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The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 226

post #3376 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by mink70 View Post

So I've reached an impasse with the HD800 and I hope folks can weigh in. They are, at once, the most amazing headphone I've owned, and one of the most frustrating. They overwhelmed me when I first heard them at the headphone counter at J&R through my portable amp and iPod—the soundstaging, out-of-head thing in particular—so I bought a pair. But over the long run, I've found them difficult to kick back with and simply enjoy. They can have a slightly lit-up, even wiry timbre that I can't quite relax into. I'm not talking about excessive treble or brightness but rather what I hear as a slightly metallic tonality. 

 

I've tried a bevy of amps and just ordered a balanced Cardas cable. Currently I'm auditioning Donald North's superb Sonett 2, based on his Stratus, and recently had a chance to take the HD800 to another Head-Fier's place (thanks ericfarrell85!) where I listened to them through a Decware CSP2+ and a Zana Deux. Both superb amps, in their respective ways. Neither, to my mind, succeeded entirely in making the HD800 a pleasurable and relaxing headphone. Honestly, the only amp I've heard come close was the easy-going, cheap but good Matrix M-Stage, by warming up the presentation, but I didn't think it was able to take full advantage of the HD800s resolving and imaging potential. And that's the conundrum—the Hd800 seems to demand an amp (and source) that's at once super-resolving and utterly laid back. And I'm not sure such a thing exists. With my HD650, I can relax and enjoy the music for hours, but I also know that they are simply not as good as the HD800. But when I put on the HD800, the enjoyment often proves elusive and I can't focus on the music. I'm beginning to fear that they may not be for me. Can anyone dissuade me?

 

I agree to a certain extent. With the HD800 source is extremely important and more so than other headphones I've owned. Many headphones the DAC doesn't matter as much as long as it is a good quality dac but with these I found a big difference (to me at least) with different dacs. I had the Anedio D1 as my dac which I thought was excellent but I think it gives the same kind of tonality as you were referring to. At that time I had the HE6 as well and my choice went to the HE6 most of the time. I found a Buffalo III dac and that changed everything for me. 

 

I do agree that the HD800 is amazing but yet also so frustrating at the same time if you can't find the right rig for it.

post #3377 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by mink70 View Post

So I've reached an impasse with the HD800 and I hope folks can weigh in. They are, at once, the most amazing headphone I've owned, and one of the most frustrating.

 Yeah , took me a while to pinpoint what I found wrong with them. What a loss of time.

 

Quote:
With my HD650, I can relax and enjoy the music for hours, but I also know that they are simply not as good as the HD800. But when I put on the HD800, the enjoyment often proves elusive and I can't focus on the music. I'm beginning to fear that they may not be for me. Can anyone dissuade me?

 

The keyword on what you said is "focus". The hd800 has unusually wide stereo separation. Strictly speaking, "stereo separation", is the difference between left & right signal, and I'm thinking that having a cleaner sound contribute to that separation.

Try to use some crossfeed.  Curiously, I  think that boosting the sub bass helps too (below 100 hz).

Dsp can mess up the clarity of hd800, but it's  hard to keep everything.

 

You can also change your listening habits, by avoiding music with too wide stereo separation, or just do not work while listening music at same time (it's easier to "focus", if you only listen to music) .  Or buy a mega expensive gear with proper crossfeed.

 

In my opinion, people spend too much time (and money) in trying to make the hd800 sound right.

 

 

Oh and regarding:

Quote:
I'm not talking about excessive treble or brightness but rather what I hear as a slightly metallic tonality.

 

Sibilance with particular recordings, that's my experience (myléne farmer ...).

The treble can be pretty euphonic, try "thursday afternoon" by Brian Eno.

 

post #3378 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by magiccabbage View Post

you could get slated for saying that here. Some people will think your accusing them of bad taste or something like that but i think you have a point (- well kind of ). I love metal but don't i listen to that much any more, once the last of the trash metal bands died out i jumped train. In saying that i'm sure there are new metal bands out there with good production - Lamb of god and Opeth spring to mind. 


Some people believe that electronica isn't sufficiently qualitative to use for analytical listening, due to its lack of... reality.  IMHO, this is wrong.  I've even read not so veiled attacks on the whole genre in this thread. It has good and bad reproductions just like any other.  Admittedly most dance/trace is poorly produced.  But it would be a mistake to dismiss the greats like Eno, Lynch and Orbit because of this.

 

Recently I've started using Boards of Canada's 'Dayvan Cowboy' as a staple in my listening tests. The first half of the track is almost pure distortion. But its beautiful, sharp, spacious and accurate generated distortion. Each individual pico note paints a needle in the tapestry of sound.  This is totally different from amplification distortion or driver distortion. That's a totally different animal and we can all agree its crap, I'm sure.  I feel generated distortion gives you an immediate sense of speed and attack and detail. Very revealing of what the whole chain can do. True, its only one aspect, but still a good one. If you mix up sourced distortion with distortion from equipment - your missing the bigger picture.

post #3379 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightFlight View Post


I feel generated distortion gives you an immediate sense of speed and attack and detail.

Try the dsp "spl transient designer", and push the attack knob, simple as that.

I don't think it's great to have it always on, but it manages to increase the attack.

 

Quote:
If you mix up sourced distortion with distortion from equipment - your missing the bigger picture.

 

You are assuming  your equipment is free from distortions.

post #3380 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by mink70 View Post

So I've reached an impasse with the HD800 and I hope folks can weigh in. They are, at once, the most amazing headphone I've owned, and one of the most frustrating. They overwhelmed me when I first heard them at the headphone counter at J&R through my portable amp and iPod—the soundstaging, out-of-head thing in particular—so I bought a pair. But over the long run, I've found them difficult to kick back with and simply enjoy. They can have a slightly lit-up, even wiry timbre that I can't quite relax into. I'm not talking about excessive treble or brightness but rather what I hear as a slightly metallic tonality. 

I've tried a bevy of amps and just ordered a balanced Cardas cable. Currently I'm auditioning Donald North's superb Sonett 2, based on his Stratus, and recently had a chance to take the HD800 to another Head-Fier's place (thanks ericfarrell85!) where I listened to them through a Decware CSP2+ and a Zana Deux. Both superb amps, in their respective ways. Neither, to my mind, succeeded entirely in making the HD800 a pleasurable and relaxing headphone. Honestly, the only amp I've heard come close was the easy-going, cheap but good Matrix M-Stage, by warming up the presentation, but I didn't think it was able to take full advantage of the HD800s resolving and imaging potential. And that's the conundrum—the Hd800 seems to demand an amp (and source) that's at once super-resolving and utterly laid back. And I'm not sure such a thing exists. With my HD650, I can relax and enjoy the music for hours, but I also know that they are simply not as good as the HD800. But when I put on the HD800, the enjoyment often proves elusive and I can't focus on the music. I'm beginning to fear that they may not be for me. Can anyone dissuade me?
You can always try the anax mod posted over at inner fidelity, this might solve your problem.
post #3381 of 19994

One thing ive noticed with the HD800 over many other cans is that an equalizer is your best friend. Other cans ive had distort if you change the sound too much. Give it a nice \ and you should be good to go. 

post #3382 of 19994

Nods if you use JRiver, I like this parametric equalizer...

 

-6dB @ 7000Hz, Bandwidth 5.

post #3383 of 19994

Where did that LCD-3 come from?  SMH and face palm.....

 

Why didn't you bring a 2A3 in the house?

post #3384 of 19994

Trying to stay away from tubes if I can.  That and the GS-X mk2 fills all my check boxes I need in an amp so... sources and cans. 

post #3385 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude View Post

Trying to stay away from tubes if I can.  That and the GS-X mk2 fills all my check boxes I need in an amp so... sources and cans. 

From an old tube guy like me, I'm sitting pretty with my GS-X, like Regis, fills all of my check boxes too.

post #3386 of 19994

Hello guys. I have a confession to make... about my story with the HD800, and my journey as a headphile for many years.

 

When I heard it for the first time several years ago, I couldn't believe it. Couldn't believe the fact that such a bad-sounding headphone costs nearly $1.5K. I much preferred HD600/650 to it, and couldn't understand its flagship status in the Sennheiser line of headphones or why it gets so much praise from Head-Fi'ers around the world. I tried coming back to the HD800 several times, using different setups, but to no avail. I guess it just wasn't right for me. Boring. Cold. Too analytical/clinical. These were the words that came to my mind whenever I thought of HD800. The HD800 even sounded worse than Beyerdynamic T1 to my ears.

 

Afterwards, for the first time, I found the first high-end headphone that I really came to love: Audez'e LCD-2. I became a believer in planar magnetic headphones afterwards. I tried many high-end headphones from Hifiman too, but ultimately felt that I preferred the dark sound signature of the Audez'es by a favorable margin. To this day, the LCD-3 is the best orthodynamic headphone I've ever heard (I haven't heard the Abyss), and remains one of my most favorite headphones.

 

But shortly after, I found a headphone that I liked even more than the LCD-3: Fostex TH900. Albeit a closed design, the wow factor of the TH900 was overwhelming. Compared to the LCD-3, it was better in so many ways, not to mention its gorgeous design, comfort, and isolation. The magical euphony of TH900, although hard to describe, presented me with a sense of euphoria and sheer fun that I could not hear in other headphones. Excluding TOTL stats, I felt that the TH900 was the perfect headphone for me, the best as a dynamic headphone can get. Achieving such a feat while being closed-back was indeed remarkable.

 

Afterwards, I began looking for the right amp to drive my TH900. Possibly due to its low impedance and high efficiency, the TH900 was easily driven by most amps and not so picky about amplification, unlike the HD800 (favorably a tube OTL amp to take the edge off its treble glare and make it sound more lush and musical) or orthos (favorably an amp with a high power output to drive such power-hungry, demanding headphone). Ultimately, I found Eddie Current's ZDSE to be one of, if not the best amp to drive the TH900. The ZDSE is a very unique amp: while being OTL and design, due to its incredibly low output impedance it works superbly with not only high-impedance Senns but also low-impedance Audio-Technica, Grado, and Denon/Fostex. I told myself that the ZDSE/TH900 was the end-game setup for me, and decided to settle down.

 

However, despite its less expensive price, I found many folks still preferring the HD800 to TH900. I was like, WTF? To me the TH900 has always been miles and miles better than the HD800 in almost every way I can think of (except for soundstage, which the TH900 is still very good at). When David Solomon ranked HD800 the best currently available dynamic headphone, while $2K TH900 was far down in the 20's - even lower than $300 HD600, can you believe that haha - I was dumbstruck. Why? What makes the HD800 so good that people over the years still claim it is the best dynamic headphone? Are my ears messed up?

 

Then I met several Head-Fi'ers saying that they never liked the HD800 either, until they found the right amp to drive it. Hell, I tried a lot of amps with the HD800, and believe me, nothing worked. They said, have you tried out my Zana Deux? And the answer was no, since I ordered my ZDSE after I decided that the TH900 was the best headphone for me. The synergy of TH900 and ZDSE is heavenly. I didn't even give the HD800 a second thought, and it had never occurred to me that I'm going to listen to the HD800 again with my newly bought ZDSE. Well, they said, the ZDSE happens to be one of the best amps to drive the HD800. Come to think about it, the ZDSE is a tube OTL amp, although definitely not your average, typical OTL amp, and it was originally designed at a time when the best Sennheiser headphones were HD600/650, which are all high impedance. I had a feeling that the HD800 will sound better on the ZDSE than most other amps, but I didn't think that the HD800 could possibly outperform my TH900 on the same setup. Giving it the benefit of the doubt and possibly the last chance, I once again picked up a pair of HD800 to do a direct A/B comparison against my TH900 using the ZDSE.

 

At first, my hunch wasn't wrong. The HD800 definitely sounded much better than how I remember it. Although its neutral sound signature was still there, it felt like a somewhat different headphone than the previous HD800's I've heard using amps of lesser quality. And yet, it didn't win me over the TH900. I had grown accustomed to the euphonic sound of the TH900 and liked it so much that the HD800 still felt lacking in life and soul in comparison.

 

However... as I listened to both HD800 and TH900 for longer periods, I found myself strangely reaching out to the HD800 more and more. The TH900 is a much more fun and enjoyable headphone, no doubt. But gradually, I sought for something more than just fun and games that the TH900 endlessly provides. The precise imaging, the ability to distinguish different sources of sound with pinpoint accuracy. The magnificently wide and deep soundstage, which is further amplified by the ZDSE. The truth in sound... and one day, in a moment of sudden revelation, as the barriers of music crashed down around me, I finally realized why people prefer the HD800 to all other headphones. And I was deeply ashamed by how immature and naive I had been all this time. The HD800 with ZDSE was the paragon of what one would describe as sonic nirvana, possibly only bested by the best electrostatic systems out there.

 

This doesn't mean I no longer like the TH900. In fact, I believe the TH900 is the best complimentary headphone to the HD800, as it still remains a very high-end headphone and makes up in a few areas where the HD800 is weak at, such as euphony, wow-factor and isolation. I felt the TH900 was a genre master headphone, but the HD800 can also be a genre master if you seek the truth in sound.

 

To celebrate my enlightment and rebirth (?), I ordered an aftermarket cable for the HD800 from Japan, called iHP-35Hx (made by ADL/Furutech). It is a rather recent product so not many people seem to be aware of it. It uses cryo-treated OCC conductors and rhodium-plated carbon fiber connectors for both ends of the cable. If possible, I'll try to write a comparison review of it against the stock cable.

 

At any rate, please allow me to join you guys in the holy league of HD800, the headphone that I had once hated, but now came to realize its true potential as the pinnacle of dynamic headphone engineering. I hope I'm not too late.

 

P.S. I still think the Sennheiser Orpheus is waaay better than the HD800. Just look at me smiling like a baby in my avatar photo. I wish I could re-experience that pure eargasm someday.


Edited by songmic - 6/20/13 at 7:30am
post #3387 of 19994

I. TOLD. YOU. SO.

 

-Daniel

post #3388 of 19994
Quote:
Originally Posted by BournePerfect View Post

I. TOLD. YOU. SO.

 

-Daniel

 

I knew you were going to say that. tongue.gif

I remember you selling your ZDSE to fund Eddie Current's uber amp... Leviathan or Kraken, was it? So, any updates?

post #3389 of 19994

Finally paid for the transformers on the Levi. I won't imagine having the amp in hand for a few months yet though. Glad to see you've discovered the magic of the ZDSE/HD800 though...I miss that more than anything...

 

-Daniel

post #3390 of 19994

From day one I much preferred the HD800 over the TH900 on the GS-X mkII 

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