Sennheiser HD 820

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

  1. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Just out of interest, and since I had time to run by the lab this morning, I ran some brief, gain-matched/calibrated measurements on my HD800S and HD820. I'll have one of the guys that does this professionally validate the results before I share any actual plots - since I am NOT practiced at doing audio measurements, but three things stand out.
    • The basic shape of the plots are similar to those in the linked images. By which I mean that there are dips and peaks in essentially the same places.
    • No matter what I did, I couldn't get an excursion anywhere near as large for that 300 Hz dip, either relative to rest of their plot or to the HD800S. It's almost 20 dB in the linked graphs. In mine it's shallower and ranges from 2.4 dB to about 4.6 dB.
    • The mid-range bump is a similar width, but it's amplitude is, similarly, much lower than the linked graphs suggest. 4 dB to about 8.5 dB, spending on what I'm comparing to.
    I am not saying my measurements are better, or more representative. Though I will say that they're a lot closer to what I'd expect, based on what I'm hearing, than the linked ones. Particularly compared to similar comparisons with my other closed-back cans.
     
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  2. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    You'll get more responses asking this in the "All Purpose Advice Thread", and they'll be more useful if you can state what amp you're using and what it is you don't like about the setup.

    If you're trying to get them to sound neutral, no amp is going to do that.

    Otherwise, I'd be disinclined to pair them with entry-level tube amps as they'll show up any hum or tube noise quite readily.

    I don't think what I find they pair best with, given my current line up of amplifiers, is going to help you very much.
     
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  3. MF_Kitten

    MF_Kitten Banned per own request

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    If you look at their in-ear measurements, they are more smooth. I'm pretty sure the quality of the seal will vastly alter the dip.
     
  4. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Got a chance to do some catch-up today and ... the "lab guys" AKA "professionals" got the same fundamental results as I did. If the lure of "doing very little, slowly" doesn't get the best of me, I might post their results later.

    And, accounting for compensation differences between "state of the art" and the silly little test I ran with the HEQ and RAW calibrations I tried at home with the miniDSP EARS, I'm not seeing such huge excursions there, either.

    Short version*:

    The HD820 remain the single, best, closed-back headphone I've ever heard. The ZMF Eikon are tonally purer (actually the most tonally accurate closed-back I've heard and a resolutely lovely listen ... my pair are going nowhere), but overall the HD820 better them in technical terms pretty much everywhere else.

    It'd be entirely fair to say that I only need two pairs of closed-back headphones. The HD820 and the ZMF Eikon. They'd serve different callings, but in that respect they're best-of-breed. The rest remain out of interest, for purpose of comparison, and for on-going reviews (and an uncanny/inexplicable synergy with the Sony NW-WM1Z).

    If you buy them, or audition them, expecting a stock HD800 (dog-forbid**) or HD800S with isolation, you're being daft. Do not buy closed-back headphones if your use-case allows for open-back. Otherwise these are the best closed-backs around. Expensive, yes. But still the best.

    ...

    I wrote up a full review, that I'm am much too lazy to re-post right now (or maybe ever). And I do not feel it appropriate to post links to.

    --
    *Okay, that was the "long" version.
    **I still find these unlistenable without at least the SDR mod and, preferably, some EQ on top of that).
     
  5. maverickronin

    maverickronin Friend

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    I like the Stax 4070 better, but good luck finding a pair...
     
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  6. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Well, I finally made to the Source AV in SoCal. Great experience there. Lots of HP gear to listen to. The $1,000,000 home theater room was also incredible.

    I got a chance to listen to the HD820. Ug, what a mess. It sounded like there was echo in the cans. Of course I was comparing them to my Utopia, but still. I'm not normally hyperbolic, so I say this will all seriousness; I don't know how anyone could enjoy the HD820.
     
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  7. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    I'm going to block out all memories of specific impressions read here so I have a reasonably clear mind when I do get to connect my ears to a pair, but I will say:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. zolkis

    zolkis Acquaintance

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    Which is exactly the sensation I've got with the AKG K872 back then, and was horrified away from them. This would be bad news for the HD820. Good that other people like it.

    Until actually hearing them I am very happy with my modded D7200 for a closed can, it's much more linear than the HD820 looks like, but we'd need to measure/audition them on the same rig for any meaningful comparison.
     
  9. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    After reading your posts, I am interested in listening to the HD 820. I recently purchased the HDV 820 and it serves as a point of reference and a clue as to what Axel Grell and his team are after. The HDV 820 has a subtle yet fast and punchy bass that my Chord DAVE does not have and I feel it is even more punchy than my old Yggdrasil2+Black Widow 2. I think this has much to do with Sennheiser's understanding of the physics and mechanical limits of their 56mm ring diver and the HDV 820 is able to control it better than any amplifier I have ever heard. I also find the HD 820 measurements to be interesting and Sennheiser is clearly employing tricks that I probably can only appreciate by listening to the HD 820 with the HDV 820. And when I do, I'll start with Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories because Axel Grell says he enjoys listening to it with the HD 820 and that's a big clue into his thinking and preferences. If I can log at least 25+ hours with the HD 820, I will post a review and compare them with my HD 800 S headphones.

    Regardless if Sennheiser was successful or not with the HD 820, I have to applaud them for their efforts in trying to innovate and bring a new solution to the market. Hopefully Sennheiser will lure other headphone manufacturers to add their own closed designs to the fire which will have the effect of moving the entire industry forward.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2018
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  10. joeexp

    joeexp Almost "Made"

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    Dude - you are soooooo far up Axel Grell's ass. (56mm ring diver)
    Almost unbelievable.

    You brought brown-nosing to a complete new level.
    Remarkable...

    ;)

    PS: I'm now having black coffee, because that's how Axel likes his. Fast and punchy!
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  11. Ardacer

    Ardacer needs to read more, post less

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    That cracked me up, lol, but...

    So what? I'm currently camping in Linkwitz's transversal colon.

    Nothing wrong with having your heroes, I think :)

    I personally don't like super-detailed subjective oppinions like almost everyone here does, but I do like to hear basic impressions, eg. Torq likes the cans, Allan Marcus doesn't.

    This dude likes Sennheiser and all they do.
    I think their hdv820 and the rest are no better than 10 usd chinese ne55xx opamp based amp (of course senns's amp is better, I just think it makes no difference, and yes of course I'd like to own hdv820, it's beautiful). But hey, that's just me.

    I'd like a listen to 820's, as I really like hd800s with eq. I'm really interested in them.

    Over ear headphones, especially closed, are the worst offenders in terms of head geometry influencing sounds so it will vary the most from user to user.
     
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  12. iDesign

    iDesign Almost "Made"

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    Not quite. Over the 15 years that I have been in this hobby I have purchased both high and low end equipment from brands like Moth, Eddie Current, Ray Samuels, HeadAmp, Schiit, Simaudio etc. etc. and appreciated all of their designers equally. I also can’t tell you how much I’ve criticized Sennheiser for things like HD 700, HD 800, HD 660 etc. As a designer and someone who appreciates design, I don’t have bias towards any one company.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
  13. joeexp

    joeexp Almost "Made"

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    The irony was lost on no one!
     
  14. Ardacer

    Ardacer needs to read more, post less

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    Yeah I thought your post was funny, it's hard to get the tone across over text :)
     
  15. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I saw these IRL last week, but didn't have time to try them as I was busy comparing two other headphones. The cups look almost like the material @Bill-P used for the Vader mod, and the glass window sher looks purdy.

    123307.jpg

    123306.jpg
     

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  16. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    No comment on sonics (yet), but for now I will say that these sure kick the old HD8XX series' ass in aesthetics.
     
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  17. Ardacer

    Ardacer needs to read more, post less

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    Brutal.
     
  18. Maxx134

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

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    If anyone has a time period (for however long) where they enjoy any headphone,
    I say enjoy it while the perceptions last and don't worry about the level of you are enjoying it...

    I have posted some detailed impressions, saying it is, quote :

    "slightly muted(transients) and smoothed over sound (added distortions or decay), while actually sounding "closed" next to the 800S."

    But remember closed & open cans are like "apples & oranges".
    Its just the similarity that makes us expect closer comparison.

    In terms of the closed headphone world, it is sad thing to admit that there are not enough cans at this level.
    The 820 excellent driver is brought down slightly closer to the lower level of ZMF driver...

    It truly is a juggle to put things in perspective, because we are still talking about the top headphones of closed cans..

    The ONLY headphone drivers that are currently performing higher in stock form (that I tested) is both the Utopia and the new Denon drivers.

    It's too bad the Denon not getting the love because of the headband and the sligtly muted trebles...
    In fact the "colorations" of the Denon wood cup are more natural than the mix of "colorations" presented in the 820 ... IMHO.

    The innovation is in creation of the excellent work done on the asthetics ..
    :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  19. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I've had them a bit over a month. I still think they're the best closed back cans I've heard.

    Notwithstanding that I'm not very prone to new-toy syndrome, which seems to be what you're intimating here, partly because I both own, and audition, so much gear that something being new is more of a pain in the arse than an exciting novelty.

    Is as worthy as ... what?

    And I've posted a full-blown, fully illustrated, feature-length review (easy to find, it's the first link that comes up if you Google "HD820 review"), that says some similar things and some dissimilar things.

    Something I do find extremely interesting, however, is that I've not found a single negative review of the HD820 that actually includes images of the HD820, and one or more of the headphones it was being compared to, that wasn't also done based on show-listening-conditions*. And that's a shitty way to evaluate a headphone which, at least for the shows I'm aware of was not even n its final/production state of tune.

    At this point, regardless of whether an HD820 review is positive or negative, I'm treating it as worthless unless it includes in-context images for any comparisons, which were not taken at shows and aren't already present on other sites.

    Can't agree with that.

    Tonally the Eikon is a little purer. Beyond that, the HD820 are technically superior pretty much across the board.

    Which is, much like not buying a closed-back headphone to do an open-back headphone's job, why I have things like the LCD-4 and Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC for when bass is the center of the show.

    ...

    Short version ... I'm currently super-skeptical about any HD820 review that doesn't include in-context pictures. And only muppets buy closed-back headphones when they don't need to, and then complain that they are closed.

    --
    *Not saying such a thing doesn't exist ... but I haven't come across one yet if it does.
     
  20. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Well, I listened to the 820 at TSAV. The room was quiet, so it was "home" conditions. I was the only one in the store, and all the two channel systems were off. I compared the 820 to my Utopia, which I brought with me so I would have a known frame of reference. My impressions after listen to just a few songs (about 15 minutes), and then comparing the same songs on the Utopia, were that the 820 has such a different presentation of the stage as to sound very bad to me. I suppose I should have also listened to the HD800 to "reset" my frame of reference.

    I agree that show conditions, unless in one of the private rooms and it's relatively quiet, are useless for sound impressions, but are valid for look and feel impressions.
     
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