Apr 03, 2014
Review – Sennheiser HD8 DJ Headphones
Little Boots - Headphones (Moon Boots Remix)

If you’ve ever been in a conversation about quality headphones, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name Sennheiser. The German-born phonics company has always been a staple in the audio industry, offering a range of products for professionals and budding enthusiasts alike with uncompromising standards in sound and build quality.

The EDM sub-culture has been welcoming Sennheiser’s products for years now, with the HD 25 II’s winning DJ Mag’s Best Headphones award in 2008 and continuing as a favorite among the community since. But recently, the German sound giant has hit its stride, finding the perfect balance of style and sound to appeal to the younger-but-educated dance music audience.

Sennheiser’s newest line of headphones includes the HD8 DJs, a professional pair of headphones built to withstand the high-octane stress test of DJing in a live environment. These new over-ear cans manage to be light, flexible, and most importantly, durable (as seen toward the end of the video below). In my experience, Sennheiser has always hit the nail on the head in terms of build quality. Even the cheapest of their over-ear headphones, the HD201s, are able to take a fall or crunch (over… and over… and over). The HD8 DJs efficiently build upon the same principles of durability, utilizing the sturdiest of material in areas where the headphones pivot and adjust, functions which are constantly put to use in a live environment. The left and right ears each have the ability to swivel up, offering the DJ the luxury of comparing his in-headphone mix to what’s being played to the crowd. All in all, these headphones allow much more movement than your average pair of cans, yet avoid sacrificing any of the sturdiness you’d hope for in a high-end, professional pair.

A well-made pair of headphones is great, but generally, sturdiness is not why we decide to splurge on a high-end set. It’s all about the sound, and in the instance of the HD8 DJs, Sennheiser gets nothing short of 10 gold stars. Many companies working in the space of “DJ Headphones” tend to boost the output of lower frequencies, hoping to give an extra oomph or club feel to whatever track is being played. In theory this sounds like a terrific idea, but in practice many companies tend to overcompensate for the lower frequencies, resulting in a mix that is notably off-balance (V-MODA Crossfades, I’m looking at you). Sennheiser ditches this premise, offering an output that remains true to the way a tune was mixed and mastered. Not only does this afford a more accurate (and thus enjoyable) listening experience, but it allows the HD8 DJs to really shine, as you can hear the finer details in the highs and mids, instead of covering it with muddy bass solely for the effect.

The HD8 DJs pass the build and sound tests with flying colors, but often times it can be a very minute feature that can make or break a headphone. In this regard, it seems like Sennheiser really put a ton of thought into these. The ability to plug the cord in to either the left or right side of the headphones (and then twist to lock) might seem like a tiny feature but could prove to be a saving grace for a DJ in dynamic situations. The HD8s also come with two reliable and well made cords (one straight, one coiled) that reach about 10 feet in length as well as two sets of interchangeable ear cups (one leather, one velour), further allowing you to put them to use as you see fit.

Overall, Sennheiser has conceptualized the HD8 headphones more than thoroughly, considering not just what makes their brand so reliable but also where others seem to fall short. The result is arguably the best pair of headphones I have ever used, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

The Sennheiser HD8 DJs just hit the streets with a pricetag of $389.95 here in the States and end up being well worth it. It’s also worth considering the HD8’s younger siblings, the HD6 and HD7s. If you’d like to know more about any of them or the series as a whole, checkout Sennheiser’s video below.