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Classical Music ... HD800 vs. HD650 vs. HD600? - Page 2

post #16 of 27
i don't know if you decided yet but i would suggest go for the ones you can afford at your max budget which is the hd800. if you do go akg route just to try them. i highly suggest uncle eriks suggestions to go for the vintage akgs instead. the akg 501,240df's and even the sextetts lp when properly fed will make music talk and be one of the most pleasurable experiences you can have with pair of studio headphones. akg discontinued line-up is the best they ever did and akg's vintage/discontinued headphones are the best ever engineered from them. the headphone also not mention from akg's vintage line-up are the akg 340 electrodynamic headphones. they are well liked as well. for classical i do not know. for classical or acoustic instruments i never heard any better then the akg 240 DF's in akg's lineup in my opinion. they are very natural and have a very open soundstage with lots of detail.
post #17 of 27

Lots of good comments so far. I'm going to approach this from a different angle - As a fellow "big guy" with a large noggin, I find the HD600/HD650 a bit small. I can certainly use them for a while, but always with the knowledge that they are there on my head and ears. I wouldn't exactly call it uncomfortable; the soft earpads and relatively low weight translate to a tolerable experience. But for me, headphones can't "disappear" as well when I'm constantly aware of them.

 

The HD800 does a better job of this, and the AKG K701 even better still. With the AKG especially, I can really start to forget that they are even on my head. Of course this is subjective and some people find the AKG headband to be very annoying.

 

You didn't mention what you will be using to power the headphones either. That can mean the difference between a merely acceptable result and a breathtaking experience. So some more information is required there. You need not spend a fortune in that area, but a proper headphone amp is a must for many of these headphones, especially the HD800.

 

For now, my best recommendation is to try the easiest thing - buy a K701/K702/Q701 (all should be the same) to try it out. This could be from a store that allows returns without a restocking fee, or else from the used forums here. You should be able to find a pair in perfect condition for a low price. And if you are not satisfied, you can easily sell it again and move on. It might actually be worth tracking down a few of the cheaper recommended models from earlier in this thread - prices are not prohibitive and it will give you a good base from which to decide what works for your ears and your head.


Edited by project86 - 7/18/11 at 9:26am
post #18 of 27

I would echo most of the comments made in reply on this thread.  I also have a very large head.  In addition, I'm bald and the nerves in my head have proven to be quite sensitive to numerous headphone contact points.  I tried the AKG K701 as my very first high end headphone, and while I appreciated it's sound, it was excrutiatingly uncomfortable.  The bumps on it's headband are the design idiocy of someone who has a very thick head of hair.  The HD650 bass signature muddies and slows symphonic pieces waaaay too much to be acceptable, for me.  It was horrible at small format chamber orchestra pieces for this very reason.  I enjoyed the HD600 for several years, but the fit was quite tight, and I could only tolerate them for an hour or so at a time.  They were also quite difficult to amp.  The HD800, in stark contrast, has been pure bliss for me.  The fit is perfect - it's like slipping on a very expensive set of driving gloves that have been custom cut to my hands.  The dispersion of the weight across my head and ears is perfect.  The sound and speed and staging is amazing for classical.  Additionally, and where my opinion differs from many, is that I don't find the HD800 that difficult to drive/amp properly.  They certainly scale nicely with nicer amps, but they sound absolutely fantastic right out of the headphone jack on my iDecco, which isn't exactly known for having the world's greatest headphone amp circuit.  It's acknowledged as competent, but not great.  I think it sounds absolutely amazing.

 

Enjoy your exploration, and good luck.

post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by khatch View Post

I would echo most of the comments made in reply on this thread.  I also have a very large head.  In addition, I'm bald and the nerves in my head have proven to be quite sensitive to numerous headphone contact points.  I tried the AKG K701 as my very first high end headphone, and while I appreciated it's sound, it was excrutiatingly uncomfortable.  The bumps on it's headband are the design idiocy of someone who has a very thick head of hair.  The HD650 bass signature muddies and slows symphonic pieces waaaay too much to be acceptable, for me.  It was horrible at small format chamber orchestra pieces for this very reason.  I enjoyed the HD600 for several years, but the fit was quite tight, and I could only tolerate them for an hour or so at a time.  They were also quite difficult to amp.  The HD800, in stark contrast, has been pure bliss for me.  The fit is perfect - it's like slipping on a very expensive set of driving gloves that have been custom cut to my hands.  The dispersion of the weight across my head and ears is perfect.  The sound and speed and staging is amazing for classical.  Additionally, and where my opinion differs from many, is that I don't find the HD800 that difficult to drive/amp properly.  They certainly scale nicely with nicer amps, but they sound absolutely fantastic right out of the headphone jack on my iDecco, which isn't exactly known for having the world's greatest headphone amp circuit.  It's acknowledged as competent, but not great.  I think it sounds absolutely amazing.

 

Enjoy your exploration, and good luck.


I agree. I don't think the HD800 has exceptional power/amping requirements. I thought they responded much better to source upgrades and better *quality* amping (not more powerful).

 

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your input. I am now trying to summarize where I am on all of this and will have a new posting soon. Typing is not my strong suit. I have made no final decision yet but your input has been invaluable.

 

Dave

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

 

Well – I certainly have learned a great deal from all of you. Thank you very much for the time you have taken to put forth such thoughtful responses.

 

Based on your input and my subsequent research into your recommendations, here is where I am … as I see it, there are really two “strata” of choices for headphones for me (for classical music):

 

Group I … Ultra High End/“World Class”

Sennheiser  HD800 ($1500)

Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 ($1295)

 

Group II … High End/High Value (excellent “bang for the buck”)

AKG K702 ($262)

AKG – older, discontinued models from eBay, etc. ($150-???)

Sennheiser  HD600 ($330)

Sennheiser  HD650 ($397)

 

 

The prices shown above are via Amazon – their 30-day return policy is especially attractive to me (although I would need to understand the return policies of any partner seller that may be involved).

 

I have done a lot of research on various sites: head-fi (threads and reviews) - more time here than anywhere else; Stereophile (to which I have a digital subscription); The Absolute Sound; Six Moons; Amazon customer reviews; AudioKarma; Computer Audiophile; and a few others.

 

For me, the two Group I headphones are in a “dead heat.” Zombie_X – thank you for your post. You have led me to consider the T1s. I have read your full review as well as others here (including SkyLab’s) and have become more and more impressed with the T1 – a phone I had never even considered before this thread.

 

My thinking on the Group II phones has gone full circle and then some. Right now the ordering is almost the opposite of where I started. I would rank them (for me): K701, HD600, HD650. I am not sure where to place used/discontinued AKG models in my hierarchy.

 

Cost, for me, is a non-issue within groups­. In other words, the $200 difference between HD800s and T1s doesn’t affect my decision. Likewise, if I go with a Group II headphone, a $200 difference between the least- and most-expensive doesn’t matter. What does matter, of course, is whether to “go for the gold” (Group I) or not. It’s basically a thousand dollar delta.

 

I am thinking I will be satisfied with the sound quality of any of these phones. The more research I have done, the more confidence I have in this belief. I do believe “you get what you pay for” to some extent, but I also believe that the quality of the headphones in the $200-$400 range is really excellent too (as TwoEars has mentioned to me in two separate threads (thanks)).

 

In addition to sound quality, the two parameters upon which I have concentrated are comfort and soundstaging/imaging. With your input, I have made good progress in understanding which phones I’ll find most comfortable. Khatch – your post, in particular, was very helpful to me. Although not yet totally bald, I am close (and it’s only a matter of time). Until reading your comments, I never even considered my thinning hair when thinking about headphones. Duh.

 

Where I have been less successful is understanding the soundstage issue. Based on detailed reviews here and from the other sources cited above, here are my conclusions so far (and I welcome further comments):

 

Sound Staging/Imaging

HD800 … A

T1 … A-

K702 … ???

HD600 … ???

HD650 … ???

 

Finally, I should talk a little about how I will power the headphones. Project86 – it is amazingly ironic that you asked about this! It was your detailed review of the Anedio D1 last December that first brought me to Head-Fi. I was doing research on standalone DACs to add to my system when I stumbled across your excellent review and have been lurking since. My plan is to purchase the D1 sometime soon (probably 2012). As you know, production has been temporarily suspended while the owner of the business fine tunes a few things including the D1’s USB connection. Until I add the D1, my plan is to drive the headphones from either my Squeezebox Touch or my 20-year-old McIntosh C37 preamp.

 

Well, that’s it. That’s where I am. I hope this long post makes sense to you or others that may follow. I welcome further input and comments.

 

Thank you again for all your excellent and thoughtful help. This is really a tremendous site with a great group of people. I’m really impressed.

 

Dave


Edited by MBlue72 - 7/18/11 at 6:22pm
post #22 of 27

No problem man :) IMO the T1's add more body to music while still retaining all the detail. They are just as detailed as the HD800 but the HD800's treble enhances those details further. I like the HD800's but they have a peak in the treble that I dislike. It's not like the peak is bad or anything but it's annoying and makes somethings sibilant. Plus the HD800 can sound thinner than the T1 due to the increased treble and lesser bass response.
 

As for ranking the soundstage I would rate the HD600/HD650 as a C-. The K702 being a B/B+ simply because it's much bigger.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MBlue72 View Post

 

Well – I certainly have learned a great deal from all of you. Thank you very much for the time you have taken to put forth such thoughtful responses.

 

Based on your input and my subsequent research into your recommendations, here is where I am … as I see it, there are really two “strata” of choices for headphones for me (for classical music):

 

Group I … Ultra High End/“World Class”

Sennheiser  HD800 ($1500)

Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 ($1295)

 

Group II … High End/High Value (excellent “bang for the buck”)

AKG K702 ($262)

AKG – older, discontinued models from eBay, etc. ($150-???)

Sennheiser  HD600 ($330)

Sennheiser  HD650 ($397)

 

 

The prices shown above are via Amazon – their 30-day return policy is especially attractive to me (although I would need to understand the return policies of any partner seller that may be involved).

 

I have done a lot of research on various sites: head-fi (threads and reviews) - more time here than anywhere else; Stereophile (to which I have a digital subscription); The Absolute Sound; Six Moons; Amazon customer reviews; AudioKarma; Computer Audiophile; and a few others.

 

For me, the two Group I headphones are in a “dead heat.” Zombie_X – thank you for your post. You have led me to consider the T1s. I have read your full review as well as others here (including SkyLab’s) and have become more and more impressed with the T1 – a phone I had never even considered before this thread.

 

My thinking on the Group II phones has gone full circle and then some. Right now the ordering is almost the opposite of where I started. I would rank them (for me): K701, HD600, HD650. I am not sure where to place used/discontinued AKG models in my hierarchy.

 

Cost, for me, is a non-issue within groups­. In other words, the $200 difference between HD800s and T1s doesn’t affect my decision. Likewise, if I go with a Group II headphone, a $200 difference between the least- and most-expensive doesn’t matter. What does matter, of course, is whether to “go for the gold” (Group I) or not. It’s basically a thousand dollar delta.

 

I am thinking I will be satisfied with the sound quality of any of these phones. The more research I have done, the more confidence I have in this belief. I do believe “you get what you pay for” to some extent, but I also believe that the quality of the headphones in the $200-$400 range is really excellent too (as TwoEars has mentioned to me in two separate threads (thanks)).

 

In addition to sound quality, the two parameters upon which I have concentrated are comfort and soundstaging/imaging. With your input, I have made good progress in understanding which phones I’ll find most comfortable. Khatch – your post, in particular, was very helpful to me. Although not yet totally bald, I am close (and it’s only a matter of time). Until reading your comments, I never even considered my thinning hair when thinking about headphones. Duh.

 

Where I have been less successful is understanding the soundstage issue. Based on detailed reviews here and from the other sources cited above, here are my conclusions so far (and I welcome further comments):

 

Sound Staging/Imaging

HD800 … A

T1 … A-

K701 … ???

HD600 … ???

HD650 … ???

 

Finally, I should talk a little about how I will power the headphones. Project86 – it is amazingly ironic that you asked about this! It was your detailed review of the Anedio D1 last December that first brought me to Head-Fi. I was doing research on standalone DACs to add to my system when I stumbled across your excellent review and have been lurking since. My plan is to purchase the D1 sometime soon (probably 2012). As you know, production has been temporarily suspended while the owner of the business fine tunes a few things including the D1’s USB connection. Until I add the D1, my plan is to drive the headphones from either my Squeezebox Touch or my 20-year-old McIntosh C37 preamp.

 

Well, that’s it. That’s where I am. I hope this long post makes sense to you or others that may follow. I welcome further input and comments.

 

Thank you again for all your excellent and thoughtful help. This is really a tremendous site with a great group of people. I’m really impressed.

 

Dave



 

 

post #23 of 27

 

I can strongly recommend HD800 for almost any classical music lover, but with (at least) two exceptions.

  1. There are people who just prefer “dark” sound;

  2. There are people who listen to old (archival) recordings mostly (e.g. Beethoven’s symphonies conducted by Furtwängler).

In both cases HD800 is not a good option. I’m inclined to think that LDC-2 would be the best choice then.

 

In any other case I can hardly imagine a headphone that can surpass HD800.

 

If you are aiming to “bang for the buck” try AKG Q701 (instead of HD800) or Beyerdynamic DT880 600Ohm (instead of T1), though my personal experience tells me it’s better to go for “world class” headphones – classical music is very demanding.

 

To conclude: either HD800 or LCD-2 (depending on your personal preferences).

post #24 of 27
I didn't get much time with the T1, but my brief impression is that it's tipped a bit towards the low end, with slightly more bass than neutral. Comfort, build quality and soundstage are all quite nice, too. I've been tempted to buy it, but side-by-side with the HD-800, I'd pick the HD-800 almost every time. I don't need another headphone in storage, though I did like the T1 almost enough to buy one.

As for the K-1000, did you see a picture of one? You can spread the earspeakers out and they sound like speakers. Speakers that have no room issues, too. Take a look at Stereophile's award and review.

Also, Amazon has good prices and a good return policy. But can I persuade you to consider one of Head-Fi's sponsors? I buy from HeadRoom and TTVJ. They price match and have generous return policies, too. However, they're small businesses and give a personal touch. They also come to our meets and bring lots of gear, too. They sponsor Head-Fi and help with the costs of running Head-Fi. Todd (of TTVJ) even worked with Grado to get us the HF-1 and HF-2 headphones, custom models only available to Head-Fi members. I've met Todd as well as the HeadRoom staff. They're good people and I can't think of anyone who had poor service from them. I try to divide orders between both, since they've earned my business.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finnegans View Post

 

I can strongly recommend HD800 for almost any classical music lover, but with (at least) two exceptions.

  1. There are people who just prefer “dark” sound;

  2. There are people who listen to old (archival) recordings mostly (e.g. Beethoven’s symphonies conducted by Furtwängler).

In both cases HD800 is not a good option. I’m inclined to think that LDC-2 would be the best choice then.

 

In any other case I can hardly imagine a headphone that can surpass HD800.

 

If you are aiming to “bang for the buck” try AKG Q701 (instead of HD800) or Beyerdynamic DT880 600Ohm (instead of T1), though my personal experience tells me it’s better to go for “world class” headphones – classical music is very demanding.

 

To conclude: either HD800 or LCD-2 (depending on your personal preferences).


I am looking for a darker sound for classical then the HD 800. I have never heard classical as bright as on the HD 800 in real life which still distracts me a bit with classical on it. Only had it for a month though.

post #26 of 27

Quote:

Originally Posted by MBlue72 View Post

 

Group I … Ultra High End/“World Class”

Sennheiser  HD800 ($1500)

Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 ($1295)

 

Group II … High End/High Value (excellent “bang for the buck”)

AKG K702 ($262)

AKG – older, discontinued models from eBay, etc. ($150-???)

Sennheiser  HD600 ($330)

Sennheiser  HD650 ($397)

 

 

Sound Staging/Imaging

HD800 … A

T1 … A-

K702 … ???

HD600 … ???

HD650 … ???

 

 

Group I … Ultra High Price... maybe you should just check them out for yourself before you buy. Btw, all of the hps that you've mentioned here will need some hps amp, and not all the combinations (hps + amp) are great. So, good luck on your journey. k701smile.gif


Edited by Acix - 7/19/11 at 2:20am
post #27 of 27

Since you plan on obtaining the Anedio D1 (or whatever the refreshed version might end up being called), I'll summarize my observations with the various headphones on your list when powered straight from the headphone jack.

 

Sennheiser HD800 - Excellent results. I know several people from the Anedio thread who use this combination and really enjoy it. I have yet to hear anyone complain or point out a deficiency. 

 

Beyerdynamic T1 - I haven't tried these with the D1, nor have I heard from anyone who has. But my experience with the DT990/600 ohm indicates that the T1 might not be the perfect match. I'm not sure if it is a lack of power or what but the bass is a little thin at higher volumes. Of course, the update on the D1 could involve some tweaking to the headphone stage to give it more power, so this may or may not still apply.

 

AKG K701 variants - Myself and most others think this is a very good match. John Darko from the Australian website Digital Audio Review disagreed, saying it sounded too thin. He preferred them out of a Schiit Lyr tube amp, which is known to be somewhat warm - make of that what you will. 

 

HD600/HD650 - I personally really like the results, but opinions in the Anedio thread were mixed. Some said the combo was top notch, others said it was pretty good but not great, and a few didn't really like the combo. 

 

So basically the only one that would be a potential problem is the Beyer T1, but again that issue could be irrelevant with the new Anedio version.

 

 

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