I'll be comparing a three hour listening session with the HD800 in a quiet store to over a thousand hours of home listening with my PS-1000. I'm only considering the songs I heard on the HD800, which are songs I'm very familiar with on the PS-1000.
- Mixed CDs burned from FLAC-files --> Primare CD32 --[RCA]--> Musical Fidelity M1 HPA --> HD800. (All with very expensive and fancy cables).
- Same FLAC-files on disk --> Xonar Essence ST(DAC) --[RCA]--> Musical Fidelity M1 HPA --> PS-1000 (Stock power cable, <$10 RCA cable).
Expectations on the HD800:
- Very detailed.
- Big soundstage.
- Just a bit less bass than the PS-1000 but more refined.
- More natural highs than the PS-1000.
- Great balance between mids and highs/lows.
- Great comfort.
To begin, I found the HD800 to have a sort of false, high level of detail.
I'll explain, to me the HD800 sort of leaves elements of the music out and/or put them so far in the background that they become very hard to perceive, thus what's left behind is very clear.
The same details are there with the PS-1000, but they may sometimes require a bit more focus from the listener.
On some songs I really liked this with the HD800, really brought out some nice details in some vocals.
However, on most songs this was a quite annoying feature of the HD800.
The distance to some parts of the music made me raise the volume in order to hear them better, leaving me at quite high volumes which made other parts of the music too high, actually hurting my ears a bit.
This made the whole session with the HD800 to a be struggle with the volume knob on the M1.
With the PS-1000 I usually set the volume once per song/record and then leaves it, and I always set it very low without loosing impact or dynamics.
So my first two expectations on the HD800 was kind of confirmed but sadly in a disappointing way.
The problem with the volume on the HD800 kind of makes the rest of my sound related expectations above impossible to fulfill.
Sometimes the highs/lows was very nice, sometimes they were distanced and/or nonexistens, sometimes too high/low due to me changing volume in search/flight of other parts of the spectrum, leaving the mids mostly unbalanced.
The HD800 lacked impact and detail in the bass, compared to the PS-1000, which has the most detailed and tight bass I ever heard on any system.
Still the bass on it's own was nice on the HD800, mostly.
Out of the box the HD800 kicks the PS-1000's behind so hard when it comes to comfort that it's almost ridiculous. I can't for the life of me understand why Grado just couldn't put some darn filling in the head band of the PS-1000. Mine are however comfort-modded(see pictures below) and are just as comfy as the HD800, but heavier.
The PS-1000 also takes time to learn how to properly place on your head, the HD800 fits very natural.
Overall the I believe the HD800 to be great headphones, just not as great as the PS-1000.
To me the HD800 was mostly boring and dry, somewhat annoying and never as engaging as the PS-1000 is.
However, on some recordings were I would like to tone down parts of the music in order to get more focus on other parts I could find great use of, and enjoyment with the HD800.
I hope to buy, enjoy and spend more time with the HD800 later on, but for now I have other things in sight.
About the CDs/files used:
Mixed CDs/files with vocal jazz, band jazz, soul, orchestral classical, solo classical, rock, death metal, black metal, electronic, hip hop, trip hop, reggae.
A total of 35 songs.
http://www.head-fi.org/gallery/album/view/id/683552 (including my modded PS-1000s and also fancy cables and CD player used in the HD800 session)
About the Musical Fidelity M1 HPA:
http://www.musicalfidelity.com/uploads/catalogerfiles/m1hpa/4_M1HPA.pdf (Specs on page 10)
Thanks for reading and feel free to disagree and argue your points.
Edited by lovleylady - 10/21/12 at 11:59am