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Unfortunately I’ve only heard hd820 on the Schiitty sennheiser dac amp
Well, I've heard all three of those HPs and prefer the HD800 by a wide margin.
The other two just don't have the same level of micro details, and the HD820 are too boomy for me (I'm not a fan of closed HPs in general).
The HD800 certainly do require the proper upstream source and rig, to reach their potential.
Most folks who describe the HD800 as overly bright, or lacking bass, haven't hit the right combination of gear (yet).
That is great to hear ... love it when a plan comes together
If your going the diy route I would seriously consider the "Pass Whammy" from the diy audio store for the hd800. I have had a number of Cracks in the past (fully modded premium tubes etc) and currently also a Bottlehead Sex and Bottlehead Mainline. A whammy is going to get you very close to Mainline performance/sound signature if you use a Burson V6 classic as your op amp for around quarter of the price. Its a seriously good bit of kit and a easy build designed by Wayne Colburn who is Nelson Pass's head designer engineer for something like the last 20 plus years.
There is also a thread on headfi with links
Does anybody have opinions of older serial numbers (< 20k) vs newer serial numbers? Are there any differences in sound?
Yes, I owned sub #8xx , #2xxxx , #3xxxx , etch...
And the #8xx was more laid back and warm and somewhat worn out on the sound. I actually liked it better.
There are differences. But the majority, about 90% of HD800 sound the same. Just the very early models sounded different. Maybe because the drivers were fully burned in?
I think it has more to do with unit to unit variability rather than s/n groupings.
This is based upon looking at the Senn supplied FR graphs and the several sets I have heard including my own.
Here's another data point on HD800 variation, from the "Battle of the Flagships" reviewer @DavidMahler - the first thread I read upon joining Head-Fi and still refer back to!
This is what David wrote, in October 2012:
"I own two pairs of the HD800: serial #297 and serial #10333. Serial #297 was made during the first production run while serial #10333 was manufactured approximately two years later. Initially, I purchased a second pair because the headband of my original pair encountered a recurring squeak issue. Despite several repair attempts, this problem has never been resolved to my full satisfaction.
However, what I've found is that the two HD800s have some very noticeable sonic differences. The earlier pair (#297) has a fuller tone and is slightly more laid-back in the highs. This is, in my opinion, not a result of burn-in; I've owned the later pair for nearly two years and I still maintain this view. While many people are of the belief that there will always be differences from model to model (a belief I most certainly don't disagree with), I have had the opportunity to hear several early models and several later models of the HD800; in my opinion, the earlier ones have a slightly fuller tone. I am not certain as to when the sonic transition took place or what may have caused it.
Despite the earlier model's fuller tone, if I had to pick which of the two pairs was my preference, I would choose the later. I feel that the later model (#10333) offers a greater degree of transparency and puts more air around the instruments. The noted differences are not so drastic, but I have done several blind tests and I always know which headphone is which."
I can't find the info anymore, but I read that the first run HD800 uses a different material for the drivers, then Sennheiser switched it for cost reasons. This would be like only < #2000ish S/N
I, for one, would be very interested if you could find that information. Just as a reference statement
Yes, it seems like David had the same exact pairs I had. Not surprise at all. I differ with him on that i like the more laid back version. Its a HD800 headphone with a laid back signature! My god man thats amazing!
I have HD800 #4** and I can attest to that. Mine definitely sounds more laid back than newer pairs I've heard.
I get the same effect with my #14xxx serial HD800, SDR modded and plugged into a richly analogue NOS R2R dac
Oh yea. No doubt about that. No one really needs the older models to enjoy a nice laid back HD800. The right amps and cables and you good to go.
The older models are just an interest topic. No need to hunt them down.
Well fellas, I just bouht a pair of hd800 s, not the S version. I'm very excited. I'm, be pairing them with the Benchmark Dac2 and also the JDS Labs O2 and EL DAC. Man, am I stoked to have some endgame headphones!
I'd highly recommend you get SDR for them. Imo it's an essential mod. In my mind HD800 only become better than HD800S with the addition of the SDR mod. It's gob simple to install.