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Upgrade from beloved old HD580


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I've been using the old Sennheiser HD580 (once belonging to my dad) for years. It's an old beast that has been working tirelessly for probably more than 15 years now. I really like it: it made me fall in love with good recordings. I recently bought an iFi iDSD nano, which does really make the cans shine more than they ever did in combination with my Mac and hi-res material.

 

But alas, the headband of the HD580 has been completely worn out (see pic) and what's worse, it has fallen prey to the infamous cable connector problem that HD580's are prone to. Very annoying to have to sit almost completely still to not lose sound on one side... So I'm thinking about an upgrade.

IMG_6559.JPG

 

The local hi-fi store has some nice gear: mainly Beyerdynamics and Grado's, a Stax, but no Sennheisers (the owner even displayed some fairly strong anti-Sennheiser sentiments when asked for the brand...). I've been comparing them a bit (both via my own iDSD Nano and via some dedicated Lehmann headphone amps, that I didn't find to be a major upgrade over the sound of the Nano), and found out that I can't listen to Grado (both the RS and SR series) for more than a few seconds. It just sounds ridiculously aggressive and tiring to me. Being an ardent concert-goer (the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and it's wonderful orchestra around the corner..) and double bass-player myself, I think I have an idea what my cans should sound like, and Grado it quite possibly the furthest away from natural sound reproduction that I have heard from headphones so far. (Anyone had the same experience?)

 

I quite liked the Beyerdynamic dt880 and (to a lesser extent) the dt 990, both clearly a step up from the 580 in terms of clarity and spaciousness of sound. I still thought they were a bit overly bright. Seems I got raised to much by the laid-back velvety Sennheiser sound of my 580's...

 

I guess the logical upgrade would be a HD600, 650 or DT880. My main listening is to orchestral classical music, so good instrument placement/soundstage is a main concern. I'm not able to listen to those cans any time soon, I would like to ask the question: which one of those would you choose? Or are there some other headphones in the same price range I should absolutely listen to?

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Grado it quite possibly the furthest away from natural sound reproduction that I have heard from headphones so far. (Anyone had the same experience?)

 

Congrats on finally upgrading from an ancient but utterly fantabulous headphone: the HD580! I used a set of those for nearly 15 years starting in 1998 through just recently. I liked them a lot, I finally started looking at other headphones when one of my drivers basically died.

 

Perhaps it was for the same reason, but I have the exact same reaction to Grados: I can't get them off fast enough. They have (to me) a grating, harsh sound that elicits an almost violent reflex. Grados are either a love it or leave it type headphone, I'm with you in that I don't like them (to put it mildly.) That said, my Audezes are probably way too mushy and mellow sounding for Grado fans. To each his own...

 

In your price range, the Beyers and Senns you mentioned should be very good. Since you are into classical music where clarity is at a premium, you may eventually like the more open sound of the Beyers. They are really great all around headphones, and the ifi has a slightly warm sound of its own, if it works well with the Beyers then I think that should be a good bet. One other brand that might be worth seeking out is AKG. The AKG 701 has recently been put on sale in the US and is similar in price to the Beyers. I think the AKG should be ok to drive from the nano.

 

That said, the nano does not have much of an amp inside of it. A stronger amp would definitely help you get better sound. Planning on eventually adding an amp might expand the possible headphones you could consider. Just a thought there...

 

An option for a closed headphone that is well reviewed and might be worth check out is the NAD HP50. It is closed-back, but does sound good and price is right in your range.

 

If you only have this one shop to listen to, however, I would buy from them or else from an online dealer that has reasonable trial period with return option. Headphones really need to fit and be comfortable. A great sounding headphone that isn't comfortable or doesn't seal around your ears because of your head-shape just won't work for you.

 

Good luck and watch out: buying headphones is kind of addictive! My collection is about to grow again ...

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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Did that, multiple times. Even bought a new connector cable once. Problem keeps reappearing, getting slightly worse with time.

 

And I know, you can even buy replacement headband cushions. Maybe I'll do that sometime. But this thing is between 15 and 20 years old and a lot has changed since the time it was the best headphone available.

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I'm with Dale. Fix them if you can. If it is not the cable, then it most likely is the connector. An industry go to item for things like that is Stabilant 22a. You can use this stuff on many things...

 

Stabilant 22, 5ml Kit Makes 30ml of 22A

Product Sizes & Packaging

What is Stabilant 22A? Does Stabilant 22A really work?

Forrest:

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DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

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Did that, multiple times. Even bought a new connector cable once. Problem keeps reappearing, getting slightly worse with time. And I know, you can even buy replacement headband cushions. Maybe I'll do that sometime. But this thing is between 15 and 20 years old and a lot has changed since the time it was the best headphone available.

 

OK - if the earcup jacks have gotten worn out and you can't get a replacement cable with slightly enlarged plugs designed to make a better connection, then it's best to give up. BTW, there are no headphones I'm aware of that sound quite like a HD580. The HD600 is brighter or more forward.

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Had to bin my Sennheiser HD540 Reference nearly 2 years ago for the same reasons. I have searched for a replacement for quite a while. I also tried Grado, Beyerdynamic, Audeze. With hindsight, I fortunally had the pleasure of hearing the Sennheiser HD800. Although they need quite some time to break in, now I am happy as I can possibly be. I also use a Mac with an extensive collection of classical music of all sorts. I use iTunes and Amarra as my players of predominantly lossless files, use a Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2 as headphone amp (for the time being as I am in the process of finding an alternative.).

In this set-up, many recordings of the KCO at the Van Baerlestraat Concertgebouw hear and feel like being there in person. This feature alone made the investment in the HD800 one of my best personal decisions so far. I wish you the very same experience regardless of the choices you make in your quest for a replacement.

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Had to bin my Sennheiser HD540 Reference nearly 2 years ago for the same reasons. I have searched for a replacement for quite a while. I also tried Grado, Beyerdynamic, Audeze. With hindsight, I fortunally had the pleasure of hearing the Sennheiser HD800. Although they need quite some time to break in, now I am happy as I can possibly be. I also use a Mac with an extensive collection of classical music of all sorts. I use iTunes and Amarra as my players of predominantly lossless files, use a Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2 as headphone amp (for the time being as I am in the process of finding an alternative.).

In this set-up, many recordings of the KCO at the Van Baerlestraat Concertgebouw hear and feel like being there in person. This feature alone made the investment in the HD800 one of my best personal decisions so far. I wish you the very same experience regardless of the choices you make in your quest for a replacement.

 

Alas, I can't really recommend the Resonessence Herus with the HD 800; the bright sound of the Sabre 9023 makes the 800 awesomely open and resolving, but a bit fatiguing for long listening sessions. The Nano iDSD gives the 800 a much smoother signature but sacrifices that last bit of resolution. The Geek Out 450 is a great DAC but a mediocre headphone amp; the combination of a GO 450 and a iFi Nano iCAN might be pretty nice, but I can't say for sure as I haven't heard it.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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...found out that I can't listen to Grado (both the RS and SR series) for more than a few seconds. It just sounds ridiculously aggressive and tiring to me. Being an ardent concert-goer (the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and it's wonderful orchestra around the corner..) and double bass-player myself, I think I have an idea what my cans should sound like, and Grado it quite possibly the furthest away from natural sound reproduction that I have heard from headphones so far. (Anyone had the same experience?)
Congratulations, you can still hear high frequencies! I agree about Grado headphones. I've owned a number of them in the range from the SR80 to GS1000, and can't recommend them - especially when there are so many other headphones that are a lot better for the money.

 

I guess the logical upgrade would be a HD600, 650 or DT880. My main listening is to orchestral classical music, so good instrument placement/soundstage is a main concern. I'm not able to listen to those cans any time soon, I would like to ask the question: which one of those would you choose? Or are there some other headphones in the same price range I should absolutely listen to?
I'd say probably the HD600 from that range.

However, if those HD580 have lasted you 15 years, perhaps you should consider the HD800? If you get another 15 years out of them, that's only $100/year.

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Hello there

 

I also was not a lover off the Grado headphones when I was looking, but I did like the warmer sound from the Sennheiser I tried, it was a toss up with me between the HD 600, and the HD 650, went with the HD 650 in the end, just like the bass a bit more on them.

 

Headphones are a very personal thing, they got to be comfortable for a start, I would try and see if you can try before you buy.

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> White Bird Amplification VIRTUS-01> Sennheiser HD650 headphones

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Congratulations, you can still hear high frequencies! I agree about Grado headphones. I've owned a number of them in the range from the SR80 to GS1000, and can't recommend them - especially when there are so many other headphones that are a lot better for the money.

 

I always wear specially made earplugs during orchestral rehearsals. Being a double bass player, I find myself more than often next to a bass tuba, the trombone group, a (double) set of timpani, or right in front of the bass drum (which, as we are playing Rachmaninoff 1 right now, is quite a treat...).

 

I'd say probably the HD600 from that range.

However, if those HD580 have lasted you 15 years, perhaps you should consider the HD800? If you get another 15 years out of them, that's only $100/year.

 

I would love to audition the HD800. I found another store and will check it out soon, as well as the HD700 (bit more towards my budget range...). I would like to ask burnspbesq: is the HD800 driven sufficiently by the iDSD Nano?

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Best value would be the hd 600 but 650 and 700 would be a step up.
General opinion is that the HD600 is more neutral than the HD650, with the HD650 being "warmer" and more "laid-back" in its presentation. Not necessarily a bad thing.

The HD700 does not have a good reputation.

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I always wear specially made earplugs during orchestral rehearsals. Being a double bass player, I find myself more than often next to a bass tuba, the trombone group, a (double) set of timpani, or right in front of the bass drum (which, as we are playing Rachmaninoff 1 right now, is quite a treat...).

 

 

 

I would love to audition the HD800. I found another store and will check it out soon, as well as the HD700 (bit more towards my budget range...). I would like to ask burnspbesq: is the HD800 driven sufficiently by the iDSD Nano?

 

Most of the time, yes. But with two caveats: (1) I listen at pretty moderate volume; (2) and this may be important for you, the Nano can run out of gas a bit on big, dynamic orchestral tuttis. One of my standard reference recordings for evaluating gear is the Baltimore Symphony/Alsop recording of Dvorak 9. You can hear the Nano "gasping for air" a bit in the fourth movement.

 

Whether to move up to the Micro is a really tough call for me. The Micro would solve the power issue, but I so love the form factor of the Nano.

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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General opinion is that the HD600 is more neutral than the HD650, with the HD650 being "warmer" and more "laid-back" in its presentation. Not necessarily a bad thing.

The HD700 does not have a good reputation.

Hd700's reputation is unfair. People expect it to be the HD800 which it isnt, but it is still good. The 700 is clearly sennheiser's second best headphone.

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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Most of the time, yes. But with two caveats: (1) I listen at pretty moderate volume; (2) and this may be important for you, the Nano can run out of gas a bit on big, dynamic orchestral tuttis. One of my standard reference recordings for evaluating gear is the Baltimore Symphony/Alsop recording of Dvorak 9. You can hear the Nano "gasping for air" a bit in the fourth movement.

 

Hmm. Big, dynamic orchestral tuttis are the lions' share of my music library. Couldn't live without Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich...

 

It's proving harder than expected to audition the HD600/650/700/800. There is literally no store in my city (Utrecht) where you can listen to them. As the latter two are just too freakin' expensive, I think I'll resort to an internet store with a 60-day free return policy for the HD600 and HD650 and compare them to the DT880.

 

Thanks for the input!

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Hd700's reputation is unfair. People expect it to be the HD800 which it isnt, but it is still good. The 700 is clearly sennheiser's second best headphone.
I did a little reading on this and it seems that they were considered to be extremely overpriced at around $1000 MSRP.

When they dropped to $500-600, most people considered them to be reasonably good value.

Currently they seem to be around $750.

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Hmm. Big, dynamic orchestral tuttis are the lions' share of my music library. Couldn't live without Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Stravinsky, Shostakovich...

 

It's proving harder than expected to audition the HD600/650/700/800. There is literally no store in my city (Utrecht) where you can listen to them. As the latter two are just too freakin' expensive, I think I'll resort to an internet store with a 60-day free return policy for the HD600 and HD650 and compare them to the DT880.

 

Thanks for the input!

 

Hands down go with the hd600's you won't regret it

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  • 1 month later...

Just posting to let you all know what replaced the old 580 in the end.

 

I managed to buy a brand new HD700 for 300 euros. Difference in sound stage with the 580 is obvious right away. Impressive!! The guy I bought them from had them only for 3 months and didn't use them, so I think they still need some burn-in time to 'smooth out' and reach their full potential.

 

Crazy dude by the way, 22 year old, rich parents, he has a very nice set up in his adolescent room with what I managed to identify as two big B&W speakers (didn't see what kind of amp though), the room treated with wall panels and bass traps and all. "What do you listen to?" I ask. "I mostly use it for gaming and watching movies" he says. "Don't really know what to listen to, there are so many songs..." So after some listening to the HD700's I decided to save them from an existence as 'gaming cans'..

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