Home Headphone Comparisons Sennheiser HD800 vs. 800S | IMPROVEMENTS ABOUND?

Sennheiser HD800 vs. 800S | IMPROVEMENTS ABOUND?

by Stuart Charles Black

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Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Sennheiser HD800 vs. 800S, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this comparison

  1. Introduction
  2. Similarities & Differences
  3. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!


The Sennheiser HD800 is still considered one of (if not the) most neutral reference headphone around, with an expansive Soundstage that does the term justice. What is Soundstage? Despite its issues, it remains a studio staple and a fairly standard first foray into the high-end audiophile world. Learn more: The best audiophile headphones.

Born in 2009, it’s a fairly new phenomenon and in fact might have amplified the whole headphone craze (that started with Beats by Dre), which has now seen an influx of large numbers of audiophile cans from every brand make, and manufacturer that you can think of. It’s actually a little bit sickening if you think about it. It reminds me a bit of the Poker boom of 2003 when an unknown accountant named Chris “Moneymaker” (how fitting or ironic depending on how you look at it) won the tournament even despite the fact that he forgot he even had a hand to play at one point.

Similar to the poker boom where everyone wanted to be a poker player, now everyone wants to be an audiophile headphone company and release audiophile headphones for audiophiles. Not only that but nowadays EVERYONE reviews headphones! It’s just the American way!

I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with that as long as the product is good, and thankfully most audiophile headphones that come out are indeed of high quality. They aren’t without their own issues, and because no headphone is perfect there will inevitably be good and bad to all of them. That might sound fairly obvious, but a lot of the folks I come in contact with seem to have this idea that a headphone should brew them a cup of coffee.

I’m exaggerating a bit, but the reality is that it’s not too difficult to narrow a search down, bite the bullet and just purchase something. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t like it. You can always return it. Also, choosing between two headphones with similar sound signatures should never be a real chore.


Because you’re most likely going to love either of them if the company and headphones in question are reputable. Yes, there will be subtle differences, but you’re not missing out on some grand revelation that you would otherwise get with the other headphone. A good example of this is the difference between an HD600 and an HE400i. One is more clinical, the other is warmer. Outside of that, both function very well in their respective price ranges.

There will always be something you don’t like about one, but for the most part, it should suit your needs. Just be aware that you aren’t going to like every single thing about it. People tend to get handcuffed when trying to decide, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Just accept the fact that headphones have flaws, and start a collection or use EQ!

Having a few different cans on hand allows you to switch off between sound signatures if you get tired of one. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a bass head signature like the M100, and other times I prefer the crisp open signature of the Philips SHP9500. It just depends on how I’m feeling.

Learn more:

By the way: Sorry for going off on a tangent. When it comes down to the HD800 and 800S, there are some differences to speak of. Let’s get into them!

Similarities & Differences



  • Frequency Response. The original HD800’s had a measured frequency response of 8 – 50kHz. The 800S’ sport a response of 4 – 51kHz. In reality, this doesn’t mean much since 99.9% of people cannot hear over 20kHz.
  • Weight. The original 800’s were 3 grams lighter at 330 vs. 333 for the 800S.
  • Bass. The 800S added a bit more bass emphasis. The original 800 was not without bass, and in fact, has much less overall roll-off than a lot of other balanced audiophile-type open back cans.
  • Color: The original 800 was mostly silver with touches of black, while the 800S is all black with touches of silver.
  • Musical. Overall, the 800’s seem a little more musically refined, inclined, and sublime. Yeah, buddy!
  • Treble. The original 800 is perhaps most notorious for having that harsh 6k spike which actually ruined the headphone for many. That said, if you don’t want to spend a lot more for the improvement in the 800S, you could EQ that spike down. If you don’t want to bother with all that and just want the improved sound, the 800S did tame down the peak quite a bit.
  • XLR. The S version comes with a 4 pin XLR cable that can be used with balanced drive headphone amps as well as regular headphone amps. What is XLR? All this means is that the connection from the amp has XLR inputs instead of your standard 1/4″ termination.
  • Amp selection. The original 800’s do best with a tube amp of some sort, while the 800S works very well with a solid-state amp. How to choose a Headphone Amp!

Final Word

Which of these you go with depends on your budget and if you really want the upgraded sound at a higher cost. The original 800 has come down considerably in price, so you might just purchase that and EQ the 6k spike down. Keep in mind amp selection as I mentioned as well. You’ll definitely want a tube amp for the HD800. The best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD800.




Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD800 vs. 800S comparison and came away with some valuable insight.

Which is worth the investment?? Let me know!!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know in the comments below or contact me!! I would love to hear from you…

Until then, all the best and God bless…





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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