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Sennheiser HD820

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Dulalala, Apr 29, 2017.
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  1. BruceStax
    I posted this already XC vs 820:

    Thanks to all for highlighting the arrival of the 820HD on the scene. As a bit of background as context for this contribution my Hi Fi history began with Stax headphones in 1974 and on the speaker side of things Quad ESLs, BBC monitors, Quad 63s and currently Martin Logan Spire with Velodyne DD12+ eq’d from 200Hz down. Amplification and Streamer DAC Simaudio Moon 780D and Arcam rHead H-amp, and Linn LP12. I enjoy a diverse range of listening and also play various acoustic guitars!
    Okay .... unfortunately my wife finds it increasingly wearying to block out the sound bleeding from my Stax 009s and after making do with KEF M500 on ear ‘phones to obviate this, the 820 announcement motivated me to try harder on the isolating hp front.... so thank you guys!
    My first step was to have a listen at a local shop, taking my M500s with me. I found the difference in quality a bit disappointing with the Senns unsurprisingly having a more sophisticated presentation, less distorted (‘squeaky”) treble and improved bass and overall detail but would they be worth the £1800 extra? I then arranged to try them at home and compare with Audeze XC, and also AKG 872 reference. The AKG was guickly eliminated on grounds of poorer bass definition despite a revealing and fairly neutral presentation and a generally open sound, they were also very comfortable, light and with a good seal. The 820s upped the overall quality with again an open slightly dry presentation with much improved bass definition and in particular excellent production of the bass harmony line (think Linn “tune dem”)
    The overall sound was surprisingly neutral (despite some concerns voiced here re frequency response) with excellent detail across all frequencies. They were light and comfortable but the ear pads seemed slightly too hard in that the seal could be poor as others have observed and it felt as if an edge of the padding was in contact with your head rather than it’s full width.
    By contrast the pads on the Audeze were much softer and more forgiving and allowed the headphones to feel part of your head (!) even though your head (okay, my head...) had become significantly heavier.
    At last.... the sound. These were a revelation to me. Gone was the more academic presentation of the the other two, replaced by a joyful sound full of emotion and with each element represented by a richness of tone and timbre that was quite beguiling. (I later read the John Darko review and found it very similar to my experience, so I’d recommend that if you’ve not seen it).
    Listening to Michel Petrucciani Trio live in Tokyo for example, was so involving because of the peerless and melodic mid range coupled with fabulous underpinning of the bass line - which extends particularly low in this recording and is at times rather quiet within the mix.
    I repeatedly went back to the Sennheiser to check because I would have preferred something lighter !! But on each occasion I enjoyed the music less, even when strings were presented more prominently by the Senns. Vocal harmonies, woodwinds, all types of piano, kora, balafon or electric guitars were produced with stunning realism timbal character and subtlety, by the XC. I did not find there to be any impairment in reproduction of the trailing edge of notes either. The Creator edition also happens to be £800 cheaper, but I would have bought the Audeze even if priced the same as the Sennheiser.
    So there we are, my individual findings on a home trial. Hope it’s of some interest and thanks for the inspiration.
    Maxx134, Beagle, Bern2 and 1 other person like this.
  2. up late
    i enjoyed reading your post the first time around @BruceStax but there's no need to re-post it three pages later :wink:
  3. Beagle
    Nice. I don't have the XC anymore but I do have the 2C Closed and I will eventually get around to comparing it with the 820.

    Yes, if only Audeze phones were lighter...but they do seem to be slowly working towards that.
  4. Doctordoom16
    It's my fault as I didn't see his first post And asked for the comparison. Thanks KS again .
    up late likes this.
  5. Maelob
    Just curious, are you looking for a comparison just for comparison sake? Do you like them, i believe you already own what would be considered end game headphones. But I guess we are all obsessed here and will never settle LOL
  6. money4me247 Contributor
    @Doctordoom16 , there is a pretty extensive review by Torq with a few closed comparisons here: https://www.headphone.com/blogs/news/sennheiser-hd820-closed-back-headphone-review.

    Just brief notes, I have the HD800S and Utopia & comparing at home against the HD820. Regarding technical performance (sound stage, imaging, detail, and speed), I personally feel the HD800S outperforms Utopia which outperforms the HD820. I do find the Utopia to have good tonal balance and a bit of a different sound signature compared to the HD800S which is why I have both. For me, the HD820's performance did not justify full retail price, and still sounds closed with a smaller sound stage than the Utopia (which I thought had a small sound stage for a open headphone). I will probably not be keeping the HD820s after extensive testing even though I really wanted to love them as they just look so gorgeous lol.
    sheldaze, Maxx134, Bern2 and 2 others like this.
  7. sly_in_the_sky
    My local audiophile shop lended me a HD820, I have the chance to audition it at home quietly and compare it with my HD800s. I drive them with my HDV820. It's only a first impression but what has been already told several times is true, the main differences between 800s and 820 in terms of tonality is that 820 has a little bit more bass and sub bass and a little less treble, the difference in terms of imaging is that 800s has a little bit bigger and deeper soundstage and a little bit better separation, but to me the difference is subtle (some may like it, some not). I did not notice a big difference in terms of details yet, the HD 820 is capable to give impressive details...

    Now... some people will call me heretic and we can debate ours about EQ or not (Firs I didn't immagine using EQ but... lot of people already try to affect EQ to match their needs by using differents gear, cable and so on...) BUT I have a Shiit Loki and for those who find the 800S lacking bass or sub bass with some music styles like electro or so on, you can give the 800s what it needs to reach the 820 bass quantity without problem and zero distortion... but with the advantages of the technicity of the 800s that it's difficult to add with any external gear... more easy to affect tonality in a proper way.

    By now, I also think that despite the fact the 820 is a very good headphone, if you don't need closed cans, speaking only about sound, for me, 1000 dollars more is perhaps too much.

    My impressiosn will perhaps grow in a few days but clearly to my ears, it's not a night and day difference, 820 is to my ears, not really an upgrade from 800s.

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    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  8. QueueCumber
    I’m not sure how the soundstage on the 820 sounds smaller to you than the soundstage on the utopia. I have both as well and the 820 is far more expansive (and localizing) in my listening experiences. I do agree that the timbre sounds more organic on the utopia, albeit with a bit too much sizzle with some material for my comfort. To me the utopia has very little soundstage width. Perhaps you’re referring to the soundstage front to back depth and not the width?
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
    musikverein likes this.
  9. Doctordoom16
    I wish I was just comparing for the sake of comparing. As you mentioned we Are always looking for something better. I love the hd820 but I've never heard those mentioned so I was wondering if I was missing something. I can't afford the utopia so the hd800s will suffice. But the zmf and the audeze are cheaper than the 820 so if those were better in most ways I'd return the 820 and look into the audeze or zmf .I love and hate this hobby .Cost too much and I'm never happy! Or at least feel I'm missing out on something!
  10. exdmd
    My two cents? If you are happy with the HD800S just stick with them, you have an end game set of phones as long as open backs work for your situation. Put the extra $$ into improving your signal chain if there is a weak link in your DAC or amp. If I had to use closed back phones I would buy the HD820 as the good alternatives are too heavy. My HD800S are so light I can wear all day no problem.
    musikverein and up late like this.
  11. fnsnyc
    Thank you for the help, I will be looking for an Audeze XC...
  12. Doctordoom16
    I find I have less opportunity to listen to the open backs so a closed back version is my better option. I love the hd800s but they don't get used as much. The hd820 are my go to w the kids sleeping and the house quite .no matter how good if they don't get used then I guess they aren't worth it then. Thats why I was asking about the audeze xc and the zmfs.
    QueueCumber and Malfunkt like this.
  13. Rchandra
    I think the problem is people buy thinking it's a upgrade it's not. But that's not why people like it. People like it because they can get more use out of them. Being around a wife and kids or being around a noisy environment.. For people in that situation that love the hd800S this is a second coming of jesus.
    musikverein, QueueCumber and Malfunkt like this.
  14. money4me247 Contributor
    that is an interesting comment as I feel quite confident about that assessment & it was quite surprising to me as well when I first heard that as I was expecting it to be the other way around. when listening to orchestral pieces or live performances, I do definitely get a sense of the sennheiser hd820 being in a "smaller room" compared to the utopia overall. are there any particular tracks where you feel like the effect is especially pronounced in the other direction? I would love to test this out.
    up late likes this.
  15. QueueCumber
    I honestly don’t know what material to tell you to listen to for that comparison. It’s the exact opposite with stage width for me between the two headphones with any material I listen to, except perhaps mono recordings. Stage depth may possibly be marginally deeper on the utopia for me, but I’m not certain on that one. I’d have to go back and listen to the utopia again (I basically don’t use it now with the 009S and Susvara around). In fact, the reason I decided not to keep the Utopia is because the soundstage was so in my head compared to the other HPs I use.

    What amp are you using? I’ve heard of people getting better soundstage on the Utopia with hard-core high-end tube amps. I’ve had no luck with my McIntosh and Hugo2 in that regard. I think I tried my PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP as well, which is tubular, but it would have been awhile ago when first comparing the Utopia with the Susvara.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
    Beagle likes this.
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