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Sennheiser HD820

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Dulalala, Apr 29, 2017.
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  1. up late
    i'm not always looking for the ultimate in transparency. sometimes i feel like luxuriating in the additional warmth, bass and isolation that a closed can offers. something that the z1r excels at i think.
  2. Beagle
    This thread is dying..
  3. raypin

    Mm..from my experience, No. It is better not because they are expensive. It is expensive because they are better. That is true for headphones, for cars, for hotels, for TVs, for watches, name it. That is how the world works. There are exceptions but the exceptions are exceedingly rare. Again, the hierarchy.

    If I had to start all over again, my headphone and in-ear collection and other mandatory headfi equipment would be much smaller. I would choose: one electrostat, one dynamic or planer open back, one closed-back, one universal in-ear and one or two CIEMs, one desktop-class tube amp, one desktop-class solid state amp, one desk-class DAC, one portable solid state DAC/amp, one DAP. Top-tier all the way. No compromise. I just want the best in class. Not interested in “80% as good, for 1/3rd the price.” Just the very best. Then with the savings, diversify to two channel audio.

    Back to topic, the 820 remains my top choice for closed-back. Admittedly, my first impression (first few days of listening), I was not impressed. It sounded sharp and too bright. Soulless even. But after extended use, my brain has adjusted and began to appreciate the strength of the 820. It is a top-in-class performer. Do I miss my 800s? No (not that it is going anywhere). 820 is unique and different enough to be considered on its own merits.

    My hearing is less than perfect now (deteriorating even). Time will come when it will not be good enough. That is why I am tremendously enjoying headfi listening now (and during the past 6 years) while there is still time left. Cost is a secondary concern. What good is money when the only headfi equipment that you will be wearing is a hearing aid?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2018
    macbob713, Bern2, Beagle and 2 others like this.
  4. Maelob
    LOL spend away for those of us who can't. Enjoy them, carpe diem. I will continue to hide my purchases from the wife:ksc75smile:
    DimaSebastian, QueueCumber and raypin like this.
  5. QueueCumber
    That’s basically the route I went, with the 820 being my closed-back best of class, but I had the foresight provided by years of bumbling with two-channel and surround audio.

    More expensive is not always better from my experience. There are plenty of companies willing to take advantage of that expectation bias in audio and other industries. A fool and his money are soon parted...
  6. Beagle
    This is true. And "better" is often misconstrued as "different". It is initially better because it is different, or it does one of two things better than another, and eventually you find more things that it does worse. And this is why we keep spending money and going in circles, chasing our tails.
  7. Maelob
    Agree 100%
    raypin likes this.
  8. SeanS
    Agreed. However, one is usually served by applying an appropriate reference for diminishing returns, if not as a monetary practicality, but as a matter of integrity and self respect.
    up late likes this.
  9. PhilW
    Yeah agree very much. Expensive doesn't always mean better certainly in this case. I personally still can't get the HD820 it does some strange things with vocals for me and I love my vocals. Haha
    up late likes this.
  10. Rchandra
    What's not worth it to you maybe priceless to someone else.
  11. raypin
    Mmm...if you are unwilling to compromise, take the Senneheiser HE 1 challenge. Forget the price tag. Just listen. For me, it is the perfect headphone sound.
  12. zolkis
    It is very good, indeed. Unfortunately, direct comparison was not an option, but I'd say that what concerns the musical experience, it is about similar class as much cheaper setups (e.g. Stax SR-Omega/009/007 or Phenomenon or Perun headphones + BHSE + good enough DAC) that actually feel like having bigger and more realistic sound stage. In-memory comparison, the HE-1 felt a bit damped and with a more constrained sound stage (it wouldn't be me if I didn't say this was because the pads could be further optimized :) ).

    Nevertheless it's a good reference about how Sennheiser means state of the art (all variables controlled in the listening environment), and it is very good indeed, a best-of experience. Good for reference.
    Also, it demonstrates that serious people should build their sound-insulated booth for serious headphone listening :).
    purk likes this.
  13. raypin
    ot: mmm...no need to go to extremes by building a sound-isolated room. Any normal relatively-quiet room will do for the HE1.

    You know why I can confidently say that it is the best of the best? My HE 1 never fails to put me to sleep. Every single time, for more than a year now. So relaxing. The equipment just disappears.....just you and your music to enjoy. I ve given up trying to find fault.

    It is there. Minute details? It is there. Soundstage? It is there. Realistic or natural sound? It is there. Bass? It is there. Midrange, treble etc etc etc. They are all there. Musicality? It is there. It is the most balanced sounding, incredible headphone machine ever.

    Of course, it has a few rivals, some costing considerably less. But I am not interested in 80, 95 or even 99%. I just want 100% of what is possible in the world of headphones. Absolutely zero compromise. The HE 1 fits the bill, or in my case, fits the bill and paid the bill more than a year ago with no regrets.
  14. zolkis
    Owners long term impression is the best input. It's so nice when someone has found/settled with audio system allowing to enjoy music without thinking about the equipment.
    Beagle, alokjuyal and raypin like this.
  15. alokjuyal
    A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be staying in a hotel right by the San Francisco Sennheiser flagship store and so swung by for an audition with a friend (who isn't nutty about equipment but loves music). I brought along my Z1Rs, Roxannes, Hugo2 and Dragonfly red (all of these I usually travel with) just in case I wanted to do compares. In the end we just ended up using the Z1Rs and ran them off Tidal and Onkyo HF from my phone through the HDV820 and compared the HD820, 800S, 800 and the Z1Rs over an hour or so we spent auditioning. I will say upfront I wanted to love the 820 because (1) while there are a lot of good open back headphones out there, the choice on good closed backs is limited (2) I have always wanted one of the HD series because of their light weight and comfort (3) because I already have the Stax L700 I cant get myself to buy another open back just yet especially since the HD800/800S almost certainly require me to invest in a good DT amp.

    Anyway, our conclusion at the end of the listening was (1) Mine : 800S>Z1R>800>820 (2) my friend: 800S>800>Z1R>820. We agreed that the 2 open backs bested the closed backs, I preferred the bass on the Z1R to the 800, my friend preferred the soundstage and the comfort of the 800. We listened to a variety of music including some classical, rock, rap etc covering good recordings and so-so ones. I continue to be surprised by how good the soundstage on the Z1Rs is. I found the 820 more closed in and the bass somewhat bloomy. I was yet again reminded of how well the 800S addressed the shortcomings of the 800 which continue to be amazing even now. I wasn't sure if the 820 vs Z1R for me was impacted by my ears being used to the latter over the last 1.5 yrs or so I have owned these headphones. I was also happy to see how someone who loves music can easily recognize the amazing quality of all of these headphones - so important therefore for manufacturers to get people to try them and make the entry-level set-ups more accessible and available. While I was in the store, a few other people came in and would typically walk by the set-up for the 800/800s/820 without trying because (as 2 of them told me) they were "too expensive and complicated" and they wanted just good Bluetooth phones. Some would try the 6xx/5xx.

    The store also has the Orpheus and you can audition by prior appointment on their website. Thursday and Friday evenings I was told were the most popular slots. Its an amazing store on Post Street just off Union Square and if you get the chance you must try it.
    money4me247, Rchandra, raypin and 2 others like this.
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