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Wow! Sennheiser HD 540 Reference are so good. - Page 26

post #376 of 1362
Thread Starter 

just compared them again (Ref I 600 vs Ref II)

and i really don't get it.

Ref I is sooo superior to my ears, in another league. fantastic soundstage and imaging, air, articulation. Wow!

Ref II is so "front-rowish", its soundstage is almost claustrophobic compared to Ref I, imaging and timbre are average, vocals are grainy.

:confused:

post #377 of 1362

Let's be careful about drawing conclusions. What pads are you using? If it's the 250 pads you're in the minority so we may be comparing apples to oranges here.

post #378 of 1362

Pleather pads on the HD540II does what a poorly damped room would do to full-range monitor speakers; it spoils them. Unless you compare the both sets of drivers with all of the same materials, you cannot draw any truly valid conclusions. Some Ref I driver pairs are quite poor; I cannot deny the lack of consistency with the mk1. However, the rest of them sound amazing. The IIs seem to be consistently amazing and I'm somewhat confident that the Ref Gold is no less amazing. They all share the same physical dimensions and with the same earpads etc, the audible differences in a truly fair comparison are likely marginal at best. I don't really care about arguing which one is better. The fact is that a real music lover should be delighted with any of them.

post #379 of 1362
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moriez View Post
 

Let's be careful about drawing conclusions. What pads are you using? If it's the 250 pads you're in the minority so we may be comparing apples to oranges here.

 

we all know that the minority opinion is qualitatively superior to the majority :D 

.

post #380 of 1362
Thread Starter 

I did compare Ref I vs Ref II with the same pads.

 

Anyway, I don't get why some of you are putting so much faith in shallow velour pads?

 

For example, I do LOVE my Beyer DT-150 with its original deep pleather pads: fantastic soundstage for a closed HP.

But with the velour pads, the DT-150 sounds horrible, shouty, terrible imaging, etc.

 

Conversely, my Beyer DT-250 (imo one of the best closed HP ever made) sounds horrible with pleather pads.

 

My point is simply that pleather vs. velour is not an appropriate criteria at all.

post #381 of 1362

Not all the velour pads are shallow...

 

If they are, slice them open along the seam, fit in new HD560 earpad foam then sew back up.

post #382 of 1362

Alright, here's my two cents about the Ref I and Ref II:

 

I have recently bought a pair of HD 540 Ref I from @moriez , and I also have a pair of Ref II that I got from ebay a while ago. The Ref II from ebay has significantly worn ear pads, but I suppose they are stock velour pads, only they got flattened out during use. And they also don't have the foam disc in front of the driver. The Ref I has original pads in nice condition, with foam disc installed in front of driver. 

In their original form, I find they are quite on par, but the Ref I slightly excels in highs, with slightly less mid-bass, overall more 'neutral', making the Ref II sound thicker, or more 'natural'. I would think that the Ref II leans more towards the modern Sennheiser HD6x0 sound, but only a little bit. People can easily prefer one over the other according to their preference. 

 

Then I did some pads swapping just to see how they influence the sound. When I first put the Ref I pads on the Ref II, without the foam discs, they sound quite awful to my ears, making the Ref II sound very lean and thin. On the other hand, Ref II pads on Ref I seem to be doing a decent job (with foam disc on), adding a little warmth that seems to be characteristic of the Ref II to the Ref I. In fact I really like this combination, although the Ref II pads are quite worn and my ears touch the drivers causing long-term discomfort, but the sound seems to be benefiting from both models, making Fischer-Dieskau's voice sound both full and well-extended on top. 

Then it occurred to me that perhaps I need a little damping for the Ref II with Ref I pads. So I added some AKG K240 foam discs on, and things are much better now. The K240 foam discs are significantly thicker than the Ref I discs, but actually seem to be at the right amount for the Ref II. The warmth and mid-bass is back, lower-treble is controlled much better. I would imagine that if some thinner foam discs were used, the sound will be again slightly colder/brighter. 

Now I think I'm settling on this current configuration: Ref I with Ref II pads and original foam discs, and Ref II with Ref I pads and AKG foam discs. If I get my hands on some other thin discs, I could install them on the Ref II, because I'm wanting a bit more airiness. 

 

Overall, I think these are really great sounding headphones. As people have said, they have very realistic timbre for instruments, that's probably exceeding my Hifimans. My HE-5LEs have a very solid body to the music, and a very airy top-end, but somehow I think the cohesion between mids and highs is problematic: they make Oistrakh's violin sound strangely thin, while I know from experience that his violin has a special fullness in timbre. This has been correctly captured by both 540s. 


Edited by marshallmole - 5/28/14 at 11:09am
post #383 of 1362

As for soundstage and imaging, I really can't say which is better here. In fact I'm starting to be skeptical in this regard for headphones. I don't know why, I'm simply not feeling that any imaging is 'right', the best presentation I can imagine would be the horizontal separation of Beyer DT990s with the height and depth of HD650s. I feel my planar Hifiman has a distinctively different presentation of soundstage, that I still can't say if I love or hate it. 

As for the 540s, I think the soundstage is probably average in size and shape, imaging is well proportioned. I need more head time to decide which is better between Ref I and Ref II. 

I'm hoping that my incoming T1s would give me a 'wow' in imaging :-)

post #384 of 1362
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marshallmole View Post
 

As for soundstage and imaging, I really can't say which is better here. In fact I'm starting to be skeptical in this regard for headphones. I don't know why, I'm simply not feeling that any imaging is 'right', the best presentation I can imagine would be the horizontal separation of Beyer DT990s with the height and depth of HD650s. I feel my planar Hifiman has a distinctively different presentation of soundstage, that I still can't say if I love or hate it. 

As for the 540s, I think the soundstage is probably average in size and shape, imaging is well proportioned. I need more head time to decide which is better between Ref I and Ref II. 

I'm hoping that my incoming T1s would give me a 'wow' in imaging :-)

 

Thanks for sharing your impressions. Very interesting.

Regarding the soundstage, imo, my Ref I's soundstage (with 250 pads) can easily compete with my Q701, and has way better imaging and timbre (two major "realism" criteria).

While my Ref II's soundstage and imaging are... well... at best average (they can't even compete with the amazing closed back Beyer DT-250)

 

I guess bottom line is definitely:

1) the 540 I+II Senns are HPs of the very highest calibre

2) no consensus on which sounds the best (mk1 vs. mk2)

 

The fact that both the mk1 and mk2 DO NEED a very juicy amp isn't stressed enough though.

They need a LOT of power: voltage (600 ohms) and current (only 94db sensitivity).

.

.


Edited by Hairspray - 5/28/14 at 11:35am
post #385 of 1362

Thanks! I will definitely try to hear how different soundstage-wise these two are. I'm driving them with my NFB10SE, which should have enough power, but could be lacking a little bit refinement. 

The T1s arrived just now so I'm having an initial listen... Hmm, their soundstage doesn't seem to be huge, but definitely very accurate in imaging. 

post #386 of 1362

How is the 540 comparing to the 800, assuming both are well driven?

post #387 of 1362
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hairspray View Post

 

we all know that the minority opinion is qualitatively superior to the majority :D 

 

Shhh, don't tell! :p

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairspray View Post
 

My point is simply that pleather vs. velour is not an appropriate criteria at all.

 

It's valid in the bigger picture. If we know what exact ''setup'' the other is listening with we can all make a more proper observation. Had it been the case that you were listening with for example pleathers on the Ref I and velour on the II or vice versa, then you would give us impressions which are different per definition: you're using different material (than other owners). Pads make a lot of difference in my experience. Like I've mentioned before, for me the 250 pads were very undesirable. I'm using new 560 pads, which are build pretty different again. I think it's mainly just a good reminder to have the individual material differences and their condition in mind.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hairspray View Post

 

I guess bottom line is definitely:

1) the 540 I+II Senns are HPs of the very highest calibre

2) no consensus on which sounds the best (mk1 vs. mk2)

 

I feel the same about both points. Sometimes I want to start waking people up about this headphone in the HD-650/600 threads which I previously thought of as top of the line. Concerning Ref I vs Ref II, I'm not sure at the moment. Was convinced that the Ref II dethroned the other until I heard the Gold edition (of which I have found no proof that it's any different than a standard Ref I at 600 ohm). Owww, some more time with them will probably clear it up.


Edited by moriez - 5/29/14 at 12:21am
post #388 of 1362
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moriez View Post
 

[...] Sometimes I want to start waking people up about this headphone in the HD-650/600 threads [..]

 

DO IT ! :D

post #389 of 1362
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moriez View Post
 

Concerning Ref I vs Ref II, I'm not sure at the moment. Was convinced that the Ref II dethroned the other until I heard the Gold edition (of which I have found no proof that it's any different than a standard Ref I at 600 ohm). Owww, some more time with them will probably clear it up.

 

I'm not sure, but i think it's:

1) hand selected drivers

2) aesthetics

3) packaging

post #390 of 1362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hairspray View Post

The HD 540 Reference is the Sennheiser flagship of the mid-eighties.
Those headphones have a sublime neutral sonic signature, with amazing mids, magical timbre and fantastic imaging.
They can easily compete with today's Senns.
But the pads and foam discs of my HD 540 were totally worn out and -- because of the almost inexistent sealing -- the bass was really weak.
Last week, I ordered remplacement pads (the HD-250 Linear II pads fit perfectly) and original HD-540 Reference Gold inner foam discs still available at Thomann smile.gif.

And the result is... wow!
Take for example a K240 -- well known for being neutral and smooth -- add 20% bass quantity and 30% bass quality (texture), a much-much wider 3D-like soundstage (HD 540 are fully open) with unmatched imaging, a lot of clarity, air and separation and a front row presentation, with intimate vocals.
And, last but not least, I can't think of a more linear headphone. Hardcore neutrality.

At first listen, I wasn't impressed, nothing demonstrative (some would say thin, lifeless, cold...).
But 3 minutes later, I understood why a guy on a german forum said the 540 are one of the best Sennheiser ever made.
Such neutrality, clarity and smoothness are candy for the ears.
It's like the HD 540 have no personality, they impose nothing but their linearity, which is the mark of a great headphone. Plus, they are a surprisingly good all-rounder.
The KRK slogan "For educated ears" is kinda pretentious and arrogant but IMO it applies here... Musicality and realism, not dynamite.

Once you get used to the HD 540, you will notice how amazing the timbre is.
Vocals are transcendently good.
Soundstage and imaging are fantastic.
Comfort is unmatched, even better than K240 since the pads are deeper and the HD 540 are sooo light.
Their 300 ohm are very hard to satisfy though, and a juicy amp is required (my 540 is even harder to drive because it's the rare 600 ohm version).

This post may sound like naive initial enthusiasm but I doubt it because -- when listening to Eric Burdon's "27 Forever" -- I suddenly realized how old those HPs are... yes, I bought them 27 years ago. I guess, I was too immature to really appreciate them at that time. Would a kid appreciate a rare Bordeaux?
Anyone else loves their HD-540? L3000.gif
BTW, 540 Reference and 540 Reference Gold are basically the same (the latter having hand-matched drivers though and cosmetic tweaks), but I'm not sure about the differences between the Reference and Reference II?

 









 

The HD540 are outstanding! They were my first High-end Headphones, back in 1987! That original pair is long gone but I have recently bought Two pairs on eBay.de for less than €100 in total! :D I have fitted new Foams in both and a pair of HD250 pads in one of them and presto, fabulous music is pouring out of my main Amps! I have tried both the HD600 and HD650 and frankly, the HD540, as well as the HD560, beat the crap out of them! Evolution, my foot! The HD800 may -just may- be even better, but at the ridiculously high price tag it commands, it surely better be! 

 

Happy listening! :beerchug:

 

Leonel

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