Upgrading from HD650?

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jawks

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Upgrading from HD650?
« on: 22 Sep 2019, 02:32 am »
Hello,

I'm new to this circle and was hoping to ask for some suggestions. I've enjoyed my Sennheiser HD 650's for the past couple of years and still get a lot of use out of them (paired with either a Dragonfly, Chord Mojo, or Decware CSP2).  I'm debating whether or not to upgrade, and if I decide to do so, it would have to be for a headphone that clearly was more engaging.  I've previously owned a T1.1, LCD3, and MDR-ZR1 but sold them; I got each of them at a really good deal but I wasn't spending enough time listening to them to make it worthwhile to keep them.  The HD 650 is, in my opinion, a great value and suits my listening tastes, but the influx of all these new headphones and curiosity has made me wonder if there is something out there that I'd appreciate even more.  I listen mostly to acoustic jazz and classical but do enjoy listening to pop/rock from time to time.

The other issue is that if I decide to spend $1k+, I would prefer to be able to audition the headphones before buying them.  I live in the Boston area and know of a couple of shops that carry specific lines but I'm not aware of any that have several different lines (and their top or near top models).  I've been browsing reviews of a few different models online, but as I'm sure you know, what you read in a review can be quite different from how the headphone sounds to your own ears and when listening to your own music.

The models I've been researching include the Focal Clear, Grado GS1000, Grado GS3000e, Sennheiser HD800s, and ZMF Aeolus and Auteur.  I realize the ZMF's are special order only and can't really be auditioned.  For those of you who have experience with these headphones, any words of wisdom?

Thanks!

toocool4

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #1 on: 22 Sep 2019, 09:05 am »
In that list the ones I think you should try are the Clear and the HD800s. But be warned if your recordings are less than perfect, the HD800s will trash them.
I personally don’t like the Grado sound.

Happy hunting.

jawks

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Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #2 on: 22 Sep 2019, 11:19 am »
Thank you for the reply!  Are there any other models that you would suggest?

Freo-1

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #3 on: 22 Sep 2019, 11:35 am »

Checkout the Focal Elear as well.  They are on sale at Headphone.com with a case and extra pads for 599.


According to the sonarworks review site, the Focal Elear is actually ranked slightly higher than Focal Clear.


Also, the Sony MDR Z7 M2 is worth a look as well.

jawks

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Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #4 on: 22 Sep 2019, 12:27 pm »
Checkout the Focal Elear as well.  They are on sale at Headphone.com with a case and extra pads for 599.


According to the sonarworks review site, the Focal Elear is actually ranked slightly higher than Focal Clear.


Also, the Sony MDR Z7 M2 is worth a look as well.

Thanks for the reply!  I've heard mixed comments about the Elear vs Clear.  Some say they couldn't really tell a difference; others say that Clear was clearly (no pun intended) better.  Having previously owned a ZR1, I think I'd be less likely to jump on a Z7.  A big question for me is whether any of these would be much better than my HD650's.


adydula

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Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #5 on: 22 Sep 2019, 12:39 pm »
I have hd600s similar to 650s. Just got clears head and shoulders above them. Have t1, t90, dt1350s etc. Same concerns ad you. Go listen to the vocals with good music. Sorry for short reply..on phone

Alex

jawks

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Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #6 on: 22 Sep 2019, 12:42 pm »
Thanks, Alex!  There is a dealer within 20 miles of where I live that may have Focals, so it looks like an audition might be possible!  Do you like the Clears more than the T1?  Any experience with any of the Grados or ZMFs?


adydula

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Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #7 on: 22 Sep 2019, 02:09 pm »
jawks,

I really like the T1's I have the Rev 2's and they really are a very good headphone.  Some folks at other sites very much dislike them.

I started with Beyers years ago and was and still am impressed with their build quality, and went thru T90's to DT1350's and had to try their TOTL can the T1.

Been thru planars with Audeze, Grados with three different sets, some Audio Technica and AKG;s.

For me the Focal Clears are the nicest tonally balanced articulate headphones I have ever listened to.

I almost ordered the HD800s' but one of the site folks kept telling me go listen to them....and I have a dealer just a few miles away.

It took me about 3 minutes to discern these were something special and I had to have a set....

Never heard a ZMF.

I know there is nothing that is perfect but these are getting really close IMO.

...and for a $999 price until the end of Sept....its a sweet deal for sure...

Still $1K, but if I knew what I know now from experience I would have bought these years ago. If they existed back then!!

Great times in audio...

Alex

Freo-1

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #8 on: 22 Sep 2019, 03:11 pm »
Thanks for the reply!  I've heard mixed comments about the Elear vs Clear.  Some say they couldn't really tell a difference; others say that Clear was clearly (no pun intended) better.  Having previously owned a ZR1, I think I'd be less likely to jump on a Z7.  A big question for me is whether any of these would be much better than my HD650's.




According to the reviews from the sonarworks website, both Focal phones are a step up from the 650's in terms of both sound and build quality.  No question the Focals will hold up a lot longer than the 650's.


Regarding the sound quality deltas between the Elear and Clear, that's a tough one to nail down.  The Clears will play slightly louder than the Elears with a given input level, due to the lower impedance, but they are essentially the same driver.  The Elears measure flatter than the Clear, so combine that with a slightly louder volume level for the same input,  that could account for the varied opinions.   Keep in mind most people will instinctively initially pick the louder volume object as sounding better. It's only over time do opinions change once folks work that out. 


At any rate, good luck, and will be interested to see what you decide.

brooklyn

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #9 on: 22 Sep 2019, 04:17 pm »
I recently sent a buddy my old pair of Hifiman 400i’s, his main headphone for the last few months are the
Senn HD 650’s. He personally likes what the 400i’s has to offer in sound quality and now likes them better
then the 650’s..

You won’t know for sure how any headphones sounds until you’ve listened to them at home in your system,
at least that’s the way it’s going with me.. Personal taste is everything.. I now own the Senn HD 800S,
Hifiman Ananda’s and the Beyer T1.2’s, they all have something going for them.

Toocool4 is right, the better the headphones the more resolving they are, crappy recording sound like
crap and great recording will reward you.

Enjoy the ride.. It's fun.

Jerry

jawks

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #10 on: 22 Sep 2019, 08:00 pm »
jawks,

I really like the T1's I have the Rev 2's and they really are a very good headphone.  Some folks at other sites very much dislike them.

I started with Beyers years ago and was and still am impressed with their build quality, and went thru T90's to DT1350's and had to try their TOTL can the T1.

Been thru planars with Audeze, Grados with three different sets, some Audio Technica and AKG;s.

For me the Focal Clears are the nicest tonally balanced articulate headphones I have ever listened to.

I almost ordered the HD800s' but one of the site folks kept telling me go listen to them....and I have a dealer just a few miles away.

It took me about 3 minutes to discern these were something special and I had to have a set....

Never heard a ZMF.

I know there is nothing that is perfect but these are getting really close IMO.

...and for a $999 price until the end of Sept....its a sweet deal for sure...

Still $1K, but if I knew what I know now from experience I would have bought these years ago. If they existed back then!!

Great times in audio...

Alex

Thanks, Alex, for the detailed reply!  Glad to hear that you really like your Clears!  I think I will have to go to my local dealer to try to have a listen and compare with my HD650s.  Wow, it's pretty amazing that they reduced the price 'til the end of September!

Which Grado's did you previously own?

jawks

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #11 on: 22 Sep 2019, 08:02 pm »
I recently sent a buddy my old pair of Hifiman 400i’s, his main headphone for the last few months are the
Senn HD 650’s. He personally likes what the 400i’s has to offer in sound quality and now likes them better
then the 650’s..

You won’t know for sure how any headphones sounds until you’ve listened to them at home in your system,
at least that’s the way it’s going with me.. Personal taste is everything.. I now own the Senn HD 800S,
Hifiman Ananda’s and the Beyer T1.2’s, they all have something going for them.

Toocool4 is right, the better the headphones the more resolving they are, crappy recording sound like
crap and great recording will reward you.

Enjoy the ride.. It's fun.

Jerry

Thanks, Jerry.  I agree.  I previously bought headphones (except for the HD650's, which I auditioned at a local shop) based on reviews and reputation, and perhaps it's not surprising that those were the headphones that I decided not to keep.  I think that any future purchase will have to backed up with some auditioning.

Albert

jawks

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #12 on: 22 Sep 2019, 08:04 pm »



According to the reviews from the sonarworks website, both Focal phones are a step up from the 650's in terms of both sound and build quality.  No question the Focals will hold up a lot longer than the 650's.


Regarding the sound quality deltas between the Elear and Clear, that's a tough one to nail down.  The Clears will play slightly louder than the Elears with a given input level, due to the lower impedance, but they are essentially the same driver.  The Elears measure flatter than the Clear, so combine that with a slightly louder volume level for the same input,  that could account for the varied opinions.   Keep in mind most people will instinctively initially pick the louder volume object as sounding better. It's only over time do opinions change once folks work that out. 


At any rate, good luck, and will be interested to see what you decide.

Thanks, Freo-1!  It seems like the Clears are well liked by many!  I'll try to get my hands on a pair to audition!


adydula

  • Facilitator
  • Posts: 1986
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #13 on: 22 Sep 2019, 09:28 pm »
I first bought a set of Grado SR80e to see what the Grado House sound was all about, then I bought a set of
Prestige 325is, I actually enjoyed them, but the comfort level for me was not that great.

The earpads were scratchy feeling to me and I could never get used to them...but they were indeed clear and bright.

Dont think you will go wrong with the Focals....there are others out there that are good as well.

I right now am totally satisfied with this purchase and these may be my end game cans.

Alex 

Freo-1

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #14 on: 22 Sep 2019, 09:45 pm »
Thanks for the reply!  I've heard mixed comments about the Elear vs Clear.  Some say they couldn't really tell a difference; others say that Clear was clearly (no pun intended) better.  Having previously owned a ZR1, I think I'd be less likely to jump on a Z7.  A big question for me is whether any of these would be much better than my HD650's.



You can't go wrong with any of the Focal choices.  Am quite happy with the Elears. 


Curious about your impressions with the Sony Z1R.  That was a model I was curious about.  The Z1R is one of those phones that some folks love, while others do not like at all.


When I first got the Z7's, I was not impressed.  However, after getting a Dynalo headphone amp, my impressions totally changed for the better.  They are actually good cans, but really need a good headphone amp to get the tonality correct.

jawks

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #15 on: 22 Sep 2019, 09:52 pm »
The ZR1's were nice headphones, but frankly I just wasn't listening to them enough to justify keeping them.  They were comfortable to wear and as closed headphones did a nice job of isolating outside sound.  I just couldn't get myself to fall in love with them.  I mostly paired them with a Chord Mojo or Audioquest Dragonfly, occasionally with the tube amp Decware CSP2, so perhaps that had something to do with it.  Like you mentioned, I also noticed in forums that people either really like or dislike them.

jawks

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 100
Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #16 on: 22 Sep 2019, 09:53 pm »
I first bought a set of Grado SR80e to see what the Grado House sound was all about, then I bought a set of
Prestige 325is, I actually enjoyed them, but the comfort level for me was not that great.

The earpads were scratchy feeling to me and I could never get used to them...but they were indeed clear and bright.

Dont think you will go wrong with the Focals....there are others out there that are good as well.

I right now am totally satisfied with this purchase and these may be my end game cans.

Alex

That's awesome that you're happy with them to consider them your end game cans!

toocool4

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #17 on: 22 Sep 2019, 10:16 pm »
If you never listen to the Focal Clear or Focal Utopia then the Elear is good, but if you hear the Clear or Utopia then you will think the Elear sounds broken because that is what the Clear and the Utopia make the Elear sound like. Personally I don’t care how much the Elear’s are discounted for, save up the extra and get the Clear or Utopia.

Freo-1

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #18 on: 22 Sep 2019, 11:10 pm »
If you never listen to the Focal Clear or Focal Utopia then the Elear is good, but if you hear the Clear or Utopia then you will think the Elear sounds broken because that is what the Clear and the Utopia make the Elear sound like. Personally I don’t care how much the Elear’s are discounted for, save up the extra and get the Clear or Utopia.



Disagree.  So does the crew at sonarworks.  They rate the Elear score slightly higher over the Clear.  Both headphones have essentially the same driver, the main delta being the impedance (Clear is lower, so its a bit louder, for a given input which may folks mistake for better).


For now, the Focal website still shows the Elear as available for purchase. 


Here are the reviews :


https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/focal-elear-studio-headphone-review/



https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/focal-clear-and-clear-professional-studio-headphone-review/


The Elear has a flatter frequency response. 

toocool4

Re: Upgrading from HD650?
« Reply #19 on: 22 Sep 2019, 11:43 pm »
Freo-1 your prerogative to disagree. 

I don’t go by reviews, I go by my ears and I have listened to all 3. When I first heard the Elear it was before the Utopia and subsequently Clear was released, I thought the Elear sounded wonderful which indeed it does. The Utopia came out and did make the Elear sound broken then the Clear came out did the same to the Elear.

Put them all on the end of high-end headphone amps / source, them you will hear what I mean.