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HD800 replacement cable: ALO Reference 8 or SAA Endorphin?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I must be looking for this in the wrong way because for the life of me I can't seem to find anyone who has directly compared an ALO Reference 8 (or 16, which I am auditioning now) with a StefanArt Endorphin HD800 cable, like Robert Youman did on PFO. The ALO Ref 16 I currently have is a wonderful thing: I am driving my HD800 with the lovely Grace m903, which the ALO has proven conclusively is not the source of brightness (the stock HD800 cable is, and to a lesser extent, the m903's crossfeed circuit). However, the ALO cable improves on the HD800's character rather than modifying it, and the change I'm looking for is to bring some life into the midrange. The HD800 is a bit laid-back in the upper-midrange to me and unfortunately the ALO cable doesn't change that.

 

I've also tried a Moon Audio Black Dragon which is very musical and really brings forward the midrange, but it does so by rolling off the upper octaves so much that the sound seems constricted and, truthfully, of lower volume than the ALO or even stock cable. In contrast, Cardas cable also rolls off the upper octaves, but much less so: it's main bugaboo to my ears is that it also brings out the bass and a bit too much of the lower treble, so the end result seems too "tweaked" to my ears. It actually sounds a bit like their Golden Reference speaker cables, which I had back when I owned Merlin speakers.

 

Sorry, got off on a tangent there. Given what little I have read, the SAA Endorphins may give me back some of the midrange and overall timbre of instruments rather than just the air and treble "sheen" which is what the ALO Ref 16 has done. OTOH the PFO review says there was precious little difference between ALO and SAA Endorphin until the whole system was rewired with SAA cabling, which I don't plan to do (not much I can do with the M903 as digital source and amp anyway). I was hoping someone here with more sensitive ears could give better color on the comparison.

 

Thanks,

KJ

 


Edited by James - 1/27/12 at 12:04pm
post #2 of 16

Thanks for the impressions on the various cables. Seems like Double Helix should also be on your list, as most impressions I've seen fit your requirements.

 

For myself I prefer the characteristics of silver for the HD800, and currently use HEADPHONELOUNGE wires, but  eventually plan try Double Helix's silver.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pigmode View Post

Thanks for the impressions on the various cables. Seems like Double Helix should also be on your list, as most impressions I've seen fit your requirements.

 

For myself I prefer the characteristics of silver for the HD800, and currently use HEADPHONELOUNGE wires, but  eventually plan try Double Helix's silver.



Thanks, I had completely forgotten about Double Helix cables.

 

I guess there aren't that many Endorphin owners to begin with ....

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

So it turns out I was lucky enough to get a demo 7-foot length of the Endorphins and just outright bought all three of the Moon Audio cables to try. I had five HD800 replacement cables in at once! (Including the ALO Reference 16).

 

I will write more later, but in the meantime I left a short review on Moon Audio. I happen to go with the Black Dragons in the end -- to my surprise given my initial impressions above -- and as you'd expect the reason is more involved than is described on Moon Audio. The gist of it has to do whether you want to max out the HD800's inherent strengths or compensate for its weaknesses. The answer to that will largely determine your choice of cable.

post #5 of 16

Thanks for the impressions! They are really useful for me. I will be waiting for more information.

 

So, as I could undestand, if you want to max out HD800's strenghts, you should choose Endorphin or ALO?

And if we are talking about compensation of their waknesses, the best way is to go with Black Dragon?


Edited by dubselect - 3/4/12 at 7:43am
post #6 of 16

you could also try the Norse cable by NorseAudio.

Trevor is really a great and skilled guy.His cable is 22 awg pure up-occ.

Drop him an email here : http://www.norseaudio.com/

 

his prices are really really good and his customer support is second to none

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by James View Post

So it turns out I was lucky enough to get a demo 7-foot length of the Endorphins and just outright bought all three of the Moon Audio cables to try. I had five HD800 replacement cables in at once! (Including the ALO Reference 16).

 



 

Great review @ Moon. I'd be interested in your impressions of the Endorphins.

 

For further reference to cables for the HD800, I am happy with my solid silver wires from Chris_Himself at HEADPHONELOUNGE.com. Great silver cables at reasonable prices. 

post #8 of 16

Are you using the m903 as a DAC?  Are you feeding it via USB?  I think Wes Phillips noticed a change in the bass and perhaps brightness going from USB to optical.  I have not tested this myself.

 

Here is the review Mr. Phillips did regarding the m902.  To my ears the m903 is very neutral sounding with a hint of brightness.  I am guessing you do not have your Ultra Desktop Amp any longer?  To my ears their gear has a much sweeter low end a tad less brightness.

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/grace-design-m902-reference-da-headphone-amplifier-wes-phillips-grace-m902

 

I think Tyll Hertsens is looking into writing an article about headphone cables in the near future.  Keep an eye out for it over at InnerFidelity.com.

post #9 of 16

James - I'm facing the same dilemma.  I've had my HD800 for several years now.  When I first got them, I did find them a bit hollow in the midrange, and a little brighter then I liked.  So I bought a cable from the infamous Warren Audio,  wow these really improved the sound.  Especially the transparency and tonal balance.

 

I've had many high end systems over the last 20 years, trying many amps, pre-amps, speakers, numerous cabling, tweeks, etc.. culminating in a ridiculous $50K system in my main listening room (when I was flush with bucks in 2006).  Well, 2008 hit and I had to liquidate this amazing system, downsized my house, kept my nice sounding office system, and went for a really great headphone set-up in my listening room.  The point is - I think I have a pretty good grasp of what I want my audio to sound like...tonal neutrality, detail, transparency, wide dynamics, very wide and deep sound stage...but above all musicality.

 

My current Headphone system is the amazing Woo Audio WA6-SE, upgraded caps, Synergistic Research power cord.  After 8 months of tube rolling every compatible tube set I could find, settled on some NOS Zenith 6EM7s and a 1958 NOS Mullard GZ34.  Driven by a custom tube DAC and music server. Nice set-up.

 

Well the Warren Cable failed at the connector - out came the stock cable.  What a let down - back to the thin, bright sound!

 

So I'm shopping for a new cable and have been trying to decide between the SAA Endorphin or the Cardas Clear.  The Cardas cable looks much studier then the SAA.  But sound wise?  Thanks for the review on Moon cable, I think it's between Black Dragons and the Endorphin.  Being that I have a tube amp, I can tweek it a bit with a different tube combination, but really want that transparency the SAAs offer.


Edited by rb2013 - 4/12/13 at 9:25am
post #10 of 16

Looking at the Stefan Audio site, I notice he offers the Endorphin in a hard wired form (i.e. directly attached to the headphones) and also with shelless XLR connectors.

 

http://www.stefanaudioart.com/Endorphin%20SennheiserHD800%20headphones%20Balanced%20WS.html

 

Has anyone any experience of these two ideas, either with headphones or with audio generally?

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by rb2013 View Post

James - I'm facing the same dilemma.  I've had my HD800 for several years now.  When I first got them, I did find them a bit hollow in the midrange, and a little brighter then I liked.  So I bought a cable from the infamous Warren Audio,  wow these really improved the sound.  Especially the transparency and tonal balance.

 

I've had many high end systems over the last 20 years, trying many amps, pre-amps, speakers, numerous cabling, tweeks, etc.. culminating in a ridiculous $50K system in my main listening room (when I was flush with bucks in 2006).  Well, 2008 hit and I had to liquidate this amazing system, downsized my house, kept my nice sounding office system, and went for a really great headphone set-up in my listening room.  The point is - I think I have a pretty good grasp of what I want my audio to sound like...tonal neutrality, detail, transparency, wide dynamics, very wide and deep sound stage...but above all musicality.

 

My current Headphone system is the amazing Woo Audio WA6-SE, upgraded caps, Synergistic Research power cord.  After 8 months of tube rolling every compatible tube set I could find, settled on some NOS Zenith 6EM7s and a 1958 NOS Mullard GZ34.  Driven by a custom tube DAC and music server. Nice set-up.

 

Well the Warren Cable failed at the connector - out came the stock cable.  What a let down - back to the thin, bright sound!

 

So I'm shopping for a new cable and have been trying to decide between the SAA Endorphin or the Cardas Clear.  The Cardas cable looks much studier then the SAA.  But sound wise?  Thanks for the review on Moon cable, I think it's between Black Dragons and the Endorphin.  Being that I have a tube amp, I can tweek it a bit with a different tube combination, but really want that transparency the SAAs offer.

 

Hi rb2013

 

Did you eventually settle for the SAAs? I'm seriously thinking about the getting the Endorphins for my HD800. Hope to hear from you.

post #12 of 16

Why is ALO soooo expEnsive ?


Edited by quantx - 6/21/13 at 1:50pm
post #13 of 16

you mean expensive. yeah, way too expensive. better consider alternatives.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lenni View Post

you mean expensive. yeah, way too expensive. better consider alternatives.

Which ones ?

post #15 of 16

Toxic Cable

or

Headphone Lounge

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