EL8 v LCD2 v HD700 ve ATH50, V SHmmi70, V IE800, v HD800 v Momentum Over, V HD800 which di I buy?
May 3, 2015 at 7:32 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

Woodman99

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Well I started by deciding I needed a DAC in my System and I also wanted to move above the standard iPod style earbuds. I have recently improved the source material through Tidal and a NAS hard Drive.
 
I'll leave the DAC debate until the end, but tested the headphones on the same selected DAC.
 
I sought out a supplier who was not only prepared to demo headphones, but were really helpful. I would highly recommend Oxford Audio, I have visited twice, but will set out the decisive session below. 
 
I believe in paying the right price for high quality reliable hifi. My core system is a late 80's Quad system into refurbed AE1's  backed up by a meridian f80 in the kitchen, but whilst the Quad has had servicing, its exceptionally reliable and still far from shaky. 
 
So, the Headphones were fed through my own iPad at aac and then a shop owned PC, streaming tidal at HIFI res.
 
I wanted headphones that delivered a neutral but very open soundstage. I have heard LCD3's and indeed HD800's. Both are outstanding headphones with clearly different signatures. 
 
For the purpose of this test I ignored the LCD 3's, which I have listened to, but strangely I very slightly preferred the LCD 2's. I would like to have tried the LCD XC's, but they were not available. 
 
So lets start at the bottom price wise and work up.........
 
some headphones to referenced.
 
£70 Sennheiser MM70i earbuds - dead easy, blow apple stuff out the window despite being pretty cheap. highly recommended as out 'disposable' and warm headphones with bass. Can't argue with these as cheap and cheerful, but not high on clarity
 
Audio Technic ATH 50's - Very honest and good headphones. Not audiophile
but amazing for their price point.
 
LCD'2s - I really liked these, musical, accurate a very good pair for headphones indeed. They showed no issues, apart from them bleeding noise because they are very open.
 
This is the conundrum- I can listen on my own, but often I can't and if so I can't have big leakage. 
 
So, LCD 2's bleed sound a good deal :frowning2:
 
The HD800's - well, its probably been said , but for me personnaly, the HD800's remain amazing in terms of 'air' and soundstage :)
 
The LCD 2's and HD800's are both excellent and the 800's would be my choice BUT, both bleed sound a great deal. :frowning2:(
 
Unfortunately, they both are just too loud for where I want, so despite going back to both many times, the bleed was just too much for my domestic situation. :frowning2:
 
For my ears I would take the HD800' for the 'air', albeit they are both very accurate, but i find the 800's a bit more comfortable and just sound more open.
 
So, in the middle we have brand new Audeeze EL8's (Closed) Sennheiser Momentums and Sennheiser IE800's.
 
I had really big hopes for the (very well burnt in) EL8's and drove a fair way to test them, but strangely they just didn't work for me. Musical, yes, but open, no, quite closed. The sound was very much in head and I felt lacked excitement and I dare say it, but a bit dull.- Personally I much preferred their LCD'2s. That said this is all personal preference and as you will gather, the transparency of the HD800's was the benchmark for me, so I was looking for a headphone that delivered 'air' and clarity, which these did not. I actually went back to them at the end, but my opinion didn't change
 
Sennheiser HD 700's - Absolutely brilliant headphones living in the shadow of the 800's. Different from the 800's for sure, but airy and in a sense less analytical. I really liked them for their combination of smaller size than the 800's, light weight, good soundstage and much lower sound leakage. These were so nearly my first choice. Only downside is that the highs can get quite brittle. The 800's are better, no doubt, but for £500 as opposed to £1100 these are brilliant headphones.
 
The IE800's - what was I doing adding IE's to these? Well I initially thought they would be a good control. These were very surprising, they are not HD800's and their signature is slightly warmer and with a tiny bit more bass. The soundstage is a tiny bit smaller , but they are so tight on the music and feel ridiculously open for an in ear.
 
The Sennheiser momentums are a really great all purpose headphone. They are clear, warm and all round solid headphones. I went back to them many times thinking, well they cost £200 and they do the job. If I was going to have an all round one pair then they are hard to knock and at the price point I would have no hesitation in going for them.
 
BUT,,,,,
 
What do I really want?
 
A Headphone giving a very clear signature thats musical and can work in a domestic situation. This is what most of us want or need. The result of extensive testing with different sources and everything from Ben Howard to London Grammar to Mozart to Ella fitzgerald to Bird, led me to a conclusion that frankly shocked the hell out of me.
 
I went to buy serious pair of headphones and I ended up buying the .... IE 800's
blink.gif

 
I am as surprised as anyone, but these are an astonishing pair of IE's. The listening was comprehensive against tracks I know inside out. They have venting and the soundstage , whilst a tiny bit narrower than the HD 800's is bigger than anything else tested.
 
Music ratings -
 
The HD800's were, to my mind the best for my wish list. however the Soundbleed is total and whilst I would have bought them,I would have used them far less, as anyone in the same room has to hear them at 80%.
 
IE800's - They have a slightly narrower soundstage, but just ignore the price for the size. Well driven, these just have everything, strong base, simply astonishing mids - even better than HD 800's at this point - great highs, albeit I think the HD800 highs are a bit smother. The IE 800's are better than the 700's in the Mids and the highs.
 
The LCD 2's were lovely, but in terms of clarity even they were edged by the IE 800's
 
Next up I would have taken the £200 monetums even ahead of the EL8's. Shocking, maybe , as the EL8's were not bad, but the momentums were 1/3rd of the price and I still preferred them.
 
As for the DAc's, well we tried various through some nice KEF's and after some varied listening, for once, it was an easy choice. I ordered The chord Hugo. HIFi is often personal or dare I say it imagined differences, but plug the HUGO into anything and someone who has no musical tone or interest will immediately notice. Before the headphone listening I tested a number of Dacs including some very expensive ones, but that little box from chord is such a big improvement its ridiculous.
 
Needless to say the Hugo and the IE800's just sing.
 
As I said earlier, HIFI depends on your requirements and for my practical requirements, I went to a hifi shop expecting to buy a £1000-£2000 set of headphones and ended up buying the IE 800's,,,
 
plus a Hugo.
 
Go Try Them, properly driven they are amazing and I couldn't recommend they higher -  just don't look the priced for some tiny earbuds...
atsmile.gif

 
May 3, 2015 at 9:11 PM Post #4 of 7

Woodman99

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Sorry, I pre posted.
 
The answer is yes, I want open sound in closed headphones. I like the open sound of the HD800's and and the LCD 2's, but they had just too much sound bleed. The IE 800's are described as open in ears. I don't know how they have done it,but they do seem to deliver that. As I said I was amazed, I made th decision then spent another hour trying convince myself other wise!!
 
May 3, 2015 at 10:22 PM Post #5 of 7

Randle81

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Ah! We all do that. Second guess. I'm still looking
 
Does a shop let you try IEM's? I have always thought they might not because of hygiene. I could be tempted towards that direction as I don't like the weight of most over-ear headphones (& dislike the feel of on-ear). If the MrSpeakers Ether doesn't fit my needs then that might be the only direction.
 
May 4, 2015 at 4:55 AM Post #6 of 7

Woodman99

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Yes, they do demo the ie800's. The ear buds are differently to many, having their own separate mesh from the drivers. They pop on and off easily and are vented, which I guess give the open sound. The buds are completely washable, so Hygene is not an issue.
 
Apr 19, 2016 at 12:38 PM Post #7 of 7

TheGadaffiDuck

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Sorry, I pre posted.


 


The answer is yes, I want open sound in closed headphones. I like the open sound of the HD800's and and the LCD 2's, but they had just too much sound bleed. The IE 800's are described as open in ears. I don't know how they have done it,but they do seem to deliver that. As I said I was amazed, I made th decision then spent another hour trying convince myself other wise!!

 


Open sound in a closed headphone are the 3d printed Alpha Dogs and Alpha Primes. Alpha Dogs are very good, but Primes have curved drivers and make a more binural soundstage. msrp for 500-800. Take your pick.
 

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