I demoed the HDVD800 a few weeks ago. I should mention the place as they are fantastic, really friendly people - Ortons AudioVisual (Just north of london in hertford (UK)).
They gave me the demo room for as long as I wanted. I bought my equipment and listened to this unit, the hd800, he500 for 4 hours straight!
The hdvd's dac didn't work - or at least I couldn't get it to work on my computer which didn't recognize it. I had a feeling it was a problem with the unit, with drivers/firmware that It needed or something, as USB dac's normally work seamlessly on my PC.
Anyway, I listened to it's amp and compared the HDVD800 Amp section to my graham slee UL diamond. Equipment used was all burned in and in terms of dac's I used musical fidelity vdacII and audilab's mdac (v impressive piece of equipment). Cables/Power conditioners were all branded so don't worry about this either. Here's my brief impressions (which I should have posted before!):
Sounded better from the graham slee. Detailing was better slightly and there was less of a metallic feel in the upper registers. I compared these two a lot in this test and they both actually sound very similar to each other. The bass in terms of impact, quantity and definition was something that I couldn't tell apart even when exclusively listening for it. Comparing the soundstage's between the amps with the hd800 was difficult as I am not used to this kind of soundstage. I've been almost exclusively using closed headphones and now that I live in a very quite place have the room to introduce a few open ones to the mix.
The graham slee put the midrange just a touch more forward and combined with a more smoother projection, it made it sound better than the hdvd's amp.
d7000 (lawton pads)
Better from the hdvd800. Yep. Actually this is quite noticeable. Let me just say that I initially bought the graham slee pretty much for the d7000. I have never felt them both pairing well, but I've kept it as it's been definitely good with my other headphones (especially the T1). The burson soloist SL is sitting right next to it on my desk, and I'll soon see how they compare.
The hdvd gave the d7k more impactful bass and made the whole sound faster and slightly thicker as opposed to the graham slee. The soundstage was bigger as well and most interestingly, more defined too. With the slee the d7k sounds more like an open headphone than with the hdvd800, which gives the headstage a set room to fill. Sounded really good with the d7k
he500 + Mad Dog
They didn't sound much different to be honest. I wouldn't select one amplifier over the other in this instance. To be more honest, I was a bit too distracted by my surprise at how much I preferred the mad dogs to the he500. To my ears the he500's simply aren't that good. Incoherent sound with quite a bit of glare in the midrange. Highs aren't anything to enjoy and the bass is bested by the mad dogs hands down. Maybe it needs a different type of amplifier, don't know, don't care.
Anyway it was a really good session I had where overall I was impressed by the amp of the hdvd800. I've never heard my d7k sound so good (audiolab mdac with the senn amp)!!
Edited by CantScareMe - 7/13/13 at 3:02pm