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Sound choice

tech-reviews Updated: May 25, 2010 15:36 IST
Siddharth Bhatia
Siddharth Bhatia
Hindustan Times
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These are the most expensive headphones we have reviewed till date. Just sneak a peek at the conclusion section to see just how expensive they are. But does that deter the brand from going ahead and marketing it? I guess not, as there are some of us consumers who need something like this. Also, chances are that a product so pricey will be really good. But how good? Lets check it out: the Sennheiser HD800.

Design and features
This behemoth of a headphone looks classy. But it is more than just pretty. The transducers are encased in stainless steel precision cut frames, with the internal circumference wrapped in especially soft but firm cushion, that looks like it will never tear. The headband underside too comes adequately padded with similar cushions as the cans, thus maintaining an aesthetic uniformity.

The design is a circumaural, open back model. Rightfully so, as the cans totally engulf the pinnae. The overall weight on the head is average — it’s certainly not the lightest design, but neither does it bog you down.

The cable connections at the cans and the other end terminating in a quarter of an inch plug, are a class apart in terms of finish and sturdiness. The cable itself is covered in fabric braided sheath, which has protective functions and increases longevity. The drivers are 56 mm, and to put it simply, they are huge. The impedance is 300 ohms, thus one will need to really drive it.

I’m not sure a regular MP3 player has the voltage power to drive this calibre of headphone drivers. Of course, a dedicated headphone out of an AV receiver or stereo amplifier is perfect for it. Any good hi-fi system will be easily able to power them.

Performance
I slipped in my favourite Jamiroquai CD, and also lined up the flac backups of The Police. Next in line was some off beat kickass electronic music by Flying Lotus, and finally our friendly neighbourhood genius Aphex Twin.

The sound quality of the headphones output was really something. The accuracy in the dynamic range was as fine as white sand, with individual elements of the music sizzling and flurrying around like they were intoxicated, yet sounding together as part of a whole, wide mix. The sound from these headphones was better than from some floorstanding speakers I’ve heard.

All kinds of music sound superb, and a bad recording sounds clearly bad. These headphones can actually be reference grade speakers.