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Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones with Differential Cabling and Amplifier





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Wayne's Impressions


I had to try out the HD 800 headphones at the Sennheiser booth. I was treated to the opportunity to directly compare HD 800's with standard wiring and HD 800's with third-party differential cabling driven by Sennheiser's HD 800 HDVD fully-differential headphone amplifier. The difference?

Of course the phenomenon we are referring to here is crosstalk. Typical headphone cables involve three conductors: left, right, and a common return. The common return allows return signal current from the left transducer to be coupled into the right side's signal, and vice-versa. Going back and forth between the two HD 800 sets, unbalanced cabling to balanced/differential, the difference in the spaciousness of the soundstage grew by 20% or so with the balanced/differential setup. That is wholly a guess, of course, soundstage is a psycho-acoustical phenomenon that defies measurements. It seemed like 20%, though, not a night-and-day difference, but one significant enough to be clearly noticeable. And to leave me wanting it to be part of every headphone listening experience I would have thereafter.

I suspect that 90% of the benefit is in the headphone cabling. The headphones and amplifier made a nice pair, though. There is no doubt that Sennheiser knows headphones, I have always been a fan of their products. This RMAF experience had made me even more of one.

The HD 800's? Excellent. Wide, open soundstage, flawless imaging, a crisp, bright high end, perhaps a bit forward up around 8 to 10 KHz or so, and that might be fatiguing with longer headphone sessions, but all-in-all it is not difficult to understand why the HD 800's are often called the best-sounding headphones in the world. But my new reference headphone was not at the Sennheiser table. Check out my Mr. Speakers headphone review.
 

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Interesting idea, I wonder if other manufacturers will offer this same balanced connections on their high end headphones. Would be nice to have this in something a little more affordable.
 

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Interesting idea, I wonder if other manufacturers will offer this same balanced connections on their high end headphones. Would be nice to have this in something a little more affordable.
Isnt Oppo coming out with something similar? Maybe it will be a bit more affordable. I think it is slated for a release in spring 2014 but either way for a hardcore headphone user these look to be pretty nice.

http://www.oppodigital.com/future/

Link above to what I was referring to by oppo
 

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I had not heard anything about it but would love to see (hear) something like that from Oppo. I am on my seconds Oppo bluray player and I know they make some very nice Android phones so I have no doubt they are capable of making high end headphones at a very affordable price.
 

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Do any of you know if Sennheiser attends the Lone Star Audio Fest ?
I have had a pair of HD 600 headphones for about a year and they are great, I would like to hear a pair of HD 800 just to see if I think they are enough better to start thinking about.
 
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