I replied to the individual parts in the quote itself, because I'm lazy.
Kind of an interesting argument, although most here have probably read this over a billion times already.
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...
Me: I don't believe that these cables will ever become mainstream unless technology becomes so advanced that it costs nothing to produce ultra-high-purity cables. I also think that these mods will never become mainstream, these mods do change the sound signature AFAIK, everyone has a different taste after all. But I love the HD800s as they are and I don't think you can say that those mods make it better, I'd say it would make them different. I assume that Sennheiser knows what they're doing, I don't think they're some retards.
Sure he does a lot of labor, I'm not saying he's ripping you off. If you both believe in cables (I'm not saying that custom cables make no difference, that's my opinion) than yeah... enjoy your cables.
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.
Me: I'm not saying that it's placebo, and I do, in fact, have good ears. There might be a slight-slight difference which, to my belief, just isn't audible to the human ear. Also, ranting does not mean that I'm angry. I'm just giving my opinion (in a bitchy manner, probably) about a certain subject, no point about talking about this "my boiling blood" though, as that is all subjective.
Gold-plating was kind of random, I admit that. But there is just no advantage to gold plating. If your connector is rusting, you are doing something wrong. I'll leave the argument about gold-plating behind as it has nothing to do with cables.
I've never heard any custom cables because there is just no place to test them out in the Netherlands... yeah, well, that sucks.
I don't know that much about topology, but I can't imagine it making a difference. And does it even matter? AFAIK, the way the cable's molecules (the actual wire) is bound (isotopes and what not) does not make a difference. And if it does, it's way, way, way too small to be noticed by anything in this world made by humans. I don't believe in making cables in a different way, its not like there is a atom called "love" or something like that. It's all about what rolls out, doesn't matter if a Chinese kid did it or if a masterful company somewhere in America did it. In the end, it's all about the stupid electrons going from A to B. And there is just no proof that they'll "move" any different with a specially built cable with special™. My father used to be a guy in the pro-audio world and they used really simple cables (not poor quality ones though) there and just soldered some plugs on them myself. No special penta-helix (random example, not sure if it exists) and stuff like that.
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.
Me: I agree about the emotions part, but emotions are what causes all the problems on this world. That's why war and what not exists in the first place. But it is at the same time what makes humans "human" (and other animals in general).
About the vinyl, if they are exactly the same (measured the same waveform, exactly, completely 100% the same thing) you wouldn't notice any difference. But because of the fact that it is analog, it can have all kinds of interference. Now I'm not sure about things in this department, but perhaps the heating up of part X causes it to sound "better", or perhaps it's the temperature of the air or whatever the hell it is. Analog is unreliable unless played back in a (non-existent) perfect location.
This also makes digital wrong, because at a point it went to digital and that chip isn't perfect as well, same with the DAC and everything else.
The small differences in these things is because the manufacturing process isn't accurate enough.
If 3D printers get advanced enough, I think that this problem would be solved. With machinery used currently, it isn't possible. Every single thing is slightly different. This would also mean the very measurement equipment used isn't perfect and that the standards are based upon something that isn't even perfect. There have been no blind tests (that I know of) where expensive, advanced cable X was rated better than standard cable Y by a lot of people. It's usually 50/50 or something like that.
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...
Me: The mod probably causes it so sound different, not better or worse because it's all subjective.
If you want the "real" sound you would have to get custom phones/something that is the reverse of the FR of your ear. Now I can only imagine how strange that would sound. And perhaps stock HD800 has 1 dust particle on the driver? Perfect just doesn't exist in this world, not in physical things.