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Sennheiser HD800 Appreciation Thread - Page 439
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Whew... James is pretty high $$. I asked if he measures his headphones after he does the Ultra Mod. He said the changes can't be measured. So I assume you got the Ultra Mod done. If so what positive or negative differences did you notice (subjectively of course)?
Let me say upfront that I in the past have invested enormous amounts of money on cables. I agree cables do make a difference, I also agree that it is difficult to quantify the differences in objective terms. Let me try to put the investment in cables into perspective. Most important thing to remind here is the law of diminishing returns versus your system sounds as good as the weakest link.
Let me give an example. A system that consists of a 500 dollar cd player and 500 dollar amplifier driving the Sennheiser HD800 with stock cables. I have 1000 dollar to spend, where would I spend it on? I would spend it on either the cd player or the amplifier, because I think the improvement of going from a 500 to a 1500 dollar cd player or amplifier is greater than the improvement I would get if I spend all my money on a headphone cable.
Now what if my system consists of a 10.000 dollar cd player and 10.000 dollar amplifier driving the Sennheiser HD800 with stock cable, and you have the same 1000 dollar to spend. Than I would spend the money on the headphone cable because I think that will give me most improvement. But in this system no matter where you spend the money on, the differences (improvements) are always more subtle than 1000 dollar spend in the first system. But I agree these subtle differences can make the final click to make your system magical, and as such although subtle can be profound.
Personally, I think I was stupid paying huge amounts of money on cables, but I am glad I did….Cables last a lifetime. That is why I agree with Fejnomid that you have to spend money on the most transparent and ‘neutral’ cables you can find. I would warn against spending money on cables as a tone control of your current system, because when you change things in your system you have to change the cables as well. And again, if your system is for instance too bright, you get more improvements from spending your money on a ‘warm’ cd player or amplifier than on a ‘warm’ cable. And if you use a tube amplifier, in my opinion changing tubes are a better and (sometimes) cheaper tone control of your system than cables.
Hope this helps.
Thanks playitloud, that's an informative post. Cables are something I think I initially overlooked, but now it's time I feel that I should invest more in them.
You are welcome. I forgot to mention one important thing. I personally believe that it is very important to know your system through and through. That means that you have spent a lot of time with it as it is, without changing all the time. Only if you know your system very well, you are able to 'analyze' and describe its signature. Based on your innate knowlegde about your systems' signature you can experiment with tubes and cables. Remember not to overdo it, and do not expect huge differences. But if you know your system well, you can hear subtle differences that allow you to finetune the sound coming from your system. Good luck..
Edited by playitloud - 2/7/13 at 7:51am
Few points to make here:
1) The myth of $10,000 components being better than $500 components. Boy is this not always the case. I think the spread in your example is too broad. Let's bring it down to earth. If you had a $1000 source and $1000 amp and the HD800, for example, I would still suggest spending any extra $1000 on cabling. Why wouldn't you bring the cables up to the same level as the components? Otherwise you are not actually hearing the components - you are hearing the cables as they choke off the signal.
2) I agree with getting to know your system. Relaxing into a system for a long time and not changing around too much - yes. All the more reason, I would argue, to get the right cabling so you can actually know what you are knowing, so to speak.
3) The reason people think cables make only a subtle difference is because almost all cables are made essentially the same way: thick conductors, Teflon dielectric, various types of shielding, "audiophile" connectors. They may change the shape of the conductor or the weave, they may add some cotton here or some air there, they may use a lot of fancy terminology to convince you that their shielding is better than someone else's, etc. but they are all built on essentially the same principles. And those principles are by and large wrong. Every one of those choices chokes off the signal, smears it and compresses it, to the point that what comes out the other end sounds more or less the same no matter who made the cable. Some better, for sure, some worse. It is absolutely shocking to me that outside of a few cable makers very very very few people are experimenting with different underlying cable construction principles, the most radical of which reads something like this: eliminate ALL dielectric, use the thinnest conductors possible, source or build connectors that have no smearing/compression effects -- in other words TAKE AWAY everything the "audiophile" cables are built from. Higher priced cabling does not mean better cabling, not by a long shot, just better marketing and rhetoric. So I'm not even advocating spending $1000 on cabling. In fact, you can modify your current cables to become MUCH more transparent - along the lines of what I've just described - simply with some wire strippers, some solder, some Deoxit and a small order from Parts Connexion. Strip away any sheathing, tubing, shielding, and expose your wires. Free them from each other - bundled wires are a bad idea. Use connectors with the LEAST amount of thick, plated metal (I know, heresy!), preferable building your own out of wood or a tone metal like brass. The difference will be staggering. I did this with a run-of-the-mill Kimber USB cable and turned it into a giant killer for about 3 hours worth of labor and no cost.
Anyway, you get my point. I could go on but I won't - there are POV differences here, that's all. Hope this makes sense. Back to topic...
How much, prep?
The fact that it can't be measured makes me laugh, the human ear is really a piece of **** compared to a lot of animals and especially when compared to equipment. I'm really skeptical about cables, now a proper OFC cable is needed, but not the 99,99999999999999999999% version with silver that and titanium this. Sure the electrons may move a bit faster and what not, but I wonder if it's actually measurable with equipment, I guess not. And I'm sure that the human ear just can't hear the difference. Humans need to stop overrating themselves, we're not as "great" and "smart" as we think we are, we are just raping earth by burning all those fossil fuels after all. Only a small percentage of people truly cares about the people around them, money and status comes first for most. It's all about the "I have a $5000 this and you don't have it!"-factor.
Even the stock HD800 cable is overkill imo. But when you (once per month? year?) unplug the cable you at least have the worthless gold plating that makes your e-peen grow, right?
I'm sure that it's a psychological thing trick, just like kids who feel better when you give them some fake medicine. The same trick works with adults when they're getting sea sick. If you truly believe in something, it will, no matter what, work for you and, in this case, you "can" hear the difference.
If there is no measurable difference, there is no difference to be heard, it's all in the head. But if audio if your hobby, and you have everything already and have money to spend, why not spend it on a cable than? This is fine by me, but it's just like putting a 2560x1440 resolution on a 12" macbook. Completely useless, requires more processing power and drains the battery faster because of it. Although in the case of audio there is not even a measurable difference.
End of "rant", time to go lurking.
Edited by MelvinV - 2/7/13 at 12:06pm
that $1k that was quoted includes the cable and wood connectors, not just the mods. $700 for the cable hardly seems outlandish given the cost of "audiophile" cabling... the fact that james charges as much as he does is because of the labor involved in making his cables and in doing his modifications, not to mention the countless hours of listening and comparing he has done to arrive at these cables and modifications... so it's like the tesla of the headphone cable world - the early adopters will have to pay a premium for the r&d...
MelvinV, you have no idea what you're talking about. your knee-jerk reaction that if it's expensive it must only be the placebo effect is not substantiated by anyone with good ears. how about calming down long enough to let the blood drain from your yours and give a listen... where did gold-plating come into the discussion? have you ever subjectively tested different cable topologies? if so, then name the cables. if not, then your rant is falling on deaf ears. if you'd read my post, you would see that i am NOT advocating spending heaps of money of cables. if you read my post you would see that, in fact, i advocate the opposite. i advocate either ripping apart your current cables to free them from grunge, or having the courage to seek out someone who makes cables a different way from all the cables you have ever heard. not fancy crystalline structures and other voodoo. different ways of making a cable.
and regarding measureability. the corollary of what you are saying is that scientific measurement trumps all. trumps subjective hearing. trumps emotion. trumps the countless uncontrollable variables that are always introduced into non-perfect, real-life listening scenarios. i'll give you a little hint: measurements don't measure **** -- except some impossible-to-corroborate, innate character of a piece of equipment prior to it actually being used by a human. if you want to know how a machine "listens" - then great. now you know. if you want to know how a human listens, then spend a long time listening. a long long time. then come back with your findings. if you've ever listened to vinyl then you know there can be six albums from the same company, same pressing, same pressing date, using the same master tapes, etc. and all with the same frequency measurements yet there is one that sounds head and shoulders above the rest. it can't be measured, at least not always. there is a certain way the frequencies come together - with your equipment of course - and that record is the one you want to play over and over. same thing with tubes. exact some construction, same date code, same measurements on all the testers, and yet one sounds better. i would actually call you out as suffering from a reverse-placebo effect: your anger and mistrust of anything you don't know and can't know will never allow you to hear the differences.
if we lived nearer I would invite you over to listen to the stock HD800 and the modded/re-cabled HD800 and then you would know...
... I guess not. And I'm sure that the human ear just can't hear the difference. Humans need to stop overrating themselves, we're not as "great" and "smart" as we think we are, we are just raping earth by burning all those fossil fuels after all. Only a small percentage of people truly cares about the people around them, money and status comes first for most. It's all about the "I have a $5000 this and you don't have it!"-factor.
Revolution I say!
Yeah, **** those with money and power and status! Let's make them rich ****s into peasants and see how things go!
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