Hi friend and Welcome!
The Shure SE846 vs. Sennheiser HD 800 is an interesting comparison indeed. Before we get into why, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
of each headphone
- Video Review
- Amp/DAC requirements
- Who these headphones/earphones benefit
- Similarities & Differences
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
best price: check amazon! | check eBay!
type: Quad high definition micro drivers with true subwoofer
fit: IEM (in ear monitors)
impedance: 9 Ohm
frequency response: 15hz-20kHz
material: plastic, some metal
The SE846’s are 9 Ohm IEM’s (in ear monitors) that deliver outstanding results. The build is extremely solid, even being mostly plastic with a touch of metal for the ear nozzles. A great feature of the 846 is the different tips and tubes that can be inserted, which change the sound to your liking. Speaking of, the sound is exceptional, with a bass response that isn’t muddy or overpowering, but rather tight and controlled while still retaining a sense of authority. The treble range hits the mark admirably, and the overall sound gives an excellent sense of clarity and accuracy. The sound-stage? Remarkable. What is Soundstage? This was definitely a stand out amongst reviewers who were stunned to find out how great it is. Reviewers described the experience to that of listening with open back headphones! Closed back vs. Open back headphones, and commented on the 846’s startling nuance and phenomenal instrument separation. Everything here sounds as it should, and nothing seems misplaced or pronounced. As monitors they do an outstanding job, and isolate sound extremely well.
As far as comfort, it’s a mixed bag. A lot of people say they are completely satisfied, while others claim they’re a bit hard to fit inside their ears at first. Smaller ears may have some issue as well, but it’s not a deal breaker.
- Great sub bass, as well as an overall strong bass frequency. Not overpowering. Adds a nice bed of warmth for all of the other frequencies.
- Comes with a large plastic case, as well as a zippered case.
- Isolates noise very well.
- Very comfortable. Can wear for extended periods with slight adjustment.
- Overall sound is clear and accurate. Cymbals sizzle, bells ring, and the sound decay with delicacy and immediacy.
- You will hear things in music previously unheard. They have an open, airy sound to them.
- *Sound-stage wonderful. Feels like you’re listening with open back headphones. Instrument placement/separation is also phenomenal.
- Neutral sound signature.
- A vast array of features. The video below will outline them!
- Using the right tip for your ear is mandatory with these, as well as finding the right fit.
- No iPhone/Android compatible cable.
- Smaller ears may have comfort issues, and they may take some time fitting into your ear.
I only found a few conflicting reports on amazon, but felt compelled to share them
- Ear bud shorting out within a year. One amazon reviewer noted that changing your cable out helped with this issue.
- Sound isolation is so-so.
- They don’t have the depths of a true sub-bass.
- Stock cables a bit bulky.
Check out the unbox/sound test with everything you need to know!
These are 9 Ohms, so no amp necessary. They will do just fine with all of your portable devices, laptop, PC, etc.
Who these earphones benefit?
I’ve seen them endorsed for:
- Alternative Rock
- Use at the Gym
They are fantastic monitor earphones, and provide a neutral sound signature. So if you want to hear the sound in it’s purest state, the 846’s will deliver. Consider your source however. The 846’s sound best with lossless audio as well as FLAC.
While the Shure SE 846 is a phenomenal IEM, it’s not without it’s issues. The majority of reviewers seemed to be in agreement over this earphones strong suits. Complaints included needing to find a perfect fit, as well as no iPhone/Android compatible cable. Overall, the majority of reviewers loved the overall sound signature, sound-stage, and honest bass response that still provided depth and excitement.
Sennheiser HD 800
best price: check amazon! | check eBay!
type: Open back
fit: Circumaural (Over-ear)
impedance: 300 Ohm
frequency response: 6–51,000 Hz (-10 dB); 14–44,100 Hz (-3 dB)
material: alcantara, stainless steel, teflon, velour
color: Black and Grey
These are some of the most highly regarded headphones in existence today, and are almost an overall perfect set.
They are meant to reproduce the sound you hear at it’s most natural state, and therefore can be called the most honest, and neutral pair available on the market. If you value an even sound across the entire frequency spectrum, and appreciate things like sound-stage, neutrality, detail, honesty, and comfort, then this may be the headphone for you. One concern that I’ve found to be quite common in my research is that this headphone may become boring to some. It’s almost too much of a good thing, and can be exhausting and fatiguing after awhile.
One of the main concerns is that they may sound a bit too bright for some peoples taste, even bordering on sibilant sounding. It isn’t a perfect headphone by any stretch, but still maintains an A rating across the board despite some shortcomings (Outlined in “Cons”).
That said, The HD 800 excels with nearly everything that makes a listening experience great. It boasts a wide and amazing sound-stage, with depth and width being the standouts here. The height doesn’t quite measure up, but for classical music in particular these really excel in startling ways. The mid-range is also exceptional, and instruments such as Pianos, acoustic guitars, trumpets etc. all sound about as uncolored as it gets.
- Extremely comfortable. The velour ear pads are like pillows.
- A great sound-stage.
- Use of silence/clarity.
- Phenomenal mid-range. Perhaps it’s bread and butter.
- Neutrality and even sound across the spectrum.
- Remarkable amount of detail present.
- Great for in studio mixing and mastering.
- Natural and dreamy sound. This reviewer on amazon said that they re-invigorated his spirit and hope after 40 years.
- Unlike anything you’ve ever heard, the thrill of music returns with these.
- A tad bright in the treble range.
- May be a bit too clinical for some. The sound may become fatiguing, or dare I say “boring”, and lack personality.
- Amp requirements are pretty hefty. These are very picky about which amp you choose. More on that in a jiffy!
- Reveals all flaws, so be aware of your sound source. The HD 800 can be rather unforgiving of poorly mastered songs in general.
- No going back to other headphones once you hear these. Is that a con? Depends on who you ask I suppose.
Check out the video!
The Amp/DAC requirements for the HD 800 are a bit on the picky side, as alluded to above. After careful research, I can give my best endorsement for some great options here:
- Woo Audio WA2
- SPL Phonitor
- Vioelectric V200 (high end amp without the high end price tag)
- Fostex HP-P1 (a great and more affordable pairing)
You may be wondering:
- How to choose a headphone amp?
- Tube amp vs. Solid state
- The best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD 800
Who this headphone benefits?
- Does very well with classical, acoustic, jazz, and well recorded music.
- people who appreciate the most honest sound reproduction
- people who want to re-discover music
- People who like a big sound-stage and extreme clarity
A headphone that is as faithful and accurate to the original recording as anything else in existence. Great sound-stage, use of silence and clarity, as well as a very durable and comfortable phone overall. May be a bit too bright in the high end, and generally boring and clinical for some. All flaws are revealed when you put these on!
It has been said that the HD 800’s are like living with a genius. They will give you a newfound appreciation for all of your music, new and old. The downside is that they will also reveal every flaw in said music. You know, stuff like warts and other imperfections 😛
Similarities & Differences
- Both have a neutral sound signature.
- Both are high end, and come in at similar price points.
- Both have great sound-stage.
- Impedance. The HD800 has 3oo ohms of impedance and becomes a chore to pair with the right amplifier. The sound varies from amp to amp, which is something to be weary of. By contrast, the 9 Ohm impedance of the Shure SE846 isn’t fussy at all. You can plug it right into any device and it will sound as it should.
- Sound. The H 800 has been called extremely analytical and clinical, while the 846, while neutral still remains immensely enjoyable. That’s not to say the 800 isn’t, but as alluded to above, the right set up is not only optimal but becomes mandatory. The HD 800 in by contrast lacks the punch of the 846.
- IEM vs. Open back. The 846 is an in ear monitor vs. the open back HD 800.
- Accessories. The 846 comes with a lot of different stuff to enhance and improve upon your experience. The HD 800 doesn’t, but that’s not to say that it needs extras.
- Comfort. The HD800 was built for comfort, and while the 846 is pretty comfortable overall, there is really no comparison.
- Portable vs. In Studio. The 846’s are great for travel, gym, and on the go situations in general. The HD 800 is made for isolated studio environments. They will leak sound, while the 846 isolates it.
- Materials. The HD 800’s have components made of alcantara, teflon, stainless steel, and velour. The SE846’s are mostly plastic, with a hint of metal.
Both of these headphones are so radically different, that it becomes tricky to make a recommendation. The funny thing is that because they are so different, they become complimentary and having both is a great asset if you’re willing to shell out the dough. I would say that if you’re in the market for either of these, I would buy based on the following:
Sennheiser HD 800
- If you are prepared to purchase the right amp, which will warm up that harsh treble.
- If you need the most critical/analytical headphone around.
- If comfort is one of your main priorities.
- If you want the cream of the crop.
- If you’re looking for an actual headphone.
- If you need an IEM that also does well on the go.
- If you want to hear music as it was meant to sound.
- If you’re an audiophile who will appreciate all these have to offer.
- If you want a neutral signature that still sounds exciting.
- If you’re looking for an actual earphone.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information regarding the Shure SE846 vs. Sennheiser HD 800 today.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know down below or Contact me!
I would love to hear from you..
All the best and God bless,