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HD800 and T1 musings...

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by macedonianhero, Feb 12, 2010.
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  1. batracom
    Hi to all,

    I am late into the open backed headphone game, but am gearing to make a big splash into it by purchasing either the T1 or the HD800. Unfortunately I can only demo the latter, the T1 not being distributed where I live. I am almost exclusively into classical music, with the workload divided fairly between symphonic and solo/chamber. My sources are the Fiio X5 lineout feeding an iBasso PB2.
    I demoed the whole Sennheiser HD line (800 to 600) using an O2 amp, and will soon do so with the PB2. I have to say that I didn't like the 700, it was very comfortable but the sound just didn't cut it for classical. The 600 is, as most say, a nicely balanced headphone with a pleasing sound, but not the last word in dynamics, air and detail, especially on larger symphonic music. Comfort was also a big issue, with the clamp on the ears.
    The 800, which I tested extensively, left me with mixed feelings. I concur with the general impression on the 800's detail, spaciousness, vibrancy, and intensity of the sound, but I listen to too many substandard recordings (technically, not artistically), and sometimes the deficiences would take over the enjoyment of the music, and I would be left listening to imperfections in the reproduction of strings, rather than violins. The hum and hiss of old analog recordings, such as some Glenn Gould recordings of Bach, would also take over (together with his own legendary humming!) the piano sound, and the soundstage at times would be simply too large, leaving me with the impression of being in the midst of a sea of sound, trying to identify the general themes.
    So while the technical competency of the HD800 is not questioned, its ability to provide an enjoyable listening experience is.
    To cut a long story short, I would be very grateful to receive comments on where the T1 fits in all of this. Would it be a good compromise, ie an HD800 with less "intruding" qualities, would it inch closer to the HD700/800 comfort with regards to the HD600 and would it mark a clear departure from the HD600 sound? Would the PB2 drive it properly, given the higher impendance?

    Apologies for the length, or if this has been already answered elsewhere, but a fresh perspective would be much welcome.
  2. scottiebabie
    IMO for large symphonic & classical material, the HD800 would be your most ideal choice out of the ones u mentioned. again IMO the mixed feelings u had on the Senn maybe due to your upstream components ie. amp & source. while im not deriding either (im sure they nice but i havent heard them), it is my opinion that neither are the best match for the HD800.
    the HD800 is brutally honest & resolving which means it will let u know the good, the bad & the ugly. IMO the Beyer is also very revealing & detailed & perhaps even more critical of amplification. i have heard the same material sound harsh & grating on 1 amp while having an entirely different experience with another amp. 
    IMHO a good compromise would be a HD600. nicely recable + a decent amp, they are great with most genres. ofcos soundstage isnt as large, spatial info isnt as well delineated, bass does not go as deep nor perhaps as well defined & micro details arent as surgically precise nor is it as quick as its (much)more expensive brethen. however it makes up for it by being better balanced, greater musicality & much more forgiving on lesser than the best materials.
    hope it helps
  3. Chodi
    The last poster made some good suggestions. I'm jumping in because my listening preference is exactly the same as yours. I listen to classical almost exclusively. That includes a lot of chamber or small ensemble music. Your source, the Filo, is really designed for portable use. It is a good source with iem's and very efficient headphones. It is not a good source for flagship headphones. Testing flagship headphones with the Filo or an O2 is not going to tell you what the headphones can really do or even what they really sound like. The T1 is a very fine headphone but like most flagships it requires top end equipment to make them sound their best. The only exception I can think would be the Chord Hugo at a much higher price.
  4. batracom
    Many thanks to both of you. I do fully agree your points about sources, and I plan to progressively improve on things there. I just got the PB2 and am op-amp rolling at the moment to find a good combination with which to demo everything again. I do find quite a few people using the PB2 to drive the HD800, so perhaps they have enough authority and quality to hold me over with either flagship until I have funds to invest on the sources once again - the first that comes to mind is a DB2 to beefen up the DAC part.

    But, other things equal, I was wondering whether I should stick to the Sennheiser line, and get the HD800 if the synergy with the PB2 proves more convincing, or revert to the T1 in some way. My experience with Beyers hasn't been all that good, albeit in the closed back range: I tried both the T5P and the T70P, amongst others, but returned them due to non-satisfying sound. I am wondering whether the T1 is a radical departure from their sound signature, or whether they all are representative of the "Beyer" house sound.
  5. Focker
    This is something I didn't pick up on when I first joined head-fi back in 2011. I have been into home audio for a while now, but knew nothing about headphones. I initially pegged the Grados as a "do not buy" based on all the graph warriors (at the time I didn't know they were graph warriors) saying how awful they were. Thankfully a buddy of mine (who is not on head-fi) advised me to try them, so I did. And as a result, Grados have given me hours and hours of enjoyment over the past 3.5 years. (I just bought another pair yesterday, as a matter of fact.) 
    So while I will always advocate for having as much technical information as possible on a given product, I place measurements pretty low on my list in terms of how I make my purchase decisions. I've been listenign to the T1 since I bought it in 2012. I've also spent time with the HD800s, even though I didnt purchase them (because they sounded more similar that dissimilar to the T1s...I just couldn't justify having both). Both headphones sounded great to my ears, and because some graph says it has 1% distortion or whatever doesn't translate into anything audible that would change my enjoyment of it. 
  6. scottiebabie
    IMO its not a matter of whether enough ppl or even lots of ppl use a particular amp or source. at this flagship level, its more a matter of whether U can accept the deficiencies inherent in a less than optimal pairing. im sure a battery operated cmoy amp with enough gain will power the hd800 to sufficient volume levels. its what it sounds like with that pairing that matters.
    but ofcourse everyones hearing & needs are different so u may really enjoy it & hence save alot of time, effort & money if it works with portable amps/sources. however the fact u are even comtemplating a SOTA Senn (or Beyer) tells me u are after the best musical experience possible so do give it some thought. IMO the hd800 will scale up progressively as u improve every part of your system & its not unheard of (esp around these parts) to have sources & amps costing multiples more than the headphone itself [​IMG]
    again IMHO for your musical tastes, the hd800 will be the best choice. perhaps an akg7xx or similar mite also be worth considering. regardless, both will need very good sources & even better amplification to sound their best. to my hears, the T1 is more suited for pop, rock & other such ilk 
  7. plonter
    A noob question (by a paranoid audiophile):  what is that silver ring that circles the HD800 cups?  is it somehow related to the acoustics?  From time to time I accidently touch and push it inside just a bit..but it comes back right away, I am trying to be careful but HD800 cups are so darn big.  
  8. jarkoo
    The sound of the T1 much richer than the HD800. So, if you a pop/hip-hop listener stay away from the HD800.
  9. plonter

    I wouldn't make such claims,it is a matter of opinion.  What you call "richer" could be "less neutral" to others.  I haven't heard the T1 yet so I can't comment,There is a chance I will like it even more than the HD800, but so far I like HD800 with all music genres including pop.
  10. scottiebabie
    if @jarkoo is trying to say the T1 sounds lusher than the HD800, then i'd  have to agree with him. i have done extended listening with both & all things being equal, to me the T1 is a better headphone for pop & hiphop. 
    not to say the Senn wouldnt be satisfying to others. if i were to  be asked which headphone is better, then i definitely cannot say its the T1. the HD800 is very good, just a little too flat in FR to be exciting for certain genres.
  11. batracom
    Thanks for all the input. I had another extensive demo of the HD800 with the PB2 amp and, while it was driven fine, I still had reservations regarding it. The soundstage was expansive and vast as usual, but it times it felt too much so, to the detriment of instrument retrieval and even detail. The revealing was also really hurting at times: on a new SACD version of Glenn Gould's Well Tempered Klavier, I was struggling to juggle three different sets of sounds: the piano, the rather prominent hiss deriving from the older source, and Gould's own humming, The HD800 did a truly remarkable job in separating the three, but too much so, as attempts to focus on the piano were at times impeded by the primacy of the other two. Symphonic works recorded in a less than optimal way, such as say Soviet recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, were also really laid bare in their miking and tonal inaccuracy. The one thing that the HD800 really got right, and probably incomparably so, was the small band Jazz. Say the Modern Jazz Quartet, or similar, or Coltrane. I can't believe any other headphones, as well as many speaker systems I have auditioned can come close.
    In sum, I felt that I needed to thoroughly test the T1 too, so I went ahead and ordered one with a generous return policy. What I am hoping is a similarly spacious and detailed sound which does not enlarge the soundstage to the extent of the HD800 and is slightly more forgiving of substandard sources. Let's hope I get there with the T1! I was wondering if others were on the same boat, with similar types of music.
  12. podeschi
    I have had the T1s for a couple years. Still reach for them quite a bit and have them in my office at work. I auditioned the HD800s and while they had best in class soundstage and detail I found them too bright and on some recordings the sibilence detracted from enjoyment. Now years later I have the Audeze X and XC as well as T1 and HD650 my first serious can. I since have heard the HD800 sound glorious. Not bright and pretty amazing in every regard - it was with ALO cabling into an ALO studio six tube headohone amp. Like a different headphone in many regards. Also, last week I listened to my T1 thru multiple amps I own (Bryston, ALO studio six, Sugden, pathos Aurium, chord Hugo and Beyerdynamic A1). By a very wide margin the T1 sounded its best thru the A1. Full and extended and spacious. Almost like a different can versus thru other amps. Hugo and Sugden were also good with T1 but A1 in a different league.
  13. JamieMcC
    Tube amps can be a absolutely stunning combination with the T1. I suspect most of those who do use tubes have migrated there from solid state in the first place.
    Have you had the chance to listen to any tube amps?
  14. musicman59
    I agree my former T1 sold me on my WA5-LE on the first audition!
  15. Naim.F.C

    I have yes, including a larger test with multiple blind folded test subjects, comparing an Objective2 amp with a Violectric V200 (my personal fave amp). I've also done my own personal blind tests comparing them with the WooAudio WA2 and Meier Concerto.

    I was intending to do a massive comparison years ago, comparing cables, amps, DACs etc, often loaned to me by the different manufacturers making the products, and you know why I didn't? Because I didn't have the heart to annoy them all, and insult their kindness by presenting my results which basically showed the products tested were all entirely comparable, and that the O2 was every bit as good as anything, even products far more expensive. Unfortunately this audiophile hobby is filled with more snake oil than most, and there's people who have either convinced themselves otherwise, or play along with the farce.

    I have a massive list of notes somewhere, where I jotted down findings, observations and so on, which I'm sure I've mentioned before. I should really dig them out.

    The general gist is that the O2 is more than sufficient to power cans like the HD800 or the T1's, and why wouldn't they be? We're not talking about a 1500kg super car, or even a 1500w surround sound speaker system. We're talking about headphones that generally require milli watts of power, and amps that usually offer wattage in the single digits. Getting clean, noise free power is the most important thing, and the O2 does that perfectly.

    Do these amps all sound the same? Nope. There are very minor and perceivable differences, within the 5%ish margin of error usually, but these differences are not due to the quality of the hardware, this is simply due to specific colourisation in some of the products. I could probably try and point out on a frequency chart where I think amps like the V200 and WA2 colour certain aspects of Sonic presentation, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're better for it, just ever so slightly different. Preference to the colourisation will be entirely subjective, I happen to think the V200 pairs great with the T1 (tiny bit of added emphasis to sub bass, and upper mids), but If you want completely uncoloured and neutral amplification, you might as well stick with an O2. No need to spend more if you just want uncoloured but sufficient power.

    When people clamour on about the HD800 only truly shining with absurdly priced set up's, I can't help but be amused. All many of these people are doing is paying thousands of dollars to add tiny bits of colourisation to the cans, to essentially tweak it's sonic presentation artificially, to make up for the elements of the sound they find less ideal (Eg hotter treble, colder sound, lack of bass impact etc). If you need to do that in order to prefer a headphone, maybe it isn't that ideal after all? Personally I don't think any headphone is, they all have their pros and cons, such is one of the limitations of stereo recordings in and of themselves.

    I also don't think there is a defecto best headphone for all kinds of music. Whilst we may have our overall favourites, I really do think different headphones have affinity to different kinds of music.

    Sidenote, I have another HD800 on the way, and I'll do a proper T1 vs HD800 comparison, and maybe even thread this time, if I have the time lol.
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