Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX Audiophile Headphones Review
Drop is once again hooking its fans up with another audio product. For the second year, Drop has partnered with Sennheiser to give audiophiles something to consider.
Normally priced at just under $1,000, the Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX Audiophile earphones aim to be one of the most sought-after “earphones” on the market. We grabbed a pair and took them on a test drive over a long weekend. This is what we found out:
- Ring-Radiator Drivers to radiate sound uniformly
- 300Ωhms Impedance
- Microfiber Earpads
- Ultra-ergonomic adjustable metal headband with an inner damping element
- Cable (9.8 ft/3 m) with 6.35 mm (1/4″) TRS single-ended plug
- 4 Hz – 51,000 Hz (-10 dB) Frequency response
- The Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX Audiophile headphones are comfortable. The metal headband is adjustable, so you can make it fit perfectly for the duration of the whole afternoon. Plus, the padding on the ear cups is perfect and feels like it’ll last a long time, regardless of frequency of use.
- With anything audiophile-orientated, certain expectations are put on the end user. Firstly, if you buy these, you need an amplifier. Without an amp, the bass is weak, and mid tones are soft. Secondly, make sure you are streaming HD audio, or better yet, vinyl or CD. We tested without an amp, and the sound was similar to that of a $50 set of headphones. With an amp, our tweaked-out Thorens TD150 MK II, and an early 70s pressing of Maggot Brain sounded fantastic.
- With the right equipment and source material, the sound the Drop + Sennheiser HD 8xx headphones produce has tight bass and clear treble, that allows for pinpoint accuracy. The left and right drivers are so closely matched that you’ll hear the crispness in 3D sound. Additionally, the HD 8XX’s sounds as if the audio is coming from speakers placed around you because their open-back design brings a nice expansive feeling to their soundstage.
- Over the course of 48 hours, we found that the tighter the earpads were, the better the sound. So make sure to get a tight seal, and you’ll appreciate these headphones as background noise and earpad placement won’t disrupt your favorite tracks.
- When it comes to fine-tuning, the HD 8XX will need you to balance out some of its warmer notes. There is also a dip in the upper mids which is pretty audible after a while. We’d call this sound signature “V-shaped”, and without the extra fine-tuning, the quality of these headphones is easily missed.
- The HD 8XX feels sturdy and premium to the touch, particularly due to its metal design. The reason behind their premium weight is the open-ear design. In fact, you can see right through them and into their ring-radiator drivers because there’s minimal coverage.
- Talking about comfort, the ear pads on these headphones feel very comfortable against the skin and the cables can be used interchangeably as they share the same connector design with HD 800-series headphones.
- After two days of heavy use, the earpads show no signs of cracking and haven’t seemingly absorbed or been damaged by oil on the skin. However, having also read through the reviews on Amazon, we can see other users complaining about the durability. So, perhaps our early pros will end up as long-term cons.
Are They Worth Checking Out?
If you don’t have an audiophile setup, the simple answer is no. They are not worth checking out.
What if you already have an audiophile setup? Well, the answer is still no. They are good headphones once you have jumped through the hoops most audiophile tech expects of you. However, you can get better for cheaper.
- Excellent sound quality once set up and connected properly
- Fantastic with positional sound
- The build quality feels expensive (as it should).
- Way too pricey considering what they offer
- You can find better options for less money
- Out of the box, they can sound broken without setting up correctly
- To hear the bass, you’ll need to tune your system around the headphones – and this is annoying
We all think a pair of $1,000 headphones should be perfect out of the box. However, as someone who has paid high prices for audiophile tech, I can assure you, the price you pay isn’t the final price. Everything requires some finessing to get it right – and more often than not, you end up having to buy more tech to achieve that perfect sound:
Sadly, the Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX Audiophile headphones are no different.
Out of the box, if you plug these $1,000 headphones into anything but an amp, they’ll disappoint. In fact, the bass is laughably bad. Additionally, these headphones don’t offer the features you would expect from expensive headphones, for example, quality Active Noise Cancelation. What these headphones offer is high-quality audio, but that is it.
We luckily have an audiophile setup and after two days, we can say these are great headphones. However, they aren’t $1,100 great. We actually prefer the sound on our Beyerdynamic Amiron headphones to these, and they cost us $400 with an amp and all the cables we’ll ever need.
If you hadn’t already guessed, the Drop + Sennheiser HD 8XX Audiophile headphones are not Nerdable Recommended, especially at this price.