Sennheiser HD 820

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by iDesign, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. Vorlon

    Vorlon self-important, pompous ass

    Friend Executed
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Likes Received:
    403
    Dislikes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Finland
    It looks like the Axel Grell HD 820 keynote at CanJam NYC unfortunately wasn't recorded, nor can I find any comprehensive write-ups of it either. Some good news though - at least the official Sennheiser account posted some details that I think are worth cross posting here for those who don't follow the other site. It's not like there is much official information available yet, so this is as good as it currently gets.

    (1) Responding to a question if the model at the event was the final tuning; also a confirmation that the sub bass response will be elevated compared to HD 800 S: "Not a dumb question at all! It was a hand-made pre-production model. The final target is to fine tune the bass, so that a frequency curve chart would show a slope down near 100 Hz now and in the final version WILL slope downwards at 100 Hz with a small scooped portion to prevent the bass from bleeding into the mids. Constant pursuit of perfection! Even as-is with the hand-tooled pre-production version we had for CanJam, the vast majority expressed fondness or amazement with the sound, comfort, and aesthetics. We even had someone come back the second day and say it really clicked with him on the second listen!

    Edit: to clarify, the bass below 100Hz is elevated relative to the HD 800 S, which is a benefit of the sealed acoustic chamber of a closed headphone, and carefully tuned to fit our research into the average human expectation of a natural-sounding sun bass. Among other things, we use bass ports that allow the lower frequencies to have more energy. The ports are still sealed so the midrange and high frequencies cannot pass through, similar to how people can hear subwoofers through walls but not the higher frequencies.
    " (Source: Head-Fi HD 820 thread)

    (2) Some information on the Axel Grell keynote (background on HD 820 development): "At first, Axel tried just sealing the back of the HD 800 S so it would be a lower cost, back when he was younger and blissfully naïve. Unfortunately, the sound was... not good, and a more complex solution was needed.

    Axel gave a seminar discussing the development process on Sunday, explaining the sound didn’t start to approach flagship-levels until the team hit upon the idea of looking at it as an open headphone in a small room. Make that room smaller and smaller, negate the effects, and massage the development of pads, comfort and weight, an idea with paper filters that were eventually discarded, a stiff “lens” to redirect sound resonance towards absorbers to really try and keep the “open” sound, and also playing with different bass ports to really enhance the sub-bass while also creating a dip around 100 Hz so that the bass wouldn’t blur the mid details. The team even considered how the design could compensate for glasses frames without losing bass. About 5 years later, we’re like 95% towards our target and will be at 100% upon release this summer!
    " (Source: Head-Fi HD 820 thread)

    (3) Not a surprise, but a confirmation that the hard plastic used on the cups is newly developed (responding to questions about the weight): "Yes, we found that another thing that had to be done with making a closed version of the HD 800 S was to also help reduce cup resonances by developing a new, stiffer but lightweight plastic. The purpose is to listen to music, not lose some of your attention irritated by wearing a headphone. We developed a new plastic that hasn’t been used before to make this enclosure." (Source: Head-Fi HD 820 thread)
     
  2. Metro

    Metro Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2016
    Likes Received:
    298
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    San Francisco
    One more thing from the Head-Fi thread:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

    Friend MZR
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2015
    Likes Received:
    3,690
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Tempe, Arizona
    This thing has potential! I'll probably grab one when it's $1200.
     
    Maxx134, Mayor D, Jerry and 4 others like this.
  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,667
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    small island claimed by China
  5. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 23, 2016
    Likes Received:
    2,092
    Dislikes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    London, UK
    hifiheadphones.co.uk have been around for awhile in the UK, and are an authorised Sennheiser dealer. I saw that page the other day just browsing their site, they also have a Final D8000 pre-order page up: http://www.hifiheadphones.co.uk/final-d8000-planar-magnetic-headphones-with-detachable-cable.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  6. James Whiting

    James Whiting Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    86
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Well Ive been looking with fascination at the 820 as well. No availability yet after talking to Sennheiser USA and Crutchfield!

    Arrghhh! Im ready to do something and can go as much as $3k for new phones!! The Auteurs in Blackwood are most likely...but the Sennie looks very interesting and well soundstaging is a big deal to me. What are your thoughts?

    Doubt I would regret getting blackwoods but it would be nice if someone could do some comparisons. Trying to extrapolate
    from the few brief show reviews of the HD 820's rather difficult, other than there seems to be a general sense that although
    the bass is extended and tight it is a bit on the lighter side.

    AAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  7. Maxx134

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

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    748
    Dislikes Received:
    114
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
  8. James Whiting

    James Whiting Facebook Friend

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    86
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Well the Auteurs are on their way...chatted with Zach about them. Great customer service and responses to my questions and enjoyed communicating with him!

    Cables are Zenwave Custom 4 braid aggregate 21 awg OCC Silver/Gold with Furutech Alpha Copper/Rhodium connectors.

    If what you say plays out with the Diana things could change. I will follow with interest your comments on that thread.

    Who knows...this hobby is always taking new twists and turns.

    I would have never thought modded T 50 RP
    ( Paradox Slants) could sound so good. Then noticeably surpassed by ridiculously modded HD 650s.

    The Auteurs are gorgeous and should be a significant improvement. It will be interesting to see what mods may show up for them in future!

    The Diana looks more weird than stylish or attractive by comparison. Kind of a boutique Beats look. But I could live with that if she can substantially improve on Auteurs.

    We shall see!

    I got plenty to keep me busy for a few months breaking these in, resetting my USB chain with newest uptone stuff and the latest EVS Sonica mods. Possibly bypassing amplifier entirely and running phones directly off a new output stage on the DAC.

    Possibilities!

    After that...who knows?

    In the words of Agent Mulder, " The Truth is out
    There!"

    Happy Listening
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
    Don Miller and slankoe like this.
  9. Maxx134

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

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    748
    Dislikes Received:
    114
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    NYC
    Sonically they Auteurs will not disappoint as I found their signature seductive and IMO the best ZMF headohone to date.
    The Focal Clears edge them out in clarity but not in soundStage or signature.
    The smoothed sounding HD820 may beat them in soundstage, but is not a step forward from their 800&800S.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  10. lm4der

    lm4der A very good sport - Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,382
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Wait, I'm confused or out of the loop. Have you listened to the HD820?
     
    Lyer25 likes this.
  11. bengo

    bengo Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,196
    Dislikes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Divisive Kingdom
    Home Page:
    lm4der likes this.
  12. Dubble87

    Dubble87 Rando

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2018
    Likes Received:
    1
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I caught some time at the Sennheiser booth at canjam nyc when it wasn't packed so I actually was able to switch back and forth between the hd800s and the hd820. They sounded very very similar to me. I preferred the hd820 but mainly because it was noisy and the sound isolation was very good. The weight wasn't all that different iirc.
     
    raif likes this.
  13. allegro

    allegro Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2017
    Likes Received:
    353
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Florida
    If you already own HD800(S) it would seem the only reason you would need the HD820 is if a closed phone is required to keep the wife or co-workers content. Can not a Schiit Loki acceptably smooth out the frequency response of the HD800 if you feel the need?

    I have had a Loki on back order for over a month fingers crossed it will ship this week so will post findings with my HD800S once I have been able to use for a few days. Between Eitr and Loki sales alone Schiit must be having a great first quarter 2018.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  14. maverickronin

    maverickronin Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2018
    Likes Received:
    313
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    I had a chance to A/B these with the HD800S at AXPONA from a Sennheiser HDV820 today and I was very impressed. Even with the handicap of being closed I thought they were much better than the stock 800S.

    It's like a vanilla 800 with the mids filled in and the 6k peak/resonance reduced to almost nil. A/Bing my "torture" tracks for painful treble artifacts was night and day. The 820 was was far smoother and completely listenable for people like me who are very sensitive to treble issues. It didn't loose any detail or resolution either.

    Unfortunately not everything on the 820 is better. The open versions are still the soundstage kings, with more air and a wider presentation. Soundstage depth, imaging and layering was about the same on both. Despite being closed, the HD820s still probably embarrass something like 98% of open 'phones for soundstage size.

    In the ranking of closed 'phones I've heard these are second only to the long discontinued STAX 4070
     
  15. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Well, I only have some time now to write this up. Had my notes jotted down on the phone but didn't have time to write down closer impressions. I briefly wrote up some thoughts on the HD820 here but they weren't detailed enough.

    Long story short, I disagree with the above and I agree with @Maxx134 that this headphone is a disaster. Maybe it's my treble sensitivity, but...

    Bass: cloudy, one note, not very impactful, kinda... uncontrolled, loose, and very indistinct. This is very apparent in comparison to HD800 and HD800S, and I think HD800 stock already has cloudy bass (modded it doesn't). The HD820 takes the cloudiness to the next level and basically sounds like a worse HD580/600 in terms of bass, and yet it doesn't have the impact or slam of the HD580/600 either. Far cry from HD650, and very very far away from planars. I think this is the "weakest" part of this headphone. Pun intended.

    Midrange: yes, it is more even than stock HD800 or HD800S (gonna call the HD800S just... S since it's kinda insane having to type it out every time). But still distant sounding and this time, it has some weird reverb thing going on, not very unlike some closed-backs that I have heard. But the reverb isn't as beautifully controlled like Fostex and Sony biocellulose headphones. It's more like... if you wanna know how the HD820's mids sound like, just cover the rear of your HD800, and there, that's how the mids sound like. To me, it's now more shouty, more closed-in, more tipped-up, and it makes some instruments sound unnatural, not as "grounded" like the HD800 but... more floaty. If HD800 is like sitting 10 rows back, a little higher-up on the stage, the HD820 feels like it's front-row seat but my head is like... buried underneath the seat. That's just weird. Also, upper midrange is very obviously tipped up in a bad way, like they went too far. Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" in his Unplugged album is unlistenable with the HD820 to me. It's just way too sharp here.

    Treble: yeah, more relaxed than HD800 or S for sure. I think this is well done, but the problem is... it's way too dark now, and kind of not as sparkly as the HD800 or the S. Cymbals didn't ring out in my Jazz tracks, strings didn't ring out in Acoustics, they only had the initial "sharp" attack but then the trailing dies off very abruptly. Also the lack of higher treble makes the HD820 sound a bit "muted" in air and transients, too, and I think this is what some are hearing. The treble no longer has the presence and attack of the HD800, but it's more like... super muted and devoid. It's somewhat stuffy and suffocated, actually.

    Imaging: cloudier, no bass presence, tipped up, and very tunnel-like to me, not very wide. HD580/600/650 also have this but to a lesser extent as their mids don't reverb like this. Sure, HD600 is shouty but not in this same sense when the shout doesn't feel like it's coming from close up but also from further out. It's weird. I remember hearing the HD660S this way and did not like it at all.

    Soundstage: I don't think it's wide. It's a weird... light-bulb-shaped stage to me. Bass is closed in and congested, mids sound reverby and decently wide but not wide enough and sound very congested and restrained, as if they can't "escape" out of whatever it is they are enclosed in. Highs are lacking and so above that, it just rounds off, causing for soundstage "height" to be somewhat lacking.

    For something at the price point of the HD820, I think it's a disaster. This tuning is acceptable for a $500 headphone, but seriously, at this price point, I think at least Fostex TH900 does a lot of things better and for cheaper. Hell, even a ATH-M50X with leather pads (stock pads suck) at literally 1/10 the cost of the HD820 does soundstage a little better to me, or at least it has highs whereas the HD820 doesn't.

    Maybe I'm being too critical of the HD820 but... I need to be. It's a very expensive piece of gear, and knowing Sennheiser, this kind of thing should not have been allowed to pass. Then again, they also have the HD660S, so... I guess this is the new house sound now.

    Also, John of LAAS agreed with my assessments above. We both took note on this thing and was very disappointed. I tried the HD820 out of the HDV820 (they had some weird metal track playing that was completely uninspiring), John's AK DAP, and my Geek Out 2A SE with my own music.

    Last edit: would be interesting to try the HD820's ear pads on HD800 or HD800S, but I don't think the pads fit the sound of the HD820 per se.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
    Serious, Ash1412, FlySweep and 11 others like this.
  16. maverickronin

    maverickronin Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2018
    Likes Received:
    313
    Dislikes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Midwest, USA
    Weird. Completely different from what I heard. A week isn't much time for them to change the tuning that drastically. How many did they have there? I was told there were 3 prototypes out in the wild for demoing and two were at AXPONA. How many were at CanJam SoCal?
     
  17. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Two were at CanJam, or at least I could only see two.

    John and I hoarded just the one. Maybe we should have listened to the other one, but honestly, pretty much everyone else at the show was unimpressed anyway.

    Or maybe the sound is too far a departure from the regular HD800 sound that folks didn't like it. I know I have never come to like the HD800S either, despite it having a smoother response than HD800.
     
    maverickronin likes this.
  18. raif

    raif Man made lobster/plankton

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    131
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    33
    Location:
    Sacramento
    I don't know whether to be happy or disappointed. I was really looking forward to having a top tier closed solution but wasn't happy about spending $2k+. Pretty much my goal was: HD800S with a bit better bass, further smoothed treble peak and like 12 db of isolation.

    This sounds like a disaster.
     
  19. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,950
    Dislikes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yeah, but honestly, it could just be me. I know I'm a special case that wants a very specific type of sound. It may still suit you very well, so... do keep an open mind with it.

    I know I'll want to try it again whenever I get a chance anyway, if for nothing but just to see if Sennheiser really does read my impressions and they'll try to re-tune it or whatever.

    I haven't completely written it off even though my impressions are pretty negative.

    Too bad about the price point, though. I think... Senn can get away with $1999 and then let it trickle down, but... $2.5K is just going too far. I wasn't as vocal about the HD800S because I thought it was still in a reasonable-ish range.
     
    raif likes this.
  20. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,719
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Have you tried ether flow c
     

Share This Page