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Senn HD600/650 fans on the HD800 - owners only!

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
Now that the HD800 is officially out in the public's hands, I'm curious to hear how fans of the HD600's or HD650's think the HD800 fares in comparison.

I'd like to establish a few criteria for posting an opinion that:
1. You have to own & like the HD600's* or HD650's as your preferred reference.
2. You have to now also own a production version of the HD800's (no pre-production versions).
3. You have had an opportunity to compare them both, side-by-side, in the same rig (please note the source, amp, cables, music).
4. If you use/prefer an aftermarket cable, please note that in your post.

*HD580 owners also qualify, if you meet the other criteria.

FYI - I find words like "better" or "worse" don't always apply, and believe that qualified descriptions & comparisons are more helpful.

Discuss...

post #2 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg View Post
Now that the HD800 is officially out in the public's hands, I'm curious to hear how fans of the HD600's or HD650's think the HD800 fares in comparison.

I'd like to establish a few criteria for posting an opinion that:
1. You have to own & like the HD600's* or HD650's as your preferred reference.
2. You have to now also own a production version of the HD800's (no pre-production versions).
3. You have had an opportunity to compare them both, side-by-side, in the same rig (please note the source, amp, cables, music).
4. If you use/prefer an aftermarket cable, please note that in your post.

*HD580 owners also qualify, if you meet the other criteria.

FYI - I find words like "better" or "worse" don't always apply, and believe that qualified descriptions & comparisons are more helpful.

Discuss...

Very interesting thread,i was going to post a similar question but you post it first
I have hd 600(650 cable) and an x can v8 and i really like the combo.I'm going to try the hd 800 on the same amp(and same source/cables) and then i will report back with a mini review.
post #3 of 88
A friend of mine who has owned the HD650 w/ Equinox for years. He just fell in love with the HD800 after a serious comparison session, 5 hours !!

I agree with him that the HD800 offers incredible sounds, a lot better than his HD650. The HD800 wins hands-down, particularly on transparency, speed, accuracy, details, sound stage, and extensions.

I tried them with my beloved OMZ DAC/HEADAMP fed by a Universal DVD player w/ a very-low-noise spdif output, on various types of music. The differences are also clear on the Earmax SE.

BTW, the HD650 w/ Equinox is one of my favarite cans, but I own a DX1000 though.
LL
post #4 of 88
I happen to own the HD600, HD650 and HD800. The HD600 was my preference between the two HD6*0 models. The HD800 is sort of like an HD600 which has been given the luxury of a very wide soundstage and an improved transient attack more similar to Sony's best cans (R10, SA5000 and from what I'm told Qualia 010) I Want to express that while these are not ultra ultra bright headphones, the laidback and treble-reduced character of the HD600 and HD650 are not to be heard in the HD800, but what is heard is the same smoothness of tone. By contrast the HD600/650 are more in your face and the mix is sorta compressed because of the lack of a large soundstage. For some music this effect may be preferable, but not for me.

Just to reiterate the HD800 sound very much like a combo of the sennheiser house sound, but with added character of Sony's high end headphones....but possesses a soundstage which I feel beats both brands earlier feats in the dynamic headphone category.
post #5 of 88
((As an aside, but not to sidetrack this thread, bordins, where does the DX1000 fit between the HD6xx and the new 800?))

I've had some version of the HD580/Jubilee/600/650 since about 1994. Yikes.
I've used the HD650 and HD600 and HD800 the last few days out of both a CIA VHP-2/VAC-1 and an Akido-style tube amp from a friend, fed by a Marantz SA-11S2 SACD player. At the moment, my main listening is with a Stax OmegaII Mk.2/007tII, so that's thrown into the pot, too.

With the CIA, the HD650 is still easier to listen to - more mellow, makes poor recordings more pleasant - but with both amps, the HD800 makes the 650 sound about $1k less expensive. In all aspects of music reproduction, the 800 is "better."

But I still don't know if I could live with all that resolution and neutrality long-term. I like all of my recordings. The 650 has a unique, darker sound, and subjectively, to me, more bass on most recordings, a bass that isn't so much on the low end as it is shot through the spectrum, making the overall picture "warm" or "rich." The 800 can be threadbare at times, although not as much on the Akido; tubes may indeed come in handy with the HD800.

The Stax pulls off the neat trick of being a highly-resolving, high-end device without killing bad recordings. And yet the 800 isn't exactly hard to listen to, hence my problem. Err on the side of bright with the 800, or on the side of dark with the O2?

The HD600, since I find it more neutral than the 650, is really the can that loses here. Other than price, I see no reason for the 600 anymore; the 800 betters it up, down, and sideways, except, again, the 600 may be a tad easier to take on poor recordings. Sometimes.
post #6 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMahler View Post
I happen to own the HD600, HD650 and HD800. The HD600 was my preference between the two HD6*0 models. The HD800 is sort of like an HD600 which has been given the luxury of a very wide soundstage and an improved transient attack more similar to Sony's best cans (R10, SA5000 and from what I'm told Qualia 010) I Want to express that while these are not ultra ultra bright headphones, the laidback and treble-reduced character of the HD600 and HD650 are not to be heard in the HD800, but what is heard is the same smoothness of tone. By contrast the HD600/650 are more in your face and the mix is sorta compressed because of the lack of a large soundstage. For some music this effect may be preferable, but not for me.

Just to reiterate the HD800 sound very much like a combo of the sennheiser house sound, but with added character of Sony's high end headphones....but possesses a soundstage which I feel beats both brands earlier feats in the dynamic headphone category.
Do you feel that the hd 800 have a little sibilance at times,compared to the hd 600's?I really like the nice smooth,warm and polite sound of the hd 600,and the soundstage also improved when i paired them with the x can v8.
post #7 of 88
i'm sure i'll do a comparison of these headphones at some point. from what i have heard so far, i expect the 800 to win out in most (if not all) areas.
post #8 of 88
Jpelg, you have over 7000 posts. How can you compare these?

Now onto the OPs request:

I own the hd650 w/SAA Equinox and it has been my go to phone for a very long time. I'm amping with the Headamp GS-1 from the DAC1 ....lossless source from the itransport from wadia and this comparison is unfair to the HD650/HD600...listen, many don't want to believe it but the 800 IS in a different league...one listen and you know it outclasses the lower priced siblings. I couldn't compare a ford escort/fusion to a BMW 5 series...wouldn't do it...why would you want to and what would you hope to accomplish?

Again, yes the 800 wins in all categories X2 and for the purpose of the OP...
transient response -winner hd800
Lush mids -winner hd800
refined bass w/no coloration -winner hd800
Clarity/resolution -winner hd800
Comfort -winner hd800
Cable MF -winner hd800 w/stock cable
Soundstage -winner hd800
Separation/layering -winner hd800

Note: IMHO No Sibilance whatsoever on the 800....only lush well defined mids and clear, resolved highs.

Listen, some people like an overwhelmingly bassy sound to all of their music, I do not. I only like the most faithful reproduction of the artists product. I like to let the artists do the coloring....they do the mixing and we consume their product as they intended it. You wouldn't take a piece of art by Michael angelo and decide to cover it with yellow to "improve" it ....no, hope not....would you take a piece of fine literature and add a chapter to "improve" it...no, I wouldn't. If Jpelg put out an original cd, it is HIS form of expression, he oversaw/approved the mix, decided where it would be recorded so that the acoustics of the studio, church, venue would be reflected in the art, the emotion he expresses is carefully honed by the artist to form a collective body of work that is a song. I listen to jpelg's expression as he intends me to hear it and this is my goal in listening and working to achieve this.

But, hey, I know...this is what I'm working to achieve. No added warmth by tubes or mods or tricks or tales.

Peace
post #9 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumonron View Post
Jpelg, you have over 7000 posts. How can you compare these?

Now onto the OPs request:

I own the hd650 w/SAA Equinox and it has been my go to phone for a very long time. I'm amping with the Headamp GS-1 from the DAC1 ....lossless source from the itransport from wadia and this comparison is unfair to the HD650/HD600...listen, many don't want to believe it but the 800 IS in a different league...one listen and you know it outclasses the lower priced siblings. I couldn't compare a ford escort/fusion to a BMW 5 series...wouldn't do it...why would you want to and what would you hope to accomplish?

Again, yes the 800 wins in all categories X2 and for the purpose of the OP...
transient response -winner hd800
Lush mids -winner hd800
refined bass w/no coloration -winner hd800
Clarity/resolution -winner hd800
Comfort -winner hd800
Cable MF -winner hd800 w/stock cable
Soundstage -winner hd800
Separation/layering -winner hd800

Note: IMHO No Sibilance whatsoever on the 800....only lush well defined mids and clear, resolved highs.

Listen, some people like an overwhelmingly bassy sound to all of their music, I do not. I only like the most faithful reproduction of the artists product. I like the artists do the coloring....they do the mixing and we consume their product as they intended it. You wouldn't take a piece of art by Michael angelo and decide to cover it with yellow to "improve" it ....no, hope not....would you take a piece of fine literature and add a chapter to "improve" it...no, I wouldn't.
I hope my local dealer will give me a pair of hd 800's for a couple of days to try them and compare them to my hd 600's.
It's nice that you don't experience any sibilance.I should also say that i don't like bassy sound but neither bright sound.
what i can understand till now is that the 800 is one of the most neutral headphones on the market and when paired with right equipment they can give one of the most "fair" reproduction of the music,but still enjoyable and involving.Can't wait to try them!
post #10 of 88
Phones: hd600, hd650, he60, and hd800
Source: Azur 840c
Amp: Balanced Bijou
Cables: Balanced APS v3 hd6x0 and balanced APS v3 hd800


The difference?

Percussion: Kick drum has lower, clearer response, where the timbre difference between all the drums in the kit (kick drum, mounted toms, floor tom and snare) are all easily distinguishable, not 'just a drum' over either hd6x0. The cymbals have the proper ZZZzzzzzzzzz decay, and other things like rattles, congas, and yes even cowbell sound more distinct. Xylephone has a very nice shimmer as well.

Strings: I have noticed on guitar more depth in the soundboard, and more distinct string noise, both hitting frets and from fingers sliding along before chording. Compressed chords (Soundgarden, Janes Addiction, Tool) all seem do have more depth and better balanced overtones, and not just a shallow nod at overtones as the hd6x0. Oh, and listening to all the overdubbed layers is quite revealing, especially when there are 3 or 4 layers like in jane's Addiction 'Stop', where the PRS (Paul Reed Smith) guitar shows a signature of it's own, unlike a strat or LP. Harpsichord is just cutting, like they do in person - kinda eerie, oh and with it's additional mechanical noises. Piano again has more resonance from the soundboard, not just the strings, and much more pronounced key / pedal noise, like in person up close, but maybe not at the back of the hall, or mic'd.

Reverb: here is a real distinct win for the hd800 - you can get the rolling texture of reverb, not just _some_ ebb and flow, but the roll of the wave. Oh, and you can feel the reverb... actual vibrating of the earpads, not unlike bass you can fee from a subwoofer, albeit just around your ears.

Vocals: More crisp and enunciated, where lyrics are more legible, and presented in a way you can understand the words - in almost all cases. A clear step up from both hd6x0 presentations.

Bass: Ripped, taught, and with impact, at least on my rig. Hd600 is taught, but not ripped, and with lesser impact, but at a detriment to other instruments, depending on the recording, where this is especially true with The Who, almost across the board. The hd800 balanced this out quite well.

Balance: All things in better proportion - not flat (whatever that means), but NOTHING is presented in preference at the expense of others.

Weakness: that is the real story - hd650 has a bass hump, hd600 is a little bass shy, hd600 a little grainy on the high frequencies, and the hd650 silky right in the middle. The hd800 is balanced, and does nothing poorly - it truly strives to do everything well, and leaves no note behind.
post #11 of 88
^^ great impressions.
post #12 of 88
Pabbi, have you had the chance to compare the hd800 single-ended vs your balanced pair?

Since I have received my HD800, I have been burning them in non-stop and listening quite a bit too. I only compared them to my hd650/zu mobius v1 for a minute (literally) and haven't looked back since. That must go to show you how much better they are to me and all I am listening to is the music.
post #13 of 88
Just got my HD800. I also own a HD650 w/ Zu Mobius mkII. Will make some comparison after my HD800 is fully burned in
post #14 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianS View Post
Pabbi, have you had the chance to compare the hd800 single-ended vs your balanced pair?
Sorry, I don't have any SE gear.
post #15 of 88
I have to stretch a little to call my HD650 my "preferred reference," given my affection for my DX1000s, but I can squeak through a loophole, because the DX1000 is in no sense a reference, it's just big ol' happy fun music festival.

The HD800 is a startling piece of gear, seriously more ambitious than the HD650 in a way that makes it seem a little odd to be comparing them. I don't even see that much family resemblance; the HD800 seems more like some high-end speaker systems I've heard, than it does like the HD650. So much clarity, and yet without high-end harshness (once broken in; they did seem pretty hard initially).

650 Advantages

- Draws a pleasant layer of gauze over shortcomings in your audio chain
- A bit more bass?

800 Advantages

- um, completely outclasses the 650? Gives the appearance of lucidly presenting exactly what it is given, in a large and appealing soundstage.
- Much, much more detail

I don't know about you, but when I hear that a headphone presents a lot of detail, I think of the phrase "mercilessly revealing," and it's not an appealing phrase, giving the impression of a headphone that is almost eager to make you suffer if there's a flaw to be found anywhere. I don't think that applies to the HD800. I guess I'd call it "incredibly revealing, but with some mercy."

The HD650 bass may have a touch more intensity, in terms of air movement, but the HD800 seems to make up for that with a lower reach, and with the clarity of its bass presentation. There's just more impact on my brain from hearing "the clear plucking of a bass string" than from hearing "a bass note." I do confess that for some recordings, I like to EQ up the bass a bit on the HD800. I just started doing that recently, so we'll see if I stick with it. When I do, or with a bassy recording, there is no question of the HD800s ability to represent impressive bass.

The number of recordings on which I would prefer the HD650 to the HD800 is quite small, and limited to those on which a realistic presentation is just not what I want. Accurate representation is all very well, but if someone stuck a mic 8 inches from a cymbal being banged in my ear a couple of times a second, I'd just as soon draw a nice soft curtain over it. An example is Buddy Holly's wonderful song "Well...All Right," off of The Buddy Holly Collection. I don't know what that thing is that sounds like a cross between a damped cymbal and a cowbell, but someone's banging on it right in my ear, as loud as Holly's guitar, and it ruins the track for me on the HD800. Ditto significant tape hiss, and people talking near the recording stand.

(Update: with more break-in, the cymbal (I think that's what it is) is less offensive. I can now listen to Well... All Right, with only the occasional glance of irritation toward the percussionist. Thank goodness. Definitely let your HD800s break in before any final decisions, especially if you're treble-sensitive like me)

So, what about the HD650's liquidy sweet midrange? Does the HD800 have that? No, not exactly, but I don't miss it. It's like trading "a special effect that covers up imperfections in a way that is very musical and pleasant" for "something a whole lot closer to perfect representation, but which still sounds very musical and pleasant."
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