The Venerable Sennheiser HD650 Review

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Updated 5/1/18

  • 2,801-word post, approx 7 min read.

Let’s start with a quick chart!

First Look

For Casual
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Grey/Black Metal Flake
Open Back
Circumaural (Around Ear)
OFC copper (Kevlar Reinforced), Velour, Plastic
300 Ohms
Primary Use
Casual, Easy Listening
Needs Amplification?
For Casual
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone
Grey/Black Metal Flake
Open Back
Circumaural (Around Ear)
OFC copper (Kevlar Reinforced), Velour, Plastic
300 Ohms
Primary Use
Casual, Easy Listening
Needs Amplification?

Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Sennheiser HD650 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

Sennheiser HD650 Review
Close call.

Important Note: The 650 still technically gets a Gold trophy, but I had to somehow differentiate between it and the HD 600.

Learn more: Sennheiser HD600 Review!

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.

Learn more: Sennheiser HD600 vs. 650

A lot of people enjoy the warmer, more succulent sound of the 650.

Others prefer the unabashed honesty of the HD600.

It just depends on your preference and what you will be using the headphone for.

Keep in mind that because the 600’s are so sterile, they won’t sound as good with as many tracks. They tend to reveal bad mixes and masters with eyebrow-raising precision.

The HD650 kind of takes that “rough around the edges” sound of the 600 and sands it down a bit. It’s more mellowed out if you will.

Haha. Anyways…

Let’s get into the meat of this thing!

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Specifications/Price
  2. Build Quality
  3. Comfort
  4. Sound
  5. Imaging
  6. Video Comparison to the HD 650
  7. Pros
  8. Cons
  9. Amplification
  10. Genre Pairing
  11. Final Grade
  12. Consensus/Conclusion
  13. Final Word

Now, without further ado let’s get into all of the things…

Sennheiser HD 650



Build Quality

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 clamping 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, almost 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).

The Wire

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.


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.


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 its 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 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.



Why? Because I said so! Just kidding. Because they may sound a bit dull to some people. At times they lack certain energy but it’s a minor nitpick. The gain switch on the HA-2 makes them really come alive and sound incredible.

Let’s take a look at some photos..

Photo Gallery

Click to see the HD 650!

How about a comparison to the HD 600…

Video Comparison to the HD 600

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How’s Imaging?


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. But this time it’s different. 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, 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.

The Other Gold Standard.


  • 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 mixdowns 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 its 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 its full potential.

Video Discussion

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Genre Pairing

As alluded to in the open, this is a very versatile headphone that handles a wide variety of genres including:

  • Rock
  • Jazz
  • Classical
  • Hip-Hop
  • Soul
  • Acoustic

Its bread and butter are 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.

There simply isn’t a genre that I don’t like with this headphone. The only exception is Jazz. It’s not that it sounds bad as just maybe it’s not open-sounding enough. This was an issue with the 600’s and unfortunately, the trend continued here.

Not a big deal though. The 650 is going to sound fantastic with like, everything. Don’t fret!

Final Grade

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!

Feels good, man.

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.

Final Word

While the HD650’s are phenomenal headphones, I think the original HD600’s outclassed them just a smidgen. They are snappier, livelier, and their bass doesn’t slam as hard but remains more textured and in its place. You actually enjoy the bass more because of it’s quality over quantity. The 650s 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’ve actually been enjoying the sound of the 650 more nowadays. You may like the warmer, more lush sound of it as well. It really just depends on preference and what you envision yourself liking more often in the long term. For me, it’s always been a somewhat 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.

Lately though I’ve been having the opposite reaction. The 600 to me sounds like the one I want at first but starts to get on my nerves after awhile due to that 3k bump. Because of this, I’m inclined to put back on a 650 or even Massdrop’s newer iteration 6XX. Learn more: Sennheiser HD 600 vs. HD 6XX.


If you need the snappier sounding 600, I would probably just recommend the 6XX. To my ears it actually sounds better than a 600 at a fraction of the price:


If you prefer a headphone more conducive to some added bass emphasis, the HD650 is probably your homie. It’s a smidgen warmer and more syrupy sounding than a 6XX:


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD650 Review.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know down below or Contact me!

So what do you think about these? What about the HD600’s? Which do you prefer? I would love to hear from you.

All the best and God bless,





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Sennheiser HD 650




Overall Sound







  • Extremely Comfortable (after break in)
  • Mostly neutral, with great resolution
  • Fantastic Imaging and Instrument Separation
  • All Parts Replaceable, Great Build
  • Genre Master


  • A bit dull/veiled at times
  • Bulky Adapter

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