One of the biggest reveals of CES this year was the mammoth announcement of a flagship HD800-like closed back headphone. The new naming number system for this year added a 20 to the end, and as such, the HD820 has been born.
The outside look is definitely takes some queues from the 800, including a spider-web collection of inward driving “ring radiators”, all neatly packed behind a clear, outward facing peak-a-boo window made of guerrilla glass. From the press release:
“Over each of the legendary Sennheiser Ring Radiator transducers are unique glass covers. Revealing the acoustics within, the patent-pending curved Gorilla glass serves to reflect the sound waves from the rear of the transducer to two absorber chambers, which results in minimal resonance.”
That’s right, absorber chambers. One of the toughest obstacles to overcome in sealed design has always been those pesky reflections off the back of the headphone (which are less of a issue with open back styles). The question has brought front and center with its solution in the new proposition.
As with the original HD800s the 20’s were quite comfortable on the head. Many old school personal audio enthusiasts even herald the family of headphones as the most comfortable. Sound impressions in the somewhat noisy back office space (which also included the mammoth Orpheus system) where a bit tricky to discern during my appointment slot as the Sennheiser booth is usually packed to the gills with media and all manner of CES attendee. But from what I heard at the show did sound very good and if I was pressed – kept fairly true to the family roots. The bass was balanced and sounded lively and tight, but also retained some of the closed-back qualities that are seemingly always present with a true sealed design. It is not the HD800 with no leakage but at first sip is a solid take on the idea.
Expect the HD820 to arrive in early summer of this year for a spicy $2,400.
It wasn’t all flagships at the booth in the South Hall either. Like the rest of CES the headphone giant has also been building up a cache of bluetooth headphones and this year’s offerings feature in-ear and over-ear options at a price point for everyone. The earphone vertical now features the brand new CX 6.00BT at $99 and the CX7.00BT at $149 – a very hot category for the show.
Over and On Ears include the HD4.40BT at the $150 mark, the 4.50BTNC at $200 and the PXC 550 Wireless at $400. As with previous CES presentations there was also a just-for-fun prototype loudspeaker setup, this time the project took the form of surround sound bar with heavy home theater intent.