Why does the 600 get the actual Gold trophy and top honors?
In my mind, clarity, detail, and transparency take precedence over pure listening enjoyment. You may disagree and that’s okay. It’s important to understand that these headphones are very similar, but they aren’t identical twins. There is a clear (but still subtle) difference between them.
The build quality of the Sennheiser HD650 is roughly the same as the build of the HD600.
In other words, very good.
There aren’t any glaring deficiencies in either headphone.
The 650 is lightweight, but doesn’t feel cheap. It simply feels economical. The weight of it is perfect for long listening sessions; it doesn’t tire you out at all, and the clamp force, once broken in, is perfect.
The padding is a soft and plush velour for the ear-pads, and a foamy type of material for the headband.
Like the HD600, most every part on the 650 is replaceable. The headband adjustment is somewhat flimsy, but it doesn’t feel cheap. The material is simply thin and unique. It’s not a mechanism I’ve ever seen before.
The ear-cups move a little bit, but they don’t rotate inwards and outwards outside of a couple of inches. Just enough to get a good fit which is fine. These will primarily be your studio headphones, and really shouldn’t meander outside very often (if at all).
It comes out of both ear cups like the HD600, and it’s the same type of connector. The difference is the connectors on the 650’s are slightly larger.
The 650 terminates in a 1/4″ jack while requiring a 3.5mm adapter. All in all, the cable feels much more solid than the 600’s cable. It’s thicker, and has more girth to it.
All in all, it’s a well built set of headphones that should stand the test of time without question.
Build Quality SCORE: A NUMBAH 1!
What about Comfort?
Comfort is phenomenal. As mentioned above, these play really well for long listening sessions, and will not fatigue you in any way.
They fit securely on your melon, and the cups themselves leave ample room for your large, Ross Perot sized ears. 😛
They are oval shaped, and contour nicely to the natural shape of the ear. The driver is also just far enough away from your ear not to obstruct or otherwise hinder your listening experience.
There’s not too much more I can say.
COMFORT Score: A NUMBAH 1!
How do they sound?
This is Pleasantville all the way, man.
The sound isn’t dull, it’s just very laid back.
This pretty much confirms all of my research prior to this updated review. The sound is warm. It’s lush. It’s fairly thick like that girl from the gym you have a crush on (I have a crush on the manager at my gym). Hehe. She’s amazing.
The best way I can describe the HD650 is that the sounds emerge distinctly, forming cohesively according to a strict process. It’s much like how a plant grows or a person develops over time. Sound does not randomly appear as with lesser headphones, but instead is given ample room and space to articulate itself fully, with an impeccable sense of timing and decay. Instruments and vocals are given free reign to dwell and express themselves thoroughly and completely.
The bass doesn’t roll off quite as much as an HD600, which is kind of cool. It’s still in no way muddy, overbearing, or out of line. This is an articulate, textured affair and simply knows it’s place. If the song calls for more, the HD650 will reveal it in a tasteful manner.
For the most part, the bass sits down in the mix where it should, and adds to the mix rather than hinder it.
Of course the mid-range on a Sennheiser is going to be fantastic, and this headphone is no exception. Detail retrieval is phenomenal as well. There’s so much clarity that you miss out on with other lesser headphones. Echoes especially give the song that added depth and intimacy that we all love.
One of the most notable aspects of the mid-range is the 650’s ability to render vocal passages with stunning accuracy and realism. In listening to Rage Against the Machine’s “Bullet in the Head” I was taken aback at how different Zack De La Roca’s voice sounded. It was almost nasally, as if he had a cold. It was revealing and strange all at once, with an almost uncomfortable clarity.
Likewise, instruments and seemingly extraneous sounds really came to life as well, and took on a personality all their own. Rage has this uncanny ability to make a guitar sound like a torture device at times. With the 650 those traits are exemplified in a way that demands your attention. It’s like the sound is so crystal clear that it takes center stage for a second.
The treble is a nice change from the usual, overly bright, metallic, sizzling treble that you’re going to get with 95% of headphones. This treble is darker, and some call it veiled. What is the Sennheiser Veil? I guess I can see why people say that, but I simply call it appropriate. I will admit, these sound a lot livelier with the gain switch on high out of my Oppo HA-2. Learn more:Oppo HA-2 Review!
What I love most about a headphone like this is that it just never annoys me. I can sit down and listen to it for long periods of time without taking it off.
Every sound is intricately placed and I think that is what sets it apart from other cans. You really begin to hear music rather than just feel it. There’s something about both the HD600 and 650 that make you just want to sit there and listen to music for as long as possible. Instrument Timbre is absolutely astonishing with certain tracks, for instance Touch Sensitive’s “No Other High” sounds pristine like Claire from the Breakfast Club.
Here’s a good graph from Tyll before he retired from Inner Fidelity.
SOUND SCORE: A/A-
Why? Because I said so! Just kidding. Because they may sound a bit dull to some people. At times they lack a certain energy but it’s a minor nitpick. The gain switch on the HA-2 makes them really come alive and sound incredible.
With an Amp like the Magni you won’t need any gain however. More on that in a bit.
Imaging is absolutely lovely, and may just be the 650’s best overall quality.
It’s funny, you tend to get really spoiled with these and the HD600’s. Whenever I go back to them after a long time without listening, I’m completely amazed all over again at how well they do, well everything.
Imaging as well as Instrument Timbre is particularly noteworthy. What is Timbre? Instruments and voices just come a live in a way that’s both genuine and exciting.
Whereas some headphones have that disappointing, thin layer of mud and clamminess covering the song, the 650 renders music in a way that’s wet and dense. The word I’m looking for is succulent, like a juicy, tender steak from your favorite steak joint.
There’s no rivaling that sensation once you experience it first hand. There’s a certain tenderness that the 650 has and it’s unmistakable. It’s almost like that girl we talked about before; you just know she’s the one when you see her. You may have pushed aside hundreds (if not thousands) of other girls before you met her. The answer was always “No” for some reason or another. You don’t look for excuses or reasons to write this girl off. You don’t look at her as an object, but rather a real person with feelings and emotions. You respect her in a way that can’t be measured, quantified, or or even understood. It’s simply felt on a level that’s somewhat foreign to you. You may not even know her that well. Doesn’t matter. You feel something different when she’s around. She’s not perfect, but her imperfections are what make her so.
She’s like a beautiful painting – you may not like every single color the artist used, but you really don’t have to. When you stand back and consider her as a whole, she’s breathtaking. All of the colors come together to form a cohesive, stunning image. Her personality, her spirit, her mind, body, her physical features, her drive and ambition, her sense of sophistication, her professionalism, and the list goes on.
The 650 is similar in that regard. Taken as a whole, it’s a nearly perfect headphone. It doesn’t do everything 100% right, but it comes darned near close my friend.
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. less neutral than the HD 600. The bass, rather than being bloated and loud, is accurate and precise. You will be able to hear the tone of a kick drum as well as different textures in frequency. What is Timbre? 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.
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 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.
Will they need an amp?
The great thing about the HD 650 is that it isn’t too picky about which amp you choose. How to choose a headphone amp! At 300 Ohms, it does need one to reach it’s full potential.
All in all, be prepared to shell out some extra cash for an Amp for these puppies. It is required!
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 most definitely 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.
I would give the 650’s an A/A+. Not a perfect headphone, but pretty darn close!
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.
However, 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!
Hearing the 650 is like kicking back with a glass of fine wine and taking a relaxing bubble bath. It just feels so good man.
While the HD650’s are a phenomenal headphone, I think the original HD600’s outclass them just a smidgen. They are snappier, livelier, and their bass doesn’t slam as hard but remains more textured and in it’s place. You actually enjoy the bass more because of it’s quality over quantity. The 650’s aren’t muddy in the slightest, but: side by side you will notice a difference in bass quantity. The 650’s have more of it, and it’s a bit thicker, and syrupy like Aunt Jemima’s.
Now, you may actually prefer that!
The important thing to remember about these guys is that they aren’t all that different. There are some differences there, but they are rather subtle.
I enjoy the snappier sounding HD600 a tad better (it largely depends on my mood), but you may like the warmer, more lush 650. It really just depends on preference and what you envision yourself liking more often in the long term. For me it’s a sterile sound. What’s interesting is that Tyll talked about this phenomenon and I think Metal571 did as well.
The idea was that as soon as you heard the 650 coming from a 600, you fell in love and wrote off the 600. But as time goes on, most people tend to go back to that first love because it’s pure. That’s not to say the 650 isn’t. It’s just that the 600 is a bit more honest and transparent in the grand scheme of things.
If you’re interested in learning more about the HD600:
Are you strapped for cash? Interested in learning about the headphone that comes dangerously close to being just as good (in my opinion it is, at least as far as detail retrieval is concerned) as either of these? Then you’ll want to head on over to my official:
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.