The Sennheiser HD820 is great, endless headphones like none other


Since I read and write about headphones, one thing has remained true: the best boxes have an open back. They distribute music out to the world and leave the noise, a necessary compromise to reduce the reflections and resonances that could distort the sound. Closed headphones can be great, but they can not match the flexibility and transparency of their open brothers.

The Sennheiser's HD820 – the first one going to the luxurious closed containers – does not destroy these dogmas but gets pretty darn near. Despite the controversial decisions – that the $ 2,400 price is particularly intense – it sounds like nothing else I've heard.

A history lesson for those who do not know. The HD820 is essentially a Sennheiser sexy HD800 enclosure and its sophisticated review, the HD800S.

The HD800 was released in 2009 and remains one of the most recommended products on the market, well known for its enormous sound-like sound and remarkable transparency. You can find an HD800S for less than $ 1,000 that is used – an HD800 for even fewer – but remain competitive even when the competition runs regularly at $ 2,000 + ground. Focal Utopia, for example, costs a cool $ 4,000 at the launch, but I think it's more "side by side" than an upgrade.

Needless to say, the ad campaign was stratospheric when the HD820 was announced in January. Sennheiser promised to imitate or improve the sound of one of the world's lightest audio headphones with a closed design.

And what a great plan it is. Subjectivity was recognized, but HD820s are the finest headphones I've ever used. They look very much like a sophisticated version of the HD800S and I like the way the curved glass shows the 58mm ring shape guide, which Sennheiser is so proud of that it has not changed since 2009.

The handset, despite its size, is extremely comfortable. The headphones are more plush than their predecessors and the headphones are light enough so I had no trouble wearing them for hours. Closed design is decent when it excludes external noise, and most importantly, leaves your music a little out. I can use them late at night while my girlfriend is asleep. I can not say that for the vast majority of top headphones.

I would make them almost portable if it was not for the huge size, the huge cable and the fact that you need a powerful amplifier for decent sound.

Because the drivers remain the same, the new HD820's acoustics always have to do with its chassis. This glass is more than simple aesthetics – its curved design helps to redirect the sound emitted from the rear of the guides to a softening material, eliminating much of the harmful resonance usually associated with closed designs (eg, the design also helps the HD820 to achieve a wider audible scene than most closed back headphones – although the giant headphones do not hurt.

If the goal was to make the most open acoustic headphones – without fantastic software tricks such as Mobius of Audeze – I think Sennheiser succeeded. The HD820 sounds huge for closed type containers. Get it, it sounds bigger than the open headphones.

In particular, Sennheiser is able to create a rare sense of distance for headphones – as you sit a series or two behind in a show instead of having musicians touching a sound just right on your face. Focal Utopia ($ 4,000) and Clear ($ 1,500) have a smaller presentation despite their open design. Granted, Focal's headphones are known for having a very familiar soundstage, but it's a remarkable advantage for the HD820 nevertheless. I also think the soundtrack is a bit more three-dimensional than the new Arya of Hifiman, which I had in my last test days.