Wow! Sennheiser HD 540 Reference are so good.
Mar 1, 2023 at 11:32 AM Post #3,976 of 4,349
Have a bad feeling that in your case the hd 540 has a damaged driver.
So far have owned 4pairs of 540rg 600ohm, 1 pair of hd540 rg 300ohm version. 3 hd 540II, 1 hd 250, 1 hd 560 Ovation, 1 hd 560 ovationII, 2 hd 480s and a hd 480classic. All of them where in ideal condition except for hd480 classic. All of them also had the impedance pretty much as advertised, except for the hd480 classic which reports 20ohm less than what it's supposed to be. The sound it produces at lower levels is ok with a bit pronounced s sounds, but once you get to normal listening level it's painful and unbearable. Both drivers are broken, have no idea of exactly how, but suspect voice coil may have developed shorts or something. No modding or dampening can fix this, only a new headphones.
Best bet is if you know anyone with a pair aswell go to them and compare to yours, these headphones should not have any issues like that.
Another way to see if it's dampening/pads at fault is to remove the pads and all foam and have a listen holding them closer to your ears, if they sound good it's the materials of foam that are at fault, if not the drivers are faulty.
Well that'd be annoying if that's the case! As I say, on some recordings I do notice it slightly with other pairs, its just that the 540II makes it unbearable, so I'm working on the assumption that its something in the system first. last night I was hoping to rule out my soundcard as being the problem, so was going to try hooking up a spare dvd player to my headphone amp and play a cd, but apparantly the thing has died since I last used it, and my bluray player doesn't have a line out. I did try reseating the op amps, as I know that has caused problems before, but no joy there. I'll have to see if I can pick up a cheap cd player from somewhere. Only other thing that I could try is that I do have another soundcard that I could try swapping out for, which uses a different dac chip, which could have a less bright signature (though not as detailed) but oviously that wont be removed from any pc-related power noise if that is the issue.
 
Mar 1, 2023 at 11:40 AM Post #3,977 of 4,349
Not the best situation you find yourself in, ruling out electronics should be first thing to do. These series/line of Sennheiser headphones are brutally honest and will reveal any imperfections/issues with rest of the chain. Go to a hifi dealer perhaps with your 540s and ask them if you plug them I to something they have on display check out how it sounds.
Some records stores have hifi setup to check out records before buying them that may also be an option to check out how they sound on different equipment.
 
Mar 1, 2023 at 3:23 PM Post #3,978 of 4,349
I honestly don't understand and what any fuses have to do with it - the HD540 (especially the 600 Ohm variant) is brightly tuned and sharp S sounds are therefore nothing unexpected. Every ear is different, everyone hears differently, and it may be that your own ear resonance is simply in a range that the HD540 emphasises a lot (mostly 4 - 7 kHz, exactly the frequencies for sibilances). This is simply not the right headphone for you. Just as I find the treble peaks from any Grado unbearable to listen, no matter at what volume.

Destroying a 300 or 600 Ohm driver is almost impossible with normal amplifiers, physically defective drivers would emphasise a very specific frequency very strongly and distorted, which is very audible and covers the whole music. A fault in the voice coil lead to a short circuit and 0 Ohm DC resistance. Even dropped K240/HD540 are more likely to die immediately from my experience of headphone sales/repairs.
 
Mar 1, 2023 at 5:35 PM Post #3,979 of 4,349
I honestly don't understand and what any fuses have to do with it - the HD540 (especially the 600 Ohm variant) is brightly tuned and sharp S sounds are therefore nothing unexpected. Every ear is different, everyone hears differently, and it may be that your own ear resonance is simply in a range that the HD540 emphasises a lot (mostly 4 - 7 kHz, exactly the frequencies for sibilances). This is simply not the right headphone for you. Just as I find the treble peaks from any Grado unbearable to listen, no matter at what volume.

Destroying a 300 or 600 Ohm driver is almost impossible with normal amplifiers, physically defective drivers would emphasise a very specific frequency very strongly and distorted, which is very audible and covers the whole music. A fault in the voice coil lead to a short circuit and 0 Ohm DC resistance. Even dropped K240/HD540 are more likely to die immediately from my experience of headphone sales/repairs.
That is possible too, my hearing being a natural misfit. But I didn't have this issue with them before when I using the previous amp, its only been since getting the new one, which has been revealing other problems within the chain. So if there is a problem in here that I need to solve, then it would be good to get to the bottom of it I can, before I assume the headphones are it.
The fuse was just another variable that I wanted to rule out, though arguably I'd have to buy something a bit more upmarket if I wanted to hear a real difference with a fuse, I was just working with what I already had at the time
 
Mar 1, 2023 at 7:37 PM Post #3,980 of 4,349
Well that'd be annoying if that's the case! As I say, on some recordings I do notice it slightly with other pairs, its just that the 540II makes it unbearable, so I'm working on the assumption that its something in the system first. last night I was hoping to rule out my soundcard as being the problem, so was going to try hooking up a spare dvd player to my headphone amp and play a cd, but apparantly the thing has died since I last used it, and my bluray player doesn't have a line out. I did try reseating the op amps, as I know that has caused problems before, but no joy there. I'll have to see if I can pick up a cheap cd player from somewhere. Only other thing that I could try is that I do have another soundcard that I could try swapping out for, which uses a different dac chip, which could have a less bright signature (though not as detailed) but oviously that wont be removed from any pc-related power noise if that is the issue.
Do you have a DAP at all? Or a half decent integrated amplifier that you can plug a tuner/CD player (borrowed, I guess) or good turntable into to see what happens then? A cheap CD player may not be an option in some cases as they also have cheap electronics. I find even a modest Samsung BluRay player can give excellent results, they seem to have less jitter than many other brands. I've often used my QP1R via a 3.5mm to RCA Audioquest cable into, say, a Sansui AU2900 for instance, and that gave wonderful results with the HD540.
 
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Mar 1, 2023 at 9:33 PM Post #3,981 of 4,349
Do you have a DAP at all? Or a half decent integrated amplifier that you can plug a tuner/CD player (borrowed, I guess) or good turntable into to see what happens then? A cheap CD player may not be an option in some cases as they also have cheap electronics. I find even a modest Samsung BluRay player can give excellent results, they seem to have less jitter than many other brands. I've often used my QP1R via a 3.5mm to RCA Audioquest cable into, say, a Sansui AU2900 for instance, and that gave wonderful results with the HD540.
I have a cambridge cxa61, but I can only use its own afterthought headphone section, no way to output from that to the hdva 600 unfortunately. And sadly my sansui amps are still dead, awaiting repair. If I can find a cd player I'd be able to hook it up to the sennheiser amp directly.
I've managed to rule a few things out tonight. First off I tried going back to all stock op amps again, didn't fix it. Changed the soundcard, didn't fix it. Took apart the 540's driver capsules and found lots of foam "crumbs" all over the place, on the exposed sections of the voice coil wires, and in one of them a big hair that was wrapped around the central part of the dome. That didn't fix it. I did note a small dent in one of the membranes, but not sure there's much I can realistically do about that... I'd read about one person using cellotape after weakening the glue on it, but that seems a bit of a risk.
Two ideas occur. Firstly, I could well benefit from ordering some of those white felt doughnuts as used in the 540 gold. Secondly, could be the small foam circles I put behind the drivers. At this point I'm willing to ask on social media if I happen to know anyone who is a foam expert to see if different foam might help. Even a 1% improvement in this area is worth having.
A final point worth mentioning, just incase, is that I think I have a ghost in my electrics. I noticed over the last couple of days that when the downstairs computer is asleep, it will wake up if its cheap speakers are turned off, or if the compressor in the fridge kicks in
 
Mar 2, 2023 at 6:30 PM Post #3,982 of 4,349
After some thought, I am now looking to my electrics as a potential problem to solve. I am completely inexperienced with mains filtration and conditioning, but feel like this is the next avenue to explore. The simplest thing to try, I would assume, would be ferrite rings on the power cables, to see if anything happens. What other methods would you all recommend that I look into?
 
Mar 28, 2023 at 3:04 PM Post #3,983 of 4,349
Have any of you guys tried your HD 540's with a Darkvoice 336SE?......Oh my GOD! MARVELOUS!
I've been using my 600 Ohm HD540's with a Darkvoice 336SE fitted with a Thomson CSF 6080WA French and Tung-Sol RI 6SN7 Tubes, been running this rig for just under a fortnight, and I really am hearing subtle details i've not heard before.
I am hardly in my first flush of youth and my high frequency hearing ain't what it used to be, but this is a marriage made in heaven for you HD 540 aficionado's.
I am tempted to try a more expensive tube amp, but the law of diminishing returns might kick in rather too quickly, if you can snag a 336SE at a reasonable price i urge you to succumb to temptation. :):)
*** EDIT - Forgot to mention, the 336SE is being fed by a brand-new Topping E30 Mark 2 ***
 
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Mar 28, 2023 at 8:35 PM Post #3,984 of 4,349
Have any of you guys tried your HD 540's with a Darkvoice 336SE?......Oh my GOD! MARVELOUS!
I've been using my 600 Ohm HD540's with a Darkvoice 336SE fitted with a Thomson CSF 6080WA French and Tung-Sol RI 6SN7 Tubes, been running this rig for just under a fortnight, and I really am hearing subtle details i've not heard before.
I am hardly in my first flush of youth and my high frequency hearing ain't what it used to be, but this is a marriage made in heaven for you HD 540 aficionado's.
I am tempted to try a more expensive tube amp, but the law of diminishing returns might kick in rather too quickly, if you can snag a 336SE at a reasonable price i urge you to succumb to temptation. :):)
*** EDIT - Forgot to mention, the 336SE is being fed by a brand-new Topping E30 Mark 2 ***
I've heard many good things over the years regarding this combo and the various upgrades that can be made to the amp. It's on a list of potentials for me, though what I was hearing with my HD540 Ref1s last night on the QP1R/Schiit Modi multibit DAC and Magni 3+ was so revealingly delicious (got a renewed grand passion for the '75 recordings of Genesis Live (the Archives) The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - a vastly better recording than the first release CDs of TLLDOB, that I was utterly engrossed and not wanting for more. We've both had a very good night then :)
 
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Mar 29, 2023 at 5:01 AM Post #3,985 of 4,349
I've heard many good things over the years regarding this combo and the various upgrades that can be made to the amp. It's on a list of potentials for me, though what I was hearing with my HD540 Ref1s last night on the QP1R/Schiit Modi multibit DAC and Magni 3+ was so revealingly delicious (got a renewed grand passion for the '75 recordings of Genesis Live (the Archives) The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway - a vastly better recording than the first release CDs of TLLDOB, that I was utterly engrossed and not wanting for more. We've both had a very good night then :)
It seems that the HD 600/650 models and their variants also perform at their best with valve amplification.
I will be looking out for a reasonably priced Eufonika as well as any reputable valve amp to have a play with. Bass really does come to life with tube amplification, rich and controlled is how i'd describe it. :thumbsup:
 
Mar 29, 2023 at 8:56 AM Post #3,986 of 4,349
It seems that the HD 600/650 models and their variants also perform at their best with valve amplification.
I will be looking out for a reasonably priced Eufonika as well as any reputable valve amp to have a play with. Bass really does come to life with tube amplification, rich and controlled is how i'd describe it. :thumbsup:
The only valve amp I've used with the HD540's is the Schiit Valhalla 2 and it was fairly good, though not a patch on the Schiit system mentioned above. There was just something not right in the midrange that really sang to me, so I sold the Valhalla for the Mimby DAC and had money to spare, something I've never regretted for a second and have been far better off. I'm happy to say that the bass with the Magni 3+ is truly superb and the best in all areas I've experienced so far. Weight with both speed and insight, along with an organic naturalness that comes very close to the best my full sized valve amps have managed. The Elekit TU8500 valve preamp I used in my main system (with the upgrade resistor kit, Mundorf caps in the line stage and Psvane 12AU7-T top grade valves) into my hotrod homebuilt HP amp, and also with a Sonic Frontiers SF-1 preamp in front of it when I had it, has also been very nice, but the Schiit combo beats them for the ability to sheer dissolve into the music and not want for more ... unless a truly vast soundstage is a prerequisite and that's not really the purview of most headphone systems.
I'm glad you are enjoying the DV336SE, it is at least one valve amp I want to play around with one day when I have the play space to do that and another fine recommendation doesn't hurt one little bit.
 
Mar 29, 2023 at 9:46 AM Post #3,987 of 4,349
I've yet to hear Schiit equipment, but I understand that the Schiit Jotunheim pairs very well with Sennheisers.
That might be an alternative road for me to explore, and i have a decent balanced cable for the HD 540's.
 
Apr 1, 2023 at 9:15 PM Post #3,988 of 4,349
I've yet to hear Schiit equipment, but I understand that the Schiit Jotunheim pairs very well with Sennheisers.
That might be an alternative road for me to explore, and i have a decent balanced cable for the HD 540's.
The Aussie guy who does Passion For Sound on YT has many great Schiit reviews, including the Jot in compare to others, worth a look. After his review of the Meze Elite's, WANT!
 
Apr 2, 2023 at 4:19 AM Post #3,989 of 4,349
The Aussie guy who does Passion For Sound on YT has many great Schiit reviews, including the Jot in compare to others, worth a look. After his review of the Meze Elite's, WANT!
I'm currently speaking with The Aussie Guy to try and get some guidance on what dac might be better for me. Realistically I think my options are between the schiit bifrost 2/64 and the chord qutest. I expect the qutest's sound will probably be better for me, but the bifrost has the strengths of being balanced and having a proper IEC power socket, and I've been going back and forth in my head over this for ages.
Unfortunately, he and another user who are trying to help me with this, are both bouncing between both options as well now, so we've not gotten very far yet, which is funny, but he does take his time to be helpful and answer his comments
 

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