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Is Sennheiser going over to the Bright Side?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thought it was worth asking the question in light of their last two releases. The HD800 is clearly brighter than the 600/650 (based on general concensus; I'm not in that price range); from reports so far (and Headroom's FR graphs) the 558/598 are similarly brighter than the 555/595. Has Sennheiser been stung by all the "veil" talk, or have they just started noticing the healthy sales of phones like the K702 and DT880?

 

 It's always seemed to me that Sennheiser were one of the few "honest" HP designers in trying to replicate the sound of live acoustic instruments heard from a reasonable distance, as opposed to standing next to the players (since treble dissipates with distance). They were the brand to turn to if you were treble sensitive, maybe the only brand before the advent of Audeze (at a higher price). Now, assuming the 555/595 are discontinued, only the 650 remains in the Sennheiser line for those seeking a more relaxed approach to music--but for how long? If this is Senns new policy, when can we expect the 600/650 series to be replaced by a brighter HD680 or whatever? As a 650 lover, I'm beginning to feel a slight sense of panic, a feeling that I should stock my pantry with a half dozen 650s to tide me over till death.

 

And I write the above only semi tongue-in-cheek.

post #2 of 12

I never really noticed but I think you're right. I've heard the HD598 and the HD800 and they are definitely bright sounding. Well, brighter than before anyways.

post #3 of 12

well, if they really go that route, at least you still got the px100 err I mean px100 II

post #4 of 12

It seems to me that they've had cans catering to both camps for years now.  I would not be surprised to see the next upper end Senny take after the voicing of the LCD-2.  If Sennheiser is smart, that's what they'll do next.

post #5 of 12

Allthough its often used in a derisive fashion by the 'hardcore' audiophile brigade, I suspect that there may be some truth in the notion that making the sound sig brighter instantly imbues the listener with the illusion that they are more detailed. Similarly, giving a component a warm sound sig is often designed to make the store audition instantly attractive. Given my preference for Grados, I may not be the most impartial judge of whether 'warm and bright' are a good combination :)

post #6 of 12

I think Denons are good for the treble-sensitive.

post #7 of 12

The Sennheiser HD280 is "hella" bright XD

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

It seems to me that they've had cans catering to both camps for years now.


 

x2. There's also many many bass-head cans from sennheiser. They're a large company who saturate the market in many ways, and they have a wide range of qualities.

 

It would be interesting to see a Sennheiser headphone with the equalisation of the LCD-2, however I'd personally rather see a wider range of diffuse field equalised headphones on the market.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

 It's always seemed to me that Sennheiser were one of the few "honest" HP designers in trying to replicate the sound of live acoustic instruments heard from a reasonable distance, as opposed to standing next to the players (since treble dissipates with distance).

 

Um, that only really happens when there are objects in the way; waveforms with larger wavelengths frequently "bend around" objects with much greater ease than treble. In any hall for a choral group, it is frequently the basses who are told to project the most, as they have more trouble reaching the end of the hall than the sopranos - obviously both are well below "treble", but you get the idea.

 

Furthermore, most headphones are designed with loudspeakers in mind, rather than bands (while most speakers are designed with flatness in mind). The brightness depends on the orientation of the loudspeaker to the ear and shoulders, etc. Most headphones people consider "bright" etc are actually made to perform very closely to a flat loudspeaker - and are thus technically closer to real life. The phenomena of distance you describe a brain-trick, like listening to a band with a wall between you (which would obviously cut down treble significantly): the headphones are ACTUALLY right next to you, and the musicians are (frequently) close mic'd. Obviously there are headphones with shelved down treble relative to a standard HRTF plot, such as the LCD-2 which also sound quite close for reasons other than treble. The realer alternative is reverb and decay, which are typically larger with an ambience mic setup, which is why there is such a wide variety of "echo" with classical performances, since it is probably the main genre that chooses between the two rather than just sticking with close.

 

If anything, I think the "honest" headphone designers are those that have a sound they like, and stick to it - Etymotic, Stax, Audeze, Grado (the prices of grado are not honest lol)

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

It seems to me that they've had cans catering to both camps for years now.


 

x2. There's also many many bass-head cans from sennheiser. They're a large company who saturate the market in many ways, and they have a wide range of qualities.

 

It would be interesting to see a Sennheiser headphone with the equalisation of the LCD-2, however I'd personally rather see a wider range of diffuse field equalised headphones on the market.



IIRC, the DT880 is diffuse field equalized. The technique doesn't seem to guarantee a specific tonal balance, as the DT880 is at the brighter end of the spectrum and it seems to be implied that DFE would tend to produce a more "natural" tonality like the 580/600/650.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

It seems to me that they've had cans catering to both camps for years now.


 

x2. There's also many many bass-head cans from sennheiser. They're a large company who saturate the market in many ways, and they have a wide range of qualities.

 

It would be interesting to see a Sennheiser headphone with the equalisation of the LCD-2, however I'd personally rather see a wider range of diffuse field equalised headphones on the market.



IIRC, the DT880 is diffuse field equalized. The technique doesn't seem to guarantee a specific tonal balance, as the DT880 is at the brighter end of the spectrum and it seems to be implied that DFE would tend to produce a more "natural" tonality like the 580/600/650.


In a book I read on the standardisation of headphone frequency response (often in favour of DFE), the DT880 were praised for this. It's hard to guarantee that any particular sound fits any person, firstly due to taste and secondly to listening habbits. A man who sits in the front row is going to hear something totally different to a man who sits 100 metres back at a crowded concert - because people are going to be "absorbing" frequencies (particularly high frequencies because of the phenomena mentioned earlier), and other issues such as bass cones of "silence" several rows back (which is often the reason for the frankly out of control bass response at many mainstream concerts).

 

Furthermore, a diffuse field is very rare - particularly a truly diffuse field. Many headphones (stax come to mind) use free-field equalisation instead, which produces less treble overall, and sounds similar to a band playing right at you, but NOT the sound of things like chairs and people, which are going to absorb the higher frequencies in many cases.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post

It seems to me that they've had cans catering to both camps for years now.


 

x2. There's also many many bass-head cans from sennheiser. They're a large company who saturate the market in many ways, and they have a wide range of qualities.

 

It would be interesting to see a Sennheiser headphone with the equalisation of the LCD-2, however I'd personally rather see a wider range of diffuse field equalised headphones on the market.



IIRC, the DT880 is diffuse field equalized. The technique doesn't seem to guarantee a specific tonal balance, as the DT880 is at the brighter end of the spectrum and it seems to be implied that DFE would tend to produce a more "natural" tonality like the 580/600/650.


In a book I read on the standardisation of headphone frequency response (often in favour of DFE), the DT880 were praised for this. It's hard to guarantee that any particular sound fits any person, firstly due to taste and secondly to listening habbits. A man who sits in the front row is going to hear something totally different to a man who sits 100 metres back at a crowded concert - because people are going to be "absorbing" frequencies (particularly high frequencies because of the phenomena mentioned earlier), and other issues such as bass cones of several rows back (which is often the reason for the frankly out of control bass response at many mainstream concerts).

 

Furthermore, a diffuse field is very rare - particularly a truly diffuse field. Many headphones (stax come to mind) use free-field equalisation instead, which produces less treble overall, and sounds similar to a band playing right at you, but NOT the sound of things like chairs and people, which are going to absorb the higher frequencies in many cases.


This book sounds interesting. I've only read tidbits here and there about the various EQ methods, and the subject is intriguing, provided the explanation doesn't go over my head. Your point about perspective is the main issue I have with the fidelity argument. Even if you achieve a perfect match between the person's ears, the venue, and the "proper" tonal balance from a given point, you're stuck with the perspective of the microphones (or, with whatever perspective they approximate in a closed mic studio recording), which might be perfectly fine but doesn't necessarily invalidate a signature that mimics the balance at a different place in the listening space.

That said, every willy-nilly signature isn't going to be faithful to any conceivable perspective, even if it's "fun" to listen to (e.g. Grado). Therefore I accept the fidelity argument to a point, beyond which it comes down to preference. I do hope that Sennheiser doesn't completely abandon the darker signature in its high end line, as it's a sound I've never actually heard and would like to try. My stable of brighter cans do fatigue me sometimes.

post #12 of 12

IMO, after living with the early 1970's Senns. Years ago....then after getting back into Headphones I chose to upgrade from the Grados and ATH-AD 700's  I chose the HD-650's, re cabled them, and I heard "Less Veil" as many describe as a fault with them.......After many different listening sessions with many different High End (if you will) options to upgrade for the last time, I knew I wanted the HD-800's..... The most important issue with any of the Higher end cans to me is the fact,  you must match your amp (All Tube for me) built Custom for the HD 800's by  Chris Ivan audio.....He matched impedance, used plenty of Iron (Triad Transformers) brand new 1960 Military caps and resisters, Matched to the closest tolerances ( As our own Uncle Erik) says is a must, checking components to the closest measurable matching #'s. you can find......Chris,hard wired the unit with the signal and Power wires laid out in the shortest path and farthest away from each other.......The Tubes, only the best Matched also, (can a tube/ tubes  brand change the sound of your amp) hell yes.........anyway I think you get my point about a well designed and built amp for the Headphone of your choice...But to be totally honest with you I believe and heard  the HD-800's out of the box with its silver coated copper cable were "Tipped up" in the treble compared to the sound signature of the HD-650's....But I chose a copper Blue Dragon ver. 3 for a cable upgrade (I know many on Head-Fi don't think cables sound different, because they can't measure any difference) but I hear, along with "Break/Burn" in of the new HD-800's and the new cable, definitely smoothed the treble and made the bass come alive with these reference Headphones....Even your dac and source can and will change the sound of these Higher end headphones........Just ask some of the guys who liked and bought the  HE-6 Planner Magnetic Headphones or the LCD-2's.....most will tell you the right amp (speaker amp, for the HE-6's) makes them really shine and deliver....So that's my Opinion  After you reach a certain level of quality in these High $$$$ headphones they all must be used in your/a system that really does them justice.......JMO......    

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