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Sennheiser HD800S Review (Headphone)

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Find Amirm preset formatted for EQ APO PEACE here. Save into a .txt file. Use PEACE "Import" button to select the .txt file and load the preset. Hit the graph window button to visualize what it does.

I use this one from AutoEQ oratory1990 results:
Preamp: -6.0 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 23 Hz Gain 5.6 dB Q 0.93
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 61 Hz Gain 1.9 dB Q 2.48
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 210 Hz Gain -2.3 dB Q 1.32
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 449 Hz Gain -0.7 dB Q 0.72
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1702 Hz Gain 3.2 dB Q 2.13
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 3286 Hz Gain 2.6 dB Q 3.95
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4393 Hz Gain 0.2 dB Q 0.22
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 5648 Hz Gain -4.6 dB Q 3.94
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 10533 Hz Gain 2.2 dB Q 1.17
Filter 10: ON PK Fc 19366 Hz Gain -11.6 dB Q 0.38
Plus some extra bass shelf:
Filter 11: ON LS Fc 75 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 1.0

Don't forget to save the preset. I also turned off the pop up warning when switching presets in PEACE settings (the "don't prompt to save when changing configuration" thingy).
 

Robbo99999

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Having owned a pair of HD800S's for over two years & never EQed them after reading Amir's review I decided to look into how to apply EQ to them.

After much head scratching I believe I have worked it all out but can anyone here confirm that I am using the same filters that Amir recommended in his review?

Many thanks

Adam
Yeah, looks good there apart from the Negative Preamp, you have it at -6dB but the two Low Shelf Filters of Amirs add to each other to create around an 11dB boost, so really you'd probably want the Negative Preamp to be -11dB rather than the -6dB that you have inputted. This is to ensure there is no digital clipping. As you currently have it, your bass will digitally clip below 48Hz if any music you play contains anything above a -5dBFS signal in that bass area.....so with all my EQ's I ensure that all boosts are covered completely by the negative preamp......I realise Amir only dialed in a -6dB negative preamp but that is technically wrong and may have only avoided subjective audible clipping and/or his source music material didn't contain anything below 48Hz that was close to full scale. (I've tested tracks whilst watching the digital clipping meter (in Peace), and sometimes you actually need a dB or two more negative preamp than even the Total EQ Curve suggests, so I think it's optimal to use at least -11dB in your case provided your amplification can cover it).
 
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Find Amirm preset formatted for EQ APO PEACE here. Save into a .txt file. Use PEACE "Import" button to select the .txt file and load the preset. Hit the graph window button to visualize what it does.

I use this one from AutoEQ oratory1990 results:

Plus some extra bass shelf:
Filter 11: ON LS Fc 75 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 1.0

Don't forget to save the preset. I also turned off the pop up warning when switching presets in PEACE settings (the "don't prompt to save when changing configuration" thingy).
Yeah, looks good there apart from the Negative Preamp, you have it at -6dB but the two Low Shelf Filters of Amirs add to each other to create around an 11dB boost, so really you'd probably want the Negative Preamp to be -11dB rather than the -6dB that you have inputted. This is to ensure there is no digital clipping. As you currently have it, your bass will digitally clip below 48Hz if any music you play contains anything above a -5dBFS signal in that bass area.....so with all my EQ's I ensure that all boosts are covered completely by the negative preamp......I realise Amir only dialed in a -6dB negative preamp but that is technically wrong and may have only avoided subjective audible clipping and/or his source music material didn't contain anything below 48Hz that was close to full scale. (I've tested tracks whilst watching the digital clipping meter (in Peace), and sometimes you actually need a dB or two more negative preamp than even the Total EQ Curve suggests, so I think it's optimal to use at least -11dB in your case provided your amplification can cover it).
Many thanks to you both.

I did try the AutoEQ filters but was not a fan of the sound but Amir's EQ sounds great to me. I will try them again, maybe I had them wrong.

Is that extra bass filter optional?

Wish I had found that thread on the List of Amir's Headphone PEQ's sooner, so much great info there.

After following the guides I am now running the filters I have attached & have changed the "snap to db gain" setting

I presume it is totally normal normal for the "Quality Q" to be grey out & set to 0.9 instead on 1.0?
 

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Robbo99999

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brandall10

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Just want to mention the folks over @ Super Best Audio Friends (disclaimer: they're not ASR fans) have found the cups themselves to cause much of the wonky irregularities in the FR. They've proven this by doing free-floating measurements of the drivers themselves.
 
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DanTheMan

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Every time I read a review of headphones at any price, I'm glad I have the HD650 though they are old and worn. Now that Drop has made them so cheap, I just imagine why any audiophile (yes we are all audiophiles here) wouldn't own them and have them at or very near the top of their listening choices. I realize newer pads make them sound a bit better, but they are incredibly comfortable and perhaps I like the smell of ten year old hair grease and skin cells. It enhances my experience.
 

acbarn

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Every time I read a review of headphones at any price, I'm glad I have the HD650 though they are old and worn. Now that Drop has made them so cheap, I just imagine why any audiophile (yes we are all audiophiles here) wouldn't own them and have them at or very near the top of their listening choices. I realize newer pads make them sound a bit better, but they are incredibly comfortable and perhaps I like the smell of ten year old hair grease and skin cells. It enhances my experience.
I’ve been all up and down the headphone market and I still always end up going back to 6-series Sennheisers as my daily drivers.
 

DanTheMan

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I wish I had a chance to hear more of them. They used to be so expensive. I got mine on sale and they were still $350 if I remember correctly. The best amp I had to drive them with was my audio Apogee interface! It does drive them fairly well, but now the JDS Labs Atom kicked them up a notch to say the least. They had a lot of untapped potential. Now that I have a couple fancy EQs, I may prefer the HD800S, but I'm not willing to pay to find out. Too happy with the HD650. Found my bliss.
 

acbarn

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I wish I had a chance to hear more of them. They used to be so expensive. I got mine on sale and they were still $350 if I remember correctly. The best amp I had to drive them with was my audio Apogee interface! It does drive them fairly well, but now the JDS Labs Atom kicked them up a notch to say the least. They had a lot of untapped potential. Now that I have a couple fancy EQs, I may prefer the HD800S, but I'm not willing to pay to find out. Too happy with the HD650. Found my bliss.
They’re all so similar, but my personal preference is for the 660. I could be happy with any of them though. The 800S is unique for sure, but I prefer the more “normal” presentation of the 600/650/660.
 

jhaider

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Every time I read a review of headphones at any price, I'm glad I have the HD650 though they are old and worn. Now that Drop has made them so cheap, I just imagine why any audiophile (yes we are all audiophiles here) wouldn't own them and have them at or very near the top of their listening choices. I realize newer pads make them sound a bit better, but they are incredibly comfortable and perhaps I like the smell of ten year old hair grease and skin cells. It enhances my experience.
Mostly agreed. I have my ancient HD580s at home and HD650s in the office. They are still IMO the standard.

However, after Amir’s headphone reviews caused me to have an epiphany* I picked up a pair of used HD800, as well as new pads and headband direct from Sennheiser (I still can’t stomach a 4-figure outlay for headphones). With EQ (I’m using Oratory’s - remember HD800 not the HD800S Amir tested) they sound about as good as my 580s - have not A/B’ed with 650, but they don’t sound much different - but present with more spaciousness and, as Amir noted, soundstage layering. It’s really a nice effect. However, I’ve also found the now super cheap AKG N700NC M2 to do a shockingly good HD800 impression, but with stellar tonality out of the box to boot.

*epiphany: passive headphones are just miniaturized filterless single driver speakers. Therefore, they’re all guaranteed to suck in some way, because single driver filterless speakers are all terrible. However, unlike single driver room speakers (due to directivity and SPL requirements) you can fix headphones. Since Amir started doing headphone reviews I’ve added a miniDSP 2x4HD as DAC and EQ to my desktop headphone rigs, and the sweet little Quedlix for portable use. I would never use software EQ, but downstream makes sense.
 
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KeithPhantom

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I rather the HD 600 to the HD650 or the HD 800/S. The uncanny realism of the HD 600 has catches me by surprise a few times. It inspires me to match better the FR of the mechanical transducers I buy and helped me learn how small differences are perceptually large. Also had the HD 800, but even EQd never could reach what my HD 600 can do stock.
 

Fernando

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The overall tonality was still "light on its feet" for lack of a better phrase to describe it. There was this lack of congestion and ease to everything I played. What was remarkable and uncanny was separation of instruments. It was as if this headphone would take every element in the music, pull it apart, and then position it in different spatial locations in a 6 inch space around each ear. I wouldn't call it "soundstage" as much was it was this fun and captivating effect.

I made a comparison against the HD650 which sounded far more balanced and nicer than HD800S without EQ. With EQ, the HD800S sounded a lot more competitive and that had the above layering that the HD650 did not have. I played by boosting the region in the HD800S that has peaking and that seemed to help create a bit of that effect. Likely the cup size and reflections in HD800S are creating this effect.

Here is a great track to use to test the above effect:

Hello!
Rereading the review I have verified that the youtube link does not work.
What song was in link?

Regards.
 

preload

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I wish I had a chance to hear more of them. They used to be so expensive. I got mine on sale and they were still $350 if I remember correctly. The best amp I had to drive them with was my audio Apogee interface! It does drive them fairly well, but now the JDS Labs Atom kicked them up a notch to say the least. They had a lot of untapped potential. Now that I have a couple fancy EQs, I may prefer the HD800S, but I'm not willing to pay to find out. Too happy with the HD650. Found my bliss.
Yeah don’t go down the rabbit hole. The HD650 was my gateway drug to more and more $$ headphones.
 
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amirm

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Helicopter

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I got my HD800S today. They sound quite good with Amir's EQ, and the spatial effects and instrument separation I experience are very cool. I am also impressed by the comfort of these. They really disappear compared to other headphones here like Focal and Audeze, and even give the little Koss headphones a run for their money.

Big imperfections are the power need and EQ need. They are not going to be at their beast without some additional gear, unlike my Focals which work with a smart phone or an all analog (no EQ) source and setup.

I've just been listening on my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (work rig), so I'll try the Schiit Heresy soon.

The two included cables are not right for my needs. I would rather have a 4-5 foot 1/4 inch cable and a 7-10 foot XLR4 cable. I also hate the proprietary connectors that cost $25 a pop on Ali for a cheaper pair. The best cable connector choices come from Focal: 3.5mm TS into the phones. Mini XLR is also great. Anyhow, I need to decide whether to 1. Cut the 1/4 inch cable down to 4 or 5 feet and put an XLR4 connector on the differential cable. 2. Buy a couple Periapt cables or 3. Spend $60 on connectors and DIY a couple cables. I know an adapter for the differential cable is another option, but I've already decided I don't like that as much as option 1. The 4.4mm is such a cool idea for DAPs, and I applaud Sennheiser, Sony, Topping and others for trying to turn the tides, but my Schiit Magnius has XLR4, and if the bundled cables are not perfect, I prefer for DIY an XLR4 regardless of amp configuration. For a kilobuck headphone, it is not a huge gripe though as you can always get a very nice custom cable for about a hunsky.

Overall, I am very happy with this headphone, and they are worth it for the spatial effects. I wonder how much use they will get compared to my Focal Clear.
 

Racheski

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I got my HD800S today. They sound quite good with Amir's EQ, and the spatial effects and instrument separation I experience are very cool. I am also impressed by the comfort of these. They really disappear compared to other headphones here like Focal and Audeze, and even give the little Koss headphones a run for their money.

Big imperfections are the power need and EQ need. They are not going to be at their beast without some additional gear, unlike my Focals which work with a smart phone or an all analog (no EQ) source and setup.

I've just been listening on my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (work rig), so I'll try the Schiit Heresy soon.

The two included cables are not right for my needs. I would rather have a 4-5 foot 1/4 inch cable and a 7-10 foot XLR4 cable. I also hate the proprietary connectors that cost $25 a pop on Ali for a cheaper pair. The best cable connector choices come from Focal: 3.5mm TS into the phones. Mini XLR is also great. Anyhow, I need to decide whether to 1. Cut the 1/4 inch cable down to 4 or 5 feet and put an XLR4 connector on the differential cable. 2. Buy a couple Periapt cables or 3. Spend $60 on connectors and DIY a couple cables. I know an adapter for the differential cable is another option, but I've already decided I don't like that as much as option 1. The 4.4mm is such a cool idea for DAPs, and I applaud Sennheiser, Sony, Topping and others for trying to turn the tides, but my Schiit Magnius has XLR4, and if the bundled cables are not perfect, I prefer for DIY an XLR4 regardless of amp configuration. For a kilobuck headphone, it is not a huge gripe though as you can always get a very nice custom cable for about a hunsky.

Overall, I am very happy with this headphone, and they are worth it for the spatial effects. I wonder how much use they will get compared to my Focal Clear.
I was in the same boat when I purchased my HD800S last year. I eventually decided on the DIY route...
  • If you ever want to re-sell your HD800S, it will be much easier if you have all of the stock cables available. Those stock cables are regularly sold for $150-$200 each (I know it's crazy), so you will have to mark down the headphones accordingly.
  • If you want a XLR cable with high quality materials (neutrik connectors, mogami/canare wire) you will spend at least $110. There are dirt cheap options on ebay for $60-$100, but you never know what you are really getting.
  • These connectors worked great for me, and I like the R/L labeling on them ($30).
Here is the finished product, and details about paracord & wires I posted.
HD800S Cable.JPG
 

Anmol

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Every time I read a review of headphones at any price, I'm glad I have the HD650 though they are old and worn. Now that Drop has made them so cheap, I just imagine why any audiophile (yes we are all audiophiles here) wouldn't own them and have them at or very near the top of their listening choices. I realize newer pads make them sound a bit better, but they are incredibly comfortable and perhaps I like the smell of ten year old hair grease and skin cells. It enhances my experience.
Hd650 has too much sugar for me. Sold mine after a year after occasional use. Somehow didn't work for me. I do own hd800s , he6se, sundara, verum1 etc. May be I prefer slightly bright presentation. Given hd650 fame, I did try to like it but..........
 
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