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Comparison AKG K-1000 and Sennheiser HD-800 on similar equipment.

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Comparison AKG K-1000 (hardwired with Stefan Audio Art Equinox cable) and Sennheiser HD 800 (with Toxic black widow 22 AWG copper cable).


Well, without any idea why starting this thread is really necessary, I would like to share my experiences with the AKG k1000 and Sennheiser HD-800 using similar equipment. Below you can find my set-up. For further details you can look in my profile. I use a speaker amplifier and drive both headphones on the 8 ohm outputs. To match impedance of speaker output and headphone I use a 15 ohm 10 watt Mills non-inductive resistor for both phones.


Source: linn Ikemi as cd transport, Lampizator DAC level 3.5, generation 3 with Jensen copper in paper tube output capacitors, Amperex pinched waist 7119 tubes and Bendix 5852 rectifier

Amplifier: Border Patrol 300B SE, with Western Electric 417a driver tubes, Western Electric 300B output tubes, Western Electric 422a and 2 *RFT EZ80 rectifiers.


At this moment my system is tuned to the AKG K1000 headphones, as they are the headphones I used for the last 7.5 years. I only recently acquired the Sennheiser HD800. Many things have been said about both the AKG K1000 and Sennheiser HD800, but by comparing them using a similar system, I hope I can put both headphones in perspective.


My initial thought was that both these phones are somewhat similar as both phones are sometimes criticized for their excessive treble peak and lacking sufficient bass weight. Both phones are appreciated for their speaker-like soundstage and imaging capability. Now I can tell you upfront, they are completely different phones with completely different strengths and weaknesses.

When I first listened to the Sennheiser HD800 I was quite shocked. If you are accustomed to the AKG K1000, the Sennheiser HD800 can be described in a way the Audeze LCD 2 and 3 are often characterized: warm, recessed treble, deep bass and smooth …Compared to the Sennheiser HD800 the AKG K1000 is basslight, but they do have a very nice mid-bass definition and you feel the movement of air in your ear (a bit similar to speakers). Furthermore, compared to the Sennheiser HD800 the AKG K1000 is much more present in the presence region. Hence, voices are more forward and dynamic (almost aggressive when compared to the HD800). I do not know for sure whether the treble is more extended. What I do know is that because the AKG K1000 lacks deep bass, the emphasis  is more on the treble and midrange. It sounds  light and airy but also very dynamic and exciting. I used to own Lowther like horn speakers, and the AKG K1000 sounds a bit like that. I like that a lot about the AKG K-1000. They excite…, give you goosebumps all the time. I can now also better understand why 6moons are so enthusiastic about coupling the AKG K1000 to a superfast transistor amp like the First Watt types of Nelson Pass. That would only increase their major strengths…. fast, dynamic and exciting.


However, compared to the Sennheiser HD800, the AKG K-1000 also clearly shows its limitations. First of all, the AKG is a bit coarse and grainy compared the HD800. The HD800 is better able to reveal the timbre of instruments, and the decay of notes. It is smoother  and more transparent. It is not directly more detailed in the sense that you hear more  instruments as such, but the HD800 reveals more of the instruments and the notes being played. Furthermore, with the HD800 it is much easier to follow the melody line of the individual instruments without losing coherency. All instruments are just much better locked into space. That really excites me about the Sennheiser HD800 at the moment. Do not feel offended but the AKG K-1000 is more of a mess in this regard. The sound is indeed out of your head and they have a wide and airy soundstage, but the sound is still a bit forward and one -dimensional. They lack the stage depth of the HD-800. The Sennheiser is better able to deal with complex passages in music. I never thought I would say this, because many have praised the soundstage capabilities of the AKG-K1000 , but it is not near the Sennheiser HD800 capability to portray the individual instruments in their exact location and lock them in that location so that you can easily follow them. It that sense, the HD-800 is more natural and relaxing.  Last but not least of course, the bass extends much deeper and is very well defined. The AKG K1000 is also very well defined but clearly misses the extension of the HD-800.


At this moment with my current set-up the AKG K-1000 is more exciting, more adrenaline and more goosebumps. The Sennheiser HD800 is more relaxed, more insightful  and more natural. But remember my system is tuned to get the best out of the AKG K-1000. To optimize my system for the Senneheiser HD800, and that means making them  a bit more exciting I will change the headphone cable from copper to silver, and I will inject some steroids by using modern-type 300B tubes (for instance EML 300B xls) and rectifiers (EML 5U4G mesh). Other recommendations are welcome. However, I will not change amp or dac, although I sincerely understand why people use quick solid state amps to drive their Sennheiser Hd800…


Again, I have no idea why I wrote all this, other than sharing you my experiences with both phones. Maybe it can be a bit of help for those contemplating buying either the AKG  K1000 or Sennheiser HD800. However, what is absolutely clear  to me now is that there is no one best way to get the best out of your headphone. My initial idea was, based on many comments in this forum that the Sennheiser HD-800 needs a warm tube amplifier. Well I am not so sure about this. For me,  the Sennheiser profits mostly from an amplifier( tube or solid state) that is fast, dynamic and clear, not warm…But maybe, if my reference was the Audeze LCD-2 I would have thought the exact opposite…So much for recommendations…

Thanks for reading, and please forgive my spelling mistakes. I am not a native speaker…

Edited by playitloud - 6/19/13 at 3:30am
post #2 of 2

nice write up! thanks for posting!

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