The Sennheiser HD 8 DJ is not just any headphone, it is a reference grade audio equipment that has perfect sound reproduction and superb comfort. When it comes to reference grade equipment, they are not cheap. This headphone we are about to review has all the features anyone would ever want, including the high style quotient. It is specifically aimed at audiophiles and audio professionals that want to hear every little sound in the music they produce or listen to.
Exceptional build quality
Right out of the box you get a wonderful and generously big, hard shell carry case, a long, spiralled, kevlar shielded cable which is really long, an extra pair of ear cushions made out of Velour and finally the cool looking headphones. The bad thing about these headphones is that it comes with a Sennheiser proprietary audio cable. It is not that the cable will break so fast, but just in case you happen to snap it, you will have to go back to Sennheiser and ask for a new one. At a first glance, the appearance of all the material that came packed inside looks very sturdy and durable.
Sennheiser has not let us down at all. The entire headphone construction is made out of a highly durable plastic and metal combination. The ear cushions are also made from high quality foam and leather. Speaking of ear cushions, Sennheiser provides two of them, one with leather texture, the other made from Velour. Both ear pads or ear cushions come with a blue fabric which will sit on top of the drivers.
The speaker cans are connected to the main headband via a rather unique metallic hinge mechanism which swivels 210 degrees. The hinge makes a clicking noise which is very satisfying to hear which also happens to assure us from time to time about the durability of the HD 8 DJ. The ear can adjustment mechanism is connected to the headband via a metal slider. The headband itself is made from flexible plastic. You can bend it as much as you like with as much force you want, but be sure that it wont break so easily. This proves that the HD 8 DJ would not break that easily in case you drop it on the floor or pack it tightly in your bag.
Because of the metallic parts and dense plastic throughout the headphone body, it feels a little heavy but not so much to cause any discomfort.
Looking at the technical details of the Sennheiser HD 8 DJ, we can see that the drivers have a 3dB frequency response from 8 Hz to 30 kHz which is way above the normal 20 kHz audible limit. The reason for having such a wide bandwidth is to have a perfectly flat response over the audible range. When we have a 20Hz to 20KHz bandwidth, the response begins to roll off at somewhere around 15 to 16kHz and thus the higher range is not as flat. Such a response is undesirable for serious listeners or producers. The second thing to notice is the high impedance of nearly 95 Ohms. We have to keep in mind that higher the impedance, the louder the volume. Naturally, we will be operating this headphone at a much lower volume giving us an idea of how high it can go.
The Sennheiser HD 8 DJ does not boost the lower frequencies to give us more bass, but rather maintains a flat response. Nevertheless, it has the ability to reproduce strong, punchy bass that will literally thump your head with each beat. The bass is not as bleeding as the Beats or Monster headphones, but rather feels natural. The amazing quality of drivers and the good quality speaker magnet are one of the factors that are responsible for reproducing a satisfying bass response.
Many speakers out there destroy the mids when we try to play bass heavy music, but that does not seem to be the case with the Sennheiser HD 8 DJ. The mids and the highs are wonderfully reproduced even when there is that punchy bass playing. Many a time you may not have heard certain sounds in the lower end of the bass, but they suddenly become audible with the HD 8 DJ headphones. The old music that you may be listening over and over again, everyday, will suddenly appear to have come to a new life when you listen to it with these headphones. That has been a very common response from the HD 8 users.
You can get a very similar audio performance from Sennheiser HD 25 which also happen to be in the same price range, except that they are on-ear headphones rather than over-ear like the HD 8. The over all design of the HD 8 is inspired by the HD 25 which also happen to have the small version of swivelling ear cups with a neat hinge. The HD 25 are also aimed for serious listeners and mostly used in studios for monitoring purposes, whereas the HD 8 are aimed for DJs and serious audio craftsmen.
The reason that HD 8s are for DJs is because of the noise isolation capabilities.
The ear cups fit on the ears pretty tight, but not so much to cause discomfort. The ear cushions create a nice seal between your ears and the environment while literally cutting you off from the outside. With so much isolation, it is you and your music alone. Such kind of isolation is really good for DJs who need to listen to their mixes in a noisy environment. If you are looking to achieve a virtually complete isolation then you can do so with the Bose QuietComfort 25 which we reviewed just few days ago.
Driving a high impedance headphone requires a good quality amplifier. Although the HD 8 will definitely work fine on usual listening devices, but if you want to drive the headphone at more than 50% of its volume driving capacity you will need an amplifier.
You would not be even considering to buy a $350 headphones unless you are too serious about the sound that enters your ears. Assuming you are an audiophile, let me tell you that there is nothing as good as the Sennheiser HD 8 DJ headphones. You will not be disappointed at all. In my opinion the high price of the HD 8 mostly goes for unique and comfortable design and high quality material used for construction, but when considering the audio response that can be obtained with other similarly priced headphones (except the Beats, Monsters or other fancy headphones). You can get a pair on Amazon.com for a much discounted price around $280 (£180).