boomana is right - the HD800 are great - but touchy and erratic SOBs, and I don't know why.
I'm using them here with a CIA VHP-2/VAC-1 and with a friend's Akido tube amp, and while the potential is clearly there - the detail is awesome - they just don't sound like something I want to listen to every day. I'm sure that they can be made that way - given good recordings, as well - but I can't justify the expense, hassle, time, etc., of running through a million amps and sources to get them that way.
I guess I'll let all you guys do that for me for the next year or so.
My first impressions:
1) more detail than I've ever had from any headphone, and by a lot; which can lead -
2) many recordings to not sound as musical as other headphones make them.
3) Brightness. Sorry, these "neutral" cans sound a tad on the painful side, again, especially with poorer recordings.
After two hours on these, my ears are ringing. After two hours on the Stax, I'm ready for love.
4) Bass issues/lack of bass impact. Again, sorry. The bass is there if it's in the recording, but it's intellectual bass, not emotional bass.
Lots of people are going to begin rationalizing this - and they already are - and I'm sure that killer amps will help, but the HD800 is one of the most bass-shy, impotent cans out there.
5) Discontinuity/not musical. The HD800 reminds me, at least at this stage and with non-heroic amps, a bit of the K701, which always sounded to me like the music was running off down the road, legs akimbo, hair on fire, nothing glued together into an organic, musical whole. Gawd, the 800 is much, much better than the 701 at this, but still, it made me remember the 701.
Overall, I get the impression of a tremendous headphone, but a skittish racehorse that needs patient trainers with endless supplies of cash, and, perhaps, a bit of whipping.
I think that it is key to pay attention to what boomana says about the variations that she has observed, even with limited exposure. The 800 varies from not just disc to disc, but from cut to cut and moment to moment, even musical passage to musical passage.
Why is this? What is going on?