Drop x Sennheiser HD8XX (final tuning)

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Marvey, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    Here is a summary of the other mods:
    1. SDR only is fine (applied to the HD800) and I consider this with the SBAF to be among one of the best mods personally. The SDR tames the 5.5-6kHz peak. The SBAF liner brings up the scooped mids. (hmmm). The HD800 + SDR + SBAF (BTA) still sounds a bit hot in the mid-treble and up. The main problem is finding an HD800 these days.
    2. SBAF (BTA) liner can improve localization with less diffuse sound, but at the expense of expansiveness.
    3. Cork mod and Vader mods similar in that more absorbing material is used. Less bright then above #1, but still a bit bright - remember, I dislike bright and if anything prefer a darker signature. The downside with using material is slower transient response.
    The HD8XX isn't as bright as the above (and again still needs proper placement of putting the driver as far ahead and low to the ear). It also fully retains HD800 transient response. However the downside is scooped mids starting earlier than before at 800Hz and deeper in amplitude. I am fine with such a 1.5 octave scoop centered at approximately 2.5kHz. Whether you are or not I cannot say. Also, the HD8XX doesn't have such a thick bass presentation like HD800S - the bass presentation is closer to that of the drier HD800. So if you want a bassy HD800, which most people I've met say they prefer, the HD8XX will not be it.

    In a nutshell:
    • Not a bassier HD800(S). Bass presentation not as thick as HD800S (less third order) and more similar to OG HD800.
    • Maintains transient response, the attack, bite, and "snap" of HD800(S), which cork and Vader mods do take a bit off.
    • Not as bright as HD800(S), but instead a midrange scoop with a tiny bit of emphasis is lower mids.
    • Same expanded slightly diffuse headstage as HD800(S).
    • Lower bass extension than HD800.
    • Nothing like HD650 (in case you wanted this comparison!)
    Personally, I do not need another headphone. However, but nothing has headstage like the HD800(S). It's the only headphone which is capable of projecting a stereo image 4" in front of my eyes instead of 0.5" in front. (Speakers can project a soundstage past the wall depending upon my sources and gear). The HD800 even beats SR1a in most aspects of headstage.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  2. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    I tend to align 500Hz and 1000Hz when I can. Here is the plot done this way vs HD800S Anniversary Edition to put aside any concerns of evil conspiracies, which seems to come up every time Drop is involved. :rolleyes:

    Drop x Sennheiser HD8XX v2 (BLU/RED) vs HD800S Anniversary Edition (WHT)
    Frequency Response
    upload_2021-7-23_21-29-46.png

    Marginally more lows, deeper mid scoop, moderately reduced highs. Really, it's the "same difference" as the graph where I aligned the highs in the first post. Lows, mids, and highs are all relative to each other.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  3. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    Thanks. Sounds like it retains HD800 traits but fixes the fatal to me flaw of excessive brightness. Even after 10+ years I still like the traits and all but it's probably one of the 2 flagship headphones that I cannot happily listen to for more than 5 minutes due to the highs unless it is Darth Vader modded.

    While scooped mids are not ideal, I do agree with your earlier post that the scooped mids here help emphasize some of the "subjective technicalities" and gave the HD800 some of it's traits.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2021
  4. burnspbesq

    burnspbesq Friend

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    Hmmm … my OG 800 are pretty beat up (had them since 2009), and the price is right. Tempted.

    But … I’m that rare person who loved the 800 right out of the box (I could show you the FR curve from my last hearing test and you’d understand). Concerned that I’ll find them lacking.

    Any suggestions?
     
  5. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    If you like them as they were out of the box then i hardly see the point in spending so much money for something similar but different. Have you thought about just going for the "different" part? :) Maybe there's so much out there that you would love...
     
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  6. futbutts

    futbutts Friend

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    I think the only suggestion that can be made is wait to see how they really sound to you, with your system. If they're good enough maybe they'll replace the HD800's for you -- if they're just a different flavor maybe it'll just be another addition to your stable. If they suck they suck, and you return them/sell them.


    "Similar but different" could also mean straight-up "improved". I also like the vanilla HD800 but I think done right, a little extra balance wouldn't be bad at all and I'd love to have something that sounded like that.

    I for one do hope these just wreck the re-sale value of my HD800's. Obviously it would suck in a pragmatic sense but the world could always use another great set of headphones, and I don't feel the 800S'es are perfect enough to warrant being the final word in the 800-series.
     
  7. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I'd like to wait and see what project this is funding for Sennheiser ;-) We know the "Drop" of a product means the birth of something anew. As Marv stated and Drop - this is the farewell for the HD800 that is needed. Took a little extra push from the community, but the community won! Can't wait to try these out someday.
     
  8. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    When I see the graphs and discussion around "scooped mids", it makes me think of the Focal Elear back in the day. I bought those and absolutely hated them. Electric guitars had no crunch or bite, and it made stringed instruments (especially violins and acoustic guitar) sound odd. That experience is what made me jump on the Utopia after comparing one to my HD800SDR.

    Subjectively, does the HD8XX have the same issue with electric guitar and stringed instruments with its scooped mids? How do they compare to the Utopia?
     
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  9. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    FWIW, I figured I should mention the systems which I evaluated the HD8XX:
    1. Pi2AES -> Schiit Gungnir MB -> EC Studio (custom version x2 45 with Monolith interstage transformers)
    2. PC -> Motu Ultralite MK4 -> Magni 3+
    Gungnir is R2R, but not organic sounding. Some thickness, but not emphasis in midbass or lower mids and not especially laid-back either. The custom EC amp is a bit snappy in the upper mids like all other EC amps, but isn't edgy or etchy like solid state. Overall tone is slightly warm. The best headphones that work with it are the Utopia and JAR HD600 IMO.

    The Motu is ESS, but "whispered" so it doesn't sound all crispy, etchy, nasty, or lean like other ESS stuff, namely the Chi-Fi crap shilled on ASR that measures with 122 SINAD but sounds like shit. It's actually kind of mellow sounding and warm throughout.

    Any Topping ESS DAC with the above amps would make the HD8XX's highs sound like a prickly cactus was shoved into my ear. Lean and crispy and etchy are not good sources. However, if a Topping ESS EAC were paired with one of those Topping 122 SINAD amps with that piece of crap TPA6120 chip, then it would work. That chip infects the sound of any source with its own mellow warmy schwarmy sound - not much different from Sennheiser's own HDVD600/800 amps (they use the same chip). The HD8XX has been tweaked, but its timbre and excellent (perhaps even emphasized) top octave are still present.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 29, 2021
  10. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Marv - not to ask too much, but I'm trying to read between the lines so this doesn't need to be asked, but I want to confirm that you are actually saying the Magni 3+ is doing plenty good-enough of a job? ;)
     
  11. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    LOL, Magni 3+ is good enough with respect to tone. I still feel the HD8XX has a inherent buzzy top octave. Not bright, but the mosquitos can certainly come with with bad implementations of ESS chips. However, Magni 3+ is not sufficient to bring out the full capabilities of the HD8XX: headstage, layering, slam, plankton, etc.

    Magni 3+ is a very very competent Indy Car driver or USA MLS football player that won't crash or score a goal against own team, but what we need is Ayrton Senna or Lionel Messi behind the ball or the wheel.
     
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  12. Music_as_medicine

    Music_as_medicine Rando

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    Very interesting - thank you for your work on this.

    I'm tempted by this drop but as others said, I'm wondering if Senny has another trick up its sleeve with a potential HD900 given that they just released an IE900.

    As we all know, these products take years of R&D so I have a feeling Sennheiser was working on something prior to the buyout.
     
  13. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    Magic eight ball says: doubt it.

    Remember, this is Sennheiser. They haven't done shit since the HD800, which seems like 10000 years ago. Everything good they've come up with since has been custom products from Drop (HD58X, HD6XX) and now HD8XX. Sennheiser came out with the HD800S because folks like us since the Changstar days kept pointing out the small perfection of the 6kHz bump - for years. All the while the folks at Focal are thinking... wait, we can kick Sennheiser's ass (or at least offer something different or complementary which is just as good if not better).

    And when Sennheiser had the opportunity to take what they had which as good (their stats), they decided to pour resources into a $59,000 HE1 stat with amp made from marble rather than offering something that even fairly rich audiophiles can afford. Now Sennheiser has let the likes of Dan Clark and now Audeze hand them their ass at stats. (The HE1 isn't that good).

    Also, the IE900 wasn't exactly great if you read the SBAF review and community impressions. Same with the HD660S, HE560S. If Sennheiser made an HD900, it would probably be great in some respects, but horrifying in others.

    Seriously, Sennheiser does not have good product people for their headphones division and they probably never will now that Axel is long gone. They are utterly clueless.
     
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  14. kirayamato

    kirayamato Friend

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    how is the low end bass and the slam? compared to like the he1000 comparable atleast or still loses?
     
  15. Marvey

    Marvey Super Friend

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    HE1000 low end is way cleaner. Assuming all things equal with optimized chains: HD8XX has marginally more mid-bass punch. HE1000 has more lower-mid bass heft and sustain, but not as punchy because of thin-diaphragm
     
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  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    @Marvey does the upper midrange dip recess vocals, or is it placed in that particular spot like the HD650's where it is hard to even notice without a trained ear for recession in the upper mids? For example the og HE500 has a huge upper midrange dip but sounded pretty balanced and vocals certainly weren't recessed. I remember Luis seeing measurements of them and saying "holy shit I can't master with these!" :)
     
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  17. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,
    asperational minds want to know.
    please do not suggest mods, i am ham fisted on the best of days, and totally lacking in opposable thumbs most of the time.
    however, if one were looking to aquire the most all-a-rounder of the mutiverse of Sennheiser HD8whatever, what would that be?
    thanks ever so.
     
  18. SchwizzelKick66

    SchwizzelKick66 Rando

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    I'm strongly considering jumping on the drop for the HD8xx with the reports of a warmer sound signature in the final tuning. I have to wonder though how much of an upgrade the 8xx will be to the 6xx/660s. I wonder if the HD8xx, even with updated tuning, will still be too "polarizing" to be an all-encompassing "endgame" for those of us who love the 650/6xx.
     
  19. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I’m still curious about this If you have a moment @Marvey thanks
     
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  20. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    Wow, I didn't realize Drop's latest movements until today. Glad to hear they asked the right person for advice. And measurements and subjective statements sound encouraging.

    I personally liked HD800 in a number of sonic and non-sonic ways. For example, I love they allow plenty of room around ears in the cups. I can feel in- and out- flux of air. Drivers feel like they're hanging in a semi-free field. ETc etc. Not to mention they resolve dynamics, details, and transient in unique ways if not any better than decent competitors.

    From what I witnessed in this thread, 8xx with the latest revision seems to address some of my concerns I had with 800 and mods. With manageable or acceptable tradeoff. I'm 70% sure I would notice 2-3k recession in AB but can live with it once my brain gets accustomed.

    Tempted to snag one. At least enough to motivate me to keep my eyes on them again haha.
     
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