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The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 858

post #12856 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post
 

I'll give some quick thoughts now. Please remember that when you have people over to your place to audition gear, you spend most of your time hosting and very little time listening. Tonight and tomorrow I'll spend more time evaluating the new gear and will share more detailed impressions. 

 

*The Val 2 is the real deal, especially with the hd800. This pairing was my favorite of all. 

 

*The Crack is still king with the hd650/600 but the Val 2 gave it a real run. 

 

*NAD m51...if there is any way you can afford it, get it. 

Sweet! I appreciate the update. Thanks a million. 

post #12857 of 22575

Cr@p! I just may have to give the Valhalla 2 a try and see how it compares to the WA6.  Matt, are you using stock tubes? Between your and Purrin's recommendation, gotta give it a try.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post
 

*The Val 2 is the real deal, especially with the hd800. This pairing was my favorite of all. 

 

post #12858 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcoarment View Post

I mostly listen to rock albums from the '90s forward, with preferences toward live albums and anything well-recorded using acoustic instruments, and also a very large quantity of the official live releases of Phish's current and recent tours. Some of my go-to tests for headphone quality and enjoyment:
  • Phish. Lots of Phish. Occasional other jam bands: Yonder Mountain String Band, Moe, String Cheese Incident, all primarily their live shows.
  • All of The Avett Brothers' studio albums, especially Emotionalism (which is far too hot on the treble, and the only high-end headphone I've found that makes it tolerable is the HE-6) and the properly-mastered Second Gleam and The Carpenter
  • Joe Pug's Messenger
  • Counting Crows' Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings and all of their live albums
  • The Milk Carton Kids' Live From Lincoln Theatre video
  • Alice In Chains' MTV Unplugged (which I'd say is better than Nirvana's in both sound quality and content, despite Nirvana being the better overall band)
  • Some great classic rock and folk like The Last Waltz, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 (amazing)
  • Some occasional Mumford & Sons or Decemberists
  • Plus a bunch of '90s–present rock bands like Foo Fighters, Eve 6, Crash Test Dummies, Social Distortion, Stroke 9, SR-71, Meat Puppets, etc., much of which sounds awful on most flagship headphones

In other words: what most people would consider an absolutely horrible, out of touch, and mostly outdated music collection. But I love it.

My main complaint with the HD 800 is that its overall technical excellence comes at the cost of personality. I thought I wanted neutrality for years... until I got it. It's a great headphone at achieving technical perfection of a style that, as it turns out, I don't really care for: smoothness, with a mostly laid-back sound signature, light bass, and relatively little excitement. You're left with little to complain about, but nothing stands out. And it lacks the treble finesse and fast decay usually found in orthos and stats to provide a "wow!" level of detail.

But even the article you referred to is relatively out of date: since then, I rented and then bought an HE-6, renting it with the EF-6 amp (which was great) and then buying a used Schiit Mjolnir from here (which is almost as good as the EF-6 at powering the HE-6) to tide me over until the Ragnarok is widely available. I believe the HE-6 is the better-sounding headphone on nearly all fronts, and it brings excitement and energy to the music without significant technical flaws or tonal imbalances. (It also made me realize how nice a good midrange is, and how recessed the midrange often is in other headphones.)

The HD 800 beats the HE-6 in soundstage, comfort, and amp-friendliness, but I greatly prefer the HE-6's sound. (And it's not uncomfortable on me, just heavier.) But if you're looking for a great overall-setup value in a flagship headphone, I don't think you can look at any of the orthos, and especially not the HE-6, because of their amp needs. You can drive the HD 800 well enough from amps that cost less than $300, while I think the $750 Mjolnir is the cheapest amp that can drive the HE-6 respectably. So, all in, you can get a great HD 800 setup for about $1800+DAC, whereas you're looking at $2100+DAC minimum for the HE-6.

(Of course, if you're looking to maximize value near the high end, you're probably better off skipping both and taking a good look at an HE-560 setup.)

Eh, my experience was different. Had HE6 for a while powered by Master6. IME the HE6 was the headphone leaning towards smoothness, richer tonality, more full bodied, and actually with less dynamic contrast when used with that amplifier. I found HD800, with that amplifier, were better able to render dynamic contrast ie contrast between delicate, softer sounds and more forceful, louder sounds. IMO though Master6 didn't have enough power/grip for HE6...
post #12859 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by MickeyVee View Post
 

 

Yes, stock tubes. This amp is WAY too green for me to look at swapping tubes yet. 

post #12860 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcoarment View Post
 

 

I mostly listen to rock albums from the '90s forward, with preferences toward live albums and anything well-recorded using acoustic instruments, and also a very large quantity of the official live releases of Phish's current and recent tours. Some of my go-to tests for headphone quality and enjoyment:

 

  • Phish. Lots of Phish. Occasional other jam bands: Yonder Mountain String Band, Moe, String Cheese Incident, all primarily their live shows.
  • All of The Avett Brothers' studio albums, especially Emotionalism (which is far too hot on the treble, and the only high-end headphone I've found that makes it tolerable is the HE-6) and the properly-mastered Second Gleam and The Carpenter
  • Joe Pug's Messenger
  • Counting Crows' Saturday Nights And Sunday Mornings and all of their live albums
  • The Milk Carton Kids' Live From Lincoln Theatre video
  • Alice In Chains' MTV Unplugged (which I'd say is better than Nirvana's in both sound quality and content, despite Nirvana being the better overall band)
  • Some great classic rock and folk like The Last Waltz, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Simon and Garfunkel, and Neil Young Live at Massey Hall 1971 (amazing)
  • Some occasional Mumford & Sons or Decemberists
  • Plus a bunch of '90s–present rock bands like Foo Fighters, Eve 6, Crash Test Dummies, Social Distortion, Stroke 9, SR-71, Meat Puppets, etc., much of which sounds awful on most flagship headphones

 

In other words: what most people would consider an absolutely horrible, out of touch, and mostly outdated music collection. But I love it.

 

My main complaint with the HD 800 is that its overall technical excellence comes at the cost of personality. I thought I wanted neutrality for years... until I got it. It's a great headphone at achieving technical perfection of a style that, as it turns out, I don't really care for: smoothness, with a mostly laid-back sound signature, light bass, and relatively little excitement. You're left with little to complain about, but nothing stands out. And it lacks the treble finesse and fast decay usually found in orthos and stats to provide a "wow!" level of detail.

 

But even the article you referred to is relatively out of date: since then, I rented and then bought an HE-6, renting it with the EF-6 amp (which was great) and then buying a used Schiit Mjolnir from here (which is almost as good as the EF-6 at powering the HE-6) to tide me over until the Ragnarok is widely available. I believe the HE-6 is the better-sounding headphone on nearly all fronts, and it brings excitement and energy to the music without significant technical flaws or tonal imbalances. (It also made me realize how nice a good midrange is, and how recessed the midrange often is in other headphones.)

 

The HD 800 beats the HE-6 in soundstage, comfort, and amp-friendliness, but I greatly prefer the HE-6's sound. (And it's not uncomfortable on me, just heavier.) But if you're looking for a great overall-setup value in a flagship headphone, I don't think you can look at any of the orthos, and especially not the HE-6, because of their amp needs. You can drive the HD 800 well enough from amps that cost less than $300, while I think the $750 Mjolnir is the cheapest amp that can drive the HE-6 respectably. So, all in, you can get a great HD 800 setup for about $1800+DAC, whereas you're looking at $2100+DAC minimum for the HE-6.

 

(Of course, if you're looking to maximize value near the high end, you're probably better off skipping both and taking a good look at an HE-560 setup.)

I completely agree with you last statement:  the HE-560 has excellent Quality-to-Price ratio. In terms of performance, it nibbling at the heels of the HE-6

 

I will respectfully disagree with your first statement completely:  except for an inherent tendency toward sibilance, the HD800 is pretty transparent and mostly takes on the "personality" of the recording and the associated components in your system (source, DAC, amp and cable). So it pays to get to know the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the HD800 first then take great care in selecting the right associated components to achieve the "sound" that you like.

 

I spent over a year matching cables and amps with the HD800 (and PS1000, LCD3 and HE-6.  They all have their own quirks).  You may find a long discussion in the High-End forum:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/729976/matching-headphones-cables-amplifiers-harder-than-it-should-be-very-long-post

 

You may also find a shorter discussion on just the amps for the HD800 in:

 http://www.head-fi.org/t/513277/hd-800-amp-discussion/90#post_10783849 

 

Finally, the HE-6 IS very uncomfortable to me in (hard ear-pads and too much clamping force) in addition to being very heavy.  I found that using the new HE-560 Focus or Focus-A ear-pads (~$30) reduces much of the discomfort. The LCD3 lambskin ear-pads are even more comfortable but a tad too large, off color (dark brown) and expensive (~$100).  In both cases, the sound of the HE-6 improves.      

post #12861 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonhead View Post


I would suggest Questyle CMA800R as the ultimate amplifier, but is a little more than 700$
I have used one with hd800 and It was a killer combo.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddTheMetalGod View Post


Wow, expensive redface.gif. I'm sure it does sound great though.

 

Baby Questyle is $650 and it has a DAC as well: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/tight-and-tasty-questyle-q192-dacheadphone-amp

post #12862 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Time View Post

 

Finally, the HE-6 IS very uncomfortable to me in (hard ear-pads and too much clamping force) in addition to being very heavy.  I found that using the new HE-560 Focus or Focus-A ear-pads (~$30) reduces much of the discomfort.

 

I ordered Focus pads along with the HE-6 to compare with the stock pads and found them fine overall except for one big problem: the padding "ring" is wider than the stock pads', so the inner "hole" diameter is much smaller. That made enough size difference that my ears no longer fully fit inside, and made parts of the "ring" press against my ear uncomfortably. I went back to the stock pads after about 20 minutes.

 

I admit that I've only heard the HD 800s on three amps — Bottlehead Crack, EF-6, and Asgard 2 — so I may not be giving them a fair chance yet. If I'd only heard the HE-6 on an amp that wasn't ideal for them (like the vast majority of all headphone amps), I wouldn't have a fair opinion of them, either. But I have to wonder why so many people, including people with very nice amps, make similar complaints as mine about the HD 800.

 

It's still an amazing headphone — just not my taste. I had almost the same opinion of the widely loved HD 650: recognition that it's good, but I don't like it.

post #12863 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcoarment View Post
 

 

I ordered Focus pads along with the HE-6 to compare with the stock pads and found them fine overall except for one big problem: the padding "ring" is wider than the stock pads', so the inner "hole" diameter is much smaller. That made enough size difference that my ears no longer fully fit inside, and made parts of the "ring" press against my ear uncomfortably. I went back to the stock pads after about 20 minutes.

 

I admit that I've only heard the HD 800s on three amps — Bottlehead Crack, EF-6, and Asgard 2 — so I may not be giving them a fair chance yet. If I'd only heard the HE-6 on an amp that wasn't ideal for them (like the vast majority of all headphone amps), I wouldn't have a fair opinion of them, either. But I have to wonder why so many people, including people with very nice amps, make similar complaints as mine about the HD 800.

 

It's still an amazing headphone — just not my taste. I had almost the same opinion of the widely loved HD 650: recognition that it's good, but I don't like it.

Then you really haven't heard what the HD800s can really do.  Out of the 3 amps you mentioned, IMO, only the Crack start scratching the surface of the HD800s potential.  At first, I thought the same about HD800 like you do;  typically, not my taste or what the heck are these people raving about ......It took me a while to realize and understand why HD800s have earned its reputation.

I love HE-6 very much too and don't find it very uncomfortable but after having HD800 for a while, the urge to get HE-6 keeps diminishing.

I also decided to sell my HE-500.

post #12864 of 22575

Out of my main headphones (SR009, HE6 and HD800), the HD800 gets the least headtime and the HE6 the most. 

 

And I have heard what the HD800 "can do". Maybe not the absolute best performance ever (e.g. driven by the Pinnacle, EC BA or EC 4-45) but when it comes to top flight amps I doubt the differences exceed 10%. I agree the HD800 sounds amazing on my premium tubes + WA5 compared to my previous amps or even the WA5 without the tubes I have now.

 

But it boils down to what sort of music you play most of the time. I have an eclectic range of music and I like discovering new music on Spotify, most of which is poorly recorded. HD800 is amazing for well recorded music and orchestral pieces in general. In fact, I can say that HD800 might be better on some 1% of my music collection (the well recorded stuff) compared to the HE6 and sometimes the SR009 (if we are talking about soundstage, imaging and grandness). However, for most of the music I listen to, I will reach for the HE6 and SR009 instead of the HD800. Maybe an Anax mod is in order, but still, I doubt that the HD800 as modded would trump the HE6 in terms of sheer visceral power that sounds so good with modern day music and rock, and the sheer airiness and effortlessness of the SR009 that has to be heard to be appreciated.

 

FYI I am driving all three headphones with the WA5 (with an electrostatic tranny for the SR009).

post #12865 of 22575

^ SR009 driven by a good amp will be a step up from from HD800, IMO.  HE-6 vs HD800 will depend on personal preference, music genre and of course, source quality.  If I ever go for a Stax setup, it would be the SR009 and Blue Hawaii.

post #12866 of 22575

I'm with both of you on this.  It's preference and what music you prefer.  Since I had the HD800, my search for music has changed, and I looked for classic or jazz or audiophile recordings.  I have lots of other genres I enjoy, and wasn't enjoying them out of the 800.  800 is probably a headphone in collection for enjoying certain genres.  I have resolving setup that does more genres well, and felt the same about the HE-6 and it worked well with an amp that provided enough power.  

post #12867 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcoarment View Post
 

 

I ordered Focus pads along with the HE-6 to compare with the stock pads and found them fine overall except for one big problem: the padding "ring" is wider than the stock pads', so the inner "hole" diameter is much smaller. That made enough size difference that my ears no longer fully fit inside, and made parts of the "ring" press against my ear uncomfortably. I went back to the stock pads after about 20 minutes.

 

I admit that I've only heard the HD 800s on three amps — Bottlehead Crack, EF-6, and Asgard 2 — so I may not be giving them a fair chance yet. If I'd only heard the HE-6 on an amp that wasn't ideal for them (like the vast majority of all headphone amps), I wouldn't have a fair opinion of them, either. But I have to wonder why so many people, including people with very nice amps, make similar complaints as mine about the HD 800.

 

It's still an amazing headphone — just not my taste. I had almost the same opinion of the widely loved HD 650: recognition that it's good, but I don't like it.

You're quite right. The HE-6 pads measure 6 cm x 51/2 cm on the inside.  The new Focus pads measure 5 1/2 cm around.  You may want o try the LCD3 Lambskin pads which are bigger (6 3/4 cm x 5 1/4 cm), with elongated shapes that fit the ears better. They also are ultra- soft and seal better--and cost 3 times more!

 

Below are lists of amps I have listened to for at least a year with the HD800. You'll see that it is not a simple matter of quality but also one of correct sonic match:

 

Poor Matches

 

Bryston BHA-1 (dull)

Burson HA-160D (bright & hard)

Burson Soloist (hard; 2D)

HiFiMAN EF6 (hard; sibilant)

Oppo HA-1 (bright) only a few months

RS Dark Star (very bright)

Schiit Mjolnir (fatiguing)

 

Good Matches

 

Bakoon HPA-21 (warm, vivid details)

Cavalli Liquid Fire (good overall)

EAR HP-4 (lush sound; my favorite)

Red Wine Audio Corvina/Bellina (warm)

Vioelectric V200 (neutral & smooth)

Woo WA5-LE (best overall; gonzo bass)

 

Of course, those short descriptions do not do the amps justice but will have to do to keep it short.

post #12868 of 22575
The WA5LE with upgraded tubes is not even in my top 5 amps for the HD800s-yet cost significantly more than the others I preferred to it. Not a good match imo, and definitely doesn't bring the HD800s to their potential.

-Daniel
post #12869 of 22575

If you're going to name off amps and how well they pair, er, or don't - could you please include your source(s).

post #12870 of 22575
Quote:
Originally Posted by BournePerfect View Post

The WA5LE with upgraded tubes is not even in my top 5 amps for the HD800s-yet cost significantly more than the others I preferred to it. Not a good match imo, and definitely doesn't bring the HD800s to their potential.

-Daniel

That might explain my distaste for the HD800 on the WA5. And I agree about your comments on cost. I would have never bought the WA5 new.

Might i ask, which 5 amps do you prefer with the HD800, with what source and why?
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