Got the HD800....the cynic is now speechless
Sep 3, 2009 at 10:18 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 233

Beagle

His body's not a canvas, and he wasn't raised by apes.
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
Posts
8,629
Likes
2,477
I was the Doubting Thomas who thought the HD800 was the hype of the century, and couldn't possibly believe that it was worth the tidy sum of $1800(CDN). I had originally put down a deposit in February, hoping to have them in March. When it became apparent that nobody knew when they would actually be released, I bailed out and became suspicious and cynical. As much as I hate to admit it (but certainly do not mind doing so) I am now eating humble pie (or is it crow?)

On September 24, I got the opportunity to audition the HD800, and was hoping I was going to dislike it so I wouldn't have to trade in my top headphones (to lessen the cash outlay) and spend more money on headphones. I listened for a good hour and was very unimpressed. So unimpressed that I ended up buying them.

Say wha?

Yeah. Nothing impressed me. That is, nothing jumped out or attempted to seduce me. The music sounded flat, unexciting. I couldn't hear any "bass" or "treble". The tonal balance and timbre was wonderful. It was then that I knew I had to have them, that these were the ones.

OK, I'll explain. Every headphone I have auditioned that had immediate presence of bass or treble ended up having too much, in the long run. The ones that sounded kind of dull always ended up being the most natural (Yamaha HP-1, Grado SR200, Sennheiser HD540 Reference).

So I turned in my traders, plopped down some cash and my CC, and committed myself to the HD800.

I'm not going to do a formal review ( I don't think anyone needs another formal HD800 review). I shall just make some observations in poin form.

The Positive

- the HD800 is super comfortable

- it does not need futzing around for proper fit or proper "sweet spot" positioning

- I was worried about big sound leakage; these leak way less than GS1000 or K701 at similar volume levels

- the HD800 is not a "funnel" that you have to squeeze or push music through while it shapes it into its specific sound. HD800 is more like a large board or canvas that the recording is placed upon, intact. There seems to be unlimited "headroom".

- Because of the above, each recording sounds "specific". Some sound dull, others bright, some in between.

- some people find the HD800 slow, flat, unexciting. It is, on certain recordings. But the John Butler Trio's "Grand National" bounced, snapped, kicked and danced all over the place. The Crusaders' "Streetlife" was very dynamic and open. I could hear a kind of cold, steely grey limited treble on some CD's. But on some others, as well as SACD and vinyl, the top end extended to the stratosphere.
"WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR FLAWED RECORDINGS OR PERFORMANCES"

- midrange is about as uncolored and tonally accurate as I have ever heard in a headphone

-pink noise sounds very flat and even

-imaging and headspace are pretty much ideal

- during the day, when I am at work, I can't remember what the HD800 sounds/sounded like. I don't remember this ever happening before. This might mean that the HD800 has no "sound".

The Negative

- I'm not sure I hear anything in the lower bass. I certainly don't hear any "impact" or thud. The bottom end is wonderfully balanced overall, but I'm not sure that it drops down when called for

- the entire bass range seems to just lie there, no movement, no dynamics

Caveat: I only have about 50 hours on them, and accumulated at fairly low listening levels. I have put through about 20 hours of pink noise at a good volume level.


I have been listening exclusively to the HD800. I have not compared other headphones to it. I am loathe to. I am afraid that if I do listen to something else, it will alter my enjoyment and appreciation of the HD800. The "freshest" headphone always seems to trump the one I have been listening to.

The bass issue might be amp related. The amp I have been using is my PPA. I haven't tried it with the Shanling PH100.

Below is the components of my PPA:

-Basic PPA in Hammond Silver case, silver volume knob, green LED
-Neutrik Chrome nose 1/4 inch Output jack (non-locking)
-Full Complement of 15 Blackgates caps
-Vishay resistors
-Board Mounted Alps Blue Velvet audio pot
-3 Analog Devices 8610's OP-amps on removable Browndog adapters
-Amp bias in Class A with 6 discreet FET's and adjustable bias pots
-Full complement of 12 input FETS
-Amp set-up to receive Larocco Discrete Buffers
-Elpac Power supply

Is it possible that a PS upgrade might be in order. Are STEPS PS still available, or are there other viable options?
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 10:43 PM Post #3 of 233

kelvinz

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 26, 2004
Posts
565
Likes
11
not really speechless are we.

Can you explain why this is a positive point?

Quote:

- during the day, when I am at work, I can't remember what the HD800 sounds/sounded like. I don't remember this ever happening before. This might mean that the HD800 has no "sound".


 
Sep 3, 2009 at 10:48 PM Post #4 of 233

GuyDebord

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 7, 2009
Posts
1,060
Likes
46
and the HD800 burn-in time defenders? where are they? they will come soon, watch out, suggestions for at least 400hrs or 1000hrs are on their way.....

for me the cans changed until the 200 hour (possibly a lot less) after only very subtle changes if any....
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 11:15 PM Post #5 of 233

logwed

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 9, 2009
Posts
4,066
Likes
81
Quote:

Originally Posted by kelvinz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
not really speechless are we.

Can you explain why this is a positive point?



His point is the same as it is in the entire post. He finds the HD800 to be perfectly neutral, so neutral that it just sounds like real life.
 
Sep 3, 2009 at 11:50 PM Post #7 of 233

Donald North

Member of the Trade: Donald North Audio and Riva Audio
Joined
Mar 8, 2009
Posts
834
Likes
50
To the OP, from your observations, I would classify the HD800 as a high resolution product due to the variances you're hearing among recordings. This has been my experience too.

The several times I've listened to the HD800, I would agree that it is not a bass monster. You can adjust the tonal balance some by adjusting the source (output) impedance driving it. If your amp is near 0 ohm output impedance, try adding 100 ohm resistors in series with each driver.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 12:50 AM Post #8 of 233

Beagle

His body's not a canvas, and he wasn't raised by apes.
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
Posts
8,629
Likes
2,477
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cankin /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I believe this is an improved version of STEPS?

Young-Jung Power Supply



Thank you. Can you get those already assembled?

Quote:

Originally Posted by kelvinz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
not really speechless are we.


Speechless as in "head-fi" speechless, meaning that I am not raving like a lunatic nor am I in trashing mode. I just pointed out what I liked. There is not much to say about the HD800. I'd rather just listen to them. It's like broccoli without the cheese sauce; not as flavourful but probably healthier.

Quote:

Can you explain why this is a positive point?


It is a positive point in that I remember the music I listened to but not the way the HD800 affected it. Which means it probably had little effect.

Honest people are often boring and lacking in character and humor. But they are honest. The truth can be great or it can hurt.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 1:11 AM Post #9 of 233

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,596
Likes
502
Welcome to the club! I also thought the HD-800 was an overhyped profit grab. And I was expecting to confirm that at CanJam.

But I was wrong. The HD-800 was surprisingly good - the same exact qualities made me take notice. I agonized for a couple of weeks, then sold off some gear to pay for them. It was completely worth it.

The true test will be when the Beyerdynamic T1 is released. I'm probably going to order a pair. Then those will become the "new toy" and I'll see if they can get the HD-800 off my head. The HF-2 failed to do that, but maybe the T1 can.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 2:48 AM Post #10 of 233

Beagle

His body's not a canvas, and he wasn't raised by apes.
Joined
Jun 29, 2001
Posts
8,629
Likes
2,477
Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The true test will be when the Beyerdynamic T1 is released. I'm probably going to order a pair. Then those will become the "new toy" and I'll see if they can get the HD-800 off my head.


I wonder what sound signature the T1 will have. I'm thinking that it comes too soon on the heels of the HD800 to be intentionally designed to match it sonically. I doubt Beyerdynamic would have had the time.

I think the HD800 is a serious and formal headphone. It is not a "fun" headphone. The music sure can be fun though. There is a distinction there.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 2:57 AM Post #11 of 233

csommers

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 2, 2006
Posts
389
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally Posted by kelvinz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
not really speechless are we.

Can you explain why this is a positive point?



I totally understand what he means; it does not have anything thats super additive or detracting, ie its very balanced.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 3:58 AM Post #12 of 233

Geek

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
May 5, 2002
Posts
1,810
Likes
10
The HD800 is a "you are what you eat" headphone. It's not a sound for everyone, but it's the best pair of reference cans I've listened to. For those that want a neutral sound they're hard to beat.
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 4:28 AM Post #13 of 233

PhilipHan

New Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Posts
18
Likes
0
I fully understand what you mean even though my daily listening experience is Skull Candy Ink'd (for now)


Both my parents are musicians, and work in the Saarlaendisches Rundfunk Orchester (my mom worked, since she moved with my sister and I to Michigan)

Anyways, to make a long story short, when hanging out in the studio/recording room I remember listening to recordings through speakers and headphones and they just lifted my head up into the clouds and I day dreamed even though I hated classical music back then (just because my parents were musicians lol)



Anyways, I'm still only 17 now and so can plan a life of hard work so I can afford a lifestyle of an Audiophile lol

PS: CRAP ! ! ! I just remembered that I want a different username =[
AudioPhil
biggrin.gif


EDIT: Nevermind... someone stole my idea lol
And that person has 1 post... over a year ago
frown.gif
 
Sep 4, 2009 at 4:38 AM Post #14 of 233

wualta

Orthodynamic Supremus
Joined
Sep 12, 2004
Posts
4,596
Likes
117
One of the best subjective writeups of a headphone I've ever seen.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

Now, if they could only take away some of the price.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top