Sennheiser HD 820 Closed-Back Headphone - Official Thread

The HD 820 is supposed to be launching at the end of July and its about time it got its own thread!

Has anyone had the chance to hear it at a show yet? Early impressions of it seem to be quite good.


While I have not had a chance to demo the HD 820, I expect them to have a similar sound signature to the HD 800 and HD800S with possibly a better low-end due to the nature of them being closed-back, but I wouldn’t expect them to be bass-heavy by any means at all. They use concave glass covers over its drivers to deliver passive noise cancellation. I dunno, I might just buy a pair when released since I have all of the Sennheiser HD series anyway. I can give a more informed opinion of them when I get them.


  • Driver Type: Dynamic
  • Headphone Design: Over-Ear, Closed-Back
  • Frequency response: 12 - 43800 Hz (-3 dB)
    6 - 48000 Hz (-10 dB)
  • Sound Pressure Level(SPL): 103 dB at 1 kHz, 1V
  • Impedance: 300 Ohm
  • Cable Length: 9.8’ (3m)
  • Cable Connectors Included: 1/4", 4-pin XLR, 4.4mm Pentaconn
  • Weight: 360g
  • Package Weight: 10 lbs
  • Package Dimensions(LxWxH): 16.3 x 14.1 x 7.0"

the pricing is little off vs others tough…

Yep, I heard them at a meet:

Honestly, they were just ok for a closed back. They are as close to a closed back HD800(S) as you will get. But I couldn’t find 1 thing that they did as well or better than the original HD800(S). Maybe a little more bass quantity, but I use EQ for that anyways. So sonically it is a compromise in every way. Though I will admit the build felt even more premium and nice than the open backs as well as the glass being a really cool feature. But the price just doesn’t seem justified. If it were around HD800(S) prices like $1500 I think that would be fair. But at $2400 you have to really specifically need a closed back version of HD800(S) to justify it. Besides isolation, there’s no reason I would go for HD820 over HD800(S), especially when you can pick up used HD800’s for ~$650 these days. If I were to get a more neutral/reference closed back I would grab an Eikon at half the price of HD820.


my exact thought put together better than me… thanks

I love Sennheiser’s but the pricing on the HD820 is a bit naughty. If I were a cynical man I’d say they were just cashing in. :smiley:.



I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the HD820 (already ordered) … partly so I can give them a proper listen in a rig I’m familiar with, using my own music, without a ton of noise in the environment. But mostly so I can run them through two sets of comparisons …

The first being against the HD800 and HD800S … which is somewhat perverse I get, given that those are open-back and the HD820 isn’t.

The second being to pit them against the TH900 Mk2, Sony MDR-Z1R, ZMF Eikon (Padauk) and, I expect, one of the Mr. Speakers closed-back models.


@Torq I envy your collection and appreciate your early adopter adventures. Looking forward to your impressions.


Seems like frequency response charts are out:

Looks W-shaped which should be interesting, but not really surprising.

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My HD820, ordered via, arrived yesterday*. I’ve been particularly anxious to get my hands on these based on positive experiences with the HD800 and HD800S, and an on-going search for closed-back headphone that was, as Goldilocks might put it … “just right”.

They look awesome in person, and while carrying the usual familial cues, are quite a bit more imposing than the normal HD800 or HD800S. And so far the glass backs on the ear-cups seem impervious to fingerprints.

Initial reports from various shows had me starting to get a bit concerned, and a couple of friends back in Europe that got early shipments had some comments that made me wonder if I might not regret just jumping into this. But so far I’m just not hearing the major issues that other’s have raised. Whether that’s down to Sennheiser re-tuning things since the shows in question, or some other bias-factors, I can’t say.

What I can say is that I’m not hearing any “mid-range honkiness” and there’s nothing nasally about vocals or congested in the mid-range. Some slight, tasteful, bass elevation (vs. the HD800S), and the HD820 seem a tad clearer here too, and a hint of a modestly “W” shaped signature are what I’m hearing so far.

Lots more listening to do, including some proper burn-in time, but very different (in a good way) to what I was expecting based on comments from others.

The price point was a bit of a surprise … but the solid (seems to be wood) case its a nice touch. The package also includes three very nice cables, which if bought separately range from $200 to $275 each, covering 1/4" TRS, 4-pin XLR (balanced) and 4.4mm TRRRS “Pentaconn” (balanced) connections.

More to come as they get some hours on them and I can do some focused listening. And, of course, a proper review, with comparisons to HD800 and HD800S, after that.

For now, time to sit on the deck, watch the “Blue Angels” practice, and enjoy a nice glass of something naughty with some rich tunes.


While it’ll take more listening, and a proper review, to do these things justice … it’s already fairly obvious that they’re the best closed-back headphones I own.

They’re way more neutral than the TH-900 Mk2 (which are a LOT of fun) the Sony MDR-Z1R (fun, but more mellow and less incisive, than the Fostex) and the TR-X00. The ZMF Eikon edges them out in neutrality/tone, but doesn’t come close to the Sennheisers for resolution, detail or stage and the HD820 are also ahead (to a lesser degree) on dynamics (macro and especially micro) and transient response.

Perhaps my expectations were different to others. I did not expect a “closed-back-800-series” to sound exactly like an HD800 or HD800S (“Ye canna change the laws of physics, Jim!”). But I find it hard to imagine getting closer and still being a proper closed-back design.

I have to wonder how much of the initial response was based on the price being meaningfully higher than the HD800S. But, even at the asking price, the reality is that I’ve now had them on my head, playing music, for six hours today … and I’m still just chilling and listening … with no desire to take them off, or turn things down. And that’s not something I can say about any of the other closed-back headphones I’ve mentioned in this ramble-tastic nonsense!


They are a handsome set of headphones for sure! One day I’ll pick them up…I’m not quite sure I’m at the $2k plus headphones level of buying yet. 1k is my upper limit per purchase right now.

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I gotta agree with you on that one. They do seem excessively expensive at the moment.


@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 …