How do the 650 and 600 differ from AKG’s K712? Who are these headphones for exactly?
All of these answers and more, comin’ up!
Greetings mate, and Welcome aboard! 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 (NOT gear), all over again, so…
At A Glance
In The Box
Sennheiser HD600 Headphones
Limited 2-Year Warranty (not pictured)
Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his. ?
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- Type: Open back.
- Fit: Circumaural (over-ear).
- Impedance: 300 ohms.
- Sensitivity: 97 dB/mW.
- Frequency response: 12Hz – 39000 kHz.
- Material: Metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour earpads, plastic
- Color: Speckled blue finish, black.
Sennheiser HD 650 Stereo Reference Headphones
Stereo 1/4″ to 3.5mm Adapter
Limited 2-Year Warranty
Shout out to Crinacle for the graph!
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- Type: Open back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Impedance: 300 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 103dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Frequency response: 12 – 39000 Hz.
- Material: OFC copper (Kevlar Reinforced), Velour, Plastic.
- Color: Grey and Black metal flake finish.
AKG K712 Pro Reference Studio Headphones
Mini XLR Connector Cable
Mini XLR Coiled Cable
Limited 2-Year Warranty
Do note: This is a loaner unit lent to me by a good friend Marko from Finland. He wasn’t able to/didn’t have everything to send which is completely fine! The cable and case pictured are aftermarket as well. 🙂
Shoutout to Crinacle for the wonderful graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his. ?
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- Type: Open back.
- Color: Black & Orange.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Frequency response: 10Hz to 39,800 kHz.
- Impedance: 62 Ohms.
- Sensitivity: 84-88dB/mW
- Material: Leather headband, plastic, memory foam.
- Audio Connector to Source: 1/8″ / 3.5mm TRS
- Adapter Included: Yes, 1/4″
- Cable: Detachable Mini-XLR
- Cable Length: 9.8′
- Weight: 8.3 Oz. / 235g
Let’s get right into the sound differences!
- Amps Used: S.M.S.L SH-9
- DACS paired: AudioQuest DragonFly Red
- Amp/DAC Combos Used: FiiO K5 Pro
- Source(s): Spotify Premium, FLAC
- Official Playlist: Here!
- Albums: Towards the end!
One of the first things you’ll notice with the K712 is that female vocals seemed to be pushed back/recessed a bit more than the HD600’s.
This is a quality of the 600’s that can be bothersome at times, and I’ve said as much since I began reviewing and talking about the headphone on the blog and channel.
The 650 is a bit more like the 712 in this regard. Its mid-range isn’t quite as forward as the HD600’s and tends to sound a bit warmer overall. Related: AKG K712 Review: Who Is It For?
The K712 is also going to be more open, with a better Soundstage, but it comes at the expense of a somewhat drier overall sound than of a 600 or 650. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation]
The HD600 and 650’s sound is more intimate and closer to you. It feels more immediate and lush, while the K712 goes for the grand, open approach.
This can make it sound a tad looser and flabby by contrast, but you’ll get more out of your head moments with a K712 than you will with an HD600/650.
Of course, much of this is dependent on the track in question, as I’ve felt those moments on certain tracks regardless of the headphone I was wearing.
I’ve said over and over in articles and videos that the way a track sounds is largely the result of how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered, and that’s really no different here.
I will say that a headphone like the 712 does tend to kind of exaggerate those effects to where you’re experiencing them much more frequently, so keep that in mind as well.
You’ll find the bass on the HD600/650 is tighter and more focused than that of a 712. It also seems to have a bit more thump, and again, feels closer to your ears while the 712’s comes across as a bit more distant.
What’s great about both bass responses is that they never really get in the way of the mid-range, and if the song was mixed with a heavier emphasis on the low end, you’ll certainly hear it.
9th Wonder in particular tends to mix his bass lines pretty heavy, and that will come through on both regardless.
Because the bass wasn’t boosted, to begin with, in many cases, it results in some really nice slam and impact; though not all songs are going to sound perfect. For instance, BobbiSoul!! off of Zion II sounds just “okay” through a 712, and a bit better through a 600/650.
On the 712, you can tell he mixed the bass a bit too heavy and some of the other frequencies struggle to stand out or receive recognition.
Again, pay attention to how the track was recorded, mixed, and mastered – it will tell you much more about how a piece sounds than anything else. This is a concept that most audiophiles don’t understand, since, they aren’t sound engineers/producers and haven’t actually mixed anything.
For example, some tracks can be mixed louder and others quieter. The same volume on your Amp with different songs can vary quite a bit which is important to remember as well.
One thing pretty similar in both is the treble. None of the 3 will ever get essy or sibilant – something you’ll come to appreciate over long listening sessions. What does Sibilant mean?
I think overall, the 600/650’s treble quality is a bit better, more refined, and clearer to the ear. Again, it’s closer to you and more immediate – a running overall theme in this writeup.
John The Blind’s Paranoid is a fine example of a song with heavy treble emphasis and crispy hits after about 1:04. Sort of like when you’re smoking a J and getting high as a kite while freestyling with your homies.
Not that I ever did that when I was younger or anything. LOL. I swear. xD
Paranoid is also an example of a track that was mixed and mastered almost perfectly. I actually can’t decide which to me sounds better. The HD600/650 again, makes it sound closer and more intimate, while the K712 does a fantastic job of opening things up and making it sound grand and spacious. Treble hits on both are fantastic. I’m not feeling like one headphone is doing a better job of portraying them if I’m being honest.
The main takeaway with the treble is that neither headphone is fatiguing in the slightest and comes across naturally and effortlessly.
Speaking of fatigue, how’s comfort?
Comfort on both is phenomenal.
The HD600/650’s clamping force is known to be pretty tight, but does open up the more you use them. I’ve owned an HD600 since 2016 and I still find it hugs my head rather snugly (do keep in mind I don’t use it every single day). Related: Sennheiser HD600 Review [With Video]
The catch is that I really enjoy that sense of intimacy. Putting a 600 on your head to me feels like a warm hug from an old friend. It’s a security blanket of sorts. It’s like hugging your boo and knowing she’s looking over your shoulder – but only because she’s got your back. 🙂
A K712 is incredibly comfy as well, but it does sit looser on your noggin. Some people will inevitably prefer this type of fit, and I can’t argue with them. My SHP9500 is similar in that don’t really feel it at all. It’s almost like wearing air. The 712 isn’t quite as free, but it’s getting there.
I’d say clamping force in order from tightest to loosest would go something like,
- AKG K712
As for what I prefer?
It’s close, but I enjoy the warm blanket HD600/650 type of feel a tad more.
By and large, you’ll find both of these rather comfy, with a good clamp and almost no fatigue. I’m rarely adjusting either which makes for an easy time listening for hours.
The K712 doesn’t have any padding, but you won’t miss it. The HD600 and 650 both have padding – the 600’s contain the 4 nugget pads vs. the single pad with a crater in the middle on the 650. Comfort is about the same on both of those; i.e. very good.
The other difference between these headphones is the way they fit; the K712 utilizes the self-adjusting hammock style while the 600 and 650 opt for the traditional click adjustment.
The 712’s is certainly more convenient when you’re in a hurry, but if you keep the 600/650 the same on either side it really isn’t a big deal.
JUST PUT THE HEADPHONES ON YOUR HEAD!!!
What about the build?
The HD600/650’s are a tad heavier at 260g vs. 235 for the K712, but by and large, you’ll notice that they feel roughly the same in your hand.
The 712 is a bit bulkier, while the Sennheiser’s look and feel more compact both visually and on your head.
All have detachable cables, but the Sennheiser’s is of the proprietary variety while the K712’s is Mini-XLR.
I haven’t had a single issue with any AKG nor Sennheiser model that I’ve ever tried or owned. For a complete list, go here: Headphone Reviews & Comparisons
Both have very soft velour padding that does tend to flatten out over time, but each are shaped differently. The K712’s is a perfect circle vs. the oval shape of the HD600/650. The cups are both easy to remove as well. The HD600’s kind of snaps into place after a gentle push, while the K712’s rotates and clicks in with about a 1/4 turn.
I would plan on investing in replacement pads for all 3 down the road, depending on how often you use them.
None fold up and are mostly meant for studio use.
The K712 is mostly plastic with velour pads, while the HD600/650 contains a mix of Velour, Plastic, Metal Grilles, and Carbon Fiber.
I will say that the HD600/650 are perhaps the most durable pieces of equipment I’ve ever used. I’ve dropped my HD600 countless times dating back to 2016, and it comes out on top every time.
What’s more, the cable, while it looks and feels rather cheap, is anything but. I’ve run over this thing hundreds of times with my computer chair and it hasn’t a single scratch, blemish, or dent. It’s simply unbelievable how much abuse the headphone can take.
I can’t say much about the 712’s cable as I don’t own it, but I do own a 702. I found that its cable is a lot less durable and rugged. I’ve only owned it since December of 2019 and there are already some dents and dings. Thankfully this doesn’t affect the sound, but it’s something to be noted if you’re a bit rough and tough with your gear as I am.
Will you need amplification though?
I would say yes for all 3.
- HD600: 300 Ohm, 97dB/mW Sensitivity
- HD650: 300 Ohm, 103dB/mW Sensitivity
- AKG K712: 62 Ohm, 84-88dB/mW Sensitivity
Neither the HD600 nor 650 are too hard to drive, but the K712 is incredibly inefficient and does need some power from the amp to reach an acceptable listening level.
Some good pairings for each:
- The Best Headphone Amp for the AKG K701 & K702 (also can be applied to the 712)
- Best Headphone Amp for the Sennheiser HD 600 and 650 [Video]
I wouldn’t get too crazy about it as most pairings will sound really good. I’m personally not a proponent of synergy, scaling, and all that nonsense most of the time. In some cases, yes, it can help. For instance, a hip-dac helps to tame down the bright nature of the 9500. And yes, you’ll mostly want to pair warmer headphones with more neutral amps and vice versa. 2 of the same thing usually ends up sounding kind of weird.
But don’t go into it thinking “Oh my God I have to have the exact right pair or else I will never be satisfied.” In other words, don’t become an AUDIO FILE. Related: What is an Audiophile?
Audio isn’t really like that. Again, most sound discrepancies come down to the track itself and not the gear. The gear is like the cherry on top. It can enhance an already great sound/recording, but it CANNOT fundamentally change how a song was recorded and that will never change.
I like all three of these headphones for different reasons. I think both tend to excel with most genres, but the K712 definitely has an edge in my mind when it comes to gaming and film. The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide] I also like it better for lighter genres like Jazz and Classical. Those genres typically sound better when the sound has room to breathe and express itself.
The HD600/650 are both definitely more intimate sounding and somewhat tighter as a whole.
I think the main differences come down to a few things:
- The mid-range on the K712 is slightly more pushed back or recessed, especially with female vocals.
- The K712 sounds more open and grand, with a better Soundstage and more out-of-your-head moments.
- The HD600650’s bass is tighter and more immediate. It has a bit more thump whereas the K712’s is looser by contrast and not quite as present.
- The HD600/650’s treble is ever so slightly more resolving, but it’s close.
Outside of that, these headphones complement each other nicely.
All have a fantastic treble response (aside from the subtle difference), all 3 are incredibly comfortable, and they’re all built very well.
It’s interesting to note that out of the new crop of headphones I currently have, I plan to keep the HD600 and K702 because they each work so well together. I can listen to somewhat harder genres with either while using the K702 for mostly Jazz, Classical, Gaming, and Film. I would say the K712 is mostly for people who listen to lighter genres and do a lot of gaming, while the HD600 excels a bit more for people who will mostly be listening to music; and specifically genres like Rock, etc.
Even so, it should also be mentioned that the K702 is now my daily driver. I tend to listen to it more than I do an HD600 FWIW.
If you’re interested in where exactly I place the K702 among the 600/700 lineup: AKG K612 vs. K712 vs. K702 vs. K701 vs. Q701
I think that’s enough talk. It’s time for the final exercise. Raiden, take Solidus DOW.. wait we’re not playing MGS2. Lol.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD650/600 vs. AKG K712 comparison/shootout and came away with some valuable insight.
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Which one of these are you going to purchase? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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More to come!