General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

I have been thinking about purchasing the Sennheiser HD 800 S. My current set up is a Sennheiser 6XX with a modi/magni stack. IF I were to purchase the Sennheiser HD 800 S would I have to upgrade my dac/amp set up? If so, what would you recommend?

1 Like

No you don’t have to but you always have the option of upgrading down the line to get more out of the 800s. Imo they scale very well, and will respond well to tubes and current drive amplification should you have the desire to optimize a chain for it. I’d suggest giving it a swing first then go from there.


^ This 100%.

@Skiman1984 Don’t let your current stack prevent you from grabbing the HD 800S. Once you get it, isten for a while, and when you’re ready to go down the upgrade rabbit hole, go for it. The HD 800S is an endgame headphone IMO, so enjoy!


I agree with @hifiDJ and @Nuance. Honestly, the first thing I’d buy after getting the 800 S would be an equalizer. They are lean sounding out of the box need a substantial bass boost to approach ‘neutral.’ EQ is the most direct way to get there, but tube amps can do the job too.

I routinely run the 800 S with the Schiit Lokius (6 knob EQ). I put the lowest pot at max volume up and the second lowest pot at 3 o’clock. That takes away the leanness and perceived distance (excess width). Then I switch between amps and tweak as needed.


Then try a Schiit Vali

Thank you so much for all the help :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’m currently experimenting again with a relatively new DAC/Amp from xDuoo, the TA-22.

My conclusion after a week: It stays with me and becomes part of my desk!


Well, it complements my FiiO K9Pro excellently by “perfecting” exactly the headphones with which the FiiO tends to show weaknesses.

Including the HD800s.

It smooths the high-frequency range precisely so that no details are lost, but the occasional harshness disappears.

It opens the stage a little more in terms of height, width and depth, but remains realistic in its presentation.

In the bass range, this amplifier encourages some emphasis without becoming dull or muddy, on the contrary, this device actually manages to fully maintain the qualities and technical capabilities of some headphones and in-ears, but eliminate their weaknesses.

So if you are looking for an amplifier with a tube character for your HD800s, I can absolutely recommend this part, a good alternative before you put $3000-7000 devices on your desk.

In a dedicated listening position, that’s something else.


After I “found” the incompatibility between my iFi Zen Blue V2 and the Schiit Lokius power supply, I brought in my FIIO K9 Pro ESS to temporarily take the place of the Zen Blue V2. It has BT 5.1 and a Pre out (although not, apparently a line out). This is in the office chain that goes from iPad to (was Zen Blue V2, now FIIO and soon Zen Air Blue) to Lokius to the Sansui to the speakers.

I’m astonished at the clean and silent nature of the FIIO. Yes, it’s wasted overkill in that situation, but my CHAIR at home ALSO FAILED, and the beloved Catnapper relaxation and headphone station #2 is being retired. I’m looking for a more trim looking recliner with top grain leather… So the FIIO was free.

Fortunately the rest of the chain is up to snuff. And I split the signal off the pre-out to go to an SVS SoundPath wireless transmitter that sends signal to the the SVS Micro 3000 under my desk - where few think to look for it.

1 Like

My choice……


I like that tray, have done a bit of shopping, Lazy Boy has 4 choices of size, 2nd from smallest fits me better than gloves fit OJ.

1 Like



By the Way:

1 Like

If the glove don’t fit…

1 Like

I have no experience with ZMF but thanks for bringing it up. I will definitely look into this brand and get more knowledge about it.

1 Like

Utopia is what I am looking at for a moment. But I am still looking around for an alternative as the only thing that stops me from Utopia is the price. How do you compare clear with utopia? is Clear only 5% short of Utopia in terms of sound?

Thanks. I am driving HD800s with HDV820. This set up should give the best sound that Senn can offer, besides HE-1. I am happy with the set up. Just looking for more engaging sound for piano.

No, the 5% figure is quite a ways off.

We also have to distinguish which Clear (OG or MG) and Utopia (2020 or 2022) we are talking about.

I have a Clear OG (Al/Mg driver), and a Utopia 2020. There is obviously a family resemblance, but I would say the Clear gets you maybe 70% of what the Utopia offers.

The Utopia has greater clarity, speed, and resolving ability vs the Clear. The Clear is an excellent headphone, and it is far less expensive. But it is just not up to the performance capabilities of the Utopia.

I haven’t had my Utopia very long yet, but I’ll use a photographic comparison as an analogy. The Utopia has everything in razor sharp focus in the entire image, with the ability to pick out every single small detail in total clarity. The clear gives you a good representation of the subject in the photo, but some of the details are blurred or are slightly out-of-focus.

The Utopia is by reputation very revealing of flaws in an equipment chain, and/or recording. It is also supposedly somewhat fussy about what gear it pairs well with.

My very preliminary observation is I can see how this could be true if you have a very “analytical” DAC or amp. I can’t make any specific gear recommendations yet, but my gut feeling is Utopia needs an excellent R2R/Multibit/ladder type DAC to sound best, and an amp that has some warmth to it. I’m using a Schiit Yggdrasil OG DAC with a Burson Soloist GT, and am quite pleased so far with the combo for Utopia.

What I can definitely say already is that the Utopia does not like poor recordings; if something sounded not very good in the first place to you, it will sound even worse with the Utopia, and worse than on the Clear. Badly recorded tracks, or tracks with lots of distortion can be un-listenable on a Utopia. @generic used a very vivid and descriptive statement for this, and for how Utopia aggravates his treble sensitivity: “needles in butter”! :laughing: I couldn’t say it any better :+1:

I hope this helps.


I still direct people to my 2020 review and comparison: Utopia, OG Clear, Elex, and HD-600. My views of those four haven’t changed much since then, but I now use the HD 800 S more than the Clear. I place the 800 S above the Clear but below the Utopia on technical grounds, but the 800 S has more comfortable treble than the Utopia.

In my comparison review I pegged the Utopia as about 20% better than the Clear, but that doesn’t mean a lot for experiential / qualitative comparisons. To my ears the Utopia works best with simpler, gentler music.

Yes. The qualitative difference is larger. It’s too bad about those Utopia needles. I upgraded from the Elex to the Clear because the mere thought of using the Elex made me wince and I came to avoid it over time.


Thanks for detailed info, Robson. If clear is just 70% of utopia, then I would prefer to get utopia even though it costs 3 times of clear.

By the way, anyone has experience on Diana TC? how does it compare to Utopia?