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- 8/3/20. Article Posted.
- 2/4/21. Article/link cleanup.
Greetings mate! Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience, that will make you fall in love with music.. all over again, so.. don’t want to read?!
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At A Glance
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Table of Contents
For those who prefer the written word…
Let’s discuss the HIFIMAN Sundara and compare it with the venerable HD600 & 650, shall we?!
which is somewhat of a dicey proposition. When the Sundara first came out in 2018, it seemed like all prior build issues with the original 400S and 400i were rectified. Related: HiFiMan HE4XX vs. 400i vs. 400S vs. Sundara (Final Shootout)
It wasn’t until a year or 2 later that some problems started creeping up, from cable connection issues to glue issues on the pads and so forth.
The good news is that the redesign did prove fruitful in terms of the more streamlined and robust nature of the frame and bales, but the cups cannot rotate fully this time around which may or may not bother you.
Still, the Sundara is a mostly rock-solid headphone.
Design-wise, we’ve got the updated lattice grilles, the click adjustments for the headband, and a rounded-off piece connecting the 2 ear cups with a thin, flimsy pad underneath.
Overall, the combination of Spring Steel, Synthetic Leather, Anodized Aluminum, and OFC Copper are all welcome upgrades, but purchasing a Sundara is still a roll of the dice in some ways.
By contrast, the HD600 and 650 are both built to last like Duralast for certain, even despite feeling somewhat cheap on your person.
I CAN RHYME!
The utilitarian design of both headphones looks a little more retro than the Sundara, with more plastic present as well.
All 3 headphones have cables connecting into each ear cup, but the Sundara’s is a 3.5mm vs. the 2 pin connectors on the HD 600 and 650.
Both also sport velour for the ear cups, but the Sundara’s contain memory foam encased with a bit of protein leather, while the 600/650 does not.
Question of the day: Does anyone know the technical name for the 600/650 cable?
Leave me a comment down below if you know, because I couldn’t find it anywhere online yo!
While the HD600/650’s pad mimics the shape of your ear, the Sundara’s are round like the a** on a steer. Worst joke ever.
Headband padding on both the 600 and 650 is more plentiful, and while the 600 boasts the 4 nugget pads, the 650 opts for the single pad with a crater in the middle.
Clamp force on the HD600 and 650 is known to be rather snug like a bug in a rug, but it does open up over time. Feel free to stretch the headphones gently, but be extra cautious clay because the headband has been known to snap under pressure like Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket.
The Sundara’s clamp is a bit more loosey-goosey but still conforms to the shape of your big a** head (and mine) rather nicely.
I don’t find any of the headphones here to dig much at all, and I would place all 3 near the top of any shortlist for the absolute best in terms of overall comfort.
But how do they sound in relation to one another?
Interestingly enough, both the HD650 and Sundara bear some of the same warmer sentiments, while the HD600 is rather crisp and cool by comparison, with a more forward mid-range around 3kHz and a livelier overall character than both the 650 and Sundara.
On its own, or compared to another brighter can, the 600 will sound slightly “veiled”, but by and large it’s still a term that’s a bit overdone like your mom’s meatloaf. What is the Sennheiser Veil?
Both imaging and Soundstage do receive slight upgrades when going from a dynamic driver HD600/650, to a planar magnetic Sundara.
This is in large part due to the fact that a planar just performs better across the board for a couple of important reasons:
- There are more magnets present in a Planar.
- They are placed more evenly around the diaphragm.
This results in a more realistic and natural sound presentation to your ears, with improved Imaging and Soundstage, lower distortion, a more buttery smooth bass, better reproduction of micro-detail, and better overall resolution than what you’ll get from an HD600 or 650. Related: What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
Both those headphones have a tendency to feel a bit boxed in sounding, but instrument separation and imaging are still exemplary, and the headphones themselves continue to remain relevant after more than 2 decades on the market.
Bass, mid-range, and treble are all incredibly natural-sounding, and accurately portray a wide range of musical genres with ease and care.
From Rock, Hip-Hop, Pop, to Indie, EDM, to Metal, and most anything else abound, you can rest assured knowing your purchase is sound!
No pun intended. XD
The Sundara works for many of the same genres, but I’d argue it does a bit better for Classical, Jazz, Acoustic, Gaming, and Film, because of the reasons mentioned above regarding Imaging and Soundstage, as well as instrument Timbre in the case of delicate guitars and voices specifically.
As far as amplification is concerned, the Sundara is woefully inefficient at around 94dB/mW but doesn’t resist power much at 37 Ohms. Still, you will need an Amp/DAC for this bad boy.
- What is Headphone Impedance? [Explained]
- What is Sensitivity in Headphones? [Explained]
- How to Choose a Headphone Amp [Definitive Guide]
The HD600/650 are a bit more efficient at 97 and 103dB respectively but do have a much higher impedance at 300 Ohm.
Still, they’re all fairly easy to drive and you shouldn’t have much of an issue finding a great Amp/DAC to pair.
Don’t overthink it!
If you’re more of a kick-back and relax type homie, go with the HIFMAN Sundara. It’s laid back and coolin’ out like Ice Cube, but can sound a bit too warm at times due to the gradual roll-off after 1kHz. Even so, this is an amazing product and ticks all the boxes admirably. The treble is nice and subdued but still with plenty of detail, there’s lots of bass impact, and the headphone is extremely versatile.
The HD600/650 has been a devastating one-two punch for many years now, and just so happens to be my #1 recommendation to folks just starting out. I do like the Sennheiser HD6XX for a couple of marked reasons:
- It’s way more affordable than the others nowadays.
- It strikes a nice balance between the 2 sound signatures. The HD600’s mid-range has some issues around 3kHz and can come across a bit “shouty” and too forward, and the 650 can be a bit too laid back and creamy at times, almost lulling you to sleep. I believe the 6XX represents a nice middle ground.
Also, check my Gear recommendations. I have a great setup for both the 600/650/6XX, as well as the Sundara if you’re just getting started.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN Sundara vs. HD650 vs. HD600 shootout and now understand the main differences between them!
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Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
Which of these headphones sounds like YOU? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,