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HD800 vs DX1000

post #1 of 90
Thread Starter 
Here I am, on record in Head-Fi, stating that a comparison between the HD800 and the HD650 is a stretch, and proposing to compare two headphones as different as the HD800 and the DX1000. But some rogue lobe tells me it must be done.

In this corner: The FOTM, culmination of years of R&D by what is arguably the greatest headphone company of all time, the clear window on the music, the Plastic Fantastic, the H-D-8-0-0!

(wild applause; noticing some audience members making warding signs, and cautiously stowing their wallets out of sight)

In this corner: King of the Woodies (quick glare at the booing R10 corner)...King of the currently-produced Woodies...(ignoring booing from some guys with "Denon" on their T-shirts)...the Man from Japan, the Hall that Enthralls, the Dee-Ex-1-thousand!

(scattered enthusiastic applause, confused muttering.)

Let's get Ready to Ruuuuuumble!

Round 1: Classical (Various Mozart Violin concertos, Sinfonia Concernante)

HD800: I am in the room where the recording was made. It sounds great. I lose track of time. Wow.

DX1000: Whoa! So lively, so much personality from the soloist. This is so amazing.

Scoring:

HD800 points for superb representation
DX1000 points for vivacious life

Verdict: Tie.

Round 2: Classical (Piano Concertos. Mozart. The ref likes Mozart)

HD800: Nearly perfect representation of the instrument.
DX1000: Eh. Doesn't sound right.

Scoring:

HD800: all points for the round
DX1000: scratch

Verdict: HD800 by a mile. DX1000 took serious body shots and is looking wobbly.

Round 3: Grateful Dead (the ref is a Deadhead)

HD800: Great. Such details. Such transparency. Like hearing just what is in the recording.
DX1000: Jerry "makes it cry and makes it sing" with voice and guitar. Phil's smile is almost visible. The joy comes through. Like being there.

Verdict: DX1000 achieves knockdown, does little dance before being pushed to the corner by ref. Rules are rules.

Round 4: Bluegrass (Hot Rize live. Specifically, "Walk the Way the Wind Blows." The ref loves Hot Rize.)

HD800: Every nuance of every string contact is there. Sweet. Harmonies are beautifully rendered. Tim O'Brien's voice is right there like it's real.

DX1000: Oh, that's right, there's bass. (the ref has been equalizing bass up on the HD800s lately, but not in competition). And Tim O'Brien's voice is so very sweet, and the emotional mournful quality of the song comes through, and the vocals combine better.

Scoring:

HD800: Plenty of points for a great representation
DX1000: Even more points for getting the emotion of the song right.

Verdict: DX1000

Round 4: Led Zeppelin (Kashmir, Physical Graffiti)

HD800: Rocks big time. Hey, I can hear nuances of Page's playing I never heard before. Great impact on the violins and horns. Love it.

DX1000: Emotions and rasp in Plant's voice, echoey quality to the violins, much more impact to the instrumental chorus and the kick drums and the low guitar.

Scoring:

HD800: Plenty of points for presenting this the way I remember it when I was a turbulent teen.

DX1000: Even more points, for presenting it better than I remember it.

Verdict: DX1000

Round 5: Dire Straits (Down to the Waterline)

HD800: Perfection. The quiet background, the dry beauty of the song, the solos, and the impact of the transition into the full-on rocking of the song is just right, and better than I've ever heard it.

DX1000: The sweet resonance of the cans disturbs the stark, lonely waterfront feel that this song evinces. It rocks, and the bass is great, but it sort of misses the point.

Verdict: HD800 scores a solid body punch that staggers the DX1000.

I suppose I could keep this up for quite a while, but I'll skip to the final decision: I want to keep both of these cans. Neither is a substitute for the other, and both are, to my ears, incredibly great. I acknowledge that the HD800 is the greater technical triumph, taking on the more challenging task of near-perfect representation and making good on it. But I have to tip my hat to those guys in Japan who took on the laborious challenge of trying out 50 prototype woodie cups, to make such a wonderfully engaging can as the DX1000.

Be warned that many have bought, and then sold, the DX1000. They don't fit all ears, to be sure. But they've stuck in a number of hands, including mine, in a way that would take a serious pry bar to dislodge.
post #2 of 90
I love your comparison. If you made this up, you're pretty creative and have a knack for writing.
post #3 of 90
x2. Great comparison. I really enjoyed reading it. However, I feel that the DX1000 should be compared more to the D7000. The HD800 is in a different league. Also, you have two round #4s.
post #4 of 90
what's You rig if You can eq with it ?? ( source, IC, amp. ) - accept for that good read
post #5 of 90
Beautifully done!

Also, I think you got the scoring about right, based upon my memory of the JVC DX1000 and what I hear now in the HD800.

The HD800 is not in another league, unless details are all that matter!

Thanks to this thread and what I've heard from the 800, I am considering another look at the DX1000. I also am seeing that the HD650 is not completely left in the dust.

Sennheiser reportedly considered making different "flavors" of the HD800, to better suit the sound characteristics favored in different regions of the world. I guess sort of like Kodak used to do - and may still do - with their slide film, which often came in both "romantic" and more "neutral" versions. And sort of the way that the more neutral HD600 was followed by the more lush HD650.

I want the more romantic, lush, but still superb HD850! Or else the DX1000 in the interim................
post #6 of 90
I enjoyed reading that review. I would like to ask, what headphone has the better soundstage? I have read many comments stating that both have great soundstage, but have never read of anyone comparing both directly.

Cheers.
post #7 of 90
I am going to have to listen to the HD800. I had a DX1000 and did not care for it, the treble was very rolled off. Yes the confort, bass, low to mid mids were great but it lacked extension.

My concern reading this review is how highly the OP thinks of the DX1000 as compared w/ the HD800.
post #8 of 90
I enjoyed this comparison. I will probably not get a chance to hear either.

Maybe someday...

I think its interesting (and maybe disappointing?) That more than one can is necessary to get the sound(s) people want. Seems that's just the way it is, though.
post #9 of 90
Thanks for a nice review.

Eventually, you may need to own more than one quality headphones for perceiving different moods from your music collection.
post #10 of 90
Very entertaining to read. Someday I'll get to listen to the HD800
post #11 of 90
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the kind words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IPodPJ View Post
However, I feel that the DX1000 should be compared more to the D7000. The HD800 is in a different league. Also, you have two round #4s.
Oops. And no doubt, it's a weird comparison do be doing, and there are other, more sensible pairings. But there they both were, sitting on my desk, and suddenly the whole thing seemed inevitable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Possédé View Post
I would like to ask, what headphone has the better soundstage? I have read many comments stating that both have great soundstage, but have never read of anyone comparing both directly.
That is a darned good question. Both do have great soundstage, but the soundstages are so different in character that I don't really have an opinion about which is better. The HD800 soundstage seems to be floating in the air around your head, ethereal, delicate, almost magical. The DX1000 soundstage is more like being in a well-designed concert hall, hearing how the carefully designed room resonances make things sound good there. Or not so good, if the resonances aren't so appropriate to what you're listening to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by piotr z View Post
what's You rig if You can eq with it ?? ( source, IC, amp. ) - accept for that good read
You can see my rig by clicking on my name. I'm certainly willing to put it in a sig if that's the standard here. But the answer to this question is pretty mundane, because my source is a computer, so EQ is not hard to find.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
The HD800 is not in another league, unless details are all that matter!
It's in another league technically. The disconnection of the space in which the music is being played, from the physical headphone, is remarkable, as is the mix of details and lack of harshness, as is the sense of transparency. But musically, I agree, and my ears find them to be of comparable subjective quality, albeit extremely different in character.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
Sennheiser reportedly considered making different "flavors" of the HD800, to better suit the sound characteristics favored in different regions of the world. I guess sort of like Kodak used to do - and may still do - with their slide film, which often came in both "romantic" and more "neutral" versions. And sort of the way that the more neutral HD600 was followed by the more lush HD650.

I want the more romantic, lush, but still superb HD850! Or else the DX1000 in the interim................
That is very interesting; I hadn't heard that. And I'm not sure I'm ready to hear it now. A lusher version of the HD800 would be a hard thing to resist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
I am going to have to listen to the HD800. I had a DX1000 and did not care for it, the treble was very rolled off. Yes the confort, bass, low to mid mids were great but it lacked extension.
I can understand that. I'm one of those who finds any slight harshness in the treble to be unlistenable, so phones that address that with some rolloff, like HD650 and DX1000 are fine with me, and trebly phones like Grados simply off of my list. I do get more highs with the DX1000 than with the HD650.

In a way, the thing that is most remarkable to me about the HD800 is that the highs are fully present, yet they are generally enjoyable, without harshness. That's impressive, and not something I'd encountered before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
My concern reading this review is how highly the OP thinks of the DX1000 as compared w/ the HD800.
One could make the case that the whole post was about my inability to definitively decide the question in general, even if the answer is clear for individual styles and tracks.

Intellectually, I'm considerably more impressed by the HD800, because it gives such an impression of fidelity and truth. One wants to give it much more credit because its aspirations are higher and harder. And I have to concede that the DX1000 is not a reference, that it clearly has colorations to a much greater extent. It was built to sound good, and, to my ears, it succeeds wildly. So I'd put them on equal footing, as achievements, relative to their own goals, and give the HD800 the engineering trophy. If you put my feet to the fire, and said that one was going to be taken away tomorrow, and which would I keep, I'd really have a hard time. I absolutely do not want to give up the way that acoustic music, most voices, and expressive jam band music sound on the DX1000. But it's not a good "this is my only headphone" headphone, because some stuff just doesn't mess well with it. So I'm continuing to abstain from that final judgment.
post #12 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by rangen View Post
[...] I suppose I could keep this up for quite a while, but I'll skip to the final decision: I want to keep both of these cans. Neither is a substitute for the other, and both are, to my ears, incredibly great. I acknowledge that the HD800 is the greater technical triumph, taking on the more challenging task of near-perfect representation and making good on it. But I have to tip my hat to those guys in Japan who took on the laborious challenge of trying out 50 prototype woodie cups, to make such a wonderfully engaging can as the DX1000.

Be warned that many have bought, and then sold, the DX1000. They don't fit all ears, to be sure. But they've stuck in a number of hands, including mine, in a way that would take a serious pry bar to dislodge.
Very nice post, rangen, fun and informative! Congrats on the masterful tongue-in-cheek style!

I can't speak about the HD800 from first-hand experience (not yet). But your impressions do coincide with what I can infer from what I've read about the Senn. Maybe you'll want to pursue the project of an HD800 vs. D7000 comparison? I posted a comparison between the Denon flagship and the DX1000 sometime ago, and much of what you've written here would apply to that battle too, mutatis mutandis. (The DX1000 takes a number of powerful body blows from the D7000 in the tonal-balance/extension/neutrality department, is saved by the bell at the end of the first round and comes back with a miraculous soundstaging/warmth/3D-"thereness" uppercut, at the beginning of the second round, from which the D7000 never recovers. Something like that! )

Still, I'm duty-bound to note that there seems to be a bit of Senn-hype infection (of which I bet you're not aware) here: You have these two giants locked in mortal combat, neither clearly knocking the other one out, and yet you claim that the HD800 is a "greater technical triumph". That's hard to understand, buddy!

(Oh, my!... I'm beginning to sound like a DX1000 militant! Goodness knows I've been rooting against the DX1000 for nearly two years now! But I just can't find a DX1000-killer! Had high hopes for the D7000, high hopes for the HD800...)

post #13 of 90
Very nice follow up rangen.
post #14 of 90
It would indeed be interesting to see how D7000 vs HD800 with rangen's Woo 6SE.

Very nice review & follow up rangen!
post #15 of 90
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundinista View Post
Still, I'll have to notice that there seems to be a bit of Senn-hype-infection here: You have these two giants locked in mortal combat, neither clearly knocking the other out, and yet you claim that the HD800 is a "greater technical triumph". That's hard to understand, buddy!
Not if you look at it with an engineer's hat on. I wasn't using "greater technical triumph" as another way of saying "better for the listener." What I meant was this: Imagine yourself leading an engineering team, and asked to build the ultimate woodie headphone, something that sounds really good. If I imagine that, I think of a mostly trial-and-error process, like Edison discovering what would work as a filament for his light bulb. You need a lot of persistence and a lot of experiments.

Now imagine that the goal is to build a headphone that just vanishes on your head, that can represent an amazingly wide frequency range, that can faithfully represent strings and piano and horn and voice alike, with a minimum of resonances. You need...whoa, what you need. Maybe a rethink of the driver. Analysis of where the resonances come from. Materials research and experimentation to address the resonances. Willingness to rethink concepts of shape, size, materials, structure, all in order to get to the goal.

I just think that the second team has a harder job, and a much higher chance of failure. So I'm more impressed when they succeed.
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