HD800 Journal: Part 2

What about an HD800 for portable use?
Not really the most logical question, but I’m sure someone will ask it. Having an abundance of portable amplifiers laying around for reviews, I started trying everything from an ALO Rx, TTVJ Slim, RSA SR-71a, and the LISA 3 with the HD800. The source being an Ipod Classic 120Gb. The HD800 requires a little more turn on the volume knob to get to the same volume level as the HD650, but it is still drivable by a portable amp. Despite being able to get some decent volume, I assure you to not get the HD800 and plug it into a portable system, because the $1400 will just go to waste. Sure it still has a killer instrument separation and soundstage compared to cheaper headphones, but the magic is just not there. You’ll get much better, more musical results with many much cheaper headphones.

The HD800 is truly a high end headphone, and you need to give it the high end source and amplification that it deserves! If your system is still not up to it, settling with a lower end HD650 will give you better music satisfaction than the HD800. As I myself prefer the HD650 to the HD800 when amped from the Grace M902 or the WooAudio 6. But if you can afford to a world-class amplifier and a world-class source, the HD800 is not even close to the HD650. It’s like some civilization from another galaxy came and showed us how to build a proper transducer.

Stay in tune for the next HD800 journal! Click here if you haven’t read the first part of the journal.



  • Reply October 24, 2010

    David Keppel

    I haven't tried the HD 800 but I did want to note that Skylab on HeadFi says that the HD 800 sounds as good with the Elekit TU-882A ($445) as with any of the amps he's tried. He also says that the Woo Audio 6 is better with low impedance headphones. See his tube amplifier ranking on HeadFi.

    • Reply October 24, 2010


      David, that article was written around the time when I just received the HD800. I had only use it with a few amps then, including the WA6.

      Roughly a year after that, I've used the HD800 in so many different amplifier and source set ups, each with their own strength and weaknesses. Depending on the music and recording you listen to, one amp will sound better than the other, and vica versa. Even I can't say that my Zana Deux ($2200) is the best HD800 amp, nor the balanced Beta22, both amps considered the top tube and solid state headphone amplifier.

      Actually, this is the case with almost every headphone, there is no such thing as the "best" pairing. Factors like music genre, recording, and personal preference is very important. This is why I don't create rankings for amplifiers or headphones.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.