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Sennheiser HD800 S Impressions Thread (read first post for summary)

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by shabta, Jan 19, 2016.
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  1. exdmd
    I'm completely happy with my HD800S, now almost a year old: but only once I got a Schiit Loki so I could boost 20 Hz. All i needed was to turn the leftmost knob on the Loki to 2 PM and also turn the rightmost knob to 11 AM to cut 8 kHz just a bit. Two center knobs are untouched at center noon detent.

    My original pads are starting to show wear so looking to replace. How big a deal is it to replace the stock pads with the Dekoni? I would hate to damage my favorite headphones. Any tips or videos I should watch?
  2. llcook51
    Llŷr Williams: Beethoven Unbound is a phenomenal album for any HP that delivers fast crystal clear highs: enter the HD800S. The sensitive playing by Williams of these sonatas opens up this HP.
  3. ZappaMan
    E2 thread
    Didn’t you post the same message in ether 2 thread ? Are you getting a kickback from Beethoven ?
  4. llcook51
    Yes, I did post the same message. I appreciate the same tracks with both HPs. A "Beethoven kickback"? Interesting thought. Trying to figure out what that could be.
  5. ZappaMan
    I thought maybe you had a financial interest in promoting this album and had written some script to post your comment in every headphone thread, but as you were short for time, you could only customise the part that changes the headphone name.
    Then, your bad luck, I read these two threads within 30 seconds, this using context of both yours posts.
    Amberlamps likes this.
  6. metsat
    I just received my HD800S and impressions this far is superior instrument separation and imaging compared to my other headphones. Very happy so far.
  7. Amberlamps
    It’s very easy to take the stock pads off and put the dekoni’s on.

    Getting the dekonis off needs a specific way to get them off, you start with the I side of the D shaped pads, once you have a little part of the pads off, just slowly start turning the pads and they will pop off. Dekoni has an illustration in the box of what to do.

    Getting the original sennheiser pads back on can be a pain. The trick is to either apply pressure to the entire pad at once or, apply pressure to the top half of the pad and hold it, and then with the other hand apply pressure to the bottom half. That way it’s less likely to pop off and annoy you.

    To be honest, it’s pretty easy, follow the instructions in the box and you cant go wrong.
  8. Amberlamps
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
  9. exhale
    After a quick stint with the HD800S, i had to return them. While they do offer superior soundstage, instrument separation and whatnot over other, usually less expensive dynamic headphones, i find that it lacks a lot to be considered a pleasant or musical pair of headphones. After 3 or so days of listening to music, i realized i actually skipped and / or ignored more than 80% of my music library. And no, i'm not only talking about low quality files. I had to skip and or ignore FLAC or PCM files which were ripped from CD's i own. I never got the chance to audition the HD800s but I dread to think of how they sound. Bass is lacking. I know you audiophile people would try and categorize it into being "tight" and "precise" and whatever...for me, it's simply lacking. As a small time bedroom producer, i learnt that bass is, mainly, the soul of a song. These headphones do not have bass. Excuse me, proper sub bass. And i remember one Sennheiser engineer stating that these headphones were meant to portray the sound of a song just as the creator / artist intended. Nope. False. But i digress.

    The real reason i had to return them is that i actually ended up with tinnitus, courtesy to Sennheiser's flagship HD800S. I'm in the army for close to 15 years now. Been to countless shooting ranges and i've fired with a lot of guns. Never have i experienced what these headphones have put me through. My home setup is a DYI amplifier with a tube dac, the Aune T1se. The tube i'm using is one of the rarest out there, an E88CC Valvo cca. tube. Basically, my music sounds warm even through cold(er) headphones. I was listening to Dance 4 Life, the 12" mix (a rather muffled recording on its own). When Faithless starts to sing, all of a sudden, BOOM. I get this piercing feeling in my left ear. Instantly took the headphones off, stopped the music and tried to relax for a second. Yup. Tinnitus was there. Went to an ORL doctor (that's how we call them here, in Romania), to have my ears checked. Luckily, my eardrums are ok. So a huge "thank you" to Sennheiser for this piece of technology. The volume was at a moderated 50% from the amp, no gain selected. I was actually afraid to listen to high volume due to those unbelievably piercing and sibilant "ssssssss"-es i'd constantly hear when listening to various recordings.

    These don't deserve to be called neutral. Or flagships. Certainly they do not deserve their asking price. I've read a lot of articles on how people crap on Beyerdynamic for their treble peaks but holy cow, the Amirons are like a bandage, after this short adventure with the HD800S. Sorry for the rant but i'm pretty sure i'm not the only one who ever owned these headphones and actively TRIED to like them, ignoring their shortcomings and trying to justify keeping them. A word of advice: don't. At 1100 EURO (Black Friday price), these should be not perfect but without major flaws. Those ****ing "sssssssssss"-es are unbearable. I literally lived in fear while listening to music, constantly en garde, cringing at recordings i had no clue they could sound so bad.

    Again, do excuse my venting but i'm pretty pissed at what i've been gifted for buying these. To everyone else, do enjoy yours as maybe my hearing is way too sensitive for their sound signature (truth be told, i do have a highly accurate and sensitive hearing).

    ZappaMan likes this.
  10. billerb1
    Well it is a very subjective hobby. Sorry it didn't work out. The 800S's are right in my audio wheelhouse.
    llcook51 likes this.
  11. Phronesis
    Interesting comments. It appears that your ears and perception are quite atypical, so the HD800S isn't a good choice for you, even though so many people love them and don't find them to be weak on bass nor too bright or sibilant. Perhaps you could tell us more about which other headphones you like and dislike, so that we can put your comments in context. I personally consider myself to be quite averse to excessive brightness, and I'm not forgiving of weak bass, and I find myself loving the HD800S after listening to them every day for the past two weeks.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    llcook51, TYATYA, Nik74 and 1 other person like this.
  12. Nik74
    No headphone is for everyone and I can fully understand how some people might not enjoy the 800S. A bit unfair to link your tinnitus to them though...50% volume depending on the amplifier could be deafening levels of spl in any case...
    As for them sounding sibilant , we could go on and on about system synergy etc when the truth of the matter in your case is that you are probably after a different sound signature.
  13. Amberlamps
    Same here, I’ve had mine (800S) for a few months now, and one thing they don’t lack is bass.

    It’s things like that, that make me take reviews/opinion/impressions with a huge pinch of salt. Everyone has different hearing and perception, and what one person likes the next may not.

    I find the HD800S to be a true reference pair of headphones. Thats what I think.
    Nik74 likes this.
  14. Malfunkt

    There are number of ways to approach bass. There is the bass that our ear hears and then there is the bass we feel. When it comes to headphones, a more diffuse-field tuning will have a low amount of bass as you experience it in the Sennheiser (though with lifted sub-bass). For a lot of general music applications, it can be pleasing to have more of bass presence so that it makes up for the bass we aren't receiving in a tactile sense. Thus, if you research you will see the newer Harman curves, which are going to be more for your liking - especially for dance music.

    Listening to classical music, the tuning of these headphones is excellent, and creates a large spacious stage. But that may not be what you are looking for.

    The HD800 has been around since 2009, and we are all aware of their issues, strengths and the fixes for them. The HD800S is newer but very similar. Tinnitus inducing devices they are not... that may be something unique to perhaps how you set them up.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that a lot of dance music, the production actually isn't that great - at least for dynamic range. Commercial dance music often is compressed to heck to be loud and impactful on the dance floor, but mix that with a dynamic headphone like the HD800 and it will sound retched. Not all electronic music is mastered this way though - but many older dance tracks are poor from a dynamic range perspective.

    You may have wrote the HD800 off a bit too quickly though, and had you taken a bit more time, listening to range of music, your perception may have changed - and you may have discovered something new.

    For a headphone that can really reproduce sub-bass and simulate more of a room feel. Consider looking into a Campfire Cascade. Check out its frequency curve compared to the HD800.
    Phronesis and exhale like this.
  15. exhale
    I will not quote every message i'm replying to, do excuse me for that. Also, i wish to apologize if i've hurt anyone's feelings about this, this is *not* my intention.

    As past pairs of headphones i've used (some of which i still own) are Technics RP-DJ700, Beyerdynamic DT880 600, HD600, LCD-2C, Amiron Home and a few others not worth mentioning in this context. Most of the music i've produced and/or remixed was done using the first pair of phones mentioned here, the Technics. Those are FAR from being fit for the job but they were the only thing i had and could afford, at that time. I think you'd call their sound signature V-Shaped (lack of mids, emphasis on bass and highs). What i like? I love the Amiron Home. I love the HD600 (although my big head might argue a bit about comfort). The sound signature i'm searching for is balanced towards warm. In my book, the lack of or emphasis on of any type of frequency range is not balanced.

    I stated that i have highly accurate hearing and this comes down to the way my ear canals are "built". While "normal" people have their ear canals at an angle, towards their brain, my ear canals go straight up, in a vertical line, immediately after the eardrums. This alters my perception and sensibility of and towards sounds around me, improving it.

    I would like to state that at the same volume, the Amiron Home did *NOT* exhibit any type of loudness (and they are 250ohm vs 300ohm of the HD800S). This is directed towards the fellow head-fier who stated that 50% might be huge amounts of SPL. This is not the case.
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