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A Love Letter to the HD800

suttondesign

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#1
I've been a dealer in a few great lines of headphones for years, been to audio meets and tried lots more, and shuffle in and out of things. I tried for a long time to cajole Senn into letting me be a dealer, but they refused b/c I don't have a fancy shopfront. However, my area rep had gotten me into the HD-800's during that process. I liked them a lot, but modding them and using EQ tricks to tame the 6khz spike and boost the lowest octave transformed them, for me. I consistently return to my beloved HD-800's in preference to every other set of cans I have ever had. And with classical, OMG. The imaging and openness of the sound trumps (for me) the lower distortion and deeper bass of other well-regarded cans. I am unclear as to why the TOTL generally has not obviously surpassed these cans (apart from the tweaks with the HD-800s). Anyhoo, used HD-800's, if you find them, are a great choice. My second choice is the Audeze LCD-2, which I think is the single best value in audio (esp. used) if you can tolerate the weight. On popular music, they're meltingly good, and oh that bass response.

NOTE: I have almost no hearing above 12khz, but below that is "on spec" for my age (mid-50's, and got tested last year) and not bad at all.

NOTE: I have not heard the new Stax SR-009s, though I deal in them. The money equation is tough, even at dealer cost, and then all the outboard stuff to boot.
 

suttondesign

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#3
Focal clear and that other really high-end one they make are terrific, esp. the low distortion all across their bandwidth. But the narrow, in-head imaging is the deal-breaker for me. I really wanted to love those cans, but I go back to the HD-800 for dynamic headphones.
I have not heard any recent HiFiMan cans. That guy Dan over there is a cool guy; met him at meets when he was starting out with the Fostex drivers.
 

suttondesign

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#5
vive la difference
 

garbulky

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#6
I am a big fan of the sennheiser line up. I use the HD700. My goal is the HD800 or the HD800S depending on which one I prefer. I haven't had a chance to hear them. Which do you prefer or can you describe the differences?
 

solderdude

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#7
I consistently return to my beloved HD-800's in preference to every other set of cans I have ever had.
Same here. Heard and measured a lot, though certainly not all headphones.
Before I had the HD800 I kept returning to an EQ'ed HD650.

My goal is the HD800 or the HD800S depending on which one I prefer. I haven't had a chance to hear them. Which do you prefer or can you describe the differences?
The HD800 and HD800S just need a different EQ, after that they are indistinguishable.
 
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#8
Had HD800 for a while and they were my reference gear. Since I got Beyerdynamic DT990 at an Amazon blowout sale (just to have an option) I find it edges out my trusted Senn. While it's plasticky, I've had it for 2 years plus in outdoorsy conditions, during travel, at home in all the rooms. Stood the test of time and sound has only gotten better.
 

solderdude

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#9
A lot can be said about the DT990.. it is a very sturdy workworse that can take a beating and has cheap replacement parts when needed.
For the price of HD800 pads + headband foam (which needs replacing frequently) you can buy a new DT990 Pro.
oh... and the stock HD800 cable is utterly crap (stiff and too long) so needs replacement which, due to the connectors, is expensive.

The DT990 can't hold a candle to the HD800 (to me)
 

suttondesign

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#10
I am a big fan of the sennheiser line up. I use the HD700. My goal is the HD800 or the HD800S depending on which one I prefer. I haven't had a chance to hear them. Which do you prefer or can you describe the differences?
whichever you can get the best deal on.
 

Fluffy

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#11
I found my HD800 unbearable and sold it within a month of buying it. I prefer my HD650 for all kinds of music.

Focal Clear is way more comfortable and realistic than HD800.
I never had HD800 because every time I tried them, the treble just killed me. I also prefer the Focal Clear over pretty much any other phone, though I also EQ them to be darker. I think their soundstage width and imaging is comparable to HD800, with the HD800 leading in openness. But bass response is infinitely superior in Focal's higher end line up. I see why people love the HD800 for classical stuff (I don't listen to it personally), but I don't think they are suited for more modern-style music production.
 
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#12
I'm 48 and I can still detect tons up to 16kHz using REW tone generator and my HD600S headphones. I asked my wife to help me with the test. I detected every time she hit play. I did have to crank the volume up to -20db to be able to detect the 16kHz tone. I also noticed something very worrisome with my NAD C658. When Dirac Live is active, the 20kHz tone gets modulated into a much lower tone (not a pure sine). When I disable Dirac Live, all I can hear is silence, as expected with 20kHz tone at my age. It seems that Dirac live processing messes up the high-frequency range...
 

garbulky

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#14
Same here. Heard and measured a lot, though certainly not all headphones.
Before I had the HD800 I kept returning to an EQ'ed HD650.



The HD800 and HD800S just need a different EQ, after that they are indistinguishable.
I use it with several different sources, so if I wanted to do that I would need a separate equalizer. For me, considering the cost of the headphones,, they need to sound right without me having to spend more time tweaking them. Like with the higher priced 800S, I would be okay with spending more money to have it sound right the first time.
 

suttondesign

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#15
Then the HD-800 probably isn't the right choice. The best Focal you can get is.
 

Soniclife

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#16
What other great after EQ headphones do people recommend? The only headphones I've heard that I really like are the focal utopias, but if EQ can change that that's a lot of money that could be saved.
 

Fluffy

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#17
What other great after EQ headphones do people recommend? The only headphones I've heard that I really like are the focal utopias, but if EQ can change that that's a lot of money that could be saved.
Arguably, Focal Utopia is the best headphone in the world. I would agree, but since it cost too damn much, I got the Focal Clear. I think it does 95% of what the Utopia does at third the price.
 

Soniclife

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#19
I would agree, but since it cost too damn much, I got the Focal Clear. I think it does 95% of what the Utopia does at third the price.
I'm not prepared to spend the money on the utopia, but if I could get something that sounds close with EQ for less than the clear, which didn't impress me for the money either, then it would be interesting.
I've heard the 800s with no EQ, yikes they were bright and thin, hard to get my brain around them becoming great with EQ. Stupid brain.
 

Fluffy

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#20
I'm not prepared to spend the money on the utopia, but if I could get something that sounds close with EQ for less than the clear, which didn't impress me for the money either, then it would be interesting.
The differences between them are minute. They have different pads, which also affects the sound. If you want to get close to the Utopia, maybe try the Elex with replacement pads by Dekoni. Fenestrated sheepskin or Elite hybrid might resemble the Utopia pads (that cost 250$ by themselves o_O). All together it's about half than what a new Clear cost.
 

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