Sennheiser HD800s or HD800 with amp?
Aug 15, 2017 at 1:40 AM Post #18 of 30

Witcher

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I like all kinds of music, country, jazz,, and classical. As far as classical music goes I am a little disappointed and it could be the music collection or the playback setup, it is the least enjoyable music right now. I remember years ago getting a tube amp for my CD player and violins just sounded amazing to me. The problem was tubes kept burning out so I gave up on it. I still remember how good classical music sounded with my speakers.

My wife passed away several months ago (music helps me with the grieving process more than anything else) so now an open ended design may be more desirable because from what I have read it gives the best soundstage and the Sennheiser seems to excel in that area as well. I want to feel like the stage is in front of me and not around me, another area where the HD800 or HD800s could help.

Hey,

Sorry to hear of your wife's passing. Glad to hear that music is helping you cope. I have the HD800S, and here are my thoughts on your requirements.

Soundstage: this one is tricky. You want the stage in front of you and not around you. I think the HD800S will not deliver exactly what you want. I find that it envelopes me in the whole music. It's very immersive, without sounding fake. But it's not "in front" of me. However, different people perceive these effects differently, so try it out first.

Sound quality: this is fantastic, except it's a little lean sounding. It's very analytical (yes, even the HD800S), and while it's warmer than the non-S, it's still not HD650 level of warmth. It does, however, work fantastic with classical and other orchestral music, which brings me to the next point:

Amps: From my experience, the HD800S needs a warm amp. Something that thickens the sound without turning muddy. What I've tried which doesn't work as well, is the Woo Audio WA8 and the Sony PHA3. Not tried the rest, so I can't say. It does work great with the Cavalli Liquid Carbon and a Chord Mojo DAC, and the Schiit amps. I would recommend a warm-ish sounding solid state amp for you rather than a tube amp, since you're concerned about tube burn outs (as am I), and there's always the ifi iTube2 preamp if you want some tubey goodness to go with a solid state amp at a later stage. Do consider the Schiit DAC like the Yggdrasil, paired with the Ragnarok (which is also solid state convertible) for a Amp. OR, you could try a Hugo 2 (I have the mojo, and it works great, though personally I didn't like the Hugo 2 as much myself). Another amp to consider is the ifi Audio iCan Pro, and that 1 tube lasts quite well, and you can even use it in solid state form.

Hope this helps!
 
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Aug 15, 2017 at 9:57 AM Post #19 of 30

gstepic

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Hey,

Sorry to hear of your wife's passing. Glad to hear that music is helping you cope. I have the HD800S, and here are my thoughts on your requirements.

Soundstage: this one is tricky. You want the stage in front of you and not around you. I think the HD800S will not deliver exactly what you want. I find that it envelopes me in the whole music. It's very immersive, without sounding fake. But it's not "in front" of me. However, different people perceive these effects differently, so try it out first.

Sound quality: this is fantastic, except it's a little lean sounding. It's very analytical (yes, even the HD800S), and while it's warmer than the non-S, it's still not HD650 level of warmth. It does, however, work fantastic with classical and other orchestral music, which brings me to the next point:

Amps: From my experience, the HD800S needs a warm amp. Something that thickens the sound without turning muddy. What I've tried which doesn't work as well, is the Woo Audio WA8 and the Sony PHA3. Not tried the rest, so I can't say. It does work great with the Cavalli Liquid Carbon and a Chord Mojo DAC, and the Schiit amps. I would recommend a warm-ish sounding solid state amp for you rather than a tube amp, since you're concerned about tube burn outs (as am I), and there's always the ifi iTube2 preamp if you want some tubey goodness to go with a solid state amp at a later stage. Do consider the Schiit DAC like the Yggdrasil, paired with the Ragnarok (which is also solid state convertible) for a Amp. OR, you could try a Hugo 2 (I have the mojo, and it works great, though personally I didn't like the Hugo 2 as much myself). Another amp to consider is the ifi Audio iCan Pro, and that 1 tube lasts quite well, and you can even use it in solid state form.

Hope this helps!
It helps but a little disappointing and maybe I am expecting too much. For closed end design the Beyerdynamic T5P v2 I have a very good sound stage but I was hoping to get a soundstage that is a little more in front of me and I was expecting the HD800 to do that. I guess I will find out soon enough as they will arrive in a couple of days.

I would think I would not need a DAC if I am using an iBasso DX200 as my source, but please correct me if I am wrong.
 
Aug 15, 2017 at 12:25 PM Post #20 of 30

Witcher

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It helps but a little disappointing and maybe I am expecting too much. For closed end design the Beyerdynamic T5P v2 I have a very good sound stage but I was hoping to get a soundstage that is a little more in front of me and I was expecting the HD800 to do that. I guess I will find out soon enough as they will arrive in a couple of days.

I would think I would not need a DAC if I am using an iBasso DX200 as my source, but please correct me if I am wrong.
Ah ok. So you are using a DAP for this. Yes, then if you're happy with the sound, you won't need a DAC. Most people get a HD800/S mainly because of the very wide soundstage. What I stated was what I hear, and I'm sure others hear the same, or differently. We all hear things differently anyways. Try it out first with the iBasso, but you will need an amp to drive the HD800 with the iBasso not haviung enough power to do so I think.
 
Aug 15, 2017 at 1:31 PM Post #21 of 30

gstepic

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Ah ok. So you are using a DAP for this. Yes, then if you're happy with the sound, you won't need a DAC. Most people get a HD800/S mainly because of the very wide soundstage. What I stated was what I hear, and I'm sure others hear the same, or differently. We all hear things differently anyways. Try it out first with the iBasso, but you will need an amp to drive the HD800 with the iBasso not haviung enough power to do so I think.

The iBasso has a balanced out and I think they can drive the HD800 S. They have other amps that can be attached to the DAP that provide more power. I am going to try incremental improvements first before I go on to bigger and better things. I may wait to get the amp3 from iBasso which from my understanding is more of a dedicated balanced out amp. Someone mentioned an amp4 is on the way which may be better yet. My first upgrade is from the iBasso DX80 which has a single chip to a dual chip DX200. I want to see what kind of difference that will make. Then I will have to compare my current Beyerdynamic T5P v2 to the on the way HD800 S. Then I will upgrade the amps on the iBasso. Then I may get a headphone amp. I am thinking I need to be patient (which is tough for me) and make gradual changes so I can determine what is really contributing to any changes and if the changes are worth it to me.

Gary
 
Aug 15, 2017 at 5:38 PM Post #22 of 30

gstepic

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The iBasso has a balanced out and I think they can drive the HD800 S. They have other amps that can be attached to the DAP that provide more power. I am going to try incremental improvements first before I go on to bigger and better things. I may wait to get the amp3 from iBasso which from my understanding is more of a dedicated balanced out amp. Someone mentioned an amp4 is on the way which may be better yet. My first upgrade is from the iBasso DX80 which has a single chip to a dual chip DX200. I want to see what kind of difference that will make. Then I will have to compare my current Beyerdynamic T5P v2 to the on the way HD800 S. Then I will upgrade the amps on the iBasso. Then I may get a headphone amp. I am thinking I need to be patient (which is tough for me) and make gradual changes so I can determine what is really contributing to any changes and if the changes are worth it to me.

Gary

Maybe I can actually listen to some amps and headphones. I just discovered one of Woo Audio's distributors is in Torrance CA. I live in Albuquerque, where as far as I know there is nowhere to listen to high end gear, but several times a year I make a trip to Redondo Beach just to get away and visit an old friend. Evidently the owner or one of the owners, Jason (TSAV) gets on this forum and his large storefront is very close to where I stay. Being able to listen before I buy will be valuable in my view.

Gary
 
Aug 16, 2017 at 12:49 AM Post #23 of 30

s2groove

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Gary,

Definitely take the opportunity to demo amps if you can. I own the HD800S as my primary can, and love it. I'm more of a speaker listener than a headphone guy, so i like the wide for headphone sound stage. I will say that some amp/dac combinations are spectacular with it and some are a miss for me. I liked the Mytek 192 dac with a Cavalli liquid carbon. The Marantz hd-dac1 is a nice semi-budget all in one that sounds good with it. My favorite of the components i have owned with the HD800S has been the Ayre Codex being run balanced. I've also heard the Lehmann linear se amp with it and it was really nice in a store demo, but the best amp i was totally blown away with the HD800S was the ECP audio DSHA-1 solid state amp run balanced at a meet. Incredible amp! but sadly discontinued and very pricey if you can find one. Of the ones I didn't really care for (Great gear with other headphones I heard) with the HD800S was the Schiit Jotenheim. It also didn't mix well out of the headphone output of the Oppo HA-1. Sorry about my semi-incoherent ramble, but maybe it'll help point you in the right direction in your search for good solid-state gear with your new cans.

-Andy
 
Aug 16, 2017 at 5:13 PM Post #24 of 30

gstepic

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Gary,

Definitely take the opportunity to demo amps if you can. I own the HD800S as my primary can, and love it. I'm more of a speaker listener than a headphone guy, so i like the wide for headphone sound stage. I will say that some amp/dac combinations are spectacular with it and some are a miss for me. I liked the Mytek 192 dac with a Cavalli liquid carbon. The Marantz hd-dac1 is a nice semi-budget all in one that sounds good with it. My favorite of the components i have owned with the HD800S has been the Ayre Codex being run balanced. I've also heard the Lehmann linear se amp with it and it was really nice in a store demo, but the best amp i was totally blown away with the HD800S was the ECP audio DSHA-1 solid state amp run balanced at a meet. Incredible amp! but sadly discontinued and very pricey if you can find one. Of the ones I didn't really care for (Great gear with other headphones I heard) with the HD800S was the Schiit Jotenheim. It also didn't mix well out of the headphone output of the Oppo HA-1. Sorry about my semi-incoherent ramble, but maybe it'll help point you in the right direction in your search for good solid-state gear with your new cans.

-Andy
I think I need to attend a meet someday as trying to conjure up how something will sound from another persons description is pretty fruitless. I should be getting the HD800 S tomorrow along with my upgraded iBasso DAP. I will spend a few days burning in and if HD800 S does not really impress me I will return them. Not to say I may not buy them in the future if I can hear them with the right amp for me at meet or AV store. Last night I was listening to my T5P vs2 and kept thinking how can this be improved on, they really do sound good to me with the iBasso DX80. Today I listened to some of my FLAC classical files and it just seemed like there was something missing; If I do return the HD800 S I will work on seeing what upgrades could change and/or improve the sound from my T5ps, mainly for classical music.
 
Aug 18, 2017 at 5:25 AM Post #25 of 30

Witcher

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I doubt you will be disappointed with the HD800S for classical music. While my main can has been converted to the Sony Z1R from the HD800S (mainly for portability), the HD800S remains the undisputed champion in my book for classical music. As long as your recording isn't distorted, it will shine with the HD800S. Your source, on the other hand, is the question mark, as I don't know if it can power the HD800S or not, since the DAP needs to drive 300 ohms. It might well do, but I'm not familiar with the iBasso, so I can't tell.

One thing to note is that if you are going to build your system, then you need one anchor point as a reference. For me, that system was built around the HD800S, which ended up with a Mojo as a DAC, an IFI Audio iTube 2 as a preamp, and an IFI Audio iCan SE as an output amp, and my PC for a source. Only when I got the Sonys, did I look at a different chain for the Z1R. The HD800S remains where it is, used whenever I want absolute clarity and accuracy. It is still my reference for what a hifi sounding headphone should be. The Sony is there only because I wanted a closed set and I wanted to be able to just drive it with my iPhone then (which the HD800S won't work).
 
Aug 18, 2017 at 10:13 AM Post #26 of 30

gstepic

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I doubt you will be disappointed with the HD800S for classical music. While my main can has been converted to the Sony Z1R from the HD800S (mainly for portability), the HD800S remains the undisputed champion in my book for classical music. As long as your recording isn't distorted, it will shine with the HD800S. Your source, on the other hand, is the question mark, as I don't know if it can power the HD800S or not, since the DAP needs to drive 300 ohms. It might well do, but I'm not familiar with the iBasso, so I can't tell.

One thing to note is that if you are going to build your system, then you need one anchor point as a reference. For me, that system was built around the HD800S, which ended up with a Mojo as a DAC, an IFI Audio iTube 2 as a preamp, and an IFI Audio iCan SE as an output amp, and my PC for a source. Only when I got the Sonys, did I look at a different chain for the Z1R. The HD800S remains where it is, used whenever I want absolute clarity and accuracy. It is still my reference for what a hifi sounding headphone should be. The Sony is there only because I wanted a closed set and I wanted to be able to just drive it with my iPhone then (which the HD800S won't work).

I may not be disappointed with other music as well. I am listening to a country playlist now with them and I am pleased so far. It will only get better as I have 30 minutes break in time with the HD800 S and about 8 hours with the DX200 (recommended 200 hours for break in). I am very happy that I probably will not need an external amp for now. I am not sure the exact specs, but the iBasso balanced output has twice the power as the regular headphone output (6w vs 3w?). Bottom line is I am about the same volume level, maybe even a tad less, using the HD800S with the balanced output as opposed to my very efficient T5Ps using the regular output.

In fact the Sennheisers do seem to sound better than the T5P g2 at this point and neither should sound that great because the DX200 really needs to get broken in.
 
Aug 18, 2017 at 10:38 AM Post #27 of 30

Witcher

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I may not be disappointed with other music as well. I am listening to a country playlist now with them and I am pleased so far. It will only get better as I have 30 minutes break in time with the HD800 S and about 8 hours with the DX200 (recommended 200 hours for break in). I am very happy that I probably will not need an external amp for now. I am not sure the exact specs, but the iBasso balanced output has twice the power as the regular headphone output (6w vs 3w?). Bottom line is I am about the same volume level, maybe even a tad less, using the HD800S with the balanced output as opposed to my very efficient T5Ps using the regular output.

In fact the Sennheisers do seem to sound better than the T5P g2 at this point and neither should sound that great because the DX200 really needs to get broken in.
Oh? you got a 2.5mm balanced connector for the HD800S? That's nice! I've yet to find any genre that doesn't work with the HD800S. The only genre I think my Sony does better, which is subjective, is Rock.
 
Aug 18, 2017 at 11:12 AM Post #28 of 30

gstepic

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Oh? you got a 2.5mm balanced connector for the HD800S? That's nice! I've yet to find any genre that doesn't work with the HD800S. The only genre I think my Sony does better, which is subjective, is Rock.
Yep, that is what I did. I am very pleased I will not need an external amp, the iBasso is driving these just fine. My problem now is I have stuff to do and I know I need to break the phones and DAP in but I am enjoying the music so much I keep saying I will get started with my day after the next song, that was many songs ago.

What is very encouraging to me is I know it will just sound better after break in and maybe I can even improve sound more with an external amp. iBasso DX200 has additional amps that can replace the stock amp that comes with the player. As I mentioned, at this point I don't feel like I need to do anything other than break in the gear. I do know I am going to keep these phones. I will also keep the T5ps for traveling. Soundstage is actually very close to Sennheiser with the Beyerdynamic T5P but it is a closed in design and as you know better for traveling when people will be around while we listen to our music.

I swear these are getting better with each song but probably due to psychological relief that my DAP can drive them and that they are actually "fun" because they are not lacking the punch I thought they might from how my mind conjured up the sound from reading other posts.
 
Nov 18, 2017 at 1:10 AM Post #29 of 30

vladimiryyo

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Hi, I am not sure if this is the most suitable thread to ask, sorry if not.
I own the HD800 for several years, since 2011 I think. I like it a lot. Many headphones did come and go in the past, and the Senn always stood. Now I am waiting to receive a new HD800S. Is it well worth to keep them both? My gear is decent, I think (HDVA600, Violectric, Conductor V2+...), but funding the new purchase with some cash would be nice for my pocket.
Thank you, and sorry for my English, it is not my native language.
 
Nov 18, 2017 at 12:44 PM Post #30 of 30

Slim1970

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My head is spinning as I have been researching amps all day. I am getting pretty set on the Woo WA6.
I had a Woo Audio WA6-SE and it was a great amp for the original HD800. The HD800S's doesn't seem to be as amp picky. Right now I'm enjoying my HD800S's with a iFi Pro iCan. The XBass+ feature really adds bass depth and heft making them a even more enjoyable headphone to my ears.
 

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