A sophisticated metal housing protects the precious vitals inside the Sennheiser HDV 820 headphone amp.
Rich sound gets richer
How do you make one of the best headphones on the market even better? If you're Sennheiser, you build the HDV 820 headphone amp to play up all the strengths of your flagship HD 800 S 'phones. The most obvious matches between the two are in the cosmetics and the connectivity — this is one of the few amps we offer that can accept a balanced XLR4 headphone cable. But this powerful desktop amp also drives the HD 800 S headphones to perform at their top potential.
Sennheiser designed this amp to accentuate the sonic advantages of the HD 800 S. The HDV 820 spreads out the headphones' large soundstage even wider. And together, the pair delivers airy, musical highs along with taut, detailed mids and a sweet helping of bass precision.
Crystal-clear, low-distortion sound for all
Of course, you can use the HDV 820 with any set of wired headphones that would benefit from clean, controlled power. Which I think covers most of them! Sennheiser uses a symmetrical circuitry design to keep the left and right channel signals completely independent of each other. This practically eliminates interference, so your headphones will better handle large sonic peaks in your music — without distorting.
Sennheiser also includes a 5-stage gain switch to properly match up the power output with your headphones' impedance. That means this amp plays nice with all types of headphone models.
A headphone amp can only be as versatile as its connections — and the HDV 820 is ready for all types of music sources. You'll find balanced and unbalanced analog inputs along with optical, coaxial, XLR, and USB inputs for your digital gear. A premium ESS Sabre digital-to-analog converter effortlessly handles high-res music files up to 32-bit/384kHz.
This amp will power up to four pairs of headphones simultaneously — a helpful feature here at Crutchfield where we often compare different headphones. There is a four-pin XLR output, along with a Neutrik combination socket standard that will accept a 3-pin XLR or a 1/4" headphone plug.
The HDV 820 also has a stereo pair of 3-pin XLR outputs on the back. So you can use it as a standalone preamp/DAC if you have compatible audio gear.
What's the deal with those new 4.4mm headphone jacks?
On the front, there are also two balanced 4.4mm headphone outputs. At first glance, I admittedly mistook them for 1/4" unbalanced headphone outputs. This heavy-duty connection is actually the new industry standard for balanced headphone operation. And it is kind of exciting to see them on a Sennheiser headphone amp.
Here's why: Sony originally developed this standard — and right now their MDR-Z1R headphones are the only model we carry that can connect without an adapter. But now that two heavy-hitters from the category have adopted this standard, we should see other headphone companies embrace it. That's good for performance, because this connection promises to be low in noise and distortion. And hopefully moving to a new standard will mean fewer proprietary cable connections for you and I to sort through!
In January 2018, Sennheiser announced their new closed-back HD 820 headphones at the CES show in Vegas. These forthcoming high-end 'phones will also take advantage of this special new 4.4mm connection.