Sennheiser HD 800 v/s HD 650 v/s HD 700 Review

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by techboy, May 7, 2016.

  1. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    Sennheiser's HD 800 - You nailed it Sennheiser!

    I'd like to clear a few things before you read the review.

    1. Sennheiser India was kind enough to lend me their HD 800 for a home demo, for an undetermined length of time. Knowing fully well that I won't be buying them. As I can't afford them at this point in time. So I'd like to thank you Sennheiser India for this kind gesture.

    2. The demo unit is a piece from 2009. One of the first 250 HD 800 headphones that Sennheiser built. So it is the old version. And doesn't need more burn in either.

    3. You'll be disappointed to know that most of the review was done with the Sonarworks Headphone Plugin. SW is a VST plugin that corrects the headphone's frequency curve to bring it as close to neutral as possible. I also enabled the Linear Phase option in SW alongside.

    4. The reason for doing this was because in its stock form, the HD 800 was way too bright. And coming from the HD 650 I was unable to adjust. Nevertheless, the HD 800's sound fantastic even with SW enabled.

    The Test Setup

    Headphones - HD 800 (old), HD 650 (2013 - silver), HD 700 - All burned in heavily due to their age.

    Amplifier - Project Ember Hybrid Tube Amp by Garage1217.com (with supercharger) -> Sylvania 6SN7WGT

    DAC - Asus Essence One Muses Edition

    Software - JRiver with Sonarworks for HD 800, HD 650 and HD 700 (HD 800 setting)

    Music - Recent Bollywood

    Now.

    You should get ready to read the review. :)

    REVIEW

    Long story short, you'll be delighted to know the HD 800 blows away both the HD 650 and HD 700.

    The HD 800 is clearer, cleaner, faster, more detailed, has much less distortion and just better all around.

    In comparison, the HD 650 sounds ***led and distorted. It almost seems like a toy compared to the HD 800. Now. You may not like to hear this. But this is indeed the truth.

    The only advantage the HD 650 has over the HD 800 is that it is a touch more musical and lusher. But the HD 800 is plain and simple better. And so much better than you'll never touch the HD 650 if you buy the HD 800 once.

    After hearing the HD 800 for a few days, I'm finding it really hard to go back to the HD 650.

    You name it. Breaking through congested passages. A larger soundstage. Better sound isolation. The HD 800 nails it nearly every time.

    Even with SW, the HD 800 is a bit brighter than the HD 650. But no big deal. Without Sonarworks, yes, you'll find it hard to listen to the HD 800 if you're not used to a bright sound.

    But that too has perhaps been fixed in the 2013 revision of the HD 800, perhaps.

    Anyway, both headphones were used with Sonarworks.

    And there isn't much of a contest.

    You should take the HD 800 over the HD 650 for anything and everything. For all types of music.

    Comfort

    HD 700 >= HD 800 >> HD 650

    Both the HD 700 and HD 800 are very comfortable. The HD 650 isn't in the same league. Although it is pretty comfortable on its own.

    Mids

    HD 800 is cleaner and clearer. HD 650 is lusher. But HD 800 is in a different league altogether due to its lower distortion.

    Treble

    HD 650 has recessed treble.
    HD 800 has forward treble.
    With Sonarworks, I prefer the HD 650's treble over the HD 800's treble. But only because the HD 800 is still brighter. It is still better in every other way.

    Bass

    Again, HD 800 has less bass. But better bass. You know that!

    Soundstage

    The HD 800 feels like it has a 50-100% bigger SS as compared to the HD 650.

    Everything else

    The HD 800 is clearly a big step up.

    To wrap it up

    I'd even say if they could take care of the bright treble of the old HD 800, it would be perfect.

    The HD 800 deserves to be priced 3-5x the HD 650. IMO. Your mileage may vary.

    And the above impression hasn't been formed over 10 minutes. Initially, I was a bit disappointed. But having heard the HD 800 for a while, going back to the 650 was shocking.

    There is a big difference!

    I recommend the HD 800 wholeheartedly. To everyone.

    P.S. HD 700 vs HD 650 review-
    http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/03/sennheiser-hd-700-sennheisers-queen-in.html

    Source:
    http://akshaytalwar.blogspot.in/2016/04/sennheisers-hd-800-you-nailed-it.html
     

  2. Merrick

    Merrick Friend

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    Is the review coming after the paid advertisement?
     
  3. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    Obviously not. These are my genuine impressions!
     
  4. joeexp

    joeexp Facebook Friend

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    I don't think you'll need the HD 800 if you only have a Asus Essence One Muses Edition.
    You'll only hear better how crap this DAC sounds …
     
  5. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    No. It doesn't. Period.
     
  6. TMRaven

    TMRaven Friend

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    The HD800 will still sound better than the HD650/700 when it comes to detailing, attack, and soundstaging even with an entry level dac. You'd need a truly pos for it to not sound good.
     
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  7. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    Yes. It does sound better in every way. Regardless of the gear. My only issue was the brightness, and Sonarworks tamed it and made it perfect.

    And this was a HD 800 from 2009.
     
  8. Ray

    Ray Friend

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    I own both the 800 & 650 currently. Had the abortion of a phone 700 briefly. The mods offered here definitely make the 800's a more enjoyable listen, but the 650 offers much more of an engagement factor for me.
     
  9. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    The HD 650 is more lush. But technically HD 800 is a significant step up.
     
  10. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    If you had to use Sonarworks to tame the extreme brightness then Sennheiser didn't exactly nail it did they? :D

    Im using an HD800S from a Valhalla 2, DAC is Behringer UCA202 till I decide which DAC I should get and unfortunately I'm not enjoying half my music. The HD600 I had was technically inferior but maybe a bit more enjoyable.

    Maybe it's my cheap DAC, I'm thinking of getting a Bimby and if that doesn't change things much I may go back to the HD600.

    I'm not willing to spend $3000 on amp+DAC to 'fix' a $1699 can.

    I don't like Hifiman's pricing or build quality, Audezes seem to be unreliable and overpriced as well. I'm not sure where to go from the HD600 in my search for a totl can.....
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  11. techboy

    techboy Rando

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    Yes. It is the old one. I'm sure the HD 800S would be perfect. :)

    Also, I listen to Bollywood music. That is bright pop. Probably with classical you'll not need Sonarworks. Perhaps.
     
  12. Dot

    Dot Friend

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    If you upgrade, you're not "fixing" the headphones—you're just not feeding them a shit signal from a shit DAC.

    You also don't need to spend $3K.

    The Audeze Deckard is excellent. It's $549 at Razor Dog Audio.

    The Lavry DA11 is a great DAC in the $1400 range. You can widen and narrow the soundstage on it.

    You wouldn't even be at a point to consider other headphones until you step up into a better DAC. And once you do, the 600s and 800s are going to sound quite a bit different. And you'll be in a better place to judge if they're giving you what you want.

    My 2¢.
     
  13. chakku

    chakku Friend

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    What dictates whether the signal is shit or not? Is it measurable? Is it the price or brand of the DAC? Have you heard the Essence One Muses Edition yourself?

    Just trying to get my head around what looks to me like some passive aggression.
     
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  14. Dot

    Dot Friend

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    Rthomas has a $30 Behringer DAC, yes?

    My comment was bridging the gap between a cheap $30 DAC—that's not nearly up to the performance of his other equipment—and something more reasonably priced that wouldn't run anywhere near $3K.

    Nothing more to it than that.

    Not sure where the Essence One Muses Edition comes into things. But since we're here, what's the word on it?
     
  15. chakku

    chakku Friend

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    My bad, I got confused with the default avatars and assumed it was still the OP.

    On the subject of the DACs though, I honestly don't think running my headphones directly from my onboard would be feeding it a shit signal, unless there was something seriously wrong with my onboard in a broken, not working to spec kind of way. I didn't think the UCA202 was terrible but then again to each their own, YMMV, etc.

    Sorry if I read into it the wrong way, just the way you worded it felt to me like you were criticizing him for having the 'audacity' to feed his Valhalla 2/HD800S from something so cheap, if you get what I'm saying?

    Actually that reminds me, I wonder how many people this photo would upset (not mine):
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Dot

    Dot Friend

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    Ah, no problem. I was actually pointing out two things. 1. Before he should consider other headphones, he should upgrade his DAC. 2. There are excellent DACs way under $3K.

    And, I guess the other point is that a quality DAC is not a "fix."

    Hey, I enjoy HD990s through my iPad. I have higher end DACs and headphones in my studio, but the 990/iPad is my preferred personal system for kicking back, listening to music and watching movies. I know great sound doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.
     
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  17. PoochZag

    PoochZag The Shadow knows - Friend

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    That photo does upset me. That rigid adapter series is just waiting to get bumped and break something off:eek:
     
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  18. T.Rainman

    T.Rainman Acquaintance

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    HD990 or DT990 ? :)
     
  19. Dot

    Dot Friend

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    LOL. DT-990-Pro-250
     
  20. Rthomas

    Rthomas Friend

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm just using the Behringer until I figure out what to do. I'm in the UK which makes it hard to audition most of the gear that is well regarded by the community. I will probably buy a Bimby to see how much of a difference it makes.
     

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