Folks, if one could afford the extra $700, would you spring for the 820, or stay with the 800S/8XX? I would be moving up from a 660S.

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ethanchan
240
May 4, 2021
If you have narrowed your choices down to the 820 and 800 S and only those two, I vote 800 S. I own the 800 S, and a couple of years ago got the chance to try the 820, I did not like it. The mids to my ears was non existant and so it was very flat and recessed with horrible sounding vocals. In comparison to the 800 S, it doesn't have the siblance and has better bass but the mids just ruined it for me. If you can find a place that does a test listening then I would say to do that, if not, I would recommend the 800 S. If you are not stuck on the those two, then check some of the other headphones, there are some really good ones out there that are competing in that price range.
Evshrug
2260
Mar 10, 2021
It depends on what you need. The HD 8XX is still going to be clearer and more natural, from a high fidelity perspective. It’s also obviously less expensive. However, it’s also mostly an at-home, private use headphone. The HD 820 is purpose built to provide a Hi-Fi closed headphone in situations where you need to isolate the headphone sound and some of the environmental sound (like an office or near other people who wouldn’t like to be bothered by your audio). I don’t know how the HD 820 compares to the HD 8XX, but the HD 820 does have a bit more bass extension and a moderately warmer tone, while keeping most of the soundstage and imaging clarity of the HD 800S. Compared to other closed headphones, the HD 820 still has a more “transparent and open” sound with almost no muddiness or resonance, while also not adding substantial amounts of bass above a natural tuning. If you do go check out a HD 820, I highly recommend with playing around with where the ear cups are positioned relative to your ears. My first impression found the headphone a bit cold, but I moved it around and found a sweet spot which drastically improved my enjoyment with more warmth to the sound. YMMV, but at least you have options!
Razbuznik
2
Mar 10, 2021
Appreciate it. I listen at home so an open back set is probably fine for me so maybe the 800S are the best option? I am looking for the finest audio I can afford.
Evshrug
2260
Mar 10, 2021
Full disclosure, I consult for Sennheiser as a community manager. So, I try to bring and share as much info as possible, while letting people have realistic expectations so they can be satisfied once they get their headphones home. With that said, as much as I actually do like the HD 820 for the reasons outlined in my last post, I do think the HD 800S or HD 8XX would offer the “finest audio” for your dollar. At least, objectively, without you trying them for yourself, because some people might just prefer the sub bass extension and isolation of the HD 820, but they’re all a closely related “family” of sound. The most impressive thing about the HD 820 is how little it sacrifices by being a closed headphone, so if you don’t specifically want a closed headphone, the HD 800S or HD 8XX are excellent choices.
Razbuznik
2
Mar 9, 2021
Really appreciate that perspective.
Nonnegaard
590
Mar 9, 2021
The HD 820 really splits the tides, but some love them. I'm almost convinced that the people who likes HD 820's have just never tried anything else. I'm personally not a fan, and I know there are way safer choices when it comes to closed backs. Say Focal Elegia, Celsestee, Audeze LCD-2 Closed, LCD-XC, Sony MDR-Z1R, and lastly the entire ZMF lineup such as the Eikon, Atticus and Vérité closed. Definitely check those out first, and if none of them piques your interest, then maybe, just maybe reconsider the HD 820 ;)