Today I will be coming at you with a really sweet comparison regarding the Sennheiser HD 600 vs. 650! These two flagship models really set a standard for being the go to audiophiles headphone.. The HD 600 debuted in 1997 and the 650 followed in 2003. They have both been around a long time, and have a great track record as some of the most respected, and best all around open back cans in existence!
Before we get started with all the fun, grab a snack, sit back, and relax because..
Material: metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour ear pads
Color: Speckled blue finish, black.
What more can be said about these? Well I’ll tell you! For starters, they may be the best reference headphone that you can buy. This is across the board pretty much a consensus among-st audiophiles. I will never forget the first time I read this review on amazon. The reviewer claimed that buying the HD 600 would revolutionize not only the music you may listen to in the future, but also what you already own! It’s a very powerful concept that stuck with me. Being able to re-discover old sounds is something that is truly priceless and timeless. Everyone loves music. Imagine if the feeling you got from an old album was like hearing it for the first time again, only better and completely amazing?
That’s what these headphones provide. They give you the subtlety and details you’ve never heard before in recordings. They also reveal quite a bit of flaws in a mix/master, so be wary that these headphones were made for good quality recordings from good sources. I have listened to them with 192 kbps Spotify songs, but I would highly recommend to try and stick to 256, 320, high quality WAV or FLAC. Also make sure to purchase a decent enough amp to power these correctly. At 300 Ohms, it is pretty much mandatory. How to choose a headphone amp! I will get into amps more a little later!
Great bass and low end. It’s not overpowering but rather strong, clear, and well defined.
Build quality is solid.
Gold standard for neutrality and accuracy in studio. environments. Everything sounds exactly as it is, with very little coloration.
Credit to my boy @Metal571. Check him out on twitter!
What they are good for/with:
Critical listening and mixing
Jazz and classical
They sound good with just about every type of music, and have been called a genre master..
What they aren’t good for:
They are really honest and will reveal flaws in your everyday recordings. This reviewer mentioned that he was tempted to throw away all of his old badly mastered stuff. Make sure your source is of good quality!
These aren’t really good for bass-heads.
Office and portable use, etc. They will bleed sound and aren’t really made for on the go situations or where there’s the potential for disturbing others.
These are going to need a good amp to deliver optimal sound quality and volume. I have done a bit of research and a few great options are:
These across the board are considered the go to options in regards to quality and convenience. Of course, you will encounter really high end amplifiers if you look hard enough, but for your first foray into the world of audiophiles, any of these will more than suffice. The Magni/Modi combo in particular is quite popular and of amazing quality!
Perhaps the most transparent and honest set of cans you will find. The bass is clear and precise, but doesn’t really hit as hard as some would like. Just be aware of your sound source before passing judgement on the headphones themselves. Also a good amp is highly beneficial, if not mandatory to bring out the best in these.
These are some of the most accurate and well respected headphones on the planet. They are a little warmer, lusher, and thicker than their younger brother, the HD 600. They are also a bit more refined.
Being a little less neutral, they are more enjoyable to listen with as a pure casual can. As an open back model, these will leak sound so be wary of that and know that they perform best in an isolated studio environment, absent any extraneous noise and distraction. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
Another thing to note is the impedance level. At 300 Ohms, these will need an adequate amplifier to reach their full potential. What is Headphone Impedance?
They take a bit of burn in time to really get acclimated, so prepare to really be impressed after around the 50 hour mark. Things start to open up considerably and everything kind of settles in. The sound becomes focused and tightly in place, which results in a very clean overall signature.
Extremely accurate and transparent.
Great body, warmth, and smoothness.
Nice sound-stage and imaging. You are able to place where the musicians are on stage, and being an open backed can, the sound won’t get trapped in your head and leave you fatigued.
A forward and engaging mid-range. helps with the presentation of the male voice.
Tight and authoritative bass response. It’s less neutral than the HD 600. There’s more bass than the 600. Like the 600, you will be able to hear the tone of a kick drum as well as different textures in frequency. An important thing to remember is to make sure your sound source is of good quality. These will reveal flaws in haphazard mix downs and masters.
It’s not too picky about which amp you choose to pair with it. Sounds pretty fantastic with most amps.
Very versatile in terms of genre, handling a wide range of musical styles. Rock music is arguably it’s strongest suit.
Comfort. those velour ear pads make it so you can wear these for hours and not get fatigued.
Replaceable parts, which ensures longevity out of your purchase.
Too smooth. Like Fonzie except not, these headphones are so chill that they may make you fall asleep!
Treble is lacking a bit. This is the “veiled” sound that people talk about in regards to Sennheiser headphones. Somewhat lacking in air and harmonic content. What is the Sennheiser veil?
HD 600. Many people prefer the more neutral HD 600 over the laid back sound signature of the HD 650. Others like the fact that the 650’s bass has a little more impact and weight behind it.
The great thing about the HD 650 is that it isn’t too picky about which amp you choose. At 300 Ohms, it does need one to reach it’s full potential, and a few good options would be:
As alluded to in the open, this is a very versatile headphone that handles a wide variety of genres including:
It’s bread and butter is probably best suited for Rock music. This is in part due to the mid-range as well as the bass not drowning out other frequencies. The treble also has a lot to do with it.
Since 2003, It’s been one of the most beautiful sounding headphones around. It’s extremely accurate, has a really great mid-range, accurate bass, and is very comfortable over a long period of time. It’s treble is lacking a bit in the upper registers, and it has been criticized for being a bit too smooth, almost lulling you to sleep. Regardless, what you are getting with these is a brand new music collection. Why? Because they revolutionize everything you own, plus the music you haven’t heard. It’s like hearing all of your old favorites for the first time again. You will start to notice things in music that you never knew were there. This is one of the best things about higher end headphones. They make you realize what you were missing!
Similarities & Differences
Both headphones are open back.
Both headphones have 300 ohm Impedance, and do well with similar amplifiers.
Both headphones have a Circumaural fit (around the ears).
Both headphones have that nice velour padding, and are very comfortable.
Both have an open, airy sound, and provide great sound-stage as well as instrument separation. Be aware that the soundstage, while good, isn’t particularly wide like an AKG model. You’re getting more of a pinpoint accurate sound.
Both have detachable cable.
Color. The HD 600 has a blue speckled finish, while the 650 sports a grey and black metal flake finish.
Sound. The sound of each is very similar, but you will notice that the 650’s are a little warmer & more colored. Their target audience is people who prefer a more enjoyable listening experience rather than the critical one that the 600’s provide. The 600’s are a bit livelier and crisper by contrast.
Bass. It has been said by many that the bass hits a little harder on the 650’s, contributing to that overall more “fun” sound that we talked about.
Hip-Hop. The 650’s do a little better with this genre because of that slight bit of extra bass emphasis.
Construction. The 650 improves on the durability and overall build. The 600 is solid, but less so.
The HD 600 and 650 are two very similar sets of headphones. If you are planning to do more mixing in studio, and need a revolutionary reference can, look no further than the HD 600’s. They just may be the finest example of an open back model that has ever been made. Don’t believe me? Out of 58 headphones reviewed, only 4 from this man’s collection received an A+ price to performance ratio.
If you prefer a more colored sound, and want to enjoy the experience rather than be too critical of it, the 650’s may suit you more. They are less analytical overall, and have been called the more “fun” sounding headphone out of the two.
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.