'Neutralizing' my HD800

Discussion in 'DIY' started by stratocaster, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. frenchbat

    frenchbat Almost "Made"

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    thanks stratocaster, managed to do it. Not my cup of tea though. Press fit pads fucked up the soundstage.

    I assume foam inlay will fare better.
     
  2. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    iI didn' t notice that much of a negative impact on the soundstage. I did not really press the pads that much into the cup, they should not really touch the cup screens, they should act more like a lid. if you cover the screens, the bass and lower mids are elevated. The same happens with a foam inlay. But it might also be that the 6k peak is responsible for the expansive soundstage that many have come to like. it all comes at a prize I guess.
     
  3. chakku

    chakku Friend

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    I think if that were the case a lot more people would hate the S.
     
  4. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    My objective for the following mod was to keep the stock pads and still reduce the 6kHz peak, which is still there, though tamed considerably by the SD resonator. Using foam/felt inlays that cover the metal mesh resulted in a general elevation of the bass, while bringing down the highs, all quite undesirable sonically.

    Trying to maintain a maximum of soundstage, I ended up with a thin (~8mm) D-shaped velvet HD800-pad clone:
    T_inlay1.jpg

    The D-inlay is inserted under the stock pad like this:
    T_inlay_2.jpg

    But it proved important that the inlay did not cover any of the meal mesh of the cup, it functions as a layer beneath the stock pad, reducing the opening of the pad just a bit.

    Measurements, comparing HD800 with SD resonator (green) and HD800 + resonator + inlay (red):
    T_inlay.jpg

    Only the frequencies from 4.5 to 7 kHz are affected, with the 10kHz peak being moved to 9.5 kHz. So I guess there is still room for improvement, and I would certainly like to see Sennheiser doing some work on their pads, which - if you order new pads - are a PITA to install anyway
     
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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  5. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
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    Have you tried the new pads without the plastic ring under the pads? I've been using something similar to that for the past half year or so and it noticeably helps the upper mids and lower treble to be more in line with each other. But in this case the SD resonator might've had a greater effect (not sure).

    I might order a pair of HM5 velours just to see what it sounds like. Are the angled pads preferred?
     
  6. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    Haven't tried the angled velours, just old plain ones. What is important, though, is that whatwever you use it should not be pushed too far into the cups and that way touch the mesh. You could easily cut out some ticker felt D-shaped inlays (I tried 5mm felt) and basically get the same result as shown in above measurement. These D-inlays should then protrude about 5mm from under the stock pad, thus reducing the pad opening a bit, while at the same time absorbing reflections inside the cups to some degree.
     
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  7. listen4joy

    listen4joy Rando

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    Great JOB! waiting for more updates..
     
  8. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    I thought I could make use of my old and rather worn HD800 pads and try 'leatherizing' them and check if there are any sonic changes. I used some very thin Italian lambskin for a quick job.
    There are no drastic changes, there's just a little more energy from 400 Hz to 3 kHz. Measurements were taken with SD resonator and the velvet inlays described in above post.

    leather.jpg

    leatherMeasurement.jpg
     
  9. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    The following measurement is a comparison of how my stock HD800 (without SD resonator) measures on my solid plate coupler (yellow) and how the driver measures without stock pad (grey). So, the yellow line indicates how the pad affects the response.

    blank_driver_stock.jpg
     
  10. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    The distance between mic and driver matters a lot for hd800 measurements. If you let the mic stick from the coupler the measured fr is significantly affected. So what your measurements show here is probably the result of different causes including the reduced distance between the coupler and the driver one the pads removed ... not only the pads itself.

    Hope I'm understandable enough. The hd800 is a difficult beast to measure accurately IMO. More difficult than a lot other headphones. Cups have a huge effect and IMO benefited from a lot of engineering from sennheiser.
     
  11. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
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    I've found that there is a certain distance that the driver should be from your ears and it seems like that distance is slightly smaller than with the stock earpads allow. I find old and worn pads to sound smoother frequency response wise. However the ring around the driver has a very similar effect, so new pads might be better for people using a cork ring around the driver.

    I might dig up my in ear measurements of the same thing but they look VERY different from everything else on here so I'm not sure if I want to post something that could confuse people.
     
  12. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    I agree, protrusion of the mic ABSOLUTELY has to remain constant! Just like one has to make sure the cups are placed in the same position (as much as possible) on the coupler when measuring the same headphone. Minimal changes sometimes cause big differences in FR, mostly in the higher frequencies. But this is no exact science. A lot has already been said about valididity and reliability when it comes to cross-rig measurement differences/comparisons. I am trying to set and keept to my own standards, so that it helps me achieve the best sound (for me). If I think I find out something worthwhile, I share it. People have to draw their own conclusions,experiment themselves and decide if they go for a change/mod on the background of their preferences and sonic tastes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  13. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    This is just a great headphone/driver to tinker with. This is the latest iteration in my attempt to neutralze the HD800. It has the following mods installed: SD Resonator, modded pads (leather outside, velvet inside), trapezoid felt cover, plus 2 new mods...

    Measurement:
    neutralize_it.jpg

    I used some front damping ring (about 1mm thick), bringing down the 10kHz peak a bit...
    1.jpg

    ...plus some VERY preliminary rear damping ( I know it is not a pleasant sight), still it has its effect!
    2.jpg

    If you hold your hand over the rear side of the driver, you will have some weird (10db!) 1.5kHz peak, very much like the infamous Grado shout peak. But if you give the driver some space/volume (inside the metal mesh) to breathe and damp it just very slightly, it will just bring the mids up a bit.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  14. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

    Friend BWC MZR
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    I've experimented with back damping before (mostly felt or foam) and I always saw benefits in FR but it sounded much more closed in.
    I've removed the metal grills entirely on both my HD600 and HD800 and in both cases it sounds more open to me. Putting the metal grills back on (the magnet will hold it in place) while playing music does make it sound more closed in.

    Also: The cup and driver angle make it hard to accurately measure the HD800 on a flat coupler. Compare Tyll's graphs of different headphones (for example HD650) to the HD800 and notice how the deep 4kHz notch doesn't show up on the dummy head. I noticed the same thing when I measured it on my own head. I think the upper mids suckout is mostly the slight depression from 1-3kHz compared to the huge mountain at roughly 5-8kHz.

    For now I'm thinking that SBAF absorber + SD resonator + slight pad mods (and maybe ring or trapezoid) are enough to make the HD800 sound somewhat neutral.
     
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  15. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    This is mighty impressive graph regardless of how it actually sounds in real life.
    I've tried the front - back damping a bit. Makes the sound a little dead/flat.
    It might be the thing for many folks.
     
  16. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    I have found that headphones measuring flat on my rig tend to sound a lot better to my ears than headphones that have a dip or bump somwhere in the FR. When I am modding a headpone and then looking at the FR, I can usually "see" in advance if I will like the sound or not. This is nothing about special skills of any sort, but about repeated sonic evaluation of anterior modding steps. And, I am taking GREAT care to always place the cup I am measuring in exactly the same place as in the measurements before. Plus, how can measuring a headphone on a flat coupler be more difficult or less valid than measuring it on one's head? In addition, I would recommend not comparing flat coupler measurements with dummy head measurements offhand.
     
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  17. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Agree on both. Right now front or back damping aren't for me.

    I never meant that you should directly compare two differnt headphones measured on two different rigs. What I meant is that if you look at the differences in measurements of two headphones on the same rig and then compare the same two (or more) headphones on a different rig, you can get a better understanding of how something is going to sound like.
    All measurement rigs are a set of compromises. Tyll's measurements are much worse at capturing certain things about the sound of a headphone than Marv's V1 measurements but you can also see other things that the solid-plate rigs may not show. The same obviously goes for all measurement rigs. I really like that we are getting V1 measurements of some headphones again on here.

    This doesn't make one measurement rig more 'valid' than another one, some are better at some things and other are better at others. I will never give up on my flat coupler in favour of my in ear measurements.

    Also measurements are obviously no substitute for listening. The sole reason that I started doing in ear measurements was that I felt that my solid plate coupler didn't show some differences very well and even then no measurements can capture all aspects of the sound of a headphone.
     
  18. ThePianoMan

    ThePianoMan Facebook Friend

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    I tried out a variation of this mod last night - I attached the ZMF cowhide pads (I had some extras lying around) using a light but if tape on the inside back of the plastic D-ring. The fot is pretty good, although I have a large noggin, and am using the furthest detents on the headband.

    I compared against some Zmf protein pads but prefered cowhide. Still doing listen but initial impressions are very positive! 6khz not bothersome at all, ecen on very sibilant songs. Theres a good bit more perceived bass, not sure if its impact or actual level yet. Upper-midrange dip has been brought up, maybe a slight elevation leading up to 1-2khz? Still listening. In any case I can actually crank the volume and not die in a screech-fest, very pleasant, much more natural sounding. Still plenty of treble clarity.

    Soundstafe is different too, more focused, more perceived depth, less width. Its a closer soundstage, more forward, but I think its pleasant, it sounds less hyper-wide and Image separation and solidity is subjectively better. For an easily reversable mod I find it really nice, great work stratocaster! Looking forward to more measurements.
     
  19. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    Just for the sake of completeness, in my attempt to make these more neutral sounding and match my sonic preferences this is what I have settled with after tons of changes, experiments, measurements and listening:

    final.jpg

    Mods applied:

    x pads: everything plasticky was removed from underneath the pads, pads were leatherized and mounted using double-sided tape.
    x rear damping: plastic ring removed, cotton pad, layer of Transpore, mesh mounted using some 'custom' solution
    x driver: Sorrodje's SD resonator

    Measurement:
    final_fr.jpg

    final_csd.jpg

    I couldn't be happier with these. I tried a lot to increase subbass but to no avail. And in favour of a neutral, balanced and non-fatiguing performance I had to make a compromise with regard to the soundstage, which is a little less expansive now. But hey, you can't have it all.
     
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  20. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    Just for fooling around I tried Audeze vegans. I got somewhat similar results: NO brightness, almost dark sound, in ways darker than HD650.
    Soundstage sort of took dump and died, though imaging was ok.
    Bass was much beefier, but less precise, slightly muddy.
     

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