Sennheiser HD 800 S Review
Clear the Sennheiser HD 800 S stage: It is the new champ among the high-quality dynamic headphones from the transducer specialists from Hanover. As the name suggests, the newcomer has the very best genes: With it, the globally successful HD 800 headphone, presented in 2009, has received a thorough overhaul.
Outwardly, this is initially noticeable in the black outfit – which looks great on the new one: You wonder why the HD 800 has not always looked like this.
- As detailed as headphones can get
- Light for their size
- Great sound
- HD 800 treble tamed
- Require high power amplifier
- Zero sound isolation
- Not for bass heads
In addition, the delivery of the Sennheiser HD 800 S now includes an additional cable with a four-pin XLR plug for connection to balanced headphone amps (with a black plug, of course).
The Sennheiser HD 800 S and the HD 800 can both be operated symmetrically, which can have sound advantages on headphone amps with the corresponding output.
And here is the small price increase of the new HD 800 S: With it, the symmetrical cable is part of the package price of 1,600 euros, with the HD 800 (price: 1,300 euros), which is still available, it can be purchased separately as an accessory for 300 euros.
In addition, the relationship cannot be overlooked: Luckily, Sennheiser has left what has been tried and tested over the years from the HD 800 – namely almost everything: First of all, there is the filigree-looking, yet robust mechanism, consisting of a material mix of high-quality plastics and metal.
My HD 800 has been in tough use for seven years now, has never had a defect, and still looks pretty good – see photo above.
What has also remained in the open, circumaural design with two ring magnet transducers with a diameter of 56 millimeters, which are slightly angled towards the auricles from the front to reduce localization in the head?
The connection cable, which is textile-sheathed to reduce noise, can also be exchanged on the HD 800 S, using two robust and reliable Lemo fittings.
The hand-made ear pads made of high-quality velour are also interchangeable – which, however, requires strong fingers due to the sealing film attached below the retaining collar.
And like the Sennheiser HD 800, the S version is a classic stationary receiver with a weight of around 350 grams and a nominal impedance of 300 ohms.
Sennheiser HD 800 S: New acoustic tuning
The Sennheiser HD 800 S is widely recognized as one of, if not THE world’s best dynamic headphones. For a good reason, because the richness of detail, definition, and bass precision do indeed reach the level of electrostatic.
However, some voices perceive the HD 800 as rather bright and also sounding a bit too cold.
The reason for this is initially a transducer-related resonance effect, which is noticeable as a frequency response peak at around 6 kilohertz.
This is exactly where the Sennheiser developers came in with the HD 800 S – with an ingenious acoustic trick that could not be done any cleaner, and that was used for the first time in the Sennheiser IE 800 in-ear headphones, like the Sennheiser portfolio -Manager Axel Grell explains in the LowBeats-TV interview.
For example, the Hanoverians used the pole core bore that was already present to ventilate the transducer to “slow down” the resonance with a precisely tuned Helmholtz resonator to speak acoustically ( more on the subject of the Helmholtz resonator here ). The comparison measurements show how well this works.
The sound – wellness for the ears
The Sennheiser HD 800 S, which is highly valued worldwide, stands for a very detailed and clear, at the same time natural, open, and spatially extensive sound image combined with excellent wearing comfort.
The new HD 800 S also has all these virtues – the subtle but audible difference in sound: S-sounds in vocals and fine, high-frequency chiseling, for example, with shakers or hi-hat cymbals, sound less “prominent” than with the HD 800
In other words: the 800 with its 6-kilohertz kick sounds a bit more euphonic, while the HD 800 S initially sounds a bit less “airy” when you listen to it briefly.
However, if you wear it for a few minutes and then switch back to the HD 800, you will notice that it is extremely generous with its silvery high-tone gloss:
Good to hear on tracks like the lively Chill or be Chilled feat. Nitty Scott from The Polish Ambassador.
I prefer the HD 800 S for mastering applications because it does not tempt you to add a little more “air” here and there with its very balanced setting.
The nice thing about it: Despite the new set-up, the “loosened” basic character of the HD 800 is completely retained with the new one.
So many hi-fi fans, for whom the HD 800 previously seemed a bit too airy, will probably warm up to the HD 800 S.
In the LowBeats sound oracle, LowBeats readers can also listen to the sound characteristics of the Sennheiser HD 800 S compared to its predecessor, the HD 800, of course, compared to the original recording and competing models – a service that only LowBeats offers.
Conclusion: the tried and tested skilfully refined
Sennheiser proceeded cautiously with the Sennheiser HD 800 S and did everything right: Without fundamentally deviating from the sonic virtues of the HD 800, which is valued around the world and thereby discrediting it, it is a little more grounded.
That succeeded perfectly without falling into short-lived zeitgeist attunements. The HD 800 S does not sound fundamentally “different” than the HD 800. Rather “more mature” is the more appropriate word.
It’s also great that the HD 800 is still in the range: Thus, the inclined hi-fi fan can choose between traditional and new sound tuning – and at about the same price.
The HD 800 S is nominally 300 euros more expensive than its predecessor, but it also includes the symmetrical connection cable for exactly this amount in the scope of delivery. Well done, Sennheiser – for this great achievement, you get a full five points and the LowBeats reference title!