The new Sennheiser HDV820 combined headphone amp and DAC consolidates the previous HDVD800 & HDVA600 into one, winning model.
In the world of headphones, Sennheiser stands as a brand which is rather uniquely admired by Audiophiles, Audio Professionals and Fashionistas alike. The company’s relentless, Teutonic quest for audio fidelity over more than five decades, has cemented the brand as a powerful player in the world of headphones.
In today’s Audio Affair Blog, we look at the Sennheiser HDV820 combined Headphone Amp and DAC; a unit designed to offer the utmost in audio quality for discerning headphone enthusiasts.
Sennheiser HDV820 – The New King
Sennheiser’s previous high-end headphone range comprised of the HDVD800, which combined DAC functionality with the superb HDVA600 headphone amplifier. Both the HDVD800 and HDVA600 co-existed in Sennheiser’s range, giving customers the choice between a purely analogue headphone amplifier, or added DAC functionality.
The two products have now, effectively been consolidated into the Sennheiser HDV820, which is a combined premium Headphone amplifier and DAC. The HDV820 sits at the top of the Sennheiser headphone amplifier range; the only model which tops it being the incredible, £54k HE-1 Orpheus setup!
High Tech – High Fidelity
The heart of the new HDV 820 is the ESS SABRE32 DAC, a chipset which is rapidly establishing itself as the ‘go to’ for high-end DAC duties. The ESS SABRE32 DAC provides a very high, 32-bit resolution with a sampling rate of up to 384 kHz; DSD256 files are also supported up to 12.3 MHz.
Connection to the DAC functionality of the Sennheiser HDV820 is multifaceted: both optical and coaxial S/PDIF connections are provided, as is a direct connection to a computer via USB. The latter of which makes the HDV820 an ideal companion for High-Res streaming services such as Tidal et-al.
Support for Headphones New and Old
For most of us, the traditional 1/4″ stereo jack plug still represents the familiar and established way to connect one’s headphones. It’s no surprise to learn, therefore, that the Sennheiser HDV820 provides a 1/4″ stereo headphone input. What *is* highly commendable, is the vast array of connections offered for esoteric and cutting edge connections…
As mentioned, unbalanced headphone connection is available via 1/4″ jack, which, on the HDV820 is incorporated into a Neutrik combi-connector which also allows unbalanced connection via 3-pin XLR connection.
Balanced connections are via dedicated four-pin XLR connection and via a pair of Pentaconn sockets. For those not familiar with the Pentaconn, it’s a 4.4mm connection, which has been newly standardised for balanced headphones and set by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association – JEITA.
Clean Modern Design – Perfectly Partners the HD800s
The Sennheiser HDV820 features a new, anodised black finish with white LED lights which has been designed to perfectly complement the latest version of the flagship HD 800S. For a combination which majors on presenting detail at a microscopic level, the two are a remarkable combination.
Incorporating the HDV820 into your existing Hi-Fi System is a doddle, thanks to both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) connections on the rear of the unit. Analogue pass-through is also provided via a pair of balanced XLR output sockets.
If you’re looking for possibly the finest headphone amplifier/DAC combination available, the Sennheiser HDV820 should be very firmly on your list of devices to audition. It’s breadth of features, audio fidelity and future-proofed connections should ensure its place in your system for many years to come.