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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
    Schiit Modi Multibit for $249 unless your friend can swing the Bifrost Multibit for $599 or used around $450. The advantage of the Bifrost is the USB and Multibit boards can be upgraded so could be a good long term buy. I lived with a Bifrost Multibit for a year until I upgraded to the Yggy and it is a very good DAC, a long term keeper unless you are looking for an end game TOTL DAC like the Yggy.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  2. nariza7
    This has probably been addressed many times already, but is the hdv820 still a good buy for hd800s? I'm thinking about a simple end game amp/dac for my hd800S, and there's so many combination of dacAmps that people use with it. Figured hdv820 is tuned specific for this so it'd be near best pairing, but the cost is just absurd
  3. iDesign
    In my opinion, yes. I had one of the earliest HDV 820 units that arrived in the US and since that time I was able to appreciate the small nuances of its tuning that you can’t do in a short test. So discredit anyone’s opinion that only listened to the HDV 820 for a few hours. I can’t even begin to recount the thousands of forums pages and hours devoted to the best modifications and amplifiers for the HD 800 series headphones. In the end, there is only one amplifier that is purpose built for the HD 800 S headphones and solves all of those problems and delivers perfect measured performance as the designers intended. You can see all of the low end and extreme high end amplifiers, DACs, headphones, etc. etc. I have owned and sold but the HD 800 S never sounded better out of the HDV 820 and my biggest regret was purchasing anything else for those headphones.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    Quinto and nariza7 like this.
  4. joseph69
    No, we can't. :)
    iDesign and Thenewguy007 like this.
  5. Phronesis
    My expectation is that any good solid state amp with decent power will work well with the HD800S. Perhaps there are subtle sound differences between amps, but I would expect those differences to be swamped by other factors like the quality of recordings. Could be a different ball game if you get into tube amps which intentionally color the sound.
  6. peter123
    I see that you keep repeating this and I just wanted to say that my experience is very different from yours To my ears a amp or dac can change the sound in an easily noticeable way so YMMV (and obviously does in this case).
  7. Zhanming057
    Not at all. Solid state doesn't necessarily mean neutral - they come in just about every flavor from warm and tube-ish to sterile and lean.

    As far as solid states go, I am fairly partial to the Rudistor 030 for the HD800/800S. The HDVD820 is a fine amp but more of an all-in-one solution, and value isn't great unless you want to use it as a DAC/amp.

    The Pass HPA-1 tames the treble very well although given how tube-like the signature is, you may as well go for a real tube amp. The GS-X mk2 is way too hot in the treble range for the 800S and the 430ha is a bit hot in the treble as well. The 394 mk2 can work very well depending on recording quality, and the Headtrip is generally a stronger amp than all of these with tons of power, but is a bit unrefined compared to the 394 and 430ha.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    Thenewguy007 and peter123 like this.
  8. Phronesis
    We may perceive these things differently, and we don't all have to agree. He asked for recommendations regarding amp pairing, and I gave mine. You guys can of course give recommendations which differ from mine. To some extent, this stuff is akin to wine recommendations.
  9. peter123
    So all wine taste the same? :wink:

    I'm jk, couldn't resist. Sorry.
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  10. Zhanming057
    The thing is, manufactures are pretty upfront about tuning their solid state amps. Masuda will straight up tell you that he boosts the bass in his amps. Just about every single solid state amp has some treble rolloff, or otherwise people who are used to the tube sound will complain about the highs being too sharp. Pass labs goes out of their way to make their solid states sound like tube amps, and some people love that.

    It's not as simple as "every good solid state sounds good on the HD800S" - the HDVD820 has some nice treble rolloff which the GS-X mk2 and, to a lesser extent, the 430ha doesn't have. Those amps will sound "hot" with the HD800, and that's fine for some people and not fine for others. You can't generalize solid states because the difference can be quite massive. The HDVD820 IMO doesn't quite do the HD800's mids justice but I can see that they were going for a signature that better suits classical music. That's fine, although a V281 is arguably better at that particular job.

    Whether wine is good or bad is a different question from whether wine is different. I've had expensive bottles that I'd rate as being worse than the boxed stuff, but I'm not claiming that they taste the same.

    As far as DAC/amp combos go the HDVD 820 is a great balance of a decent DAC and amp system. If you're still looking to upgrade parts of the system, the Schitt Yggy/Ragnarok stack is better value for the money. Sennheiser is targeting a very specific price point and performance envelop with the HDVD820 and it's pretty hard to find a better all-in-one solution.
    peter123 likes this.
  11. iDesign
    A fine post here. The key point you make is that it is ultimately a matter perception and preference. I owned the Simaudio MOON Neo 430HAD briefly and ultimately found that it was at times too strident. It wasn't until I spent many months with the HDV 820 that it became the reference point and I began to appreciate the nuances of Sennheiser's tuning, their desired target, and the trade-offs. And in that sense the HDV 820 is a worthwhile step before purchasing other amplifiers because it helps serve as wonderful baseline from which you can decide if you prefer something with more bass, more treble, etc. And as an aside, at $4,300 I cannot recommend the 430HAD since it is some $1,900 more expensive than the HDV 820 and it is also based on the ES9018 DAC but does not preform nearly as well with the HD 800 S headphones.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    Zhanming057 likes this.
  12. Zhanming057
    IMO Sennheiser has a very classical-music-oriented sensibility to the HDVD820 which is probably a good idea given that the majority of HD800 owners are probably listening to lots of classical music. And if you listen to big orchestras to the exclusion of all other musical genre, the HDVD820 punches substantially above its weight class.

    After a bit of reflection, the better question to ask @nariza7 is - what are you planning to listen to with the HD800? If it's lots of Japanese opera and vocals with good recording quality, I would absolutely stand behind my Mass Kobo 394 as the best pure amp for that. The RP030 provide a bit more mid-range gravitas and punch compared to the HDVD820, and might be the better choice for light rock and jazz. All said, I agree that the HDVD820 is the best "de facto" option for anyone who isn't sure about what they want.

  13. nariza7
    I would listen to a mix of edm (probably not best with this cuz of bass), acoustic covers, kpop, tv shows, movies, self recordings, etc. i guess hdv820 would be a baseline to some degree
  14. iDesign
    The best advice anyone or I can give you is to listen to any equipment you're considering before purchasing it. There is no way anyone else can possibly know or predict how you will perceive and prefer sound. This bit of advice will save you thousands of dollars.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
    peter123, joseph69 and Phronesis like this.
  15. Phronesis
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