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Taron & Andrew Lissimore
The original Sennheiser HD800 dynamic headphones released back in 2009 were widely considered the world's best headphones by many audiophiles. Since its release, numerous manufacturers have tried to knock the HD800 down from its bejeweled throne to claim the highly contentious title of "World's Best Headphones."
Nowadays, music lovers have plenty of 'world's best' options to consider with superb high-end flagship headphones available from many well-respected audio brands.
Music lovers who criticized the HD800 for being a tad bright and wanting a bit more low bass extension have plenty to look forward to with the HD800S update. Using a sound absorber technology originally employed in the IE 800 in-ear headphones, Sennheiser has sonically updated the HD800 and also given it a new paint job in our favorite color, black.
The new Sennheiser HD800S absorber reduces unwanted peaks in the headphones frequency response making the listening experience smoother and more balanced. In addition to the standard 1/4" stereo plug headphone cable provided with the original HD800 model, the new HD800 S includes a "symmetrical" 4-pin XLR cable to be used with headphone amps sporting balanced outputs such as the Sennheiser HDVD 800.
The new Sennheiser HD800 S began shipping in February 2016 in limited quantities.
Here's the official HD800S Press Release from Sennheiser:
The Sennheiser HD800 is cherished by music lovers throughout the world for its brilliant sound image and impressive spatiality. With the HD800S, the German audio specialist now presents a new version which even surpasses the listening experience of its predecessor. Acoustically, the proven transducer technology and the innovative earcup design of the HD800 are still being employed, while the sound image has once again been further optimized in the medium and low frequency range. Sennheiser has also enhanced the equipment of the HD800 S with the addition of a symmetrical XLR4 cable. The color was also changed: the earcups of the new model are resplendent in a premium matte-black finish.
Ever since its launch, the HD800 has been a firm favorite among music lovers and audiophiles. Brilliant treble ranges, precise bass reproduction and a particularly clear sound image combined with a frequency response from 4 to 51,000 Hz – these are the outstanding qualities of the multi-award-winning Sennheiser HD800.
With the HD800 S, sound reproduction has been optimized even beyond the high benchmark set by the HD800. This is made possible through the innovative absorber technology that was first introduced in the IE-800. This patented technology ensures that the so-called “masking effect” is neutralized. This acoustic phenomenon, that diminishes sound quality, arises as the human ear is unable to perceive higher-pitched sounds, that have low-volumes, at the same time that significantly louder sounds in a lower frequency range occur. Through the application of the absorber technology, the energy of the resonances is absorbed, thus preventing any unwanted peaks in the frequency response and ensuring that even the finest nuances in the music remain audible over the entire frequency range.
Impressive sound experience – outstanding technology
The improved audio quality of the HD800 S is based on the high-end technology of its legendary predecessor. As before, the core of the new model is a unique transducer system which, as in the HD800, is the source and guarantee of an exceptionally detailed sound image. Measuring 56 millimeters, it is the largest transducer currently to be found in a set of dynamic headphones. In spite of the size of the transducer, the patented diaphragm with its innovative ring design minimizes any distortion that might occur especially at higher frequencies – keeping total harmonic distortion to less than 0.02 percent. Meticulous attention was also paid to the design of the earcups. These are designed in such a way that the sound waves are directed to the ear at a slight angle. This ensures a particularly natural and spatial sound perception.
In order to achieve even better audio quality in the reproduction of audio sources with a symmetrical output, such as the Sennheiser HDVD 800, the HD800 S comes with a symmetrical XLR4 cable.
Luxurious materials for luxury headphones
“The HD800 is in a class of its own. During its development, we took time to focus on every single detail,” explained Maurice Quarré, Director Business Segment Select & Audiophile at Sennheiser. And that is also true for the new HD800 S. Like their predecessor, these high-end headphones from the audio specialist use only the highest quality materials – not least to optimally support the outstanding sound properties. For example, the transducer is embedded in a specially manufactured stainless steel gauze. For the headband, the audio specialist has chosen a design consisting of several layers of sound-attenuating plastic and stainless steel, while the connector contacts are gold-plated to ensure optimum contact. The earcups are made of high-quality, high-attenuation plastic, which is used in aviation engineering as a substitute for metal. It is precisely these components on the HD800 S that feature a matte-black, silk-gloss finish, providing the new high-end headphones with a unique, silky luxurious look. In this way, the outer appearance of the HD800 S is in perfect harmony with the exceptional quality of the sound image.
Like the HD800, the HD800 S is hand-crafted at the company's German headquarters in Wedemark, Germany. It is priced at $1,699.95 (U.S.) and $2,199.95 (CAN) and scheduled for shipping in early January.
Audio specialist Sennheiser is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of headphones, microphones and wireless transmission systems. Based in Wedemark near Hanover, Germany, Sennheiser operates its own production facilities in Germany, Ireland and the USA and is active in more than 50 countries. With 18 sales subsidiaries and long-established trading partners, the company supplies innovative products and cutting-edge audio solutions that are optimally tailored to its customers’ needs. Sennheiser is a family-owned company that was founded in 1945 and which today has 2,700 employees around the world that share a passion for audio technology. In 2014, the Sennheiser Group had sales totalling €635 million.