At CES 2009, Sennheiser launched what was to become an audioholic favorite – the HD 800 open-back headphones. We got the opportunity to go ears-on at IFA a few months later and were duly impressed. This month, the German audio house is releasing an improved model, the HD 800 S, with the promise of bringing listeners "one step closer to the perfect sound."

The new Sennheiser over-ears feature the same dynamic open driver technology and earcup design of their predecessor. The 56 mm (2.2 in) transducer and patented ring design diaphragm deliver a frequency response ranging from 6 Hz to 51 kHz and a total harmonic distortion of 0.02 percent (1 kHz, 1 Vrms). The earcups, which are made from the same kind of high-attenuation plastic used in aviation engineering, have been designed to ensure that the sound waves are directed to each ear at an angle for natural and spatial audio perception.

A further optimized sound image is said to have been made possible with the use of absorber technology first seen in the IE 800 high-end earphones. This essentially prevents unwanted frequency peaks and allows high-pitched, low volume details to be heard where louder and lower sounds might otherwise cause them to be missed. Elsewhere, the new 300 ohm impedance circumaural headphones sport microfiber cushions and a headband comprising layers of sound-attenuating plastic and stainless steel.

In addition to a 3 meter long (10 ft) audio cable ending in a 6.3 mm jack, the HD 800 S headphones come supplied with a symmetrical XLR4 cable for compatibility with audio sources sporting a symmetrical output, such as the company's HDVD 800 headphone amp.

The matte black headphones will be available later this month for a suggested retail price of US$1,799.95, that's $200 more than the current MSRP of the HD 800s.

Product page: Sennheiser HD 800 S

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