These are some of the most highly regarded headphones in existence today, and are almost an overall perfect set of headphones.
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 of cans 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. What is Soundstage? 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 Soundstage, 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 and intimate 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, specifically at around 6k.
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.
All credit goes to @Metal571. Check him out on twitter!
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
Vioelectric V200 (high end amp without the high end price tag)
This will get your feet wet, and sounds excellent with the HD800 for the price. My Magni/Modi setup will power it just fine, but it’s a bit too bright of a combo with an already bright headphone (The HD800 has that 6k peak). Learn more:Schiit Magni 2 Review!
So for most headphones, the Magni is all you would need. For the HD800, you may go with the Vali 2 instead. 🙂
I’ve done a lot of research on this subject, and a tube amp is most definitely recommended. The Woo Audio WA2 gets a lot of mention as being the best overall pairing. It warms up those harsh treble peaks, and is just a highly regarded amp in general. So a list of more affordable options:
Another amp that I’ve come across is a very unheard of option: The Eddie Current Balancing Act. Sounds like a routine out of a Circus show. Lol.
Click here to read the The Eddie Current Balancing Act on Inner Fidelity! Just be aware that this amp will cost you an arm and two legs, Lol. More expensive options:
Eddie Current Balancing Act
Eddie Current Super 7
Cavalli Audio’s Liquid Glass
To narrow it down:
Next step (subjective)
Matrix M-Stage HPA-2
Best expensive option (subjective)
All this being said, it’s hard to come up with a definitive answer to such a loaded question, and any of these options will sound phenomenal with the HD 800. It really does come down to personal taste when dissecting them further.
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 😛 They are also almost universally considered harsh in the treble range. The right tube amp as mentioned above warms up the sound considerably. Considering the “Sennheiser veil” that was apparent in a couple of their mid fi offerings, I’m pretty sure Sennheiser decided to try and remedy that with a brighter top end this time around. The problem is now it may be TOO harsh and shrill! What is the Sennheiser Veil?
As mentioned above, coming up with one single recommendation is almost an exercise in futility. There are so many factors that go into choosing an amp, but hopefully I’ve given you a good starting point to make a decision.
I also hope you’ve come away with some valuable knowledge today regarding the best headphone amp for the Sennheiser HD 800!
If you have any questions, comments, or feel I left something out, please let me know below or Contact me! I would love to hear from you..
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.