Is an HD 800 (S?) still worth buying?

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by abalone, Jan 21, 2024.

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  1. abalone

    abalone New

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    I have been considering buying a second hand HD800 (S?) since a long time. I discovered the sound of planars, which I really enjoy, but my setup of the Hifiman Arya Stealth and EF400 is quite flawed in timbre and in the treble region. It is not that I dislike treble, quite on the contrary to many audiophiles I am really quite resilient to it, but something is wrong here.

    Many questions linger my mind on this purchase. Does it still make sense to get this headphone at the price point where the market is at? (Roughly 800 euros on the European market, with some occasional cheaper offerings).

    I read so much about it that I would really enjoy trying it on an extended time basis. It feels like a historical monument, and I would love to hear it for myself. But I am not sure if it is still considered relevant today, at this price point, compared to, say, selling my Arya's and upgrading to an HE1000 Stealth (which reportedly corrects the treble issues, not too sure about the timbre). I would also enjoy to have different headphones with varied sound signatures, so I feel like an upgrade would be somewhat boring.

    I see many listings for the HD800 S. However, I read and heard from my good friend that the HD800, once modded, sounds better. How significant is this difference is not so clear to me however.

    Has anyone tried it with the EF400? I tried it with the HD650, and the synergy was excellent. Would it hold for the HD 800, that's a question I don't have an answer to!

    PS: I didn't post this in the dedicate HD 800 thread as I felt it did not really fit in the flow of the discussion, but would happily move it elsewhere if more relevant.
     
  2. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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    Yea
     
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  3. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    I’m biased, but I think the OG is one of the better deals out there. Scales great, many modding and EQ options if you don’t like stock, a ton of data points out there about good component synergy to match it with. I got mine for I think $650 USD. You're going to run into people who can’t stand it still, but recently it seems like the consensus has come around on it again, and much of that has to do with how cheap it is versus how much you have to spend to find comparable cans re: technicalities.
     
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  4. Tchoupitoulas

    Tchoupitoulas Friend

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    The short answer is, yes, it is, so long as you have a suitable amp (I can't speak to the EF400). You don't need an expensive amp; just the right kind of one, see here: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/best-amps-for-hd800-2021-edition.10330/

    With the right amp, the HD 800 (SDR) is one of the best values for money in the hobby at 800 euros. It's a genuinely totl headphone, regardless of what else has come to the market in the many years since its release. You'd be hard pressed to find a better headphone when it comes to resolution, imaging, layering, separation, headstage, and timbral fidelity (with the right amp) without spending a lot more money, and even then you might not get a straight or substantial upgrade (you might be trading some qualities of one for those of the other). That expense won't necessarily get you a better headphone across the board, in other words.

    I'm suspicious of the treble and the timbre of the HE1000 models, which I prefer to the Aryas (the "Organic" is also peaky and fatiguing), although I've not heard the Stealth model. Just beware about buying used ones. HiFiMan's crap build quality hasn't gone away. And I wouldn't buy the HE1000 without auditioning it first. Since you're in Brussels, aren't there decent stores in Paris and Amsterdam, if not more locally?

    With all this said, I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here: I sold my HD 800 SDR last year in favor of the Raal SR1a. But given your preferences towards classical music (and I'm assuming large orchestral works) - I saw your new members post - I'd highly recommend the HD 800 SDR. (The Raal's more expensive, more like 1800-2000 euros + 500-750 euros for the TI-1a transformer interface, and again you need an appropriate amp, one that outputs 2-6W at 16 or 32 ohms).

    Along with a handful of other readily-available headphones, I'd say the HD 800 is one of those headphones it'd be great to experience in this hobby. It's not for everyone, clearly. And I preferred the SDR (even if I did miss some of that treble air of the stock model).
     
  5. Case

    Case Anxious Head (Formerly Wilson)

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  6. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    HD800 (modded) is my daily driver after riding the headphone merry-go-round for years. Sure I have other headphones, but this is the one I find myself using far more than others.

    On the wrong system it's not great, so you kind of have to commit to it and build around it to shape it to what you want to hear. But it's an honest presentation so once you understand what you're doing with regards to component matching to bring out the best of the 800, it will reward you with some of the best sound available from headphones. I would put an 800 in a synergistic system against anything else out there and it would hold its own.

    In short, yes it's still worth getting an 800 but there's work involved and you'll need to optimize for it to bring out its best.

    The right amp alone won't get you there, but the "best amps for the 800" thread that someone else pointed you towards is a treasure trove of information to get you started.

    It is rewarding once you get there. Don't expect plug and play GOAT, but the GOAT is there for those who wish to find it.
     
  7. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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  8. Huhnkopf

    Huhnkopf Friend

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    JAR800 (a mod) is part of my Triumvirate next to the HE6 and Susvara. I haven't found anything lower or higher to replace one of these in all these years and I tried them all. Raal was nice too but too much hassle for a Faulkopf.

    It's masterfully tuned, very even and balanced now (sure, it doesn't have the other two's bass extension down low and their slam and heft but nothing is perfect.) The stage is less diffuse and a good deal more cohorent. It fades out on the borders now vs being more hard/solid or "cutting off". Thanks to its cleaner resolve the appreciation of detail is easier and happens on a blacker canvas.

    Imagine putting your hand into a big jar (ha!) full of rocks, sand and gold and grabbing a an amount. When you open your hand you will notice all these elements and in there gold shining through but also rather peaky rocks. What the JAR does is having way less of the dirt and rocks and thus making the gold easier to see and pick out. Hope that makes sense.

    The HD 800 is still up there for me outshadowing most of the market easily.
     
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  9. abalone

    abalone New

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  10. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Friend

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    Music taste plays a heavy role in how enjoyable an HD800 is going to be. In just the last week, someone I know decided to move on from the HD800 because of how sharp and lean they can be with pop music, even with a five figure chain.
     
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  11. JeremiahS

    JeremiahS Almost "Made"

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    I started the hobby with HD800 and then to HD820 before going back to HD800S. But I have moved on because I could not get the midrange and treble to sound right, it's very sharp and hollow.

    I don't know if I will recommend HD800S nowadays when you can find HEK v2 at similar price point and they don't need super obscure mods that need 6 months waiting time or discontinued tube amps that are very rare to sound their best.
     
  12. TamHo

    TamHo New

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    It depends on what amp you have but I find the hd650 is harder than the hd800s to make a good sound with solid state amps imo
     
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  13. abalone

    abalone New

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    Thanks for the detail, I read about it and it sounds amazing indeed. I assume it's already quite a pricey mod however (sending the headphones back and forth, eventual customs, the significant amount of work for the mod...). Did you try some other mods yourself before that? I would assume it makes sense to gradually build myself to that point, appreciating each modification, so as to train my ear as well.

    Would you say I'd be better off with a JAR 600 for instance, as suggested on the JAR website? I assume the price would be in the ballpark of a used HD800 (around 800 euros here).
     
  14. Huhnkopf

    Huhnkopf Friend

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    Well, they are a good bit different. Also there are almost 3 JAR600 variants if we count 1.5 as a blend and in addition to that you have the variety of different HD 600 types over the last decades that sound a bit different from each other. BS, SS, BP etc.

    If we take the latest HD 600 and the latest JAR in the form of v2 then this one is moving towards the HD 800 but never reaching the same potential. I'd definitely get a JAR800 over it.

    If it's a v1 or v1.5 of said HD 600 then the overall sound is less of a departure towards the HD 800 and stays in the realm of the classic 600 sound just a good bit more refined and delicious. In this case I would suggest having both as they don't replace each other unless the HD6X0 sound isn't to your liking. It's a lot of money, yes, but unless you don't have to fall back into eating Zwieback&Tee for 2 years it will be worth it.

    [​IMG]

    P.S.: this meal is saving me at the moment
     
  15. JK47

    JK47 Friend

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    I wouldn't hesitate recommending a modern HD600 with Custom Cans mod for an awesome value proposition as well. Simple to install and you can easily tune the bass to your liking. I actually use the HD600CC more on the daily than my HD800 Super Dupont mod, I'm almost at the point I may sell the HD800SDR...
     
  16. abalone

    abalone New

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    That sounds very interesting, I didn't know about this option.

    Signing up to this forum looks like a financial mistake!

    Too bad you're in the US :)
     
  17. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Maybe, but a long-time tenet of the community and the site is to not spend money on all the hottest new flavours of the months, and not to waste it on side-grades, etc etc. Sure, you may well find temptation here, but this site should cost you a lot less than some others.

    PS. I love my HD800. I loved my HD600 before that.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 24, 2024
  18. abalone

    abalone New

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    True. Anyways it is a relatively cheap hobby when staying with not very high end gear, especially considering the amount of time X pleasure (hours of listening per day), versus other things such as travelling. I'm so far quite happy to spend my money here. Gear keeps a good value over time too, so it's not a sunk cost.
     
  19. Olor1n

    Olor1n Friend

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    I love the HD800 having owned it twice despite never venturing into ToTL gear (if the og Ragnorak doesn’t sit in that tier).

    Should’ve reacquired them at discount when they were discontinued.
     
  20. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    To co-opt a phrase from another site... welcome to SBAF, sorry about your wallet :piratemug:
     

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