PolarBearSequence t1_je90kv8 wrote

Planar drivers generally seem to be a bit less robust than dynamic ones, but it’s mostly a Hifiman problem. They can definitely last long: I’ve got a 40 years old planar (orthodynamic) headphone. Some other companies like Audeze and Monoprice seem to have trouble too (though less than Hifiman), but I’ve very rarely seen people mention a Fostex planar driver breaking (except if it breaks during disassembly).


PolarBearSequence t1_jdud2o8 wrote

I think I’d go for the OpenAlpha first. It’s a known design that is known to sound pretty good, and it’s easy to modify it a bit and experiment around. If you start with something custom, it may take a long time to see something that actually works well, so that may be worthwhile as a longer-term project.


PolarBearSequence t1_jdriali wrote

Not really a downside. It’s a pretty standard dynamic driver, and Tymphany is one of the largest driver producers in the world: those things get made by the thousands. I’d bet the production costs of HD 600 drivers are similarly low. Probably true for most dynamic headphones.

The hard part is not making a driver, but bringing its full potential out (by designing an enclosure, by dampening etc). A lot of headphones use the Peerless 50mm, but a lot of them don’t sound all that great.


PolarBearSequence t1_j97hxvt wrote

I’ve got an HD 800S, NDH 30, HD 650 and some miscellaneous other stuff. TBH, the HD 800 is not the one I’d keep if I was forced to part with all but one (assuming that I get to sell them). When reduced to a single headphone, I’d still keep the HD 650, because I greatly adore it’s warm and pleasant sound.

If I can’t get the money by selling and I’m allowed to rebuy headphone later, I’d keep the 800 of course, since it has by far the highest value.


PolarBearSequence t1_j8j5a8k wrote

Absolutely fine. It can be pretty fun, after all!

If you want to dampen the treble, the most reasonable way would probably be to add additional front dampening: extra, thicker foam, or paper, or combining multiple materials. If you want to work with the bass, the easiest way is finding out where the vents are and completely or partially covering them, and then observing how the bass changes. More radical changes would be changing the dampening within the cup: for example, by adding additional material (foams, polyester wool, …), or removing the existing material. The most radical change possible would be drilling additional vent holes, which would convert the headphone into a open/semi-open.

You can also try pad rolling, though that can get a bit pricey fast.


PolarBearSequence t1_j8j0p5m wrote

Modding can be a lot of fun and all that, but if you’re really "just" looking for a way to make your headphones sound better, use EQ. You can still experiment around with it a lot! The r/oratory1990 or AutoEQ presets are good starting points, and from there, you can find out what you’d like to change.


PolarBearSequence OP t1_j6nqsdj wrote

Yes, I’ve tried it out (briefly). It’s definitely an improvement in the treble, but I prefer the lower end the way it is naturally. I’ve tried to modify it a bit, but haven’t entirely succeeded yet. One good thing is that the EQ seems to change the soundstage of the NDH very little.

I’ll definitely have to look into EQing the HD 800 as well when I get around to trying it more. Oratory‘s presets are usually a good starting point for me.


PolarBearSequence OP t1_j6nlco4 wrote

Interesting! I think if the NDH had just a tad more treble across the upper spectrum my impression would be far more favorable (since the lower end is excellent). I guess that falls within the margins of subjectivity.

That said, I have some qualms with the HD 800S myself (from memory, haven’t really tried out my set properly), since the tonality is downright unpleasant for some music when unEQd.


PolarBearSequence OP t1_j6n2lht wrote

The NDH30 released in spring last year, and I've been quite interested in them for some time. They measure reasonably well, they look good, they seem well-built... so I had to get my hands on them. Reviews have been mixed, with some (but not just the usual suspects) calling them excellent and comparing them favorably to Sennheisers 600 series, but with other reviewers finding them somewhat dull or unimpressive.

First thing: I can only praise the build quality on these. They make even the DT 1990 Pro (which is admittedly quite a bit cheaper) feel a bit flimsy in comparison. Everything feels both very robust and yet pleasant to use. They can be folded up and the cups can be rotated a full 90 degrees to lay them flat on the table. Many have commented on the weird choice to have a right-side cable, but I can't really complain, the cable is cloth-covered and pleasant anyways.

However, when it comes to comfort, I have to make a few criticisms. The earcups are deep and large enough for me (better than the HD 600 series), but the earpads are slightly too stiff for my taste (keep in mind that I wear glasses, so YMMV). The biggest problem is the headband cushion though, it is not soft or large enough and they get uncomfortable after prolonged time. Overall, comfort is OK but not as good as my Beyerdynamics.

But the important part which we're all here for is the sound. I'll make comparisons to the HD 650 and the DT 1990 Pro (which I've sold by now). The NDH has a generally slightly warm lower end with a bass that extends well for an open-back headphone. It has enough weight to make drums sound good and properly deliver electronic bass, though it is far from a bass-head headphone. The lower mids are warm, but not warm enough to lose clarity. Beyond the lower end however, vocals seem slightly laid back compared to the HD 650, and the tuning is dark overall. There is absolutely no sibilance or harshness in the highs. I can understand why some have described them as a bit dull, some instruments (cymbals, some guitars etc.) are lacking edge a bit. One point that elevates the NDH for me is the good imaging and reasonable soundstage: it is significantly better than both the DT 1990 and the HD 650. Sounds do not sound "far away" as they do on a HD 800, but they have noticeable space and the positions of instruments and vocals can be heard very well.

There's one big caveat though: the NDH can sound very, very different, depending on where it is positioned relatively to the ears (probably due to the angled drivers). I've described the "natural" position for my head. However, if I push the headphone forward on my head (so that my ears are at the back of the cup), the sound becomes extremely dark and hollow. In contrast, in the opposite position (with my ears at the very front of the cup), they have far less soundstage and noticeable treble (and are even slightly shouty). This can, for some cases, account for the very different impressions reviewers have had of these.

Personally, I was looking at the NDH as a replacement for my DT 1990, which I found too sibilant for prolonged use when not EQed. I've demoed them before, but always just for less than half an hour, and wearing them for a few hours is something entirely different. I particularly enjoyed them for the "harder" subgenres of rock or for metal, as well as for some electronic music. Besides its lack of subbass, the HD 650 sometimes feels a bit blurry and muddy for faster songs, and the lack of soundstage can make it a bit too intimate. The NDH delivers on this very well, since its lower end is less muddy in comparison. However, it's not a solution for everything: a lot of metal sounds disappointingly bad on basically any good headphone, except when played very loud, but the NDH is so far my most enjoyable headphone for these genres. Overall I have to agree with the criticisms of the dark tonality though. A slight bit more upper mids/treble would've really elevated its tonality. The way it is now it is pretty much a slightly improved HD 650.

Sadly, I have to conclude that the NDH 30 offers too little above the HD 650 (slightly better lower end and good soundstage & imaging at the cost of being a bit more dull) to really make it worth the price from a purely sound-based perspective. It probably is the far more suitable headphone for music production, but for simple consumption, it offers little more than the 600 series. It's main upside is the excellent build quality and the (to me) slightly improved comfort.

This leaves my slightly disappointed since it seems more like a side-grade than an upgrade (in sound quality). That said, I've accidentally bought an HD 800S recently, so I'll get some kind of upgrade in any case.