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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. dmdm
    prymortal and Amberlamps like this.
  2. Hifiearspeakers
    Jude has posted many measurements on this topic right here on Head-Fi. And Jude’s measurements didn’t even show a difference in bass distortion between the 2. There is also diyaudioheaven measurements for both with a direct comparison. And even Tyll’s measurements only showed a very minor increase in low bass distortion for the 800S compared to the 800 and it didn’t exceed 1%, which is exceptionally good for a dynamic driver. And don’t gloss over the multiple resonances in the treble for the 800. The Helmholtz Resonator fixes those issues as well.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  3. dmdm
    Anyway, they're both awesome headphones and I wouldn't get rid of either of them. I enjoy them both.
    prymortal and Hifiearspeakers like this.
  4. silversurfer616
    Had the 800 twice and also the 800S twice and for both models I felt the higher the serial number the more bass there was.
    The first 800 was in the 4000 serial number and was seriously bass light; comparable to Grado GS1000. Only really usable for classic but not rock etc.
    The old adage...we all hear differently and running the 800 balanced with a good amp makes a difference.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
    GU1DO and rollinbr like this.
  5. MacedonianHero Contributor
    I sold my HD800 (which I owned since 2010) once I got to hear the "fixed" HD800S without the 6kHz colouration that really became fatiguing over time. I still own my HD800S. :wink:
    Hifiearspeakers likes this.
  6. Hifiearspeakers

    They’re both great headphones, but some people can’t take that 6K treble energy. I know I can’t.
    MacedonianHero likes this.
  7. dmdm
    For albums like Peter Gabriel's Secret World Live, I find the 800 elevates that recording to something similar to my GoldenEar speaker's performance. It has a ribbon tweeter that sparkles and I like that the 800 mimics that somewhat. I just find the album rather lifeless or less engaging with the S. It's album specific which headphone I prefer.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
  8. Amberlamps
    I don't know about anyone else, but I love my 800S, I know I will struggle to find another high end headphone with such a ( to me ) realistic speaker like presentation.

    When I have them on, sometimes I forget I'm even wearing headphones.
    Deftone, Nik74, Lay. and 3 others like this.
  9. Hifiearspeakers
    Nik74 and Amberlamps like this.
  10. jude Administrator
    While I enjoy both the HD800 and HD800S, I have a strong preference for the HD800S.

    I understand some prefer the HD800, and I'm not going to argue over our individual preferences. @AxelCloris works with me every day at Head-Fi HQ, and we pretty much disagree on most headphones -- and we tease each other mercilessly about our differences. When a new headphone arrives, it's not uncommon for me to say, "Brian, you won't like this one -- it has bass." :dt880smile: (He generally prefers a signature that's leaner and brighter than what I generally like.)

    De gustibus non est disputandum and all that.
    Deftone, prymortal, greggf and 7 others like this.
  11. Sonic Defender Contributor
    I also loved the 800S, preferred it over the 800. For those who gravitate to the somewhat speaker like signature of the 800S, which I tend to agree with, I find the Edition X V2 also a very engaging listen that has that hard to define/describe "dimensionality" so well worth auditioning if you get the opportunity. I found that the slight adjustments Tyll made to the HEX2 via EQ really help the signature and when I owned the 800S (really, really wish that I had not sold them) the adjustments that I made via EQ were equally subtle, and equally helpful. I am glad to see the 800S receives lots of love still, great headphone. I had the joy of hearing it with both nice tube amplification and from speaker terminals of a very capable SS speaker amp.
    dmdm and Hifiearspeakers like this.
  12. hiflofi
    Brief thoughts on the Clear-Arya-HD800S, the 3 which I directly compared this week before settling on the HD800S. I’d demoed all 3 before already, and admittedly went in favouring the Arya.

    The HD800S and Arya were both more effortless in their ability to separate musical elements than the Clear, courtesy of their larger stages and more spacious presentations. While both the Arya and HD800S were more holographic, the difference was that the Arya seemed to project forward slightly more than the HD800S, meaning the HD800S wrapped behind the head more frequently. I do think this is also why the Arya’s vocals seemed slightly more distant. It’s the difference between feeling like the audience (Arya) and the conductor (HD800S), while the stage dimensions don’t change (just a shift in position).

    Also, the Clear was more aggressive (and fatiguing) than the others and very resolving. Yet despite that aggression it was not a discernibly more resolving or detailed than the others. The HD800S’ notorious lift in the highs didn’t fatigue me at all, perhaps due to my lower listening volumes (gotta protect these ears), and the Arya hits that spot between detail and some definition of laidback.

    Further, the timbre of the Clear, despite being superior to the Utopia, still required some mental adjustments on my part to consider ideal. The Arya seemed to soften the edges of notes slightly, as if the sonic image came out of an ethereal dream sequence, compared to the HD800S which every element sounded “as is”. This helped the HD800S edge the Arya in raw resolution.

    Of course, the bass can’t be neglected as a talking point regarding the HD800S. I’d argue the Arya still has the best bass of these 3, but it came off slightly “bloomy” and didn’t quite have the bass “hit”. No doubt, the HD800S has the least in terms of quantity but ranking the quality of each is harder to do.
  13. TazedMarquis
    I've owned my HD800S for a little over two months now. Most of my library is symphonic music and my main headphone for several years was the HD650, which has a nice warm tonality that some say is too dark for classical music but I thought made the music rich and involving. A couple of short auditions over the years with the original HD800 did nothing to dissuade me from this thinking, as I thought the headstage from the HD800 didn't live up to the lofty descriptions I had read and it made the music sound overly bright and brittle. I was using an ODAC and a formerly popular hybrid tube amplifier at the time, both of which I now realize were probably holding the headphones back.

    Cut to a couple months ago, and I was auditioning many of the ZMF dynamics as a possible upgrade for my ZMF Ori on a Questyle unit that I was assured was similar to my Massdrop THX AAA 789 amplifier at home. I liked much of what I heard but nothing had wowed me to the point of making a purchase. On a whim I decided to also try the HD800S, and I was blown away by the headstage and the resolution. This is what I had been missing. I made the purchase and took it home. Time has only reinforced my decision. I'm still hearing new details almost every listening session and the headstage sounds so much more natural and speaker-like than my HD650s ever did; nowadays the 650s sound stuffed with cotton in comparison. Strings sound gorgeous, violin solos immaculate. Percussion is sharp and precisely imaged. Overall tonality is still a touch bright perhaps, but complements my ZMFs well and sounds just right for much of my library.

    After all these years, the HD800S must still be a top recommendation for classical/symphonic music. It may not necessarily be the end-all-be-all it once was, but for the price it's difficult to beat.
  14. wormcycle
    Nearly any other headphone? After I read this...you headphones look fabulous, it would be interesting to take a look at your ears.
    You read about the bass distortion, you looked at Tyll's measurements right? Some reviewers who I trust, who spend years listening and modifying HD800 could hear it, but very slight, some could not. I own 800S and had a chance to AB with 800, Icould hear the some tiny difference in bass delivery but to say that it is humongous, and comparing to almost any other headphones... seriously post the picture of your ears
    Hifiearspeakers likes this.
  15. prymortal
    That comment would be on the NFB1 Amp, On the THX...... Well its very minor. You are more than welcome to come here & try yourself.
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