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HD800S - painfully bright?

tifune

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I just got a HD800S used from Amazon. For the most part it meets all the reviews I've seen re: detail, clarity, etc.

Except, the high end is so bright/harsh I can't even use them. It's literally punishing to my ears. I've tried all the available AutoEQ profiles but no real improvement. A few possibilities I've thought of:

I'm not sure how old these are, so maybe the ear pads are worn out? I feel like the seal is OK because if I pull them away ever so slightly the bass disappears.

No signs of physical damage or wear/tear, perhaps foam just isn't too good compared to velour?

I'm using the 9038Sv2 - maybe it's just not enough power? Hard to believe that, though, because around 88% volume is as far as I can tolerate and the same setup powers my HD650 just fine

It wouldn't bother me to spend $100 on new ear pads if I knew for sure it would fix the issue, but if I were wrong I doubt I could return them especially during the pandemic years. Any suggestions are appreciated! Over-ears are all new to me
 

Rayman30

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Thanks I was actually eye balling the HD8XX earlier, supposedly the HD800 were even brighter, the good news is that there are plenty of great options in that price range, take a look at ZMF Aeolus or Hifiman Ayra.
 

bboris77

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In my subjective opinion, the HD800S is only very slightly bright, especially compared to Beyerdynamic DT770 and DT990 which I have tried as well. Its treble is definitely more pronounced compared to the HD600 but is still tolerable. This is without any EQ.

It did take me a couple of days to get used to it if I am being honest. The phenomenal imaging and soundstage are worth the tradeoff to me.
 

Matias

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Thanks I was actually eye balling the HD8XX earlier, supposedly the HD800 were even brighter, the good news is that there are plenty of great options in that price range, take a look at ZMF Aeolus or Hifiman Ayra.
Apparently the 8XX does not help with treble according to Joshuas first impressions. They are very similar overall, changes are minor.


Except, the high end is so bright/harsh I can't even use them. It's literally punishing to my ears. I've tried all the available AutoEQ profiles but no real improvement.
These headphones are really bright and no pads are going to significantly change them. A slight amount, sure, but not as big as EQ. I would try EQing them a lot, or else just return and get a Hifiman Ayra or Edition X v2 instead.
 

nerdstrike

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I would expect pad seal to impact lower frequencies more than higher.

You can get accustomed to some brightness, but if you're uncomfortable then it'll always be tiring. Take a dB or two out of the big treble hump you see in the measurements and see how it goes. You can always undo EQ after all, and it's often free.
 

solderdude

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effect of seal breakage: (perfect seal, glasses with thick arms, substantial seal loss)
HD800S seal.png

HD650 vs HD800S:
HD800S vs HD650.png

More midrange and a lot (around +5dB) more treble from 4kHz to 18kHz. That's the sharpness (and part of the magic) right there.
Notice the 10kHz peak... it is really there. You just don't see it on HATS measurements because these rigs all have a dip there.
The weird part is your ears don't because the brain knows. You can hear the peak when you sweep it.
Don't remove too much of the 10kHz, part of the 'HD800 magic' is there.

Older people are much less bothered by it than younger folks.
 
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tifune

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More midrange and a lot (around +5dB) more treble from 4kHz to 18kHz. That's the sharpness (and part of the magic) right there.
Notice the 10kHz peak... it is really there. You just don't see it on HATS measurements because these rigs all have a dip there.
The weird part is your ears don't because the brain knows. You can hear the peak when you sweep it.
Don't remove too much of the 10kHz, part of the 'HD800 magic' is there.

Older people are much less bothered by it than younger folks.

Well, on the upside, by that metric I'm still considered young (41). On the downside, I couldn't handle it any more - I put them back in the box and put an amazon return label on it. Just not for me, I guess. Not the end of the world as, with the current rate of vaccinations here in the US, I'll likely be back to working in an office by EoY so it makes more sense to put the $ toward a nice closed-back option.

Google shows this Q repeated ad nauseam, but given my apparent over-sensitivity to the peaks you've shown, any suggestions on a closed back alternative? The other issue with the 800S, which I don't experience with the HD650, is over time they slide forward on my head until my ears sort of fold forward to lock them in place. Obviously I can just push them back but for the price a good fit seems like a reasonable request.

The detail, soundstage, etc. really is incredible it's just the upper region that is literally physically painful, almost like diving very deep (which I do maybe once a year) and the water pressure intensely squeezing my head. Guitar solos and female vocals seem to be the worst offenders, but also hip hop snares can often feel like a hand slap to the ears with this model.

Focal Stellia and ZMF Verite seem to be the front runners, going by reviews alone, but after this experience I'm certainly not going to buy anything I can't send back within 30 days (ZMF). I'll openly admit to being a bit of a Neumann fan boy, so I'll probably try their new-ish offering as well even though it's in a different price bracket. It's important to note i'll only be using these with my phone and 9038S, so anything power hungry that requires a desktop amp or excessive EQ probably won't work as I have yet to find a good FLAC player with PEQ.

Thanks to everyone for reading and your advice!
 

aldarrin

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In case you were considering preplacement pads, here's my stock 800S vs my 800S w/ Dekoni Hybrid pads (measured on MiniDSP EARS). Could EQ it to have less murder treble with only 1 EQ filter, but I just live with the result. I didn't mind the stock sound once I got used to it, but the new pads are slightly more comfortable so I kept them on.

1615937532966.png
 

acbarn

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Well, on the upside, by that metric I'm still considered young (41). On the downside, I couldn't handle it any more - I put them back in the box and put an amazon return label on it. Just not for me, I guess. Not the end of the world as, with the current rate of vaccinations here in the US, I'll likely be back to working in an office by EoY so it makes more sense to put the $ toward a nice closed-back option.

Google shows this Q repeated ad nauseam, but given my apparent over-sensitivity to the peaks you've shown, any suggestions on a closed back alternative? The other issue with the 800S, which I don't experience with the HD650, is over time they slide forward on my head until my ears sort of fold forward to lock them in place. Obviously I can just push them back but for the price a good fit seems like a reasonable request.

The detail, soundstage, etc. really is incredible it's just the upper region that is literally physically painful, almost like diving very deep (which I do maybe once a year) and the water pressure intensely squeezing my head. Guitar solos and female vocals seem to be the worst offenders, but also hip hop snares can often feel like a hand slap to the ears with this model.

Focal Stellia and ZMF Verite seem to be the front runners, going by reviews alone, but after this experience I'm certainly not going to buy anything I can't send back within 30 days (ZMF). I'll openly admit to being a bit of a Neumann fan boy, so I'll probably try their new-ish offering as well even though it's in a different price bracket. It's important to note i'll only be using these with my phone and 9038S, so anything power hungry that requires a desktop amp or excessive EQ probably won't work as I have yet to find a good FLAC player with PEQ.

Thanks to everyone for reading and your advice!
This is not an audiophile approved recommendation, but I would take a look at the Apple Airpod Max. They have a quite pleasant FR that is easy to listen to for long periods, as well as the best noise cancelling and transparency mode on the market. They also work very well for Zoom calls. In my opinion, they’re the best all-around headphones for office use.

 
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tifune

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In case you were considering preplacement pads, here's my stock 800S vs my 800S w/ Dekoni Hybrid pads (measured on MiniDSP EARS). Could EQ it to have less murder treble with only 1 EQ filter, but I just live with the result. I didn't mind the stock sound once I got used to it, but the new pads are slightly more comfortable so I kept them on.

Thanks! That does look like an improvement. You mention they're more comfortable, how so? The other main issue I had was they slide as I look up/down so if the Dekonis provide a better clamp maybe it's worth investigating.

This is not an audiophile approved recommendation, but I would take a look at the Apple Airpod Max. They have a quite pleasant FR that is easy to listen to for long periods, as well as the best noise cancelling and transparency mode on the market. They also work very well for Zoom calls. In my opinion, they’re the best all-around headphones for office use.

i hadn't really considered that because I use Android. There seems to be some discrepancy between Android devices re: AAC output so I kind of dismissed it altogether given I have LDAC support when needed. I'll revisit it; the output difference between phones was mostly negligible. Thank you!
 
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tifune

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aldarrin

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Thanks! That does look like an improvement. You mention they're more comfortable, how so? The other main issue I had was they slide as I look up/down so if the Dekonis provide a better clamp maybe it's worth investigating
The clamp is better, surface area that touches skin is higher, and they sit more confidently on my head w/ Dekonis. But it's still not what I'd call a lot of clamp (they stay put better but won't enable headbanging).
 

JelStIy

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For EQ, I’d try Reference from Sonarworks. I liked their profile for the HD800s better than the others available. They have a free trial.
 
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