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Sennheiser HDVD800 Headphone Amplifier - Page 101

post #1501 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by James-uk View Post

Thanks for the responses and opinions it puts it back into perspective . I think I had convinced myself that the difference was going to be a noticeable improvement even though my own experiences and logic have always had a hard time noticing differences in audio gear that had been built well. The HDVD800 was the biggest change I've heard going from one solid state amp to another and it turns out there is a logical reason for that , it's output impedance . Again my experience of this 'big' change is still subtle in the grand scheme of things. What's worse is all my on reading and knowledge built up in this hobby has got me thinking that no way should the balanced output sound 'better' and probably not different (maybe slightly different ) based on gain alone. BUT as palmfish has pointed out the biggest change is probably going to be a perceived change, yet my order for the balanced cable remains in place! I'm going against my better judgment which is bordering on slight madness but I suppose that's the way this audio hobby goes! I am at least willing to admit that I have a problem.

My name is James and I'm an audioholic smily_headphones1.gif

 

Heh!

 

Your "problem" is easy. You just need to go listen to things. Make sure that you can spend at least 20-30 minutes listening because I've found that it usually takes me that long to be able to relax and feel unpressured enough to focus on what I'm listening to. Anyway, if you don't hear a difference then you just have to decide if the color of the box is important :smile: otherwise, you just need to decide (assuming that the difference is desireable) whether or not the price to acquire that difference is justifiable to you.

 

You won't have a real problem until you've put a second mortgage on the house to finance multiple systems (audio-hoarding)

post #1502 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovethatsound View Post

This time last week I got my balance cable,and I put a post about it on here Basically saying how much better the sound quality was.l have just looked at some of posts from some people on here, trying 2 say the only difference is,how much louder balance is,what a load of rubbish their talking.ive been listening all week 2 my music,and I'll say it again,sound quality is alot better,in every way with the balance cable.u can hear the difference with your ears very clearly.and what a fantastic difference it makes.

Pretty cool huh?

 

The sound takes on a more natural and open characteristic. That's primarily because of all the very subtle, low level ambient sounds on the recording that are now being reproduced at you ears in a more distinct fashion. Each sound becomes more focused and so reproduces the reality of the recording better. Systems that smear those low level details can tonally sound wonderful but they never quite "open up" or "relax" quite the same.

 

:L3000:

post #1503 of 2309

Interesting comments about the balanced versus single-ended stages, something I wasn't really aware of when I borrowed this amp.

 

As I mentioned yesterday, I was only able to listen to this amp in SE config due to there being no balanced cables in stock at Unilet/Custom Cable.

 

In SE mode, I didn't think the HDVD800 really improved on what I've got but I will be back to try another demo when Custom Cable/Unilet get a decent supply of the balanced cable. Hope it's good enough to open my wallet!

post #1504 of 2309

I thought I'd offer my experience with the balanced vs unbalanced 'phones connection:

 

(1) When the HDVD 800 first came out I borrowed one from my local dealer, and listened
"single ended" (with the 1/4" jack). I was *not* using the built in DAC. My system is:
Equi=Tech balanced mains unit feeding dcs Puccini CD player + u-clock, connected to the HDVD 800 by Chord Sarum "Tuned Aray" cables (balanced). I have a Cardas Clear headphone cable,  and HD 800 phones. Compared to my Lehman Linear headphone amp I thought the HDVD 800 very clean, and more detailed, but rather cold, clinical, and uninvolving. I was disappointed. Going back to the Lehman, however, I felt it now seemed rather crude by comparison. So I ended up unhappy with both amps.

 

(2) I've had an HDVA 600 for a week now, and have been using it in the same system
as before but with my Cardas cable re-terminated with a balanced connector. The sound I am getting is very different - or that is what my memory tells me, as the HDVD 800 audition was months ago. It is now richer, for want of a better word, but still very detailed. The treble is less apparent, but I've come to think this isn't a lack of treble but rather a better balanced sound. I find that I listen to music at somewhat higher volume than before, but also for longer and with less fatigue. I was at a dealer event last week and listened to their HDVD 800 / HD 800 combo balanced, and driven by a Chord Electronics CD drive and DAC. The room was noisy, as is usual at shows, but I thought that the sound was similar in character to what I'm getting at home from the HDVA 600.

 

I have not compared single ended and balanced headphone connections on my HDVA 600, which I suppose is the obvious thng to do. However, I'm very happy with the sound I have now - it's simultaneously the most detailed, musical, and non-fatiguing digital sound I've been able to achieve in my system. Not to say that further improvements aren't possible - I also heard the Stax 009s at the show, and despite the by now very noisy room there were some interesting differences from HD 800. (I used to have 007s, and keep thinking about going back to Stax.)


Edited by slc01 - 9/4/13 at 1:38pm
post #1505 of 2309
How do you find the 800s compared to the stax then?
post #1506 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by murrays View Post

I really think that most people just don't get how "balanced" operation (i.e. bridged outputs) doubles the amplitude, hence giving a 6dB gain with all the sonic benefits that come along with that.  I just sort of expect it now, and it does not bother me so much.

+1

I would go further and say most people (as evidenced by this thread) don't know the difference between "balanced" and "bridged."
post #1507 of 2309

Why not just use a converter (if such a thing exists) at the end of the regular 1/4"  headphone cable  to convert it to XLR connector and plug it into the balanced output of the HDVD 800.  You would be getting the balanced output without the expense and hassle involved with procuring the balanced cable, right?  Just a converting (1/4" to XLR) connector, how much could it be?  Just wondering.

 

Also, how long does it take to break one of these things in anyway?

post #1508 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by King of Pangaea View Post

Why not just use a converter (if such a thing exists) at the end of the regular 1/4"  headphone cable  to convert it to XLR connector and plug it into the balanced output of the HDVD 800.  You would be getting the balanced output without the expense and hassle involved with procuring the balanced cable, right?  Just a converting (1/4" to XLR) connector, how much could it be?  Just wondering

You can't do that with a bridged output amplifier. Because the 1/4" plug ties together two of the leads, what you end up with is one half of one channel's output driving the output of one half of the other channel's output. That's tantamount to shorting those outputs to ground and amps generally don't like their outputs shorted to ground.

se
post #1509 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by Windsor View Post
 

 

With the same source I used the stock cable and then switched to the balanced cable without changing the volume control of the HDVD 800.

Yes but the output level in dBu is different on SE and XLR outputs so volume adjustment is absolutely necessary. The XLR will be several dB louder than the SE.

 

The levels must be matched within 0.1dB in order to make the loudness imperceptably different to the ear. You won't be able to do anything without a 1kHz tone generator and a set of 2-channel level meters. In theory, XLR connection should provide greater dynamics but this will only be noticeable at passagas that are highly dynamic in order to make use of the greater headroon offered by symmetrical signal path. It won't be as apparent as people would like to think, certainly not on music that is generally highly compressed.

 

I think that cable manufacturers/sellers should make this clear in order for people to make an informed purchase.

post #1510 of 2309
Quote:

Originally Posted by R Giskard View Post

 

In theory, XLR connection should provide greater dynamics but this will only be noticeable at passagas that are highly dynamic in order to make use of the greater headroon offered by symmetrical signal path. It won't be as apparent as people would like to think, certainly not on music that is generally highly compressed.

 

What theory is that? That would only hold true if you were to intentionally design the single ended output to provide insufficient gain and/or output level. But there's nothing inherently preventing a single ended output from providing all the gain and/or output level that you would ever need. And provided you do that, the XLR output could never provide any greater dynamics. At least not in any meaningful sense.

 

se

post #1511 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by lovethatsound View Post


the new usb driver 2 fix the hissing problem with high res files will be available from the 4th of September as a firmware update.hope this helps u my friend.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OICWUTUDIDTHAR View Post
 

Thats a new firmware, not a new USB driver

...today, 5th of September I checked the German Sennheiser web-page, but found nothing. Can anybody help to get this long expected HDVD800 firmware update?

post #1512 of 2309

I looked around at Sennheiser US & UK and couldn't find anything about new firmware. Would be good with a proper ETA on when it's coming.

post #1513 of 2309
Quote:

Originally Posted by R Giskard View Post

 

In theory, XLR connection should provide greater dynamics but this will only be noticeable at passagas that are highly dynamic in order to make use of the greater headroon offered by symmetrical signal path. It won't be as apparent as people would like to think, certainly not on music that is generally highly compressed.

 

I think that cable manufacturers/sellers should make this clear in order for people to make an informed purchase.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post
 

 

What theory is that? That would only hold true if you were to intentionally design the single ended output to provide insufficient gain and/or output level. But there's nothing inherently preventing a single ended output from providing all the gain and/or output level that you would ever need. And provided you do that, the XLR output could never provide any greater dynamics. At least not in any meaningful sense.

 

se

 

...the dynamics have a top- and a bottom- end. What is in between is the dynamic-range and expressed in dB.

 

R Giskard's comment suggests that he more focuses at the top-end of it since he describes it with "headroom" and "passages that are highly dynamic".

In this context Steve Eddy is surely right, there is no inherent reason that would limit a single ended output from providing "gain and/or output level" in comparison to a balanced output.

 

Still, output level is not equal to dynamics: If we look to the other end of the dynamic range, the bottom end, the permanent basic background-noise level, I experienced quite remarkable differences between single-ended and balanced... but this might rather be owed to the possible usage of XLR cables instead of RCA cables than to the device and its output itself; always provided that both compared devices, whether balanced or single-ended, are equally well engineered. 

 

A balanced XLR cable might possibly produce better results than a RCA by simply protecting the music-signal better from the impact of electromagnetic radiation that occurs along the signal's path through the cable. Especially over larger distances.

Those are some of the reasons why studios traditionally prefer balanced designs: Strong electromagnetic pollution due to tons of equipment in combination with long cables running between the pre-amp sections of the mixers to active studio monitors.

 

This difference in lower background noise will not "only be noticeable at passages that are highly dynamic". This is especially audible at such quiet passages that would suffer from background-noise. This is what many reviewers describe as a "very black background" against which the music is presented.

 

This does not as much apply for headphones as it does for very low output devices like moving-coil cartridges. Those of you who ever heard a balanced mc-cartridge / tonearm / cable set-up might agree to that...

 

Back to the HDVD800: Comparing the balanced and the single ended outputs on my HDVD800, of course by using the same headphone, yes, the results are slightly different, but I am not sure whether this is really owed to a higher dynamic range. To me the difference expresses in a little-noticed increase of clarity; not in the sense of more transparency, rather in the sense of less graininess (...don't get me wrong, not that the single ended output of the HDVD800 sounds grainy at all, more in the sense of clarity... well...and round and round we go, caught within the limitations of  language to describe sound, or my lacking ability to articulate appropriately... :-) ...whatever...


Edited by musikaladin - 9/5/13 at 11:26am
post #1514 of 2309

Oh well, another million dollar idea down the drain.  Back to the drawing board, I mean, somebody has to come up with the stupid questions every now and then, else there would be no dialogue.

 

Now then, are there any balanced extension cables available for the HDVD 800 setup.  I am going to need about 12 feet of length if I get into this.

post #1515 of 2309
Quote:
Originally Posted by musikaladin View Post



...the dynamics have a top- and a bottom- end. What is in between is the dynamic-range and expressed in dB.

R Giskard's comment suggests that he more focuses at the top-end of it since he describes it with "headroom" and "passages that are highly dynamic".

R Giskard is absolutely correct. He was referring to "dynamic headroom" which is the ability of an amplifier to provide a large amount of power for very short peaks, It is not a function of "top-end" or "bottom-end" except in the sense that lower frequency peaks require more dynamic power than high frequency peaks. Steve Eddy is also correct. He was simply pointing out that a single-ended output can provide the same amount of dynamic power as a symmetrical output.

A balanced XLR cable might possibly produce better results than a RCA by simply protecting the music-signal better from the impact of electromagnetic radiation that occurs along the signal's path through the cable. Especially over larger distances.
Those are some of the reasons why studios traditionally prefer balanced designs: Strong electromagnetic pollution due to tons of equipment in combination with long cables running between the pre-amp sections of the mixers to active studio monitors.

The Sennheiser XLR cable is exactly the same as the TRS cable. Noise rejection is exactly the same. Of course, with a length of only 10 feet, it is also irrelevant.

As for your comments about "black backgrounds" and "grain" etc., think of it this way. Anything audible on one output that isnt audible on the other output would be distortion, right? Just examine the HDVD800's technical specifications (the few specs that we do have) and note that there is no distinction between XLR and TRS outputs. If one output was "less distorted" than the other, Sennheiser would have published separate figures for each output.

Edited by palmfish - 9/5/13 at 12:24pm
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