Onkyo A800 – "MASTER CLASS"
Sep 24, 2022 at 9:14 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 109

protoss

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Onkyo, a Japanese manufacturer from 1946, released a headphone in 2016 called Onkyo A800, one of the greatest “sounding” headphone of all time.

Onkyo A800 Specifications:
Harman Curve 90%
Driver diameter: 50mm high power driver with multilayer diaphragm
Acoustic architecture: Opened
Frequency response: 4Hz - 40kHz
Sensitivity: 100dB/mW
Impedance: 32ohms
Cable: Detachable 3m long low impedance, oxygen-free copper ribbon cable
Dimensions: 240mm x 285mm x 120mm
Weight: 470g
Retailed: $399
Units: #500-1000 units
Status: Discontinued
20220929_131536.jpg

Onkyo A800 was released in 2016 with a retail price of $399. A headphone with close to zero press and acknowledgment. A headphone that was forgotten and quietly discontinued a few years after, and right after, the company went bankrupt in 2022.

The A800 has a 90% Harman Curve Target, with a bass response at 40hz frequency. The A800 is a HD600 on steroids. The HD600 are known for its timbre, accuracy, naturalness, curve rating and excellent voice reproduction. The Onkyo A800 has all that and more with better bass, subbass, texture, airiness and body.

I consider the A800 a better version of a Harman Curve. Yes, you can hit the baseline and make it unique sounding too.
So take everything from the HD600, add everything missing and call the A800 a masterpiece.

Sound: full body, vocal master, bass, sub-bass, and perfect mids. Everything is natural and accurate, with just the right amount of treble. All other headphones are next to obsolete next to this; more on that later.

The Onkyo A800 is generally a neutral-sounding headphone, with natural bass, mids, and highs that sound amazing with Classical, Jaz, Soul, Blues, Funk, Rock, Metal, Rap, R/B, Pop, Vocals, Trance, EDM, Acoustic, and about 99.99% of music. With a 90% rating, low distortion, and perfect bass, subbass and all things bass, this headphone can play all genres of music. Yes, it plays classical at its finest. The A800 is efficient and easy to drive off a portable player. I recommend desktop amps overall.

The A800 should cost $18,000, and Hifiman Shangri-la SR, with its pathetic 65% rating curve, should cost $399. Everyone got it wrong in what should be called summit-fi.
No headphone currently has a 100% curve rating, and close to 99.99% of headphones can’t even reach a 90% curve rating. Headphones like Stax 009 and all staxs, Sony R10, Abyss, HE90, Susvara, HE1, SR, and you name your headphones, barely reach an 85% rating.

All these headphones that are listed above and more should cost $100 to 500 dollars; if you can’t reach a minimum 90% curve, you are next to a dollar store product. These products are unnatural and should cost about $100 or less. How can an unnatural 70% curve headphone be considered summit-fi endgame?

There are very few 90%+ Harman Curve headphones. About 99% of headphones are lower than 90% of the curve. And the ones that are over 90% of the curve are flawed and have many weaknesses. For example, the HD600 and Hifiman Sundara are both above 90% of the curve but lack in many areas, such as the bass. The Sundara outranked the Susvara. Hifiman’s true endgame, is found in the Sundara. The sound of the Sundara should be Hifiman main target goal. All they need to do is perfect the Sundara, and Hifiman will be untouchable. Anything else by them is low tier. Sennheiser got into the curve with the 1996 HD600. They are the first, and it is not surprising at all. The HD600 are almost a perfect headphone but lack bass and other frequencies. The HE90 should sadly not be admired as it is well below the rating and should cost about 200 dollars, same goes for the Sony R10, and all Staxs gear and everything else.

Harman Curve at a base level of 90% is what all headphones must reach to consider endgame. Summit-fi should mean a Headphone with a minimum 90% rating with a unique cup style and design that produces something special.
From here, the design, driver, and cups can be tuned to entertain us with unique sound signatures. Even if you hit the target, you must boost and manipulate the cups and design to make them lively and memorable. If not, the Harman curve will sound dull, boring, and monitor-sounding.

The only con with the A800 is with the cups, and heavy tuning to reach a baseline of 90% Harman Curve; the soundstage sounds like a closed-back. Because it’s open back, it’s better than all closed backs but not HD800 levels. Owell.
Another con is the build, comfort, and some rattle. I have zero complaints besides the earpads.
Moving on to earpads, I changed the pads with yaxi-pads. The design, looks, and sound have remained with additional comfort.

Conclusion: Endgame redefine:
Must or should cost less than $500
Must have a min 90% Harman Curve.
Must have low distortion
Must have a unique profile that sounds alive and interesting.
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Sep 24, 2022 at 9:15 AM Post #2 of 109

protoss

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Sep 24, 2022 at 4:09 PM Post #3 of 109

Ciggavelli

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So this is the headphone you wouldn't tell us about before? Interesting :thinking:

Hopefully you haven't "collected" them all :beyersmile:

I'm gonna do a search for one now. I wanna hear these.

Edit: Nope, you got them all :triportsad:
 
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Oct 17, 2022 at 5:10 PM Post #7 of 109

Failed Engineer

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Somewhat unbelievably, I recently found out one of my friends has one of these. Borrowed it for a few days, it's very very good. The mid-range is amazing on the A800.

I disagree that they are a HD600 on steroids, unless you are talking about an under-amped HD600. Still think the HD580 is better but it takes careful upstream curation to achieve it. The Onkyo sounds great out of an iPhone dongle DAC. No Sennheiser can do that.

I don't know how you even discovered this one. Lol. Great find.
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 3:00 AM Post #8 of 109

Chefguru

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Somewhat unbelievably, I recently found out one of my friends has one of these. Borrowed it for a few days, it's very very good. The mid-range is amazing on the A800.

I disagree that they are a HD600 on steroids, unless you are talking about an under-amped HD600. Still think the HD580 is better but it takes careful upstream curation to achieve it. The Onkyo sounds great out of an iPhone dongle DAC. No Sennheiser can do that.

I don't know how you even discovered this one. Lol. Great find.
Based on your impressions and experience with other hi-fi gear, would you say it’s the best headphone you’ve ever heard (as OP suggests)?
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 9:55 AM Post #9 of 109

Failed Engineer

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Based on your impressions and experience with other hi-fi gear, would you say it’s the best headphone you’ve ever heard (as OP suggests)?
It's a good headphone, but no.
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 11:43 AM Post #11 of 109

protoss

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References redefined:

1. For reference, all headphones must be 90% of the curve.
2. All headphones should be priced at $500 and not insult our intelligence.

Headphone technology has not seen a revolution yet. All headphones from the 1960s to 2022 have been in a stalemate. Nothing new and the same old tech, rehashing in new cups. In Amps and Dacs we have witnessed a revolution. A revolution in distortion lows and clarity boost, but in headphone tech, all sound is very similar in sound quality and stale with little to no progress. This is why I use Sony r10 (1989) as an insult to all 2022 headphones saying you can’t even beat a 30+ year-old headphone. We can now measure headphones and understand what is considered a reference curve (general curve) and its general consensus of what is considered natural. Any headphone that is lower than 50% is trash. For example, Ultrasone edition 10 is truly the worst headphone ever made. Even legendary Tyll realized this. Measure the headphone, and it scores 40% and lower on the curve. We know this must be avoided at all costs.
Headphones in the 50,60,70,80% of the curve are all unnatural. From the 1960s to 2022, the majority has bounced off these areas. Nothing in this percentage bracket should be admired and be called natural and a reference. So if someone says Stax 009 or Susvara are natural, they truly have been taken off the wrong hearing map in knowing what a natural sound is. Everything in this area (50-80%) is unnatural. From treble issues, lack of bass, body, and other frequencies.
If we take Edition 10 headphones at 40% of the curve and HD600 at 92% of the curve, the majority will agree that edition 10 is horrible. And the HD600 is aka ‘not for me,’ but soundwise, it’s accurate but lacking. I pointed this out and gave ideas on how to solve the curve in my og post.

Conclusion: Any headphones lower than 90% are fundamentally unnatural, which should be a baseline indication of what reference is supposed to mean.
 
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Oct 18, 2022 at 11:59 AM Post #12 of 109

Pastwa

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Harman's curve is a good reference point but saying it should be aimed at as a design target is like stating that McDonald's food chain offering (also widely accepted as the Harman's curve = an average hearing preferences) should be replicated by every good restaurant otherwise it's not worth visiting/paying top dollars.
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 1:49 PM Post #13 of 109

Failed Engineer

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Harman is a preference. Excepting the small percentage of objectively bad or electrically unsafe gear most things in this hobby are.

Presenting Harman as more than that is disingenuous.
 
Oct 18, 2022 at 2:05 PM Post #14 of 109

protoss

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@Failed Engineer

I agree.
I will quote my og post,
“Even if you hit the target, you must boost and manipulate the cups and design to make them lively and memorable. If not, the Harman curve will sound dull, boring, and monitor-sounding.”

I consider it as the target curve, or a better way of saying it, "a natural frequency response that is accurate and musical is the bare minimum a headphone should be," in this case 90%, leave 10% for fun distortion.
 
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Oct 18, 2022 at 4:43 PM Post #15 of 109

Chefguru

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@Failed Engineer

I agree.
I will quote my og post,
“Even if you hit the target, you must boost and manipulate the cups and design to make them lively and memorable. If not, the Harman curve will sound dull, boring, and monitor-sounding.”

I consider it as the target curve, or a better way of saying it, "a natural frequency response that is accurate and musical is the bare minimum a headphone should be," in this case 90%, leave 10% for fun distortion.
Protoss have you seen a measurement chart for the hp-1000? I can't find one, but it's making me wonder if it's also close to the harman curve.
 

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