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Product: Sennheiser HD8 DJ
Type: Closed Circumaural Headphones
Preferred Use: DJ / Stage
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Warranty: 2 Year Warranty
Sennheiser HD8 DJ Headphones, Overview
Anyone who’s ever bought a pair of Sennheiser headphones will tell you that the company’s big reputation as a maker of high-quality audio equipment is well deserved. They’ll also quite likely tell you that Sennheiser is very well known for manufacturing artsy, open-backed headphones with balanced reference quality sound reproduction and soundstage.
Well with the Sennheiser HD8 DJ headphones, they’ve well and truly broken that mold/expectation in a way that only they could pull off. The HD8’s are the latest in Sennheiser’s pro DJ movement, a range that comes armed with surprises for the listener.
Design and Fit
Right off the bat, the elliptical, circumaural (sits around the ear) design of the HD8’s will grab your attention, oddly though, the headphones manage to accomplish this without the assistance of any of the over-the-top color coordination’s employed by most manufacturers in this niche.
The black leather and gun metal design with splashes of blue here and there (from the Sennheiser logo and the interior of the earcups) give off an elegant yet cool vibe that somehow guarantees admiring glances in the direction of the wearer.
Because these are designed with DJ’s in mind, that is, for use in a professional setting, they are a tad larger than your normal recreational headphones.
This is further compounded by the thick padding on both the headband and the earcups. However, said thick padding ensures the wearer is in comfort with the headphones on so I’m not really complaining.
The one issue you’ll likely find in terms of comfort is with adjusting the headband to fit you properly, I certainly did. Although the headband has click stops, finding the sweet spot is a little difficult because the headband exerts quite a lot of pressure on the skull with its unusually strong clamping power. So you’ll really have to work those click stops to get really comfortable.
The strong clamping power, coupled with the thick earpads means the HD8’s provide a very tight seal that blocks out most ambient noise as soon as you put them on.
Moving on, the use of click stops doesn’t stop with the headband. The earcups also make use of the feature with the cups swiveling upwards away from the ears on a metal bar, enabling you to free up an ear during your set.
The click stops are genius in this case because their presence means the earcup will stay in any position you put it, freeing up your hands to get back to work.
Two cables come with the headphones, coiled and straight. The two cables are removable and can be attached to any earcup. A simple twist will secure the 3m cables once attached to the earcup.
However because these headphones are designed primarily with DJ’s in mind, both cables don’t feature a mic or any type of phone control. A design choice that will inconvenience those that decide to put these babies to normal, day-to-day use.
Along with the cables, the HD8’s ship with an extra pair of earpads, this time made from soft breathable material in case you don’t like the pleather ones already installed. The extra pads are particularly useful if you’ll be using the HD8’s for long hours because pleather gets uncomfortable over time.
True to Sennheiser standards, the HD8’s are made of mostly metal, hard rubber and leather, making them strong and incredibly durable.
Performance and Sound Quality
As I said in the beginning, the HD8’s break the mold when it comes to the usual Sennheiser sound signature.
While most Sennheiser headphones tend to favor the flat response so loved by audiophiles, the HD8’s have a more pronounced bass to them.
Don’t get me wrong these are absolutely still reference headphones. It’s just where the ‘studio type’ reference headphones tend to have a very small low-frequency presence, the HD8’s have a full, rich bass, albeit not an overly boosted one. A quality that you’ll likely love as much as I did, especially if you’re a DJ.
The superb quality that usually comes with Sennheiser headphones is still present here with the bass power impressing on two levels.
First of all, it doesn’t distort at high volumes even though it thumps with the vim and vigor of a subwoofer, so much so there’s no muddiness to the bass whatsoever. Secondly, the power of the bass doesn’t overwhelm either the mids and lows or the listener, a commendable feat.
As powerful and deep as the bass response is the mids and highs are just as potent and crisp ensuring the clarity normally associated with Sennheiser headphones is not compromised in any way, resulting in a sound that will appeal to both audiophiles and the non-audiophiles Sennheiser is clearly targeting with this line.
Whatever music you listen to, should you decide to use these babies for daily listening purposes, you’re not going to feel shortchanged in any way.
For Rock lovers, Hip hop heads, Dubstep fans (no judgment) you’ll absolutely love the thunderous kick of the bass in this set, while the highs and mids will probably reveal sounds you didn’t know where in your favorite tracks (a little tip for Hip hop heads out there, there’s nothing quite like hearing the thump of the kick drum in Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Humble’ through the HD8’s, trust me).
If you’re into more Classical tunes, Country, Electro, House, etc, don’t worry you’ll get your money’s worth too. The well-nuanced highs and mids make tracks like Keith Urban’s ‘Somebody like you’ a pleasure to listen to. The guitar strings are strong and crisp while Keith Urban’s vocals stand out in their clarity and purity.
The incredibly tight seal makes the experience even better. It creates a high noise isolation and prevents any sounds leaking out, and you probably won’t even have to get to full volume unless you really like very loud music.
Verdict: Are they Worth It?
At $299 on Amazon, the Sennheiser HD8 DJ headphones definitely do not come cheap and the price is likely to make more than a few people think twice. However, when you weigh up the pros and cons, you’d be hard pressed to find better headphones at any price whether you’re a DJ or one of us regular folk.
The trademark durability of Sennheiser products means once you buy them you won’t be replacing them or any part thereof for a long time.
As for sound quality and performance, these are top of the league with none but the very best from the likes of Beats, Beyerdynamic, AKG, able to compete.
The sole complaint I’d have with these headphones is they tend to be a little uncomfortable after long hours because of the extra strong clamp especially with the pleather earpads on.
The lack of a remote control on both cables will likely cause those who, like me, choose to use these in a regular setting some anguish but can’t really blame Sennheiser for that, DJ’s don’t need remotes after all. That anguish will be more than offset by the great sound you’ll get to enjoy I imagine.
All in all, if you’re somehow able to afford these beastly beauties, you should go all in. Any reservations or buyer’s remorse you feel after will vanish on your first use.
Looking for a more lightweight DJ headphone? Then check out our review on the almighty and legendary Sennheiser HD 25 which still rocks!
As always let me know what you think of the Sennheiser HD8 DJ in the comments below!
Whether you’re a professional DJ or just looking for a high-quality pair of engaging cans, the Sennheiser HD8 DJ Headphones ticks all the boxes!