Headphones and Earphones
- Written by Chris Groppi
- Published on 26 November 2009
The Sennheiser HD-800s cost a not-inconsiderable $1,400. Your money buys you one of the finest made products I have ever held in my hands. They’re like the audio equivalent of a Patek-Philippe watch; every detail has been crafted at the highest level. Most of the headphones are made from machined or cast stainless steel and aluminum. The earpads are covered in Alcantra, and the open backs are covered in a super-fine stainless steel mesh. All the plastics that are in the headphones are very high quality soft touch plastics that would be at home in the interior of a car costing as much as your house. The driver is a 56mm diameter ring radiator with a 40mm magnet and 42mm voice coil, offering frequency response from 14 Hz to 44.1 kHz +/- 3 dB. The -10 dB points are 6 Hz – 51 kHz. The headphone cord uses silver plated OFC wiring with a Kevlar reinforced fabric jacket. The ¼” machined connector, is gold plated at the source end and uses proprietary connectors at the headphone end to allow easy replacement.
As an owner of a pair of HD-580s for many years, this is a very welcome use of “over-engineering.” Nominal impedance is a rather high 300 Ohms. The HD-800s are delivered in a large, fabric covered clamshell box with Alcantra lining, with a beautifully printed manual I’d expect to find in a BMW glove compartment. The earpads are well articulated, and the headband adjustments are as precise as you’d expect. Comfort was first rate, better than my reference Denon AH-D7000s. The earpads always fit perfectly against my head, and the fine adjustment of the headband made it easy to find the perfect setting. By comparison, the Denons always seemed to feel like they were hanging against the side of my head by their headbands. The only drawback was the relatively high 330g (11.6 oz) mass of the headphones, although the exceptional design made the mass feel expensive, not uncomfortable.