Let’s start with a quick chart! Here I’ve provided some of the more technical differences and highlighted them. We’ll go more in depth in the actual Similarities & Differences section below. Hang Tight!
Better For Critical Listening
Better For Casual Listening
AKG K702 Reference Class Studio Headphones
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Before we get into the AKG K702 vs. HD650 Comparison, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this comparison
Similarities & Differences
Good Amp Choices (Coming Soon!)
The Sennheiser HD650 has long been considered one of the best purchases a budding audiophile or casual listener could make. The 600 is similar, but has a mid-range bump around 1-3k which can get kind of annoying. Even so, I still consider it just about the best reference headphone for pure studio work. Learn more about these differences:Sennheiser HD600 vs. 650
The 650 combines everything that makes a music listening experience great. The comfort level is excellent, it’s got a nice build, great sound, and doesn’t fatigue you in any way. The treble is on the darker side, but it’s relaxed and detailed without sounding intense or abrasive. Some have accused it of being “veiled” but I really enjoy it because it circumvents all of the issues that a bright headphone can have, and kind of goes against the grain. Related:What is the Sennheiser Veil?
The K702 is also a fantastic purchase, and has a bit of a different sound signature. We’ll get into that in a bit. Long ago, the K701/702 were both designed and manufactured in Austria. Each had those annoying head band bumps that a lot of people complained about. Related:AKG K701 vs. K702
Since then, the headphones are now designed in Austria but manufactured in China. Some people have noticed a difference in actual build quality, while others haven’t. You’re still getting pretty much an identical headphone, but with an improvement. The newer models do not have the bumps, and are much more comfortable. The issue was so bad that people reported huge lumps in their head from extended wear. Not good. Fortunately for us, we won’t have lumpy heads if we decide to purchase the newer batch. 😀
With that said, both the 650 and K702 have some marked differences that you should be made aware of before purchasing either of them. Let’s get into it!
Clamp Force. When you first put the 650’s on, it’s going to feel like a Vice Grip. The good news is that the clamp opens up over time and they end up having just the right amount. I’m wearing their older brother right now (HD600) and clamp is exactly the same. They really snuggle with you. It almost feels like two semi-soft pillows against your head, and is really quite pleasant. By contrast, the K702’s don’t have that issue at first, and they sit a bit looser on your head overall. They are also supremely comfortable however.
Ear cup size/shape. The HD650’s cups are more of an oval shape, and contour your ears a bit more naturally. The K702’s cups are rounder and look more like a circle. They are a good size for your ears as well. The 650’s cups also may be a bit deeper than the K702’s.
Headband/Padding. The headband on the HD650 is your standard one with adjustments on either side to accommodate your melon size. The K702’s headband is a hammock style self adjusting one, and it’s more convenient. Just put the headphone on and it self adjusts for you. Pretty nifty! Also, the headband on the 650 has one uniform pad. There is no padding on the K702’s, but since it’s so lightweight you’re not really going to need any.
Detachable Cable. Both have detachable cables, but the 650’s come out of both ear cups while the K702’s only come out of one side.
Bass. The first thing you’ll notice is that the K702’s bass is more anemic and rolled off than the 650’s. I would say it’s a pretty subtle difference though. Both do roll off, but I think if you are looking for a bit more bass, the 650 will be the better option.
Mid-range. I think the K702 has a bit more energy around 2k, while the 650 does sound more relaxed. This is actually one of the main things I noticed about the headphone in general. There’s really no area that ever gets out of line, and it’s perhaps the one thing I appreciate most out of everything. You’re never going to take off the headphone because of listening fatigue. It’s extremely pleasant all around. The K702 is similar in this regard, but does have a bit more mid-range energy with vocals and instruments.
Treble. Again, more of the same. The treble on the K702 peaks a little around 9-10k, but nothing like your typical bright offering. It’s done rather tastefully. The 650 by contrast definitely does have a darker treble which we discussed in the open. I do think most people will really appreciate it though. There’s still detail there, but it doesn’t really sizzle or sparkle much.
Soundstage/Gaming. Perhaps the biggest difference. The 650’s aren’t going to do too well with Gaming because of their narrow imaging. Don’t get me wrong; the instrument separation is there in spades, and sounds extremely articulate and detailed. The problem is that the image simply isn’t wide enough. You’re not going to get a sense that you’re in a 3D environment. By contrast, the K702 is one of the absolute best headphones for Gaming. It will provide a 3D image, and sounds completely open and spacious. You’re going to hear sounds in all directions, which makes it a perfect choice for an FPS shooter. Learn more:The Best Headphones for Gaming
Now that we know how they stack up, what about Amplification? Will you need any?
Simply put, yes.
Both are actually a bit more complicated than normal though. With other headphones, it’s fairly easy to tell. A lower Sensitivity number means that the headphone is not very efficient and needs more power from the amp to reach peak loudness. Learn more about this important concept:What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
The K702’s are tricky because their Sensitivity rating is in Volts (Voltage) vs. mW (Power). At first glance, you’d think they were pretty efficient with that 105dB number (this also varies), but in reality they sit around 91dB/mW and aren’t efficient at all. Not sure why these numbers haven’t been officially revealed, but I digress..
What is Impedance?
Impedance is a measure of the combined resistance and reactivity that the headphones present to the amp as an electrical load.All this means is that with a higher Impedance, your headphones will resist playing loud enough. This is why it’s important to have an amp that has enough power to drive the headphone to listenable levels. Related:What is Headphone Impedance?
A headphone like the HD650 has a higher Sensitivity, so it doesn’t need as much power from an amp (around 5mW). Still, with 300 Ohms Impedance it will resist playing loud enough, so an amp is still required to drive the headphone to louder levels. Kind of a weird situation actually!
A headphone like the K702 is not very efficient and has a lower Impedance. Even though most spec sheets claim 105dB, that’s per Volt and not per mW. In actuality, the K702’s sit around (91dB/mW), which means they will need quite a bit of power to reach peak loudness. There’s no official number for their true Sensitivity rating in mW AFAIK. This is what I found:Reference Audio Analyzer’s K702 Sensitivity Discrepancy.
Something like the K240 is an example of a headphone that is also power hungry, given it’s 91dB of Sensitivity. Like the K702, it’s not efficient at all, and requires around 79mW of power to reach peak loudness (around 110dB is the standard). Something like an HD600 needs around 20.
If you were interested in purchasing the K702, I wrote about some great choices in my article AKG K701 vs. K702.
Just let me know if you have any questions!!
You can see that these are pretty different headphones across the board, but some of the sound differences are fairly subtle when you take a gander at the frequency response on both. Still, raw statistics never tell the whole story. The nuances of sound are much more in depth than a graph could ever show.
I do believe both of these headphones are 2 of the best purchases one could make when starting out in this hobby.
The 650 is the better all rounder. It’s got a warm tilt to it, and sounds very relaxed. It also tends to smooth over the rough edges in music, sort of like sandpaper to wood. It does well with the majority of genres, and is better for easy listening. If you have a ton of Vinyl lying around, this is the perfect headphone to buy. In fact, it’s just about the best all around purchase one could ever make with regard to headphones.
The K702 would be the best option for more critical listening, as well as Gaming. This puppy has a wider Soundstage with more of a 3D image. It’s got a bit more energy in the mids and treble than a 650, but is still very laid back when looking at the sound as a whole. For Gaming? An absolutely perfect solution.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.