The HD 800 are unquestionably bright and, for many, excessively so. They have a notorious treble peak, one that can be wince-inducingly painful to those who are sensitive to it. The SDR mod that yotacowboy mentions is designed to tame this. See here for more on it. With the HD 800S version, Sennheiser sought to provide a correction of its own, like the SDR mod, to reduce the treble brightness. The bass is also slightly thicker, apparently. This thread will be a big help to you; it certainly was for me. The brightness of the HD 800 isn't too bad for me but that's because my preferences already lean in this direction, and I'm middle aged and have suffered some hearing loss. I doubt I'd have liked the HD 800 all that much twenty years ago. Even today, though, I find the HD 800 fatiguing - as do most people, I'd guess - and I typically listen to music with acoustic instruments with these headphones (primarily classical and jazz). The HD 800S is less bright, then, than its predecessor. But it's still a pretty bright pair of headphones. And both are slightly thin sounding. You'll need a warmer DAC and, in particular, a warmer amplifier, ideally a tube one. This thread here is essential reading for information on amps. If you're inclined to try a pair of HD 800 or HD 800S and can't audition then go used. The HD 800 sells for ca. $650-800 used these days. Ones with the SDR mod also come up for sale every so often. If you don't like the HD 800, their price is fairly stable, especially as they're no longer in production, so you wouldn't lose much from the resale.