Sennheiser's HD8 DJ headphones are the company's top-of-the-range DJ model, and while Sennheiser has a huge name for itself in general headphones (indeed its iconic HD-25s have "accidentally" become a DJ headphone classic over the decades, and its ultra-budget HD201s are amazing for the money), we've never actually reviewed any of the company's dedicated DJ models. Until now, that is. Read on for our Sennheiser HD8 DJ review...
Quality. They come in a square, hard case (no cheap slip case here), and are predominantly metal in construction, including at the all-important swivel joint where the earcups join the headband. In the box alongside the phones themselves are velour-style changeable pads (the ones fitted on purchase are leatherette), plus both coiled and straight cables.
The headphones themselves have the expected ability to swivel the earcups for one-eared listening (ie monitoring), and the earcups are elliptical, which when you come to think about it, is actually a better shape than circular for fitting the human ear. Popping them on even without music playing confirms that they isolate very well acoustically, something important of course for beatmixing in loud clubs.
The cable is naturally detachable (so you can easily change between the two choices), and the adjustments for head size are again metal, durable and solid-feeling. There is a small amount of padding in the rubberised metal headband. Overall, the HD8 DJs feel superlatively professional, and give the DJ every confidence that they're going to last for as long time.
First, the sound quality: It's impeccable. Guess that's not a huge surprise, as they are from a brand that knows its beans - and it shows. Rounded, clear, decent bass... basically, perfect for beatmatching and extended listening alike.
Speaking of extended listening, while you wouldn't want to wear them for a whole day or anything like that uninterrupted (due to the necessary pressure of the headband in DJ headphones for sound isolation, and the fact that open-backed headphones will usually trump closed-back like these for ear comfort over extended use), they are actually perfectly comfortable for a reasonable length of time, and definitely fine for DJing when you're whipping them on and off several times in a typical set.
Just as important for many DJs, including me, is the "round the neck" feel (ie when you've got them off your ears and are talking to people, etc). The Sennheiser HD8 DJs sit nicely on your shoulder in those circumstances, because they're reasonably compact despite the over-ear design. This is a product of the elliptical shape of the earcups.
Some DJ headphones fold up small so you can stuff them into any nook or cranny in your DJ backpack or bag; these are designed instead to sit nicely in their hard case, where they receive proper protection, so plan to carry around a separate headphone case. At this price it's something worth doing, for sure.
These aren't cheap, as you'd expect from a headphone that's top-of-the-range, but they are nonetheless good value. They are excellently constructed, feel like they'd last forever, and come with the right accessories and protection to help you get the most out of them when you're gigging - and keep them in perfect condition when you're not.
If you're a night-after-night gigging DJ who realises that paying more for pro headphones is probably going to save you money in the long run, and at the same time if you've never considered Sennheiser as a brand for your DJ headphones, you owe it to yourself to do just that: We think you'll be surprised at how good these are.
If the HD8 DJs are just a leap too far for you price wise, but you like the look of Sennheiser, the HD7 DJ model appears very similar, just without the very high quality metal couplings on this model (we'll try and get a review in soon)... or you could consider the aforementioned HD 25-1 IIs, which while never specifically intended for DJs, still attract a cult status with a huge number of professionals.