First Impressions: Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX

Drop has as soon as once more partnered with Sennheiser to ship on considered one of its most requested headphones: the HD 8XX. Coming in at $1100, it goals to be the most effective headphones you should buy. We borrowed a pair on an extended weekend to take for a check drive. Let’s see how they fare over a few days of first impressions!


  • Present Value: $1100 (Drop)
  • Drop + Sennheiser
  • Headphone sort: Open-back
  • Ear coupling: Over-ear
  • Drivers: 56 mm ring radiator dynamic drivers
  • Impedance: 300 ohms
  • Frequency response: 4 Hz – 51,000 Hz (-10 dB)
  • THD: 0.02 % (1 kHz, 1 Vrms)
  • Contact stress: ~ 3,4 N (± 0,3 N)
  • Weight (with out cable): 11.6 oz (330 g)


Earlier than persevering with, context is very vital right here. The very first thing to know is that I had these headphones on a really restricted mortgage. Because of some private obligations, I used to be solely in a position to spend about two days utilizing them (because of Drop for extending the mortgage a few days to make that potential). Second, the HD 8XX is my first expertise with the Sennheiser HD 800 line, so I can’t evaluate to the originals. My expertise with headphones above the thousand greenback mark can also be considerably restricted. I’ve examined the HIFIMAN RE-10D, which is costlier, however pricing isn’t every part. As a substitute, the expertise I’m bringing to this review would come with the HIFIMAN Arya and Sundara, HD 6XX and HD 58X, Audeze LCD-GX and LCD-1, the BeyerDynamic DT-177X GO, and Dan Clark Audio AEON Open X. These are some nice headphones, however it’s value making an allowance for.


Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX – What’s new?

The HD 8XX is considered one of Drop’s most requested headphones, so when it was introduced there was an comprehensible degree of hype surrounding them. The headphones are primarily based on the HD 800S, which could be purchased new for $1599 or pre-owned for round $1000. That itself relies on the HD 800, which a fast search of AVExchange exhibits promoting for round $750 at present. Relying on what you’re on the lookout for, that $1100 worth level goes to appear anyplace from truthful to too costly. To me, it looks as if a becoming center floor. You’re paying a bit greater than a pre-owned HD 800S, however you’re additionally getting a model new product with a guaranty and the tuning enhancements that include it. 

Which brings me to what else has modified. In relation to headphones, Drop’s MO is to take a preferred headphone, incorporate fan suggestions, and launch their very own “XX” model at a extra accessible value. That was the components they used for the HD 6XX, which remains to be extremely standard right this moment, so it’s no shock they took the identical strategy right here. From what I’ve learn in regards to the unique HD 800, it was a heavy hitter by way of readability and element retrieval, however its tuning wasn’t the perfect, significantly within the low-end. The HD 800S sought to deal with that, however many customers nonetheless felt the bass was missing and that treble element was maybe too blunted (should you personal the HD 800S, please share your ideas under!)


The HD 8XX goals to deal with every of these points, growing bass extension and enhancing mid-range stability. It accomplishes this with a brand new resonator system. I’ll let Drop’s Chief Product Officer, Will Vibrant, explain:

The place the HD 800S makes use of a single resonator in entrance of the driving force, Sennheiser created a brand new resonator system for the HD 8XX, enabling bass extension all the way down to 10hz (+5db @ 10hz vs 800 S) by altering the resonant properties of the housing.

Sennheiser’s staff, lead by Jermo Koehnke, reached the bass resolution fairly rapidly, however our targets for the midrange proved demanding… bordering unattainable. After vital analysis, Sennheiser reached an answer; altered acoustic impedance within the transducer’s dampening materials to clean the FR from 2.5k to 8k. 

This implies the transducer within the HD 8XX is exclusive, it’s a brand new ring driver.

By way of frequency response, right here’s the way it compares (strong line = HD 8XX, dotted line = HD 800S): 


As you’ll be able to see within the graph, the HD 8XX removes the bass roll-off from 10-60Hz, enhancing bass extension. The center-bass has additionally been elevated straight into the mids. There’s additionally a peak round 3.5kHz and one other round 11kHz to attain the stability Will describes in his put up. 

By way of the bodily development of the headphone, it seems to be equivalent to the HD 800S, albeit with midnight blue accents. The design options the long-lasting, nearly futuristic look to the open-backs. Individually, I’m glad they saved it easy right here. It matches the HD 6XX in coloration scheme and that’s actually all of the unity I must make it a “Drop” product. The HD 800 sequence is eye-catching and distinctive all by itself, and I’m joyful to see that visible identification maintained.


Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX – Impressions

So, first issues first: the unboxing expertise. Pretty easy, however I like that the headphones include their very own hardback case. You possibly can toss the cardboard sleeve, however the inner case is ideal for storage or touring because of its sturdy design and minimize foam inserts. Contained in the field, is the headphone itself and a single-ended ¼-inch cable. Prior fashions appeared to come back with a balanced cable, which isn’t included right here. 

The very first thing that struck me when holding the HD 8XX in my palms for the primary time was how slim and light-weight it was. The headphones aren’t precisely small, however the cups and pads are skinny sufficient that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. 

I used to be initially involved that the thinness of the pads could be too skinny however that wasn’t the case both. The depth of the housings and the pads are basically completely balanced. There’s sufficient depth that I may put on them comfortably with out my ears turning into sore. The headphones are additionally remarkably mild for his or her measurement, weighing in at solely 330 grams, so head soreness wasn’t a problem both. 


The construct high quality appears nice general. There’s a whole lot of plastic right here, however as any Sennheiser proprietor will let you know, that comes with the territory and doesn’t imply they’re low cost or simply damaged. I personal three different Sennheiser music headphones and three extra gaming headsets (made with Epos) and none of them have damaged with prolonged use. That mentioned, I do just like the metallic headband as I’ve had hassle with breakage there with different manufacturers. 

Onto sound:

Bass: With out the HD 800S to check to, I can’t converse to the advance. What I can say is that bass and sub-bass extension is nice. I wouldn’t name these “bass cannons,” by any stretch, however they sound wealthy, and well-textured. They don’t rumble, per se, however the texture they ship does give the notion of vibration at occasions and could be fairly punchy. Bass response can also be pretty quick and tight. There’s no discernable bloat or muddiness to my ear. I want to see just a little extra presence right here, even nonetheless, however as is, bass remains to be very pleasurable.

Mids: Wonderful, wonderful presence and tonality. Vocals are candy and extra intimate than the remainder of the audio sources. That midrange bump at 3.5kHz most likely has to do with the way in which vocals leap ahead. Likewise, I lay my perceptions of this headphone’s spectacular element retrieval at the very least partly on this bump because it’s the place many instrument particulars would additionally come ahead in quantity. As a fan of Coheed and Cambria, the mid-response was so revealing of the multi-layered vocals on many tracks. Tremendous properly completed and enjoyable to take heed to!


Highs: Treble was sparkly and well-extended. At larger volumes, it may typically sound a contact sharp, so it doesn’t appear too far off the stories I’ve learn on the HD 800S. I didn’t discover it fatiguing until I used to be listening a lot louder than crucial, so I don’t see this being a giant subject for me. The presentation was good and there’s a pleasant sense of “air” delivered by the treble.

Soundstage: Large, huge, atmospheric. There’s a massive sense of area between devices and audio cues. That is particularly noteworthy in well-recorded life performances and binaural recordings however shines on studio tracks too. Presentation (imaging) and separation are wonderful, however I assumed it was attention-grabbing that positionality additionally feels grounded and well-defined. On that degree, I additionally assume these are an excellent selection for gaming. You shouldn’t purchase an eleven hundred greenback headphone only for gaming, however as a PC gamer myself, I used to be joyful to seek out that they have been killer in Battlefield V and Name of Obligation: Chilly Warfare. 

Element: Wow. It’s cliche to say you’ll hear belongings you didn’t even know have been there, however that’s the case right here. Transients actually come ahead cleanly and rapidly, which provides a further degree of realism and nuance to the listening expertise. As a guitar player, I at all times hear for the intricacies of acoustic and electrical guitar work — tiny particulars most individuals wouldn’t discover, like assault, finger and fret noise or oscillation and modulation in atmospheric results. These actually are spectacular intimately retrieval.


Closing Ideas

My general impressions listed below are very constructive. I would wish to spend longer with the headphone to render a full review, however my first couple of days listening to them have been eminently gratifying. Given the superb popularity of the HD 800S and that these have been meant to enhance on that, that’s not shocking! Hopefully, when these formally launch, I’ll have the ability to take a extra long-term look. For now, this preview has left me very excited. 

The product described on this article was supplied on mortgage by the producer and has since been returned.{hardware}/first-impressions-drop-sennheiser-hd-8xx-2000122905 | First Impressions: Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX


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