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Sennheiser HD820

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Dulalala, Apr 29, 2017.
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  1. jude Administrator
    I would simply suggest listening to this headphone. There's a reason I bought up this video before...

    ...and that's because I believe this video was made before any measurements of the HD820 were posted -- this is important given the influence of measurements on impressions/opinions. I've watched this video a couple of times, and they're mostly comparing it to two of the most well-regarded open-back flagship headphones (HD800 and HD800S), and still this close-back holds up well to them (and to me).

    The HD820's was a carefully crafted signature, and it's more unusual to look at than it is to hear. If you watch Lachlan and Eric's video (above) they both recognize the bass (which some people upon looking at the graph alone would think must be boomy) but don't complain of boominess or muddiness (quite the contrary actually). They don't complain of an egregious, unholy suckout either.

    Paul Barton's RoomFeel is not the same as the Harman AE target -- even if you're a fan of either (or both) of those targets, headphones based on either won't appeal to everyone. The HD820 represents another target, and was most certainly not arbitrary. The team behind it is one of the most experienced group of headphone engineers I know of.

    Stop staring at the measurements -- whether mine or anyone else's -- and trying to come to firm conclusions based on what you see. We have one of the most sophisticated headphone measurement systems I know of here at Head-Fi HQ, and I stand by our measurements of this headphone as accurate. But this is a headphone that must be heard. There are reasons for what you're seeing in our measurements, and the results are compelling. The HD820 is, without a doubt, a remarkably open sounding referenced closed-back headphone. (Of course, this is my opinion, and there won't be unanimity on this or any other headphone.)

    I remember discussing the Harman AE target with community and industry friends when it was first shown, and many expected it was going to be too heavy sounding for audiophiles. While some of course will feel this way -- because preferences vary -- many (myself included) do not think the Harman AE target (or the even heavier Harman IE target) as overly bassy. There's still work to be done on targets, and it's being done. There will never be only one.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    macbob713, trellus, Mark Up and 8 others like this.
  2. jude Administrator
    One thing I also want to mention is that the HD8XX series has very large earcups, in terms of footprint on your head. Because the HD800 and HD800S are open-back, they're going be less affected by small changes in seal than the closed-back HD820. Given the size of the earcups, they may be more likely to physically cover more of the "terrain" -- the nooks, crannies, irregularities, napes, jaw lines, the curvature toward the back of your head, etc. -- than headphones with smaller physical footprints. Play with HD820 positioning (within reason obviously) to find something comfortable and that seals well. Little shifts in position can make a difference, so don't assume that how you position your HD800 and HD800S on your head is exactly how you should position the HD820 on your head.
    macbob713, trellus and up late like this.
  3. Beagle
  4. ervin192
    I would welcome the big earcups (esp. their broad inner space) of the HD8xx as well, I've been find the z1r pads too small for me they seem to be squeezing my helix and they also seem to absorb a little too much treble, for me.
    The measurements are not that fancy. It's too common seeing one indicating an eminent peak, high distortion and those all disappear in another test. The official curves from Sennheiser only show a less-than-5db drop so maybe it's not that bad.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  5. Rchandra
    Do you think that Jude has to like this headphone because sennheiser is a sponsor?
  6. Maelob
    Dont think so, I think he is pointing the obvious, people like to come to conclusions before listening. I agree with him 100% about target curves and the science of measurements. It is a work in process and nobody had figured out how a perfect headphone should sound. I think it is more complicated than looking at a chart. just my two cents
    trellus likes this.
  7. jude Administrator
    Whether a product is made by a sponsor or not has no bearing on whether or not I like it or what I post about it.
    trellus and AxelCloris like this.
  8. Rchandra
    I wouldn't blame you if it did now don't get me wrong you are such a huge part of this site and community. But realistically if I'm in your shoes theirs no way that I wouldn't want to not make a sponsor happy. So I could see them releasing something new and wanting people to like it and purchase one. None the less now that I have your attention could you please tell me what you meant by more resolution on the hd800S and more tonal balance on the hd820? lol
  9. jude Administrator
    If it did, you should blame me. Again, though, it doesn't. If you don't believe me there are many others you can count on here -- a lot of opinions by a lot of people are expressed every day on these forums.

    Then I'm glad I'm the one wearing my shoes. There are a lot of sponsors here. Of course, it's nice if they're happy, but I (and any of the other Head-Fi staffers) won't be dishonest about what we like and don't like to make them happy. Fortunately, in the 17+ years since Head-Fi was founded, this hasn't been an issue. I don't think Head-Fi would be here for over 17 years if there was a history of compromised integrity, dishonesty, corruption, lying, etc. from the people who are the stewards of the site and its operations.

    I think it's safe to say that any company releasing a headphone (or any other product for that matter) wants people to like and purchase it.

    To my ears, the HD800S resolves more overall detail than the HD820. (I think this will be a near universal conclusion over time.) However, I prefer the richer tonal balance of the HD820. (Tonal balance preferences are very subjective, of course, so this one won't be as across-the-board.)
  10. Rchandra

    I love you man. Didn't mean to offend you in any way. I do wonder if you were to use the hd800S pads on the hd820 how that frequency response would be very interesting to see
  11. GREQ
    Actually, there was one recent video I saw about a study I rather inconveniently cannot find the link to, that strongly suggests otherwise.
    Someone actually made frequency response measurements of peoples ears and ear canals and found variances of up to 10dB in some frequencies, and the biggest difference were often in bass perception.
    I have no idea of the legitimacy of the study, but it's was quite compelling.
  12. ubs28
    You can look up my old posts, I said the bass is crap when there where no measurements available. Didn’t sound like a $2400 headphone to me. There was definetly something weird happening in the mid bass that didn’t sound right to me.

    I am now waiting what Focal will do.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018
  13. EDN80
    So... for similar-looking graphs some can bash the Z1R and praise the HD820? Good thing Tyll retired. He probably would've called the HD820 "the best damn headphones in the world!" like he has for the last Sennheiser flagships.
  14. Rchandra
    Just like the Sony Z1R their will be people who hate the HD820. The one thing they both have in common is love it or hate it.
  15. zolkis
    Pretty interesting ratings. I have quite many headphones from their list and there is some correlation between what I hear and what they rate.
    However, indeed those ratings seem to have too technical focus, even for their "Critical listening" category. For instance the Bose QC-35ii gets very high ratings but it doesn't sound very refined or natural to me. The HD820 and a lot of other Sennheisers got worse rating but sound better to me than the QC-35ii (not that it's bad, no, it's good for what it has been designed for, i.e. listening to music on airplane, bus, train, car, street, office - though for office there are better ones).

    To state the obvious, take the input and some grains of salt, but let personal listening in your own context be the deciding factor.

    Anyway, based on my experience, problems in measurements sooner or later will also appear in subjective listening observations. Any bigger dip or peak in the FR or CSD or impulse anomaly will be heard and talked about, especially when a new model will fix them. Good measurements are the minimum requirement. If that is achieved, subjective listening is the next step. A few headphones out there can pull it off. I hope there will be more and more of them.
    prescient likes this.
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