It is not unusual for me to get carried away with audio upgrades. What starts out as a simple change to one thing often leads to two, three, or four additional changes before the dust settles on a particular upgrade. So it was with my decision to upgrade from my trusted Sennheiser HD600 headphone to the new Sennheiser HD800. In fact, I started out to purchase the HD700 but right out of the gate I couldn't make my mouse click on the buy button. When I viewed the HD800 page my pointer just flew to the buy button on that page and in a trance like state I clicked away. I guess some things are just meant to be.
At any rate, the HD800 headphone arrived quickly and I was very pleased to discover the big improvement in performance and comfort over my HD600. After a couple weeks of enjoying the HD800 with my Musical Fidelity X-Can V8P tube Class A headphone amplifier I found myself daydreaming about the new Sennheiser HDVA 600 balanced solid state headphone amplifier and their new balanced headphone cable. As I researched the HDVA 600 and read reviews my daydream turned into a smoldering desire to own this combination. I felt it was a match made in headphone heaven and since I already had the HD800 in the house why not go all the way. I ordered the Sennheiser HDVA 600 headphone amp and CH 800 S balanced headphone cable from Sound Earphones and had both in my warm hands the very next day. Now my new headphone listening station is complete, well almost. I ordered a pair of balanced Wireworld Silver Eclipse interconnects to replace the Tributaries interconnects I have been using, plus a Wireworld Silver Starlight digital coaxial cable to replace the Wireworld Starlight digital coaxial cable I have been using. Fortunately I already own two Wireworld Aurora power cables. As you can see, what began as a new headphone rapidly snowballed into a number of other upgrades before I came to my senses. It seems like this happens to me all the time.
I now have 138 hours on the HD800 headphone and 120 hours on the HDVA 600 headphone amplifier and balanced headphone cable. I am still waiting on the Wireworld Silver Eclipse interconnects and Silver Starlight digital coaxial cable to arrive. The present set up is as follows: Sennheiser HD800 headphone, HDVA 600 headphone amplifier, CH 800 S balanced headphone cable, Wired 4 Sound DAC2, Sony Vaio i7 laptop computer with JRiver Media Center 19 feeding the DAC2 via a Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB cable, Oppo BDP-83 used as a transport feeding the DAC2 via a Wireworld Starlight digital coaxial cable, and both the DAC2 and the HDVA 600 are powered with Wireworld Aurora power cables from an APC 800 UPS.
Right out of the box both the HD800 headphone and the HDVA 600 amp sounded very good with no unusual sonic irregularities that I noticed. The HD800 and the HDVA 600 with the balanced headphone cable represents a worthy headphone system. As the hours have been logged on both the headphone and the amp I have noticed a gradual improvement in the texture and depth of bass. There has also been an expansion of what was already an amazing sound stage. This was further aided with the balanced headphone cable where channel separation seemed to become even more dramatic. What has surprised me more than anything is how little difference has developed after 90+ hours on the amp and 120+ hours on the headphone. The break-in has demonstrated only minor differences in performance from fresh out of the boxes. The break-in period revealed subtle improvements but nothing dramatic. It is quite remarkable how good the headphone and the amplifier sounded from the first minute.
Both the HD800 and the HDVA 600 are delivering exceptional sound quality. I have difficulty taking the headphones off once I begin listening. The full rich dynamic sound of this headphone rig is addicting. The sound stage dimensions are astonishing and quite different from any other headphone I have experienced. I am enjoying this headphone system so much I haven't listened to the studio sound system in over a week and pretty much sums up my happiness with the new Sennheiser HD800 and HDVA 600 setup. I am anticipating additional performance improvements when the Wireworld Silver Eclipse interconnects and Silver Starlight digital coaxial cable finally arrives and break-in is completed.
Like I said at the start, I can get carried away quite easily. This headphone upgrade has been a perfect example. What started out as a $1500 headphone upgrade led to a total investment that has exceeded $4k without counting the value of the W4S DAC2, Oppo BDP-83 or the Sony Vaio laptop sources. I need to remember this when I start thinking about another upgrade. It is never as simple as I think or as inexpensive as I initially convince myself. Don't misunderstand, I am thrilled with the results of my new headphone outfit. I wouldn't change a thing. It is fabulous. I just need to remember to remove my blinders in the beginning. Upgrades are great fun but rarely end with a single item purchase. None the less, I am an extremely pleased headphone enthusiast with the Sennheiser HD800 headphone and HDVA 600 headphone amplifier. It is top notch gear and highly recommended for those considering a new headphone rig.
Edited by jdandy - 1/25/14 at 5:02pm