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The Sennheiser HD 800: The First Listen, The First Review - Page 387

post #5791 of 5803
Wow after reading this i never knew some ppl had such hard waiting time after preorders

Well its been 5 years now since the release and i just bought mine with the serial toughing the 30.000
milestone
So looking at it took 7 years after the hd650 release... With the same trend its now only 2 more years for the next big hype.. Lol tongue.gif
post #5792 of 5803

I just got my HD800 today. Serial number is 3077X.

 

Forgive me if anybody finds my first impressions to be a little bit harsh but they are my first impressions.

 

First everybody needs to understand that I have a full decent stereo / surround sound speaker system with a very powerful subwoofer. The system is powered by a very potent amplifier. Hence any observation that I make can be treated as a direct comparison to the speaker system.

 

I have only done about two hours of listening session running through many test tracks before writing this review and while everything is still fresh.  I am using a new WA7tp/WA7 amplifier that has less than 40 hours of actual burning-in time. Some people might say that two hours is not enough to fairly evaluate HD800 but believe me, it is more than enough to come up with a first impression. I don't listen to the entire song, I just play the part where there are critical nuances and prominent details.

 

So, here we go.

 

Soundstage (1/10)

First of all, I would like to say that the ever-revered soundstage is well above overrated. It is decent and is certainly expansive two-dimensionally but it is not holographic or 3D-esque (front-depthed) by any means as what many people have claimed it is. Believe me, those who say they can hear the singer in front of them and can gauge the depth of the room are nothing but imagining things. I have read extensive reviews about HD800 before deciding to buy it and the trait that has always surfaced was the magnificent soundstage. The collective opinion about it is that the sound is "in front of you rather than in your head".  I have ran through about 80 test tracks including some of Dr. Chesky's Ultimate headphone binauaral tracks but there was nothing that could convince me that I am hearing things in front of me. Although the instrument separation is the clearest I have ever heard from anything I have ever listened to, it has nonetheless led me to believe that there is no headphone in the world that could approach the level of what the speakers can do in terms of rendering a three-dimensional environment. I can tell you with unassailable certainty that if you are looking for a realistic soundstage, there is no headphone in the world that could match the good old speakers. It appears that headphone's King of Soundstage will be a pauper if we really stuck to what soundstage really is.

 

Detail (10/10)

It is without a doubt the most detailed I have ever heard. I don't believe that I would be hearing a significant improvement after the required burning-in time, so I must say that what I am hearing now is probably about 95% of what HD800 can ultimately offer because, believe me, it is really good. The amount of detail and clarity that I am hearing now convinces me to believe to the point of skepticism that I doubt I would hear anything much better. I used tracks that I have heard several times in my life from different sources and it is only upon feeding them through the HD800 that I have heard the most subtle nuances that I have absolutely never heard before.

 

While the soundstage made me feel that I wasted money on something by trying to believe in what people imagined they were hearing, the clarity and detail, which are far more important to me, convinced me that it was somehow worth shelling off the limb-breaking price of HD800. If I had to put a price on what I am hearing, I would say it is between $800 and $1,100.

 

Bass (3/10)

Now this is the one aspect that greatly disappoints when it comes to headphones in general. No amount of detail and clarity can breathe life into what a real bass should sound like. Low frequencies are meant to be felt, not heard. And bass is the only part of the audible frequency spectrum that is deserving of the word visceral. I am not singling out HD800 alone but I am referring to all headphones in general. Although HD800 can pump bass cleanly, in the world of headphones, it seems it is not the best or as much fun. I would be hard-pressed to believe that any other headphones could pump out bass much better than HD800. Again, I say it is not about a specific brand but it is about the apparent inadequacy of headphones in general being the very tiny speakers with very small drivers. Visceral, powerful, and enjoyable bass can only come from 10" or bigger diaphragms.

 

Treble (10/10)

There was only one song that I found HD800 to be overly bright and at times sibilant. It was Lady in Red by Chris de Burgh. Lady in Red is one of my favorite songs not because it is critically acclaimed for having the most instruments but because it is a good song with a very soulful intro. The brightness and sibilance are getting in the pleasure of listening at times but the detail that was revealed by HD800 was nothing short of amazing-- It actually put a smile on my face. I cannot fault the HD800 about the sibilance in this song because I believe this track was poorly recorded. I am overly satisfied with the way HD800 renders treble and I believe it is one of its greatest strengths and the source of its immaculate clarity.

 

Comfort (10/10)

Holy Cow! These cups are extremely comfortable. I can't say that the pads are the softest out there but they are the most comfortable. I don't know, but if I were presented with different kinds of headphones to choose from to listen to something, I would most likely pick the HD800 because my ears tell me that they are most comfortable in them. The clamping force is perfect and after an extended period of listening to music, I hardly felt I was wearing anything at all. The comfort offered by HD800 makes me think something like this "I am glad I chose HD800".

 

As I've said, these are just first impressions and they may change in the future provided there would be corresponding improvements along the way. The potential of HD800 together with WA7tp/WA7 may soon be revealed but I wouldn't expect a significant improvement over what I am hearing now. But let this not mislead you because I am certainly pained and could not believe that I am saying something like this after paying for something so steep. I hope, in time, that I could disprove the saying "first impressions last".

post #5793 of 5803
Quote:
Originally Posted by karzai View Post
 

 

 

First everybody needs to understand that I have a full decent stereo / surround sound speaker system with a very powerful subwoofer. The system is powered by a very potent amplifier. Hence any observation that I make can be treated as a direct comparison to the speaker system.

 

Comparing headphones to (multiple) speakers particularly in terms of sound stage and bass is akin to comparing motor bikes to cars; and stating that they have limited passenger options and very restrictive luggage capacity (and no ash tray).  They are simply two different animals that represent quite different concepts; yes, they both reproduce sound, just as motorbikes and cars are both transport.

 

If your expectations around headphones are to sound like speakers, then your journey will be a long and disappointing one.

 

And as for not perceiving sound-stage (direction and timing) from binaural recordings, I would be interested in your explanation on how binaural recordings differ from single microphone recordings? 

 

For the record, I am not a HD800 owner, and never have been, just a realist that understands the difference between headphones and speakers, and the respective limitations and uses of each.

post #5794 of 5803
Quote:karzal
 First of all, I would like to say that the ever-revered soundstage is well above overrated. It is decent and is certainly expansive two-dimensionally but it is not holographic or 3D-esque (front-depthed) by any means as what many people have claimed it is. Believe me, those who say they can hear the singer in front of them and can gauge the depth of the room are nothing but imagining things. I have read extensive reviews about HD800 before deciding to buy it and the trait that has always surfaced was the magnificent soundstage. The collective opinion about it is that the sound is "in front of you rather than in your head".  I have ran through about 80 test tracks including some of Dr. Chesky's Ultimate headphone binauaral tracks but there was nothing that could convince me that I am hearing things in front of me.

 

Please, don't ever state that others are deluding themselves just because you can't get a 3D holographic soundstage.

 

This is akin to a colour-blind person saying that those who can see colours are deluding themselves.

Or, those who can only hear below 8KHz calling those who can hear above 20KHz liars.

Perhaps, you need to play around with the position of the headphones on your noggin.

 

Others might say you need to upgrade your amp to something like a GSX Mk II.

 

In either case, you are stuck with your hearing acuity.

 

On the subject of bass, most people don't really know how a drum kit or double bass sound in real life.

Even those who attend rock concerts or so-called "live" performances hear the music through a sound system with speakers, and not an acoustic (unamplified) presentation.

 

Real acoustic bass sometimes has nothing to do with what is recorded for our musical consumption.

 

Remember:- the impression you have is only your own with your setup in your room where you listen.

 

Take your speaker system as an example. Change the positioning of the individual speakers and alter the room furnishings. and you will have a different presentation.

Moving speakers close to walls usually boosts bass response.

The wall treatment will affect the sound. Bare walls usually enhance trable response. Sound reacts differently to bricks, concrete, timber, plaster, wallpaper, tapestries, etc.

 

In the end, they're YOUR impressions. We accept that.

Don't fall again into the trap of (as you have done) of denigrating other people's hearing acuity just because theirs may be better than your own.

After all. you don't deny Usain Bolt's ability to run a sub 10 second 100 meter race just because you can't.

 

This is why many of the more astute posters finish their posts with YMMV http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ymmv

post #5795 of 5803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kernmac View Post
 

If your expectations around headphones are to sound like speakers, then your journey will be a long and disappointing one.

Yes, exactly. Thanks for pointing that one out early on. But isn't that the holy grail of headphones since they already have fantastic sound?

 

Didn't engineers at Sennheiser tilt the earcups of HD800 so that they sound like speakers in front of you?

 

 

post #5796 of 5803
Quote:
Originally Posted by wink View Post
 

 

Please, don't ever state that others are deluding themselves just because you can't get a 3D holographic soundstage.

Yes, you are right. I may have overstated everything.

 

When I was reading around while trying to decide which headphone to buy, I came across several reviewers swearing they can hear people singing in front of them and they can hear distinct instruments in a breathtaking array of multi-layered and cascading landscape. I bought HD800 with that in mind.

 

Imagine my disillusionment when I could not get any of that from the sound in front of me. When playing the series of test tracks from Dr. Chesky's binaural recordings, I could perceive sound coming from behind me but when the sound was supposedly to come from the front, the sound appears on top of my head.

post #5797 of 5803

For the record I also found the HD800 sound stage underwhelming. The thing is it gets hyped to the moon so expectations are likely out of alignment with what actually gets delivered. Calling the HD800 sound stage 1 out of 10 is ludicrous however, compare it to other headphones not against the imaginary hype and impossible goal of competing with a surround sound speaker set up.

post #5798 of 5803

I like the sound of HD800 but do you guys also experience that after about 30 minutes of listening, your ears begin to hurt from the sound? Like your ears are being pierced? Don't get me wrong, the earpads are extremely comfortable but the discomfort seems to come from the sound itself.


Edited by karzai - 6/11/14 at 10:41pm
post #5799 of 5803

Binaural recordings don't work 100% perfectly, since they are recorded with a dummy head which has average dummy ears.

Your brain is used to hear with your uniquely shaped ears.

So the sound cues recorded by the dummy head  which are important for positioning are a little different than

what your brain is used to.

Thats why the front positioning is off. This has nothing to do with headphone.

 

For an almost perfect speaker like simulation a smyth realiser A8 is needed.

It also has an output for bass shakers to simulate the visceral feeling.

 

The HD800 by its own still sounds like a headphone. But compared to other headphones

it has one of the biggest and most precise soundstages.

 

Concerning sound fatigue: Don't push the volume too loud. Because of the low distortion

of the HD800 one is tempted to constantly raise the volume.

 

Personally what also helped me with ear fatigue:

I EQ two peaks in the treble region down by 6dB.


Edited by frix - 6/11/14 at 11:52pm
post #5800 of 5803

Yeah, I also noticed that although I crank the volume a little bit, I don't seem to feel that it's loud enough. And when I remove it and put it some distance away, I could hear that the music playing through the phone is quite loud. This actually baffles me.

post #5801 of 5803

It has been a very interesting journey in the head-fi so far with many headphones assessed the past year.  The ones I kept so far are the AD1000X, Pre-fazor LCD 2.2, TH900, HE-6.  Tried the HE-560 and liked everything else with the exception of the earpad being way too small along with a slight diminished image.

 

Now with a recently addition of the HD800 (s/n also in the 30XXX), I can't help but to agree with Karzai on it's soundstage and tonality.  Just as Karzai, I have read so many pages on the HD800 before making my decision since I wanted to complete my collection with one last headphone specifically targeted for soundstage and imaging.

 

My initial impression left me wondering what happened to the brightness that everyone was talking about along with the sense of unfullfilled expectation of a huge soundstage that was being constantly mentioned.  The HE-6, AD1000X and TH900 all have a brighter response.  Don't get me wrong, the sound from the HD800 is taut, smooth, and extremely accurate to the point being too sterile.  

 

At least that neutralness is being concurred with all that was read.  I was really expecting the upper end to be more revealing of details compared to my other cans.  One thing though, the vocal image produced from the HD800 is very 3D but missing only the larger and wider expected soundstage IMHO.

 

With all my cans, I use either Halide, HRT, or the NFB 11.32  as DAC and driving with either ADCOM GFA-545 (vintage 100W/per 8ohms) or the hybrid tube/SS SOHA2.

 

So either I received a defective pair or the new tuned 800 is really different than the one from a few years ago.  The thread on old 800 different than new 800 have many pages of members describing the differences - old = bright, harsh, soundstage goes on forever; and new = smooth, tamed highs, not as airy, great bass response sums it up.

 

Do you all agree?

post #5802 of 5803

They need time to break in. They're extremely revealing of the recording and reproduction chain.

post #5803 of 5803

i have HD800 about six month and i have issue with mid frequency. mid frequencies are very dark and not to separate. i don't know how can i fix it.

but High Frequencies are very separate and enjoyable.

 

i tried lots of Equlizer for that. this is my last Equlizer:

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/74c5/zwl9k75m1n99919fg.jpg

 

by the way separation is very good at all.

 

my DAC is Creative X-FI Elite Pro and HD800 is directly connected to it. i tried my iphone headphone with the same DAC and mid Frequencies wasn't bad at all.

my HD800 serial is 153xx. is it my DAC or HD800 always perform like this with other DACs? better DACs like Zodiac 192 kHz DAC or HDVD800 can fix my problem?

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