Discussion in 'Headphones' started by sorrodje, Oct 11, 2015.
Thank you very much for the detailed input.
After I bought my Stratus, I began getting ribbed about not having an HD 800. I talked to another member here and he said to get an 800S or get an HD 800 and mod it. I bought an HD 800S and was happy. Lately I desired an HD 800. Prices for a new one were $2400.00ish. Not my cup of tea as I have been buying ZMFs. I looked on Ebay and found a barely used as new HD 800 for $900. Ordered it up and it was as advertised. As new. It sounds pretty good, but I am awaiting a Norne S3 layered headphone cord for it. No rush since I have a tuned Draug 3 and a WyWires Platinum cable for HD 800 Has.
I am beginning to wonder if the new/used HD 800 needs some break in time. What should I listen for as a clue that it needs break in?
A simple SDR mod will make much greater improvement than any aftermarket cable or break-in (if such thing exists with HD800). Mod it before deciding to spend your money on less rewarding upgrades.
Also, by Norne S3 are you talking about the silver cable? Silver cables in general are not really a good match for bright headphones like HD800, even Trevor of Norne Audio once mentioned that the all-cooper Draug 3 is probably the best cable for HD800. I suppose it’s too late if you already placed an order and they started building yours, because if so, you may have spent money on a more expensive cable that could actually be a downgrade, let alone a sidegrade, from what you already have.
What would you like next? So we can start the ribbing
Actually I am quite content. I have two ZMFs, two HD 800s and HD 650 and 600. .
songmic., I do have a specially tuned Norne Draug 3 for my HD 800s. Trevor asked me to demo two Draugr 3s for him and pick the best of the two. The one I picked is a new tune for the Draug 3. Lots of HD 800 owners don't think the HD 800 has decent bass. They need a Draug 3. Its a great headphone cable for $300.
The layered S3 is another lovely sounding cord on my ZMFs. I trust that trevor will tune it right for my HD 800sTrevor has shown me that silver does not have to be bright.
Also consider installing the SBAF mod (aka. rug-liner mod). It helps with the slightly withdrawn-sounding mid-range. Some folks don’t like it, as they feel it kills the stage a little bit. I personally feel it is worth to lose a bit of that stage for getting that mids. It’s still not going to be 600/650 mids. But definitely better than the stock.
I have the Silvergarde S3 with my HD800 & it's actually smoother sounding than the all copper Norne Draug 3!
I feel it also bumps up the transparency as well.
I read this elsewhere too. That the order of smoothness goes like this: Draug2>Silvergrade3>Draug3. Thanks for confirming. Would you say S3’s midrange is also more full bodied than Draug3’s?
Trevor is backed up a bit due to personal issues. At some point he will ship me two Draug 3s, one for Sennheiser HD 600/650 and one for ZMFs, as well as a layered S3 for my HD 800/800S. Some of the childtren at HF are getting antsy because they are not patient with Trevor.
Yep. The Draug3 mids feel almost hazy & distant in comparison, I will say that I feel the Draug3 is superior in dynamics & impact though.
Got my in ear measurement rig set up. SDRs arrived and they really do tame some of the peaks. Not sure why my rig is measuring the main peak closer to 5kHz than 6kHz though. Does anyone else get this?
Peak is actually at 5.5kHz, so I wouldn't be too surprised if your measurement is ever-so-slightly off. Could also be the positioning of the headphones relative to the dummy head mics.
@atomicbob's recent addition to his system synergy thread which included a J-modded HD800 spurred me to finally take the plunge and grab a pair for modding. My plan was to work through the standard mods many have used here, and then try @johnjen's J-mod, but the order I could try each mod was dependent on when the materials came in. Out of the box, they're far too bright for my tastes and definitely needed a lot of EQ to make them tolerable. Even then there's still too much "edge" to the treble and they're extremely fatiguing. Amazing detail though, and expansive if slightly artificial sound stage. Bass shelved up is nicely tight and textured. A slight boost to the midrange helps fill things out.
My results for the SDR mod can be seen above (thanks @sorrodje!). As he described in his thread, it's very important to install the resonators properly with the paper "bottom" pressed all the way in and the top surface flush with the grill. I initially had them inset by about 1mm and it was obvious that they weren't working properly. The SDR helps a bit with the 5-6kHz peak, but I still needed pretty severe EQing to make them listenable.
Next I tried the cork mod using 1.5 mm cork sheet as recommended by OJneg and Tyll's Anax Mod template, stuck on with double-sided tape. This reduced the brightness and glare a smidge and I could use a slightly less severe EQ in the 2-8kHz range. With EQ, the HD800s were now finally listenable for me.
Then came the cable upgrade. I was originally intending to use the Norne DIY copper wire, but Trevor got a bit bogged down and I only just received it today. So I made a big phat 8-strand cable using 21 AWG Mogami W2514 "Hi-Fi Hook-Up Wire" I sourced locally and hardwired it in as described here:
This had a much bigger effect than I was expecting: bass is improved overall (slam, extension); slightly warmer tone from the thicc copper(?); and unexpectedly a bit more air, maybe a result of the warmer overall tone letting it come through.
Next, thanks to @TheloniuSnoop, I tried the official SBAF rug liner (on top of the cork).
As advertised, a slight reduction in the "edge" of the shout and a less diffuse (but slightly smaller) stage. Below are the uncalibrated measurements with no offset applied (purple: SDR + cork; teal: SDR + cork + rug liner). It would seem the rug liner lifts the mids as well as smoothing out the treble peaks. I was now able to reduce the treble cut in my EQ settings even more.
Finally, I received the materials for the J-mod, (big thanks, @johnjen!).
This is the main J-mod post on HF:
And this post has some useful photos:
First, I tried the 5mm packing foam trapezoid treatment, in combination with cork on the clamp ring.
In comparison to the full cork mod, the foam trapezoid had about the same tonality, but less of edge/bite in the treble. Measurements below (green: full cork; red: cork ring + foam trapezoid).
Last was the "rubber sheet and flipped clamp ring" part of the J-mod. This is the material recommended by @johnjen (McMaster wouldn't ship small quantities overseas, so JJ was kind enough to send me some):
Super-Soft Multipurpose Neoprene Rubber Sheet
6" x 6", 1/32" Thick, 20A durometer
After I peeled the cork from the ring and scraped off the excess, a thin layer of glue was still left from the double-sided tape, just enough to adhere the rubber sheet. The underside of the clamp ring with the foam stuck to it is now on top. The gap in the foam leaves a bit of metal exposed, so I stuck on a piece of 1.5 mm 30A durometer rubber to fill in the space (don't know that this would be audible, but what the hell).
This is what was originally the underside of the clamp ring with Senn's foam, and the small piece of rubber stuck on to fill in the gap. This side now faces up and the original top side with exposed now has rubber sheet stuck to it and is facing down (the ring is rotated 180° to Tyll's drawing).
This is the J-mod flipped clamp ring installed with the foam trapezoid treatment.
With the flipped rubberized ring installed, something sounded off, a bit "detached". I went back and re-read JJ's description of torquing the ring down again.
I looked at mine and noticed that the clamp ring was being lifted up where the "tab" part of the driver assembly extends towards the soldering points. It turns out there's a "step" there, as can be seen in JJ's photo of one version of his mod with the clamp ring removed.
To make room for protrusion, I cut away the rubber sheet as shown below, thinking that this would result in more even pressure holding down the driver all the way round. This is the underside of the flipped ring with cutout in the rubber sheet (the ring is correctly oriented wrt the drawing).
Reinstalling the clamp ring and torquing it down, it was more or less level with the lip of the driver assembly opening, though still slightly lifted up where the "tab" is. Bass now sounds properly "connected", fuller than with the stock clamp ring configuration. There's also a bit less edge to the treble, which isn't consistent with my measurements, but I'm not sure that I can reliably compare measurements between sessions as I'm probably not getting a consistent mic insertion in my ear. The improved bass response is consistent with what I'm hearing. Blue is with the full circumference of rubber sheet (Jmod) and green is with the cutout in the rubber sheet (Jmod2); SDR and foam trapezoid also installed.
So my final configuration (for now) is @johnjen's J-mod (Gen 5), with a cutout in the rubber sheet and SDR mod. I don't need the SBAF rug liner and found that it reduced the sound stage a bit too much, though I might play around with adding a smaller piece back in later.
My source is a Pi Zero W running piCorePlayer and a PI2AES shield feeding S/PDIF to a Bifrost 2, outputting to an SW51+. The "alsaequal" EQ on pCP is pretty basic with "66" being default flat (i.e. 0dB). I dropped down to "58" as my flat reference to avoid clipping, and ended up with these settings in the end. No idea what it works out to in dB as nobody on the Internet seems to know how to convert the numbers.
With the above mods and EQ, I've successfully tamed the face tweeter to suit my tastes. For technical performance and engagement factor, they are superior to my Clears. But the Clears are more suitable for casual listening to pop music with a shoutier mix.
@johnjen for his work on the J-mod, guidance through my process, and generosity with materials.
@sorrodje for his SuperDupont Resonator.
@TheloniuSnoop for sending me a piece of the official SBAF rug liner.
@fraggler for his help during cable making.
All others who have gone before me on this quest.
Is this the right place to be if I want to sell my HD800S Pentaconn cable or trade for the balanced XLR cable?
Continuing down the modding road (and I think getting close to the end) ...
With the J-mod foam trapezoid, the full SBAF rug liner won't fit. So I trimmed it to cover only the metal foil.
I used thin strips of double-sided tape to hold it in place, lined up with the 4 black plastic stays so as not to affect the acoustic properties of the foil.
The effect is about the same as using the full liner, but to a lesser degree.
It's not quite as suffocating as the full piece of liner, I guess because there's less of it.
Next is @johnjen's "Gen 6" phase of his J-mod. If you take off the outer ring of the cup you'll see 4 slots on the inside (2 long ones at the front, 2 short ones at the rear on either side of the wiring chamber). There are 4 corresponding tabs on the edge of black basket that snap into these slots.
The "Gen 6" mod consists of cutting 2mm wide strips of the same 20 durometer 1/32" rubber sheet used on the flipped clamp ring, inserting them into the slots, and reassembling the cups.
It might be placebo expectation, but after doing the Gen 6 mod everything seemed to sound a bit more cohesive and precise. Bass seemed a bit tighter too. If you don't have any of the rubber sheet, I would think the same effect could be had using thin rubber bands cut to the right length.
Next, and this probably has no effect other than aesthetics, I covered the exposed screws inside the cup with pieces of HD650-ish foam. This was very finnicky to do as I didn't want to goop up the screw heads with double-sided tape like when doing the cork mod.
Here's what 2 of the covered screws look like. It might not do anything good for the sound, but it also most likely won't do anything bad either. And it gives the inside of the cups a nice clean look .
My current EQ using piCorePlayer's alsaequal. I'm working on acquiring a DEQ2496.
I gotta say Wow...that is a clean job, man. I wish I can do it like that.
I remember when I was pushing the HD800 to its limits, a magnificent headphone to mod for the willing and a must to any pretensions audio enthusiast. I don't know if you tried it but I'll say one thing, hardwire.
When I was doing foam-based mods, I found that gently, I guess, disturbing the foam with a small flat head screwdriver helped to make it sound more damped. Just like small wiggles.
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