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Tassie Devil

Sennheiser HD800 owners - is the HD800S better?

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I do not ask this for my own information as I own both but thought my determination could be of interest to others.

 

I have owned the HD800 for several years now and was so impressed with it I later purchased a second used pair.  They sounded close to the same to me but a friend with better ears than these old ones (I'll be 81 in a few months) proclaimed them not as good.  Anyway I found that second pair were not being used as originally planned so were sold to a friend who lurks in these columns.  Interestingly he did not like them so onsold them. IMHO the HD800 are very sensitive to input quality so might not suit some systems.

 

Anyway to get to the point of this post, a few weeks ago I did buy a new pair of HD800S here in Australia and immediately put them to use at the main listening host.  Here is the setup there:

 

Meridian Sooloos system with over 15,000 albums (mostly classical) on board -> balanced digital out -> M2Tech Vaughan DAC -> balanced HeadRoom Blockhead amp -> custom balanced cabling -> HD800S

 

VERDICT:  Yes, surprisingly even more articulate and smooth

 

So yes, it is better but whether or not it is worth $1350 more than a good used pair of HD800s is a moot point.  For anyone not retired like me, with other financial commitments, if you have the HD800s, be happy with them because, unless you have a pristine front end, you might not hear a significant difference.

 

And I should add I am now using the HD800 with a portable SONY ZX100 with delightful results.  I butchered an unused aftermarket HD800 cable and silver soldered a 3.5mm plug on the end.  I had erroneously felt for ages that the SONY portables had insufficient grunt to drive the HD800s and there would be a ghastly mismatch - wrong.  They are as drivable as any of the other headphones in this collection and, unsurprisingly, sound better.

 

Audiophilia can be a curse and it can often over shadow the whole point of all of this - listening to and enjoying music.  I have a friend who, although he admits he can hear the difference between his AKG 701s and the HD800, can enjoy music without further expenditure so is very difficult to persuade to part with his money for any upgrade.  And I have felt for many years that upgrades might offer a different sound, but the move is one sideways, not forward as that different sound is not necessarily any closer to achieving (the impossible) "perfect" reproduction than the earlier effort.

 

Bottom line I'm, not claiming the HD800S is the "best" headphone out there (I haven't heard them all anyway) as reactions to AQ vary enormously because we all have different brains with attached ears and have been subjected to different environmental issues which shape our subjective judgements.

 

But I'm, rambling, the privilege of old age, so will stop.

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The HD800s is much more forgiving than the HD800.

 

With the 6khz peak smoothed out a little via the 'Super dupont resonator' and with better quality gear the HD800 is seen to be superior to the newer HD800s.

 

The original HD800 scales incredibly well.  So as your gear gets better if it mates well with the HD800 it will kill the HD800s (in my opinion).

 

Sennheisers mucking around with the bass on the newer HD800s makes it more forgiving but really limits how good the 's' model sounds.

 

Given the right gear the HD800 is an incredible headphone and easily sits beside the other 'best' headphones.

 

The 800s is not transparent or open enough to reach that level.

 

But you may be driven insane and give up trying to get the best out of the original 800. 

 

LPG

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 'Super dupont resonator'

 

Lol.

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The 800s is not transparent or open enough to reach that level.

 

 

 

What?

 

They are the same thing just the driver enclosed grill is slightly different to the original HD800 which the folks on SBAF made the mod called the Dupont Resonator to match to that on the HD800S.

 

Both are equally transparent and unforgiving with poor source. We are talking very small differences here even with the old 5-6k and 10k peaks from the original HD800's. 

 

Doesn't matter with the gear you can either make the HD800/800S more brighter sounding or roll it off to a certain degree where it is very hard and next to impossible to tell the difference between each other and make it less susceptible for it to sound "edgy" or "bright" but it is still a bright sounding headphone at the end of the day.

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@@liteneasy Not very small differences.

 

If you look at the graphs and the video and write up that Tyll and others have done his listening experience and other mirrors mine.

 

Sennheiser addressed complaints from some quarter about the hd800 being too analytical and ruthlessly revealing.  They tweaked the model by putting in the helmholtz resonator to reign in the 6khz peak a little.  The super dupont resonator that's mentions on SuperBestAudioFriends does a very similar thing (but not quite as well).  Further Sennheiser tweaked the bass to give it more richness.  They did this by increasing the distortion in the driver in the lower frequencies.  It shows up in graphs, Sennheiser mentions it, Tyll measures and highlights it in his Innerfidelity article.

 

He like many others believes if your gear is good enough the best unit is the original hd800 with the superdupontresonator installed.  The increased distortion and richness in the bass makes it sound nicer if your gear is crappy or not suited to the signature of the headphone but also makes it much less transparent.  The original has a much more illuminated soundstage.  It also sounds more 'out of the head'.  The transients are faster and the bass is cleaner.

 

Your ears however are no doubt different to mine and many others who have posted about it.

 

No offence intended to those with the HD800s.  Its still a great headphone.

 

LPG

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I knew there was a reason I kept my HD800. Sounds awesome through the Zana Deux.

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