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Poll

Poll closed. Apparently both are overly coloured completely overpriced and a HD6XX with mini-DSP will perform better.

Sennheiser HD800s
[ 0 ] (0%)
Sony MDR-Z1R
[ 1 ] (100%)

Total Members Voted: 1

Topic: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical (Read 10227 times) previous topic - next topic
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Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

So basically I'm just asking for headphone advice. The reason I put this in the poll section is because I wanted to give everyone a chance to voice their opinion, even if they didn't want to leave a comment. I hope the mods won't mind.

For the longest time I have been planning on getting the Sennheiser HD800s but today I suddenly came across the Sony MDR-Z1R.
Some people were saying the Z1R was the best headphone they ever heard and blew the HD800s out of the water, but Z-reviews said in his review that the headphones were alright but very warm with muddy bass and Tyll from innerfidelity said basically the same thing and added that he'd rather listen to the 150$ ATH-M50x than the 2000$ MDR-Z1R.

Here are my concerns from what I hear:
HD800s - Shoddy build quality, plastic with a terrible flaky paint job. Sits weirdly on your head and touches your face.

MDR-Z1R - Narrow sound-stage, too warm, muddy bass.

As I don't have the opportunity to test any of these headphones, I would very much appreciate it if anyone with some experience with either of these headphones could relieve any of my doubts about them. And fill in the poll, which should I get (and I can't stress this enough) specifically for classical music. Whichever headphone I chose will be paired with the RME-ADI2 DAC/Amp, so a very good high quality source. BTW Their price is basically the same in my country.
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #1
It's a matter of personal preference actually.  You don't need to spend a lot of money on headphones to find something you like.  I vote for none of them.


Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #3
Neither.

Here's some super-useful info about headphone sonics:
https://seanolive.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-perception-and-measurement-of.html

And these are the products which have allowed me to equalize my headphones to approximate Harman's recommended frequency response:
https://www.minidsp.com/products/dsp-headphone-amp/ha-dsp
https://www.minidsp.com/products/acoustic-measurement/ears-headphone-jig
IMO, the results have been phenomenal, even with <100 USD models, provided that they form a good air-tight seal.

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #4
I haven't heard either of those headphones but I'd say you're nuts to spend $1000 USD on a pair of headphones, especially without listening for yourself.    But, if you've got the "extra money"...

There are lots of very-good headphones in the $200 - $300 price range and in a "blind" listening test where you didn't know the brand or price, you probably wouldn't choose the most expensive headphone.    For example the ATH-M50 has a very good reputation.    "Audiophiles" and reviewers are drawn toward the most expensive products...   The more it costs the more they want it!

Opinions & preferences vary and my favorite headphone might not be your favorite headphone.

Quote
MDR-Z1R - Narrow sound-stage
I don't know how that's possible with a headphone...   The left headphone goes to the left ear and the right to the right.     But the soundstage perception/illusion does depend on the listener.     I don't get a good soundstage with any headphone...   I hear hard-panned sounds coming directly from the headphone into my ear.   Centered (or near-centered) sounds seem to come from somewhere vaguely around my forehead.  

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #5
Neither.
Here's some super-useful info about headphone sonics:
This information was quite interesting and useful as it raises doubts about the idea that different people like different sounds and that it's all just a matter of preference. As it shows that in double blind tests people always consistently go for the most neutral and realistic headphones regardless of age, culture or gender. (basically proving for once and for all the beats are indeed rubbish irregardless of age)

However you seem to present the Harman frequency response as something which is antithetical to purchasing expensive headphones? I don't really understand that. Frequency response and responsiveness in general is something which is largely down to headphone drivers. And in fact, in the video included with the tests that you linked it even showed specifically that out of all the headphones they tested, the HD800(s) had the closest natural sound signature to the desired Harman standard and was preferred in all their worldwide tests over the other options. Here's a timestamped link to that: https://youtu.be/f1EVZVDaeLw?t=320

The testing done in the link you sent me doesn't account for other factors such as open vs. close backs, sound stage, dimensionality etc. "Great sound" is comprised of a mixture of factors of which equalization is just one. While you can simulate the Harman response frequency with equalization on cheap headphones, you'll never get the openness, sound stage or dimensionality which the HD800(s) is famous for. Those factors are especially important to me as a diehard classical music listener and also as a gamer. Because sound stage and dimensionality are also very important for gaming.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I imagine that if I tuned the HD800s to the Harman frequency they'd still sound MUCH better than a 100$ headphone tuned to the Harman frequency.

However if I'm wrong about that I'll happily be corrected. I'm up for anything that can save me 1500$.
And please don't take this as me being argumentative BTW, I'm just trying to learn. I'll be the first to admit that I am extremely new to audio technology and as of yet I feel totally inadequate to even debate most of this stuff. But these are just some of the thoughts I had about that article.
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #6
I haven't heard either of those headphones but I'd say you're nuts to spend $1000 USD on a pair of headphones, especially without listening for yourself.    But, if you've got the "extra money"...
Actually I'm dirt poor. But considering the enjoyment I get out of music and the amount of time I invested in ripping my CDs. I thought I deserved to splurge just once in my life.

No offense, but you did say that you haven't heard either of these headphones. I find it hard to believe the thousands of headphone reviewers and audio engineers are just fooling themselves when they say these are some of the best sounding headphones in the world. Remember there are also frequency tests and other tests with actual scientific equipment, which you can't fool.

Of course I'm not a complete sheep, I don't deny that the price plays a role in someone's judgement. But the headphone reviewers I've seen were able to pick the HD800s out of a lineup in blind tests without a problem.

I know hydrogenaudio isn't keen on audiophile BS, and I certainly agree that a lot of it is BS.
But I do think that with headphones you get what you pay for (at least up to a point).
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #7
Actually I'm dirt poor. But considering the enjoyment I get out of music and the amount of time I invested in ripping my CDs. I thought I deserved to splurge just once in my life.

(...)

But I do think that with headphones you get what you pay for (at least up to a point).

Actually, especially headphones are prone to audiophile BS. You buy an expensive headphone; you'll need an equally expensive headphone amp; if you have both and want to "enter the highest spheres" you'll also need equally expensive cables (whether it's a power cable or headphone cables). And it goes on and on.

What you need to do: you have to look at frequency responses. Doing that you'll see that either HD-800 or the Sony are coloured headphones. Many very expensive headphones are coloured messes (there are few exceptions). You have to ask yourself if you want to spend the extra money for a headphone that has a built-in equalizer that's always active and cannot be switched off or if you want something cheaper you can tune to your personal desires.

I have heard the HD-800, I didn't like it. Its sound had too much treble and lacked bass. Built quality is top notch though. I have owned a HD-600 for roughly 15 years and whatever headphones I try in store, I always come back to it, it simply is one of the most neutral headphones on the market. Having said that, using a certain software (Sonarworks), I was able to make an ATH-M50x almost sound like the HD-600. You'd also be able to make a HD-600 sound like a HD-800. Or, in effect, the ATH-M50x sound like the HD-800 (or the Sony). You just need to know their respective frequency responses and whatever phase distortions they create.

When Harman researched how people prefer to listen to music over headphones they did exactly that: they used a cheap headphone (HD-518 I believe) to mimic much more expensive ones. Did it work? Of course it did. Don't believe the crap you read on Head-Fi. It's a commercial forum that's bent on selling as much as possible and whose people are very, very friendly (obedient?) to manufacturers.

I won't give you any recommendations, what I prefer may be your nightmare. To me, the seat is important. I sold the ATH-M50x because its earcups were too small for long-term listening (I like them big and space-y). I bought the HD-380 Pro instead. Compared to the HD-800 it's dirt cheap. Can I mimic the more expensive headphone? Yes I can. But why would I do that when the HD-380 Pro sounds good enough on its own and can be equalized to be neutral?

EDIT: of course, the HD-800 can also be equalized to sound neutral. But why would I spend almost 2000 Euros if I can do the same with headphones costing a tenth?
marlene-d.blogspot.com

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #8
I tried both the Audio Technica M50HX and the Sony MDR-7506 headsets based on different online reviews and I hated them both and that was in the last couple of months.  I preferred my SuperLux HD681s (plenty of people hate these, too) over the other two headsets I tried.

Truth be told you might be satisfied with something less expensive.

Soundstage?  Don't make me laugh.  Unless we're talking about binaural recordings (the only time I ever perceived something behind me wearing headphones but couldn't perceive anything in front of me), I can tell you that only thing I perceive from headphones is inside my head or entirely in one ear or some other combination of both.  I can perceive a soundstage a bit with 2 speakers in front of me but it's always kind of in front of me kind of problem which surround sound does manage to solve a bit but it tends to collapse to the nearest speaker annoyingly just like plain stereo does with 2 speakers.

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #9
you seem to present the Harman frequency response as something which is antithetical to purchasing expensive headphones?
Not at all: There are other reasons you might want to purchase high-end headphones such as better build quality or comfort (and the HD800s are comfortable).
Quote
And in fact, in the video included with the tests that you linked it even showed specifically that out of all the headphones they tested, the HD800(s) had the closest natural sound signature to the desired Harman standard and was preferred in all their worldwide tests over the other options.
Yes, it suggests that you can achieve results which are almost as good as Harman's if you spend a lot more money!

With the MiniDSP products + Room EQ Wizard, I've been able to equalize my Fostex T50RP IIs to closely match the Harman target response, and I find them comfortable too. Only qualification is that the stock ear pads are too shallow and don't form a good seal, hence the popular modification to replace these with Shure ear pads which do a much better job. Hopefully the current T50RP iteration addresses this.


Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #11
When Harman researched how people prefer to listen to music over headphones they did exactly that: they used a cheap headphone (HD-518 I believe) to mimic much more expensive ones. Did it work? Of course it did. Don't believe the crap you read on Head-Fi. It's a commercial forum that's bent on selling as much as possible and whose people are very, very friendly (obedient?) to manufacturers.
You bring up some great points. But it leaves me wondering, what explains all the different reviews of these headphones? Are all these people just fooling themselves and is it all just down to preffered EQ settings?
You mention the HD600. I was actually planning on getting the HD660s before I got seduced and talked into buying the HD800 by audiophiles. Perhaps I was right in my initial assessment then after all?

So what about DAC/Amps? Is it also a waste of money to spend 1000$ on the RME ADI-2?
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #12
Not at all: There are other reasons you might want to purchase high-end headphones such as better build quality or comfort (and the HD800s are comfortable).
From what I hear the HD800s are lacking in both of those departments. So that's certainly no reason to spend 1000$ more than the HD660s. In fact in terms of look and comfort I'm pretty sure I'll prefer the HD660s.

Yes, it suggests that you can achieve results which are almost as good as Harman's if you spend a lot more money!
:D I see what you're saying. That's probably what I should have gleaned from those tests too if I wasn't stuck in this mindset.
You've brought up some very hard hitting points, I think I definitely need to reconsider all the audiophoolery I have been talked into and start educating myself on the science of audio drivers.
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #13
So what about DAC/Amps? Is it also a waste of money to spend 1000$ on the RME ADI-2?

Is this the product you are referring to?
http://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/adi_2-dac.php

If so, it's pretty interesting:
Different 5-band parametric EQ can be applied to each of the outputs: Phones, IEM and Line Out
Crossfeed for headphones and IEMs!
Stores 20 different EQ presets
Offers more basic tone and loudness settings, likely just the thing for correcting for specific recordings

What's missing; I don't see any indication that left and right channels can be EQ'd separately.

Is it worth the price? Maybe, if you're willing to learn Room EQ Wizard and really take advantage of all the DSP has to offer.

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #14
You bring up some great points. But it leaves me wondering, what explains all the different reviews of these headphones? Are all these people just fooling themselves and is it all just down to preffered EQ settings?

Well, yes. Your plain audiophile person has no technical knowledge (beside that written by the magazines which by itself is just an extension of the marketing material the manufacturer of the reviewed item provides) so does not know how he is fooled. If you have a decent EQ (whether it's on a PC or smartphone) and if the headphones don't have obvious flaws like strong resonances caused by the earcups, it all comes down to equalization. Distortions will directly influence frequency response so they're part of the EQ too.

You have to ask yourself a question: why is more expensive automatically better? Read a review and you'll arrive at that opinion. Is it true? No, absolutely not. Built quality might be better, it might look fancier but the sound can effectively be worse (and sometimes is).

You mention the HD600. I was actually planning on getting the HD660s before I got seduced and talked into buying the HD800 by audiophiles. Perhaps I was right in my initial assessment then after all?

I don't know if you were right. I've never heard the HD-660, only had a look at its frequency response (which looks good but not as balanced as the HD-600). The comfort will be the same and I assume spare parts can be bought as easily as well (the earcup cushions need to be replaced after a few years).

So what about DAC/Amps? Is it also a waste of money to spend 1000$ on the RME ADI-2?

Probably, yes. I wouldn't need the EQ (even though it would be convenient), if I EQ, I do it with software. For more than ten years I've had the Xonar Essence ST (and then the STX, the first wouldn't be recognized by a new mainboard) and why would I need more? Its headphone IC is perfectly suited for the HD-600 (and even the HD-800 btw). These days I'd probably have a look at other options, the O2 DAC/amp perhaps.

A DAC is even easier than a headphone, you can quantify its flaws or strenghts via measurements (if what you measure is audible is another matter). Most DACs today, even very cheap ones, measure so well that no one should have problems with them.

Think about it: when I'm not mastering using the HD-600, I'll listen to music using a smartphone. Why shouldn't I? The tiny IC (that also contains a headphone amp) within the smartphone measures equally well or better than any CD player from 20/25 years ago, even HighEnd models. And those have an army of parts supporting up to three ICs concerned with digital conversion only. That's progress for you.
marlene-d.blogspot.com

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #15
Is it worth the price? Maybe, if you're willing to learn Room EQ Wizard and really take advantage of all the DSP has to offer.
But I could conceivably just buy the Jotunheim for a third of the price of the RME and do all of those adjustments with software?
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #16
Well, yes. Your plain audiophile person has no technical knowledge (beside that written by the magazines which by itself is just an extension of the marketing material the manufacturer of the reviewed item provides) so does not know how he is fooled. If you have a decent EQ (whether it's on a PC or smartphone) and if the headphones don't have obvious flaws like strong resonances caused by the earcups, it all comes down to equalization. Distortions will directly influence frequency response so they're part of the EQ too.
I've noticed how audiophiles always tend to rail against the use of equalizers (perhaps it's because it exposes the myths they like to believe)

Based on your advice I did some tweaking in Foobar's own EQ UI element. My god! It's amazing how our perception of clarity is determined by equalization. Currently I have the cheapest 3 dollar set of headphones you could imagine. And I thought they were muddled and basically irredeemably crappy. Now after lowering the lower frequencies and increasing the high frequency, they sound like an entirely different pair of headphones.

I don't know if you were right. I've never heard the HD-660, only had a look at its frequency response (which looks good but not as balanced as the HD-600).
That's interesting. From what I hear they fix some of the issues such as lack of bass which the HD600 had yet still have better highs than the HD650. And because they're only 150ohm they should be easier to drive and less DAC/Amp reliant.
Then again I was told that by the same audiophiles who told me to rush out and buy the HD800s, so at this point I'm doubting everything I've heard from these people.

The tiny IC (that also contains a headphone amp) within the smartphone measures equally well or better than any CD player from 20/25 years ago, even HighEnd models.
Yes, we live in amazing times. The idea of taking the DAC and amp out of the system to prevent electrical interference does make technical sense. So I think going external vs using the motherboards onboard DAC/amp does make sense. But if I understand you correctly there should be no audible benefit among high quality DAC/amps? So for instance the 1000$ RME ADI-2 over the 400$ Schiit Jotunheim? 
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #17
*
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #18
I've noticed how audiophiles always tend to rail against the use of equalizers (perhaps it's because it exposes the myths they like to believe)

Audiophiles lack technical knowledge. If they wouldn't, they'd understand that the tweaks they continue to buy in order to change the sound might be had far cheaper by simply using an EQ. I've never understood if they actually have any reason or if they're simply ignorant.

Based on your advice I did some tweaking in Foobar's own EQ UI element. My god! It's amazing how our perception of clarity is determined by equalization. Currently I have the cheapest 3 dollar set of headphones you could imagine. And I thought they were muddled and basically irredeemably crappy. Now after lowering the lower frequencies and increasing the high frequency, they sound like an entirely different pair of headphones.

Congratulations! :) And now research their actual frequency response and then try to linearize it by using an EQ ;)

That's interesting. From what I hear they fix some of the issues such as lack of bass which the HD600 had yet still have better highs than the HD650. And because they're only 150ohm they should be easier to drive and less DAC/Amp reliant.
Then again I was told that by the same audiophiles who told me to rush out and buy the HD800s, so at this point I'm doubting everything I've heard from these people.

Yes, you should. The difference between them and (most) of the people here is that the people recommending the HD-800 have faith while the people here have facts. I understood that only a few years ago so and it took me longer than necessary.

And the HD-600 doesn't have a lack of bass. Just look at the frequency response, you can find it anywhere. Frequencies below 60 Hz are attentuated but "bass" starts a lot higher than that.

But if I understand you correctly there should be no audible benefit among high quality DAC/amps? So for instance the 1000$ RME ADI-2 over the 400$ Schiit Jotunheim?

I really don't know. It depends if one of them colours the sound, if both do that or if none do that. But their marketing makes me suspicious.
marlene-d.blogspot.com

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #19
If you're trying for transparency, there's no point in wasting a bunch of money on a $400+ headphone amp or DAC when the Objective2 and the ODAC exist. Especially if you're not the kind of person who just wants to spend a bunch of money for no reason.

As for the headphones. Beyerdynamic is a good brand for people who don't want to spend a lot of money but want quality headphones because all headphones eventually break, the more you use them the sooner, and with Beyerdynamic cans you can just buy and easily replace whatever part broke instead of having to buy a whole new set.

And there's absolutely no point in buying a >$1000 set of headphones, again unless you just have a bunch of money you're itching to get rid of. They're not any better in any way you can hear, feel, or measure. I would stick to <$300 headphones and look up the frequency response, impulse response, and THD graphs to find the ones that perform the best for the least amount of money.

Also a music display system does not have to approach perfection in order to sound great, or be useful. You could buy a pair of almost perfectly flat headphones and spend time and effort making them perfectly flat if you enjoy doing so and have the means, but it's not going to make the sound of the music through the headphones significantly more enjoyable. Sure they'll sound a little bit different, you might like the sound better, but not EQing your headphones perfectly flat will not take anything away from how much fun you have listening to music if your headphones are decent enough. I wouldn't bother unless I was trying to remove intentional EQ coloration from a pair of headphones that was bass boosted or the like, but I wouldn't spend my money on a pair of headphones like that to begin with.

Besides the sound, nobody can tell you what it's going to feel like for you to wear a particular pair of headphones. Everybody's body is different, and a comfortable set for one person could be extremely uncomfortable for you. The only way to know is to put them on yourself and see how they feel after a period of time. This could mean going to a music store or an electronics store and standing at a headphone display for as long as it takes for you to feel satisfied that they're going to be comfortable during your longest listening sessions. If that's not possible your only option is to buy the headphones from a place that will allow you to return them if you find them uncomfortable.

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #20
Frequencies below 60 Hz are attentuated but "bass" starts a lot higher than that.
 
Could you elaborate more on that for a layman like me, please?
Listen to the music, not the media.
Qualidade em MP3

 

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #22
Frequencies below 60 Hz are attentuated but "bass" starts a lot higher than that.

Could you elaborate more on that for a layman like me, please?


As a musician, there's not a lot of uses for frequencies that low. Technically a person can hear them, but they can't hear anything about them or what's going on with them. Theres only really the presence of absence of one sound that can be produced down there and it's a low muddy rumble. You can almost always High Pass all of that range of frequencies out of your music and nobody would ever know you did. In fact a lot of people wouldn't be able to hear it if you left it in because most systems can't even display most of those frequencies because you don't need to unless you're trying to display the sound of an earthquake or something.

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #23
Audiophiles lack technical knowledge. If they wouldn't, they'd understand that the tweaks they continue to buy in order to change the sound might be had far cheaper by simply using an EQ. I've never understood if they actually have any reason or if they're simply ignorant.
You know what! You've answered a question I've been wondering about all along!

Literally 80% of the time I see professionals in studios engineering music I see them wearing Sennheiser HD600 headphones. And I could never understand why they weren't wearing more expensive headphones. I chalked it up to budget concerns, but now I realize how dumb that is. Like these celebrity billionaires who own different Lamborghinis for every day of the week couldn't afford some 1700$ headphones. Now I realize they don't use those headphones because they're a downgrade rather than an upgrade.

But their marketing makes me suspicious.
You know, it's funny. Knowing what I know now, when I go back and listen to the people who I listened to before I really start to notice the marketing BS they throw in. All the scummy tactics and made up vocabulary.
It's like wearing the sunglasses from the movie "They live". Once you put them on you suddenly see who all the alien infiltrators are.

Reading audiophiles arguing on forums becomes the funniest thing you'll ever hear once you realize those are basically two adults getting irate and insulting each other over what EQ setting they prefer.
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

Re: Headphone Poll: HD800s vs Sony MDR-Z1R for Classical

Reply #24
If you're trying for transparency, there's no point in wasting a bunch of money on a $400+ headphone amp or DAC when the Objective2 and the ODAC exist. Especially if you're not the kind of person who just wants to spend a bunch of money for no reason.
I've heard a lot of people here mention the ODAC. I'll check it out.
I'm certainly not the kind of person who wants to spend a bunch of money, especially not for no reason.
If you saw my bank account you'd find it inexplicable that the idea of buying a 2700$ headphone setup ever entered my mind. :D
Hhhmmmm Croissants.....

 
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