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Sennheiser HD800S Review (Headphone)

DanTheMan

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Different strokes and all. Spikes near 7-10k kill me though even if the rest is good. The 650 made me say “that won’t ever kill me”. now that EQs are everywhere I imagine I could probably tolerate about anything made, but back in the day things were not so simple. Options are everywhere now.
 
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I gave a longer listen to the HD800S with Amir EQ, and doing some A/B comparison with all the other EQ settings ( Rtings, InnerFidelity, Oratory, etc. ).

At first, Amir settings seems to make the HD800S a little bit more veiled / less powerful in the high end. Well, looks like exactly what the HD800S needs, so I can crank up the volume without risking to blow my ears at any high pitched /vocal sounds, and it brings out a lot more bass out of the HD800S. Even if the high end is a little bit less powerful, it is still as detailed as you can expect with the HD 800 series.

Every other settings seems to keep too much presence in the high end, which make it kinda painful if you want to raise the volume to bring out the bass of theHD800S

Of course, it's still not as powerful or "slamming" than basse heavy headphones, but it makes the HD800S much more versatile, and even on bass music, I enjoy it a lot more than before.

I gave it a try on Quixotic from M|O|O|N, and even if it's not as good as my LCD2, it won't be a "skip it on the HD800S when it comes to it on the playlist" anymore.

I think it might be the closest settings of what people can expect of the HD8XX, without equalizer.

I'm still baffled by the abilities of the HD800S on the bass/subass. Unlike a lot of people say about the HD800/S, it's clearly capable in the bass and subass section, it's just that it's not tuned to bring it forwards.

I was hesitant about selling either the HD800S and losing the soundstage/clarity, or selling the LCD2 and loosing the slam/bass. Well, now I know which one gonna go. I can EQ the HD800S to give it a little bit more bass, but I can't EQ the LCD2 to bring it the "magic" of the HD800S.
 

Robbo99999

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I gave a longer listen to the HD800S with Amir EQ, and doing some A/B comparison with all the other EQ settings ( Rtings, InnerFidelity, Oratory, etc. ).

At first, Amir settings seems to make the HD800S a little bit more veiled / less powerful in the high end. Well, looks like exactly what the HD800S needs, so I can crank up the volume without risking to blow my ears at any high pitched /vocal sounds, and it brings out a lot more bass out of the HD800S. Even if the high end is a little bit less powerful, it is still as detailed as you can expect with the HD 800 series.

Every other settings seems to keep too much presence in the high end, which make it kinda painful if you want to raise the volume to bring out the bass of theHD800S

Of course, it's still not as powerful or "slamming" than basse heavy headphones, but it makes the HD800S much more versatile, and even on bass music, I enjoy it a lot more than before.

I gave it a try on Quixotic from M|O|O|N, and even if it's not as good as my LCD2, it won't be a "skip it on the HD800S when it comes to it on the playlist" anymore.

I think it might be the closest settings of what people can expect of the HD8XX, without equalizer.

I'm still baffled by the abilities of the HD800S on the bass/subass. Unlike a lot of people say about the HD800/S, it's clearly capable in the bass and subass section, it's just that it's not tuned to bring it forwards.

I was hesitant about selling either the HD800S and losing the soundstage/clarity, or selling the LCD2 and loosing the slam/bass. Well, now I know which one gonna go. I can EQ the HD800S to give it a little bit more bass, but I can't EQ the LCD2 to bring it the "magic" of the HD800S.
I think you made a good choice by everything I've seen about these headphones in measurements and also reports on soundstage. Good/great soundstage on a headphone is a unique/rare quality.
 

LTig

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I was hesitant about selling either the HD800S and losing the soundstage/clarity, or selling the LCD2 and loosing the slam/bass. Well, now I know which one gonna go. I can EQ the HD800S to give it a little bit more bass, but I can't EQ the LCD2 to bring it the "magic" of the HD800S.
No joke: if you need to get rid of the LCD2 then do it and get an AKG K371 instead. I haven't auditioned a magnetostatic headphone yet but I own the HD800 and the K371 and the latter's bass is outstanding. I EQ them both but can listen to them without EQ on my smartphone.
 
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No joke: if you need to get rid of the LCD2 then do it and get an AKG K371 instead. I haven't auditioned a magnetostatic headphone yet but I own the HD800 and the K371 and the latter's bass is outstanding. I EQ them both but can listen to them without EQ on my smartphone.
I already got the K371, but the Bluetooth one. I know it's not as good as the wired one, but it's still one of the best BT headphones I've got, and it's actually pretty decent when wired.

Focal Clear is on its way to replace my LCD2 :)
 

LTig

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I already got the K371, but the Bluetooth one. I know it's not as good as the wired one, but it's still one of the best BT headphones I've got, and it's actually pretty decent when wired.
My K371 is also the BT version. I bought it at Thomann and there was but one user who wrote that the BT version is much worse than the wired one. However for me SQ is good and @amirm's EQ works so I think this user is either wrong or his hp was broken. Have you heard both or how do you know the BT version is worse than the wired one?

Edit: my comments regarding SQ are based on the BT version driven by wire, not by BT!
 
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Good to see people appreciate the quality of an EQed HD800. I have mine for almost 10years now and used it a lot. Still works flawlessly. No problems with the construction, hinges, drivers whatsoever. After a couple of years the headband and earpads started flaking. So I'm on my second set of pads. And some minor paint chipping thats it. It's a headphone where you don't have to be afraid of failing. Never read any report of driver failing or broken hinges.

Back when I listened to them the first time I was floored by the staging and technical performance. I knew it could EQ its tonal shortcomings and never looked back. I was always amused by all the head-fi guys praying the mantra of the HD800 being extremely hard to drive and how important system synergy is. Lol, just EQ that damn thing.
 
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How does the bass of the HD800S compare when EQ'd to the Harman target against say HD650 and Focal Clear?

Can someone try playing 'James Blake - Limit To Your Love'? :D
 
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How does the bass of the HD800S compare when EQ'd to the Harman target against say HD650 and Focal Clear?

Can someone try playing 'James Blake - Limit To Your Love'? :D
I tried your song, Limit to your love with Amir settings, and also Crinacle Harman settings. The main difference with those two is that Crinacle EQ bring the high/voice a little more forward, and Amir settings feels more balanced.

If you wanna know about the bass. It has a good line of bass with the HD800S, you can actually feels the low bassline vibrating into your ears, even if it's the voice and piano that still shines.

I had a focal Clear and a HD650. I think the bass with the HD650 would be more punchy, but maybe a little bit muddy. The best one would probably be the Focal Clear, the bass on it is just absolutely incredible for a dynamic headphone.

HD800S EQ = satisfying bass, awesome mid and high / detail / soundstage
HD650 EQ = punchy bass, but it lacks a bit of detail in it. Awesome mid, good high.
Focal Clear = jack of all trades. Very nice bass, nice vocals, nice high /detail Small soundstage, but the imaging with it is one of the best I heard on a headphone. It really feels like listening to some speaker in your room, instead of having a headphone on your head.
 

_Dekker

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First post of me here, I read a lot but feel the need to contribute.
I have the HD800S, HD580, Beyer DT770 (80Ohm), Audio Technica M50x, and Sony 1000xm (fisrt gen)
The HD800S was my last purchase and I listened to it for about a year with hardly any EQ: just a minor bump in the bass. This does give some fatique due to I presume the elevated highs. But still a very good headphone.
Then came Amir's review and I tried his EQ. Simply wow. First the bass felt a little bit too much BUT the fatique is gone and the transparency and detail is still there. I can wear it all day now.
I tried EQ-ing the other headphones (to Harman target) to get similar performance but it simply connot be done: for some reason the others all just keep sounding dull and boring. The 800S is just amazing in sounding open, sparkling and warm if it's in the track. Bad recorded tracks are easily detected.
2 tracks I use to test with (on Spotify):
Bass Mechanik - Bass I love you
Eternal rest - Sidewalks and Skeletons

The first is a bass test, my studio monitors do not even reprocuce any of the bass, this track goes LOW. In fact so low that the lowest of tones are just barely detectable even with Amir's EQ.
The 2nd track is for the sense of SPACE, also nice bass in there. This one I like to crank up, it just opens up bigtime.

For some more bass heavy tracks I I copied Amir's EQ and only modified the bass:
10Hz: -6dB Peak Filter Q1.41
20Hz: 12dB Peak Filter Q0.6
30Hz: -1dB Peak Filter Q1.41
60Hz: -0.5dB Peak Filter Q1.41

This gives a 2dB lower peak at 20Hz and a fast drop off below that. I feel it helps the bass accuracy a bit.
The 800S is all I use now, everything else is collecting dust.
I would however love to hear if there are headphones that can play track one better :)
 

Robbo99999

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First post of me here, I read a lot but feel the need to contribute.
I have the HD800S, HD580, Beyer DT770 (80Ohm), Audio Technica M50x, and Sony 1000xm (fisrt gen)
The HD800S was my last purchase and I listened to it for about a year with hardly any EQ: just a minor bump in the bass. This does give some fatique due to I presume the elevated highs. But still a very good headphone.
Then came Amir's review and I tried his EQ. Simply wow. First the bass felt a little bit too much BUT the fatique is gone and the transparency and detail is still there. I can wear it all day now.
I tried EQ-ing the other headphones (to Harman target) to get similar performance but it simply connot be done: for some reason the others all just keep sounding dull and boring. The 800S is just amazing in sounding open, sparkling and warm if it's in the track. Bad recorded tracks are easily detected.
2 tracks I use to test with (on Spotify):
Bass Mechanik - Bass I love you
Eternal rest - Sidewalks and Skeletons

The first is a bass test, my studio monitors do not even reprocuce any of the bass, this track goes LOW. In fact so low that the lowest of tones are just barely detectable even with Amir's EQ.
The 2nd track is for the sense of SPACE, also nice bass in there. This one I like to crank up, it just opens up bigtime.

For some more bass heavy tracks I I copied Amir's EQ and only modified the bass:
10Hz: -6dB Peak Filter Q1.41
20Hz: 12dB Peak Filter Q0.6
30Hz: -1dB Peak Filter Q1.41
60Hz: -0.5dB Peak Filter Q1.41

This gives a 2dB lower peak at 20Hz and a fast drop off below that. I feel it helps the bass accuracy a bit.
The 800S is all I use now, everything else is collecting dust.
I would however love to hear if there are headphones that can play track one better :)
Hi, I just listened to your track one on my Harman EQ'd headphones: on AKG K702 and also on Hifiman HE4XX. HE4XX is EQ'd with the Harman bass boost all the way down to 20Hz tracking the Harman Curve, so that is my benchmark headphone for bass, rather than the K702 which has the bass rolling away from the Harman Target at 40Hz. Pics included so you can see the measurements & EQ's of both to visualise how well they reproduce bass.
HE4XX:
HE4XX New Oratory EQ.jpg
K702:
Crinicle K702 best measurement EQ (clear bass).jpg


So with the above being bared in mind when I was listening to your track one, I found the HE4XX revealed bass that the K702 was not showing. However, I didn't notice totally predominant bass in that track, the rest of the music and frequency range was a lot more predominant than the bass....in fact I wouldn't really call that track bass heavy unless all the energy is in like the 20Hz & below which might be related to the Youtube vid where all the girls hair was being blown around by the bass......perhaps it contains very low frequency bass that is felt more than heard.....I doubt it though because the mids and treble was really loud in the Youtube vid vs the bass that was there.....so I think it would blow your ears out with treble before you got your hair blown about by the bass. That's my assessment from the Youtube vid of that track.

About your EQ'd HD800s, as long as you've EQ'd the bass to Harman Target or above all the way down to 20Hz then it should at least try to reproduce any bass that's there. The HD800s is not the best headphone for bass though, in as much as it has more distortion when EQ'd to those bass levels than some other headphones. NAD HP50 which I own has lower distortion in the bass than you EQ'd HD800s for example, and probably the HE4XX I did my brief testing on tonight (but less sure about the latter as just going from memory on the distortion measurements). So if bass is absolutely your thing without compromise then the HD800s is certainly not the best headphone for you, however it has fantastic soundstage that is pretty much unique in the headphone arena and other qualities that make it a great headphone, but bass is not it's strong point.
 

LTig

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[..]The 800S is just amazing in sounding open, sparkling and warm if it's in the track. Bad recorded tracks are easily detected.
2 tracks I use to test with (on Spotify):
Bass Mechanik - Bass I love you
Eternal rest - Sidewalks and Skeletons

The first is a bass test, my studio monitors do not even reprocuce any of the bass, this track goes LOW. In fact so low that the lowest of tones are just barely detectable even with Amir's EQ.
The 2nd track is for the sense of SPACE, also nice bass in there. This one I like to crank up, it just opens up bigtime.
These two tracks? Each with the corresponding spectrogram.
  • Bass Mechanik - Bass I love you

Bass Mekanik - Bass I Love You.m4a.png

  • Sidewalks and Skeletons & CASHFORGOLD - Eternal rest

Sidewalks and Skeletons & CASHFORGOLD - Eternal Rest.m4a.png
 

Robbo99999

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These two tracks? Each with the corresponding spectrogram.
  • Bass Mechanik - Bass I love you

View attachment 124412
  • Sidewalks and Skeletons & CASHFORGOLD - Eternal rest

View attachment 124413
How do we read those spectrograms LTig? I think I can read & understand the peak amplitude line graphs located on the left, but I don't know how to interpret the top graph of Amplitude Over Time, and nor do I know how to interpret the coloured in Spectogram? Judging from me just understanding the Peak Amplitude graph on the left then Bass Mechanik has more low bass than Sidewalks, but I don't know how to interpret the other graphs?
 

LTig

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How do we read those spectrograms LTig? I think I can read & understand the peak amplitude line graphs located on the left, but I don't know how to interpret the top graph of Amplitude Over Time, and nor do I know how to interpret the coloured in Spectogram? Judging from me just understanding the Peak Amplitude graph on the left then Bass Mechanik has more low bass than Sidewalks, but I don't know how to interpret the other graphs?
See here.

X-axis represents time, Y-axis represents frequency; the amplitude of a particular frequency at a particular time is represented by the intensity of each point.
 

Robbo99999

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See here.

X-axis represents time, Y-axis represents frequency; the amplitude of a particular frequency at a particular time is represented by the intensity of each point.
Ahh, in that case the yellow regions shown in the first track, Bass Mechanik, the yellow regions are in the 10Hz-30Hz region, so that track actually has most intensity in that region right. Whether or not that makes them "bass heavy" tracks I don't know, perhaps it needs to be even more skewed with less intensity in the high frequencies. I have a feeling that 10Hz-30Hz is probably best experienced with speakers/subs rather than headphones, as I didn't find those tracks bass heavy with with my HE4XX that is EQ'd with Harman Bass Boost all the way down to 20Hz. I know with listening to test tones that I can hear down to 20Hz when using my NAD HP50 headphones, but only barely, and intensity of hearing drops off quickly with me below 30Hz from memory. I'm thinking below 30Hz you need subs & speakers to feel it rather than hear it (the latter part being is what headphones are offering you).

EDIT: I don't think this is a detraction on headphones ability to play enjoyable bass as headphones is the best most detailed & clean bass I've heard, but bass covers a wide frequency range and headphones do bass better with ease in general & without room modes, so everything below 200Hz.....but go below 30Hz then I'm thinking subs is where it's at to properly experience it.
 
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_Dekker

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Thanks for the spectrograms. I already knew that the Bass Mechanik one was very low (I read somewhere there is even 7Hz content in there which is out of the graph ;-)
Also as I thought the second track does not go as low, but that one was more for the openness/spaciousness of the track.
The top graph as I understand is just the summed intensity of all the frequencies plotted over time so you can see where the loud bits are.

Btw I do not find the first track bass heavy, in my opinion it is mixed quite well. I simply use Amir's EQ on the first track.
Bass heavy to me applies to other recordings where bass is boosted more. For that I use my 'tuned down' bass.
 

Pearljam5000

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I had the HD800 (non S version) i must say it's the most stunning transducer i have ever heard, clarity, soundstage and layering is just mind bowing
There's just music floating in the air, my life goal is to recreate this with speakers .
 

garbulky

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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 listened a lot to the HD6xx. There's no doubt it's a good headphone but for me it had too much "warmth" and bass. I preferred the HD600 and the HD700. Though the HD700 required a pad modification to sound a bit more even in the treble.
 

LTig

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Thanks for the spectrograms. I already knew that the Bass Mechanik one was very low (I read somewhere there is even 7Hz content in there which is out of the graph ;-)
Also as I thought the second track does not go as low, but that one was more for the openness/spaciousness of the track.
The top graph as I understand is just the summed intensity of all the frequencies plotted over time so you can see where the loud bits are.
This is correct, I summed up the level of all pixels in one vertical line.
 

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