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The Computer Audiophile

Battle Of The Flagships (50+ Headphones Compared)

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Hi Chris

Unless the headphones used were fed by an amplifier that had the correct output impedance to suit the headphones, as well as suitable voltage and current capabilities, then I would treat the published results with a healthy dose of scepticism.

Many headphones, including the AKG K701, ATH W1000 and many others, were designed to be driven from a 120 ohms output impedance as specified by International standard IEC61938. His poor impression of the 5000 makes me wonder if he has done this.Many valve amplifiers, and lower voltage SS HA's are simply not capable of getting the best out of many headphones, especially the higher impedance ones.. The AKG K701 is very picky in this respect, and also needs an amplifier with high voltage supply rails such as >+and -15V , as well as the specified 120 ohms output impedance to really shine, otherwise it can sound quite aggressive with HF material, and very fatiguing for longer listening periods.Some valve amplifiers may compensate for headphones such as the K701 to a limited degree, due to their higher HF roll off.

 

Kind Regards

Alex


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All the amps used are listed so your skepticism could be dealt with fairly easily. Plus, users without a perfect amp would still be interested in how a headphone sounds in a similar less than perfect scenario.

 

We all have different hearing as well.


Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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Alex,

I'm not the biggest headphone guy around, but I do know that the head-fiers are intimately aware of the impedance matching issues that come with their hobby, and it is that aspect of this comparison that I was most impressed with, frankly. The guy lists every amp he used, every combination, had a category for each can called "ability to drive" or something like that, and listed recommended amps with each pair of headphones. I;m not really sure how much more transparent one can get.

 

I am in awe of both his personal inventory as well as his attention to detail, and mostly, his overall structure and organization within the comparisons. Easy to read, easy to archive for future use, and likely quite comprehensive (i.e I think he hit all the major players). if I could do 10% of that job for something like all the DACS I've demo'd it would be an undertaking. I feel so inadequate. :)

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David was very smart about how he put that together, and how he borrowed from various sources ideas and language to make his overall presentation consistent. My experiences with the headphones tracks pretty close to his. Now if he or someone could reproduce the original post with informative commentary only in a PDF, it would make an excellent reference. It's still good as an original post, but there is some very useful commentary and criticism that would also be helpful with the chatter removed.

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Very well tested. I see both my Sennheiser HD600 & HD800 made the list.


The Truth Is Out There

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Very well tested. I see both my Sennheiser HD600 & HD800 made the list.

Hi Mav - I use the HD600 as well. It has held up very well against the competition over the years.

 

I'm seriously considering the HD800 though. Have you tried the LCD3 v. the HD800?


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Announcing Polestar | Quick Community Reviews and Ratings

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The HD800 is like taking a veil off of the 600 and revealing music. Very amazing difference. I got the 580 after the rave review in Stereophile, then a 565, then a 600, 650, 800, Amperior and Momentum. But I've never heard anything that can equal the 800 in reproducing upper harmonic details, regardless of the amp used.

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Hi Mav - I use the HD600 as well. It has held up very well against the competition over the years.

 

I'm seriously considering the HD800 though. Have you tried the LCD3 v. the HD800?

 

Chris, I could never find a Audeze dealer nearby to get a demo. Give the HD800 a try.


The Truth Is Out There

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What an excellent review - thanks for sharing Chris.

 

I'm totally gutted that my beloved AKG-K1000s only came 19th. But I have to say that I've never heard the 'rattle' that David Mahler mentions. I wonder where they would have come without the rattle...

 

In any event, fed a decent source driven by a Berning Siegfried 300B, I get the most musically satisfying sound I've ever heard in any HP/speaker system anywhere. If the other HPs really are better than the K-1000s, they must be amazing.

 

Mani.


Phasure Mach III audio PC -> HQPlayer/XXHighEnd @24/705.6 -> Phasure NOS1 DAC -> First Watt F5-cloned mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima horn speakers

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I have to say that I've never heard the 'rattle' that David Mahler mentions. I wonder where they would have come without the rattle... If the other HPs really are better than the K-1000s, they must be amazing. Mani.

 

Based on my 30 years of headphone listening with everything from Beyer DT48's to the Sennheiser HD800, I'd say you probably have the best sound of all of those, regardless of the 19th place showing. I don't want to suggest any cynicism, but an obsolete item at or near the top of the list can really detract from sales.

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Dale, I'm more than happy to bow to your superior experience here.

 

I had the Berning amp lying around doing nothing and thought I'd try it with the K-1000s. I'm not sure if it's the best match ever, but this pairing certainly makes beautiful music. If you're aware of another amp I should try with the K-1000s let me know.

 

Cheers, Mani.


Phasure Mach III audio PC -> HQPlayer/XXHighEnd @24/705.6 -> Phasure NOS1 DAC -> First Watt F5-cloned mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima horn speakers

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Dale, I'm more than happy to bow to your superior experience here. I had the Berning amp lying around doing nothing and thought I'd try it with the K-1000s. I'm not sure if it's the best match ever, but this pairing certainly makes beautiful music. If you're aware of another amp I should try with the K-1000s let me know. Cheers, Mani.

 

My 'superior' experience does not include the K1000 or the Berning amp. My 'superior' experience in analyzing David's massive headfi review says that your K1000 (based on several reviews I've seen) is 'probably' much better than 19th. I've had a lot of those headphones David reviewed, and while much of that information is useful, it reads like something that's trying hard to avoid any controversy that would conflict with David's marketing. Parts of it, and I noted this with the HD800 review, looked like it was cobbled together from other people's analysis, again to play it safe.

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Ah OK. Thanks for the qualification.

 

Mani.


Phasure Mach III audio PC -> HQPlayer/XXHighEnd @24/705.6 -> Phasure NOS1 DAC -> First Watt F5-cloned mono amps -> Tune Audio Anima horn speakers

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David did an awesome job with this guide, as he said it's his opinion, I for one would rank the Fostex TH900 much higher up around with the HD800. I tried the HD600 HD650 HD 700 and HD 800 last year - the HD800 in balanced configuration was my favorite Sennheiser. however on some amps & some songs there was a nasty sibilant treble. when I tried the TH900 there was no sibilance at all and music was so much more enjoyable - the HD800 had a larger sound stage (it's an open h/p) than the TH900 (a closed h/p). The HD800 has more of an analytical sound with the TH900 having a more euphonic signature - both phones retreave significant detail. The other bonus is in Australia the TH900 are significantly cheaper than USA ($1500. - 1600 vs $1900 up to $2300). Rarely does that happen as Australia is usually expensive for audio gear. In fact I heard from a head fier one of the Fostex reps for Australia told him the TH900 were selling out quickly. Some on HeadFi have suggested the TH900 is as classy as the Sony MDR-R10 a legend in its own right. If your looking at the HD800 consider auditioning the TH900 you may be quite surprised with the results.

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Hi everyone. I stumbled upon this post today. Thanks for sharing it Chris. I just want to comment on some of the comments regarding "marketing" specifically dalethorn's comments about the HD800 and marketing etc...

 

I went through great pains to ensure that the work I put into this review would reflect my real life experiences, no one else's and would not be tainted by an objective to sell anything. It's not something that I advertise, but the company for which I work, Headphones.com has never carried the HD800. We also have never carried the HE-6 or any Hifiman product. I had no objective to make the HD800 look good for marketing reasons. I wish we sold the HD800, but due to regulations with the manufacturer we are not able to at this time. I just wanted to clear the air of the accusations (theres been several assumptions such as this on head-fi as well) that there is any hidden agenda with regard to the work I put into the review. It was done simply out of love and respect for the hobby. The K1000 are definitely listed where they should be with regard to my personal experience with them. :)

 

and by the way Dale, i'm not angry at all.... I would be skeptical too. :)

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I've never heard the 'rattle' that David Mahler mentions. I wonder where they would have come without the rattle...

 

You know, I never have either, though I've owned three pair over the years. My favorite of the three was eventually sold (like much else) to a gentleman who asked me what I did about it within a week of receiving them. I was dumbfounded. I cranked those things up, drove them straight out of the speaker taps of a 2a3 amp with 3-4 watts of power, everything I could think of. I never heard the rattle, but others definitely do.


Silent Win10 Music Server -> Roon -> HQP -> Singxer SU-1 -> Holo Audio Spring -> ECP L2 -> HD800 / Grado HP2i / HE-1000 / JH 13

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Sorry to create the wrong impression David. If you were able to read all the comments I've made about your review on various sites (impossible, I know), the big picture is I highly recommend your review, if for no other reason than you've expertly assembled information from your own experience and the vast experience of others. I'm slightly doubtful that you did all of this in a vacuum, so whatever the interpretation is as to how much is uniquely your experience and how much was absorbed from others - not an issue for me certainly. As to the HD800, I had one for 3 years - gave it away without charge. My impression that your impressions of the HD800 were partly from your experience and partly taking advisement from others - I think it's a valid impression based on what I read. But you obviously have the HD800, so you know the deal as well as anyone. BTW, in spite of a long experience with headphones myself, including Stax and nearly everything Sennheiser has made since ca. 1990, I've revised my descriptions of much of my experience to conform better to current market trends. I'd hate to be stuck in the past and not able to communicate with all those Beats users out there.

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Sorry to create the wrong impression David. If you were able to read all the comments I've made about your review on various sites (impossible, I know), the big picture is I highly recommend your review, if for no other reason than you've expertly assembled information from your own experience and the vast experience of others. I'm slightly doubtful that you did all of this in a vacuum, so whatever the interpretation is as to how much is uniquely your experience and how much was absorbed from others - not an issue for me certainly. As to the HD800, I had one for 3 years - gave it away without charge. My impression that your impressions of the HD800 were partly from your experience and partly taking advisement from others - I think it's a valid impression based on what I read. But you obviously have the HD800, so you know the deal as well as anyone. BTW, in spite of a long experience with headphones myself, including Stax and nearly everything Sennheiser has made since ca. 1990, I've revised my descriptions of much of my experience to conform better to current market trends. I'd hate to be stuck in the past and not able to communicate with all those Beats users out there.

 

no worries,

 

btw, the rattle from the K1000 apparently has to do with degraded damping material. the newer K1000s may not exhibit it as much, but they ultimately will.

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Someone at Headfonia is suggesting that Sennheiser has revoiced the HD800, and that serial numbers above 10k have more bass and less treble. I wonder if anyone could confirm that one way or the other.

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Dale,

 

I have two pairs, #297 and #10333. The #297 is actually "bassier". I try to touch on this my review. If they revoiced it subsequently, then that is something I am unaware of.

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Thanks David. I couldn't imagine the HD800 having that much sample-to-sample variation, so perhaps the persons reporting have some excess earpad wear that makes a difference.

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David did an awesome job with this guide, as he said it's his opinion, I for one would rank the Fostex TH900 much higher up around with the HD800. I tried the HD600 HD650 HD 700 and HD 800 last year - the HD800 in balanced configuration was my favorite Sennheiser. however on some amps & some songs there was a nasty sibilant treble. when I tried the TH900 there was no sibilance at all and music was so much more enjoyable - the HD800 had a larger sound stage (it's an open h/p) than the TH900 (a closed h/p). The HD800 has more of an analytical sound with the TH900 having a more euphonic signature - both phones retreave significant detail. The other bonus is in Australia the TH900 are significantly cheaper than USA ($1500. - 1600 vs $1900 up to $2300). Rarely does that happen as Australia is usually expensive for audio gear. In fact I heard from a head fier one of the Fostex reps for Australia told him the TH900 were selling out quickly. Some on HeadFi have suggested the TH900 is as classy as the Sony MDR-R10 a legend in its own right. If your looking at the HD800 consider auditioning the TH900 you may be quite surprised with the results.

 

fostex th 900 and senn hd 800 with which amp you paired them ???

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