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I feel like I've missed a step, is it worth it to go back?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
So, my first set of hi end headphones was the Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi, and the Sennheiser HD650, both great pairs of headphones. I've just recently upgraded to the HD800s which I'm, at present (Before I believe the burning in has fully finished), not terribly impressed with.

I feel as though I've missed steps by going straight to higher end headphones, and can't properly discern what I do and don't like in headphones, and try various brands to see how their headphones sound.

In everyone's opinion, would it be worthwhile to buy a few 100-300 dollar range headphones from day Grado, Beyerdynamic, Ultrasone, etc? If so, which ones would you recommend to keep an eye out for in the Used section?
post #2 of 15

You haven't really said what you thought of the 650, which I would consider a crucial point. There are those who don't necessarily consider the 800 an upgrade, at least not in every area.

 

Oh, the answer to your third paragraph is no.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

You haven't really said what you thought of the 650, which I would consider a crucial point. There are those who don't necessarily consider the 800 an upgrade, at least not in every area.

 

Oh, the answer to your third paragraph is no.


Sorry, I really liked the HD650s, after having them for around two years. I can't say that I was blown away when I first got them either, but I don't remember having as many gripes with them as I am with the 800s. And now, I kind of miss them because they really did sound great.

So you don't think I should take any steps backward? I guess lateral moves would make more sense? The LCD-2, T1, HE-6, PS1000 etc?
post #4 of 15

well, I've never dropped that much $$$ on a headphone before, but from what I've read...this is a classic example of the law of diminishing returns. We expect a $1400 headphone to make us feel like we're jumping through the clouds, strictly because of the price. However, once you hit $700 in headphones, upgrades are going to be logarithmically costlier and will have exponentially LESS effect on the overall sound. So your disappointment in the HD800 might stem from subconscious, financially-based expectations.

 

That said, consider with what you're amping the 800s. These are extremely sensitive headphones, and if they aren't paired with the right amp, it's definitely possible that the sound will be...not what it could be. If it were me, I'd spend at least double on the amp what I spent on the headphones. I'll probably get half of Head-Fi disagreeing with me on that point, but suffice it to say the amping makes a HUGE difference.

 

Buy a pair of M50s and see if you really notice a difference.

post #5 of 15

Everything is subjective and relative, my friend.

 

That's my only advice, really.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tas236 View Post

well, I've never dropped that much $$$ on a headphone before, but from what I've read...this is a classic example of the law of diminishing returns. We expect a $1400 headphone to make us feel like we're jumping through the clouds, strictly because of the price. However, once you hit $700 in headphones, upgrades are going to be logarithmically costlier and will have exponentially LESS effect on the overall sound. So your disappointment in the HD800 might stem from subconscious, financially-based expectations.

 

That said, consider with what you're amping the 800s. These are extremely sensitive headphones, and if they aren't paired with the right amp, it's definitely possible that the sound will be...not what it could be. If it were me, I'd spend at least double on the amp what I spent on the headphones. I'll probably get half of Head-Fi disagreeing with me on that point, but suffice it to say the amping makes a HUGE difference.

 

Buy a pair of M50s and see if you really notice a difference.


I'd say less than $700 is the point of deminishing returns. I'd say it's around $400. 

 

Anyway @OP, I'd recommend trying out several other brands of headphones, but just remember that they aren't strictly "better" just different. Also, you might want to consider different gear. I don't know what you have currently, so that's your call.

post #7 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSaysHi View Post

I'd say less than $700 is the point of deminishing returns. I'd say it's around $400. 

 

Anyway @OP, I'd recommend trying out several other brands of headphones, but just remember that they aren't strictly "better" just different. Also, you might want to consider different gear. I don't know what you have currently, so that's your call.


 

My thoughts exactly. Much less than $700. Depending on the budget contraints, but I'd say $200 IMHO for many people.

post #8 of 15

Well it sounds like you know what you don't like.  Bright and fast, highly resolving and analytical all sound like great "buzzwords" for music enjoyment but quite a lot of people don't care for that.  Often a slower but more lush and musical presentation is a better recipe for toe-tapping listening fun.

 

I'd say recover as much as you can from the HD800 and get another HD650.  And if you feel like you are still missing out on something with them, maybe look at going balanced.  Just be prepared to invest quite a bit.  A true balanced amp of quality is expensive.

 

 

I don't know if head-fi meets happen in your area but that is the single best way to explore headphone audio. You'll be exposed to more gear that you can listen to and evaluate in an afternoon than you'd probably otherwise be exposed to in years of trial and error.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingpage View Post


 


 

My thoughts exactly. Much less than $700. Depending on the budget contraints, but I'd say $200 IMHO for many people.


I'm not going to buy another headphone if that helps on the budget thing. I've heard several high end headphones, and while they were good (hell, they were great) I didn't feel the urge to BUY.  My HD650s cost $200 and my modded sr60i cost about $160. (Please note that my amp and DAC have cost significantly more than my cost of headphones.)

post #10 of 15

Sounds like you should swap the 800s for the LCD2s. To oversimplify things a lot, they are like a better 650, and with a similar frequency-response signature.

post #11 of 15

You might want to try electrostatics. The Koss ESP950 is in your price range and so is a used lower end  Stax rig.  Otherwise, I'll second the LCD2s.

post #12 of 15
What is it you dislike about the HD-800? It's almost my favorite headphone, but it is not the best for everyone.

The HD-800 is sensitive to amping. What are you running it with?

You might be someone who doesn't like the HD-800. That's OK. But I'd like to know what you think you're missing first. What I appreciate about the HD-800 is how little it does wrong. A lot of great headphones and speakers don't sound impressive at first. But after you've listened to a lot of gear, you start noticing what they do wrong. For me, the HD-800 does very little worng. However, I would not have appreciated that if I hadn't listened to a lot of other headphones first.
post #13 of 15

I think like many you've just succumbed to marketing and instantly believe more dollar equals a better sound, it just isn't so. The HD800 is simply Sennheisers next in-line HD600, HD650, and you may very well prefer either of those. The HD800 much like the Sony SA5000 has a forward treble giving the illusion of more detail, it isn't to everyones liking.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

What is it you dislike about the HD-800? It's almost my favorite headphone, but it is not the best for everyone.

The HD-800 is sensitive to amping. What are you running it with?

You might be someone who doesn't like the HD-800. That's OK. But I'd like to know what you think you're missing first. What I appreciate about the HD-800 is how little it does wrong. A lot of great headphones and speakers don't sound impressive at first. But after you've listened to a lot of gear, you start noticing what they do wrong. For me, the HD-800 does very little worng. However, I would not have appreciated that if I hadn't listened to a lot of other headphones first.

I dislike how I can't seem to lose myself in the sound in the same way that I could with the 650s. They feel overly analytic, and cold, not to mention the extreme lack of bass (In my opinion of course.) I was listening to MIles Davis the other day, and while I wasn't playing them very loud, whenver the trumpet and saxophone kicked in, I nearly had to take them off, because the sound was so loud, and overpowering. If I had turned it down more, I wouldn't have been able to hear the piano or cymbals. Everytime the sax/trumpet came around, I was completely taken out of the music, and didn't enjoy it at all.

I'm amping them with the Woo Audio WA6. I've been recommended to switch out the Sophia Princess rectifier for a Mullard GZ34, and until I get that I've moved back to the stock 5AR4 tube, but that tube has hardly ever been used, so it's still burning in.

Another thing, I still have a little less than 100 hours on the phones, and I've heard from numerous sources that these phones really do improve after 200+ hours of burn in. So I can only hope.

I'd also heard that people who like the 650s tend to love the LCD2s, so that would probably be my next step if these don't turn out to work for me.

The next Montreal meet is in early April, and I'm hoping to attend in order to try out various headphones. My only thing is, when I first listened to the 800s, for around 5-10 hours, I thought they were great. It's only after extended listening that I was really able to pick out what I didn't like about them, and what I felt they were lacking (Since 5-10 hours is about enough time for 5-6 albums, in different genres) so I can't imagine how much good the impressions I get at the meet will do me (But I assume it'll be better than not hearing them at all. wink.gif)
post #15 of 15

well, this is probably not helpful, but I did not like the 650 and got rid of it after about 3 months; I loved the LCD-1 when I had it briefly, and have heard other people's LCD-2 on occasion, and find it hugely more involving than the 650. but I've also since gone in other directions (custom IEMs on the one hand and more spent on the speaker rig on the other left no room for new full-size cans), so I cannot talk much about the 800, which I only heard at meets (doesn't count) and how it might compare to the LCD-2. however, your posts read to me more like a classic case of buyer's remorse - where you're not sure the money ought to have been spent that way...

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