Best Sennheiser Audiophile Headphones


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Sennheiser is one of the most respected brands in the professional and audiophile industry. They have been setting the standard since 1945  and are veterans in the headphone scene. Their equipment is already considered as the standard for professional studios and is used as a benchmark for casual listeners. 

Sennheiser currently focuses on its flagship HD8XX series and midrange HD6XX series. The HD6XX series currently contains four models, while the flagship 800 series only contains two models. The two models in the HD800 series comprises of a closed-back and open-back model.

Buyers should also be aware that all of the headphones on this list require a headphone amplifier or Amp/DAC combo. Some headphones like the HD58X and HD660s can work without an amplifier, but it is still highly recommended to have one in order to fully maximize the capability of their drivers. We highly recommend for you to check out our list of Best DAC/Amps and Best Headphone Amplifiers 

For a more in-depth look at Sennheiser’s audiophile-grade headphones, keep on scrolling below. 

Flagship Series 

Sennheiser HD800s

Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System
Sennheiser HD 800S (Image: Amazon)

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The Sennheiser HD800s is one of the most popular dynamic driver headphones and one of Sennheiser’s most famous headphones. It has been well regarded by the audiophile community and is trusted by professionals such as Misha Mansoor of Periphery. 

The Sennheiser HD800s is the successor of the original HD800. It is also the successor of the HD6XX series and replaces it as the new flagship series. It sports a new black color scheme and has several tuning enhancements that aim to correct the issues found in the original model. 

Despite being the successor to the Sennheiser HD6XX lineup (the HD700 was widely considered by fans to be a failure and has been discontinued), the Sennheiser HD800s takes a completely different approach in its sound signature. The HD800s has a more neutral and more detailed tuning than the HD6XX series’ mid-forward tuning. 

The HD800s’ bass response is noticeably better both in terms of quality and quantity when compared to the Sennheiser HD6XX series. It has more punch, impact, and realism and is more satisfying compared to the HD6XX tame and rolled off bass. 

The mids, on the other hand, takes a different approach. It loses the HD6XX’s mid centric sound but replaces it with a more detailed and complete sound. It is not necessarily better than the HD6XX’s mids and will come down to personal preference. 

The one issue that people have with the HD800s is its highs. The highs were smooth and easy to listen to with the HD6XX. The highs on the HD800s, on the other hand, are energetic and peaky. It can be harsh and can easily cost listening fatigue. They are, however, significantly more detailed than the HD6XX series.  

The biggest selling point of the Sennheiser HD800s is its soundstage. The HD800s have a huge soundstage that is often compared to speakers. This, along with its stellar imaging, has made the HD800s really famous in the gaming community. 

While the soundstage does seem artificial and inaccurate at times, it still presents an enjoyable experience. It is also a huge step above the HD6XX series’ intimate soundstage. 

Overall, the Sennheiser HD800s is one of the best analytical headphones. It presents lots of details and is a massive improvement over its previous flagship series, the HD800s. While it may not be for everyone (especially treble sensitive people), it is still a highly respectable flagship pair. 

You can learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.

Great For:

The Sennheiser HD800s is a versatile pair of headphones. They can be used for professional music production, critical and casual listening, and even gaming. 

Not For:

These headphones are not for casual listeners who are treble sensitive. Its sound signature can be fatiguing for longer listening sessions.  

Sennheiser HD820

Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphone
Sennheiser HD 820 (Image: Amazon)

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The Sennheiser HD820 is an odd but welcome addition to Sennheiser’s family of audiophile headphones. The HD820 takes the aesthetics of the HD800s but implements a closed-back design. This headphone is Sennheiser’s answer to the flagship closed-back headphones of other brands such as the Sony Z1R

The build quality of the HD820 is fantastic. It inherits the same beautiful design of the Sennheiser HD800s with a few differences. Since the HD820 is a closed-back headphone, the driver is no longer exposed. Sennheiser is utilizing glass instead of metal grills in order to isolate the drivers while still keeping it visible. 

In terms of the sound signature, the HD820 is leading towards a V-shaped sound. It has the same wide soundstage and stellar imaging found in the Sennheiser HD800s. This makes the HD820 one of the widest sounding closed-back headphones. 

Like the Sennheiser HD800s, the HD820 is still a bright sounding headphone. It displays better control with the highs, but it can still give a fatiguing listening experience for some users. 

The lows are slightly better than the HD800s due to its closed-back design. It still exhibits the same power and control of the HD800s and does not overextend into the midrange. 

One problem that the Sennheiser HD820 has that was not present with the HD800s is the midrange. The midrange takes a huge dip with the HD820, making most songs sound dull and lifeless. This is especially bad for fans of the Sennheiser HD6XX series since the mids are forward with that series. 

Overall, if you are a fan of the Sennheiser HD800s’ presentation but want it in a closed-back design, then the Sennheiser HD820 is the closest headphone that you can get. It has the same wide soundstage and accurate imaging that the HD800s is best known for and is thus the best soundstage that you can get with closed-back headphones. 

You can learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website.

Great For:

The Sennheiser HD820 is for listeners who want the HD800s sound signature in a closed-back form factor. This headphone is also for those who want the widest soundstage and class-leading imaging closed-back headphones. 

Not For:

The Sennheiser HD820 is not for fans of mids. The lackluster mids in the HD820 makes the HD820 sound dull and lifeless. 

Sennheiser HD6XX Series 

The Sennheiser HD6XX is one of Sennheiser’s longest-running headphone series. The first model, the HD580, was first released in 1994. These headphones are highly reputable and well-known in the audiophile and professional scene. 

The lineup currently consists of the HD600, HD650, and HD660s. They have also collaborated with Drop (formerly Massdrop), which we will also be discussed below. 

Sennheiser HD660s

Sennheiser HD660s (Image: Amazon)

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The Sennheiser HD660s is the successor to the highly popular Sennheiser HD650. The major difference here is that it uses new drivers that reduce the impedance to 150 ohms instead of the 300-ohm driver that is found in the rest of the HD6XX lineup.

In terms of the build quality, it stays true to the Sennheiser HD6XX design. There are no major differences here aside from the all-black paint job and new location of the Sennheiser branding on the headband. The earpads are also said to be a new design, but it is most likely a minor revision that is being implemented on all new Sennheiser HD6XX line products. 

The Sennheiser HD660s also comes with two cables. The first one is the standard unbalanced cable that terminates in a quarter-inch jack (6.5mm). The other cable is a balanced cable utilizing Sony’s new 4.4mm balanced pentaconn cable. This is great to see since newer DAPs like the Fiio M11 and M11 Pro are now incorporating a 4.4mm balanced output. This makes these DAPs more than capable of powering the Sennheiser HD660s.

The new drivers here are said to be based on the Sennheiser HD700 drivers. They are modified in order to sound closer to the rest of the HD6XX lineup (which are regarded as superior and more accurate sounding headphones to the HD700). The lower impedance makes this pair compatible with a wide array of sources. Amplifiers and DAC/Amps are still, however, advised. 

In terms of the sound signature, the Sennheiser HD660s combines the best features of the original Sennheiser HD600 and its successor, the HD650. Both of these models have their own strengths and weaknesses. The HD650/HD6XX is darker sounding and has a bit more bass, while the HD600 is more analytical sounding.

Both of these, however, do not resolve the high frequencies well. They both have the infamous “Sennheiser veil” in the high frequencies. The Sennheiser HD660s has corrected both of these aspects and present a smooth yet detailed high-end performance. 

It carries over the analytical nature of the HD600 while retaining the fun aspects of the HD650. It is also not as dark sounding as the HD650. With this model, Sennheiser has successfully managed to update the HD6XX lineup to the modern era and can now compete with the newer models such as the Hifiman Sundara and Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro.

With that said, let us get a few controversial points out of the way. Some users are not happy with the fact that the Sennheiser HD660s is significantly more expensive than the rest of the Sennheiser HD6XX lineup. For a few minor tweaks, and with the presence of the best bang for the buck HD58X, is the new upgrade worth it? 

If you want the best performing headphone in the HD6XX lineup, then the Sennheiser HD660s is worth it. However, if you are willing to cut some corners, then the Drop Sennheiser HD58X. HD6XX and even the Sennheiser HD600 are all worthy headphones. These headphones are, after all, worthy alternatives to the legendary Sennheiser HD6XX sound. 

Overall, the Sennheiser HD660s is another winning entry from Sennheiser. With this headphone, the legend truly continues. This is part of a family of tried and tested designs that have been used in professional productions all over the world. If you purchase this pair, you will surely not be disappointed. 

You can learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website

Great For:

The Sennheiser HD660s is now more competent with the newer offerings from other brands thanks to its new drivers. This model is the most refined model out of all the HD6XX headphones.

Not For:

The HD660s is not for people who consider it too expensive for the number of changes that it offers. This comes down to personal preference. 

Sennheiser HD600

Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
Sennheiser HD 600 (Image: Amazon)

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The Sennheiser HD600 is the first official model in the HD600 series. It is one of Sennheiser’s oldest headphones that are still currently being produced. It was first released in 1997 and has been the reference headphone for over 20 years. 

The HD600 is the successor to the Sennheiser HD580, which was released in 1994 (not to be confused with Drop’s current HD58X). The HD580 is widely considered as the original HD6XX headphone since it laid the design elements and sound signature of the HD6XX.  

The main differentiating factor between the HD600 and the rest of the HD6XX headphones is its neutrality. There is less energy and detail in the bass and treble frequencies compared to the more modern HD6XX entries, but it manages to have a warm and smooth characteristic that makes these headphones easy to listen to. 

And of course, the HD600 is the headphone that introduced the HD6XX series’ stellar mid-range reproduction. The HD600’s mids are forward, like the rest of the HD6XX headphones, but are smoother. It has once again less details than the modern entries but has distinct buttery smooth characteristics that make for an easy listening experience. 

One of the criticisms of the HD600 is it does not have a complete sound. As mentioned earlier, the bass and highs are nothing special. This is understandable given its age and has since been fixed by both the HD650 (Drop HD6XX) and HD660s. 

The current iteration of the Sennheiser HD600 sports a new grey color scheme and has a frame design similar to the newer Sennheiser HD660s. Everything else from the drivers to the cable seems to be the same. The HD600 is an incredibly durable headphone that stands the test of time, so there really isn’t much that needs to be updated in the build quality. 

Overall, while the Sennheiser HD600 isn’t the absolute king in its price range anymore, it has enough qualities to make it special. It is a different version of the HD6XX sound signature, and it is not necessarily better or worse compared to the other entries. If you want an alternate version of the HD6XX sound signature, then check out the Sennheiser HD600. 

You can learn more from Sennheiser’s Official Website

Great For:

The Sennheiser HD600 is great for enthusiasts who are looking for a different flavor of the HD6XX tuning. If you find the HD650 and HD660s to be too analytical, then check out the HD600. 

Not For:

The HD600 is not for users who are expecting a similar level of performance with today’s Mid-Fi headphones. The Sennheiser HD660s are the headphones for that purpose. 

Drop 

Drop is one of the companies that has frequently collaborated with Sennheiser. Their most notable collaboration is the  HD6XX, which effectively brings the HD650 to a lower price point. They have also collaborated with reviving the HD580 in the form of the HD58X.

Sennheiser HD6XX (Sennheiser HD650)

Sennheiser x Drop HD6XX (Image: Drop)

Check on Drop 

One of Drop/Massdrop’s first well-known collaborations was with Sennheiser. Together, they were able to bring the legendary Sennheiser HD650 to a broader audience by rebranding it to the HD6XX, which significantly reduced the price. This new entry-level price point has helped introduce a new type of audience into the audiophile world. 

The Sennheiser HD6XX has managed to cut no corners in this model. The signature build of the Sennheiser HD650 that has been known to last for decades has been kept intact. It is made of a high-quality plastic material that has replaceable parts that can be ordered directly from Sennheiser. 

In terms of the sound quality of the HD6XX, it features the mid-centric sound that has been the famous party trick of the HD600 series. Unlike its predecessor, the HD 600, it does not sound too analytical since it has slightly more bass. It does, however, result in a darker sound signature. 

Highs are also smooth without losing its quality. In comparison, no headphone that retails at this price point can even begin to touch the technical capabilities of the HD6XX except for Drop’s very own HD58X, which we will also be discussing. 

The HD6XX does, however, also carry the downsides of the HD650. One of those downsides is the intimate soundstage. It is wider than most closed-back headphones or even lower-end open-back headphones, but it is far from achieving a speaker-like experience like its successor, the Sennheiser HD800s

Nevertheless, the Sennheiser HD6XX carries a tried and tested design that has an excellent performance in different tasks such as gaming, professional audio production, and casual listening. If you are looking for an all in one daily driver pair of headphones that has excellent technicalities, then the Sennheiser HD6XX is the best pair to get. 

Great For:

This is the headphone for those looking for a daily driver and all-rounder headphones. From music production to gaming, this headphone can do it all. 

Not For:

If you want more bass in your headphones, then this may not exactly be the best fit for you. Also, if you don’t own a headphone amplifier, then you won’t be able to get the best sound out of the HD6XX. 

 

Sennheiser X Drop HD58X Jubilee

Drop x Sennheiser HD58X (Image: Drop)

Check on Drop 

Another popular model from Drop and Sennheiser is the HD58X Jubilee. This headphone is a revival of the classic HD580, the headphone that started the HD6XX series. It is updated to meet the modern standards and is a lot closer to the rest of the Sennheiser HD6XX series headphones. 

Once again, it has a lot of qualities that make it punch way above its price point and allows it to compete with headphones twice or even thrice its price. It has the same form factor and build-quality as the Sennheiser HD6XX with a few distinctions.

The biggest differentiating factors include a different color scheme and grill design. The different grill design is due to the modified driver that is being used here. It now has an impedance of 150-ohms, which allows it to be used even without a headphone amplifier.

The sound signature is also a bit different compared to the HD6XX. There is a slight mid-bass bump in this model that makes it a more energetic and fun sounding headphone. Aside from the low end and a few differences in the high-end, it mostly sounds similar to the HD6XX. 

In some ways, it could be considered a less accurate and less analytical version of the HD6XX. It does not mean it is a worse headphone. It just has a different flavor of the famous HD600 series sound signature. 

Imaging and soundstage are mostly the same as the HD6XX. This means that the soundstage is intimate but realistic, and imaging is fairly accurate. The imaging makes it an excellent pair of gaming headphones. A ModMic can then be attached to the HD58X or HD6XX to transform them into a gaming headset.

Overall, if you do not own a headphone amplifier and you want a slightly more energetic and fun-sounding headphone, then the HD58X is a great headphone for you. Considering that the difference between these and the HD6XX is not night and day, this is arguably the better value headphone. 

Great For:

For anyone starting in the audio hobby, or for anyone who is on a tight budget, then this is the best deal for you. It manages to bring the sound of the HD600 series at an extremely affordable price point. 

Not For:

For those looking for more detail in the high-end and less energy in the bass frequencies, then check out the HD6XX instead. 

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