My Playback review of the Sennheiser HD 800s, available here in updated form, seems to have been rather controversial. In my summary, I said:
"Most headphones are pretty obviously flawed, if we’re honest. With the HD 800, Sennheiser has gone a long way to reduce those flaws, which makes this a very special pair of headphones. For this reason, my colleague Alan Sircom was enthralled with the HD 800s when he reviewed them in our sister magazine from the UK, Hi-Fi Plus. He likened them to $25,000 loudspeakers to give you a sense of how much he loved them.
I’m more in the camp that likes, but doesn’t love, the HD 800. I believe that has little to do with flaws in the HD 800, and much to do with what I want a headphone to do. I want a headphone to provide an alternative listening experience. I want to hear things on recordings that I don’t hear as well via speakers. This partially comes from my sense that headphones just can’t do the virtual reality thing that traditional speaker-based audio can. At the same time, I need a certain vividness in my headphone listening that makes up for the things headphones inevitably take away.
From some perspectives this vividness is called coloration. Maybe. But the declaration of coloration refers to reasonable though arbitrary notions of “correct”. All I know is this: live music is vivid. The HD 800s, at least with the amps I used (primarily the Luxman P200 and PS Audio GCHA), are not vivid, which is what keeps me on the “like” side of the line. Even so, the HD 800s are so good that I prefer them to 90% of the headphones I’ve heard."
This section may not have been the only section that triggered controvery, but if there are more questions about these special headphones, I'll do my best to answer here.