Sennheiser HD820
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raypin

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Mm...I still enjoy the Oppo series, specially the Oppo PM 1 and the Audio Zenith-modified PM 1, the PMx2. Both are magnetic planers and the weight tips at 395 grams vs. the 650 grams of the XC. No plastics. It is metal and leather. Classy-looking headphones, actually.

Under 300 grams would be a dream planer....
 
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BruceStax

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Glad people enjoyed my musings. Yes they are undoubtedly heavy and clearly this could rule them out for many. But their sound is so glorious and those big cushions so snug...... hoping they’ll keep me warm through the winter!
I think of them as HP equivalent of Sonus Faber Amati. Just loving the music with them - so engaging ....... e.g. vocal harmonies, bass and untiring treble.
Surprised the Senns didn’t grab me.
 
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Dobrescu George

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Mm...just arrived, after 2 months of waiting:



Initial impressions: good, specially with the Chord Dave pairing. My Sennheiser family is complete: 800, 800S, HE 1 and now the 820.

Do I get a loyalty medal from Senn?
Nice!

Sennheiser should make you a golden medal :)
 
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FastAndClean

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Mm...just arrived, after 2 months of waiting:



Initial impressions: good, specially with the Chord Dave pairing. My Sennheiser family is complete: 800, 800S, HE 1 and now the 820.

Do I get a loyalty medal from Senn?
Sennheiser should give you a car or something
 
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Beagle

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The Z1R was also not made to be abused by throwing it into a backpack. It requires a proper case to be in my backpack. The same as any better can out there. The HD800 is painted hence the paint can and will come off on certain places. The Z1R cups can deform from pressure etc etc... The Sony has plastic where it makes sense, so has the Sennheiser. And they probably have decent plastic with certain abilities not your standard throw away plastic.
Z1R was partially geared toward the pro market and studio work (Mark Wilder was involved). I could not see the Sennheiser standing up to a lot of pro use. I handle all of my phones with the utmost care but still have had plastic parts snap on me (Focal, PSB, others).
 
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up late

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mark wilder was involved in the tuning of the z1r but it is a premium headphone and sony appears to be marketing it to audiophiles. i doubt that the z1r is robust enough to withstand the rough and tumble of a recording studio tbh.
 
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raypin

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Mm..let’s get married and travel the world. Should the German marry the Korean, the British, the Japanese or the American? :deadhorse:

B89A0530-3DD1-455F-B3A0-1E97C7C98073.jpeg
 
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Mshenay

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Here is the frequency response measurement of the Sennheiser HD820 versus its open-back siblings (Fig.1):


Fig.1 Sennheiser HD820 frequency response, compared to the Sennheiser HD800 and HD800S

As you can see, this is quite different than the measurement posted earlier in the thread by someone else. I suspect that the previously posted measurement did not model a proper acoustical load with an ear simulator/coupler -- an apparatus that connects the DUT (device under test) to a microphone in such a way that the working load on the DUT is the same as if used on a real ear [1]. Modeling the input impedance of the human ear becomes increasingly important the higher the acoustic output impedance of the DUT [1]. Also, the need for modeling the correct impedance increases with the proximity of the DUT to the ear [2]. It is for these reasons we use ear simulators for measuring headphones.

I should also note that we are currently using a new GRAS High Resolution Ear Simulator (GRAS RA0401), released in 2017, with key improvements versus a standard IEC 60318-4 ear simulator. The standard IEC 60318-4 (former IEC 60711) ear simulator was designed in the early 1980's and mimics the input and transfer impedance of a human ear. While the input impedance was based on measurements on human subjects, the transfer impedance was based on the assumption that the ear canal is a simple cylindrical volume with a hard termination. The new GRAS High Resolution Ear Simulator still complies with the IEC 60318-4 tolerance band (which is specified up to 10 kHz), but with significantly improved performance above 10 kHz. From 10 kHz to 20 kHz the transfer impedance is within +/- 2.2 dB, resulting in much improved repeatability and more realistic THD measurements [3].

We are also using a new, more human-like anthropometric measurement pinna by GRAS. The new pinna is based on 300+ 3D scans of human ear canals, designed to be closer to the human ear, with important changes to the pinna, concha and ear canal (versus previous measurement pinnae). You can see a short video about this here: GRAS Anthropometric Pinna

You can find out more about the measurement lab at Head-Fi HQ at the following link: Head-Fi Audio Measurement Lab

While the HD820 frequency response measurement is quite different versus the comparatively more linear frequency responses of its open-back siblings (HD800 and HD800S), a comparison with another premium closed-back headphone (like the Sony MDR-Z1R) might be a more relevant apples-to-apples comparison, and shows the HD820 in a different light (Fig.2):


Fig.2 Sennheiser HD820 frequency response, compared to the Sony MDR-Z1R

The steep drop that starts <200 Hz is there by design. If you want to better understand why it's there, make sure to watch this presentation by Axel Grell of Sennheiser from CanJam NYC 2018 (for discussion of this specifically, start watching at around the 27:00 mark):


Simply put, there was significant consideration given to an internally developed preference curve and psychoacoustics in voicing the HD820 (and Axel Grell does discuss other preference curves when asked about them in the talk above). If you haven't already done so, I strongly suggest you watch the entire presentation.

Given that it's a closed-back headphone, the HD820 will be more sensitive to breaks in the seal than its open-back siblings, but that's to be expected. As I said in an earlier post, I get a good seal with the HD820, even with my eyeglasses on.

As I also said earlier, I definitely prefer the HD820's tonal balance to the HD800S (and, for further reference, I strongly prefer the HD800S to the HD800). That said -- and this shouldn't be at all surprising -- the HD800S is, to my ears, ultimately more resolving. Again, the HD800S is open-back, free-breathing, unencumbered by some of the issues of acoustics/physics that must be dealt with for this class of closed-back headphone with the HD820. What resolution the HD820 does sacrifice to its sibling, though, is worth the gains in the tonal balance for me. Still, the HD820 is without a doubt one of the most resolving closed-back headphones currently available, and also among the widest imaging of them.

By the way, here are the THD measurements, first versus its HD800 and HD800S siblings (Fig.3), and then versus the Sony MDR-Z1R (Fig.4):


Fig.3 Sennheiser HD820 total harmonic distortion (THD), compared to the Sennheiser HD800 and HD800S

Fig.4 Sennheiser HD820 total harmonic distortion (THD), compared to the Sony MDR-Z1R

The measurements included in this post were made on the same day using:


[1] Brüel, P. V., Frederiksen, E., Mathiasen, H., Rasmussen, G., and Sigh, E. (1976). "Investigations of a new insert earphone coupler," Part I in "Impedance of Real and Artificial Ears," Brüel and Kjær report.

[2] Brüel & Kjær, "Measuring Human Audio Perception," presented at the 2018 ALMA International Symposium & Expo (AISE).

[3] Wille, M. (2017). "High Resolution Ear Simulator," GRAS Sound & Vibration white paper.
Having auditioned the HD820 only 2 days ago for the first time, I have to say that my impression of the sound doesn't match the posted graphs.
Graphs show a bassier headphone compared to HD800/800S, but my ears thought it to be inversely true.
To my ears, HD820 was very mid-centric, and very dry sounding.

There seems to be some talk going around of extremely varying impressions on the perceived frequency response, which is due to individual head shape and wearing position.
I might have to re-audition and wear it in weird places.
Hmm wonderful graphs! I'm really impressed with overall distortion plots

And if I had to speculate, I imagine the dry mid centric sound may have to do with the very low distortion in the bass. Even though the response is forward the lack of excessive distortion likely helps keep it very quick/detailed and powerful

I've always found that distortion can add a "thickness" or fullness to sound. Which is in some cases enjoyable and necessary for overall balance, but in other cases it's destructive.

Still I too heard it as more dry than wet, more of the HD 800 than the 800S but I can't say what stage the Prototype I listen to was in.
 
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Doctordoom16

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My 2 cents............
I just got my Senn 820 last week and have listened to 20 plus albums, flac 24/96 mostly but a few 24/192 and 16/44
Amp, sony ta zh1es w sony zx300 as transport via walkman input , ifi idsd black w ibasso dx150 as transport via dig coax in, HD tracks flac hi res (24/96 and 24/192 files)
other headphones/iem: Senn HD800S, Ibasso it04 w 2.5 balanced (4.4 adapter), ultrasone signature pro (modded to 4.4 balanced), NAD vizo hp 50, sony zr1
I've had dozens other but, can't comment as I don't remeber. But if i loved them i think I would have kept them!
Flletwood mac rumors, eagles hotel California, clapton slowhand, the band, queen greatest hits, led zeppelin 1,2
It was hard a/b ing the headphones but i did my best

build of the 820 is similar to 800s but heavier and a little bigger in the ear cups due to being closed back. It is comfortable but for 2400 i was expecting to have more, wow factor. The 800s cost be 1300, the 820 $2400. The sony I got used for $1400 and for those prices I's say the sony was the most impressive built. It just looked quality. Even the sony box was nicer.
sound:
Bass, When I got the HD800s i felt that it had the perfect balance as the bass was understated but very present, unlike the sony which I will be selling. The HD820 is in between. Not as crazy bassy as the sony but makes me miss the bass when I'm listening to the HD800s now. It can hit hard if properly amped at high volume. A bunch of driver flex. Sometimes a bit much but msotly very enjoyable.
The NAD and Ultrasone both can hit hard in the bass as well , w the NAD having greater impact when properly amped. I prefer the weight of the HD820 as it just seems perfect.

Mids: Sony just bleeds bass. The HD800s is so nice in the mids but thats because the bass is so subtle. The HD820 has a nice approach to it as the bass never intrudes or muddies the mids. Never seems congested. Vocals, accoustics all seem just the perfect blend of smooth and very ariculate. The NAD gets congested and the Ultrasones seem to bury the mids too far back. None of this bothered me until I heard what I was missing in the HD820

Highs: Ultrasone has crisp highs that never hurt or fatique. The NAS is a bit washed out in the top end. The sony seems to be no existent. The HD800s is so nice, but at times seem harsh. But the detail of the HD800 is unsurpassed. The HD820, while not as detailed, is very accurate and does extend well. It's just not the detail hound the HD800s is. How far off? Not enough to notice unless a/b ing for over many tracks. It's there, but you would never listen to the HD820 alone and think the highs were muddled or off.

Soundstage: The HD800s take this one handely, the NAD does a great job for the $, the ultrasone is a step below the NAD, the sony is ok, not bad in isolation but not great when a/b ing. The HD820 is a step or 2 behind the HD 800s. It's noticeable but at times the soundstage and the instrument separation is so good that I don't miss the HD800s.

The HD 820 are expensive. very expensive. But if look at the sound I'm getting, I can put it in percpective. I owned and sold a few $1000+ iems. Bass was artifical (vega) and the sounstage was terrible compared to even the $150 NAD. At 2.5x the Vega, the HD820 are bargains.
They are my end game closed back. I will keep the HD800s , but because I find the HD820 so good and they can be listened to w my family in the room, they are getting all my love. The sony is sold. The ultrasones will be put up for sale as the NAD sound a hair better and comparing $150 to $1000, the NAD is the steal here. The ibasso it04 are a toy in this group and just seem outclassed compared to the over ears. They are good in a pinch, but the Senn HD 820 are my precious!

I didn't mention the IFI idsd black, but I use it all the time as I walk about the house w the HD820. The IFI sounds a hair behind the sony, but at $2400 vs $600, the ifi is amazing. And powerful. I'm in audiphile heaven. Love the HD820!
 
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macbob713

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And extremely clean and controlled for a closed back. I don’t think any other closed headphones can do this
I owned the Z1R for several weeks, and I found them to be overly bass centric and somewhat dark sounding. I ended up returning them for a refund.
 
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I have found the most "consistent" fit and am sticking with that. Variations with the fit can cause bloating in the bass (and I assume the bigger the head, the tighter the fit will be). If I just let the phones rest around my ears in a normal position, I'm getting a fairly balanced response, with a little warmth in the mid/upper bass. The description that comes to mind now is that the music "floats", dynamics happen naturally, there is nice side to side spaciousness (but depth is somewhat compressed). It's the natural tone and lack of grain and aggressiveness in the treble and upper mid that makes everything sound clean and smooth, but not smoothing over contrasts. As @Whitigir said, clean and controlled.

Sometimes you just have to step back for a bit, let your initial impressions, biases and concerns fall to the wayside, and take another approach. The more you pay, the more you expect instant audio nirvana. It's often there, you just have to uncover it.
 

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