Sennheiser - Sennheiser HD 800 S


Sennheiser HD 800 S: the return of the prodigal son

Aprox. 1699€ - see price -

7 years after the release of its famous HD 800, Sennheiser has just launched a new version called HD 800 S. The changes are inside, with the integration of the latest in-house absorption technology which would allow improve both low-end and very high -frequency reproduction, while reducing masking effects. The HD 800 was already a very good headset, will the HD 800 S really be even better?

Our review


This version S does not innovate in design and retains its very particular appearance. The HD 800 S is still the result of a German manufacture, solid and light thanks to the combination of plastic and metal elements. Only the black color on the plastic of the arch allows to differentiate them.

The pads are made of microfiber, a sort of cottony fabric that most likely incorporates memory foam. They provide excellent rest on the skull and all around the ear. The feeling is a bit confusing at first, but the comfort is clearly there once you get used to it. The airy side of the open design is amplified by the pads and the low weight of the HD 800 S. These headphones are designed to immerse us in music or movies for long hours.

Two cables are supplied with this new version: one that ends in 6.3 mm TRS jack and the other in XLR. Both are very thick and particularly long (3 m).


The HD 800 S still ships the huge 56mm transducers. They take a slight internal angle that would play on spatialization, in addition to a new proprietary technology. The question is: does this new element really change the game? The answer is yes. However, the changes are not drastic. The HD 800 S offers high-quality sound reproduction with very good precision and ultra-defined sound; a delicious mix between surgical and musical sound.

This helmet offers a well-balanced rendering and, as promised, there is no masking effect. The low register is a little more behind than on the HD 800 version, and the S version is therefore generally less warm. These bass are no less impactful and really well detailed. However, we would have liked a bit of presence in the extreme extremes, but it remains very subtle. The HD 800 S will satisfy the thirst of lovers of electro and heavy bass synthesizers.

The medium register is reproduced with good accuracy. Again, to quibble, we regret the slight withdrawal in the high-midrange which would have brought a little more presence. In practice, this remains almost insignificant and in any case less accentuated than what can be seen on the measurement. In all cases, the voices have good timbre respect and excellent intelligibility.

Measurement of membrane reactivity: square waves at 50 Hz and 500 Hz

This version always has a slight tendency to shine, but it remains perfectly under control: the edge of guitars, and in particular electric guitars, is a little bit put forward, which allows to analyze very precisely the grain and the timbre characteristic of one guitar or another. This is also the case for many other elements, such as brass.

These headphones push precision on all fronts. Thus, it offers a very airy and natural rendering in extreme trebles and is particularly sensitive to subtle effects such as room effects, reverb or delay extinctions. This can be seen very well on our reference pieces (Pendoulous Threads by Incubus for the colorful room of the guitar solo, Nel Blu by Floex for the pretty layers of effects selected on the voice). We can also take advantage of all the dynamics offered by each song.

Another strong point - yes we are looking for weak points - is the way in which the sound scene is reproduced in terms of spatialization. Indeed, as we saw with the HD 800, these headphones give a real impression of space, with a hyper-wide stereo, almost as if we were listening to our content on speakers; in this case, we are talking about extra-cranial spatialization or externalization of the sound scene, unlike the intra-cranial. The sound immersion is really present and the reading of the sound scene is done without difficulty, in width as in depth.

With its impedance of 300 ohms, the HD 800 S is undoubtedly particularly greedy and it will be necessary to count on an amplifier to make the best of it. However, be aware that it can still be used with portable players that are not ultra-powerful: we did not have any problem by plugging it into a 3.5 mm mini-jack on the Plenue D or even on an iPod Touch.

Little to say about distortion, as it is truly inaudible, even at high listening levels.


The HD 800 S is a real success. It inherits all the qualities of its predecessor while being a little more balanced in terms of sound rendering. It is very difficult to find fault with him. If you have the means to indulge yourself, this S version will satisfy you as well as a reference hi-fi headset as a secondary professional headset, for mastering, for example.