Replete with premium components, proprietary technology and several industry firsts, Sennheiser’s HD800 headphones easily earn their place amongst the very best ever made. Retailing at just under $1400.00 though, the cover charge for this listening party is a little steep. However, if you want a jaw-droppingly amazing personal audio experience, these cans deliver and then some.
Out of the Box
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: The HD800 headphones are BIG. From the case to the cord, it’s clear that Sennheiser’s prime directive was audio perfection and, apparently, the manufacturer believes that size really does matter. The case for the company’s flagship cans is about the same size as a large shoe box (13.5”x105”x5.5). Opening the hinged case reveals a satin-lined, custom-cut foam bed in which the HD800’s rest snugly. Perched near our listening station, the silver and black HD800’s exuded a trophy-like quality that is sure to make any owner very proud, indeed.
The cord for the HD800 set is 3 meters long and terminates on one end with custom, detachable stereo connections – one for each headphone. We know plenty of folks who have ripped headphones right off of their head by tripping on the cable. Thanks to Sennheiser’s breakaway connectors though, you’re not likely to do any serious damage.
On the other end of the cable is a ¼” male jack. As the larger of the two common connectors, this jack will NOT fit into your laptop, iPod or other portable device. To do that, you’ll need a ¼” to 1/8” adapter that is generally available wherever electronics are sold. The included ¼” connector will fit into most receivers, mixing boards and headphone amplifiers, however. As these headphones are designed with listening enthusiasts in mind, we are not surprised to see them natively terminated with the larger ¼” jack. However, an included adapter might be a nice idea for future consideration, given the popularity of today portable media players.
A quick weight comparison between the HD800s and a reference pair of AKG K141 monitor headphones revealed that the substantially larger Sennheiser set isn’t notably heavier than other headphones of this type and grade. Consider it a reflection of the cutting=edge materials that the HD800’s are constructed from.
Features and Design
The materials used for ear and head cushioning are soft microfiber fabric over foam. During our listening tests, we never experienced any fatigue from extended listening sessions. Unlike more typical leather applications, we found that these headphones stayed cool, dry and effortlessly comfortable even after hours of constant wear. For even more comfort, the HD800 headphones are very limber. The headband offers independent adjustment on the left- and right-hand sides, and two sets of hinge points allow on-the-fly adjustment as your head moves. Overall, the HD800s are very comfortable.
Just beyond the extremely comfortable exterior lay the guts and glory of the HD800s. Here, Sennheiser has mounted the largest transducers ever used in a headphone. The size of the transducer, stainless steel mounting material, open-backed design and premium wiring configuration are designed with as much care as the highest-end audio equipment available today. This allows them to deliver an amazingly open, uncompressed sound with deep bass extension.