Bill's HD800 mod thread (final version)

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Bill-P, Sep 27, 2015.

Tags:
  1. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

    Staff Member Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,789
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Dijon / Burgundy / France / EU
    @Maxx134 : Still with a Little Dot mkVIII SE ?
     
  2. Maxx134

    Maxx134 no one will touch his boy parts without $$$

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    751
    Dislikes Received:
    114
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
    Yes for now, if you can still call it that,
    and I am admittedly "nit picking" the HD800,
    as it still is excellent,
    like a precision tool/monitor more than a headphone to me.
    But I am still hoping to squeeze out more musicality & I believe continuing the mods is the right direction to take.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2015
  3. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,024
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yeah... I think I'm getting "body" with my mods. I've been going back and forth on actually how much "body" would make it good without sounding bloated, as I have found that I can totally make my HD800 sound bloated with mods, too. So... just be careful?

    If you're wondering what I did, I lined (read: covered) any exposed plastic parts, including the ear pad mounting piece, with microfiber clothes. Felt works, too, but I found that felt was likely reflecting something at 4-5KHz that I don't quite like.
     
  4. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,378
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Estonia
    Ymmv, for me it was adequate amp and dac for body and soul. The hollow / ghosting sound is from the chain in my experience.
    I have simple rugliner mod in mine, but that helps more with tone and imaging.

    I can also second Bill's findings with felt, some edginess in lower treble resulted from felt for me too.
     
  5. Besnia

    Besnia Almost "Made"

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    EU, Bulgaria, Sofia
    hi Bill,

    Sorry, I don't think I was clear in my previous post. I wasn't referring to the peaks and dips in the treble frequencies response. What I was really trying to say is that if the HD800 had a high quality cobalt magnet, those peaks wouldn't really bother you :) Thanks for posting the frequency response of the DIY headphone. I don't have much experience with headphones, so I don't really know how to read into those compensated curves... Yet, I would guess this would be a closed back capsule with no vents, judging by the elevated response in the 400hz through 3Khz region? There still seems to be something going on at 6.5Khz and 12Khz. If this is a closed back design indeed, the seeming "flatness" is most likely due to the tightened acoustic suspension. I'm pretty curious about this design. Could you please share a bit more info, if it's not confidential?

    So, on a related note, I started modding the HD800 i've got here. First I disassembled them, soldered one driver directly and listened to it bare naken with and w/o the protective grill. Clearly, the grill introduces a great deal of phase distortion. W/o it there's more clarity in the treble, the sound comes out effortlessly with more detail. The downside, that I discovered after i re-assembled them, is that the upper midrange gains even more energy. I can't say if the 6.5Khz peak is more or less. At least though, the removal of the grill didn't seem to introduce any annoying ringing. In order to balance out the midrange, I removed the screen from the central vent and stuffed cork in there. That abalanced things out a little bit, but the trade off was the bass got a little drier. Well, everything is a tradeoff. I also removed the metal grills on the back. I don't know if it was due to reflections or it had impact on the magnet itself, but the sound was edgier with the grills on. Also, similar to the Annax mod I applied a a cork ring on top of the metal ring. I have the same metal rings on my floorstand speakers...
    [​IMG]
    ...and they bring more energy to the uppder midrange and treble. In the case of HD800 it could only affect the treble, since the ring is really smallish. At this point I started lining the inner parts of the cup (between the driver and the pads) with all sorts of different materials. Unfortunately, I didn't get happy. I do believe this is the main culprit for the upper midrange issues I'm having with this headphone. I think this semi transparent cup, though of horn-ish design, isn't appropriate for near-field application. I know why it's there - for the "massive" soundstage. In-room reflections work, because for every meter, you lose 4 times the energy, but in a tiny-miny cup it mostly introduces distortion. It does introduce a lot of phase distortion, even though it's semi-transparent, whereas the driver isn't that bad. I stuffed heavily with mineral wool between the cork ring and the pads, and I liked what I heard. However, the sub, mid-bass and lower midrange lost too much energy. I am wondering, as a last resort, whether to line and seal the cup with cork wood, but the cork will "eat" upper midrange reflected energy, while the extreme treble will remain strong, dur to it's directionality. I don't know, I'm getting tired of fiddling with this. I believe a HD650 type of arrangement with the drivers placed closer to the years (for extra lower midrange energy) will work a lot better, but the trade-off will be the loss of the "epic" soundstage, which is an epic fail to my ears anyway, YMMV :)

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    PS: HD650 is a marvellous headphone... My modded version may sound perceptionally "slower" and less dynamic compared to the HD800, but it's got better tonal balance, a little better tonal decay (lower audible distortion), better bottom and top externsion. Some planars may beat it in some areas, but it's got the right kind of dynamic swing, unlike the planar, which give you a poor studio compressor type of sound. In my view, if a headphone doesn't have the right dynamic swing, it's no better than iPhone buds. YMMV :)

    Cheers,
    Mario
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
    Grattle, SKiring, Bill-P and 4 others like this.
  6. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

    Friend BWC Executed
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,740
    Dislikes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    Awesome stuff Mario.

    BRB going to pop open a bottle of red. :piratemug:
     
    Besnia likes this.
  7. Besnia

    Besnia Almost "Made"

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    EU, Bulgaria, Sofia
    Cheers :piratemug:
     
  8. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

    Friend BWC Executed
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,740
    Dislikes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Grand Rapids
    So do you think a cork ring is better at damping the treble elevation as opposed to the materials folks have tried in the past (foam and/or felt)?
     
  9. Besnia

    Besnia Almost "Made"

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    128
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    EU, Bulgaria, Sofia
    Yep, I do think so. I didn't have a clue cork wood was so good, until a few years ago the designer behind Etheraudio opened my eyes. I still don't know exactly why cork sounds so much better than other superior absorbers, but it does. It's similar to the MDF vs plywood situation. Playwood sounds marvellous for whatever reason.
     
  10. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE Massdrop's Golden Child (MOT)

    Friend IEMW
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    631
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    California Bay Area (San Francisco)
    Home Page:
    Checking in to say that Bill's crazy mods are REALLY nice... His first shot was a bit too bright for me. These are pretty remarkable. He definitely retains the air and resolution, layering, imaging while taking away the fatiguing things and giving "enough" weight. My newly modded HP (along with something else he dropped off) are creating quite a 3D headstage and my BW system is sounding really tube-like with the right amount of speed, control, decay, stage presentation for me. Running through tracks and they sound so good.

    I just wanna sit here and listen. Right now? Sam Rivers- Fluid Motion, "Pengquan".
     
  11. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,024
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Thanks, CEE TEE!

    Admittedly, you know I've got secret sauce in it!

    On that note, would anyone be interested in receiving some of that "secret sauce"? It's a microfiber cloth material that I've been unable to source online or elsewhere in the U.S.. It's going to replace all of the felt pieces that I used in version 1.0 of this mod. I have excess of it that I can give out to 4-5 people to try with their own mods. I'd also appreciate any help in sourcing this cloth material for more general use later on, as I'd love to make the 1.5 mod more available to the public.

    So... yeah, anyone interested?
     
  12. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,531
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    I'm interested. Wanna mod my HD800? :) Let me know what you want.
     
  13. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,024
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I'm coming up to see you tomorrow anyway, so you can listen to the finished mod and all before making a decision. :punk:

    Plus I've got the "something else" too. CEE TEE "confiscated" mine, so I placed an order for a new one, and it should be here tomorrow afternoon or so. Hopefully I can finish modding it and bring it to your place for you to check out. Let's see if both CT and I are crazy!
     
    No_One411 and drfindley like this.
  14. Works 4 Me

    Works 4 Me Rando

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    10
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Hmmm.... So as far I can see , most people are not removing the protective screens behind the drivers ? I'm running my HD800 with a combination of mods , but I really don't think anything made as great of difference as running them without these screens in terms of getting rid of the extra sustain & resonance that acoustical instruments don't appear to create in a live space (particularly the amount of sustain of played notes) .

    In general , I'm pretty certain that my HD800 is about where I'd like it to be. Removing the dust covers from the front of the drivers really had'nt occured to me, so I'm anxious to see if this adds any more transparency to things. I have this damn sinus infection at the moment so my taking a listen will have to wait ($&@n it)

    Super thread, thanks to all !
     
    Bill-P likes this.
  15. No_One411

    No_One411 Fired by Jude

    Staff Member Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    565
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Saratoga, CA
    Want me to send some ramen along with the HD800? :p:p:p
     
    Bill-P likes this.
  16. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,024
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Ramen is cool!!

    Yeah, but let me make sure I have enough materials to cook it...

    Er...

    I mean... let me make sure I have enough ingredients. Hahaha
     
    The Alchemist likes this.
  17. Works 4 Me

    Works 4 Me Rando

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    10
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Well, I got around to giving a listen to the HD800 with those thin dust covers that were sitting on top of drivers removed. Once again, like everything else Sennheiser put on these headphones & I've removed, I've gotten a + result. I don't know what the "plan" may have been when they were voicing the headphones , except to say I would have strongly "vetoed" most of the design implementations after hearing what their effect to the sound of wide dynamic music was.

    Alrighty.... I was wondering if if should also remove the circular frame that I pulled the dust covers off of out also ? I have a feeling that it was working in conjunction w/ the dust covers to add some diffraction to the sound . It may have been necessary to have this in there with the protective screen in place, but this driver "bandaid" doesn't appear to be needed. The protective screens & rings holding them down are creating a pumping motion of the energy created by the drivers. The rings-drivers- screen hold down sandwich are the "Ring Radiator" element of the HD800. (The circular frames are probably pretty inert w/o the dust covers so I'll leave that for now)

    Does anyone have the ID / OD dimensions of the rings handy. I'm thinking of ordering some 1/8" Grungebuster washers from Herbie's Audio Lab to try before trying to use cork. (I like the Herbie's stuff better than Sorbothane)
     
  18. SKiring

    SKiring Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2015
    Likes Received:
    200
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Rotterdam
    @Besnia I was watching this very carefully, I have some cork coming in tonight and will test using cork. My initial approach (time constraints and being happy with the current sound but always interested in testing) is to use cork on the ring including foam below it (1.0 cut out). Should be fun, thanks for that.

    And thanks @Bill-P I tried your version but it was a bit too much damped, I think I'm just used to the treble energy more. However brilliant usage of open cell foam, I'm considering microfiber cloth if cork doesn't do it for me. I'm just intrigued by the whole idea of using cork haha.

    @Works 4 Me, you can always use the cut outs of Tyll or Anax 2.0/Rabid Dog. Both work well IME, you can always size it further.
     
  19. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2015
    Likes Received:
    611
    Dislikes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Well Grounded
    I don't know why it took so long but I just now 'found' this thread…
    But I'm glad I did!

    All kinds of useful info, thoughts, experiments AND measurements.
    This thread is a real testament to expertise and a desire to tweak our 800's.
    My hat is off to all for the efforts thus far and hope others will follow suit with their own explorations.


    And just recently I too have finally got some measurements on my SAA modded 800's.
    Which gives me some avenues to pursue.
    I'm in the middle of trying various different approaches.
    But what I can say is I'm taking a VERY different approach than the ones shown in this thread.
    With but one exception…
    And Sonarworks s/w was the first time I have found an EQ that 'works'.

    And my primary focus is upon vibration control, and dampening will come later, well except for the trapazoid…

    JJ
     
  20. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,370
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    The SchiitR
    Home Page:
    Wouldn't the "cork" mod reduce the soundstage quite a bit?
     

Share This Page