Is it still relevant today? Is it overrated? What makes it so special? Why does it still get recommended over 20 years after it first came out? Is this your homework Larry? The answers to all of these questions and more can be had for the low low price of just kidding, stick around homie, and let’s talk about it!
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At A Glance
Sennheiser Pro Audio HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
Material: Metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour earpads, plastic
Color: Speckled blue finish, black.
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The Sennheiser HD600 is a headphone that’s been around since 1997, following the success of the former flagship HD580, all the way back in ‘93.
The HD650 would soon follow in 2003, completing the trifecta of what are considered by many to be the most important headphones ever assembled. Drop would later collaborate with Sennheiser on the 6XX and 58X, 2 revisions that appeal to a wider demographic of people due to their low cost and mostly identical sound profile. There’s also the HD660S, which I haven’t personally tried, but do plan on doing so in the future.
But is the hype of these headphones warranted?
Let’s take a gander by going back in time a little first.
Back in 2010 I was making beats and mixing them down on a regular basis. I knew I needed some better gear, but didn’t really know where to start. All I had was a Lenovo laptop and a drum pad. When I was at home I mixed with Logitech speakers, but on the go I really didn’t have a great pair of headphones and I made beats remotely quite a bit. Related:Setting Up A Home Recording Studio | An Introduction
So I did a ton of research, picked up a pair of Sony MDR 7506’s, and the rest is history. It was the first time I remember being completely blown away by what I was hearing.
I had to have more!
Unfortunately, the rabbit hole was opened and there was no turning back.
My second headphone was an Audio Technica ATH M50, which was a Christmas gift that I held onto from 2013 to 2018. I ended up giving it away to Omar (Aztek), who’s still a viewer and follower of the channel and blog. Thanks Omar!
After researching for what seemed like an eternity, I kept coming across a headphone called the Sennheiser HD600.
Wow, sounds like a spaceship!
I remember reading a long buyer’s guide from a guy named David Mahler out of Brooklyn, New York. His gargantuan Head-Fi post spanned pages and pages, but it was the most thorough write up I had ever seen, and his endorsement of the HD600 was one of the last to really sell me on the headphone.
The great thing about reading lots of reviews is that the majority of time you can get a really good sense of how a headphone is going to sound based on a clear consensus and looking for commonalities in articles. This has been the case for me nearly every single time I’ve researched an audiophile product: from the K702, to the HD600, and many others in between.
In that sense, the hobby kind of actually does become somewhat objective in a way. For as much as people bicker, I’d go out on a limb to say that being mostly in agreement about a particular headphone or product probably happens more often than we would like to admit. You know, because e-penis flexing and all that.
My prick is better and longer than yours, and now comes with a money-back guarantee! (no pun intended)
I happen to think that the folks who try to combat you on every little thing you say are likely the exception and not the rule. So piss off! 😂
Most people just want to listen to their music, and have fun doing so.
Is the HD600 still relevant today? Absolutely. It’s a headphone that defines what it means to fully immerse yourself into the hobby for the very first time. If dipping your foot in the water is the MDR 7506, doing a flip into said water is the HD600.
Actual footage of an audiophile before he makes the plunge:
Once you hear it, you will begin to understand that there’s a lot more to audio than you ever thought was possible.
Take for instance a friend of mine from last year who tried my HD600. The experience was so mind-blowing to her that she never wanted to leave her room – a common reaction for a newbie.
This is in large part due to the effortlessness of the sound, the clarity, the realistic portrayal of instruments and vocals, the separation of sounds, as well as the articulation of the bass.
If all you’ve ever heard is drug store headphones from 1995, or some crappy earbuds that are marketed as amazing, it makes sense that an HD600 would completely change the way you perceive music.
Quite literally, the HD600 is life-changing, and this isn’t a misnomer.
Let’s face it: the majority of people have never heard what a good headphone actually sounds like. I was no different. Before 2010, I had no idea that good headphones were even a thing. I actually thought that (and this is kind of embarrassing to admit) good equaled the drug store variety.
You know what I’m talking about, those cheap as dirt Maxell’s and Jensen’s that you’d find on the bottom shelf in your local Eckerd, collecting dust. The kind that came in the plastic package that you had to have a blow torch just to open. Yeah, I’m showing my age a bit, what of it?
Hahaaaa. Not only did we sucker you into buying our sh***y product, but now you can’t even use it! MWAAAAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA joke’s on you, chum!
Back in my day, we had Eckerd and Kerr Drug! None of this new fangled CVS pharmacy bull sh**. No sir-ee Bob! We had authentic drug stores! The kind that you’d walk 15 miles in the snow to get to, just for a taste of that juicy Jensen audio.
It wasn’t until that fateful day in 2010 that my life was changed forever. It wasn’t like lifting a blanket off of the sound, it was more like discovering an ancient artifact buried 150 miles below the surface of the earth. YAY archeology!
The HD600 only magnified that sentiment.
It’s a headphone that truly represents music in its most raw, un-altered form. Good or bad. You really get a sense of not only how the artist’s intended for the music to sound, but if they produced a decent mix-down and master.
All of the song’s strengths and weaknesses (if applicable) are exposed and available to you, free of charge. This is really eye-opening when you consider that you probably have never actually heard the song until now. Until you put on an HD600 and marvel at just how revealing it is, you’re still only getting a fraction of what’s actually there.
Every time I think to myself that the 600 has become irrelevant or outdated, I put one on my head and fall in love with music, all over again.
See what I did there?
I use that hook in my videos for a reason, because it’s true. A headphone like this will undoubtedly have you clamoring to find and listen to all those old classics that have long since been forgotten about.
I remember coming across an Amazon review some years back that I still have linked in my article, that said something to the effect of: “It’s like hearing those songs for the very first time.”
Nothing could be more accurate than that.
Does the HD600 have issues? Sure. The mid-range is a bit too forward for my tastes, but outside of that, I absolutely adore it. Both the HD6XX and 650 improved upon that issue, but we’ll discuss that in a second. The bass is perfect. It sounds like how bass should be portrayed – articulate, clean, detailed, and revealing. You know, actually hearing the bass being plucked and played, not being overwhelmed by it.
*Cough Beats Cough*
There’s been much talk about the “Sennheiser veil” over the years, and while I can understand the sentiment, I don’t think it negatively affects the sound. What is the Sennheiser Veil?
You have to remember that most audio companies place way too much emphasis on the bass and treble. The reason the HD600 stood out all those years ago, and still stands out is because it simply does not. The treble is there, it’s clear and detailed, but it doesn’t have sparkle nor is it bright. It simply sounds correct to my ear, and most others’.
In fact, combined with it’s impeccable comfort levels (after the clamp has opened up), and the very subdued treble, you may forget you’re even wearing them long after the music has stopped!
This has happened to me on many occasions. I don’t really even “feel” them on my head if that makes sense. They’re comfortable enough to wear for extended periods with very minimal adjustment.
When you also factor in their incredible build and longevity, it’s no wonder people are still recommending them even today. It’s about as natural of a sound as you’ll ever find, and that combined with the fact that all the parts are replaceable and interchangeable, makes it one of the easiest recommendations that exists in audio.
It’s a product that the average person is going to put on and go:
Oh my God. I get it now. How did I ever go through life without this in my possession?
So would I recommend it? Absolutely, but I would go with the HD6XX without thinking twice. Not only is it dirt cheap, but it fixes the mid-range issue and sounds a bit less warm to me than the HD650.
Some people will fight me on that and tell you it’s the same exact headphone, but:
Nah it’s just personal taste. I truly thought the 6XX struck a perfect balance between the too forward mids on the 600 and the “too relaxed/too laid back” sound of the 650. Could have been my imagination. I’m fully aware of that.
So what are you waitin’ for?!
Learn more about my favorite headphone in this Top 5 Under $100 Guide:
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.