I made a hyper-engaging headphone with HD800S drivers

Discussion in 'Modifications and Tweaks' started by Bill-P, Mar 1, 2020.

  1. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    I brought this up before but no response, @Bill-P how did you settle on driver positiong? Why not traditional flush with baffle? @tommytakis hd800 mod seemed to turn a corner when he went for zero driver recession.

    Should have alternate Brainwavz pads arrive today. Will share measures asap.

    Listening to BP800 with current mods and Loki ([email protected], [email protected]), the only issue is possibly that ~4kHz being slightly piercing not unlike most Grado.

    I said this in pm, BP800 is like HD600 plus 30%. 600(1.3) = ~800
     
  2. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    Speak of the devil. Doorbell rang as soon as I clicked post.

    [​IMG]

    The foam in the regular hybrids is much more compliant than the rest. Which means theyll flatten more from clamp which usually means less highs.

    The angled hybrids velour material is different than the rest (rougher).
     
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  3. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, if you look at the driver by itself, you'll notice that the part that has the terminals protrudes more than the front part of the driver.

    I certainly can make the driver slightly angled but that'll be a nightmare to tune for in terms of treble.

    And even when the driver is not completely flush with baffle, you can push for more treble. Here's a hint: take off the stock front filter cloth. That'll throw the balance out of whack but it'll give a lot more upper mid and treble. As for what to do after that, here's another hint:

    [​IMG]

    Bringing driver closer to ears will also kill treble although it'll bring upper midrange up. It's the same principle as if the pads are flattened/compressed. It's also why IEMs sound brighter with shallower vs deeper insertion.

    I arrived at the current position after trying like... 20-something different distances. The current one makes the most sense to me without being too far or too close. Any further and you'll have a lot of treble peaks to deal with while not having enough upper midrange. If you want to play around with this, all you have to do is pad the mount so that the driver sits further away. Try that and you'll see treble peak up at the expense of upper midrange. The inverse is also true: you can bring the drivers closer by shaving the mount. Just sand the back of the mount and see if you can get the driver closer. It's really more of a balancing act.

    Not to brag but... I got this with the bigger headphone with HE90 pads. This took like a whole year of playing around with damping and different driver distances:
    [​IMG]

    Against 650 for more context: (otherwise it's hard to tell why that looks so linear. I calibrated my EARS rig toward 650)
    [​IMG]

    So like... it's not impossible to balance it all. You just have to completely destroy Sennheiser's stock tuning. The way the stock driver is tuned fits HD800/S enclosure and specific sound, but it'll obviously make the driver too warm and slightly peaky in any other enclosure. I was hoping someone would realize that eventually.

    (And yes, that's confirmation that I basically have nothing else sitting on top of the driver. It's basically just bare driver flaring into my ears, not very unlike the various HD650 mods)

    P.S.: here's how the smaller headphone with Brainwavz hybrid pads measure:

    [​IMG]

    Hint for this one: cut away the filter cloth and mod the pads. Basically, to get more upper mid and treble: do not leave anything sitting in front of drivers at all.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
  4. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    BP800 hybrid.jpg

    Brainwavz hybrid oval pads. Not tried personally yet. This is without EQ. These were quite a bit easier to install than the velour or microsuede for whatever reason. So soft.
     
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  5. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    BP800 angled hybrid.jpg
    BP800 perforated.jpg

    Both of these required some strength to apply just like velour and microsuede. Looks like regular hybrid is the goldilocks. Will order an extra set just in case Brainwavz changes the formula.
     
  6. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    [​IMG]
    ^ @Bill-P shared this CSD of his BP800 in the Hifiman HER7DX thread. Mild ringing at 4.5kHz.
     
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  7. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    Listening to hybrids. Sounds how it looks. Midbass a la HD6XX which adds warmth and possibly beneficial for masking that 4.5kHz ringing. I might enjoy this warmpoo more than my earlier eq shaped velour configuration.

    These are comfier than the other pads due to softer foam.

    No complaints from test playlist. Im sure Ill find something to complain about with extended listening but so far so good (without eq).

    btw I like bass and dark so this is working out nicely.
     
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  8. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Well, that was for the bigger one with HE90 pads. Here's full FR and CSD for both in case you're interested:

    Headphone1 (HE90 ear pads):
    [​IMG]

    Headphone1 CSD:
    [​IMG]

    Headphone2 (Brainwavz Hybrid):
    [​IMG]

    Headphone2 CSD:
    [​IMG]

    Sennheiser HD650 for comparison:
    [​IMG]

    HD650 CSD:
    [​IMG]

    So yeah, my EARS is calibrated toward the 650 on both sides. Aside from sub bass, the 650 is what I'd consider the "flat neutral" line. This represents what I hear better than any other compensation curve.

    Both of my DIY headphones (#1 with HE90 pads and #2 with Brainwavz hybrid pads) have some ringing at 4-5KHz... that's inherent to the driver (I measured HD800 drivers free air and saw this ringing as well). HD650 doesn't have any ringing, but its bass distortion makes it sound that warm and wooly.

    Also, it's not a HD800 vs HD800S driver thing. Both HD800 and HD800S drivers seem to have this ringing. Headphone1 is using HD800S drivers and Headphone2 is using HD800 drivers (s/n 00348) so like... remember I said I could make FR darker with HD800 drivers and brighter with HD800S drivers? This is how I know. Technically, both drivers do sound slightly different but they share many similar characteristics, including the 4-5KHz ringing.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
  9. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    So remove the stock circular mesh filter stuck to the driver grill (à la SDR mod to access the central vent). And then ...? I'm not sure what we're supposed to look for in the photo. What material are you using as a grill with the tiny circular holes? Is the central vent filled with anything? It looks like a woven texture, whereas the stock metal screen is straight lines.

    Cutting away the filter cloth on the BrainWavsz hybrid ovals brightens them up. So far with Faraday cloth I'm getting too much bass overall and bloom in the upper-bass/lower-mids. Inserting dental cotton rolls under the rear of the pads to angle and pull them out a bit helps reduce the mids a bit. Will listen some more and then try venting the outside of the pads to reduce the bass.

    Haven't tried the HD650 pads with Faraday cloth baffle yet, but even though the tonal balance was pretty good with micropore (added 4cm of 1/2" to lift the bass response), I think full velour just doesn't provide enough macrodynamics in the bass. It was there in quantity, but felt limpdick.
     
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  10. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I'm using the faraday cloth thing for the grille. There's also one extra of fiber glass but other than that, not much else.

    Nothing in central vent. It looks like that because the s/n 00348 HD800 driver has finer woven steel mesh screen. I think I took a photo of this in one of the HD800 mod threads. There are quite a number of physical differences between the early HD800 drivers and recent ones.

    Yeah, quite honestly, that's the point. Otherwise bass is too much.
    Note that my headphone basically has no filter cloth on the driver anymore. It's just bare driver. Also I blocked the vent holes in the rear, too. Taking away the filter cloth on top of the driver will take away the bass bloom you're hearing.

    I'm trying to not give away everything because then everyone will just make the exact same thing that I did. I'd prefer everyone to try and explore and get to their own... compromise.
     
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  11. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: E.T.A Headphones

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    Magic 8 ball predicts the HD800 driver might be a decent tonal candidate for a small but solid baffle that fits the larger Grado bowl earpads. I told @tommytakis to give this a try soon :)

    I'm sure Bill and Hands and others have already figured out and posted that elevated upper bass / low mids and a rounded transient profile indicate some amount of trapped air pressure on the earside. This of course can be part of a tasteful tuning, but an exposed foam earpad might flatten the mids and liven up transients, while also controlling highs in a different way than leather/suede/etc pad lining materials which can be as reflective as they are absorbtive. This is all pure speculation, but this thread simply goes to show there's still much to explore! The gears are cranking...

    I imagine the larger baffle on Bill's own set gives a similar flattening effect simply due to the larger amount of space on the earside which concentrates that baffle reinforcement in the 200hz-1khz area less. The stock HD800 enclosure likely has the most physical space between the driver and your ear canal and also the most reflective surfaces.

    Sidenote, has anyone tried transpore tape instead of micropore for baffle material? I'm sure there are others that breathe more than transpore too.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 22, 2022
  12. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Assume you mean Faraday cloth for the baffle. I meant what you have covering the driver, that looks like metal with tiny holes cut into it. I think I figured out what you used, basically something like this? https://www.amazon.com/120mm-Black-Steel-Filter-diameter/dp/B0009YE5SU/
    Is this stuff really acoustically transparent?

    But that's what some of us want to do |\/|
    Hey, I can understand where you're coming from. And totally appreciate that you spent a whole lot of time and effort to get where you did. Thanks again for sharing your work so we can all play :D
     
  13. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, I just want to re-iterate: this is true. There is still a lot to explore with these drivers. I have only followed my own path but there are so many more things to try with these drivers. They are very capable.

    The thing is... I don't want to stifle creativity, so that's why I'm not trying to definitively say that a certain path is "right" or "wrong" (and even the FR I showed is really just for reference. That's not "right".). I'm just hoping to inspire others to try and explore and make their own.

    Don't be trapped by past designs. Don't be trapped by my designs. Try something else!
     
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  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    No, I used this:
    https://www.amazon.com/280mm-Computer-Filter-Grills-Magnetic/dp/B08HX4PZ4Y/

    If fans can blow through them, they must be transparent. ;)

    Haha, yeah.

    Sorry, I'm totally open to recommend stuffs and give suggestions but like... I also really don't want to "trap" someone else into following my exact design. It's bad enough already that I'm "forcing" everyone into the same baffle design. I am 100% certain someone can and should design a better baffle.

    This is really for exploration mostly. Like I said, I don't think anyone can make a "complete" headphone out of these parts, but they should get people started on the journey. If anyone is looking for a "complete" headphone, then perhaps the community can pool together and see if we can come up with a different headphone that's not using HD800 drivers since... you know how these are not exactly *cheap* and eventually, they may run out of stock. I don't think Sennheiser will take kindly to suddenly receiving an order of 1000 pairs of bare HD800 drivers. IIRC, they hand-assembled these, right?
     
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  15. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Yup, the coils are wound by a machine, but the drivers are then assembled by a nice German lady (@1:06):



    Well, I'm already going in my own direction (assisted by Hands). The hybrid pads just don't seem to work for me (yet). I tried removing the mesh covering on the driver (cloth filter already cut off the pads) and there's a slight increase in upper-mids/treble, but that mid/bass bloominess is still there. I'll try poking holes in the outside of the pads later.

    My mushed out HD650 pads sound great though. I had to put the mesh back on the drivers as it was too bright without them (though super sexy looking, if a bit scary). The tonal balance with just 1 layer of Faraday cloth is just about spot on. I had incorrectly assumed that the velour Senn pads were the cause of the flaccid, limp, impactless bass. But they sound pretty good with the Faraday cloth baffles. Not exactly slammin', but enough bass impact not to complain about. I'll try sealing up the driver vents next.

    As for improvements to the capsule, I personally prefer a slanted driver angle to help bring the stage forward. Slanted pads can accomplish this, but there are more flat pad options available (I think). Also, I'm a complete convert to forward pointing cable connectors. Not having the cables fire straight down into my collarbones goes a long way towards comfort and reducing mechanical noise. The Verums go to an extreme in this aspect, but I much prefer that to a vertical exit angle. I may try adapting the Rean female connectors like I did with my HD800, if/when everything gets locked down to my liking.

    Even at this early stage, I can see myself putting the BP800 into regular rotation in my headphone lineup. Once you get the outer grills optimized, I'd be up for a set of those. Or I might try making my own out of some wire mesh window screen a friend has. Sticking the Senn pads to the baffle face with an unfinished edge isn't ideal. I guess once I've given up on the oval hybrids, I could sacrifice them and stick the Senn pads onto their carcass to convert the Senn pads into the wrap-over-lip style. If anyone has any ideas on how to finish the edge better with Senn pads I'd appreciate it.

    Back to more listening ...
     
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  16. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    Thanks for the tip but that is a scary maneuver. I like having the driver protection.

    Yes! Order direct drivers from Emu purpleheart or the Peerless Tymphanys are cheap and good. It could be called the SBAF-1 and so on. For example, start with a Grado SR80x then replace cups with 3DP cups and chosen driver. Maybe some alternate pads whatever. It would sound awesome and would cause lurkers to join SBAF just for the SBAF-1 headphone and thread.

    :bow:

    Thank you for giving me reasons not to pull off the driver front dust cover.
    I didn't know the definition of bloom but I guess its the same as what I was describing with "slow bass release" and E_Schaaf referred to as "trapped energy". Ev's trapped energy could also be hinting at absorption and reflection in general.

    ------------------------

    Wait a second! E_Schaaf is helping Tommy. Hands is helping gixxerwimp. Bill-P is only giving savory piece meal advice. Well then I call upon @stratocaster for assistance, I choose you! (one example of his work)
     
  17. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    @Hands advised earlier using / making closed foam gaskets for getting seal. Im pretty sure you can find 1-2mm foam sheets or tape with dual sided adhesive. Another option that I use for random stuff is butyl tape, molds and sticks well enough.
     
  18. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    Extended listening to hybrid pads, sealed driver baffle, and sealed vents.:
    - The slow bass release was apparent in first impressions but the masking effect of 4.5kHz peak seemed worthwhile, but as it turns out it is not. As with microsuede pads, I find the slow bass release fatiguing and much more fatiguing than the 4.5kHz peak.
    - The 4.5kHz peak is not as audible most of the time, but the damage can be felt after extended listening, not unlike Grado which is acceptable.
    - The slow bass release is not as bad as microsuede pads while also having a more lineaer frequency response that doesnt sound like depressed upper mids (vocals). However, I cannot live with that bass issue. @Bill-P has some hints for balancing: porous driver baffle, and removing driver protection front filter. My worries are that porous driver baffle will equate to less bass due to rear wave cancellation, and removing dust protection filter Id rather save as a last resort. My thinking is that more porous pads would be better. The velours I used earlier required eq, perhaps other velour or fabric pads or different dimensions would help balance frequency response as suggested by some others. Or foam pads like Grado as @E_Schaaf said might work. I might have some around to try (grado, hd414).

    edit: Thx @Lyander for schooling me on bass decay, sustain, release. Forget which thread - maybe Nighthawk.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2022
  19. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    @Philimon try some HD6xx pads. They fixed all my bass issues. You'll need more baffle resistance than 1 sheet of micropore can provide. Bill's Faraday cloth works for me.

    I taped over all 5 driver vents and though the bass is tighter, it rolls off too much. I opened 2 vent holes back up, and bass level returned a bit. The Faraday cloth came with 1" wide cloth tape. I did the "blow through" test and it seems to be about as resistive to airflow as the cloth (it might be totally sealed, I can't tell for sure, but the effect would be the same: increase airflow resistance of the baffle). So I added 3cm x 1/2" of the Faraday cloth tape to each side. Bass levels are back to "neutral" and seem to be a bit tighter than all vent holes open.

    Vocals and cymbals were still a little hot, so I did an "inverse coin mod" and cut HD650 foam to fit exactly over the drivers (so stock driver mesh + HD650 foam between diaphragms and ears). This takes just enough of the edge off the highs and I'm listening very happily with zero EQ (which I cannot with any of my other headphones - fuckin' amazing!).

    ***Edit: The perceived treble hotness could be a temporary/brain-burn thing. I just switched to Voldemort which have been my recent daily driver and now they sound forward and borderline sibilant in comparison to my latest rev of BP800. So the inverse foam mod may not be required in the long run.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 24, 2022
  20. Philimon

    Philimon A Distasteful, Sad Person

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    Ill order some Senn pads.

    Back to velours and Loki. The 4.5kHz ringing is small and fatigue / pierce and severity is dependent on music. On the positive side, perhaps like Grado the ringing adds some coloration to electric guitar, indeed BP800 rocks and the bass is properly supportive unlike some Sennheisers. And everytime I listen to another album its mesmerizing with new detail. What a treat!
     

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