Sennheiser’s HD 800 have long been one of the go-to picks for audiophiles looking for stunning detail in a set of headphones — including us. The company has plenty planned for CES this year, which you’ll be sure to find in our coverage of the show, but the biggest announcement may be that the company is debuting the HD 820, its new top-of-the-HD-line offering, and according to Sennheiser, the “new reference standard for its class.”
Generally, when you think of audiophile headphones, closed-back designs don’t leap to mind as the best option. Instead, most designs aimed at audiophiles, including Sennheiser’s HD 800, use an open-back design for a bigger, more “open” sound. The downside is that because of the open design, everyone around you can hear what you’re listening to, and you can hear them as well, which is less than ideal. The HD 820 headphones take a different approach, using a unique glass transducer cover aimed at reducing resonance and outside sound while retaining the auditory transparency that open-back designs are known for.
“Usually, high-end headphones require an open-back design, which has placed limits on where you can enjoy true audiophile sound,” Axel Grell, portfolio management consumer at Sennheiser, said in a statement. “The HD 820 is a game changer that delivers exceptional sound while insulating the listener from their environment. I consider them to be the most transparent-sounding closed-back headphones in the world.”
“The HD 820 … delivers exceptional sound while insulating the listener from their environment.”
The rest of the headphone design is similarly high-end, with a metal headband featuring an inner damping element, earpads crafted from non-allergenic synthetic leather and microfiber, and gold-plated plugs. The headphones use Pentaconn connectors, which Sennheiser refers to as the new standard for balanced outputs, with lower contact resistance making for as little distortion as possible.
The HD 820 headphones are slated to go on sale early this summer, and will be priced at $2,400.
While Sennheiser is just now announcing the HD 820 headphones, there was a hint they were on the way when the company launched the HDV 820 headphone amp and digital-to-analog converter (DAC) earlier this year. As the numbers at the end of each model indicate, the HDV 820 is a companion product to the HD 820 headphones.
Like the HD 820, the HDV 820 uses the same Pentaconn connectors. The DAC section uses an ESS Sabre32 chip featuring a resolution of 32 bits for PCM, and up to 384 kHz and 12.3 MHz for DSD format files. Sennheiser says the HDV 820 offers very low harmonic distortion, and uses fully balanced symmetrical signal processing for the most transparent sound possible.
The HDV 820 is available now via the Sennheiser website, and retails for the same price as the HD 820 headphones, $2,400.
Of course, while audiophile-grade sound is great, there are times when you’re on the move and need something a little more portable to keep your music going. For that, Sennheiser is offering up the new CX 6.00BT wireless Bluetooth headphones, which do away with the neckband design used in the CX 7.00BT in favor of a more lightweight design — they tip the scales at just 14 grams. Four different sizes of included earpieces should make finding a comfortable fit a breeze.
The headphones feature Sennheiser’s proprietary speaker system, which the company says offers detailed highs and enhanced bass response. Bluetooth 4.2 and Qualcomm aptX are present, making for a clear, strong audio signal. And aptX Low Latency compatibility means that you won’t have to worry about audio and video getting out of sync when watching a movie. The CX 6.00BT in-ears allow pairing with two devices at the same time, letting you easily swap between your phone and computer, for example.
Offering up to six hours of playing time, the CX 6.00BT can be fully charged in 1.5 hours, with a 10-minute charge adding up to two hours of playback. In addition to the three-button remote, the headphones feature voice prompts to let you know when you’re running low on battery.
The CX 6.00BT are set to go on sale later this month, and will retail for $100.
Ambeo 3D Soundbar
At last year’s CES, Sennheiser wowed audiences with its Ambeo Smart Headset, which used binaural microphones to let the wearer easily record the sounds around them in realistic 3D. The headset went on sale earlier this year for the surprisingly low price of $300, and will be on display at this year’s show. The company is continuing its progress in the Ambeo line, but this year, it’s with an Ambeo-branded soundbar.
Sennheiser promises that the Ambeo 3D Soundbar offers sound nearly as immersive as actually being there without the need for other components like a separate subwoofer. Unfortunately, if you’re curious to learn when you can bring this home, you might be in for a long wait. The model Sennheiser is showing at CES is just a prototype, but hopefully we’ll see one you can actually purchase sooner rather than later.