DIY HD800, what are your thoughts?
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AudioJunki3

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Hello everyone, I am a student product designer from the UK. I love music, I don't mind spending money on audio gear, but I am curious about how this idea would turn out.
I have access to a workshop, and materials too, so bear that in mind.
 
Basically my idea was to design and build my own HD800 using the official replacement speakers/capsules which I can buy from custom cable UK.
I would be looking at a wood/metal based construction. I am making this post to merely get your thoughts on this, in total this project will cost around £400 max the HD800 cost £1000 so there's a bit gap in cost there. My main reason for this is to get the sound of the HD800 without spending the RRP. 
 
So what are your thoughts on this idea, I would not be trying to imitate, I would merely be making this for myself. (if anyone is interested or had any suggestions please message me!)
Do you have any ideas on how I could get the best acoustics, they will obviously be open back headphones. Any particular wood to use? Anything that might help me or if you can think of any reason I shouldn't go ahead with the project, I would love to hear your thoughts.
 
Thanks 
Jonny
 
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linglingjr

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My first question is do you have access to HD800s for measurements and what not?  Just because you have the same driver doesn't mean you'll get the same sound (or even relatively close for that matter).  Maybe if you had access to a 5 axis CNC and were going to scan the HD800's "frame" and then have it machined to the exact specs you would still have deviation from the original sound if you're using different pads, baffle material, etc.. Since you say you're using wood and I almost know you won't be cncing everything to exact measurements I'd expect a completely different soundstage and probably everything to sound a lot different except for maybe dynamics? 
 
People custom make headphones all the time but I think that's a lot of money for something like this that might end up sounding completely unsatisfactory.  There are a lot of other great sounding headphones out there for that price range.  It would be a fun project and I'd be curious to see what designs you have in mind, but I don't know if I'd want to spend so much.
 
Edit: I'm also considering going into industrial Design 

 
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kramer5150

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Definitely post this to the DIY section... thats a better place than here for things like materials, material sourcing and fabrication IMHO.
 
For starters, you are using one of the (if not than "the") most detail revealing headphone drivers on the market.  Its also not the easiest to amp and source given its impedance and overall sound signature.  Its a headphone thats pretty brutal with inferior choices upstream.
 
Don't let that deter you though!!  Just know that you probably should give some train of thought to the system as a whole, plugging into an iPhone, Macbook or PC soundcard most likely won't do them justice... and that in itself can be a very long journey.
 
A more forgiving open headphone driver might be one from the MDR-MA900.  Of course theres also Magnum drivers which have a very good following here.
 
Might also want to look into 3D printing.  Some excellent DIY builds out there using this fabrication method. 
 
Good Luck!!
 
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AudioJunki3

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  My first question is do you have access to HD800s for measurements and what not?  Just because you have the same driver doesn't mean you'll get the same sound (or even relatively close for that matter).  Maybe if you had access to a 5 axis CNC and were going to scan the HD800's "frame" and then have it machined to the exact specs you would still have deviation from the original sound if you're using different pads, baffle material, etc.. Since you say you're using wood and I almost know you won't be cncing everything to exact measurements I'd expect a completely different soundstage and probably everything to sound a lot different except for maybe dynamics? 
 
People custom make headphones all the time but I think that's a lot of money for something like this that might end up sounding completely unsatisfactory.  There are a lot of other great sounding headphones out there for that price range.  It would be a fun project and I'd be curious to see what designs you have in mind, but I don't know if I'd want to spend so much.
 
Edit: I'm also considering going into industrial Design 
Thanks for your reply and advice, it is a difficult project. I do have access to a CNC machine, but I don't think I'd be using that as it is the university property and they might be a bit awkward about it. I will look for some measurement information online for the HD800, but like I said I am not trying to imitate them, so the sound will vary from being close to being way off. I am sure that they would not sound terrible because of the quality of the driver. I might consider buying the HD650 capsules which would bring the project price down to about £150. I was just going straight for the top tier. I would definitely be considering the soundstage a lot in my design as I love a good wide sound, I'll do some drawings and look into some more alternative cheaper components, depending on how they go, I might buy the HD800 ones. Thanks again :)
 
PS: good luck with that, its a very interesting field to get into, great money too :wink:
 
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AudioJunki3

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  Definitely post this to the DIY section... thats a better place than here for things like materials, material sourcing and fabrication IMHO.
 
For starters, you are using one of the (if not than "the") most detail revealing headphone drivers on the market.  Its also not the easiest to amp and source given its impedance and overall sound signature.  Its a headphone thats pretty brutal with inferior choices upstream.
 
Don't let that deter you though!!  Just know that you probably should give some train of thought to the system as a whole, plugging into an iPhone, Macbook or PC soundcard most likely won't do them justice... and that in itself can be a very long journey.
 
A more forgiving open headphone driver might be one from the MDR-MA900.  Of course theres also Magnum drivers which have a very good following here.
 
Might also want to look into 3D printing.  Some excellent DIY builds out there using this fabrication method. 
 
Good Luck!!
Thanks for your reply, I saw the Ohm for this headphone was 300! which is quite a lot and I know my laptop wouldn't give me anywhere close to the benefit, but we do have some Cambridge audio Hi-Fi separates downstairs, which I would most likely use for them. And I will look into other drivers, as I mentioned to the other reply, I might jump down to a HD650, but I could only find the Sennheiser capsules online.  Thanks again :)
 
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kramer5150

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  Thanks for your reply, I saw the Ohm for this headphone was 300! which is quite a lot and I know my laptop wouldn't give me anywhere close to the benefit, but we do have some Cambridge audio Hi-Fi separates downstairs, which I would most likely use for them. And I will look into other drivers, as I mentioned to the other reply, I might jump down to a HD650, but I could only find the Sennheiser capsules online.  Thanks again :)
That in itself could be a lengthy investigation.... if you are looking to tap into an amps speaker output.  The two are not always compatible speaker amp to headphone driver.  Most significantly is the impedance miss-match, power differences and ground difference.  Speaker amps are designed for impedance loads less than 16 ohms.  Headphone TRS connectors are common grounded across the sleeve, while speaker amp circuits don't always have a common ground.
 
Theres a lengthy thread discussing tapping to speaker amps to power headphones.... but IIRC it mostly centers around orthos and not dynamic drivers.
 
Good Luck though... sounds like a great project.
 
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AudioJunki3

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  That in itself could be a lengthy investigation.... if you are looking to tap into an amps speaker output.  The two are not always compatible speaker amp to headphone driver.  Most significantly is the impedance miss-match, power differences and ground difference.  Speaker amps are designed for impedance loads less than 16 ohms.  Headphone TRS connectors are common grounded across the sleeve, while speaker amp circuits don't always have a common ground.
 
Theres a lengthy thread discussing tapping to speaker amps to power headphones.... but IIRC it mostly centers around orthos and not dynamic drivers.
 
Good Luck though... sounds like a great project.
Thanks, you've been a great help, I will post whatever I end up with in the DIY section, should be finished in a few weeks. :) thanks again
 
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Hi mate, you need to keep in mind that materials will cost you lot more. if you will decide to cnc parts it will cost you a lot! if you will decide to 3d print it in nice detail like "frosted detail" on Shapeway you will pay for printed parts around 300-400euro for baffle and enclosure if enclosure will be open. Im not sure about what you would like to use for headband. If you will decide to make cups by yourself then diy tools will also cost you lot of money. It might sound cheap when you think "I just need hand saw and some sandpaper" but it will cost you. Keep in mind that if you will screw up something during design work you will need to reprint parts or work on them and reshape them by yourself with available techniques, it might be time consuming.
 
Good luck anyway but you can be sure it will cost you more than drivers, nice wood also cost
 
edit,
 
damn it, I just saw date of this post... moon walk out...
 
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