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My quest for the perfect classical music headphone: a brief visit of the DT-880, T1, HD-800,... - Page 3

post #31 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hennessys View Post
 

A little time passed with lots of listening.

 

 

After the first impressions of the HE-6 i got the Upgrading Bug under my skin. While i was perfectly happy with the Violectric v100 and HD800 – T1 sound, i felt something was missing from the HE-6. I just knew that the Hifiman has more potential. I Changed my source to a Hiface Two, got myself a v200, i dropped some new cables to the mix and i have an Easter Electric dac with some tubes on the way (and a very empty wallet just before Xmas).

 

These upgrades made the hd800 sound less analytic, but still keeping that huge sound stage with lots of details which you don’t hear in the other headphones. As I was writing earlier the HD800 is just simply perfect with some recordings, but sometimes slicing the music up and can give you sound that you cannot hear in the life, unless you are sitting inside in all instruments at the same time. Despite the goose bumps I get from some of the listening, I don’t think the Sennheiser is a perfect stand-alone headphone for classical music. It’s very sensitive to the quality of the recordings, and I definitely feel the need for one more headphone beside it.

 

 

The Beyer’s T1 is an easy to love headphone. It works well with almost every classical recording. Some of the cases I find a bit of too much treble and it also can present too much bass. It can stand its ground alone, but for me paired with the HD800 gives the best combination.

 

The Hifiman HE-6 brought a different world to me. It presents the music more lifelike than the other two. I’m still in the discovering phase and I try to avoid hype (which comes to me easily, if I love a new gadget at the first sight:)), but it brings the music more alive. I found myself often focusing on one instrument with the HD800 and the T1, but there is a noticeable gap, even odd peaks when something else takes the lead of the music. With the HE-6 it’s just sounds more together. Even though there is plenty, but it doesn't have the precise presentation and extreme detailedness of the HD800. The amazing is; I don’t have the urge to look these things, just lay back and enjoy the music. It handles way more recordings very well than the Sennheiser, but not that versatile all-rounder as the T1. Hissing in some of the older recording sometimes can be annoying.

 

These are my impressions for now, but it will take months to be more comfortable around the new gears.

 

At this stage I can’t pick the HE-6 or the HD800 as the best. They are approaching the music from an absolutely different angle, but the definitely have the first place and the T1 comes in third.

 

 

So the quest for the perfect classical music headphone still continuous, but I find myself in a very happy place along the road.

Sounds like we have the same sound preferences, I'm still ploughing ahead with my comparisons especially since the HE-500 also entered the equation and I've come to realise (after going back and front between them and the HE-6 (dual plugs in the V200 sure are handy here) that for most classical I actually prefer them to the HE-6.  The midrange is more pronounced, they're a bit warmer and absolutely perfect for small ensembles and vocals (listened a couple of times to Bach's mass in B-, the Masaaki Suzuki and Bach collegium of Japan version and it was an almost transcendental experience).  For larger ensembles the HE-6 still take the cake but price/quality wise I now think the HE-500 is a far better deal for 95% of people.  

 

Beyers - I only own the 880 - are too hot in the treble for me,  a polyphonic harp concerto was downright painful to listen to.  And although they have a lot of fans for classical music and are beyond any doubt very high quality I indeed agree that the HD800 is not the optimal classical headphone for across the board listening.  For that it's just too resolving/analytical.  No such thing as absolute across the board perfection I guess, even within one genre.

 

At first I didn't understand why you went with a tube DAC but I guess your reasoning is that it's the next logical upgrade step especially as you already own the V200 amp. Would love to give a tube amp a try sometimes but going strictly by the numbers (distortion etc) I'm reticent, especially because my present V800/V200 combo does such a good job.  And because I don't want to spend the equivalent of Burkina Faso's GNP on even more gear that takes up space on my desk.

post #32 of 68

I feel the need of a tube amp from time to time - especially with the HD800 -, but I don’t think it would suit all music. The EE Dac probably a safe approach as it can switch between solid state and tube.

post #33 of 68

My humble opinion that is for classical music a stax electrostat headphone is the best option. It is just so natural sounding, dynamic, fast, detailed and at the same time soft when it is required that it gives the impression as you would stand in the midst of the orchestra. My  dirt cheap 30 years old headphone with a similarly old, but well built amplifier able to provide a real concert like feeling. Possibly,being an old product and made for studio use primarily - this an advantage. They were designed before the fashion of overbright and overbassy technicolor modern sound, They just have an unparalled natural soundprint.    

post #34 of 68
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrasdesoria View Post
 

My humble opinion that is for classical music a stax electrostat headphone is the best option. It is just so natural sounding, dynamic, fast, detailed and at the same time soft when it is required that it gives the impression as you would stand in the midst of the orchestra. My  dirt cheap 30 years old headphone with a similarly old, but well built amplifier able to provide a real concert like feeling. Possibly,being an old product and made for studio use primarily - this an advantage. They were designed before the fashion of overbright and overbassy technicolor modern sound, They just have an unparalled natural soundprint.    

You may well be right, I simply don't know as I haven't heard any Stat headphone yet.  IF -big 'IF'- you can trust the reviews then some of the models are better suited for classical than others and their flagship should be supreme.  Only problem is that if I purchase the 009 and its amp in Europe then  I'd be looking at 10k EUR at the very minimum and I'm just not willing to do that, regardless of the sound quality.  I make a good living and enjoy listening to  music but life has some priorities other than Bach.  Haven't really looked in detail yet at some of their -less expensive- models and their suitability for my taste in sound.  

post #35 of 68

Hi, I dont think that they only fit to Bach or small ensemble. Any opera, or Mahler is just fantastic through them, But words are words and they unable to convey what you may hear (or not - given the role if individual taste and preferences). I just wanted to say that once you should try a stax headphone also if you are looking for a headphone for classical music. According to my experience, they are just the right headphones for classical music (or any kind of music which is unamplified in real life). 

post #36 of 68
Interesting read smile.gif I agree with your impressions on the gear which i have also tried. I do however have a suggestion for your comfort concern on Hifiman's. Get some Beyer DT-990/T1 pads for them, it really increases comfort, for me they're close to the T1's now. It's an easy mod but you might have to trim a tiny bit of the edge of the plastic ring that connects the pads to the headphones.
post #37 of 68

You don't need the flagship Stax. Even the humble normal bias SR-Lambda blows most top-of-the-line dynamic headphones out of the water for classical music (in my opinion).

Wouldn't be my weapon of choice for rock, but for classical or acoustic and vocal music, it is absolutely outstanding.

After hearing it in a good system all the other headphones will start to sound "unnatural". And that is because they have (for me, quite serious) issues with the frequency response, but you don't really notice it until you try something like this. To be fair, not all Staxes have quite the same "naturalist approach" to them (for my peculiar taste), but they still edge out most dynamics with their fast transient response, airiness and lower distortion.


Edited by padam - 12/1/13 at 1:39pm
post #38 of 68

Absolutely, Padam. This is the issue. I had originally a Sennheiser HD 650-O2 combination, which I did like very much and I thought there is difficult to get better sound. None the less, I was thinking to buy a HD 800. I went to local dealer, very impressive, fast, detailed, mighty sound through a Beyerdynamic A1 headphone amplifier. Still, I was not sure whether I like better than HD 650-O2, taking into the price difference into account, although it was clear that the HD 800 technically superior, more detailed, more impressive sound. Than I went to audition Stax 404LE -727 combination. It immediately struck me the naturalness and speed of the sound, which was not bright, not bass heavy, just right. By chance, just after auditioning the 404LE came  the possibility to buy a sr-x 3 plus converter combo. It was so cheap, that I bought it without auditoning. Possibly, the sr-x 3 has an even more correct, less colored, more natural soundprint than the 404-727, although the latter is providing a more impressive, bigger sound. This weekend I went back to the dealer to hear again HD800 driven by Sennheiser own HV600 headphone amplifier.  A few weeks before I heard Jordi Savall in live concert. I took with myself one of the cds of Savall (Harmonie Universelle). The stax sr-x3 is able to reproduce the same timbre, the sound what one hear at real life. Sennheiser: mighty, impressive sound,  but now I heard as being somehow a composed one. Attractive, eyecatching, everything, just not able to reproduce the natural timbre un unamplified  music (at least in this case, according to my experience) (It needs to mention that at the dealer there was a yamaha top of the line cd current production player, while I am using an older apogee rosetta - and some of the differences may attriutable to the different voicing of the dacs). 

post #39 of 68

+1 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by GL1TCH3D View Post

You should try an electrostat if you want musical ;P
post #40 of 68

Just listen to the entry level stax system. Either the earlier SR 202 Headphone/SRM212 amplifier or the latest SR207 Headphones and SRM252S Energiser.

Whole system for about the same price as the HD800!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Xenophon View Post
 

You may well be right, I simply don't know as I haven't heard any Stat headphone yet.  IF -big 'IF'- you can trust the reviews then some of the models are better suited for classical than others and their flagship should be supreme.  Only problem is that if I purchase the 009 and its amp in Europe then  I'd be looking at 10k EUR at the very minimum and I'm just not willing to do that, regardless of the sound quality.  I make a good living and enjoy listening to  music but life has some priorities other than Bach.  Haven't really looked in detail yet at some of their -less expensive- models and their suitability for my taste in sound.  

post #41 of 68
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrasdesoria View Post
 

 Than I went to audition Stax 404LE -727 combination. It immediately struck me the naturalness and speed of the sound, which was not bright, not bass heavy, just right. By chance, just after auditioning the 404LE came  the possibility to buy a sr-x 3 plus converter combo. It was so cheap, that I bought it without auditoning. Possibly, the sr-x 3 has an even more correct, less colored, more natural soundprint than the 404-727, although the latter is providing a more impressive, bigger sound. This weekend I went back to the dealer to hear again HD800 driven by Sennheiser own HV600 headphone amplifier.  A few weeks before I heard Jordi Savall in live concert. I took with myself one of the cds of Savall (Harmonie Universelle). The stax sr-x3 is able to reproduce the same timbre, the sound what one hear at real life. Sennheiser: mighty, impressive sound,  but now I heard as being somehow a composed one. Attractive, eyecatching, everything, just not able to reproduce the natural timbre un unamplified  music (at least in this case, according to my experience) (It needs to mention that at the dealer there was a yamaha top of the line cd current production player, while I am using an older apogee rosetta - and some of the differences may attriutable to the different voicing of the dacs). 

I guess we spoke on the phone a few weeks ago (or I mistake you with someone else with the same first name). If you combine the SR-X Mk3 with something like the SRM-T1S as an amplifier that is decent and has normal bias connection, you will get bigger sound and much more detail with the same uncolored tone.


Edited by padam - 12/1/13 at 3:01pm
post #42 of 68

Hi. The funny thing is that since than I have showed to two friends of mine the stax. Both got the fever of upgraditis. One bought an LNS with T1, the other an sr009 with 727.  

post #43 of 68

Thanks to the OP for sharing.

 

It's the journey, not the destination. Just enjoy and don't over analyze.

post #44 of 68
I connected my HE-6 to my old Denon desktop amp. This move placed the HE-6 on the top of the list for me above the HD800 V200 combo. I wonder how will it sound with some higher quality stereo amp. Man we got into an expensive hobby biggrin.gif 

I'm listening to Vivaldi's Four Season from '85. Spraf's violin play is a tough nut to crack. It becomes harsh from time to time with the hd800, but i absolutely love it now with the HE-6 and i can hear small details which i didn't noticed before.
post #45 of 68
Thread Starter 

A coupe of months have gone by and I guess it's time for a brief update after all those listening sessions:

 

The DT-880's have paddled out the ebay way....yes, for the price they were very good but I own a number of very good headphones now and since I'm not collecting it was time for the 'least' to go and those were the 880's.  Compared to the others I found they lacked transparency and could still sound overly bright with some recordings but still, if you're on a limited budget and want cans that can handle every genre, I can recommend them.  Just think twice if you need the 600 Ohm version and if you want those, be aware that you'll need a good, powerful amp to enjoy them.

 

I've since auditioned the HE-500 too and was so enchanted by their warmer nature and the way they emphasise the midrange a bit (great with vocals) that I've acquired a pair.  Been wavering between them and the HE-6 for a long time but in the end I prefer the HE-6 for its unrivalled transparency and very neutral sound.  To me, these are the best cans I own and for listening to classical music, with a very natural sounding reproduction.  Sure, they're power hungry monsters (although not as extreme as some posters would have you believe, see further) but they reproduce the music in a truly glorious way, giving a very natural sound.  The only headphones I've listened to that come even close are the Stax electrostats which admittedly are even better in the mids and treble but can't follow in the bass section, something which became apparent after A/B'ing them with some of Bach's organ concertos.  Also, the Stax family can -depending on the model- drive you into the financial deep end whereas a good used HE-600 will set you back maybe 1k USD, provided you have a sufficiently powerful amp.

 

My current order of preference between the 3 sets of headphones  I own:  HE-6>HD-800>HE-500.  Note that as I said, I listen to classical (mainly instrumental) music at human volume levels.  I can also immediately lay to rest claims that the HE-6 will only work on a speaker amp as no desktop amp would be powerful enough to drive them well:

 

They sound glorious on my Violectric V800 DAC / V200 amp combo.  The V200 delivers 2.75W into 50 Ohm (single ended output only although it accepts XLR input from the DAC).  I usually listen with the volume pot at 11-12 'o clock, no extra gain and trust me, that's more than sufficient.

 

What's more, I recently acquired a Darkvoice 337 dual mono OTL tube amp at a bargain price.  It was modified/upgraded and output is a bit more than 1 Watt/channel into 50 Ohms.  I'm running it with Tung Sol 5998 power tubes and RCA 'special red' 6SJ7 rectifiers and it drives the HE-6 just fine.  This combo does not sound overly tubey but quite neutral really, just a bit of warmth and laid-back feeling.  They lack the bass punch of the V200 and are not so transparent nor dead quiet in the background but the sound has that little 'extra' that, combined with the softly glowing power tubes, invites one to sit back in a comfy chair with the lights low and enjoy a nice whiskey while listening to a favourite piece.  I know my statement that they drive the HE-6 sounds other-worldly but trust me, they do.  Just make sure you have the latest revision of the amp or its successor, the 339.  The HE-6 'manual' (just a small booklet, btw) recommends an amp that can deliver a minimum of 2 watts so I guess that  i'm just at the limit with my tube amp but it sounds beautiful.

 

The only gripe I still have with the Hifiman cans is their comparative lack of comfort and strictly utilitarian build.  I've grown used to the pressure level but beware if you're wearing spectacles because then they can -depending on the type of spectacles- become really uncomfortable really quick.

 

The HD-800 remain the kings of soundstage and detail, not to mention wearing comfort.  Transparency/resolution wise they're very close to the HE-6 though but that last one sounds just a bit more natural and lively and gets my preference.  In a couple of months I'll have time to audition a couple of Stax cans and  Ergo-AMP electrostatic phones from a friend, will post my impressions then.

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