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At A Glance
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
Material: Metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour earpads, plastic
Color: Speckled blue finish, black.
Is the HD600 veiled? Let’s take a look at this bold claim and find out if there’s any truth to it.
I know it seems like I just came out with an HD600 video but bear with me. Something happened as I pulled it out again and put it on my head for a listen.
I’ve done this seemingly inconsequential activity hundreds of times since I received the headphone as a gift in 2016, but this time was different. I heard it. I heard the veil.
I used to think the veil accusation was a bit overdone like your mom’s meatloaf, but I kind of understand where those people are coming from now. Related:What is the Sennheiser Veil?
In the past, I found the treble on the darker side, but it never sounded weird to me. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I’ve demoed over 100 headphones at the time of this video, but also I’ve been listening to brighter, more open, and/or crisper-sounding cans.
Headphones like the SHP9500, K702, HIFIMAN DEVA, KPH30i, etc. All of these sound markedly different than an HD600 and the distinction was apparent.
As I kept listening, it started to sound as I remember it from before. The natural, effortless portrayal of music made its return and all was right with the world.
Or was it?
This brings up an interesting conundrum with headphones and our perception of their sound signatures – something I’ve always wanted to talk about.
Some years back, Tyll posed a question: Is burn in real, or is it mostly in our heads?
For the experiment, he took a brand new pair of Q701’s and measured them. Then he burned the same pair for 200 or so hours (I can’t remember the exact #), and measured them again. The results were interesting. The headphones each measured markedly different.
He concluded that burn-in is a real thing, but a lot of it is in our heads as well.
This coincides with my own experience.
When you first put a headphone on, it will undoubtedly sound a certain way to you – for better or worse.
Putting on a HIFIMAN DEVA after not listening for a while results in a grimace on my face. The treble is much too bright and essy, and it kind of bothers me to the point where I almost take it off.
As I persevere and just forget it’s on my head, the sound starts to settle in and my brain becomes acclimated to the new stimulus. After a while, the treble doesn’t sound essy or sibilant to me.
This poses an interesting question: Is the headphone actually bad? Or does it take some time to get used to?
The same sort of phenomenon manifests in the HD600, albeit with a different dilemma. The headphone’s treble sounds too dark and the overall image is closed in and awkward sounding. Over time, those concerns also go away. For instance, right now I’m listening to the HD600 and this playlist, and the hi-hat on “Sunrise On Southey Street” sounds crisp, but still natural. It’s not sibliant or essy at all. What does Sibilant mean?
The other interesting aspect of note is that EQ’ing 8-10k down a few dB initially yielded a satisfactory result with the DEVA. The sibilance was gone and I could enjoy the headphone.
But, after listening for quite a while, it started to sound almost too dark to me. I needed that sparkle that was missing.
Raising the treble back up some rectified the issue.
So for the answer, I do believe that in comparison to other headphones, the HD600 can sound veiled. I also believe that the mind is an incredibly powerful thing and that our perception of sound can change over time.
We also must take into account the most important aspect of a track – how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered. This is perhaps the most important component of audio that no one in the audiophile world cares to discuss.
Do I believe an HD600 is veiled on its own? As in, if it’s the only headphone I have to listen to?
I would lean towards no.
Perhaps a noob isn’t the greatest example for this, but I let a friend borrow the HD600 in 2019 and her reaction was that of pure bliss. She didn’t hear a veil, we didn’t talk about one, and I didn’t ask her if she thought the headphone was “dark” in the treble. I simply handed it to her and she started listening.
Keep in mind also that most consumer trash she’s listened to in the past placed high emphasis on the treble. For her to not even comment on it leads me to believe that most companies just f*** it up, whether they’re big name audiophile companies or otherwise. If most people are used to a bright treble, hear an HD600, and don’t comment on it, I’m inclined to think that it’s perfectly fine and correct. Some people may disagree with me on this (cough DT990 guy cough.. ‘Scuse me), and that’s OK!
People who review gear and listen to a lot of products will invariably be able to spot a discrepancy like this, but I firmly believe the majority of folks out there will enjoy a 600 series headphone regardless of what some snob with a microphone says.
Nowadays I do recommend the HD6XX over the others as it’s cheaper and strikes a perfect balance between the too forward 600 and the too laid back 650. Contrary to what some Reddit a**hole tells you, the 650 is NOT identical to the 6XX – something I’ve always harped on in my videos and articles. Related:Sennheiser HD 600 vs. HD 6XX [Definitive Guide]
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.