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LCD-2 vs. HD800 - Soundstage: Centering?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

 

Moved to High-End to be more pertinent.

 

Today I got to try extensively the Senn HD800 alongside my LCD-2, both driven by a Peachtree iNova, playing lossless files. I also had the opportunity to audition the Denon AH7000 and AH2000. 

 

Listening to the HD800 after listening to all of the headphones above, it was immediately clear that its soundstage was wider than the rest. However, what's interesting is that vocals on the HD800 sounded completely centered while on all other phones, the vocals seemed to bias a tiny bit off the center, including on the LCD-2. Can this be attributed to a superior and more accurate soundstage of the HD800 over the rest? Is centering a property of soundstage? Is it normal for vocals to be very slightly decentered? I understand it can be dependent on recording, but opinions are welcomed.

 

For the record, I don't think there is channel imbalance in all the other cans. Moreover, this difference in centering is subtle, but definitely there.

The HD800 was certainly enjoyable to listen to for certain tracks, but I felt for my tastes it was tad bright, probably a result of being acclimatized to the LCD-2.

 

Comments and experiences are appreciated.

post #2 of 31

I own both LCD-2(r2) and HD800s, and I can't imagine being without either.  They are very different, but rather than saying I prefer one over the other, I like to think that they complement each other.  

 

I listen to both through my Violectric V200, and the HD800 through my Woo WA2.  The HD800 definitely has the more expansive soundstage, and I used to think it was a bit bright, especially right after I got the LCD-2.  But with the tube amp, the brightness is tamed a bit, and with the right recordings, it's an amazing sounding pairing.

 

I've not really noticed the off-center vocals, but that may be due to the recordings I own.  I'll have to listen to a few things and A-B the two pairs of phones, to see if I can find examples of that.  Of course, both of these are open cans, but the HD800 seem even more open than the LCD-2, possibly because of larger diameter ear cups, and because they are lighter in weight and don't have the clamping pressure of the Audeze.  If indeed there is more openness in the HD800 construction, the resulting cross feed might contribute to centering vocals a bit more.  But maybe that's placebo effect, too.  I'd like to think any centering, or off-centering of vocals and other instruments was on purpose, either to recreate the position of the musicians on stage, or just to achieve the desired effect.

 

I'm listening to Patricia Barber's 'Verse' now with the Woo and the HD800s, and the string bass has a surprising amount of impact and depth; not quite what the LCD-2 can do, but much closer than many people might think.  And the WA2's power tubes, which are Tung Sol 5998s, do a good job of taming any objectionable brightness.  And the vocals are definitely centered.

 

Edit:  I see you mentioned the Denon D7000 also; that's my 3rd pair of cans, and for any recordings that the Hd800 and LCD-2 can't do justice to regarding the low end impact, I turn to those.  Usually with the solid state amp, though.  


Edited by Red Jacket Mike - 2/21/12 at 7:09pm
post #3 of 31
Sounds like it isn't the source or the amp since the HD800 is centered and the LCD2 is not. It could just be poor driver matching. From the test results on innerfidelity.com I wouldn't be all that surprised.
post #4 of 31

My guess is driver mis-matching with the LCD-2, but I can't be sure.

post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
I thought about driver mismatch too, but just like how it couldn't be channel imbalance, I find it difficult to believe that the LCD2, AH7000, AH2000, and even my Monster Turbine Pro Coppers had mismatch issues.
post #6 of 31
Your initial post didn't make it clear you had problems with all but the HD800, just that the LCD2 was a problem. Don't know what to tell you if that is the case.

edit: I see it now. Skimmed past it.
Edited by Maxvla - 2/21/12 at 10:38pm
post #7 of 31
Thread Starter 
I just want to add that the decentering isn't consistently on one side on all the cans tested which perhaps rules out mismatch, unless I'm wrong.
To put my experience in another way, center sounded more 'centered' on the HD800 albeit very subtle.
post #8 of 31
Hm.. maybe lay off the sauce? tongue.gif

A centering problem won't change sides unless you put the headphones on backwards or reverse the wiring. Perhaps what you are hearing is just a better focused center on the HD800, which should be accurate from my listening to the headphones you've mentioned.
post #9 of 31

This is funny, I actually had the exact opposite problem.  For me the vocals on the hd800 always sounded a little to the left instead of centered and I figured it was because of the superior soundstage that I could actually hear the difference.

post #10 of 31

The Peachtree iNova uses a budget volume control, so left to right matching will always be unlikely except at full volume.  Mechanical volume controls can sound great compared to cheap electronic ones, but they cannot match their resistance between left and right in all positions.  Even Alps volume controls (which cost a lot more than the Peachtree ones) are only guarenteed to <1dB difference at the higher volumes and <3dB at quieter positions.

 

Now why the HD-800 sound centred when all the others do not could be a psychoacoustic phenomenon. Location of sound is from a variety of cues: level, timbre and arrival time. Maybe the location is better centred by arival time and timbre on the HD-800, and the others highlight the difference in level?

 

The more likey explanation is that you have to use a different position on the volume control for each headphone, and the position for the HD-800 is more closely matched than the others.  Higher volume positions are on average better matched.

 

post #11 of 31
probably due to angled drivers. angled drivers will help giving more upfront center imaging especially if the drivers is a good distance from the ear drum. also it could be way the headphone is positioned on your head. moving the left and right side will help as well cause some headphones are picky with head placement. also since the lcd2 is a planer driver, planers tend to disperse soundwaves much differently than dynamic drivers resulting in different type of imaging and sound cue positioning. planers dispersion pattern is very identical to ribbons in most cases. it can be driver mismatch as well as a possibility. if you feel that way though maybe you should try auditioning someone else's LCD2 to compare.

another thing never mention that affects imaging ability is crossfeeding. i assume the hd800's and LCD2 uses a balanced 1/4'' jack to help eliminate possible crosstalk. feeding a balanced headphone with cross-feeding can result in weird results. that's why i never like the idea of these crossfeeding DSP's and VST's. it will make a balanced headphone sound more artificial then improving it. with balanced sources and headphones, never use crossfeed.
post #12 of 31
Thread Starter 

I'd appreciate it if those with LCD-2s and/or HD800s can comment on the centering of vocals in this track:

 

http://s1.sftp.cc/sounddump/01_annabel.mp3

 

What I hear is that the main vocals are in the center but very slightly to the left. This was one of the tracks tested on the HD800 that felt perfect centered.

post #13 of 31

FWIW I measured my LCD-2, both sides separately, and use the results to correct the FR with a graphic equalizer. My left and right channels are not evenly matched in the 2-5kHz region. Turning on the equalizer, to correct this, results in a slight sideways shift of the soundstage. I therefore think driver matching can be an issue, though in my case it's subtle and not something I'm particularly concerned about.

post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrksgrn View Post

 

Moved to High-End to be more pertinent.

 

Today I got to try extensively the Senn HD800 alongside my LCD-2, both driven by a Peachtree iNova, playing lossless files. I also had the opportunity to audition the Denon AH7000 and AH2000. 

 

Listening to the HD800 after listening to all of the headphones above, it was immediately clear that its soundstage was wider than the rest. However, what's interesting is that vocals on the HD800 sounded completely centered while on all other phones, the vocals seemed to bias a tiny bit off the center, including on the LCD-2. Can this be attributed to a superior and more accurate soundstage of the HD800 over the rest? Is centering a property of soundstage? Is it normal for vocals to be very slightly decentered? I understand it can be dependent on recording, but opinions are welcomed.

 

For the record, I don't think there is channel imbalance in all the other cans. Moreover, this difference in centering is subtle, but definitely there.

The HD800 was certainly enjoyable to listen to for certain tracks, but I felt for my tastes it was tad bright, probably a result of being acclimatized to the LCD-2.

 

Comments and experiences are appreciated.



You should take a look at purrin's measurement thread, driver matching is stellar on the HD800, somewhat random on the Audez'e.

 

post #15 of 31

TS, I tried the track you posted on my HD800, RS-1i and Linn Majik 109 speakers. 

The vocals are slightly to the left for all three and most obvious on the speakers but nevertheless very noticeable on the HD800s. Your ears and phones are fine. If they aren't to the left of this recording on your other cans, it might be that they aren't as good as the HD800s in terms of imaging. 

 

Edit: I actually mean that for the HD800s, the left biased main vocals are only very noticeable because you have brought it to my attention, it's still very obvious on the speakers though. 


Edited by silwen - 2/25/12 at 3:34am
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