CES 2018: Sennheiser HD 820—Open-Backed Sound in a Closed-Back Headphone


Just in time for CES 2018, Sennhesier is releasing the HD 820, a pair of headphones that aim to take closed-back listening to a new aural space.

Many audiophiles contend that the highest-caliber, personal/private listening experience comes from an open-backed headphone design, which has the unfortunate tradeoff of being neither 100% personal nor private; your spouse, friends, or your fellow-sufferers on the morning commute aren't likely to be as enthused by the joyful noise emanating from your ears as you are. Enter the closed-back dynamic HD 820, which employ innovative design concepts to elicit the transparent and open-sounding timbre typically associated with their open-backed brethren.

The lynchpin of the HD 820's design is a glass-capped transducer. Indeed, if you were to look at the HD 820 in a certain light, you'd be forgiven for thinking the headphones were, in fact, open-backed, because the glass fitted around their dynamic drivers is translucent.

Yet, the concave glass covering serves a functional, as well as aesthetic, purpose—it reflects soundwaves from the rear of the transducer to an absorbing mechanism, which sops up unwelcome resonances, resulting in a wide-open sound reminiscent of open-backed headphones.

Of course, this is a Sennheiser product, so attention has been lavished upon every detail, from the ear pads that protect against ambient noise, to the gold-plated plugs and damped metal headband. In the box, you'll find various connectors for various applications; use the supplied connection cable to secure some extra loveliness from your music as you walk down the street, or fit the plug with the included 1/4" adapter to monitor through your favorite headphone amp or recording interface. If you're into low-capacitance, balanced connections, a specially tuned and impedance-matched cable with a 4.4mm gold plug has been supplied.

Whether you're a consumer, a prosumer, or a straight-up pro, the Sennheiser HD 820s will have you and your ears covered. So feel free to check out a pair at our SuperStore, or poke around on our website.