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HD424 - nice vintage cans

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So I dragged home the parcel with my, err, "new" HD424s today, threw 'em old earpads into the trash (classic CTD, or crumble to dust, syndrome) and put new ones on (interesting way of fastening btw), gave the cans a little cleanup and connected them to my surround amp's headphone jack (an adapter from this funky old DIN "Würfel" plug to 6.3 mm had thankfully been included in the auction). Yup, these are harder to drive than even the DT231s (but unlike with those it's a very high impedance that causes this), but I get a reasonable volume out of 'em without much trouble. My first impressions: These noticeably drop off in the bass and highs (the highs reach up to somewhat over 15 kHz, the bass reaches down to 40 Hz and below but does drop off in volume), thus are somewhat mid-centric. These mids, however, are fairly nice, if a bit on the bright side, with a wee bit (but no more) of sibilance. I grabbed the Shibatch Super EQ plugin for Winamp and tried to EQ things out, with the following result which sounds pretty acceptable to me:
Code:
0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 6 6 5 3 1 0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 6 6 5 3 1
You might also want to try this .eq file:
Code:
0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 7 8 7 5 2 0 0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 5 7 8 7 5 2 0
Comfort wise, they're quite good for supraaural cans, as the earpads are fairly soft.

Now, can anyone say how old these are, approximately? My guess would be some 25 years? And is the impedance really 2 kOhm?
post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sgrossklass
Now, can anyone say how old these are, approximately? My guess would be some 25 years? And is the impedance really 2 kOhm?
Closer to 30 years. They're basically the HD-414 Mk II (think Porsche 914 moving on to the 924) with improved bass due to the thinner earpad bringing the diaphragm closer to the ear (thus blocking some bass cancellation from the backwave).

And yes, they really are 2K ohms. The rumor is that they and the 414 were made from MD421 microphone capsules, and I believe the rumor has some basis in fact.

There's an appreciable peak in the response at about 2 to 2.5KHz, so if you lift the bass below 150Hz and the treble above, say 12KHz and notch out the peak, you should have some very nice, open, wide-headstage 'phones that require a lot of volts to drive but won't load down any but the most current-stingy (read: cheap) amp, which means the response curve will remain the same no matter what you do, but they won't play loud out of amps with low rail voltages.
post #3 of 29
My dad still has a pair of these that he bought when he was a student, and which I tend to steal when I'm at home.

They are very nice phones to listen to, and exceedingly comfy, the only downside being that my dad wants them back occasionally. That said, he bought himself some wireless ones a month or two back, so now i can pinch them whenever i want!



Stew
post #4 of 29
I have also the HD424X. Yes, they are really 2kohm and they are very pleasant to listen to. Mine are 27 years old.

Here they are, with my K240M:



The HD424 are probably the most comfortable supra-aural headphones ever made (with the HD414). Simply you forgot to wear them. I agree that the extremes are recessed, with some euphonic "peak" in the mid/mid-highs, but this is their "fashion".

Bye
Andrea
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Since the HD424X got mentioned... what's the difference to the "plain" 424 (which I have)? Apparently the X was available in both 2 kOhm and 600 ohm versions, anything else? I'll torture the search function a bit more...
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
Latest EQ setting:
Code:
0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 8 6 5 4 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 8 6 5 4 4 3 1
My Aureon drives the HD424 with ease, btw. (Same goes for the HD590 but these cans don't appreciate the low output impedance of the card and become rather peaky in the highs. The 424 with its high impedance doesn't care, for it even the 3x 47 ohms of the amp fall under low output impedance.)

EDIT: The very latest EQ setting is this:
Code:
0 0 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 8 7 7 6 5 5 4 0 0 1 1 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 5 8 7 7 6 5 5 4
post #7 of 29
My first one was the HD 420, btw - also a fairly comfy model for a supra-aural construction. Sonically, it was fairly neutral, but also somewhat limited in extension and a little bland... Pic and some blabla in German over there, btw: http://www.elmulab.de/wiki/Sennheiser+HD+420

Haha, and it had that huge DIN Würfel 5 and 1/4 " combo plug - crazy thing...

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sgrossklass
Since the HD424X got mentioned... what's the difference to the "plain" 424...?
I don't know about the 424X but Sennheiser made 3 different versions of the 414. There was the original putty-colored version with a grey copper cable and grey earpads. This was the ear-crusher version. Next, they thinned out the headband (making it much less clampy), changed the cord to steel (or steel-reinforced) and popped on some blue earpads. Finally, or so I recall, there was the X version with the black headband and fluorescent yellow earpads. I don't think there was any substantial change for the X version, although I could very well be wrong. The availabilities of different impedances would have been a good idea, but I don't remember hearing about that.

As far as I recall, the 424 always came as a black 'phone with yellow pads.

Isn't Sennheiser based in Hannover? Go knock on the door and ask 'em. Tell 'em people all over the welt want to know!
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
A late update since I finally found an EQ setting that makes the thing sound tolerable:
Code:
0 0 1 3 4 4 4 2 2 3 3 4 8 6 8 6 5 4 4 0 0 1 3 4 4 4 2 2 3 3 4 8 6 8 6 5 4 4
Still a bit on the brighter side, but finally halfway naturally sounding.
Alternatively try:
Code:
0 0 1 3 4 4 4 2 2 3 3 4 6 6 8 6 5 4 4 0 0 1 3 4 4 4 2 2 3 3 4 6 6 8 6 5 4 4
post #10 of 29
The must have made several vers. 'cause mine definitely fall in the 2K ohm category and have black end caps with gold writing on them. I've kept my eyes open both here and @eBay and have yet to see another pair like them. I bought them in the early 80's in Manhattan.

The rumor that they were made from MD421 microphone capsules is intriguing... and would explain why I still love mine (after all these years). If you scratch Neumann's off the list, a pair of 421's mics are usuallly the first thing I pull out of the box!
post #11 of 29
Man, I sold a lot of those 424s working in a hi-fi shop in the late 1970's, early 1980s.

The best known cans of the era were the Koss Pro-4AA sealed phones. Truly wretched sounding beasts.

Anyone interested in affordable good sounding phones got the Sennheiser 414's. The 424s were the step up model for maybe $20 more. They were both indestructible. In addition to the sound, the sales pitch involved twisting the headband into a knot.

The 424s were a worthwhile upgrade...more bass, smoother, if I recall. There was yet another step-up model, I can't remember the number. Same basic size and configuration as the 424, but with gold plush velour ear pads, upgraded drivers, and a fancier headband. $89 or something like that. They sounded incredible with enough juice.


We also sold the Beyers, AKG, Stax, and the Audio Technicas. The ATs were the best from Japan at the time...very bright and forward. Loved the Stax, but they were expensive as hell, finicky, and unreliable -- pretty much like electrostatic speakers. But, like a double Quad speaker setup, they sounded sweet -- no highs, no bass, but stunning midrange.

Huge advances in materials during the late 1980s and 1990s. Lighter plastic cone materials, much better voice coil epoxies, lot of research into driver resonances, cone flex, etc. The use of computers to study the mechanics of the diaphram and waterfall time response plots really advanced the state of art in leaps and bounds. Plus neodymium magnets became affordable allowing much stronger magnetic fields in small packages.
post #12 of 29
is it just me or does it seem like we'll want to pick hwc's brain some more while he's here? Welcome to Head-fi, sorry about our wallets over the decades, and keep those insights coming, thankee!
post #13 of 29
Up for the HD424 thread.

My father's HD424x surprises me also nowadays for some of their qualities (smoothness and air and that soft and deep, though not powerful, bass).

Andrew
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jahn
is it just me or does it seem like we'll want to pick hwc's brain some more while he's here?
Thanks for the welcome. I used to know a lot about high-end audio. I've sold (and owned) a good bit of it over the years and have a few museum pieces in storage down in basement.

These days, I'm not much of an audiophile, although I do have a half-way decent "mid-fi" Dolby Digital 5.1 audio system with a matched set of five inexpensive B&W bookshelf speakers -- and I'm making good use of an Audio Research D-52B amplifier bridged mono to drive the subwoofer. Alas, the SP6A tube preamp has no home in the system!

I've been lurking here trying to get some ideas for a headphone upgrade -- to use with iTunes at the computer. I had bought a set of Sennheiser HD-500s at Best Buy a couple of years ago. They pretty much suck. Pleasant enough but way too bass heavy. Maybe they're good for techno, I don't know. Thanks to all the good advice, I just bought the Sennheiser HD-595's. Very satisfied, indeed.

I've been spending a couple of days dragging out all sorts of dusty old audio gear to find something with a decent headphone stage (Man, how many times have I kicked myself for selling my wife's HK-430 receiver from college or that Sony VFET integrated amp I owned for a while -- those were the days when even moderately priced stuff had serious audio circuitry!)
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Cool, an old thread of mine gets dug up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hwc
Anyone interested in affordable good sounding phones got the Sennheiser 414's. The 424s were the step up model for maybe $20 more. They were both indestructible. In addition to the sound, the sales pitch involved twisting the headband into a knot.

The 424s were a worthwhile upgrade...more bass, smoother, if I recall. There was yet another step-up model, I can't remember the number. Same basic size and configuration as the 424, but with gold plush velour ear pads, upgraded drivers, and a fancier headband. $89 or something like that. They sounded incredible with enough juice.
That must have been the time when they'd already moved to 600 ohm (HD414X, HD424X) and the HD420 was out, ca. 1980 (this model had these earpads). The '420 got shrunk to the '420SL later, which I also happen to own. This one's a good bit better than the old '424 which sounds quite a bit like earbuds with better frequency extension to my ears. Now that I moved to my trusty HD590s for bedside-fi, the '420SL is still quite useful for MW/SW listening.
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