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.