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The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 657

post #9841 of 13984

I posted a few days ago about wanting a tube amp to potentially improve my HD800 sound. It took some time for my ears to adjust because I've always preferred closed headphones, but wow. Sennheiser and it's open headphones just got a new groupie. If I want something closed so I'm not bothering others I will stick to my Shure IEM's. 



 



I'm already salivating at the fact that this headphone has been out for five years so I know Sennheiser should be releasing another flagship in a couple of years. If someone has any info on anything Sennheiser has in the works to replace the HD800 let me know so I can follow every detail or rumor like an Iphone groupie does for the Iphone.  


Edited by Trey36 - 4/5/14 at 10:34pm
post #9842 of 13984
Senn's last flagship design lasted about 15 years and HD800 sales continue to outpace any other flagship, so I doubt we will see a new dynamic any time soon. An ortho is very unlikely, a modern electrostat based on HD800 frame (as done with HE90 and HD580) would be amazing.
post #9843 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Senn's last flagship design lasted about 15 years and HD800 sales continue to outpace any other flagship, so I doubt we will see a new dynamic any time soon. An ortho is very unlikely, a modern electrostat based on HD800 frame (as done with HE90 and HD580) would be amazing.

It would but then i would have to get one and an electro stat amp :( 

 

I hope that doesn't happen for a long time 

post #9844 of 13984
Thank you, another 10 years it is.
post #9845 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoEars View Post
 

 

What's the mainline like compared to your modded crack? Or the zana if you've heard it?

 

Also - what's the main difference in sound character between OTL and SET really? I really haven't heard enough tube amps to know.

 

Hey TwoEars - sorry for the much delayed reply!  First, just to briefly clarify "OTL" refers to a tube amp without output transformers (or - output transformer-less).  SET refers to "single ended triode" tube amps, which means it is using a triode tube type and is not a differential or push-pull amplifier.  Most of the commonly discussed OTL headphone amps are SET designs - such as the crack, woo 3, woo 2, dark voices, etc.  These amps almost all use a 6as7(g) or 6080 tube, in series with high uf caps, as an alternative to output transformers.  It is a pretty clever design where - in order to lower the output impedance enough to run high impedance headphones - the signal is actually pulled off the cathode of the tube, rather than the annode.  The 6as7(g)/6080/7236/5998 family is really the only option if you want to accomplish this, so that's what all of the above-referenced amps use.  Still, the resulting output impedance is a bit on the high side.  When implemented well, OTL's tend to produce a full and pleasing sound (with high impedance phones - low impedance will sound anemic and flabby), but there is also going to be some bloom to the bass and likely roll off in the sub-bass.

 

The original zana deux was/is also an OTL, but of a different and costlier design with lower ouput impedance (and I would say objectively better sounding - very fast, detailed and dynamic).  I greatly enjoyed listening to this amp at CanJam, and a family friend had brought an unblemished vinyl copy of HDS701 (see: http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_method_e.html ) along that we played on craig's system.  It was one of the best sounding setups I heard all day.  Of the cheaper OTL's, crack comes the closest to an original zana to my ears, but contrary to what some others have suggested in the crack thread, I do not think even a hotrodded crack truly rivals a zana.  The new zana deux se, by contrast, uses output transformers, and I have not heard that.

 

The mainline is a highly regulated, c4s loaded, single gain stage, SET amp, with output transformers, and a big step up in all respects from the crack to my ears - notwithstanding that crack is a good sounding amp in its own right with hd800's.  In short, mainline is more refined and detailed, faster, more dynamic, transients much cleaner, and bass far tighter and with greater impact.  Trebles are beautifully extended but never strident, which makes it a perfect match for hd800's to my ears - better than a Zana to me (which, like crack, can occasionally manifest some treble sharpness), but reasonable minds can certainly differ once you're in the realm of these sorts of flagship products.  As to the trebles and general sound signature, failed engineer discusses the same thing in his post a dozen or so pages back in reference to the ECP L-2 which is very similar under the hood to the mainline.  To the best of my recollection, there was nothing I heard at CanJam that I liked as well with hd800's as the mainline (including the zana, WA5, and the $7k TTVJ 307A).  I confess I have not heard the zana se, balancing act, or DNA products.  If you'd care to read more of my ramblings about the mainline, I've posted some impressions in post nos. 43 and 48 here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/662240/mainline-new-bottlehead-premium-headphone-amp/30  Loquah has also written an exhaustive comparison of his impressions of the bottlehead mainline, crack and s.e.x. here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/683012/bottlehead-amplifier-discussion-comparison-thread-crack-sex-mainline

post #9846 of 13984

The HD800 will let you hear the source and any differences for that matter very clearly.

 

I heard these headphones today with various equipment

e.g. 

Sennheiser HDVD800 source: "someone's cellphone",

Eddy Current amp (model ?) source Philips CD Player

Head amp GSX MkII, source Mac book, DSD DAC (Ayre QB9?)

Mod wright Oppo 105, mod wright PS, amp ?

Auralic Taurus source : Sony Z1ES high res player/server

 

And bottom line, they all sound different. And I hate to admit it, the best HD800 combo during the Head-Fi meet today, in my book was the awkward Sony player with the Auralic amp. For me the sound stage is what sets the HD800 apart and just driving it directly from a exasound e20, I get lots of ambient information in my own set up and that was missing in a lot of the combinations above. The Sony player w/o touch screen seems out of place and is somewhat quirky to operate, once you get used, it might be OK but the button and dial menu is real slow compared to a PC/Mac/I pad based system. And that box is huge (21.6 x 19.5 x 8.5" ) and does NOT have a digital output - it's a Sony :wink:.

 

Take all this with a good pinch of salt, as there were "miles of extension cords" and multi outlets all over the place and all were playing different music - but that is basically the same situation for all discussions about the HD800 and how different they sound - yes they do, in different set ups. Start with the source quality and don't try to get a better sound by patching things up with "warm sounding cables" or tube amps, just my $0.02.

Enjoy the journey :beerchug:.

post #9847 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by icebear View Post
 

The HD800 will let you hear the source and any differences for that matter very clearly.

 

I heard these headphones today with various equipment

e.g. 

Sennheiser HDVD800 source: "someone's cellphone",

Eddy Current amp (model ?) source Philips CD Player

Head amp GSX MkII, source Mac book, DSD DAC (Ayre QB9?)

Mod wright Oppo 105, mod wright PS, amp ?

Auralic Taurus source : Sony Z1ES high res player/server

 

And bottom line, they all sound different. And I hate to admit it, the best HD800 combo during the Head-Fi meet today, in my book was the awkward Sony player with the Auralic amp. For me the sound stage is what sets the HD800 apart and just driving it directly from a exasound e20, I get lots of ambient information in my own set up and that was missing in a lot of the combinations above. The Sony player w/o touch screen seems out of place and is somewhat quirky to operate, once you get used, it might be OK but the button and dial menu is real slow compared to a PC/Mac/I pad based system. And that box is huge (21.6 x 19.5 x 8.5" ) and does NOT have a digital output - it's a Sony :wink:.

 

Take all this with a good pinch of salt, as there were "miles of extension cords" and multi outlets all over the place and all were playing different music - but that is basically the same situation for all discussions about the HD800 and how different they sound - yes they do, in different set ups. Start with the source quality and don't try to get a better sound by patching things up with "warm sounding cables" or tube amps, just my $0.02.

Enjoy the journey :beerchug:.


Noticed that you mention that you're running your HD800's out of your Exasound E20.  Lately I've been running mine directly from my Exasound E28.  I've been very happy with that combination.

post #9848 of 13984

I have a random question. Would the hd800, crack and speedball work well with hip hop and reggae?

post #9849 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by magiccabbage View Post
 

I wouldn't be too quick to jump to that conclusion either. There are many amps yet to be built that could deliver on that - thick and powerful. From what i hear of peoples impressions of the GlennOTL/HD800 combo it might be close to that sound signature with the right tube combo. 

 

 

Wow. Thanks for the recommendation.  Now there's something to look forward to!  (My wallet curses you though.)  ;)

post #9850 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post
 

I have a random question. Would the hd800, crack and speedball work well with hip hop and reggae?

 

It depends how you would like to hear them. ;)

post #9851 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdrm360 View Post
 

 

It depends how you would like to hear them. ;)

really?:rolleyes: 

like a speaker with good imaging and a cohesive sound.


Edited by grizzlybeast - 4/5/14 at 9:07pm
post #9852 of 13984
Hey grizzly. For me, with the anax mod in place and minimally bright tubes, crack + hd800s worked with hiphop (can't comment on reggae). Absent these conditions though, high hats could sometimes be too hot for me to get the amount of bass I like for this sort of music without eq. (Admittedly, I like to feel the deep bass hit hard when I'm reliving my foolish youth bumping tupac etc.)

The mainline doesn't have any such issue. No strident trebles for the win.
Edited by skeptic - 4/5/14 at 11:13pm
post #9853 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by skeptic View Post

Hey grizzly. For me, with the anax mod in place and minimally bright tubes, crack + hd800s worked with hiphop (can't comment on reggae). Absent these conditions though, high hats could sometimes be too hot for me to get the amount of bass I like for this sort of music without eq. (Admittedly, I like to feel the deep bass hit hard when I'm reliving my foolish youth bumping tupac etc.)

The mainline doesn't have any such issue.

Thanks a lot! 

 

sounds like some work or extra money. maybe one day then

post #9854 of 13984
Quote:
Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
 


Hey TwoEars - sorry for the much delayed reply! 

Read (Click to show)

First, just to briefly clarify "OTL" refers to a tube amp without output transformers (or - output transformer-less).  SET refers to "single ended triode" tube amps, which means it is using a triode tube type and is not a differential or push-pull amplifier.  Most of the commonly discussed OTL headphone amps are SET designs - such as the crack, woo 3, woo 2, dark voices, etc.  These amps almost all use a 6as7(g) or 6080 tube, in series with high uf caps, as an alternative to output transformers.  It is a pretty clever design where - in order to lower the output impedance enough to run high impedance headphones - the signal is actually pulled off the cathode of the tube, rather than the annode.  The 6as7(g)/6080/7236/5998 family is really the only option if you want to accomplish this, so that's what all of the above-referenced amps use.  Still, the resulting output impedance is a bit on the high side.  When implemented well, OTL's tend to produce a full and pleasing sound (with high impedance phones - low impedance will sound anemic and flabby), but there is also going to be some bloom to the bass and likely roll off in the sub-bass.

 

The original zana deux was/is also an OTL, but of a different and costlier design with lower ouput impedance (and I would say objectively better sounding - very fast, detailed and dynamic).  I greatly enjoyed listening to this amp at CanJam, and a family friend had brought an unblemished vinyl copy of HDS701 (see: http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/vta_method_e.html ) along that we played on craig's system.  It was one of the best sounding setups I heard all day.  Of the cheaper OTL's, crack comes the closest to an original zana to my ears, but contrary to what some others have suggested in the crack thread, I do not think even a hotrodded crack truly rivals a zana.  The new zana deux se, by contrast, uses output transformers, and I have not heard that.

 

The mainline is a highly regulated, c4s loaded, single gain stage, SET amp, with output transformers, and a big step up in all respects from the crack to my ears - notwithstanding that crack is a good sounding amp in its own right with hd800's.  In short, mainline is more refined and detailed, faster, more dynamic, transients much cleaner, and bass far tighter and with greater impact.  Trebles are beautifully extended but never strident, which makes it a perfect match for hd800's to my ears - better than a Zana to me (which, like crack, can occasionally manifest some treble sharpness), but reasonable minds can certainly differ once you're in the realm of these sorts of flagship products.  As to the trebles and general sound signature, failed engineer discusses the same thing in his post a dozen or so pages back in reference to the ECP L-2 which is very similar under the hood to the mainline.  To the best of my recollection, there was nothing I heard at CanJam that I liked as well with hd800's as the mainline (including the zana, WA5, and the $7k TTVJ 307A).  I confess I have not heard the zana se, balancing act, or DNA products.  If you'd care to read more of my ramblings about the mainline, I've posted some impressions in post nos. 43 and 48 here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/662240/mainline-new-bottlehead-premium-headphone-amp/30  Loquah has also written an exhaustive comparison of his impressions of the bottlehead mainline, crack and s.e.x. here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/683012/bottlehead-amplifier-discussion-comparison-thread-crack-sex-mainline

 

 

Great post! Thanks a lot for the input!

 

Now I'm tempted to build a mainline! I've heard that it's labor intensive but pretty easy and with good instructions so should be doable. Maybe I'll make it an autumn/winter project.

 

One (stupid) question about the mainline though - what's up with those tubes on the sides? Is that metal around the tubes? To make them heat up better? Doesn't look very appealing to me, you want to see that tube glow right? :rolleyes:

 

Once again thanks for a great post.


Edited by TwoEars - 4/5/14 at 11:32pm
post #9855 of 13984

Bought a pair of Sennheiser HD800 yesterday! :) I haven't used them very much but I'm very happy with the sound. Right now I'm running them through my Schiit Vali and a HRT musicstreamer II DAc. I know the chain is not very good but for me this is a journey which just started with the headphones. As of now I think it sounds great though and I'm very happy. I have a bottlehead Crack as well which I just have to get some new tubes for and then I'll use that one!  

 

Cheers 

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