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REVIEW: Sennheiser HD 800 - Page 12

post #166 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post
Skylab, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review and the discussion that follows. Thank you very much for taking the time to write it.
Thank you for taking the time to read it, and to comment.


Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post
I've been debating with myself about posting a comment especially since what I have to say is somewhat critical. I've decided to speak out because I think my concerns are important for a forum that lives and dies by the written review. In the end, it's not what a writer says so much as how he says it that counts. For example, it doesn't matter if s/he praises or pisses on a product as long as he makes an effort to be objective, fair, and logical.
And here is where I take serious issue with your comments. I have no issue with anyone's differences with my findings on sound, and I will not comment on your differences there - we all hear things differently. However, you also chose to attack my review in several ways I do find troubling, and those I will comment on. It is very surprising to me that you felt the need to be critical of the review itself, rather than the findings, and I disagree strongly with your criticism of the review methodology, which I will outline. But quite frankly, your motives are clearly still just to show that your view of the HD800 is the "correct" one, and as such, I wish you had kept the debate over the SOUND, like virtually everyone else who has posted in this thread. But you didn't, so here goes.


Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post

Skylab, you say that you're approaching this review "with no pre-conceived notions," but you make it clear, especially in the conclusion, that the $1400 pricetag is the most critical factor in your review. Twice you use the phrase "in the context of a $1,400 headphone." You also say, "In the case of a headphone that costs $1,400, I think we have the right to expect a lot." Finally, you say, "I’m not going to be buying a pair, given that they cost $1,400."

The point is that you've approached this review from the perspective of cost. You're measuring the HD800 against your preconceived notion of what a $1400 pair of cans ought to sound like. Thus, the review begs the question: What should a $1400 headphone sound like? Is there a $1400 SQ that you're aware of that we're not privy to? If yes, what is it?
I think you missed the point, which is simply this - $1,400 is a healthy amount of money to spend on a headphone, and such headphones should be held to high standards, IMO. This is not as preconceived notion of any kind, nor is it a bias - it's a very obvious thing, really.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post


Another point that you make regards objectivity. In your opening paragraph, you present the odd premise that ownership of a piece of equipment automatically discredits a reviewer's opinion. You claim that a non-owner, e.g., a borrower, is therefore more objective. You toss out an explanation that includes something about buyer "euphoria" and "remorse," but it doesn't come close to proving that owners are automatically biased.

Take yourself, for example. You own much of the equipment used in your review -- headphones, amps, etc. And you use your judgment of their quality as a gauge to measure the HD800. Are you saying that because you own the equipment, we can't take your claims seriously? Yes or no, you're caught in a logical bind.

Furthermore, you contradict yourself when you say, "Please note that I am NOT saying that the views of the people who own them are not valid, or any less valid than my opinion. ALL opinions are equally valid." But that's exactly what you say -- if you own the HD800, you can't be objective.
I did *NOT* say that if you own HD800's you are biased - you are reading that into my comments, and those are YOUR words, not mine. I wish you would refrain from such things - it's not right to criticize a review under your own conclusions of what it says, not what it actually says. In fact, I was very clear that to say, as you even posted, that it is NOT the case that owner's opinions are not valid. I simply said that *I* had no bias related to owning them. However, your whole reply to my thread shows that there is emotion in your thoughts related to your being an owner, and as such, you are helping to make my point that sometimes it does help to be able to review things that you do not own.

The vast majority of things I review I do not own when I review them, although sometimes I like them enough to buy them later. I have tended NOT to review things I buy just for my own enjoyment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post

You also try to give us the impression that you've eliminated the effects of other gear such as sources and amps in your exhaustive tests, thus isolating the HD800's true qualities. You say, "I used 6 different sources (all with their own set of high-quality cables), 9 different amps, and lots and lots of the world's finest recordings."

You say, "I believe this is more than sufficient to eliminate the other variables, and to decide what characteristics belong solely to the headphones themselves." I wonder. In any careful test, a clear explanation of methodology is criticial. How you obtained your data will determine the quality of your results. Yet you don't explain how you went about testing and how you decided on a fair range of equipment. If I remember correctly, threads on how best to compare head-fi equipment have always ended in tremendous controversy. Few if any can agree on what, exactly, constitutes a fair test.
Yes, I did explain this, in the review, you must have missed it. I match levels on all tests to exactly 80dbA using the Rives Test CD2, so that the level from the headphones is identical from each amp and source, and when comparative headphones are being evaluated. This is far more rigorous than any other head-fi reviewer I know of, and indeed than many "big magazine" reviewers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post

You conclude, "The HD800 do not, IMO, change their own character radically from amp to amp." You obviously didn't use the HeadRoom Ultra Desktop. And I'm sure others could add the names of many other amps that weren't included in your study. Thus, your conclusion begs the question, Would a different set of amps produce different results? (See the list, below, of comments from this thread that directly or indirectly pose this very question.)

So because I didn't use your favorite amp, my findings are not valid? Again, you are trying to refute carefully arrived at results because you disagree with them. There is no need for that. You don't have to agree. But it's just silly to say that 9 amps is not a large enough sample. IT IS. I'm sure there are amps that will be rolled off enough in the treble to eliminate what I heard, but that doesn't mean that what I heard isn't there. Again, it's fine for everyone to LIKE their sound. But they HAVE a sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post
[SNIP]


Furthermore, the headphones and speakers you used hardly qualify as representative of references comparable to the HD800: B&W N800, JVC DX1000, and Beyer DT880. The first are speakers, and the other two are closed and semi-closed cans. In all fairness, you mention other refs as well, e.g., the HD650, but these, too, aren't in the same class as the HD800. In this case, a fair comparison would be other reference quality open cans in the $1400 range, .i.e., if cost is your make-or-break factor.
Cost is definitely NOT my "make or break" factor. And I compared the HD800 to things I know very well, and whose sound I know very well, which is what EVERY other reviewer does, including in magazines. They compare to REFERENCES, not to identical products. Should I go out and PS-1000's just so I have another pair of similarly priced headphones to compare? I think not, and no reviewer would.

Quote:
Originally Posted by feifan View Post

In deciding to post this opinion, I carefully read and extracted comments (see the list below) made by a number of participants in this thread, and taken together, they raise the kinds of questions that I do about some of your conclusions and methodology.

Having said all this, I still feel that your review is excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and the discussion that follows. I think eliminating the claims to objectivity would have eliminated most if not all of the issues I've mentioned. I hope this criticism isn't taken personally since none of us -- including myself -- can claim to be logical, objective, and fair all the time. All we can do is try, and if we don't succeed some or all the time, no problem. It all makes for great discussions anyway.
I'm sorry, but you could have attacked the review endlessly in terms of disagreeing with the sound, and I would have said nothing, or would have welcomed your opinion. But attacking the reviews objectivity DOES in fact make me bristle, and I think I have the right to. I disagree strongly with your assertions in that regard, and I hope you can see my points why.

All that said, I have ALWAYS said, over and over again, that my findings are JUST MY OPINION. But the ways in which I claim to have arrived at my own opinion objectively are valid.

As for the list you compiled of people who disagree with my findings, the list is at least as long, if not longer, of people who do, and that is as we would expect - people who agree, and people who disagree. However, the fact that you even felt the need to compile it shows you are trying to emotionally defend your ownership of the HD800, and I just don't think that is needed. After all - my review of the HD800 was (as others have pointed out) overwhelmingly positive.
post #167 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
It's even harder to buy a headphone you were dead set against buying and selling off some much-loved gear to do so. I thought it was worth it for the HD-800, though.

That was a struggle. I went to CanJam thinking the HD-800 couldn't be that much better than the HD-650 and listened with a skeptical view. It took another two weeks to come full circle, eat crow and place the order.

For many of us, the HD-800 is a revelation and a joy to own. I think it is also worth noting that many HD-800 owners do not come from the same group of headphones Skylab used in his comparison. I've listened to the JVC and DT990. They didn't do much for me.

I know this is a matter of taste. However, the HD-800 is a superb fit with the headphones and speakers I've chosen. Many of the same criticisms could be made against the rest of my collection.

So it is important to put the review in context. Not just the ownership question, either. If your tastes run towards closed, bass-heavy headphones, the HD-800 probably won't be to your liking. On the other hand, if you enjoy electrostats, the K-1000, orthos, planar speakers, and the like, the HD-800 is a direct hit and nearly faultless.

Bassheads have their cans. The HD-800 is for the rest of us.
I don't think it is NEARLY as simple as this. The DT880's are not bass-heavy cans my any measure, and yet they also help show the flavor of the HD800.

I think it's great you think they are nearly faultless, but it is just untrue that only "bass-heads" (to the extent there even is such a thing) would find them not perfect. In fact, it is the claim of near-perfection that is most troubling in general - no headphone is perfect, and neither are the HD800. They may well be perfect for YOU. But they have a flavor, and I think it helps for people to know that, rather than to hear only about how perfect they are, which is not really helpful.

I will agree with you on this - if you come from a background of notoriously treble-oriented, bass-SHY headphones, such as many electrostats, orthos, and planars (which are FAR from the norm), then the HD800 may indeed sound perfect.
post #168 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by john53 View Post
I recommended skylab(in another thread) to try out the x can v8 and i didn't get any reply.It is just not very kind to ignore newcomers this way.I know i'm not so experienced like some other members but i think i deserve a reply when i ask something.
It's not nice to ignore opinions by newcomers just because they don't have THE experience with expensive high end amps and cans,and don't listen to super high quality recordings(jazz,classical etc)
Sorry if i sound a bit bad with this post,but sometimes i feel that if somebody doesn't have too much experience with hi end stuff,his opinions don't count here.

Hi John - I am very sorry if this is how it seemed - I certainly was not ignoring your post. In fact, I saw it, but chose not to reply, because I am not sure what to say - I cannot just "try them out" on an amp I do not have

If I ever get a chance to hear the the two together I will report back. But since I don't have an X-Can 8, there is not much I can do or say in regard to your suggestion.

But I certainly meant you no slight, and apologize if I came across as ignoring you - that was not the case.
post #169 of 629
Thanks for the great review skylab. At last, a real full size review that's readable, not just fan comments raving about these like maniacs.


hat happened to your kicas? Don't you have it anymore?
post #170 of 629
Skylab, I have found my own experience inline with yours with the HD800’s. But my opinion has changed somewhat in regards to treble and bass performance with these phones. I had listened to the HD800’s continually at the same volume I used for my HD650’s, and since the 650’s are rolled on the top there was no problem at these levels. Not so with the HD800’s, hence a bright treble and an ill defined bass.
I have found that listening a little quieter has improved bass, treble and imaging remarkably. If you haven’t done so already I would urge you to try a listening session at levels a couple of notches under what you normally would use. This has been a turnaround point for me and the HD800’s.
post #171 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nadavnaz View Post
Thanks for the great review skylab. At last, a real full size review that's readable, not just fan comments raving about these like maniacs.


hat happened to your kicas? Don't you have it anymore?
Thanks! The KICAS is a sad tale - I lent it to another head-fier, who stole it from me
post #172 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwmclean View Post
Skylab, I have found my own experience inline with yours with the HD800’s. But my opinion has changed somewhat in regards to treble and bass performance with these phones. I had listened to the HD800’s continually at the same volume I used for my HD650’s, and since the 650’s are rolled on the top there was no problem at these levels. Not so with the HD800’s, hence a bright treble and an ill defined bass.
I have found that listening a little quieter has improved bass, treble and imaging remarkably. If you haven’t done so already I would urge you to try a listening session at levels a couple of notches under what you normally would use. This has been a turnaround point for me and the HD800’s.
OK, I will try that and report back. I tend to listen at relatively low levels anyway, but I will give it a whirl and see what I find. Thanks.
post #173 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Hi John - I am very sorry if this is how it seemed - I certainly was not ignoring your post. In fact, I saw it, but chose not to reply, because I am not sure what to say - I cannot just "try them out" on an amp I do not have

If I ever get a chance to hear the the two together I will report back. But since I don't have an X-Can 8, there is not much I can do or say in regard to your suggestion.

But I certainly meant you no slight, and apologize if I came across as ignoring you - that was not the case.
It's ok,don't worry,although it would be nice if you had left a reply like the one you give now(that you don't own the amp and you can't comment on their synergy)
Anyway,it's ok,keep up the good work
post #174 of 629
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much - and I do appreciate your comments!
post #175 of 629
How many amps do people want Skylab to try? If you approach arguments that way, then every headphone is perfect, you just have to find the perfect amp, cable, power supply, DAC, source, humidity, sampling rate, and heaven knows what else before a headphone sounds right. If you approach things that way then the sound signature of a headphone is never captured and all reviews are BS. In such a scenario nobody has a valid opinion.

The more sane solution, to me at least, is that maybe people hear things differently and like different sound signatures. I've found, in a general sense, Skylab's opinions of headphones tend to agree with mine. I imagine many others agree with Skylab's reviews as well.

So this review helps me a lot. Based on the review and the various comments on this thread my urge to buy to HD800 has been tempered. I am, however, looking forward to hearing them one day.

Skylab, thanks for the review. It's much appreciated and I think it allowed a number of people to step out of the shadows and state their not so favorable opinions on the HD800.
post #176 of 629
I had a feeling that skylab can find whatever amp he wants to review for free,is that the case?Sorry,i'm not so much time a member here,maybe i missunderstood something.
post #177 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by john53 View Post
I had a feeling that skylab can find whatever amp he wants to review for free,is that the case?Sorry,i'm not so much time a member here,maybe i missunderstood something.
LOL! No, I can assure you that this is not the case! Just by way of example, I asked Headroom several times to loan me an amp for review, and they always declined. Meier Audio has on some occasions lent me product for review, and on other occasions declined. Ray Samuels Audio has always agreed to my review requests. So it varies - but I have been refused my requests for a review sample many, many times.
post #178 of 629
I just wonder what the underlying insecurity of some HD800 owners is, that they will even side with Feifan's transparent attempt to undermine skylabs review without ever challenging the actual sounds as skylab has mentioned.

Or to give endless suggestions to "fix" the issues that they never even admitted the HD800 had until now when potential buyers were asking for the negatives?

If you want to self justify the money you spent, please just take into consideration some of the newcomers and how you might be doing them a disservice. I think we all realize that they better the HD650. I never felt the HD650 belonged near the top tier no matter how they were amped, and I was slammed by Senn fans in almost the exact same way that is happening with the HD800, but now they all seem to agree.

I will be hearing the HD800 soon and will post my thoughts. I'm sure if I say anything negative then it will be said I didn't listen out of the right amp. I didn't place them on the head at the right angle, or the moon was out of phase while I was listening, but I will stick by what I hear without bias one way or another. Boomana just sold hers in favor of her R10s and O2s. Greggf also sent his back after being disappointing. The HD800s seem to be just another flavor that some really enjoy and others don't connect to the music with. What's new? - that's the case with all other headphones. It is what it is, so just enjoy the music.
post #179 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
LOL! No, I can assure you that this is not the case! Just by way of example, I asked Headroom several times to loan me an amp for review, and they always declined. Meier Audio has on some occasions lent me product for review, and on other occasions declined. Ray Samuels Audio has always agreed to my review requests. So it varies - but I have been refused my requests for a review sample many, many times.
ah,thanks!I've noticed that you do so many amp reviews,so i thought that companies lent them for free for some days!But as you said,not all the companies...
post #180 of 629

objective observations and subjective conclusions

Reviewer's Observations are always for the "most part" objective: I hear a, b,c
It's here I believe most of us agree with skylab on his observations: I hear a, b, c...too

Reviewer's Conclusions are always for the "most part" subjective (personally biased): Based on a, b, c... I like it or I don't like it. It's here based on the same observations on a, b, c where some will disagree with skylab or disagree.

So we ought to focus "more" on the observations and "less" on the conclusions.

I hope that helps.
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