Sennheiser HDV 820 Headphone Amplifier / DAC Review
Sennheisers new HDV 820 is a smooth, powerful and versatile DAC/Amp that is all about musical enjoyment and flexibilty.
- Smooth effortless sound
- Detail retrieval
- A little pricey for some
Aesthetics and Build Quality:
Sennheiser have gone away from the silver colour scheme with their latest products, opting instead for a matte black finish. In my opinion the products look a lot sleeker now, and the matte black aluminum casing of the HDV 820 looks superb. The LED status lighting is white and perfectly blends with the whole look.
The build quality is as you would expect from Sennheiser, flawless. The casing is superbly finished and put together, all the sockets are tight and have no play in them. I could not find a single fault with the build and finish of the HDV 820.
The HDV 820 can be used as a pure amp, pre-amp and also as a DAC/Amp. It has balanced and unbalanced inputs and outputs and supports DSD playback.
On the front panel you have a 6.3mm/3 pin XLR combo single ended headphone out, a balanced 4-pin XLR output and a pair of 4.4mm balanced pentaconn outputs. You also have the power button, source select knob and volume knob.
On the back you have the balanced analogue inputs and outputs, single ended analogue input, gain knob, and finally the optical, coaxial and USB digital inputs.
It is a very versatile unit that can be fitted into any system.
The HDV 820 is plenty powerful for most headphones out there, and even does a decent job at driving the HiFiMan HE-6. It is no wonder that it pairs wonderfully with Sennheisers own HD800, bringing out plenty of body, dynamic punch and detail without becoming shouty. The HD800 sound smooth and effortless when paired with the HDV 820, a pairing that is revealing with heaps of detail but never brash or too in your face.
The highlights of the HD800 are accentuated by the HDV 820, offering one of the airiest and widest soundstages of any headphone, orchestral passages are simply sublime. The HDV 820 has no trouble with separating more complex tracks, offering up a textured and well layered sound.
The HDV 820 is not the most neutral and analytical sounding unit out there, it does have a certain smoothness to it but without taking away detail. It won’t become fatiguing to listen to, and is the perfect companion to the HD800.
The HDV 820 is powerful and versatile making itself at home in any system. It pairs well with many different headphones and has a slightly smoother more laid back sound than some of the other more neutral amps. The HDV 820 is all about musical enjoyment, just sit back and enjoy the effortless sound of your headphones.