X-post from audeze thread
LCD-R vs D8000 Pro
X-post from audeze thread
LCD-R vs D8000 Pro
My gently used D8000 is in the house–so gently used that it looks brand new (a pleasant surprise). Thanks to The Music Room for a fair price, accurate description of this headphone, and exceptional packaging.
Heard it last night for ~30" IMS. Having to work around a migraine (which makes headphone-listening quite unpredictable), I think I heard pretty much the same thing I heard back at CanJam NYC 2018: an extremely well voiced planar headphone with slight warmth, well above average resolution, and exemplary rendition of tone, timbre, and space in recordings. The sound is balanced, even-handed, dynamic when called upon (but not overly so) – overall somewhat reminscent of the ZMF Verite Open in its refusal to sound stressed, vague, or out-of-control.
I’ve heard & owned a number of planars: sonically this one is (at least so far) up there with the very best.
Another (brief) listening session w/the D8000 last night, this time on the Lake People G109-A single-ended amp. Discovered a couple things:
The D8000 isn’t especially amp-picky, but it does scale with better amplification (last week it sounded slightly bigger/better on the V281)
It’s very efficient and doesn’t require huge power to sound good–but like every other planar I’ve heard, it likes power and, particular volume settings aside, tends to sound a little better on a stronger amp
The D8000 continues to surprise me by sounding more precise, composed, and musically transparent at lower volumes than any planar I’ve ever heard. Most planars sound bigger/stronger at higher volumes, but this one sounds very good at low to moderately low volumes.
Up 'til now, any headphones I’ve heard that do “plankton” well (readily reveal small cues in recordings & recording spaces) had dynamic drivers – but the D8000 does this as well as any dynamic I’ve heard. This is surprising to me.
The D8000 is large and a bit physically imposing, but it can deliver delicate, revealing sound. IMO its resolution is high for a planar, yet that resolution doesn’t come with the usual price of brightness or edginess.
IMO whoever voiced the D8000 really knew what they were doing…
I have a perfectly secure lock with the 3.5mm connector/adapters for my Double Helix Prion 4 Spore cable - I originally ordered them for my Sony MDR-Z1R (to stack on the native termination - Utopia connectors). They are not at risk of falling out and work great (balanced separate cables terminated into XLR 3pin).
+1 on the observation re:amp pairings, I have a sense this could be overlooked by the old “it’s loud enough when I turn it up so my amp is sufficient to drive” logic.
Just for fun I am listening right now out of the speaker taps of my ML 585 (200W at 8 Ohm) - massive step up compared to less powerful amps, e.g. HSA-1a, Hugo 2, Liquid Fire, … Even though D8000 is far more sensitive (& sensible) compared to HE-6, it reacts equally well (or even more so, as it is a better headphone overall) to being connected to overpowered amps; unexpected for me as I didn’t predict it from the specs.
Music is more dynamic, with cleaner separation, wider stage. No adverse impact to tonality.
Final Audio D8000 Pro Review
Written by Chrono
The D8000 Pro (which I’ll refer to as “D8K Pro”) is Final Audio’s flagship open-back, over-ear headphone, and it retails at the jaw-dropping price tag of $4,299. Whilst I haven’t tried the original D8000, it seems as though the D8K pro is–as suggested by its name–geared or tuned more towards professional use in recording and mastering studios.
Given that I haven’t auditioned the D8000, then, I’ll mainly focus on sharing my listening experience with the D8K Pro and seeing how it compares to other headphones I’ve tried around this price bracket.
The Amplifier/DACs used in this review were the SPL Phonitor XE (with built-in DAC), Grace Design SDAC + A90, and the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Qobuz streaming service played via Roon (exclusive mode).
Included with the D8K Pro is a molded, hardshell case alongside two cables. The first one is a 1.5m OFC black cable that has a 3.5mm, single-ended termination, and the second one is a 3m OFC silver-coated cable with a ¼” termination.
The D8K Pro’s accessory selection is one that I think is acceptable, but I definitely would have appreciated to have seen a bit more for a headphone in the over $4000 range; the likes of a balanced cable or adapters would have been a welcome addition.
The build on the D8K Pro is outstanding, and undoubtedly one that I think is fitting for a headphone with the “Flagship” label. Its chassis consists primarily of an aluminum-magnesium alloy that is very precisely machined, which gives the feel of a headphone that’s sturdy and has certainly been made with both top-notch materials, and the utmost care in its assembly.
Now, I will mention that although I really doubt that any issues will arise from the D8K Pro’s build, I commend Final Audio for designing their headphone with longevity in mind, as every part on the headphone can be disassembled and easily repaired or replaced.
As for comfort, I think that the D8K Pro is one the more comfortable headphones I’ve had the opportunity to try out recently. Weighing in at roughly 523g they’re on the heavier side for headphones, so if you’re very sensitive to a headphone’s weight these may not be the ones for you. However, I personally didn’t find them to be that heavy when actually wearing, and I think that this is due to the pads and headband being very efficient in distributing the headphone’s weight. I do have one gripe with the D8K Pro, though, and that is that the earcup height adjustment is on sliders, so every single time I took them off and back on, I had to readjust them to the setting that was comfortable for me.
The D8K Pro is using Final Audio’s AFDS Planar Magnetic Transducer. AFDS refers to Final Audio’s Air Film Damping System, which is a driver structure they created to improve bass reproduction, and to blend some of the best qualities of both planar and dynamic driver headphones.
I’ll be completely honest and say that originally, before looking at the spec sheet or learning more about the D8K Pro, I thought it was using a dynamic driver. For me, its presentation was just very reminiscent of something like the HD600 or HD800S in that it had that smoother, more relaxed, and in my opinion, more musical transient response. Additionally, the D8K Pro proved to be a very controlled and precise headphone that possessed great technical capabilities.
Unfortunately, though, the D8K Pro did have some issues in its tonality, particularly around the midrange; and as we’ll discuss briefly, it does hurt the headphone’s timbre.
I found the D8K Pro to deliver excellent bass reproduction. Low tones were well-textured, with exceptional definition and articulation that when paired with the headphone’s sub bass extension made for a bass response that was clean, nuanced and deep.
For my tastes and preferences, I also found the stock bass shelf to be quite enjoyable and balanced in the context of the D8K Pro’s tuning; it gave the mix some warmth by keeping the bass present, but it never felt over-powering or intrusive of other frequency ranges. The one thing I will note, however, was that to me it sounded as though the frequencies under 35hz could have used a little more energy to pronounce the sub bass’s rumble, but this was extremely subtle and something that could be alleviated with EQ or a bass boost toggle.
The midrange is, without a doubt, where I think the D8K Pro faces most of its shortcomings. Whilst the fundamental range in the lower mids, between 300hz to around 750hz is fine and free of any deviations that I could hear, the upper midrange is uneven and feels lacking in presence.
First there is a bump at around 1Khz that introduces a sort of nasally or congested quality to the D8K Pro’s timbre. This is then followed by a very significant recession at around 2.5Khz, which is what affects the D8K Pro’s tonality the most. This upper midrange dip sucks out a lot of the natural overtones that enrich vocals and instruments. Oddly enough, In my experience, I didn’t find this deviation to be as severe when listening to instrumental music, but it really did dampen vocals, making them come across as muted and lacking in bite when they were present. Lastly, this could be because I tend to be sensitive to this area of the frequency response, but I found 4.5Khz to be ever-so-slightly too energetic for my preference, making the upper mid to lower treble transition a tiny bit harsh.
The treble range I find to be well-represented on the D8K Pro, and for me personally there wasn’t really anything to take note of. The highs were even and level throughout, with very good upper treble extension that accurately portrayed all the harmonics and intricacies of the higher frequencies without feeling harsh or unnaturally bright at all.
The D8K Pro is one of the most resolving headphones I’ve heard thus far, and I think that for its price tag it performs well. It didn’t strike me as being as detailed as the Focal Utopia, but it was very close, and it still displays some of the best internal resolution I’ve heard in a headphone. Needless to say, then, the D8K Pro easily created a pristine image of the music with all the tonal intricacies and tonal subtleties being precisely and transparently reproduced.
For spatial qualities, the D8K Pro again delivers great performance. Its soundstage is akin to that of the LCD-X but is perhaps even a bit more spacious and is more effective in conveying a sense of distance. The D8K Pro displays good imaging capabilities with some of the most accurate left-right localization I’ve experienced in a planar magnetic headphone; even when using them to play Apex Legends, I had no issues discerning the positioning and directionality of sound. Then, as for instrument separation and layering, the D8K Pro provided top-tier performance, with all the various tracks that made up a piece being distinct and adequately spaced from each other.
It may not hit as hard as something like a Utopia or a ZMF Vérité, but for a planar magnetic headphone, the D8K Pro does have a decent sense of punch and slam. Low tones are still accentuated by a satisfying impact, whilst upper registers have a tactility that makes the music more believable. Overall, whilst it may not be the most impressive in this category, the D8K Pro is certainly still energetic enough in its dynamics to create an engaging listening experience.
Whilst I don’t think that the D8K Pro has a particularly bad or offensive tuning, I do think that it’s one that can be improved with the use of EQ. All the issues I mentioned in the midrange can be mostly or entirely resolved with the use of EQ; really benefiting the headphone’s timbre, and giving it a much more natural presentation. If you’d like to try out my settings for the D8K Pro, these are the filters I used:
Low Shelf at 35hz, +2dB Q of 0.7
Peak at 1000hz, -2dB Q of 1.41
Peak at 2500hz, +4dB Q of 1.41
Peak at 4500hz, -1.5dB Q of 4
At a personal level, I think that the D8K Pro is a superb headphone and my favorite amongst the flagship models that I’ve tried. It’s very comfortable to wear, it’s got performance that is suitable for its price point, and because I am an EQ enthusiast, its tonal shortcomings were not an issue for me.
However, I know that using EQ isn’t a solution that works for everyone, so I think that for most people looking for an “end-game,” top-tier headphone, my recommendation would still go to the Focal Utopia as I think that its out-of-the-box tuning is more agreeable and it’s also $300 less expensive than the D8K Pro. I will reiterate, though, that if you don’t mind using EQ the D8K Pro is a great option to have on your shortlist if you are in the market for some of the best that high-end personal audio has to offer.
That headphone stand is all kinds of curvy haha. Dayum. Also, sick vid, like the slider shot.
Love your reviews my friend.
Got myself a nice present for christmas, a D8000pro for a very nice price (openbox 2.5k).
Such a different experience to my Verite Open.
Sometimes on the edge of my tolerance around (the often mentioned) 4-5k, but incredible how they can show me details from lows to highs, i never heard before…wow!
I listen to the D8000pro (and ZMF VO) through the Headphone out of the Hugo2 (mostly Tidal).
I never had the chance to listen to a separate „highend“ amp so…
What amp would you recommend after the Hugo2 (as a DAC) around 2000$ For D8kpro and VO?
I‘m looking for a slightly (but not overly) warm amp,
that can „control“ the edges (D8kpro)
GSX Mini? Elise? Ifi ican? A&S forge?
Holy crap. Thats cheaper than used. Massive GZ!
Let me start this by saying I own D8KP and forge currently and had the mini and hugo2 as parts of my main setup for quite a while in the past as well. The other items you have listed Ive heard in passing at best so treat my comments there as speculation.
For amps that will work with both, imo, that’s not going to be super easy. In my experience the pros don’t tube super well. They are very source forgiving so they are good but not as good as a solid state would get you in a similar price range in my experience. For the forge specifically I would pass as i don’t find it plays well with the D8KP loosing a great deal of its staging magic but still having its resolution limitations. Its to the point that when speaking of D8KP specifically I would probably pick a Vio V280 over the forge even if the prices were swapped. The forge just really cant work its magic on the D8KP for some reason.
Given your ask about the forge, would you be able to budget for 1 amp for each? Or is the forge already a stretch? Further, would you be open to ditching the hugo2 and get a desktop dac? I ask because if you can manage a more of 3k budget that would allow you to get 1 better amp for each can than even 2.5k will allow you to get a single amp that works with both. Another option is keeping the D8KP on the hugo2 and using your budget for an amp you will primarily use with VO but I dont think this choice makes sense unless you spend a lot of time needing a transportable setup (and I say this as someone who has 8 portable amps and tried almost all TOTL daps currently out).
For the D8KP specifically the mini is actually a pretty solid pick. The D8KP in my experience is a true texture champion with a narrower but deep stage and slightly lean vocals/vaguely thin treble. This matches up quite well with the mini that is also a texture champ with smaller but deep stage and some good tonal density to off set the D8KP. It can still get a bit hot in the treble but very very few amps control that perfectly IMO and none are easy to find. The other question is, are you willing to double down in a small/deep stage and willing to give up some of the leading edge impact that the mini struggles with? I personally make different choices when prioritizing the D8KP but the mini may well be the best option for both the VO and D8KP in one amp.
just FWIW, if you are willing to get rid of the hugo2, imo, you can do similar SQ on a desktop dac for less or even better SQ for a similar price to what you will get for the hugo2. Again, IMO, the hugo2 only makes sense to keep if you spend a large portion of your time transportable/portable.
@flashbolt and I were talking about the differences between the D8000 and D8000 Pro and I figured I may as well just post my impressions publicly.
Outside of tonality I pretty highly value timbre (and especially timbre of horns/wood winds) and reproduction of room reverb. While I raw detail retrieval isn’t the dead top of my list, I do highly value it and don’t tend to use headphones below TOTL levels of it regardless of my love for anything/everything else about them. Lastly, stage size doesn’t play a particular role in my enjoyment of a can (so long as its not miniscule at least) but separation and layering absolutely do.
Lastly, I listen quite soft. I generally turn cans up to where they sound best, but I do tend to prefer cans that play well at my extremely low listening levels of mid 50dB peaks (yes, you read that right) over cans that need to be louder. Luckily most stuff has a pretty even playing field here as the only two cans I have found that perform exceptionally at these volumes are LCD-R and Soli P. Not even utopia likes playing that low. Everything else gets cranked till it sounds great (typically average of ~70-75dB)
As for music I listen to, its honestly just about everything. I am not a massive fan of trap/harder rap but do have some in my library anyways. My most listened to genres are likely older jazz (everything from big band/bebop to rat pack/fitzgerald), Lofi (of basically any kind be it acoustic cafe jazz or hiphop), neo-soul (Saela Sue/Winehouse/Raphael Saadiq), and finaly modern electronic rock (think anything between synthwave and Tasha Sultan)
So just off the bat, the D8000 and D8000 Pro are very very different headphones. It is to the point that if they didnt come in the same chassis you couldn’t possibly guess they were related to each other. Because I feel the Pros are better known in the west I will start with them.
Overall a well balanced true TOTL can with extraordinary texture that is both source transparent and one of the most source forgiving TOTL cans I have used (they generally sound better on SS than tubes IMO but they are yet to really not play well with something). They are quite neutral with good extension and are easy to run. IMO the incredible texture they offer while not having any gret misgivings absolutely allows them to compete with the greats such as Susava, Utopia, and Solitaire P.
Tonality: Overall the Pros are a very neutral can. Well extended with ever so slightly thin mids (though significantly more tonally dense than hifiman), I personally think the only tonal ‘misstep’ (if you can even call it that when compared to the competition) is that the treble can get slightly hot on some setups (though I still find them less fatiguing than susvara or utopia).
Stage: I would consider them fairly middle of the road. While not grand and expansive (like HD800S or Solitaire P) they also aren’t exceptionally narrow (Diana V2 with a full seal) and have very solid depth (not quite as deep as DV2 but I would put it similar to utopia).
Detail: This is also quite middle of the road (for a TOTL can). A comfortable competitor to Utopia and a step above DV2 on most setups, but still half a step behind something like susvara I find it absolutely within the range of TOTL cans but not the outright champ.
Timbre: Once again I find the Pros very middle of the road. They don’t have shocking timbre like susvara or raal but they also don’t have major misgivings with it like Utopia and Solitaire P.
Texture: IMO, this is where the pros truly stand out. Even amongst heavyweights like susvara and utopia it is truly unrivaled by anything else I’ve ever owned.
And yes, I know many will not like the usage of this term due to it being so hard to quantify. Its not detail or timbre, but it somehow incorporates both. Honestly, I am not going to do a good job explaining what texture is so I will leave that to someone else. Ultimately though, I think most with TOTL experience will at least know what I am referring to
Honestly, I do absolutely have cans I subjectively prefer over the Pros, but I still don’t see them leaving my collection any time soon anyways. Their absurd source transparency and general forgivingness make them excellent for evaluating gear. Pair this with texture I haven’t even found in susvara and I think they make a lot of sense to keep around. My personal misgivings with the Pros are pretty minimal if I am honest. I would like a bit more body in the mids and these cans dont sound their best at lower volumes (mids can get even thinner and the treble peak becomes more prominent), but they are honestly in my top 5 for low level play as is anyways.
Laid back, vast, and rich the D8000s truly nail emotion within music. Honestly, the D8000s have what may be the best tuning I’ve heard. Think Empy but bigger stage, better usage of the stage and no fatigue, all while having better technical performance to boot. People often say that the Pros sound like dynamic drivers, and I do get where they are coming from, but IMO the D8000s sound far far more like dynamics than the pros (and I find that a very good thing). Source wise they arent as agnostic as the Pros but they are still fairly forgiving and tube excellently.
I ran out of time to write this section today. Ill bump the post when I get a chance to do it (hopefully by the end of the week? but not positive)
If I am completely honest, my entire personal misgivings with the D8000s is just that I am massively spoiled from a technical perspective. With similar detail and separation as cans such as Arya/Clear/etc, I just find myself looking for a bit more. In areas such as organicness/liquidity, texture, timbre, and dynamics I do think that the D8000 pulls ahead of these cans enough to be completely justifiable (at least at its used costs), but the loss of detail is simply past my personal level of acceptance when comparing to cans such as utopia, Susvara, Solitaire P, and even the Pros themselves.
This is just going to be a rough comparison between the cans. If you would like me to add anything to it specifically just ask.
|Tonality||Subjective, but I prefer OG|
|Stage Width||OG >>> Pro|
|Stage Depth||OG << Pro|
|Detail||OG <<< Pro|
|Timbre||OG > Pro|
|Texture||OG < Pro|
What an excellent feedback, Thanks a lot!
Food for Thought…
Looks like that finding an Amp for VO an D8KP will be a tricky thing.
At our local shop in Switzerland they have the Burson-Lineup that i can/will try and LakePeople / Violectric have their „Headquarter“ 100km from my place, so i will visit them soon.
Until then I‘ll enjoy the incredible D8KP out of Hugo2
So it looks like the quicksilver amp may be worth a shot. I was just reading this review by chance this AM and it got a very heavy req for both D8KP and VC from someone who’s gear opinions I tend to quite agree with. Its on the lower end of your budget to boot!
EDIT: This actually makes me think and there is actually a tube amp I have that I think has solid potential with the D8KP. That is the phatlab Phantasy II. A bit on the dryer side its got some real solid timbre and fantastically deep stage. The reason I dont like the pairing is because that specific amp exacerbates the Pros treble issues but the overall tonality and presentation work super well with the pros. Its completely possible my impression of “pros dont tube well” is just that I dont own many dryer tube amps.
That Quicksilver review is really impressive.
Will test the Burson Soloist with D8KP & VO at the local Store as a Refererence to the Quicksilver.
Tried the following amps(dacs) with the D8000pro at our supernice local dealer in Zurich, Switzerland:
Tidal (Phone) > Hugo 2 > Burson Soloist:
(Switched between Hugo 2 Headphone out and Soloist)
Only minimal differences / perhaps a tiny bit more impact/slam with soloist? Couldn‘t tell in a blindtest. Same width/depth with or without soloist
Tidal (Phone) > Hugo 2 > Xi Audio Formula S (because it was there, not that i‘d buy one):
Switched between Hugo 2 Headphone out and Formula S >
Similar as with the Soloist……perhaps a tiny bit more lowend and a little thicker overall.
Tidal (Phone) > Hugo TT2 (Headphone out):
TT2 vs Hugo2 was a really obvious improvement in width and depth, more clarity, more detail, a bit „warmer“ or fuller vocals. Really nice!!
Until now i only listened to D8Kp through my Hugo 2, and it was my first time adding an „proper“ amp after the Hugo2.
All in all the only substantial improvement was the Hugo TT2, which I really liked, but the price!
I have to „learn“ to listen for nuances between amps… :-).
Should there be an obvoius benefit (Soundquality) with an amp after H2 or is the Hugo2 enough power for the (easy to drive) d8Kp?
You’ll hear a difference, usually better amps will give smoother treble reproduction, often better bass control, tonal density will change, staging will change. Exactly how they change will vary by amp.
Once you get away from the extreme measurement focused amps with a ton of feedback, amps can sound very different to one another.
It’s very much not about power.
I’m very partial to the D8000 Pro on my Stratus, but they generally work pretty well on almost anything.
And Yes DAC’s also make a difference.
tbh the hugo2 is pretty solid as an AOI portable but its dac will absalutely hold back nicer amps. If you want to hear something thats quite a bit different than hugo2 as an amp I would give a vio V280/281 a shot. very different signature and presentation that will work even when using the hugo2 in LO
EDIT: Hugo2 has enough power to drive d8kp but different amps will give different presentations. tbh if you are moving to a desktop rig I would probably recommend dicthing the hugo2 for a higher quality dac (hugo2 is good for a portable but is beaten by a lot of desktop dacs at or even slightly below its used value) to go alongside the new amp
Which DAC‘s do you have in mind?
that is going to entirely depend on the sound you want, your budget, and what amp you pick. Aiming to satusfy ZMF and D8000 Pro I would focus on texture and separation for the dac and probably pick an amp that a bit drier and more holographic. For specifics kinda need some help from someone that knows the european market a bit better. for, say, $3500 USD I may go with something like a BF2 → a DNA Stratus (just cause one is up for sale currently) and upgrade the dac further down the line, but neither of those will be easy to come across in europe. The BF2 is on a similar total technical level as the hugo2 (loosing in outright resolution but winning in texture stage dynamics by a fair margin IMO) but I think makes a bit more sense to try and maximise what those cans can do. Another couple amps I actualy quite liked with D8000 Pros (but have no idea how well they would work with VC tbh) <3k are the CMA800R and Hypsos+oor combo. I also suspect the GSX-mini would pair well but I havent tried that combo myself and that amp can have unexpected synergy issues in my experience (I expected it to play very well with HD800S and it very much so did not play well for an example).
TBH though there are just better people to talk to about desktop gear in this range. My knowledge and experience is pretty heavily focused in totl portables (DAPs and amps). Over all though you will probabaly want to figure out what kind of direction you want to go (do you want a super linear chain? dry spacious tubes? warm and gooey? How much resolution are you willing to give up on for organicness? etc) and then start realy building a chain from there. If you are kinda lost as to what to do I dont think the TT2 is actualy a horrid option here (not sure its what I would do but its not a bad pick overall) if you like it. Another option would be to just play with a few lower cost amps such as the quicksilver to try and get a better idea of what you like from the cans and what you want to do with them. requing for two cans that are so different is a bit hard without knowing exactly what you are after tbh