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Sennheiser HD800 compared to Grado PS-1000, with Musical Fidelity M1 HPA.

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Introduction:

 

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.

 

 

Equipment:

 

  • 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.

 

 

Impressions:

 

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.

 

 

Outro:

 

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.

 

 

Pictures:

 

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)

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/m1hpa/ (official)

http://www.head-fi.org/search.php?search=Musical+Fidelity+M1+HPA

 

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to disagree and argue your points.

Cheers!

 

LL.


Edited by lovleylady - 10/21/12 at 11:59am
post #2 of 34
Can you give an example of what you find gets hidden in the background?
I don't find it hides anything o.o (maybe a tad bit of bass, but the bass is still punchy and present).
Then again, I haven't used the particular setup you used.
Also, it may just feel hidden if the PS-1000 brings them out more.
post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GL1TCH3D View Post

Can you give an example of what you find gets hidden in the background?
I don't find it hides anything o.o (maybe a tad bit of bass, but the bass is still punchy and present).
Then again, I haven't used the particular setup you used.
Also, it may just feel hidden if the PS-1000 brings them out more.

 

I mostly, but not exclusively, noticed drums disappearing/getting too far away, it's there when you turn up the volume though, but then the rest gets too noisy.

I like to listen to quite low volume levels and that really didn't work with the HD800 for me. Maybe you like to turn it up a bit more?

 

I don't think there would be any dramatic differences with a different SS-amp and descent source, but I can't know for sure of course. I'd love to hear them with a tube amp.

 

Your last point about the PS-1000 maybe bringing different things out is valid, but to me it does it without compromising the rest, much more balanced.

 

Again, I would really like to spend more time with the HD800, it's not for nothing it's one of the most popular phones around.

 

Thanks for replying.

 

 

Cheers!

post #4 of 34
For me the drums are present enough (I'm not a fan of extremely forward drums in the first place)
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 

To me the drums are often the heartbeat of the music, most important I'd say.

post #6 of 34

Very interesting feedback, LL!

 

I'm a very, very content Grado PS500 owner, but obviously I'm very much looking forward to one day spending some time with the PS1ks. So far the 500s are the perfect headphone for me, even edging out my T1s just a bit. I've done a ton of research on the HD800s, mainly because I really want to add a higher end Senn to my collection of phones, but I'm just going to have to listen for myself. Seems like the opinions are just all over the place, to a greater degree than most other headphones I've spent this amount of time researching. 

 

The way you described how some elements (e.g. drums) seem more distant and you have to turn up the volume to bring them into the presentation made perfect sense to me. That's actually one of the problems I had with the Beyer DT880s. Some of the mids felt that way, and I just coulnd't find the sort of balance I was looking for. The T1s were much closer to my preference, so that was a very satisfying purchase for me. 

 

Just like Magnepans with speakers, Grados just hit the sweet spot for me, so it's likely that i'd prefer the PS1ks to the HD800s as you did. but I definitely want to spend some time with both. 

 

Look forward to your further impressions! 

post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post

Very interesting feedback, LL!

 

I'm a very, very content Grado PS500 owner, but obviously I'm very much looking forward to one day spending some time with the PS1ks. So far the 500s are the perfect headphone for me, even edging out my T1s just a bit...

 

... Just like Magnepans with speakers, Grados just hit the sweet spot for me, so it's likely that i'd prefer the PS1ks to the HD800s as you did...

 

So true... they just sound more like "real, live music."

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

First, thanks for reading guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Focker View Post
...

I'm a very, very content Grado PS500 owner, but obviously I'm very much looking forward to one day spending some time with the PS1ks. So far the 500s are the perfect headphone for me, even edging out my T1s just a bit. I've done a ton of research on the HD800s, mainly because I really want to add a higher end Senn to my collection of phones, but I'm just going to have to listen for myself. Seems like the opinions are just all over the place, to a greater degree than most other headphones I've spent this amount of time researching. 

 

The way you described how some elements (e.g. drums) seem more distant and you have to turn up the volume to bring them into the presentation made perfect sense to me. That's actually one of the problems I had with the Beyer DT880s. Some of the mids felt that way, and I just coulnd't find the sort of balance I was looking for.

...

Glad you're so happy with your PS-500s gs1000.gif

I haven't heard them but I really would like to, I've been considering them for portable use but I changed my mind and recently pulled the trigger on a pair of JH 16s.

 

It's really important you listen to both the PS-1000 and the HD800 before making a decision, perhaps the PS-500s are so close to the PS-1000s you wouldn't need them or maybe you'd just prefer the HD800s. No reviews can tell you that.

 

I've read so much praise about the HD800 that I almost blindly, bought a pair several times.

 

Interesting about the DT880s, I've only heard the DT990s and thought them to be most exellent for their price, I actually thought to myself, when listening to the HD700s, that I'd rather get the 990s even if both were the same price.

 

Cheers!

post #9 of 34

Thanks for your impressions. They are surely very different headphones. I never compared the two directly (I've owned them only at different times), and I wonder if I would have noticed some of the same things you did. I did end up selling the HD 800 because I found it a little analytical and dry, as you say, for my tastes, and couldn't justify the expense in the face of those factors, but I retain great respect for it and understand how it is the ultimate headphone for some. The PS1000 I've had for quite some time, and only seriously consider selling it when I contemplate getting out of the "high-end" game entirely.

post #10 of 34
"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."

I find this impression to interesting. particularly when I compare the frequency response of the first 4 octaves of bass (20-40 Hz, 40-80 Hz, 80-160 Hz and 160-320 Hz). There are marked differences between these headphones that may explain your euphonics listening preference.

20-40 Hz:

The PS1000s are quite attenuated <30 Hz and offer little bass information here (-3 to 7 dB). The HD800s present a fairly neutral presentation in this region (within 2dB).

40-80 Hz:

The PS1000s emphasize this region of bass (+4 to +7 dB) while the HD800s emphasize moderately being closer to neutral (+2 to +4 dB).

80-160 Hz:

The PS1000s are peaking in their emphasis (+8 dB) while the HD800s are moderately emphasizing this region (+4 dB).

160-320 Hz:

The PS1000s roll off towards neutral across this region (from +8 dB to +2 dB), whereas the HD800s remain modestly emphasized (+4-5 dB)

The "impact" that you preferred is likely the emphasis (or coloration) in the 2nd and 3rd octaves of the bass. A lot of drum, bass guitar and orchestral information lies hear. I would suggest that your listening preference, is just that; a preference. In that these musical instruments are unnaturally emphasized. The bass on the HD800s is quite good in terms of presenting information in a neutral and natural way (though surpassed by the Audez'e LCD-2 and LCD-3).

I cannot explain the lack of detail that you mention. The HD800s are generally considered to be amongst the most detail resolving headphones available. A comparison of the relative harmonic distortion, 50 and 500 Hz square wave response between these two sets of headphones would favor the HD800s in terms of performace based on accuracy.

That being said, music listening is a valid, albeit a subjective phenomenon. Different listeners will prefer alternate euphonics signatures. Thanks for sharing your impressions and enjoy your PS1000s.

:-)
post #11 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by priest View Post

Thanks for your impressions. They are surely very different headphones. I never compared the two directly (I've owned them only at different times), and I wonder if I would have noticed some of the same things you did. I did end up selling the HD 800 because I found it a little analytical and dry, as you say, for my tastes, and couldn't justify the expense in the face of those factors, but I retain great respect for it and understand how it is the ultimate headphone for some. The PS1000 I've had for quite some time, and only seriously consider selling it when I contemplate getting out of the "high-end" game entirely.

Thanks for reading and replying!

 

''

    ...getting out of the "high-end" game entirely.

                                                                      ''

noooo :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

"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."
I find this impression to interesting. particularly when I compare the frequency response of the first 4 octaves of bass (20-40 Hz, 40-80 Hz, 80-160 Hz and 160-320 Hz). There are marked differences between these headphones that may explain your euphonics listening preference.
20-40 Hz:
The PS1000s are quite attenuated <30 Hz and offer little bass information here (-3 to 7 dB). The HD800s present a fairly neutral presentation in this region (within 2dB).
40-80 Hz:
The PS1000s emphasize this region of bass (+4 to +7 dB) while the HD800s emphasize moderately being closer to neutral (+2 to +4 dB).
80-160 Hz:
The PS1000s are peaking in their emphasis (+8 dB) while the HD800s are moderately emphasizing this region (+4 dB).
160-320 Hz:
The PS1000s roll off towards neutral across this region (from +8 dB to +2 dB), whereas the HD800s remain modestly emphasized (+4-5 dB)
The "impact" that you preferred is likely the emphasis (or coloration) in the 2nd and 3rd octaves of the bass. A lot of drum, bass guitar and orchestral information lies hear. I would suggest that your listening preference, is just that; a preference. In that these musical instruments are unnaturally emphasized. The bass on the HD800s is quite good in terms of presenting information in a neutral and natural way (though surpassed by the Audez'e LCD-2 and LCD-3).
I cannot explain the lack of detail that you mention. The HD800s are generally considered to be amongst the most detail resolving headphones available. A comparison of the relative harmonic distortion, 50 and 500 Hz square wave response between these two sets of headphones would favor the HD800s in terms of performace based on accuracy.
That being said, music listening is a valid, albeit a subjective phenomenon. Different listeners will prefer alternate euphonics signatures. Thanks for sharing your impressions and enjoy your PS1000s.
:-)

 

Hello iim7V7IM7, thanks for replying!

 

20-40 Hz:

For me, not so important on headphones. On a speaker system with a nice subwoofer, sure, but on headphones I really don't care fore it.

40-80 Hz:

Needs to be a bit emphasized on headphones to make up for the lack of chest impact of a sub.

80-160 HZ:

Same as 40-80 Hz, but slightly less.

160-320 Hz:

Time to mellow out a bit, for me that is...

 

Yes, this is a preference.

But why is this a preference?

I'd say because, these musical instruments are naturally prominent as the PS-1000s presents them to me and not as laid back as the HD-800s suggests.

 

"The HD800s are generally considered to be amongst the most detail resolving headphones available."

I can notice some things more if I hear some things less.

 

"Thanks for sharing your impressions and enjoy your PS1000s."

Thanks to you too my friend for being so nice and reading and responding, enjoying them right now. atsmile.gif

 

Cheers!

post #12 of 34

How does the musical fidelity M1 HPA sound on itself, that is saying with no external dac?
Since it does have a usb input it must have some kind of dac inside of it, right?

post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 View Post

"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."
I find this impression to interesting. particularly when I compare the frequency response of the first 4 octaves of bass (20-40 Hz, 40-80 Hz, 80-160 Hz and 160-320 Hz). There are marked differences between these headphones that may explain your euphonics listening preference.
20-40 Hz:
The PS1000s are quite attenuated <30 Hz and offer little bass information here (-3 to 7 dB). The HD800s present a fairly neutral presentation in this region (within 2dB).
40-80 Hz:
The PS1000s emphasize this region of bass (+4 to +7 dB) while the HD800s emphasize moderately being closer to neutral (+2 to +4 dB).
80-160 Hz:
The PS1000s are peaking in their emphasis (+8 dB) while the HD800s are moderately emphasizing this region (+4 dB).
160-320 Hz:
The PS1000s roll off towards neutral across this region (from +8 dB to +2 dB), whereas the HD800s remain modestly emphasized (+4-5 dB)
The "impact" that you preferred is likely the emphasis (or coloration) in the 2nd and 3rd octaves of the bass. A lot of drum, bass guitar and orchestral information lies hear. I would suggest that your listening preference, is just that; a preference. In that these musical instruments are unnaturally emphasized. The bass on the HD800s is quite good in terms of presenting information in a neutral and natural way (though surpassed by the Audez'e LCD-2 and LCD-3).
I cannot explain the lack of detail that you mention. The HD800s are generally considered to be amongst the most detail resolving headphones available. A comparison of the relative harmonic distortion, 50 and 500 Hz square wave response between these two sets of headphones would favor the HD800s in terms of performace based on accuracy.
That being said, music listening is a valid, albeit a subjective phenomenon. Different listeners will prefer alternate euphonics signatures. Thanks for sharing your impressions and enjoy your PS1000s.
:-)

 

Here we go with the measurements again. Any time someone posts a review that either does not praise the HD800 or, heaven forbid, actually criticises it, out come the measuring devices.

 

Kudos to the OP for just enjoying the music and stating how the two headphones sounded to them.

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dolor View Post

How does the musical fidelity M1 HPA sound on itself, that is saying with no external dac?
Since it does have a usb input it must have some kind of dac inside of it, right?

 

The M1 HPA is, in my beliefs, a very typical SS amp, neutral.

 

The internal DAC of the M1 HPA is 16bit/44kHz. I haven't used it.

I would however expect it to be most excellent.

 

 

Cheers!

post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beagle View Post

 

Here we go with the measurements again. Any time someone posts a review that either does not praise the HD800 or, heaven forbid, actually criticises it, out come the measuring devices.

 

Kudos to the OP for just enjoying the music and stating how the two headphones sounded to them.


Hi, thanks for stoping by :)

 

Although I'm not so in to measurements myself, there are some who are for various reasons.

 

Some are in to them because they help them validate their purchases.

But as I've learned, some people know what measurements they like a headphone to produce, and it helps them make good decisions.

 

Some might not be in to them for the very same reasons :)

 

Whatever the reason, you have a good point, the HD800 has a very wide fan base, and many of its members recommend, defend and listen to it with the measurements. (not directed at iim7V7IM7)

 

 

Cheers!


Edited by lovleylady - 9/3/12 at 3:53pm
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