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HD800 modification thread

post #1 of 155
Thread Starter 
The HD800 are the best dynamic headphones I've ever heard. They are extremely revealing, neutral, involving, fast, and accurate. However superb they may be, I always felt they were not completely perfect and that they could be improved slightly. My biggest complaint is that the soundstage is too tall. But in addition, the treble is just a tad on the bright side, the imaging isn't as good as it could be, the bass could use a slight bump, and the sound could be all around a bit smoother. But I wasn't about to do anything that could damage my headphones or void their warranty.

Since I've had them, from time to time I've been cupping my hands around the front of the earcups at a distance pf a few inches. The sound waves reflect off my hand and bounce back through the mesh. This seemed to bring the front image more into focus. Obviously I could not put cups on the outside of the earcups so I pretty much put the idea out of mind.

Enter the simple, completely reversible, and unnoticeable HD800 mod: Tonight I just felt like experimenting with the HD800 to see what I could come up with. After about 2 hours of experimenting I believe I have come up with the ideal solution and I think most people will agree when they hear it. It improves on everything I listed in the first paragraph, and increases detail because the soundstage is so focused. It combines the best qualities of closed and open headphones in a sound that resembles the merger of an HD800 and a Beyer DT880/600, but more like sitting in the audience of an actual concert or at home in front of a high-fidelity speaker system -- that's the best way I can describe it. You'll hear soundstage and imaging unlike anything you've ever heard from headphones. And the HD800 don't need to sit so far back on your head anymore which was straining on the neck; in fact they will sound better when they are positioned more towards the front.

What you'll need:
- A pair of scissors
- An old 6.1 oz. cotton T-shirt
- 5 minutes of time

Cut two strips of material from your T-shirt (I used the sleeve) that are not on a seam. They should be about 3 1/2" inches in length, I'm not sure exactly but you can judge from the picture I took earlier, and approximately 5/8" wide.

1) Remove the dustcovers from your earcups by pinching the raised area in the back center.

2) Place the T-shirt strips in the exact area shown in the picture below. Make sure they are pressed all the way against the steel mesh. You can use the screws as reference points to match both earcups evenly. (Note: The strip is laying flat against the mesh. It looks curled because I used a striped T-shirt which is giving it that illusion.)

3) Put dustcovers gently back in place so as not to slide the strips out of place. It's easier to do this by pulling upward on the inside of the earpads.

4) Play around with headphone positions on your head to find the angle and distance forward that best suits your ears.

5) Enjoy music!



You can experiment with thinner or thicker T-shirts or other porous materials, and/or different positions to lay the strips in, and/or different strip lengths. This will allow you to tune the headphones precisely to your taste, but I recommend you first try the method outlined above.

Happy listening!
post #2 of 155
Phil told me about this mod, I wanted to test it with a few different materials types to see if I could improve it. Been dinking around with it for a while, taking it on and off and comparing...and I'm pretty confident about it. I've done as he's done with the t-shirt material, this works best. The soundstage is totally recentered, it was way off before. The bass is a lot snappier, the overall sound is more detailed. I like it a lot, I won't be taking the cotton out. Hooray!

Forgot to add, this is super easy. Just take whatever old shirt, cut some 0.5-0.75" strips that are the length of the driver basically, tuck them into the front side part of the driver area, just place them against the stainless steel ahead of the driver, put the stock covers back on (the stock covers are just a little piece of fabric that sits on top, pluck it out, no sweat) and voila.
post #3 of 155
I was wondering how long it was going to be before someone started a mod thread on these. Its interesting.
post #4 of 155
Thanks for sharing. It's great to see free, simple, and noninvasive mods.

My phones are still to new to me to try this. But, once I get a few more weeks on them I'll give it a shot. I'm pretty content with how they're playing now, especially with my new 300B amp. Nice!!
post #5 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by santacore View Post
Thanks for sharing. It's great to see free, simple, and noninvasive mods.

My phones are still to new to me to try this. But, once I get a few more weeks on them I'll give it a shot. I'm pretty content with how they're playing now, especially with my new 300B amp. Nice!!
Congrats, John! Don't wait too long though.
post #6 of 155
The PJ mod!

Also, I see that you got Don's Sonett John! Nice buy!
post #7 of 155
cool.
did you try putting one long strip around the whole driver?
post #8 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pearljam5000 View Post
cool.
did you try putting one long strip around the whole driver?
No. It would muddy up the sound too much. Originally the strip was longer than it is now and I trimmed it because it killed too much treble.

The HD800's are now realizing their full potential. It's shocking how much better they sound.
post #9 of 155
Dam, why didn't sennheiser think of this? LOL Come on guys the bloody things sound awesome the way they are. I personally have a strong distrust of dampening an acoustically already quite perfect phone. Sure you can dick around soften the treble, dampen the bass etc. I could not rely on any of this as neutral.
Your just chasing your tails, nuff said.
post #10 of 155
I will try this mod later. Another tweak is shortening the cable to half of the original length: It makes the sound smoother and clearer.
.
post #11 of 155
Quote:
Congrats, John! Don't wait too long though.
Quote:
Also, I see that you got Don's Sonett John! Nice buy!
Yep, the last few months have been productive. HD800's, DNA Sonett, and a Grant Fidelity A-534B. Between the two amps and the HD800's, D7000's, and HD650's I'm feeling very happy with my rig.

In a few weeks once I'm very familiar with the Senn's I might try this little mod.
post #12 of 155
You mean it took 7 years for Senn engineers to come up with something that can be improved by a simple tweak. LOL
post #13 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnwmclean View Post
Dam, why didn't sennheiser think of this? LOL Come on guys the bloody things sound awesome the way they are. I personally have a strong distrust of dampening an acoustically already quite perfect phone. Sure you can dick around soften the treble, dampen the bass etc. I could not rely on any of this as neutral.
Your just chasing your tails, nuff said.
Quote:
Originally Posted by robm321 View Post
You mean it took 7 years for Senn engineers to come up with something that can be improved by a simple tweak. LOL
Exactly.

I fully appreciate the sharing of information but I'm not a believer that a little piece of cotton tshirt miraculously transforms the HD800 in to what it should have been.
post #14 of 155
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robm321 View Post
You mean it took 7 years for Senn engineers to come up with something that can be improved by a simple tweak. LOL
Apparently so. And those were my thoughts exactly. Why don't you try it yourself before jumping to skeptic conclusions? If you're happy with them the way they are, that's great. But you owe it to yourself to see that they can be improved with 5 minutes of your time.
post #15 of 155
Maybe someone can buy a second pair to do an easy A/B
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