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HD650 inquiry

Hello everyone,

I'm a recent owner of a Schiit Asgard 2 + HD650 and am slightly troubled regarding the sound I'm getting at certain volumes.

At normal volumes I really think it sounds great but as I push the volume higher the highs get harsh and uncomfortable. Is this expected?

My setup is as follows:
Soundcard (Optical) -> Denon DA300 -> Asgard 2 -> HD650

Just looking for some impressions/feedback so I understand if I have an actual issue or if it is normal.

Thanks,
Daniel

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #1
Quote
the highs get harsh and uncomfortable. Is this expected?

Of course, loud sounds can be uncomfortable...  Even painful!

I believe those are high impedance headphones so they might be less sensitive (quieter) than your average headphone.   Do you have another headphone to compare the loudness?    If the headphones have low sensitivity you might be clipping (over-driving and distorting) the amplifier.

If you go loud enough, your ears will distort.

It's possible that your headphones are defective.  Is it both ears?   (I wouldn't expect both sides to be defective.)   If the headphones are not defective, I wouldn't expect them to distort at any volume you can stand.  

If it's only one side, flip the headphones around backwards to determine if it's your ears or something with the equipment.

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #2
Thanks for the reply DVDdoug!

I understand what you're saying but while it is a higher volume, with the HD598 I did not have this kind of issue(harshness) and the Asgard 2 supposedly is good to drive 300ohm headphones. Their support(Sonority audio, official schiit europe) even called it a good matching(HD650).

I mean, this potentially might be just me having the wrong expectations by comparing a very specific situation with different headphones.

To clarify, when I mean higher volumes I do not mean at the same setting on the amp since the HD598 are 50ohm but actual perception I have and adjusting the volume differently for each pair. (I obviously can't tell exactly, not very scientific of me either)

Edit: Just realized I was answering only part of the questions, the normal edit was not showing your whole post. My apologies!

It is both ears, I do not perceive it as distortion but am unsure how to describe it other than harshness. It is somewhat of a new experience for me.

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #3
Hard to say..
Try both headphones directly out of the Denon DA300.
Try different sources if you have them (e.g. I use the similar HD600 directly out of my macbook pro's headphone jack; the only deficiency is there's not enough volume range to use EQ and sometimes I max out the volume for soft music. Otherwise, it can get the headphones painfully loud on loud music.)

https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD650.pdf
https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD598.pdf
Comparing the FR graphs it looks like the HD650 has more 2KHz and more slightly above 10KHz which might translate into sounding harsher when you compare the two.

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #4
Thanks Eric, I'll do some more testing with different sources. This is probably me and my inexperience with different hardware leading me to think there's something wrong when possibly there isn't.


Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #6
What kinds of issues did you experience with the Schiit headphone amp?

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #7
Did some more testing, turns out it's just that Schiit Asgard 2 sounds brighter than the Denon which I was used to. Both sound great but seems like when pushing volume that difference makes it sound harsh. Non-issue as I never use that kind of volumes for normal music listening.

Thanks for the feedback guys


Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #8
The Denon’s headphone output could have higher impedance, which will increase bass/lower-midrange on the HD650. HD650 is usually considered a “laid-back” headphone to begin with, even using fancy 0-ohm output impedance amps.


Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #10
The Denon’s headphone output could have higher impedance, which will increase bass/lower-midrange on the HD650. HD650 is usually considered a “laid-back” headphone to begin with, even using fancy 0-ohm output impedance amps.

Read a bit more about the output impedance and seems to make sense, is there any workaround? Perhaps only EQ I guess so it ends more to my taste? I just connected the headphones to my soundcard and the bass is more present with less harshness on treble. Makes me feel a bit dumb for having bought the Asgard 2 without more proper research. (Not that it seems like a bad product, it might just not be for me.)

Thanks,
Daniel

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #11
Quote
, is there any workaround? Perhaps only EQ I guess so it ends more to my taste?
Yes, EQ would be the answer.

Quote
I just connected the headphones to my soundcard and the bass is more present with less harshness on treble. Makes me feel a bit dumb for having bought the Asgard 2 without more proper research.
If this is "simply" a frequency response problem (not clipping/distortion) It's probably the soundcard and Denon that are "wrong".   But, it may change the frequency response in a pleasing way.

Headphones (and speakers) are tested & specified with a low impedance source.     A low impedance amplifier maintains a constant-voltage output when the load impedance changes. 

With a higher impedance amplifier the output changes when the load impedance changes.    Since headphone impedance isn't constant over the frequency range, this causes changes in the frequency response.    For example, a rise in mid-bass impedance will cause a boost in the mid-bass response (if the amplifier impedance isn't low relative to the headphone's impedance).

Note that the true source impedance of headphone amplifiers is rarely specified.   If there is and impedance spec, it's usually the impedance spec tells you the headphone impedance you can use with it, which doesn't help.   

It's the same with power amplifiers...  The specs tell you the impedance of the speakers you can connect, not, the hopefully much-lower, amplifier source impedance.   (With power amps there is a damping factor specified, which is the impedance ratio and you can calculate the source impedance from that.)

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #12
Quote
, is there any workaround? Perhaps only EQ I guess so it ends more to my taste?
Yes, EQ would be the answer.

Quote
I just connected the headphones to my soundcard and the bass is more present with less harshness on treble. Makes me feel a bit dumb for having bought the Asgard 2 without more proper research.
If this is "simply" a frequency response problem (not clipping/distortion) It's probably the soundcard and Denon that are "wrong".   But, it may change the frequency response in a pleasing way.

Headphones (and speakers) are tested & specified with a low impedance source.     A low impedance amplifier maintains a constant-voltage output when the load impedance changes. 

With a higher impedance amplifier the output changes when the load impedance changes.    Since headphone impedance isn't constant over the frequency range, this causes changes in the frequency response.    For example, a rise in mid-bass impedance will cause a boost in the mid-bass response (if the amplifier impedance isn't low relative to the headphone's impedance).

Note that the true source impedance of headphone amplifiers is rarely specified.   If there is and impedance spec, it's usually the impedance spec tells you the headphone impedance you can use with it, which doesn't help.   

It's the same with power amplifiers...  The specs tell you the impedance of the speakers you can connect, not, the hopefully much-lower, amplifier source impedance.   (With power amps there is a damping factor specified, which is the impedance ratio and you can calculate the source impedance from that.)

I hear ya, really appreciate the the detailed answer! It does feel like a frequency response problem as you mentioned, it's not like I hear issues with the audio itself, just was too bright for me and the low end seemed to be a little missing. Since I lacked the knowledge/experience I did not understand why it was like this till you guys pointed me the right direction.

I had read reviews that mentioned HD650 to be on the warm side and the same about the Asgard, so it was a bit of expectations vs reality mixed with lack of knowledge. So I was not sure if I had an issue or not.


Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #13
What kinds of issues did you experience with the Schiit headphone amp?

Noise, grounding issues, harshness. It was a Schiit Lyr.  Hated it, and the warranty guys at Schiit treated me very poorly. Sold it immediately after dealing with them.

That's good to know, thanks. I've got their solid-state Jotunheim model (no DAC). So far so good.

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #14
Quote
I had read reviews that mentioned HD650 to be on the warm side

I used to think "warmth" was a mid-bass boost, with maybe some high frequency roll-off, but not everybody means the same thing:  
Quote
...while “warmth” could be thought of as “a feeling of rich intimacy, fullness and sweetness of sound.”

From - Whaddya Mean The Sound Is Fluffy?.

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #15
Quote
I had read reviews that mentioned HD650 to be on the warm side

I used to think "warmth" was a mid-bass boost, with maybe some high frequency roll-off, but not everybody means the same thing:  
Quote
...while “warmth” could be thought of as “a feeling of rich intimacy, fullness and sweetness of sound.”

From - Whaddya Mean The Sound Is Fluffy?.

Oh I see, as you've guessed I had the wrong idea. To be clear, what I tried but failed to clearly explain was that I noticed lack of low end compared to what I was used to from HD598 + both Denon and the Xonar soundcard, the sound with hd650+asgard has more punch/definition (I might not be on top of terminology here either) on bass but less bass never the less.

Thanks,
Daniel

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #16
Quote
... what I tried but failed to clearly explain was that I noticed lack of low end compared to what I was used to from HD598
I understood you perfectly!     But when someone else said they sounded warm, you may have misunderstood their meaning.

 

Re: HD650 inquiry

Reply #17
Quote
... what I tried but failed to clearly explain was that I noticed lack of low end compared to what I was used to from HD598
I understood you perfectly!     But when someone else said they sounded warm, you may have misunderstood their meaning.


I really had misunderstood, thanks for the clarification/guidance

Cheers

Daniel

 
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