Sennheiser, long a staple at CES with its stellar audio goods didn't disappoint this year by launching a new line of DJ headsets. The HD6 MIX, HD7 DJ, and HD8 DJ sets priced from $280 for the low end, $329 for the HD7 DJ and $389 for the HD8 DJ. Sennheiser's HD25 model has become something of a classic with disc jockeys. So, when it launched a product, presumably it thinks is superior, we get excited.
Of the three new models, the HD8 is essentially the flagship, with the HD7 being the more affordable option. Both have been designed to provide high quality audio (with an impedance of 95 Ohms), but have a little more emphasis on the mid- and low-end frequencies. Something that will help DJs as they listen out for transients (think: beats) in a club environment. The HD6 has more of a studio focus, and as such has a flatter response and higher impedance (150 Ohms).
Hands-on with Sennheiser's HD 6, 7 and 8 DJ series headsetsSee all photos
The HD8 DJ is the set that we got to spend some time with, and the first thing you notice is the build quality. If you've ever used the HD25s, you know that while they're well built, the overall finish is plastic. The HD8 DJ, however, is a medley of metal and polycarbonate. The ear cups are larger than before making these over-ears (compared to the 25's on-ear), and the high-end, soft padded finish makes them way more comfortable -- perfect for extended use. As you'd expect, the ear cups are also articulated, so you can do the 'ole one-ear DJ thing, wear them in a number of configurations, or just fold them up neatly for convenient storage. We gave the headphones a good number of vigorous twists and bends, and came to the conclusion that these would stand up to the rigours of modern day DJing no problem. In many ways, these feel more like the Pioneer HDJ line than the HD25 they replace, but that's hardly surprising given that the former were purpose built for DJs, the HD25 (you despite their popularity in the community) were not.
Sennheiser HD8 DJ hands-onSee all photos
What about the sound? Well, we managed to get some extended time with them here at CES, and we're pretty fond of them. If you're used to the slightly more compressed sound you can get from a lot of commercial/consumer headphones, then these will come as a pleasant surprise. The dynamic range is excellent meaning you really feel the arrival of every kick and hi-hat, without it being overly loud. Mids and lows stand out particularly well thanks to that gentle boost, but even the high ends are clear and present. Other tricks include the option to have the cable on either side (there's a straight and coiled option in the case), along with removable/swappable pads, and some raised dimples on one side of the headband so you always get them the right way around, no matter how dark your environment.
Sean Cooper contributed to this report.