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REVIEW: Sennheiser HD 800 - Page 7

post #91 of 629
The HD800 are much better 100 hrs burn-in ... before that, it's too new and highs are metallic and too crystal clear. After 100 hrs, this calm down a lot.

I have now 200+ hrs ... and not notice much improvement over 100 hrs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solan View Post
I reaffirm my membership in the Skylab fan club!

A couple of questions, if you have the time:

* Are the 800s mean head clampers (like the 650s)?
* How do the 800 compare to the Markl modded Denon 500s?
* Most of us have more than one pair of headphones, to cover as wide a range of music as possible. Which do you think are the complements of the 800? That is, if you had the 800s, which 1 or 2 other headphones would you have in your line-up to cover the widest range? And which music would you then reserve for the 800s and which not?
post #92 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Thanks! It was less that perfect synergy, actually, as I felt the SRG itself was a little light in the bass (as other reviewers have also commented).
Thanks again for your response its nice to get a proper review on these phones.

Yes I have read your review of the SRG and noted that you describe the bass as 'light'. To be honest it is not an opinion I share but I come from a SS background and you favour tubes so I think a big bass is your flavour where as I prefer a fast, punchy, controlled bass. I actually prefer the clarity, speed and control of the ALO-780 & K701's bass to the HD650 most of the time (except on bass light material).
post #93 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
And does anyone else think that a headphone can be so "transparent" or detailed that it ends up being less musical or less enjoyable? Is there a point where transparency gives all music the same hard crisp edge that the voices on The Fox Business Channel have? Is technology now allowing us to get too hard-sharp-crisp-incisive?

And if I balance my lawnmower, or if I swap air filters or spark plugs on it (Champion or AC, domestic or Japanese plugs, new or used or NOS?) , will it cut my grass better?
Short answer, no. If it is "true" transparency and detail, the more the better. To me, the live concert experience has to be the ultimate arbiter. In the concert hall, there is just "is-ness", you can choose to focus on a particular instrumental choir or lay back for the wash of sound, listen intellectually or emotionally as your mode and the composer, conductor and musicians intentions direct. The closer we come to this "is-ness" in our stereos, the closer to that state we get.

And modern technology has surprisingly little to do with it except as servant. The Quad ESL-57 and, say, Marantz 8b would have gotten you suprisingly close to this "is-ness" back in the early 1960's (and actually still will today).

As far as lawnmowers go, I may not have a golden ear, but I definitely don't have a green thumb.
post #94 of 629
Thanks for the very detailed and unbiased review
post #95 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by k3oxkjo View Post
Short answer, no. If it is "true" transparency and detail, the more the better. To me, the live concert experience has to be the ultimate arbiter.
I agree with greggf.

Using a concert as a baseline is exactly why detailed and transparent headphone can sound unmusical. In a concert hall we don't hear pages turning, chairs shifting, groans, emptying spit, and heaven knows what else. A lot of this stuff is on recordings and some headphones bring this stuff out more than others. Hearing these sounds is interesting when you first hear them on a recording, but some people (me included) get tired of them. I've never noticed the strings of a string instrument vibrating in a concert, but it seems even that can be recorded and presented on a really transparent pair of headphones. Do I want to hear that much detail?

I'll take for examples some of the recordings of Glenn Gould. Glenn Gould, while a brilliant pianist, made a number of whack, groans, hums, and who knows what else as he played. This stuff is audible on a lot of eqiupment, even the really inexpensive stuff. A lot of people found all this stuff distracting in the recordings. In a large hall you probably would not have heard all his noises over the volume of the Piano.

For one headphone to make them more obvious while another does not indicates one or both (probably both) of the headphones are colored in some way. If this coloration doesn't suit you you'll find the experience of that headphone to be very unmusical. If you combine that coloration with always hearing some guy moaning "ughhh ugghh" you might find the experience terribly irritating.

**edit**

Let's not forget, it would be warm and magical world if every album recorded/mastered/produced was made perfectly. But even some of the good stuff can have problems. I'm not a professional recording engineer. Do I want to hear these problem?

Of course, you also have stuff at the opposite end. A Headphone can forgive so many details it ends up sounding muffled and dull.
post #96 of 629
Thread Starter 
Plus, it is not enough to say "the live concert experience has to be the ultimate arbiter", as the sound is VERY different in row 10 than it is in row 40. VERY different. The HD800 are front row center. That will be thrilling for some people. But if you prefer a row-30 sound, you won't like them.
post #97 of 629
Great review Skylab. Thanks!
post #98 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackmore View Post
Could that mean that HD800 aren't that fun to listen?
To my ears absolutely.

I was listening to the HD-800s last night. I was struck by the incredible low level resolution and sense of subtle texture on vocals. I was also struck by their lack of lower midrange body and weight. These are, to my way of thinking, very "audiophile" headphones. They reveal lots of information and the bass and lower midrange are a bit threadbare. It's as though they were voiced that way intentionally to heighten the level of detail retrieval. After an hour of "looking at the sound" for details sake I grew pretty bored and switched to the PS1000s. Voices suddenly had proper weight and body. Images were smaller and the absolute detail level is slightly lower, but the Grados sound like what I hear when I hear live music. The Senns sound like what I hear from a good high end audio system that has been assembled to maximize transparency and imaging at the expense of other attributes.

Also the description that has been offered of the presentation being forward deserves some amplification. I haven't heard a headphone that pushes lead vocalists so far forward with such size before. To the point that if you crank them to lifelike levels they can literally become overbearing. I was listening to Rickie Lee Jones Naked Songs disc the other night. I turned up the wick a bit and quickly found myself feeling as though my head was the microphone and a gaint 5 foot diameter mouth was singing into my face at a distance of 6 inches. Bizarre. I think the whole image size issue must have something to do with the giant ring driver. It seems to make everything "big".

And to be clear, I'm not a "row 30" guy. I have always set up my main speaker rig for near-field listening to maxiamize immediacy and drama. This is something else all together.

Joe
post #99 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Plus, it is not enough to say "the live concert experience has to be the ultimate arbiter", as the sound is VERY different in row 10 than it is in row 40. VERY different. The HD800 are front row center. That will be thrilling for some people. But if you prefer a row-30 sound, you won't like them.
Skylab, well written review!

When you speak of perpective from different rows in a concert hall, is it the specifically the frequency balance you are talking about? I ask because I have also attribute soundstage to the concert hall perspective. For example, Grado headphones have always been described as a "front row center" headphone due to their small soundstage just as much as their aggressive frequency balance. On the other hand, the R10 in my experience is "back of hall" due to the massive soundstage yet there is no lack of treble energy. Does the soundstage of the HD800 have any effect on the concert hall perspective in your opinion?
post #100 of 629
Excellent review! Now I definitely need to try these out
post #101 of 629
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canman View Post
Skylab, well written review!

When you speak of perpective from different rows in a concert hall, is it the specifically the frequency balance you are talking about? I ask because I have also attribute soundstage to the concert hall perspective. For example, Grado headphones have always been described as a "front row center" headphone due to their small soundstage just as much as their aggressive frequency balance. On the other hand, the R10 in my experience is "back of hall" due to the massive soundstage yet there is no lack of treble energy. Does the soundstage of the HD800 have any effect on the concert hall perspective in your opinion?
Yes, I do think the HD800 have a soundstage that is also more up- front - not a back-of-hall soundstage at all, but it has nothing to do with being small. If you sit front row center, the sounstage is VERY wide, but less deep. If you sit in back, the soundstage is VERY deep, but less wide. The HD800 are wider than deep to be sure.
post #102 of 629
Thank you Skylab for such an informative review!!!!
post #103 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Plus, it is not enough to say "the live concert experience has to be the ultimate arbiter", as the sound is VERY different in row 10 than it is in row 40. VERY different. The HD800 are front row center. That will be thrilling for some people. But if you prefer a row-30 sound, you won't like them.
Yes, very true. I addressed this in a previous post in another thread, but let me just say here that there is a range of possible balances that correspond to different seating in the hall. I say any of these perspectives are fair game as to preference.

The "row A" sound of some Grado's, the "row G" sound of the HD-800's, the "row S" sound of the HD-650 and the "row Y" sound of the DT-48S are all valid choices (I hesitate to use the word "colors" only because of the negative connotation that word has). Personal preference prevails here just as it would if you were picking a seat for a concert. But I would argue any of these balances can constitute "concert hall reality" (if the rest of the phones characteristics are up to snuff).

Which is why the whole issue of treble balance is so problimatical and controversial, both in phones and speakers. Personally, I take them for what they are. I like the HD-800 front half the the hall sound, but also like the DT-48 and its decidedly rear hall sound. They are different perspectives on the same reality to me since the phones are so good otherwise.
post #104 of 629
wow, excellent review. You are truly one of the head-fi greats, skylab.

LOL, I half expect a bit of an increase in DX1000 sales after this review
post #105 of 629
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canman View Post
Skylab, well written review!

When you speak of perpective from different rows in a concert hall, is it the specifically the frequency balance you are talking about? I ask because I have also attribute soundstage to the concert hall perspective. For example, Grado headphones have always been described as a "front row center" headphone due to their small soundstage just as much as their aggressive frequency balance. On the other hand, the R10 in my experience is "back of hall" due to the massive soundstage yet there is no lack of treble energy. Does the soundstage of the HD800 have any effect on the concert hall perspective in your opinion?
The soundstage heard at a concert as a function of seating distance is dominated by basically two things:

A) Basic geometry. The included angle for a closer listener will be wider than a more distant listener, so will seem wider.

B) Ratio of direct sound to reflected sound. A closer seat will have a higher percentage of direct sound leading to more "precision" in terms of location (and more treble), a more distant seat has a higher percentage of reflected sound causing a deeper soundstage effect but a more diffuse sense of location.

Unfortunately, headphone soundstaging is inherently wrong, coming from basically "inside your head" and ear to ear (leaving binaural recordings aside). Phones like the HD-800, Ultrasone, K-1000 and Sony MDR-F1 and PFR-V1 (an interesting headphone) take a stab at improving on this to varying degrees of success, but still, soundstage is really the realm of speakers, I think.
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