Just like when you get the very rare chance to drive a supercar, testing a set of headphones that many will never own offers a unique insight into how well a product can be made, and in this case, how outstanding the sound performance of the Sennheiser HD 800 S headphones really is.
These are huge. They are the definition of circumaural – never heard that word? It means something that covers the entire outer ear – the cup of the headphone doesn’t touch your ears at all. And I’ve got big ears.
This design makes them utterly comfortable, I was able to wear these for several hours without feeling a bit of strain. The other thing that makes them so comfortable is their weight. Sennheiser HD 800 S weigh just 330 grams. This is possible because they’ve used aerospace materials for high strength and minimal weight – it’s amazing.
These are the kind of headphones it’s worth popping into the Sennheiser Store in Sydney to feel on your head the next time you’re nearby.
Apart from clarity around which is Left and Right on the earcups, there’s one other key point branded right on the Sennheiser HD 800 S – High Definition Driver – 300 Ω – that number is the impedance. Complex, but this is the resistance to electric current transmitted into the headphones – the higher the impedance, the higher definition possible – which is an over simplification I know.
To put that in perspective, a set of in ear buds might be 40Ω, a good set of over ears – maybe 120 Ω.
In the box is a cable with a 6.35 mm plug, and another with a 4.4 mm plug – there ain’t no plug for a smartphone here folks, because that’s not what these are for.
Pair the Sennheiser HD 800 S with an amp you can enjoy your favourite music while relaxing in your library – that’s the kind of person I see wearing these,
I signed up to High Fi streaming service Tidal for the purpose of this test, and boy oh boy, you listen to Bohemian Rhapsody for the millionth time in your life, and you hear it better than you ever have.
It’s the same song, but it’s a neutral sound with the Sennheiser HD 800 S, I’m hearing guitar strings without being overburdened by a keyboard. The Bass is there, but not overbearing.
The outcome is the same with vocal heavy songs, or even heavy songs like Metallica – It’s as if I’m hearing the same thing as ever, but with more clarity.
When you take away the “signature sound” of many sound companies, you neutralise the bass heavy emphasis or some, or the tweaks they make to their sound.
This is all thanks to the Open backed design of the Sennheiser HD 800 S. Sitting next to someone wearing these you can hear what they’re hearing. That open back means air flows in and works with the headphone to give you clarity.
As the 75th anniversary edition, this version of the HD 800 S is limited to just 750 units and come in an exclusive matte gold colour, with a laser engraved serial number on the headband. These are Number 15 of 750.
At $2,599 they are not for everyone, but as a lover of music, I’ve found a new appreciation for the artist and the producers and the music they create. I also have a new plan in my retirement to a collection, a space to listen and headphones of this level to sit back and enjoy the songs I love.