the very finest of materials have been installed: each part carefully inserted by hand. We are talking about manufacture in the truest sense of the word, right from the initial drafts to individual handcrafting "made in Germany".

Above all, the Sennheiser HD 800 truly personifies the creative force of the company that created it: by displaying the passion for perfect sound that has been driving Sennheiser innovation over 60 years.

The Principle of Spatial Listening

The impression of spatial listening is created by a minute time lapse with which one and the same sound wave arrives at the inner ear. Ideally, the sound waves produced by a hi-fi sound system reach the listener at an angle of 60 degrees. The sound waves do not reach the ear straight on, but through a slightly angled sound front. This causes some of the sound impulses to reach the nerve ends of the inner ear earlier than others. The resulting time lapse is a matter of split seconds, but it is exactly this phenomenon that gives the impression of spatial listening.

Wearing the HD 800 you enjoy much more than just a sound experience of out-standing brilliance. You experience a form of spatial listening never heard before. You have the feeling of being in a studio together with Thelonius Monk or actually being present at a rehearsal of the Berlin Philharmonic. The HD 800 makes spatial listening possible through a combination of the large transducer surface and the angle at which it is suspended. The slightly angled sound front effectively simulates the principle of the spatial sound experience. No other manufacturer comes as close to producing a natural sound experience as Sennheiser with the HD 800.

Outstanding Technology Provides Outstanding Sound

The lightweight ring transducer precisely delivers sound without harmonic distortion
The superiority of the HD 800 is based on a completely new principle, right at its very heart: The transducer is designed in the shape of a ring. Basically, the larger the surface of the transducer the purer the sound—particularly when it comes to the low notes. A large surface area, however, also generates disruptive spurious oscillation at higher frequencies, so-called eigenmodes. This is primarily due to the fact that conventional-sized transducers do not have a satisfactory way of controlling high-frequency oscillations. The ringed shape of the new transducer effectively solves this dilemma: Its broad area oscillates in an extremely controlled way due to the large coil and the two supporting surfaces. This results in a previously unheard-of degree of freedom from distortion and thus the greatest purity and brilliance of sound.

And when it comes to the naked technical facts, the HD 800 doesn’t save on superlatives: The 56-mm-wide transducer is the largest of its type. The same goes for the aluminum coil (40 mm) and the 42-mm magnet system.

Ring Transducer vs. a Conventional Transducer

In contrast to a full-sized transducer, the ring-shaped transducer utilized in the HD 800 greatly enhances the control of the oscillating surface. This results in a more voluminous sound wave and thus far greater clarity.

In a conventional transducer, unwanted spurious oscillation can occur due to eigenmodes. Even improvements such as increasingly sophisticated Duofol laminations are unable to completely negate these physical limitations.

At the heart of the HD 800 is the patent-pending ring-shaped transducer. The wound precision wire that makes up the coil is only 42 micrometers thick. It consists of 3.5 layers of wire in a total of 98 windings. The space between the two magnets, in which the coil oscillates freely, is only 0.6 mm wide. The work of fitting these parts is done by hand—and the same thing applies to many of the other components of the HD 800. The transducer of the HD 800 transmits in a frequency band from 8 Hz–50 kHz. Not that anyone is capable of perceiving this sound range, but the pleasant ancillary effect is that the transducer delivers an extremely clean sound in the 16 Hz–20 kHz range.

Cords and Connections

The symmetrical cords are designed with twin-core, high-performance, Teflon-insulated connections on each side. They are additionally covered with high-quality material for better shielding from oscillations caused by ambient noise. The jacks are exclusively produced for the HD 800 in Switzerland and feature gold-plated bunches. Gold has the highly positive property of having a very low transfer resistance, thus guaranteeing excellent contact without interference.

Headband and Mountings

The headband consists of a sandwich design in which a metal layer is covered with several layers of plastic. The high-tech plastic possesses incredible attenuation characteristics and ensures that oscillations are not transmitted to the headphone mountings.

The headphones of the HD 800 are only mounted on one side, to make sure they fit optimally over the ear. The relocation of their point of balance towards the back of the head also enhances comfort for the wearer.

A special kind of Japanese Alcantara has been selected for the ear pads. This material is extremely comfortable to wear and easy to maintain. Leona, an ultra-light, high-rigidity special plastic, is as hard as titanium and thus yielding extremely low oscillation. Hi-tech stainless steel mesh--the ideal material for three-dimensional sound--combines all the properties of stainless steel with an incredible degree of transparency.

Technical Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 6–51,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14–44,100 Hz (-3 dB)
  • Nominal impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Sound pressure level at 1 kHz: 102 dB (1 Vrms)
  • Max. nominal long-term input power: 500 mW in acc. with EN 60-268-7
  • Harmonic distortion: <_ 0.02% (1 kHz, 1 Vrms)
  • Contact pressure: approx. 3.4 N ± 0.3 N
  • Weight (without cable): approx. 330 g
  • Jack plug: ¼" (6.3 mm) stereo
  • Connecting cable: silver-plated, oxygen-free (OFC) copper cable, symmetrical, Kevlar reinforced, 3 m
  • Operating temperature: –10 °C to +55 °C

  • Customer Questions & Answers

    Customer Reviews

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    Most helpful customer reviews

    12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By musiclover on April 16 2012
    Verified Purchase
    Purchased these phones after reading numerous glowing recommendations from serious music lovers. They indeed sound fantastic. Remarkably clean balanced sound. They require a good headphone amp to show what they can really do. I use a Benchmark DAC 1 USB hooked into a Oppo BDP-83 (as transport) either through Toslink or Coaxial input. This DAC and amp are really terrific. Some may find the sound too revealing but with a really good CD the PCM sound is magnificent. Alternatively, on my IMac playing back lossless Itune files or just CD's via USB or a toslink adapter into the headphone jack this becomes a fantastic playback system. I also use an Apogee Duet 2 for recording or simply playback, and here again the internal electronics are first rate. In my opinion, you would have to spend at least $5000 on speakers to come close to this quality of sound. And even then you would have to worry about room treatment as well. The only headphones I've heard that are somewhat superior to these Sennheisers are Stax electrostatics. But the (COST) anywhere from 3 to 5x the price for these Senns is too rich for my blood !!
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    4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jason M. on Nov. 11 2013
    I've owned all sorts of headphones from the AKG K702s, beyerdynamic DT880s & T1s, sennheiser HD650s, and LCD2.2s. I have also auditioned in detail the fostex TH900s & TH600s, hifiman HE-500s and HE-6s. From all these my favourite without a doubt are the HD800s.

    The HD800s have clarity like no other I've heard and the soundstage is the largest by far that I've expereince. It doesn't even sound like you are using headphones. Instead, it sounds like good quality speakers are in front of you.

    They are however not perfect. They lack base which is probably their only weekness. In addition to this the treble can get a bit harsh at times but this is manageable with the right amp.

    These headphones are highly recommended and are in no way overrated in my opinion.
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    7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By egbert rousselle on May 29 2013
    These are the Rolls Royce of headphones. Absolutely ignore any negative comments. You will enter a musical realm that has no equal. They truly are the BEST.If you can buy these... DO. If music is important in your life, you will NEVER regret it!
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    3 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Alexandre Poulin on April 20 2013
    These headphones compete pretty well with headphones in the 300-400 dollars range, but don't believe the hype. Headphones that I have that sound better: ATH-AD900, AKG K702, Beyerdynamic DT880/600. Even my Sennheiser Momentum do a good run to these. If you have 1500 dollars to spend, go elsewhere as there are many better headphones out there you can get for that much money. Beyerdynamic T1 for example?
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    Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

    Amazon.com: 83 reviews
    454 of 488 people found the following review helpful
    Dream the music Oct. 15 2009
    By Timothy Barrow - Published on Amazon.com
    Verified Purchase
    I am not a golden ear audiophile. I don't know what it means to hear "the air between the strings" and other such audiophile descriptions. More power to those that can -- I am simply not able to do so. I do however know that music is and always has been my greatest entertainment, and that as I have grown older, my ability to pay higher dollar for my equipment has also grown. No way could I have had these headphones in past times. No way could I have justified their cost. Other priorities would have always taken precedence over these. But now that I can afford them, I still debated and agonized over the cost, but in the end decided I would go for them. Am I glad? Absolutely. They are without question the best sounding headphones I have ever heard. I could hear the difference straight out of the box, I did not even do "A to B" comparisons to know how good they sounded. I did do comparisons with my HD600 to HS650 upgrade and was never sure I heard much difference. Not so with the HD800s.

    Here is the best way I can describe them. When I was young, I would listen to a lot of music particularly nice in headphones. I am talking Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and many others. I am a child of the 60's/70's so I would often be a bit "altered' while listening. In those days a pair of Koss headphones, a little "substance", and the latest King Crimson album would lend to a headphone experience whereby I would believe I was literally dreaming the music. (A very nice state). But as time went on, the subtances went away, the latest King Crimson album I had in mind (Larks Tounge in Aspic) is almost 40 years old now, and my hearing ain't what it used to be.

    All that was said to lead up to this. With these headphones on (no substances), I am dreaming the music again. The above mentioned artists, and now with music such as Chick Corea and Miles Davis thrown in the mix, sounds like they are in and around my head like they have not been in those 40 gone by years.

    I would conclude that these headphones are worth the cost if you are in a position to put out that kind of money AND you really love your music. But be warned --- once you hear these, there's no going back to lesser headphones.
    283 of 321 people found the following review helpful
    Effortless, powerful, and supremely musical; one of the best! June 7 2009
    By R. Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
    The Sennheiser HD800 sets a new metric against which every other serious headphone or transducer must be judged. I've heard too many "breakthroughs" that just couldn't deliver the goods. This product is different.

    It's hard to describe a piece of gear which, upon first listen, sounds different than anything you've heard, yet sounds so completely effortless and musical that you're left with the singular impression that the previous way you've listened to music is somehow incomplete, a wrong path if you will, and that this is clearly a better way.

    I can't imagine anyone buying these and not being thrilled. They are a rare product indeed -- one that adds a significant new dimension to recordings you may have owned for years and thought you knew.

    First some background. Music is very important to me; I played the cello for many years, currently sing in a gospel choir, and now do my own audio recordings of choirs and other groups. I spend a lot of time with these tracks, during both the editing process and for my own personal benefit. I often pore over recordings to try and learn the nuance and details of each part.

    In this regard my playback system is crucial. I record using a Sony PCM-D50 with a variety of microphones, my favorite being a RODE NT4. I edit these on my Mac and use a Grace m902 for D/A conversion and to drive my headphones. I switch back and forth between AKG K701 headphones (now replaced by the HD800) and a pair of GURU QM10 nearfield studio monitors. With that out of the way let's get to the heart of the matter...

    The HD800 is beautifully designed and artfully executed in regard to materials and construction; these headphones are beautiful to look at and handle and are supremely comfortable to wear.

    As to performance? The Sennheiser HD800 sets a new metric against which every other serious headphone or transducer must be judged. I'm sorry if that sounds like so much hot air, but I honestly didn't expect to be so impressed -- especially out of the box with no break-in. I've heard too many "breakthroughs" that just couldn't deliver the goods. This product is different.

    It's hard to describe a piece of gear which, upon first listen, sounds different than anything you've heard, yet sounds so completely effortless and musical that you're left with the singular impression that the previous way you've listened to music is somehow incomplete, a wrong path if you will, and that this is clearly a better way.

    I won't get into the finer points of tonal balance, sound-staging, imaging, or brightness/darkness. All I can say that these headphones are very natural in regards to spatial presentation, in a way that I find entrancing. Their response is smooth and well-balanced at both extremes. I don't know what else to add, besides the fact that they are reproducing music more naturally and effortlessly than any one piece of gear I've added to my system over the past decade.

    A great example of what the Sennheisers contribute to my system comes when listening to recordings of the human voice:

    Track 9 "Spirit in the Dark" with Ray Charles
    Aretha is in such total control of her voice that she (rather infamously) never sings a song the same way twice -- she is completely improvisational depending on how the spirit moves her.

    Listening through the Sennheiser HD800 gave me a far greater sense of what this recording actually sounds like. Previously, I'd been disappointed by the quality of this recording. After hearing it anew via the HD800 I am ready to admit that, despite the blemishes, this recording now has a sound that matches what must have been one massively impressive musical experience. The performance was always there, it's just that now I can hear a new level of detail that was lost.

    On this particular song the patter between Aretha and Ray Charles is very cleanly revealed and every nuance is easily distinguished. Each microphone buzz, every shout-out from the crowd, and every detail is now very clearly revealed. However, none of this is to the detriment of the music; to the contrary, it makes the performance that much more complete. It's not as though these things are exposed or laid bare; the fact they are rendered so accurately just seems to add to the fullness and emotional impact of the event.

    Bass lines are also very clearly revealed when listening through the Sennheisers; in this respect the AKG K701 is simply out of its' league. The HD800's bass is in NO way emphasized, but it is clear, fast, and a constant force that propels the music.

    It's wonderful to hear Aretha's soulful sense of time, of which she is the undisputed master -- she can delay a beat, twist a phrase and bend time, yet once you think she's lost she always brings it back (often at the last instant) in perfect sync. Her rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is an amazing example of this. This particular song has particularly complex vocals on her part, where time gets compressed and she squeezes a lot of syllables in very quickly, to catch the beat at the end of a line or phrase. On most every system I've listened to this recording on, you simply have a difficult time distinguishing every nuance of her phrasing and modulation. Listening through the HD800, you wonder how you never caught these details before.

    Track 1, "Last Month of the Year"
    If you sing this type of music you spend a lot of time trying to clearly hear each vocal part; this is part of a tradition in Gospel music where learning is often by hearing, rote, and repetition. The HD800 has tremendous resolving power in this regard; never before have I been able to distinguish each of the seven members' voices so clearly.

    Additionally, at the very end of this track there is some interesting modulation from the electronic organ on the last 18 seconds of the cut; I've never heard this so clearly rendered from beginning to end.

    Track 6, "Tupelo"
    Track 6, "Tupelo"
    On this track you can clearly hear John's toe-tapping and how it resonates and decays in the studio space. His guitar is beautifully rendered, yet his more aggressive playing never sounds as edgy as with most systems. His humming is clear whether he is doing it loudly or softly. He talks a lot of this song, and I've never heard his voice sound as clear and full.

    Track 8, "Annie Mae"
    The piano on this track is conveyed better than I've ever heard it before. Listen for John's brief conversation with the pianist at the end of the track; it gives you a great sense of the resonance of the studio and, through the HD800, it's easy to believe you are right there with them.

    I've also been astonished to hear things on my own recordings (mostly of choirs and vocal groups) that were buried just beneath the surface, things that I didn't fully grasp were there. Subtle sounds from the crowd, a soft whoosh from a ventilation system, the rustle of papers or sound of remote footfalls -- it's all there. Since I have spent many hours editing and polishing these tracks, this struck me as a significant surprise. To hear something on one of your own recordings that you'd never heard clearly before -- that says it all to me. The HD800 is the Hubble Telescope of the audio world when it comes to clarity and resolving power.

    One thing is important in this regard. Many products are ruthless when it comes to how they lay bare whatever is on a recording. Many times this leads to the "garbage in, garbage out" conclusion, where we assume that a poor recording alone must be the obvious reason that something sounds the way it does.

    Somehow the Sennheisers have both superb resolution, excellent and extended response, AND a wonderful sense of sweetness and "rightness" that isn't explained by charts and specifications. Do terrible recordings still sound that way on HD800? Yes, to a degree, but here's what distinguishes the sound of these headphones. I believe the Sennheisers are pulling more details and artifacts out of bad recordings, and that this adds a depth that makes these recordings more pleasing to listen to. It's not because of any euphonic colorations or something the HD800 is adding to the music.

    One more thing anyone considering these headphones should know; it is critical to have a great headphone amp if you are going to get the best out of this product. Comparing the Sennheisers to my AKG K701s (with each driven by my Grace m902), the HD800 requires roughly 20% more gain on the volume pot to reach the same level. The Grace m902 never runs out of steam or sounds as though it's not up to the task, but I can't say anything regarding how these headphones might sound on lesser equipment.

    So, with that one caveat, I can't imagine anyone buying these and not being thrilled. They are a rare product indeed -- one that adds a significant new dimension to recordings you may have owned for years and thought you knew. I can't find anything to complain about yet. I have a big head and rather large ears and can't wear my AKG K701 for more than an hour without feeling some discomfort. While writing this I've been listening to the HD800 for nearly four hours, with only a brief break in the middle (a guy has to eat, after all). There is no trace of pain or fatigue; these are, without a doubt, the most comfortable cans I've ever worn.

    Are they worth the price for you? It simply depends on your expectations and how you view this type of thing. As a reference tool that allows me to improve my recording and editing skills, there is little doubt they are worth it to me.

    If you are someone who doesn't have the space or funds for a high-end system with speakers, I would suggest the HD800 may actually be a bargain. I don't think there are any speakers close to this price point that will offer you a more satisfying glimpse into recorded music. With a good digital source, a decent D/A converter and a good headphone amp, you could have a very nice listening system for $2,000 to $2,500. There aren't many stand-alone systems with speakers that would touch the sound quality of such a system, and it's important to note that speaker set-up and the balancing of room acoustics are now removed from the equation.

    Lastly, please remember that these are simply my thoughts and opinions. You may feel very differently about some of my points and be convinced that I am dead wrong. If this is the case please remember that everything in my review is predicated on the concept of "what works for me, in my system, for my purposes, and for my unique ear/brain combination". There may well be an "Absolute Sound", but we all perceive it differently. As long as your system brings you musical enjoyment, I don't care if it's an AM table radio or a roomful of gear.

    I hope this review is a useful tool for anyone considering these headphones. Happy listening, regardless; after all, there is so much music and so little time...
    57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
    A New Standard is Born Dec 15 2009
    By Melomaniac ! - Published on Amazon.com
    For a number of years the standard among many in the price vs performance was the HD 600's, edged out slightly by the 650's. Even today a pair of these high quality headphones represent some of the best money one can spend compared to the return in performance.

    Currently there are a number of great headphones out there in the $300 range (Shure SE530's, Beyerdynamic DT 880's, AKG 701/702's, Dennons AH-D2000) which all offer a similar level of performance that the above mentioned models deliver. So now the choice on most counts comes down to a matter of taste and want each individual cares to have with their primary headphones. With all these great choices out there why would anyone in the right mind spend over $1300 on a pair of cans, is what most regular people are going to say?

    1) Ability to produce a sound stage. These headphones have this in spades.

    This has to be one of the best strengths that I have encountered with these headphones. One of the main dis-tractors of headphone use for many is the 'in your head' issue and listener fatigue that comes with this, not to mention being further exacerbated by low quality headphones. These cans continually carry me outside of my head. There are many tracks that I have been listening to and it is like I am hearing the sound coming from outside and not from the phones. Open and Wide are good descriptions for these headphones. Listening is a pleasure mainly due to the fact that the music is so open, with a large sound stage before me and much less of the 'in your head' feeling.

    2) Neutral. You only hear what is there.

    All headphones have a character of their own, not to mention all associated equipment that goes with it. Some will be better for people who want to hear a lot of bass while others will care for something else. These cans are fantastic in giving you what is on your CD/Vinyl/Hard drive. Studio quality comes to mind. Want to hear want the artist/mixer/engineer of your music wanted you hear ? Get these headphones.

    3) Quiet. Hear me out on this one, no pun intended.

    One of the indicators of the quality of equipment related to music is how well it does quiet. Yes, quiet. Timing is also related to this. The space between your music, the gaps, the different instruments and the sound around them. How those instruments sound when they start and when they end, all make up the music you love. These headphones get out of the way and just let you hear the music. Deep and quiet.

    4) Clarity. At 1400 bucks they better be clear.

    You ever heard a song and could not make out what was being said by the artist ? A particular line or chorus ? It will not happen here. At least not if you are listening with a high quality headphone amplifier and source component. Yes, everything is crystal clear. No further explanation on this needed.

    I must state that to truly realize what these headphones can do, it is mandatory to have them paired with a headphone amp of high caliber. Without, you will be wasting your money.

    5) Comfort. Sennheiser headphones have always been the king when it comes to comfort with their top of line phones. No expense was spared on these in this department also. They are comfortable.

    Making this type of purchase should not be made lightly no matter how flush with cash you might be. Something at this level should be thought of as a long term investment which will give you continued pleasure for many years to come, not some new flavor of the month. My old HD 600's have gone on to another via eBay after many years of enjoyment and I now have a new set of cans that will provide me with many great new listening experiences.

    My headphone listening has gone up a lot since my purchase which is another indicator of how much I am enjoying them. I have had several 'high end' headphones in the past but I have not listened to half as much, in as little time as I have with these headphones.

    These headphones do all of these things mentioned above remarkably, extraordinarily, well. Leading you to a wonderful musical experience with your favorite music and a greater understanding of the artists you love and the music they make. I love music. These headphones have been getting me closer to, enjoying my music more and on a deeper level than I ever have before.

    If you want a better performance from headphones you will have to spend thousands more on a pair of Stax headphones perhaps. Yes the cost may be considered steep by many but the price vs performance is high, making them a great value.

    Thank you Sennheiser and all the remarkable engineers who helped in developing these fantastic cans. A First Class Product.

    Sennheiser have set a new standard to which other headphone manufactures will have to meet.
    73 of 83 people found the following review helpful
    Headphone Nirvana! Aug. 1 2009
    By D. Macnaughtan - Published on Amazon.com
    I believe I am the very first person to have the pleasure of owning these phones in the UK (Scotland). They are not available yet via Amaxon UK, hence my review on this site. It took 10 weeks of very considerable pressure (via my good friend Mark, at HiFi Corner in Falkirk!) to persuade the powers that be in Sennheiser to ship me a set. These finally arrived on Friday 24th July. All HD800's are uniquely set up and have their own serial number engraved on the head band (mine is 01327). The come in sumptuous packaging!

    To get the best out of these phones, you are well advised to invest in a serious headphone amp (I use the Lehmann Black Cube Audio) and some decent interconnects (Chord Anthem 2) to whatever your source is (Sony CDP - 3100 broadcast player). The sky's the limit to the kit you can connect. These phones will not win you friends on the bus or plane - they are open-backed, so very noisy. You need to get away from the world! These are man-size phones. They touch no part of your ear and have just the right pressure on your skull. You can wear them for hours and forget you have them on. You also need to burn them in for at least 100 hours (although they are great, straight out the box). So far, so good!

    I have a long history with Sennheiser phones, having worked my way up through HD 25 and HD 650's. Having read all the rave reviews from you lucky people in Obamaland, I was at a loss as to what to expect when I had my first listen. Having been used to very high quality reproduction from the 650's, it was difficult to see where we would go next.

    I decided to auditiond a track from a carefully chosen disc on the 650's (Verdi Requiem - Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony), then play it again on the 800's. Very first impression was surprise at how little difference there seemed to be. I tried various favourite tracks and the picture started to become clear.

    The difference with the 800's is much more subtle but significant. You only really notice it big time, when you go back to the 650's and appreciate how two-dimensional they are, against the 800's. After an hour or two (and you just want more!), I would sum up the difference - with the 650's you listen to the music while with the 800's you're part of the performance. Nothing is spectacular - everything is natural and real. There is no distortion, no matter what you throw at it. This is honest reproduction. They make bad recordings sound bad and bring out the very best in the stars of your collection. Recordings that you know better than your wife, will suddenly have added elements. Others that you pass by (you know, all these ones on the shelf that you never listen to?), they suddenly come to life. There are not enough hours in the day - you have to sleep sometime!

    These phones are for the long haul. They will just get better, the more you play. There is no fear here. You suddenly realise that for years you have been making allowances for bits of recordings that previous kit could not quite handle. These phones are a match for everything in your collection. Be careful with the volume nob - your ears will bleed before these phones struggle!

    It is early days yet and I still have so much more listening to do. In 10 years, when Sennheiser release the new HD1000's, I shall no doubt be at the head of the queue. It is difficult to imagine what they can seriously improve - but we've been saying that for 100 years! I suppose we're down to fractions of one percent now.

    Should you buy these phones? If you really love your music, you owe it to yourself. If you have been using mediocur kit and want to really hear was recorded at that concert or in that studio - now's your chance. If you want to walk down the street with these plugged into your iPod (you'll need an adaptor!) you've got more money than sense! Yes, it's a big investment (not to mention the kit you really need to appreciate them) but the end result can take you places you never knew existed!

    Go for it - and tell me how you got on!

    Happy listening

    Douglas Macnaughtan ([...])
    20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    Audio perfection at a price March 18 2013
    By David Pitchford - Published on Amazon.com
    I've been a Sennheiser fan for over four years ever since a pair of HD555s changed my life and got me into headphones. So, of course, the HD800s have been my dream headphones for almost as long. Billed as the "world's finest headphones", constructed with laser-precise engineering and innovative ring-shaped drivers, looking like no other headphones in existence (the HD700s weren't out yet)--I knew that someday I would own a pair of my own. When I got my first bonus at work, my first thought was, "Finally, I can buy the pair of HD800s I've always wanted!" So I did. So, after all the anticipation, how do they sound? In a word: perfect. Sennheiser's flagship headphones are everything I hoped for and more.

    The following impressions are all based on driving my headphones with a HRT MusicStreamer II+ DAC and a Bottlehead Crack OTL amp with the Speedball upgrade.

    When I A-B tested them with my HD650s, I could have sworn someone had snuck into my apartment and switched them with cheap knockoffs. I could barely believe how the HD650s, which I had previously considered to be fantastic, reference-grade headphones, seemed so fuzzy by comparison. I finally understood what people meant by the Sennheiser "veil" by experiencing some headphones that tore it away. With vanishingly low harmonic distortion, he HD800s put nothing between you and your music--for better or for worse. They also have distinctively angled drivers that present sound to your ears at a more natural angle, resulting in the best, widest sound stage I've heard from any headphones.

    The frequency response of the HD800s is the most neutral I've ever heard. With less of an emphasis on the mid-lower end than the HD650s, I was worried the lows would sound somewhat thin or weak by comparison. They do sound a bit less "meaty" than the 650s and aren't "bass-head" headphones by any stretch of the imagination, but what bass they do have is tightly controlled and clearly-presented. I listen to lots of metal, and the bass guitar and double kick-pedal drumming come through loud (but not too loud) and clear over them.

    The mids are excellent, as I'd expect from any Sennheiser headphone worth its salt; guitars, voices, and other tones are clearly defined and take center stage, not in loudness but in perception as they should to avoid a "boomy" or "tinny" impression. The highs are similarly balanced, allowing me to savor every cymbal hit and pluck of the guitar strings without becoming overpowering or sibilant as my DT990s tend towards.

    I was a bit worried that the HD800s would be uncomfortable compared to Sennheiser's other audiophile cans, but these turned out to be unfounded. The HD800s are not only the best-sounding headphones I've ever heard (except maybe some Stax I heard at a meet), they are also the most comfortable. They have the same split-band design of the HD650s to avoid putting pressure on the sensitive middle of the scalp. The enormous earpads are made of soft, foam-like fabric and are the only ones I've found that go completely around my ears without touching them at any point. They are relatively light, with solid construction, and exert considerably less caliper pressure than anything in the HD5xx or 6xx lines. I don't want to take them off--and not just because of how they sound.

    I realize I'm almost sounding like an advertisement for the HD800s, or the glossy, 12-language booklet that comes with them praising their engineering and design. These really are the finest headphones I have ever experienced and I can't seem to spend enough time listening to them. The downside is, of course, the eye-popping price tag. I got them with what was essentially free money, so I don't regret my purchase at all, but if you are on more of a budget, I will concede that for costing three times as much as the HD650s, they don't necessarily sound three times as good. If you just want fine, audiophile-quality headphones, there are plenty of cheaper, more cost-effective ones out there. But if you're willing to spend the cost of an old car in order to explore the heights of headphone engineering, you can't do much better than the HD800s.