HD800 Darth Vader + SDR Mod

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Marvey, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    HD800 Darth Vader Rebuild + SDR Mod

    I feel absolutely horrible because I forgot that I had been in possession of this headphone for a few months; and only now have I finally been able to get to it. Some of you guys may know that I intentionally dissected a fully functional HD800 for "science" on Changstar about twenty months ago. (I still need to repost those findings here). This left the HD800 pair essentially unusable because the metal foil was ripped out from one side and I could not replicate the special properties of the semi-permeable foil. Those Sennheiser guys are pretty smart and possess secret knowledge that other headphone makers do not.

    At the small El-Lay meet, before the Big El-Lay meet, I mentioned to @Bill-P (our resident mad genius modder) that I still had the drivers and remainder of the parts to the dissected HD800. He volunteered to do something interesting for me. The turnaround was much quicker than I expected. I couldn't get to it right away, so I left this pair languishing in a box for several months. So now I present to you the Darth Vader mod. I'm calling it Darth Vader mod because @Bill-P essentially rebuild it after I broke it. I did tell that that HD800 that I had the high ground, but the HD800 did not listen. Also the metal foil has been replaced by a black wrinkly material on the outside with TP on the inside. Check out these photos:

    20170103_211850.jpg
    20170103_212017.jpg
    Photos are with dustguard removed. This mod REQUIRES the use of the dustguard to help maintain lower bass frequencies.

    Now here are the frequency response plots:
    Grey = Stock HD800
    Purple = Bill-P mod
    Green = Bill-P mod + SDR mod.
    HD800 Bill-P Mods FR.png

    I actually don't mind that the bass is down a few db, the HD800 always exhibited a warmth (actually a V shaped response) that I understood was a necessary evil (to counteract its 6kHz peak). However we can see that the Vader mod reduces the peak and some parts of the treble a few db, reduces the 5kHz dip, and fills in the 1-2kHz area a tiny bit. Overall, the Vader mod evens out the frequency response across the audio band. In conjunction with the SDR mod, the positive effects are even more prevalent. See here for information on the SDR mod: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...nt-resonator-summary-and-interest-check.1558/

    Lets take a look at CSDs to get a clearer picture of what is going on.
    HD800 stock L.jpg
    Bill-P HD800.jpg
    Bill-P HD800 SDR.jpg

    We can see that the Vader mod does even out the response from the lower mids on up. The peak and ringing at 6khz is moderately reduced, and the ringing at 11kHz is almost eliminated with the progressive application of the Vader and SDR mods.

    Don't get me wrong. It's still an HD800. But I am running them balanced out of the Schiit Jotunheim (with Modi Multibit DAC fed by a CDP) and not having a problem! This says a lot since I have gone on record as not recommending the Jotunheim with the HD800 or any of its modded variants.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017

  2. Serious

    Serious Friend

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    LOL, I knew about this and was wondering if you actually still had it and deemed it not good enough for posting :p. I think Bill-P posted pics here some time ago.

    This one only has the material in one side, right? Would be interesting to see what the effects on the soundstage are. I know Bill-P said it sounded very airy. It's unfortunate that something like the SBAF mod elevates the midrange enough that a bass reduction would make it very basslight, but this mod wasn't made with that in mind anyway. I wonder if there's untapped potential here, of if we would waste our time to essentially recreate what Senn already did for us. It's probably not too easy to replicate the material, or even improve on it, while keeping all the bass.
     
  3. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Friend

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    Can you give us any clues a to what the crinkly black material is?
     
  4. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    It almost looks like white material which has been colored with a magic marker? Some kind of air filter?
     
  5. songmic

    songmic Friend

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    So... exactly how is this mod performed? I thought I missed it so I re-read the post thoroughly, but it doesn't seem to say anything about how to apply this mod (how do you even replace the metal foil with something else?), the exact materials used, let alone a step-by-step instruction, other than the fact that it was brought back to life by Bill Palpati... I mean, @Bill-P from a seemingly irreverisble, dismembered condition.

    I find your lack of information disturbing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  6. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    @songmic

    I thought it was very clear. First you break you HD800's, then you give them to @Bill-P
     
  7. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    The metal sheathing was ripped off both earcups and replaced with this material. I have no idea what it is. Only @Bill-P does. I figure he's on vacation so that is why he has not responded yet.

    As for the "airy", I would say that it sounds light. As in lightfooted, open, and fast. Sort of like the Ether or STAX headphones. I would not say they sound thin or lean, even from the Jotunheim.
     
  8. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Looks like black carbon filter paper to me, but that's just a wild guess.
     
  9. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Oops, didn't see this, and couldn't respond due to horribad interweb connection!

    Anyway, the white paper inside is regular dinner tissues that can be purchased for purdy cheap at any convenient store. I think they mostly affected bass performance more so than anything else.

    Balancing mids and reducing treble was this thing:
    https://shop.whiterabbitjapan.com/products/b-m-black-surgical-face-mask

    To be more precise, I'm using the middle layer of that face mask (there are 3 layers, they're all different).

    And I ran out of the other face mask material at the time I was doing this mod, otherwise I would have loved to try and combine two different kinds of medical face mask filters to see what kind of effect they bring.

    The photos should show you all that you need to do (essentially, rip off metal screen, replace with paper). I'd only recommend this mod if, for some reason, you find Senn's metal screen fugly. Or if you have somehow damaged the metal screen and need a quick fix.
     
    TuenD, ultrabike, lac29 and 1 other person like this.
  10. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Cool. Material from a black Japanese surgical mask. Darth Vader mod makes sense.
     
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  11. Koth Ganesh

    Koth Ganesh Friend

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    So Bill, it's paper on the inside and the mask material on the outside? is there a need to adhere the two?
     
  12. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Friend

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    Similar face masks with an inner layer impregnated with activated charcoal are available at convenience stores here in Taiwan. People wear them for air pollution and when they have colds so as not to infect others. Modding HD800s can now be added to the list of uses.
    https://a.ecimg.tw/items/DABC0VA9007KK04/i010002_1476243037.jpg

    @Bill-P Do you just try stuff randomly or is there method to your madness? And did you choose the black mask for acoustic functionality or aesthetics?
     
  13. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Wow, so my guess on carbon paper was right on.
     
  14. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    They are not adhered. The kitchen paper towel / TP-like white sheet seems to impede permeability, preventing bass response from dropping too low while maintaining the the light / airy / open nature of this mod. This approach also requires the use of the dust cover weave with the Senn logo on it. All three layers work in unison, otherwise there is bass drop off.
     
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  15. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I used to just try things randomly, but over the years, I have developed a sense for certain things that when applied to different headphones will yield almost the same result.

    Materials are the same. They typically effect just one thing, regardless of which headphone or where you apply them. Though any change in the grand scheme (when you measure and look for things like FR differences, distortions, etc...) depends entirely on the headphone being used.

    Here, I've chosen paper because, if you'd notice it, Senn used to use paper in their HD580/600/650 before switching over to fabric, and then to metal mesh screen. I don't quite like the "sound of fabric" (I'll elaborate on this in a mod that may use fabric as a material), so that leaves paper for this mod.

    Obviously, longevity and durability is a big issue, so this mod can't be used in the stock HD800 enclosure for too long. It's more a "proof of concept" to show that the metal mesh that Sennheiser uses is an intentional device, and it may not necessarily be "better" than something else.

    Note that I also prefer fabric/paper over metal mesh with HD580/600, though HD650 should definitely use the metal mesh screen.

    I could have adhered the two along the edges (avoid messing with permeability) but I was lazy. :)

    This mod isn't meant to be "complete" due to obvious durability concerns. I simply did it as a "proof of concept" to show that replacing the metal mesh with something else may be a step in the right direction, and Senn shouldn't rule it out.

    Yessir!!

    Personally, I find carbon paper to have a more "agreeable" sound than other kinds of paper. :) Measurements be damned...
     

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