Sennheiser HD650

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Jeangenie, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    WA3 is pretty horrid IMO, slow, soft, and veiled, but is somewhat affordable. (For the record, with some exceptions, I dislike the Woo house sound: soft, slow, mushy, overly romantic, veiled, missing low-level information).

    Of OTLs, these are the following I would actually consider, but they cost more.
    1. Bottlehead Crack (DIY) (https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/bottlehead-crack.120/)
    2. Feliks Elise (https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/feliks-audio-elise-tube-amp-review-not.2260/)
    3. EC ZDS
    4. Millett Teton
    A "feature" of OTLs is higher output impedance, which will impact bass at the resonant frequency of dynamic cans, usually between 80Hz to 100Hz. These effects are actually measurable. The greater the output impedance, the greater the effect. As a result, there is often a sensation of more slam. The highs to a smaller extent will be increased. The downside to that big coupling cap is a possibility of roll-off at the extreme low end, overly thick, slow, and veiled sound. At best, it may be a luxurious or romantic sound. The bass increase from the higher output impedance can be offset through the use of leaner tubes (FR measurements don't tell us everything and leave out transient non-steady state and distortion information).

    The good thing about OTL is that big caps are cheaper than good transformers, thus allowing one to experience tube sound without breaking the bank since good transformers are expensive.

    OTLs will only be suitable for dynamic cans with higher impedance. Orthos will be a bad idea. Super low impedance orthos like the LCD-X and Verum might be asking for trouble.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  2. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    No Valhalla 2? ^^
     
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Valhalla 2 too, but the topology isn't SET, and with the use of CCS and feedback, has a resultant sound that is quite different from traditional OTLs. The guy on Reddit who said he couldn't hear the difference between the Magni Uber and Valhalla 2 does kind of have a point.
     
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  4. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    My experience is the opposite, w/both the WA3 & WA22 sounding awfully good to me (in different ways).
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    It's all relative and if you love the sound of distortion. I hate both of those amps. Two of three worst sounding Woo amps. Only WA2 is worse. Add WA7. WA234. WA5 too.

    WA6SE is good. Same with WA33.

    I would say, learn from the mistakes of Macedonian Hero. He loved the W22 and went into every other Head-Fi thread espousing the sublime qualities of the WA22... until he got better stuff.
     
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  6. cbl117

    cbl117 Rando

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    I did some light reading on Feliks Elise. Very disappointing to see them more than double the price. The Echo is now their ~$699 offering. Espressivo is $1119. Does the value proposition still stand with the Elise at its new price? I'm going to look into Echo and Espressivo.
     
  7. cbl117

    cbl117 Rando

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    Women in my life (in order of priority):
    1. Sabrina
    2. Megan

    I'll let you guess which one is my wife...






    ...don't tell Megan I wrote this...
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    That's too bad, but I can't blame Poles for wanting to be capitalist. The thing about the Elise is that it uses good sounding tubes. Can't beat octals (6SN7, 6SL7) and 6AS7 power tubes. Haven't heard Echo or Esp, but I'm sure they will not be as good as the Elise and probably a reason they are priced less.

    The Massdrop x ZDT Jr. has an OTLish sound despite it being transformer coupled. I think @brencho or someone local has it. I could send this out to you.
     
  9. YMO

    YMO Friend

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    As a former WA6SE owner, it does a lot of things right. I miss that bass and mid-range the most.
     
  10. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    The HD 650 is simply an excellent headphone. I decided to briefly switch to my HD 800S to carefully evaluate changes I have made to my system in recent months. The sound signature of the HD 800 and HD 800S is hardly ideal and as I switched back to my HD 650 headphones, I realized that few headphones I've ever owned have been as well rounded in terms of sound signature, aesthetics, mechanical design, economics, ergonomics, reliability and value. I recently listened to the Focal Utopia and Clear but didn't find either to be be technically perfect enough and the driver failures is a concern. I can't imagine what an upgrade to the HD 650 actually is? They're so good that they give me a good reason to sell my HD 800S headphones.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  11. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I have a heavily modded pair of HD650s--the JAR650 (mods by Jupiter Audio Research. The mods turned an already very fine HP (HD650) is something even better.

    I have other headphones that are far more expensive & aim higher, design-wise. Yet it's always kind of shocking how close the JAR650 comes to the others when I listen head-to-head.

    There's a reason the HD650 is still around, still well regarded after all these years. It does a lot of things right.
     
  12. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Friend

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    I love the 650 but I'll never get rid of my 800. It does bass better and the imaging/soundstage are on another level. I like to think of them as compliments to one another rather than rivals. Having both is an embarrassment of riches.
     
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  13. murphythecat

    murphythecat Friend

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    the problem I have with hd800 is the relative lack of bass vs hd650/utopia. I have been using bass boost with my hd800 for few years now and the hd650 are relegated to a secondary setup. I agree without bass boost, id take hd650 over hd800. and Utopia over both. With analog bass boost, i think a modded hd800 + bass boost is as good as Utopia. I will actually sell the Utopia after a year living with both, i can honestly say that all the problem I have with a modded hd800 is the lack of bass. analog bass boost may be worth trying?
     
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  14. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Friend

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    I find that bass with the 800 is heavily amp / DAC dependent. Even power cables. My 800 actually has more bass and slams harder than my modded 650 out of my T3/Gungnir Multibit/CDP.
     
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  15. murphythecat

    murphythecat Friend

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    weird, in all of my setup, hd800 bass vs hd650 bass seem lacking and subdued, quite obviously,
    hd800 bass is cleaner for sure tough.

    In my setup, hd800 (sdr+ sbaf mod) without bass boost is for my taste way too clinical sounding.
     
  16. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Friend

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    I was very surprised by this to be sure, but 800 is extremely fickle with setups and can be totally different depending on whats upstream.
     
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  17. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    As someone who's spent a great deal of time tweaking the HD800 to where I want it I'll echo MrFire in that the HD800 is heavily DAC/AMP dependent and that every little bit of tweaking helps. It's very sensitive to changes up the chain. Stock HD800 out of an SS amp is terrible for me, absolutely unlistenable except maybe with classical and jazz. For a long time I did EQ to get the HD800 more similar to the HD650 in tonality and that works fairly well, but all EQ always seem to subtract a tad of something here and there. I'm not against EQ and it can fix many problems fast, but these days I've moved away from it.

    My current HD800 tweaks include:

    * Thick pure copper cable (no silver)
    * SD mod
    * SBAF mod
    * Sonett tube amp (tube amps tend to soften the treble which is good for HD800)
    * Theta DAC (old school dac with lots of bass drive, you want a warm dac with good bass drive.)

    All these things together completely transforms the HD800 and gives lots of deep tight bass, I'm a bit of an electronica fan so I know what I'm talking about. If you want overdone mainstream flabby boosted bass, ok the HD800 isn't for you. But if you want deep tight precise high-end bass a modded HD800 is wonderful thing. Getting the HD800 to sound right is as much about taming the treble and bringing out the midrange as it is about boosting the bass. When you tame the treble and lift the midrange you give more space in the music for the bass to become more prevalent.

    With my setup I'd say the HD800 is maybe not a HD650 in terms of warmness but it's pretty darn close to a HD600, only that is has much deeper tighter bass, superior soundstage and microdetails. Yes, you need good quality material to listen to because it's still a very revealing headphone. But such is the life of the high-end. Some music is just better with a pair of Shure 215's and you don't want to overanalyze it or hear all the details.

    I've compared my setup to LCD-4 and Utopia on several occasions and overall I highly respect both those headphones, but as a "neutral sound-stage guy who values comfort" they really don't offer me any reason to trade. So I consider a modded HD800 at least equal to those headphones, different tastes and all that. But it also means that you can get a TOTL headphone for very little money if you shop around and know what you're doing.

    I also wouldn't discard the TP mod and a little EQ if you want a quick a dirty fix... two layers of low quality toilet paper behind the black screen and then a +4 dB boost below 100hz will do wonder for a lot of HD800's even when driven with an SS amp.

    Which thread was this in? HD650? Oh well..
     
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  18. murphythecat

    murphythecat Friend

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    I have not much experience with EQ, only DSP like high end EQ or Sonarworks. DSP/Digital fix the bass but degrades sound.
    I only use ifi audio amps. The iFi retro stereo 50 HP amp (pure el84 tube amp) or ifi pro ican (hybrid) has built in analog bass boost. Their bass boost to my ears doesnt remove anything at all and only adds the punch and missing bass. I have tried many time to hear degradation in the mid and highs, but it seems to be a very clean boost. with all my amps, without bass boost, id take Utopia over hd800 any day without hesitation. I actually prefer the hd800 mids to Utopia, it sounds more natural, and details from hd800 is also more "Real" then the hyper detaied that comes out ofthe Utopia, its close but I give the slight organic edge to hd800. Bass boost for me works wonder, and ill take hd800 with mods+ bass boost over Utopia indeed.
     
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  19. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    I mirror @TwoEars @murphythecat and @ColtMrFire.

    Tonality wise, my eq-ed and tweaked hd800 can be close to hd600. But technicality is well above. Most obvious when I switch to hd800 is how the stage opens up and bass becomes 1st class.

    The thing is, I normally dont need that much technicality for day-to-day listening. And for vocal tracks, hd800's strengths become somewhat irrelevant. Hd600 and hd650 then take over my listening time.
     
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  20. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    And I think the posts above illustrate how good the HD 650 is in the sense that it doesn’t require extensive modifications to achieve the listener’s targets. Unlike the HD 800 and HD 800S, the HD 650 only improves with better sources and it fits a wider range of music genres. It wasn’t until I bought the HDV 820 amplifier that I began to appreciate some of the HD 800S’s capabilities and Sennheiser’s desired targets— it was by far the best amplifier I have ever heard for those headphones. I’ve owned many amplifiers including the 430HAD, Balancing Act, Black Widow 2, DAVE etc. and even EQuilibrium couldn’t fix the misgivings of the HD 800S’s thin tonal balance which always overshadowed anything it did well like soundstage and sheer detail.

    More than 15 years since the introduction of the HD 650, it still is a damn fine headphone.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
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