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#1 2016-05-07 08:01:44

techboy
Senior member
From: New Delhi
Registered: 2013-10-17
Website

Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

I'd like to clear a few things before you read the review.

1. Sennheiser India was kind enough to lend me their HD 800 for a home demo, for an undetermined length of time. Knowing fully well that I won't be buying them. As I can't afford them at this point in time. So I'd like to thank you Sennheiser India for this kind gesture.

2. The demo unit is a piece from 2009. One of the first 250 HD 800 headphones that Sennheiser built. So it is the old version. And doesn't need more burn in either.

3. You'll be disappointed to know that most of the review was done with the Sonarworks Headphone Plugin. SW is a VST plugin that corrects the headphone's frequency curve to bring it as close to neutral as possible. I also enabled the Linear Phase option in SW alongside.

4. The reason for doing this was because in its stock form, the HD 800 was way too bright. And coming from the HD 650 I was unable to adjust. Nevertheless, the HD 800's sound fantastic even with SW enabled.

The Test Setup

Headphones - HD 800 (old), HD 650 (2013 - silver), HD 700 - All burned in heavily due to their age.

Amplifier - Project Ember Hybrid Tube Amp by Garage1217.com (with supercharger) -> Sylvania 6SN7WGT

DAC - Asus Essence One Muses Edition

Software - JRiver with Sonarworks for HD 800, HD 650 and HD 700 (HD 800 setting)

Music - Recent Bollywood

Now.

You should get ready to read the review. smile

REVIEW

Long story short, you'll be delighted to know the HD 800 blows away both the HD 650 and HD 700.

The HD 800 is clearer, cleaner, faster, more detailed, has much less distortion and just better all around.

In comparison, the HD 650 sounds muffled and distorted. It almost seems like a toy compared to the HD 800. Now. You may not like to hear this. But this is indeed the truth.

The only advantage the HD 650 has over the HD 800 is that it is a touch more musical and lusher. But the HD 800 is plain and simple better. And so much better than you'll never touch the HD 650 if you buy the HD 800 once.

After hearing the HD 800 for a few days, I'm finding it really hard to go back to the HD 650.

You name it. Breaking through congested passages. A larger soundstage. Better sound isolation. The HD 800 nails it nearly every time.

Even with SW, the HD 800 is a bit brighter than the HD 650. But no big deal. Without Sonarworks, yes, you'll find it hard to listen to the HD 800 if you're not used to a bright sound.

But that too has perhaps been fixed in the 2013 revision of the HD 800, perhaps.

Anyway, both headphones were used with Sonarworks.

And there isn't much of a contest.

You should take the HD 800 over the HD 650 for anything and everything. For all types of music.

Comfort

HD 700 >= HD 800 >> HD 650

Both the HD 700 and HD 800 are very comfortable. The HD 650 isn't in the same league. Although it is pretty comfortable on its own.

Mids

HD 800 is cleaner and clearer. HD 650 is lusher. But HD 800 is in a different league altogether due to its lower distortion.

Treble

HD 650 has recessed treble.
HD 800 has forward treble.
With Sonarworks, I prefer the HD 650's treble over the HD 800's treble. But only because the HD 800 is still brighter. It is still better in every other way.

Bass

Again, HD 800 has less bass. But better bass. You know that!

Soundstage

The HD 800 feels like it has a 50-100% bigger SS as compared to the HD 650.

Everything else

The HD 800 is clearly a big step up.

To wrap it up

I'd even say if they could take care of the bright treble of the old HD 800, it would be perfect.

The HD 800 deserves to be priced 3-5x the HD 650. IMO. Your mileage may vary.

And the above impression hasn't been formed over 10 minutes. Initially, I was a bit disappointed. But having heard the HD 800 for a while, going back to the 650 was shocking.

There is a big difference!

I recommend the HD 800 wholeheartedly. To everyone.

P.S. HD 700 vs HD 650 review-
http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/03 … en-in.html

Source:
http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/04 … ed-it.html

Last edited by techboy (2016-05-07 08:14:57)


AVI ADM 9RS | HD 650 | HD 598 | Asus Essence One Muses Edition DAC & HA | Garage1217.com Project Ember HA | Asus STX DAC & HA | Fiio E12 | iDevices

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#2 2016-05-07 12:22:36

Moonhead
Senior member
From: Aarhus C, Denmark
Registered: 2013-11-28

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

Technboy reviews.. Gotta love Them wink


iMac 21.5 - AVI ADM40SB - iPad Air
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#3 2016-05-07 12:25:48

techboy
Senior member
From: New Delhi
Registered: 2013-10-17
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

Lol  big_smile


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#4 2016-05-07 12:56:55

steve_1979
Senior member
Registered: 2011-09-09

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

Nice write up. Thanks for posting.

How do you find the sound of the HD700 compares to the HD800?

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#5 2016-05-07 13:05:38

dBerriff
Administrator
From: Rutland, England
Registered: 2010-12-03

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

They put my fire-engine red, TK-Maxx, cheap Pioneer cans in the shade, methinks.

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#6 2016-05-07 13:41:40

techboy
Senior member
From: New Delhi
Registered: 2013-10-17
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

steve_1979 wrote:

Nice write up. Thanks for posting.

How do you find the sound of the HD700 compares to the HD800?

Doesn't compare.

I prefer the HD 800 to the HD 650 by a long shot. And I'd rather have a HD 650 over a HD 700.


AVI ADM 9RS | HD 650 | HD 598 | Asus Essence One Muses Edition DAC & HA | Garage1217.com Project Ember HA | Asus STX DAC & HA | Fiio E12 | iDevices

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#7 2016-05-07 14:48:59

lpv
Senior member
From: West Midlands
Registered: 2013-06-02

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

on a brief listen and in the passive days I disliked HD800 with Sennheiser own, over £1000 amp/dac.. bright as hell.. I should have another listen now when my ears are not poisoned by passives anymore.. nice write up.. did yoi compare to 9rss??


Darius

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#8 2016-05-07 15:26:05

Andy-F
Senior member
From: Leeds
Registered: 2010-05-08

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

Great review and I hope one day you can afford a pair.


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#9 2016-05-07 15:59:21

techboy
Senior member
From: New Delhi
Registered: 2013-10-17
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

If you find the HD 800 bright, then the HD 700 is a lot worse.

Also, it needs to be paired with a warm amp, and 90% SS amps don't pair well with it.

I have a 9RS (new SB). HD 800 is brighter and audibly better. The 9RS is somewhere in between a HD650 and HD 800. Closer to a HD 650.


AVI ADM 9RS | HD 650 | HD 598 | Asus Essence One Muses Edition DAC & HA | Garage1217.com Project Ember HA | Asus STX DAC & HA | Fiio E12 | iDevices

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#10 2016-05-07 16:11:59

Ashley James
Administrator
From: Stroud
Registered: 2009-03-20
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

FWIW I had an Indian agent here recent and nearly all the Indian stuff he played had a definite character and it was too bright IMO, so this would affect your perception of HD800s.

Western Classical music is recorded using minimalist microphone techniques and with as little post production as they can get away with, so really it is the only neutral source that can be used to establish whether or not replay equipment is bright.

Historically, at the record company's behest, all commercial music is peaked in the 1-3kHz region to make it appear clear after it has been compressed and because it will be played on non hi Fi equipment.

I keep posting this because some don't seem to grasp it.

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#11 2016-05-07 16:26:46

lpv
Senior member
From: West Midlands
Registered: 2013-06-02

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

Ash, is it possible to create one set of speakers suitable for all type of recording techniques?


Darius

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#12 2016-05-07 16:34:16

Ashley James
Administrator
From: Stroud
Registered: 2009-03-20
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

That's what we've done as far as it possible and something like the iTunes EQ settings can make up the difference.

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#13 2016-05-07 16:48:16

dBerriff
Administrator
From: Rutland, England
Registered: 2010-12-03

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

A linear device suits all my needs.

As soon as you start trying to match multiple nonlinear devices then you get all the bleating on about "searching for my sound" that you see on the bass guitar forums because at some time or other they have used a particular distorting valve amp into a speaker cab that rolls off the HF with the right characteristics to make the sound bearable. The results can be amazing, but trying to replicate it with modern high-powered linear bass heads and speakers leads to results that are "sterile", lack "heft" and all the other gobbledygook that has strong parallels in the HiFi world.

In the bass world, build a linear system and then use an effects pedal or pre-amp drive channel to put back controllable dirt.

In HiFi, build a linear system then add a pre-amp with tone controls or throw blankets over the speakers.

cool

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#14 2016-05-07 16:53:33

dBerriff
Administrator
From: Rutland, England
Registered: 2010-12-03

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

P.S. No one apart from bass players cares all that much about how the bass sounds for 99% of the time, a few iconic tracks excepted. And the bedroom experts who have never experienced the controlled mayhem of a real gig are the worst for pretending that it is all very important that you have Nordstrand rather than Aguilar pickups fitted to your bass, and Mullard rather than Russian tubes (valves) in your pre-amp. This of course does all matter in the recording studio, because we will all be listening to the results on our ADMs and will notice if you don't get it right. A bit like the Radio 3 review programmes that take ALL the pleasure out music.

Youth Against Facism by Sonic Youth has that amp-in-meltdown sound; any well-recorded upright bass also sounds special to my ears.

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#15 2016-05-07 17:38:55

techboy
Senior member
From: New Delhi
Registered: 2013-10-17
Website

Re: Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

HD 650 have a bit much bass. HD 800 bass is better.


AVI ADM 9RS | HD 650 | HD 598 | Asus Essence One Muses Edition DAC & HA | Garage1217.com Project Ember HA | Asus STX DAC & HA | Fiio E12 | iDevices

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