Sennheiser HD820
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pietcux

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I listened to the HD820. It's pretty isolating. Sounds a lot like the HD800S. It has a little bit of the closed-back sound. The bass doesn't seem to be improved any.
I know where you come from by heart, but Axel Grell did not want to mimic the Sony Z1R bass and sound, that's for sure. I will give them a try in my home, not a short shot at a fair or in a shop.
 
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nc8000

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I know where you come from by heart, but Axel Grell did not want to mimic the Sony Z1R bass and sound, that's for sure. I will give them a try in my home, not a short shot at a fair or in a shop.
And that I think is great. The more diversity in sound sigs the more choice we as consumers have to find that right sound for each of us.
 
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Audioholic123

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I think it ought to be said that glass isn't really soundproof, so I personally won't be considering the HD820 as a closed back headphone.
 
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Redcarmoose

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I think it ought to be said that glass isn't really soundproof, so I personally won't be considering the HD820 as a closed back headphone.
It’s always the combination of materials that block the sound, same now with this new one.
 
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It’s always the combination of materials that block the sound, same now with this new one.
Yeah, but the glass part is directly behind the drivers.
I'd imagine that listening to music at low to medium volume levels with the HD820, outside noise from the surrounding environment would interfere quite noticeably with the audio playback.
 
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Redcarmoose

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Yeah, but the glass part is directly behind the drivers.
I'd imagine that listening to music at low to medium volume levels with the HD820, outside noise from the surrounding environment would interfere quite noticeably with the audio playback.
We could speculate at our armchairs all day. It’s useless. I’ll wait to hear them.
 
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Yeah, but the glass part is directly behind the drivers.
I'd imagine that listening to music at low to medium volume levels with the HD820, outside noise from the surrounding environment would interfere quite noticeably with the audio playback.
It seemed to me that noise leaked through more from the fabric and foam of the pads than from the glass of the back.
 
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Dobrescu George

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Ooooh, so there was a thread for 820 different than the meet the 820 thread :)
 
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Whitigir

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The craziest thing about Z1R is the soundstage for a closed back. Can hd820 compete ? Big question.
 
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It seemed to me that noise leaked through more from the fabric and foam of the pads than from the glass of the back.
Ah well..
Criticism can be a good thing.
Trust Sennheiser to be unconventional!
 
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swspiers

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We could speculate at our armchairs all day. It’s useless. I’ll wait to hear them.
Are we actually allowed to be reasonable like this? It's kinda weird...

:)
 
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I'm a little late to the party but I got a chance to listen to the HD820 at CES and talk to Axel Grell about them. The show floor is not the best place for auditioning headphones but did serve as a good spot to hear the difference in isolation between the 820 and 800s.

The 820 sounds a lot like the 800s. They are just as detailed and resolving. There seemed to be a touch more bass as expected but it could have been because the 820 is way more isolating. At a reasonable volume, I could barely hear the background noise and at higher volumes, I couldn't hear anything but the music. With the 800 you could hear everything even at high volumes.

The soundstage on the 820 is the widest I've heard on closed back sets. I'd say it compares favorably to the Utopia. Maybe a bit more expansive. It's not as wide as the 800s. When I remarked on the wide soundstage to Axel, he said, "Well, that was the challenge. To recreate the sound with the closed back design."

I also learned that the increase in cost is due to several factors: 1) they source flat sheets of Gorilla Glass and then send it to a glassworks to make the concave shape; 2) they include additional accessories; and 3) due to the weight increase from closing the backs, they had to use a different plastic to reduce weight while maintaining strength and stiffness. With consumer durable goods, any production cost increase usually results in at least a 4-5x increase in retail price. Everyone in the distribution chain needs to make their margin.

In my opinion, the 800s and 820 are co-flagships. If you have a dedicated listening space and don't have to worry about sound leakage, the 800s is a better buy. If you want to listen at work, on the go, or have a spouse with demon ears, the 820 is the way to go. You buy the 820 if you are a collector -- they are beautiful cans -- or if you need the isolation.

Here's some pics (bonus Orpheus):

Great post!

At first, Axel tried just sealing the back of the HD 800 S so it would be a lower cost, back when he was younger and blissfully naïve. Unfortunately, the sound was... not good, and a more complex solution was needed.

Axel gave a seminar discussing the development process on Sunday, explaining the sound didn’t start to approach flagship-levels until the team hit upon the idea of looking at it as an open headphone in a small room. Make that room smaller and smaller, negate the effects, and massage the development of pads, comfort and weight, an idea with paper filters that were eventually discarded, a stiff “lens” to redirect sound resonance towards absorbers to really try and keep the “open” sound, and also playing with different bass ports to really enhance the sub-bass while also creating a dip around 100 Hz so that the bass wouldn’t blur the mid details. The team even considered how the design could compensate for glasses frames without losing bass. About 5 years later, we’re like 95% towards our target and will be at 100% upon release this summer!
 
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Can't stop progress! Gambatte Senn :p

 
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I'm interested in the weight. The HD820 is 360 grams, that's only 30 grams more than an HD800s. For comparison's sake, an Audeze LCD-XC (which is a very heavy headphone) comes in at 649 grams.

Looks like the HD820 comes in close to the Mr. Speakers Aeon Flow (a very comfortable headphone) which is 340 grams.
"They use a different plastic than the 800s that is lighter and stiffer. Hopefully, that doesn't mean that it's more brittle."

I think Sennheiser has likely done research to ensure plastic compound used in HD820 is durable enough for long-term use.
Yes, we found that another thing that had to be done with making a closed version of the HD 800 S was to also help reduce cup resonances by developing a new, stiffer but lightweight plastic. The purpose is to listen to music, not lose some of your attention irritated by wearing a headphone. We developed a new plastic that hasn’t been used before to make this enclosure.
 
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Great post! I would add to this that, at first, Axel tried just sealing the back of the HD 800 S so it would be a lower cost, back when he was younger and blissfully naïve. He gave a seminar discussing the development process on Sunday, explaining the sound didn’t start to approach flagship-levels until the team hit upon the idea of looking at it as an open headphone in a small room. Make that room smaller and smaller, negate the effects, and massage the development of pads, comfort and weight, an idea with paper filters that were eventually discarded, a stiff “lens” to redirect sound resonance towards absorbers to really try and keep the “open” sound, and also playing with different bass ports to really enhance the sub-bass while also creating a dip around 100 Hz so that the bass wouldn’t blur the mid details. The team even considered how the design could compensate for glasses frames without losing bass. About 5 years later, we’re like 95% towards our target and will be at 100% upon release this summer!
Interesting post. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but do the 95%/100% statistics mean the version folks are listening to at CanJam NYC is not the final production version?
 
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