Senn HD-800S - changes after break-in period?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Doug Walton, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Just got these in, and my first reaction was that I didn't really like the slightly thick bassiness, I thought the trebles are just a bit muted, resulting in a loss of "edge detail", separation, clarity, and what seemed a bit less soundstage, and the bass was a bit lacking in "bass texture". I'm comparing them to my Shure SRH1840, which I really like a lot, save for the very occasional slightly piercing high end. My general takeaway after 20 minutes was "meh" for the Senns - I'd hoped for more.

    But ... if these are gonna change slightly over the next 100+ hours, what might that bring? Maybe I'm just one of those people who likes a more detailed, precise and clinical headphone (perhaps the older HD-800?). And my Shures seem to be delivering a bit more bass than when new, so I have no problem with that. I tend to listen to a lot of jazz and non-vocal stuff on my headphones, fwiw. And maybe I'm just so used to the Shures that I'm not hearing the goodness that the Senns are bringing.

    Thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  2. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    It might help a lot if you would enter your gear into your Profile so users can see the associated equipment. I have the HD-800S and my listening experience is much different than what you describe.
     
  3. Stereosound

    Stereosound Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I haven't listened to the HD-800S yet but do remember the older HD-800 sounding more like what you may prefer. They did have a treble peak that most forum posters/reviewers always mentioned they wish were addressed as well as wishing they had more bass(not in the sense of depth but more like feel aka bass boost). You may want to seek them out. You may also want to listen to a pair of Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 which also are currently in mark II form. Haven't listened to or read about the second version yet so no comment as to what has changed sound wise. If you like bright headphones may I suggest Audio Technica ATH-MSR7. As for the Shure's I actually prefer the SRH-1540 over the SRH-1840. Good news is if you prefer the older HD-800 they should cost you less.
     
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  4. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Forum Resident

    Location:
    Mid Atlantic
    The Senn 800s in general are amp sensitive so I agree that the OP @Doug Walton needs to specify that for others to usefully comment.
     
    curbach likes this.
  5. The Beyerdynamic T1 Gen 2 had a bit of the Gen 1's brightness toned down and the bass improved a little, apparently. It plays nicely with the Phonitor, which loves higher impedance phones.
     
  6. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Done
     
  7. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    I think this is right on about 800 vs. 800S. I definitely find myself at odds with outside headphone communities; most headphones they highly praise have that "thick bassiness" the OP refers to. And any headphone that doesn't have it is considered "bright", like the 800 was...(HD-700 gets the "brightness" label too). I expect details when I put on headphones.
     
    cmcintyre likes this.
  8. timztunz

    timztunz "A Dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

    Location:
    Texas and Brasil
    Thanks Doug. Are you using the headphone out on your integrated amp? I also agree with @Mr Bass the HD-800S have different flavors with different amps. If you could get yourself to a CANJAM event somewhere and take your headphones you could really get an idea of what going on with different amps.
     
  9. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I expect that too, and I enjoy the heck out of it. I was just now reading a review that talks about the idea of "two camps seemingly forming between the colder, analytical precision of “audiophile” tuning and the musical, rich sounds of the “new school” tuning".

    Sennheiser HD800S

    It may just be like this for me - not that I consider myself to be a saavy audiophile yet, but I think I have a decent ear, and I know what I look for, and it tends to be more towards the first category. WHen I tried out the Senn HD650 against the Shure SRH1840, it was an easy choice for me - I thought the HD650 were not at all enjoyable, too muddy, too thick and bassy, etc..

    Maybe I should just bite the bullet, get a pair of HD800 in here, and compare them and the HD800s for several days.
     
  10. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Yes - with the A-S801. I could go to some event like that, but then I'd have to go to an event like that.
     
  11. beercanchicken

    beercanchicken Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    I feel the exact same way about HD650s. I had HD600s but would have liked the bass slightly more forward (but definitely enjoyed the punch of them). I tried the HD650s thinking they'd solve that issue because they're often praised for their bass. But it was all mid-bass (thick, muddy, etc.). They slightly improved after a week of breaking in but still ended up sending back and sticking with 600s. HD650s are highly overrated, IMO. They're not an offensive listen (probably why they're so popular) but not what I expect out of a headphone.

    *And yeah, if you have the means, I'd try the 800's side by side if you can
     
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  12. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I'm also curious what others have found with the HD800S relative to before-and-after break-in period (say, 100+ hours). What changes did you hear?
     
  13. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I went ahead and got a set of Senn HD800S to compare with the HD800 that I have. It's been a very interesting experience so far. One thing I'll say is that the HD800S does not deliver some of what I feel is both very important and enjoyable sparkle and detail that the HD800 and the Shure SRH1840 bring right to me. Texture in bass, sparkle detail from a jazz quartet drummer, some of the separation between instruments - those things are somewhat muted with the HD800S. But there is a smooth and pleasant aspect to the way the HD800S delivers its sound - I just don't know if I want it at the expense of the stuff I mentioned. Both Senns have an amazing soundstage thing going on (wider and deeper than the SRH1840), with the "realism" nod going to the HD800.

    Funny how after just a few hours with all of them, the Shure SRH1840 emerged as somewhat of a viable compromise to both of the Senns. They have a quality that encourages almost endless listening sessions, while delivering tons of detail, decent imaging, and (with my system and the Gumby) PLENTY of solid bass.
     
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  14. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    your amp may not be best for hd800. the hd650 with a good amp is a incredible bargain in headfi land!
    any new headphone need to play at least 50 hours to open up. hd800 are not muted in the treble, they are overly bright if anything. in fact, ive modded extensively my pair to reduce the brightnss. if they sound muted id blame the break in or the amp, not the hd800
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  15. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    I had a pair of HD650 in-house for about 2 weeks a while back - I thought they were muddy, bass-heavy, lacking detail, and generally without merit. :)

    My amp and DAC are fine - IMO, if this A-S801 / Gungnir MB combination doesn't cut it with a pair of headphones, then the headphones are at fault.

    As for headphone burn-in, apparently this is a topic of some significant debate, but they are being used a lot now so we'll see.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  16. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    well something's wrong in your setup. its well known the hd650 needs a good amp otherwise theyll sound like you described.
    the hd650 are amazing when well powered. the hd800 are described as exatly opposite as how you describe them, they are generally refered to as bright due to the 6khz peak. if you find them muted in the treble, something is wrong.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  17. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying Sparkling Crystal Clear Digital

    When it comes to headphones and headphone amplifiers, there will always be a diversity of opinions and preferences. I have been a Sennheiser fan for so many years, starting with the HD 414, and moving on the the models 580, 600, 650, 800 and my current 800S. I purchased the model 800 right at the time the S version was introduced and was able to work with the sales manager of Sennheiser to swap the 800 for the 800S. I will always be so appreciative of Scott's assistance, as he wanted me to own Sennheiser's refined version of their flagship product, (excluding the Orpheus). Having the advantage of listening to both the 800 and the 800S, I would absolutely clarify the S version as a well engineered refinement of the 800, the engineering that went into the design changes took much time and testing to perfect. I also decided to stick with Sennheiser for the amplification, using the HDVD 800 Sennheiser Headphone Amplifier with (4) pin balanced cable. It took many years for Sennheiser to make this high frequency refinement calming the bump in the 800 headphone, as well as some slight doubling of low frequency information. I do disagree with others that say there is a loss of high frequency detail with the 800S, these headphones are absolutely stunning, with astounding detail, however there is one thing they do so well, I have never, ever heard it equaled in any other headphones, including other Sennheiser models, and that is their ability to recreate space. I can hear sounds and in my mind physically identify space between instruments. When I watch movies using the 800S headphones, I marvel at the realism of the reproduced sound, the utterly real space or soundstage, presentation or however you would like to describe the effect, it's simply amazing and so real. When I play program material with extreme low end, the reproduction is extreme and powerful. So, I will have to say, I have never experienced a headphone quite like the Sennheiser 800S, it is a killer instrument of sonic realism, and it's capacity to reproduce real space is it's hallmark, a capability that few really talk about. Some have attributed their ability to recreate space so effectively to their very unusual design and driver angle used, some attribute to the huge driver size, but the effect is very real and like no other product I have ever heard. :righton:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
    vo_obgynmd likes this.
  18. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    After using both the HD800 and HD800S for a few days, I've noticed that the initial WOW factor I had for the HD800 has been slightly reduced by a feeling that I get sort of fatigued/jangled when listening to them for a while - whereas I don't experience that with the HD800S. Interesting...glad I'm getting the chance to try them both out for a while.
     
  19. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    the hd800s use the same everything then hd800. the only difference is the hd800S included a resonator in the middle of the hd800 driver in order to reduce the infamous 6khz peak of the hd800. the hd800 resonator reduce the 6khz peak by about 3-4db which will explain the lessened fatigued with the hd800S

    take notice at the bass between hd800 and hd800s, this is where the hd800 is still a bit better then the hdb00S which introduce some distortion in a attempt to warm the hd800 signature.
     
  20. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
  21. vo_obgynmd

    vo_obgynmd Member

    Location:
    Puyallup, WA
    The Senn HD 800 S are my "go-to" cans for serious listening. I don't recall much in the way of a break-in period. Here are the amps I've used that sound really good:
    1. Chord Hugo
    2. Chord Mojo
    3. iFi Audi Micro - iDSD
    4. Senn HDVD 800
    The amps above really make the HD 800 S's sing. There are recent reports that the HD 800 S's sound especially good with the Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse as well. The cans sound the best with the Senn HDVD 800 in my own experience. Personally, I haven't heard a better soundstage with any other phones. Enjoy your time with them!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  22. Doug Walton

    Doug Walton Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    United States
    Thanks. Since I'm not going to be changing out my amp anytime soon (Yamaha A-S801), or my new DAC (Gungnir MB), I have to go with the horse what brought me. :)

    This will probably sound like nonsense, but for the last 48 hours, unattended, I played a bunch of Miles Davis Quartet '65-'68 pretty much non-stop thru the HD800S at just a bit above normal listening volume. Probably on the order of about 30 hours total play time. I would swear that the HD800S is now presenting its entire higher frequency range in a more forward, distinct way compared to what sounded a bit muffled 2 days ago. OR maybe it's the bass that has changed - although the bass is still quite present. Now it could be that my DAC is really getting loosened up, but the difference is noticeable enough to make me think that I could go with the HD800S over the HD800 and not really sacrifice much in the way of clarity/detail and all that.

    I'm probably imagining all of it. :)
     
  23. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying Sparkling Crystal Clear Digital

     
  24. Litejazz53

    Litejazz53 Enjoying Sparkling Crystal Clear Digital

     
  25. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    I agree the hd800 needs a resonator, ive modified my hd800 with superdupont resonator. still too bright , the hd800S are too bright
    the SBAF mod for the hd800 is what makes them bearable for me. highly recommended
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017

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