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Sennheiser HD820

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Dulalala, Apr 29, 2017.
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  1. Taisser Roots
    I got to try these at the last day at thr festival of sound, with acorn audio just behind me with his stock of zmf and his personal iha1 (my favourite amp so far). Headphone section at a British speaker show where the "biggest" companies are focal, naim, b&w, chord and all other brit-fi stuff which sounded dreary. So it was really quiet for a show.

    Sennheisser subverted my expectations a lot with this. Starting from the bass, it's immediately lost the control and resolve that was a significant part of the original hd800. The bass comes across as one note compared to the eikon and hd800S. It was definitely a lot warmer than the hd800S and it felt flabbier, to the extent that I would say that the eikon has a lot more bass control.

    The transition from bass to mids is basically a dip, upper bass is missing, the lower middle are missing. While I would say that the eikon has a mid honk, the hd820 seems to be much worse in this regard. What it does aside from the honk is contribute more to the thickness of the mids that the hd800 variants have. Rather than just having dipped upper mids, the lower mids are dipped too. This makes it really congested, which is worse on this than the hd800 because it doesn't have the same openness f.

    This seems to have a significant effect on the timbre, I already found that the original hd800 decayed slightly too quick. This seemed to decay a lot faster and lost a lot of the texture resolution that the hd800 has, it made the timbre really plasticy.

    This smoothed over plasticy texture described how I heard the general timbre and resolution of this headphone. It just seemed like every subtle nuance was just smoothed over, compared to an hd800 or an eikon.

    Sure I could hear effects like doubled vocals or reverb and tell them apart, but the same happens with balanced armature iems. I can hear the macro detail, but I can't hear the body around these things, the decay, it's texture or any of the small details which bring life to music like I can with other competitors.

    I'd say the resolution beats out my trusted hd580, but falls short of something like the eikon, while I didn't compare them directly at the time, it's probably around where the Atticus sits.

    The treble was quite interesting for me, since it wasn't as extended or as bright as the hd800. But for some reason it sounded really harsh. I'm usually fine with treble, the hd800 and the brighter adx5000 don't bother me. Stuff like the emu teaks, b&w speakers and now the hd820 do, there is this harsh brittleness to them which is fatiguing.
    It isn't fatiguing in the same way the edge from a violin or the sizzle of a drum kit is, these seem more like mid treble issues.

    The dynamics and staging of these headphones weren't my cup of tea.
    The original hd800 has that upper octave extension and because of that the stage expands quite far to the point of being somewhat diffuse. This doesn't have that, the mix of the mid congestion and the lack of air makes this headphone closed in soubding. Even if the stage is a bit further back than the eikon it doesn't sound as open.

    The dyanmics don't sound as clean and there is a general fuzziness to them, I'd consider the eikon superior in this sense as dynamic range is rendered a bit more naturally and matters because there isn't an overwhelming sense of congestion.

    While the hd820 shares the hd800S it doesn't share the same imaging quality, it images fine without any major issues, but that sense of fuzziness gets in the way.

    Considering the hype around these and my own sennheisser fanboyism, it's kind of dissapointing to hear these. My main issue with these is that they take the original issues I had with the hd800, made them worse whilst adding a couple of other issues, whilst also taking away what makes you deal with the issues the hd800 has.

    Technical capabilities aside, I feel that the tonal issues with these headphones are enough to take many cheaper alternatives over these, because the tone doesn't sound normal by any stretch of the imagination.
    I would rather have the eikon with it's warmth, midrange honk and laid backish presentation because despite these colourations, it's not as far off normal.
    For those people who stick with their hd6x0 instead of utopias and hd800s, I can see why you would have an emu teak instead of these.
     
  2. zolkis
    Thanks @Taisser Roots for the expressive impressions. The description of your experience somewhat mirrors mine with the AKG K872 and I was afraid the HD820 would fall in a similar trap vs the HD800(S) like AKG did with the K872 vs the K812.

    I do like the sound of the HD800 and HD800S, both of them in their own way (though I consider them a bit hard and a bit thin in the mids compared to top e-stats), but if the HD820 goes in the honky-thin-rough direction from there, then it's a pass. Its measurements correlate well with these impressions.

    If we write off the HD820, then as far as closed cans go, there is the Denon D7200 (and coming D9200, perhaps the old D7000), for some people the Sony Z1R (IMHO a bit hard sounding in the mids and too thick/muffled in the upper bass but mostly good sound with a big stage) and eventually the TH900 (fun V-shape sig in a big sound stage, but not honky and not thin-sounding, rather smooth and dynamic with the best bass resonance/impact). The D7200 is the most versatile headphone I have had (as it sounds quite different with various pads, between linear, ideal, and fun signatures, and also varying size of sound stage). I have passed on most others: Z1R, K872, LCD-XC, TH-X00 (ebony, teak), K550, most Audio Technica, Meze, etc.
    Now my hope stands in the D9200 rather than the HD820.
     
    Taisser Roots likes this.
  3. Maelob
    I would also consider the Ethernet C flow 1.1 and ZmF Eikon or Atticus, LCD-2CB
     
  4. beowulf
    Interesting to see the Z1R mentioned so often here. It's a very polarizing model getting both love and hate in equal amounts. Personally I find it to be excellent at many levels, although not really a technical model for analytic listening.

    Pretty fair to compare it to the 820 given price and form, but they're quite different in many ways. I think the Z1R will age better and has more unique points, but time will tell.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
    Maelob likes this.
  5. zolkis
    Finally I had a short chance to listen to the HD820 from a HDV820, jazz and acoustic/pop played from Tidal.
    It was much better than I anticipated based on the comments in this thread.
    Indeed it is a bit honky, since a small bass range is weaker, but
    - it sounded with much better bass that I expected
    - the sound stage is phenomenal
    - I liked it more than the HD800S and even the HD800
    - no obvious treble problem
    - instruments sounded rather nice (won't say life-like yet).
    The HD660 sounds a bit similar, but the HD820 is much better IMHO.

    Still, (on first impression) it sounded like a headphone that is not finished: there is a darkening, closing-in and honkiness that just should not be there.
    Compared to the Denon D9200, the HD820 sounds much bigger, has a nicer and more dynamic view on music, but the D9200 is truly a reference-level closed headphone in what concerns extension, tonality, timbre (a first of its kind) and the HD820 is not yet there.

    Congratulations @Sennheiser for the HD820 work done so far, it has the chance to be in a different league than the rest of open and closed headphones, I was blown away by it, but pretty-please finish the job :). Alternatively please suggest amps that open the sound up, more so than the HDV820.
     
    TYATYA and Sennheiser like this.
  6. wirefriend
    I have recently listened to both Denon 9200 and HD820 using DX200+Amp7 and while 9200 wins in timbre it looses in isolation.
    Good isolation is very important aspact of closed-back headphone IMO.
     
  7. Autostart
    Santa brought my HD820 early. Driving home from work yesterday and stopped off at my local Fedex to pick up my HD820 that I purchased from Audio46 in New York City. Thank you Caroll!!! What a pleasure to work with and a great team of guys working there.

    At any rate I thought I would share my first impressions....

    Please keep in mind that I have had less than 2 hours with these before I had to leave the house. Also, those 2 hours were made up of me doing reports after my work day and then cleaning up and showering so my 2 hours really wasn't the best spent time for critical listening but duuuuuuuuuuuddddddddeeeeeee!!!!!

    The HD820 lost a little air up top but not much vs the HD800 on the Massdrop THX 789 but the air came back on the Woo Audio WA5. The THX 789 sounds fantastic and given the cost of it you just cannot beat it but once, but once I plugged the HD820 in the WA5 I was taken aback once again. Almost like I was listening to the WA5 & HD800 for the first time, but this time it was the HD820. I am in love all over again. There is no shortage of bass for this model and I cannot see anyone that would complain that it doesn't have enough. The sub bass is crazy good but not so much like the TH900 but remember the HD820 is made for accurate listening. They're still fun cans but after a while when you get adjusted to the increase of bass the cans just mold and mend to your head. The amp seems to disappear from your desk and, to be honest, you forget you're even listening to the sealed version of the HD800. Don't get me wrong.... upon first listen you will for sure be able to tell that these are sealed. You might even make the comment to yourself that there is a slight veil compared to the HD800 but what you don't have is the crazy 5K & 6K spike. You can really crank these cans to an ear bleeding volume. So much so that once you're happy with the level of volume you realize that you might be listening at a volume just a tad bit too high but just amazed how smooth these cans are. By this time the drivers are bumping in and out causing a slight vacuum and on the tips of your ears you can feel this along with the bass shaking the side of your head. At this you're thinking to yourself.... these cannot be the same drivers as the HD800/HD800S. No way! I'll be damned if they are but at any rate I am 100% MOFO'ing sold on these cans..... with 2 hours on them anyways....
     
  8. Whitigir
    Yeah, I know, I have seen a lot of people taking hd820 for being a bass Cannon (within it own kinds aka 800-ish), and even the FR shows it. I am not surprised
     
  9. mtoc
    which could isolate more outer sound? HD820 or Sony Z1R?
     
  10. zolkis
    IIRC the HD820 isolates a bit better (though not great) and also leaks a bit less (though not at all great), but that's based on memory of different listening sessions and not on measurements - the worst of all opinions. I might be corrected by others. You can check measurements of the HD820 on e.g. rtings.com and the Z1R on e.g. innerfidelity (obviously not using the same equipment).

    I would say both would be fine and about similar performance in my office environment (not too noisy, other people also using headphones). I don't know about your use case and context.
    Both have slightly flawed sound in different ways - check which one is easier to live with for you.
    For me the HD820 would be a little more fun to listen to, but the Z1R would be perhaps less irritating on the long term and wide range of musical genres.
    Similar class headphones, but at different price points. You make the choice.
     
  11. Whitigir
    Sound performances a side, z1r cups are huge protruding outward, which makes laying down a Pita...

    Hd820 design is similar to 800S but with concave inward glass back, I could only imagine that it would be miles away on comfort in laying down in bed at night...which is pretty much another main feature to opt for closed back
     
  12. gb21011971
    Listened to a number of headphones at a store today. Utopia, HE 1000se, HE 1000V2, Arya, LCD2, LCD2c Closed, LCD XC, Elegia, Clear, Ether 2, and some other I forgot.

    Also the HD820. Did not like them at all, even compared to other closed designs that are much cheaper. In contrast to what some people are saying, personally I thought it did have a decent quantity of bass. Emphasizing QuaNTity. The quality I found very poor: Too much mid bass with bleed into mids, not much extension into low frequencies at all. Also, I expected them to sound more open than the usual closed design. Nope, still I found this one had the typical bathtub like sound too.

    Sorry, not impressed. Elegias and LCD2C closed were much better at less than half the price.
     
  13. TYATYA


    Me too. I listened to a 820 can and 820 amp combo in a av show.
    I think 820 is sound much better than comments here.
    I like 820 combo than my 800s+hdv800 combo. Have no long time so I just listen some my favourite tracks. No problem with the sound.

    Regarding negative comment on sq, I am curious what amp they listened on 820
     
    Sennheiser likes this.
  14. 21qz
    I wish i had the resources to listen to the HD820’s. I own the z1r’s and I think they’re amazing. You really have to understand they’re not the best with certain type of music. HD820’s I imagine are also fantastic, but it sounds like you really need the proper pairing and music to really appreciate it. EQ is also a big factor. I bet they sound heavenly paired with a mcintosh mha-150 because of all the adjustments you can make with bass, ohm, and their crossfield technology.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2018
    Bern2 likes this.
  15. Phronesis
    I love the HD800S and don't like the Z1R. If anyone here feels the same way and has heard the HD820, I'd appreciate knowing your impressions of the HD820.
     
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