Stereophile's Products of 2009 2009 Accessory of the Year

2009 Accessory of the Year

Sennheiser HD800 headphones ($1400; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.32 No.7, July 2009 Review)

Runners-Up (in alphabetical order)
Channel D Pure-Vinyl LP-ripping program ($229; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.32 No.3, March 2009)
Keith Monks Audio Works Omni record-cleaning machine ($6495; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.32 No.5, May 2009 Review)
PS Audio Power Plant Premier AC regenerator ($2195; reviewed by Robert Deutsch, Vol.32 No.2, February 2009 Review)
Shure SE310 earphones ($300; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.32 No.9, September 2009 Review)
XTZ Room Analyzer program ($320; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.31 No.11 & Vol.32 No.11, November 2008 & November 2009 Review)

The race for Accessory of the Year is one of the most interesting because it involves such a diverse cast of contenders. This year, the XTZ Room Analyzer (a favorite of multichannel man Kal Rubinson) and the Keith Monks Omni record-cleaning machine (a favorite of LP-loving Art Dudley) locked room modes with brush blocks in a tie for second place. But it was Sennheiser's HD800 headphones that stood apart from the pack.

The HD800 is an all-out attack on the state of the headphone art. Its 56mm ring-radiator transducer is the biggest dynamic driver currently used in any headphone, and its large earpieces are made from a combination of absorbing composites and functional metal accents that looked and felt great on Wes Phillips's happy head. What Wes found most impressive was the HD800s' "awe-inspiringly huge" soundstage, a quality that even his beloved AKG K701 'phones, winner of our 2006 Accessory of the Year award, couldn't match.

Though the AKG K701 remains a top contender, Wes crowned a new champion: "I was stunned by the Sennheisers' ability to project scale, to reveal dynamic nuance, to present timbre with realism," he said. "It may very well be the best headphone I've ever heard—for me."