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Help me understand what I'm hearing - speed/transparency/clarity HD800 vs HE500

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I've done a fair bit of reading here, testing a number of head phones but something is confusing me.  I hope some can give me some insight. 

 

The HD800 is by all accounts a very fast, articulate, transparent, detailed headphone. 

 

The HE500 is also considered fast and transparent but I've not heard any every say that it is faster, more transparent or more articulate than the HD800. 

 

I'm running Minimax plus DAC and a solid state Bobby amp - makes for a relatively neutral detailed setup.

 

Here is where I am confused. Clearly the HD800 has a larger soundstage.  However, to my ears, I consistently hear the HE500 as being faster and more transparent, and dare I say, 'sweeter'. .   If the HE500 had the soundstage of the HD800, I'd keep the HE500 in a heart beat. 

 

I realize that there is a fair bit of subjectivity in hearing and preferences but surely there's enough concensus that the HD800 has very high transparenty and speed so that what I am hearing doesn't make sense?  

 

Can anyone give me insight to what I am hearing? 

 

Thanks,

UL

post #2 of 3

I own both and love them both. To my ears the HD800s have greater transparency, mostly due to their superb imaging and wide soundstage. The HE500s have that (again, to my ears) planar magnetic smoothness that seems to float music in a sea of liquid sound that gives it a clarity and presence that can equate to transparency, at least to some ears. Transparency is utterly subjective like most descriptive terms when listening to headphones. To me transparency is the ability of headphones to "disappear" leaving only the music. The 800s can do that a bit better but that is only a subjective judgement. You may hear the 500s' smoothness as transparency and respond more to it than the 800s. However, they are both wonderful headphones. I find that my LCD-3s have that planar magnetic smoothness to such a degree that even I hear it as transparency. They don't have the 800s imaging but their sound is still beautifully transparent.

 

Speed is essentially the ability to follow the music: when it becomes faster and more complex they can keep up. The 800s are fast with superb transient response. They don't get grainy when the music speeds up or becomes denser and more complex. The music doesn't get confused or unclear. The HE500s are slightly less capable of this (to my ears) but are still excellent. There is hardly any graininess in the HE500s. There's no grain in the 800s. That is what is meant by their speed. Again, you may respond to the smoothness of the planar magnetic drivers on the 500s better than the dynamic 800s so that they sound faster and more transparent. It's subjective, although you should still hear the 800s as transparent because of their superb imaging and wide soundstage.


Edited by mikebirm49 - 8/2/13 at 3:06pm
post #3 of 3

Nicely said,mikebirm49,

Ditto plus one...

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