Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphone - Official Thread

@Torq how would you compare them to the Fostek 900MKII ?

The TH900 Mk2 have a pretty pronounced “W” shaped signature. Bass is significantly elevated, across a wide enough hump, such that it exhibits some bleed into the mid-range. There’s a fair amount of extra treble energy as well (enough that you won’t miss it). The mids are a bit more forward than neutral, but not to nearly the same degree as the bottom and top ends. And it’s really only that hump for the mids that saves these from sounding excessively bright.

In contrast, the HD820 also has a “W” shaped signature, but it’s FAR more subdued (a greatly flattened “W”). The bass elevation vs. the HD800S is modest and tastefully done. The mid-range has enough extra presence to remain in balance, and the treble is slightly emphasized - mostly to the point that it just helps maintain a good sense of air, space and sparkle vs. becoming closed in and killing the soundstage.

The HD820 are a much more capable, more neutral, performer than the TH900 Mk2. And while no closed-can so far (that I’ve heard) approach the soundstage of the HD800, HD800S or Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC, the HD820 still has a much better stage rendering/apparent image size than most other open-backs and definitely a long way ahead of any closed back I’ve heard.

Think of the TH900 Mk2 as having a “fun” tuning (if you like that sort of thing, and for certain music that benefits from that pronounced a “W” signature - it’s too much as an “only” headphone), and the HD820 as being as close as Sennhesier could manage to delivering a closed back HD800S or truly neutral closed-back.

More details will follow in my pending HD820 review.


Thank you, I have the 900mk2 on my upcoming purchase list…mostly to upgrade from the Massdrop purple hearts x00s. The 820s are on there too but I probably can’t pick those up until they drop in price a bit.

Bear in mind that the TH900 Mk2 are not really a “straight” upgrade from the TH-X00 Purpleheart. While technically more capable, the TH900 Mk2 have a much more pronounced signature than the Purpleheart … i.e. more bass elevation and a good bit more treble energy.

The TH900 Mk2 are more dynamic, hit harder, resolve better, and so on, but they sound quite a bit different, tonally, than the TH-X00 PH.

Marry the TH900 Mk2 up with the TH610 pads and that’ll get you closer to a true “upgrade”, rather than an “technical upgrade with a couple of larger side-dishes of different”!

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Hmm, sounds like a good pair to have in my stable. I really like my Purplehearts, and I’ve been eyeballing the 900 MK2 since I got them. Surprisingly the Cascades have taken the Purple Hearts place as of late. I’ve been very surprised by that.

Among the smaller changes, Sennheiser has made with the HD 820 are new ear pads, which are a mix of synthetic leather and microfiber, created with the express purpose of helping insulate the listener from the outside world. Sennheiser is also adopting the 4.4mm Pentaconn balanced connector. It is a little larger than the traditional 3.5mm audio plug but provides balanced audio for minimal distortion.

Well, it took a bit longer to complete than I originally thought, but my full review of the Sennheiser HD820, including comparisons to other flagship closed-back models, can be found here.

Part of the delay was just down to getting lost in what I was listening to with the HD820 when I should really have been feverishly typing away. I can’t really complain about that.

Definitely something to get your ears on if you’re looking at closed-back headphones.

And now that is done … it’s time for …


I agree with you. We expect much more with these price differance.

Well, I must say these are something to hold in the hand! Surprisingly light, also one of the better looking headphones I’ve seen. Also very comfortable on the head. The glass is such a cool component and functional too as it directs reverb away and into sound dampening in the cups. So far I’m really enjoying these, I’ve only listened to about an hours worth of music, and have them next to my Focal Elegia for comparison. The Elegia is more relaxing to listen to and is more closed in sounding. The HD820 is wide surprisingly so for a closed back. It is very much so a similar experience to the HD800. There is some odd things happening that I can’t pin down as of yet…more to follow as I get more time with them. Oh one more thing…just like other TOTL headphones source matters and these will highlight bad quality recordings/compressed sources…


Ok, more time with them, I have a bunch of pictures I need to get off my camera. I’ll start pulling notes together and thoughts for the review. I will say these are amazing, but I’ve been spoiled by the Elegia. Spoiler the HD820 is probably my favorite looking headset I’ve played with to date.


Not wanting you to spill the beans too much re your review, but which do you like best?

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To be fair it is like comparing apples to oranges, they both are closed back, but they both do different things. I would say that the HD820 is as close as you will get to closed back HD800(s). I honestly prefer the design and comfort of the HD820 to the Elegia, which says a lot, as the elegia is also one of the most comfortable headphones out there. The Elegia is very close to the Focal Clear tone, and balance. Elegia has an “easier” listening experience. The HD820 is more reference and detail oriented. I would say it is a very similar experience to A/B HD800 to the Focal Clear, as it is to the HD820 to the Elegia. As you have the previous mentioned you can get a feel for what it would be like to listen to them.

I still can’t get over the aesthetics of the HD820…

Anyhow I hope I sufficiently meandered around your question :wink:


Most definitely. Thank you for taking the time to answer. I appreciate it. I haven’t seen an HD820 in the flesh so to speak, but the way you speak of it’s look it would seem it looks even better than in pictures. I cannot get over the price of it though.

In very simplistic terms it looks like a HD800 with a bit of glass on the sides. I know that that isn’t the case. There must have been vast resources poured into R&D but still it’s pricr seems excessive.


I think that the majority of the cost is in the R&D of the glass and dampening, then fitting that into the HD800s frame. I also don’t think it justifies the cost for the average consumer, unless you very specifically need reference closed back HD800s. In that scenario the price is worth it. But for average everyday listeners I personally think that the Elegia fits the bill just fine as a everyday closed back with better than average sound profile in the TOTL lineup of closed backs.Now taking cost out of the equation, I would buy these in a heartbeat.


My feelings exactly. I haven’t had the head time with either of these but reading between the lines and what you’ve been experiencing I would definitely go towards the Elegia, if I was in need of a closed back headphone. Headphone prices are crazy and it seems to get worse as every month passes.

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I’m enjoying these… this picture was from when I unboxed it last week. I’ll hopefully get a rough draft impression, and more “stylin” photos over the upcoming week, brother is retiring this upcoming weekend so that might be a wash…we’ll see lol.

I really enjoy these…but I’ve come up against a wall with them… they are fatiguing for me, specifically in that the reverb gets to me and causes discomfort. I get ringing in my ears after a bit of listening, I can’t fault these for a personal issue though =) before I have problems they are everything I would want in a closed back reference set. I still can’t get over how much I like the aesthetic either, that glass view is just…wow factor :wink:


That’s a real shame. I had the same experience with the iSine 20’s in that I liked everything about them but the fit. I just couldn’t gel with them and for that reason I sold them. So I feel for you.

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@prfallon69, so I am doing an a/b with the CA Andromeda to the HD820, and they come surprisingly close to each other. I think the only major differences are the staging/width and imaging. Tone/treble/mids/bass are all much closer. Now mind you the HD820 is still in my opinion the better of the two across the board but, I was surprised at how close the Andromeda got to the HD820. It is like eating vanilla icecream from different boutique shops lol, it is vanilla, but “different” …

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That’s nice to know. I am a great fan of the Andromeda’s and they’re in near constant use when I listen to my Dap. I need to get rid of some gear and free up some funds. I feel the need for another great iem. Talking of which have you seen the Zeus-XIV on Massdrop? It’s piqued my interest.

Of course I won’t be selling any of my iem’s though.:grin:

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