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Which amp/headphone combo would you choose? Sennheiser HD800 vs Audeze LDC-3

  1. Schroeder77
    Hello everyone, this is my first actual post, although I've skimmed the forum, I hope this isn't redundant . . .
    I'm new to Hi-Fi headphone listening, but have been researching deeply for about a month.
    I'm considering the Sennheiser HD 800 with HDVD 800 vs Audeze LCD-3 with a Woo WA7 Fireflies. 
    Audio quality aside, I already own Sennheiser 650s which I'm currently using with Apogee Duet 2, mostly for monitoring and mixing my own recorded music. That I already own one Sennheiser, plus the multiple outputs from the Sennheiser HDVD have me leaning in that direction, though any significant sound quality differences could easily trump that leaning.
    From what I've seen, these two combos seem comparable. Any thoughts?
    I'm hoping for generally comparing these two combos specifically here, but if someone is passionate about a different combo, or a changeout of one of the components of these two, I'm open to suggestions.
  2. MalVeauX
    What is your purpose of the setup?
    What kind of sound are you looking for (both are fairly different from the HD650, and the HD800 is very very different from the HD650)?
    Seems to me that you're just looking at what's considered the "best" summit level headphones, instead of looking for what is more likely to match your tastes and preferences. But maybe I'm wrong. I say that because you chose two very different sounding headphones, which tells me that you're flying blind here and just going for "best." But best is absolutely relative from person to person. When you listen to a couple of different headphones, you'll develop your taste and find that what some call the next coming of the savior, is actually boring or too bright or just uncomfortable and not your cup of tea. You have to get head time on some headphones before you drop $2k to $3k on a setup that is only marginally better than your current mid-tier setup.
    That said, I say get a Hifiman HE-6, a custom cable with speaker taps, and a 50 watt speaker amp of notable quality, and enjoy speaker sound without speakers.
    Very best,
  3. Schroeder77
    Hi MaeuX,
    Thank you for your reply, and you're absolutely right, I am flying blind and have only formed opinions based on semi-obsessive reading and video reviews. 
    I was also assuming that since I'm so new to this (the 650's with the duet 2 have done more for my listening else than anything else in the last 20 years) that the next level of pairing  amp and headphones would do the same again at the next level, and I thought at that level my tastes would adjust either way to however awesome that particular setup was. :)
    It's kind of nice to hear that those setups are by your opinion only marginally better, you may be pulling me off the ledge.
    My main listening in my next combo would be for FLAC files through my computer, and I was considering, if they were able,  hooking them up to my television for good audio. I live in an apartment with neighbors sensitive to noise, so I've never gotten decent speakers and figured this would be a good alternative. That's one reason why I'd considered the Sennheiser combo, so my girlfriend and I could each listen from headphones simultaneously.
    Actually, since I have your ear, have a separate issue. I bought a recording of Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" at the highest audio quality from HDTracks. I switched between that and my mp3 files several times and heard only the slightest improvement. I had assumed that it would be easier to pick up on. Through the HD650s, everything seems wonderfully clear, and try as I may, I don't really hear what's lacking in mp3. Is my perception just weak?
    After starting this thread, I did begin looking into hi-fi audio places in my area to audition some of these things. I will add your suggestions to my short list of consideration, I've liked what's been saying about them as well. I am admittedly new to this and have gotten a bit overzealous, I hope my comments and questions aren't too frustratingly ignorant.
    Thank you so much for your help!
  4. MalVeauX
    The HD650 is "polite" in my opinion. It will not expose lesser recordings or compression quite the same as other headphones. It's due to it's very rolled off treble. I think if you listened to your new album on something that is brighter, you might just hear a difference. But on that note, the difference is minimal, if any, from high quality MP3 to lossless containers. It's different for each track honestly, because some compress well and some do not. I have tracks that I can tell the difference on. I have tracks I cannot tell the difference between when I test. It's very personal and different from track to track, album to album. Because of that, I just keep it lossless so I don't even have to consider if it's not perfect due to using a compression method that is not lossless. Simply my preference of doing it and recommend it because if nothing else, it rules out poor playback due to information loss secondary to compression. If that makes sense.
    I'm sort of a dark horse when it comes to everything. Someone else will state easily that the HD800/LCD3 are night & day compared to the HD650. You'll get a little of both sides. But I'm a realist and I've put my head into a lot of headphones and found that the plateau into highend and summit level equipment is a very long, flat, plateau. And frankly, instead of focusing on quality, you really cannot distinguish if it sounds better (if at all) because it truly is superior tech, or if it's simply because your ears like the sensation of the signature (which also means, there are summit level items that you probably will not enjoy listening to as well; which just lends more to the theory that it's more likely a preference game, than a "reference" game, if you get my pun).
    The HD650 is a world class headphone. I personally don't care for it, it's too polite for me. But it scales on equipment and really is something that can be an end game headphone for someone who likes the signature and wants a relaxed sound.
    The moment you put your head into an HD800, you'll be in a new world of treble that you may or may not like and/or tolerate.
    The moment you put your head into the LCD3, you'll be in a new world of weight, and a different kind of sound stage, that you may or may not like and/or tolerate.
    Mind you, at the cost of $2k to $3k to start.
    That's a lot of money, for very marginal increases in true quality, only to find out that it's mostly a preference thing and not necessarily just a quality thing, but a bit of both.
    In reality, it's best to match the best headphone that you like the signature of that suits your music library best. Otherwise, you'll chase $5k setups for 5% actual improvement in quality, of which, is only known due to high sensitivity measuring instruments--which our ears are not.
    Very best,

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