By Richard / Review, $1000+, Sennheiser, Reference, Full Size / December 31, 2021

Sennheiser HD 800 S Review (Updated 2/16/2022)

Sennheiser HD 800 S Review (Updated 2/16/2022)'s image

The reviewer is giving his honest experience with the product and was not paid to write a favorable article. The gear was purchased due to interest and enjoyment in quality of sound.

As a note of caution, this headphone is not heavy in the bass region; it’s actually a very even, revealing type of bass that is exceptionally defined. If you're looking for a heavy bass response, with a lot of presence and texture, I don't feel the HD 800 S meet that criteria.

As stated by Sennheiser, the HD 800 S is a headphone used for critical listening, “it not only raises the ceiling, it smashes right through it”. Because the HD 800 S is a reference headphone, it retains faithfulness to the recording. 

Something particularly striking with the HD 800 S is that through its imaging, it represents music in such a way that is deeply engaging with its instrument separation, special sense of space, and smooth, extended notes which picks up on micro-detail in a surprisingly beautiful way. 

No region overwhelms the other which results in a smooth and cohesive sound with a lot of depth and character. The equilibrium allows for all the frequencies to weave a truly beautiful representation with emphasis and impact ever-present, beautiful, and raw. The HD 800 S go very deep in the ranges and pick out the subtleties in the music, in the cleanest possible way.

picture of sennheiser HD800s in backyard

The HD 800 S has a warm sound with a presentation that has weighty notes. This is especially true when pairing the HD800s with tube amplifiers such as the Garage 1217 Project Sunrise III. With solid-state amplifiers such as the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 -> Yulong D18 -> A18, the sound was less expansive, contained, and flatter.

The HD 800 S has a large soundstage with a liquid sound that is very revealing of the notes. The skillful imaging and the soft, yet impactful notes evoke a sense of calm during listening sessions.

The HD 800 S soundstage also scales well with different chains. With the Schiit Modi Multibit, the soundstage is immersive; however using the Audio-GD HE-7 MK I, the soundstage will feel even more three-dimensional and bring a big sense of space and airiness. 

There is a lot of potential and enjoyment that can be had throughout all levels of hi-fi with the HD 800 S. With all the chains I’ve tried, I’ve found that the HD 800 S retains a nice body and decay in the notes with an awesome sense of space, naturalness, and masterful instrument placement.

picture of sennheiser HD800s in backyard looking towards the sky

Some may think it’s a soft, mild headphone, being that it is a reference headphone and of the HD 800 line. When compared with other headphones that have more bass response, it is actually true that the HD 800 S may sound tamer; however, the HD 800 S is not flat.

The HD 800 S is not only a reference headphone; I appreciate it because it allows me to experience every detail in a way that makes critical listening enjoyable. I’d recommend the HD 800 S to anyone curious about hearing the full dynamic range of a song.

Missing minute details prevents us from fully experiencing the music in its totality. A song is never bad or ruined because of your choice of headphones, but with the HD 800 S, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any subtle details or that my headphones are not fully and accurately representing the recording.

With that being said, it may take a certain type of person to enjoy a headphone like the HD 800 S; it's a subtle signature that is revealing instead of being overtly fun. It's suited for an individual who is keen on detail and doesn't want to miss a step.

As with more so-called neutral headphones, there is sometimes the impression that it's not adequately engaging. In my experience, headphones that might be classed as neutral such as the HiFiMan HE6SE and Sennheiser HD 800 S (which is warmer), contain a lively synergy through the notes with a large stage that allows a unique way to experience music.

Product Links:

Source: Audio-GD HE-7, Schiit Modi Multibit

USB: Singxer SU-6

Amplifier: Garage 1217 Project Sunrise III, ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2


About the Author


Software Engineer by trade, always loved music, but discovered Hi-Fi in 2012. Decided that since interest in sound quality was growing, could share experience with different products.


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