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Wow! Sennheiser HD 540 Reference are so good.

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by hairspray, Jun 29, 2013.
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  1. lantian
    I could be listening a bit louder than you, won't argue that. Would love to measure it, but have nothing to do it with. I usually just turn the volume up until the vocals get right sound. But with magni 3 there seemed to be some issues with power, they jsut somehow did not sound full. While my 600ohm reference version did. This is one of the reasons I say they are completely different headphones.
    Second set of these babies is a good idea nowadays, after all they are no longer being made(I would go as far as to say nothing like them is being made anymore). Perfect reason to get two. Though would suggest getting the gold if you get a chance for them, they are definitely worth the extra costs. Depending on where you live these can be easy to find.
    By the way which pads are you using? I ended up repairing the original ones, by cutting them open on the outside and replacing the foam with Brainwavz xl memory foam in them, seem perfect so far. Every other that I tried changed the tonality by some amount. Like the Brainwavz hybrids where the worst, treble sounded squishy with them and over bloated bass. Velours seemed the best ones so far, though stock ones still rule, with Brainwavz velours next t best option. Sennheiser's own pads are all to thing, the original ones where 2,5 -3cm thick. Wish someone made pads like the original ones, seen one guy selling his hd 540's with pads made from similar cloth but no idea where he got them from.
  2. sennsay
    Hmm, I am wondering if I didn't quite read your post correctly, being quite late at night and all :) So, if I get this right now, your 300 ohm cans don't sound right with the Magni 3, yet the 600 ohm versions do? If so, agreed. I personally didn't even enjoy the 300 ohm HD6xx with the M3, although many other folks do. If I weren't so enamoured with the Ref1s, or had never heard them, I might have enjoyed the HD6xx a lot more, but having also owned the HD650s several years back, they still couldn't compete with the Ref1s for sheer communicative joie de vivre, despite their peaky upper mids with the stock pads and cable at the time.
    I am using the pleather pads from China. They are not quite as comfy as the old stock pads, but I find them overall superior, they are far more linear from top to bottom, will not accentuate any upper mid forwardness (neither will the Mogami cable, in itself incredibly linear and transparent), the bass is fantastic with them, flat and extended to good levels at 20Hz, tested. Vocals will never get hard or edgy unless the recording is so, yet will still retain the humanity behind the voice, showing only that some electronics have processed this voice to edge. I can still wear these pads for hours and have done so often.
    I have used the velour Beyer DT880/990 pads, initially found them horrible - especially when I had the Valhalla 2 - but they were better with the Mimby/M3 combo, if still nothing as terrific as the pleathers. The DT880/990 pads are now on the HD250 Linear 1s, where I much prefer them to be, although those cans don't get a fraction of the use of the Ref1s.
    I bought Brainwavz pads for the HD6xx. Disgusting! Exactly as you describe, far too much soft bass, almost no treble to speak of, therefore no life. I sold them off with the HD6xx and the Dekoni Elite Velour pads (new), the latter of which were similar to the Brainwavz, yet less so. I still didn't like them, although both were far more comfortable than the stock HD6xx pads!
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  3. jon parker
    Hey everyone
    just struck me - would folks be interested in creating and sharing a small compilation that, for you perfectly shows off the 540's qualities AND particular set up ?

    So for example for the music:

    01. Treble - [Song Title] - [Band] -
    rodel808 and sennsay like this.
  4. sennsay
  5. jon parker
    Hmmm, 99% of my post disappeared :/

    treble, mids, bass, sub bass, Prat, soundstage, instrument separation + others?

    I always listen to the same tracks when I buy a new headphone - Thought it might be helpful for each other to share
    and have a small library of essential tracks.
    Anyhoo, I'll make my own later & upload over night
    not sure about sharing publicly but we can work it out
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  6. lantian
    The 600ohm reference 1 sounds good, so do the 300ohm golds, the 300ohm reference 2 also sound ok. But the 600ohm golds are lacking a lot of power, it is the case with both 600ohm golds I have, they just need way more than magni has, it could not open them up or make them sing by any margin. Even with volume well above comfortable listening levels it just could not(don't know how to describe it properly) give them their sound stage or sound.
    Did you have to file of some plastic of the adapters of mogami cable to make it fit, or did it come with the smaller adapters?
  7. jon parker
    I believe the Golds are tuned more in the direction of Professional use so they are not as alive or 'fun' sounding as some of the other 540's but for critical studio / post production work I would use the Golds over the 540's
    I have a Mastering engineer friend who demo'd them plus a few others a few weeks back and came to same conclusion.
    Technically the Golds may be superior in some ways but the 540's make we wanna dance . . . on the inside :D

    Also, I should add that it took me a long time to find the right sounding pads & cable for the Golds to make the sound perfect for me
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  8. Malfunkt
    I could see why you prefer it. It truly is preference. I've owned the 650 twice, and I know at some point I'll probably own them again, as I enjoyed them that much. At the same time, why the 540 is my preferred is because its 'top-end' is more open and I feel linear. It just allows real world instrumentation to sound more organic and the timbre, more realistic. The 650 is a more sweetened sound, and it works for most.

    Are either the 540 or 650 perfect? No, we get used to their idiosyncrasies and limitations. For that matter, I can throw in the HD800 in there too. With its impressive technical abilities, massive soundstage, its timbre isn't quite perfect - yet my mind adjusts.

    Recently, just picked up a rare MDR-F1 and honestly, it seems to bridge the sound between the HD800 and HD650. It is actually a bit more spacious(!) than the 800, less artificial, but is warmer on the top end like the 650. It has a bit more present mid range than the 540, so is a tad more aggressive. The F1 still has that 'organic' sound ala 650. Technically, on similar levels of driver technology and performance as 540/650, with its own unique characteristics such as Bass Reflex, built in impedance adaptor and crossfeed circuitry. Bass levels/impact on the F1 are more than the 540. A newer variant of the F1 exists called the MDR-MA900, still hard to find but worth the look.

    It all depends what you place a priority on. Personally - for cans like the HD250 its mid-range quality and balance. For 540 its timbre. For HD800 its immersion and detail. For MDR-F1 its effortless expanse and relaxed sound.

    If I had to prioritize which one I might keep, based on sonic character alone I'd rank HD800 > MDR-F1 > HD540 > HD650. But you know, that could change! I might get a HD650 again and that could reverse :wink:
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  9. sennsay
    Yes you do, I made my own cables - I use Mogami 2893 for almost all of my cans - but there is a little trimming of the jacks needed for best fit. I've got better at it, going slowly so that a nice tight fit occurs. Only a sharp craft knife is required, the plastic of the jacks is relatively soft and easily shaped. This cable is so good, I am going to make up some interconnects from the appropriate cable model from Mogami. In fact, they are also available ready made from Mogami importers, I just much prefer the use of the brilliant Bullet Plugs, rather than jacks with metal everywhere and split positive and negative pins.
    The Mogami cable is just so quiet, making it easy to focus in on the slightest of tiny sounds suspended in space with no effort, even at the furtherest edges of the soundstage. This is with the HD540 Ref1s and also works a treat with the other headphones listed, only the HE400S await their new cable.
    quimbo likes this.
  10. Stfagos
    Could anyone recommend a good cable/lead for the HD540 ii that fits without modification please? Looking for something durable/fits well/sounds good - the lead in mine, other than being slightly broken, is very difficult to remove (very tight!).
  11. sennsay
    The only one I know of that will fit right in there is the stock Sennheiser cable for the HD6xx/HD650. Sonically, it's ok and if you don't want to explore better cables, then it will be just fine, you can order it straight from your local Sennheiser dealer. All of the better after-market cables that I know of will need a slight trimming of the connector and we can help you through that simple process. Suggestions for the better cables can be found easily throughout this thread, or again we are happy to help out.
    Stfagos likes this.
  12. Stfagos
    Thanks a lot, that's very helpful. I'll check out the HD650 stock cables first.
  13. Grumpy Old Git
    I was using the excellent Zodiac Silver DAC/amp until a few months ago, I sold it and purchased the superb Marantz HD-DAC1. Unlike the Zodiac it will handle just about every audio format you throw at it, and it incorporates a KILLER headphone amp! The synergy between the HD 540 and DAC1 is amazing, I have never heard the 540's sound so good.

    I run the 600 Ohm 540's on the mid gain setting, I noticed hardly any volume difference when I plugged in a pair of 300 Ohm 540's. The DAC1 drove all the headphones I've listed in my previous post with consummate ease.
    The DAC1 easily outperforms the Mojo DAC/amp that I've owned previously. I used the DAC stage of the Marantz with the Stax rig that I owned, and yet again, the results were outstanding.

    It's a shame I no longer own a pair of 540 Gold cans, I would love to try them out with the Marantz. I have to say that the DAC1 is a better pairing with the 540's than the Zodiac amp, althought that was a very nice combo.

    Those of you who like the HD 800 sound but not the whopping price tag that comes with them could do worse than try the AGK K710 Pro cans.
    Compared to the HD 540's the K712's have a much wider soundstage and are great at revealing subtle detail. Mind you, if you're not a HD 800 fan you probably won't care for the K712's.
    I quite liked the K712 and I would be interested in trying out a pair of K812 if a pair with a realistic price tag came along.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  14. dakanao
    No, to me it was the realism of the timbre as well.

    Yes, one could prefer the more linear HD 540 reference 1 sound signature I have here over the warmer, bassier HD 650.

    However, after playing a lot of songs, the HD 650 just sounds more natural/real with things like guitars, vocals, drums and other sounds to me. I listened to a song a lot of times with the HD 540 were there's a part with semi-fast drums, and with the HD 540 the drums just had that slight amount of artificial sound it, and I thought it was the recording, but with the HD 650 I could definitely hear the tone of the drums more correct.

    The difference between voices and guitars are also a bit more natural with the HD 650, albeit to a lesser extent than the drums.

    However the thing I've found with the HD 650/6xx is, is that the sound can change pretty dramatically depending on your fit with them. They can go from being natural and correct with the perfect fit, to having a bit of grain if they've slided too much of your ears.

    The same fit thing was with the HD 540, but to a way lesser extent.

    I'm keeping the HD 540 ref 1 for gaming though, since the soundstage and imaging are clearly better, and if I want to just have absolute comfort, I'll use the HD 540, since they are very good anyway.

    Maybe the particular 300 ohm set I have has just been an unfortanute below-par sounding one, compared to what I'm reading here..
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
    trellus and Malfunkt like this.
  15. jon parker
    Found a nice little advert from 1986 (Price would be $358 in today's money!) :)

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
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