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Senn HD590 vs. Senn HD600 (vs. Sony MDR-R10) - Page 2

post #16 of 49
Thread Starter 
The ER4S are only for those that can stand to have tiny earbuds drilled carefully into their ears. The HD600 offer the same and/or slightly better sound quality without being jammed into your ears.

post #17 of 49
You definetly do get more bass out of Sony drive units compared to Senn ones...

Using a 23hz test tone, both my Senns (and even my V6 to a certain extent) were very raspy, sounding like the drivers were flapping around ~ whereas my CD1700s, very deep rumbling noise... great

Maybe its that extra 10mm of driver (50mm on the Sony CD1700 / R10 vs 40 on the Senns and the V6)

So.. Yes, bass IS compromised on the Senns... i'll agree with Markl on that one
post #18 of 49

my two cents (a bit long)

As one of the few Sony R10 naysers, I'd like to clarify my position as I feel I've somewhat contributed to some rather bizarre inspirations.

I think the Sony R10 is an excellent headphone. It is, in my view, undoubtedly better than the HD600. I'd go as far as to say it is undeniably better than the HD600. In my audition of it, I could not put my finger on a single aspect of the R10 that I did not like better than the HD600.

How much better? That takes a little more explaining.

First, let me say that I like the HD600 a lot. Not so long ago, my headphone world was much smaller and I thought the HD600 headphone was the best there was. I already thought it obscenely overpriced and honestly conisdered it just an over-the-top made-to-cost-more version of the already overpriced-yet-best-there-was HD580. I was wrong on a number of counts. One, of course, is that as I learned, the HD600 actually is marginally better than the HD580--the bass ever so slightly tighter and the highs ever so slightly cleaner and more focused. Finally, while the retail price of the HD600 is rather high ($450!!), the street price is closer to half that... and Grado's competing headphones easily cost more regardless.

After spending some time with the HD600, I found some shortcomings that rather surprised me a bit. Keep in mind, before this time I thought these were the best there were. How could they possible 1) have an audibly recessed upper midrange that makes vocals seem distant compared to the rest of the music, 2) lack absolute bass extension, and 3) have an overall excessive and sloppy midbass. Yet, that is how I felt about them. It was sad for me. Sennheiser was like a fallen hero in my world. Amp upgrades and cable upgrades later, these flaws became less pronounced in the Sennheiser and I came to regain much of my admiration for the headphone. Yet those flaws never completely disappear.

Flaws that... frankly, the Sony R10 does not have. The bass of the Sony R10 may not be the best in an absolute way but I find it to be more balanced than the HD600 without the midbass bloat. I also, of course, found no recession in the vocal region. Quite the contrary. The R10 places some amount of emphasis on the vocal region that makes female vocals sound especially sweet. This, it has in common with the AT W2002, along with the W2002's beautiful continous soundstage. It's no wonder some people love this headphone. But why not get the W2002 instead then since it is so much more available and cheaper? The W2002 has a glaring signature in its lower registers--a murkiness that haunts its bass and flavors the body of instruments. I'm told this trait subdues on some amplifiers but by the same token, I've heard the headphone on amps that many of its fans love. While MRael implied otherwise in his reviews, my belief is that most folks who like the W2002 would like the R10 just a little bit more.

The R10 is also what I would regard as a high resolution headphone. That is to say not much gets lost when you're listening for details. Such a fine gradient of volume exists that a true sense of depth is accomplished and even vocalled layering effects in pop and rock music have a surreal aspect of convincing you that the singers must clone themselves and stand next to one another in a real three-dimensional space. Again, this quality is found in many headphones but the HD600 even on the best amplifiers, just can't keep up.

So the R10 is perfect then? Not in my book, no. But it isn't looking at how the R10 is better than the HD600 that would help you establish that. Better would be to look at what the two headphones have in common. Both headphones, to my ears, sound much like good speakers. To use an analogy, maybe the HD600s are somewhat like NHTs and the R10s more like Thiels--different quality grades but still both quite obviously speakers. Never was I convinced with either headphone that I was hearing a real instrument. I was, at all times, listening to music that sounded very much like they were being played through a speaker. I'm told this is probably the accuracy of timbre that seems to matter more to me than to other folks. It may not be so important to you and I think whatever your preferences may be, they're just as valid as mine. For me, part of the emotion is caught up in the beauty of the instrument itself and that seems to be quite an elusive trait for me.

Of all the dynamic headphones I have auditioned, it is the long discontinued Joseph Grado HP-1000 that can best do this slight of hand, not the lofty R10. I have a feeling I would think the same of the Grado RS-1 as well if it weren't just bright enough to make it impossible for me to overlook the distraction. In either case, this is a primary spot where I feel the R10 falls short--and to be honest, it falls just as short as the HD600 does. Neither are truly convincing for me and this contributes much to my belief of the R10 being somewhat overrated and overpriced. How could I justify paying so much more for a headphone that does not solve what to me is such a glaring fault? I couldn't and I could easily find less costly alternatives in the way of Stax electrostatics that DO solve this problem and are far more convincing to me.

Secondly, while I did find the overall curves of the R10's frequency response to be pleasing, it did not portray a sense of being a flat linear response. I don't think that was ever the intent of the R10 if indeed it was ever the intent of any headphone. Worse yet, because of the shapes and curves within our individual ears, that I hear may not be such a close approximation of what anyone else hears anyway. But... what I hear, are obvious frequency spikes and curves. The results can sometimes be seductive as they are here and with the W2002 and the HD600, though perhaps even moreso here, but for me, they can also be a distraction. For me the ultimate headphone sounds not only good but invisible. Reproduce the sound and get out of the way is my feeling on the matter. Again, I found the old HP-1000 doing this the most accurately (though, I'd give a good honorable mention to the Etymotic ER-4S as well). And the Stax? Even better--so much so that when I've listened I've had trouble finding any spots where the Stax don't sound flat and linear.

As far as bass goes, I feel I'm definitely left of center. For me, tactile bass has no rank of importance and yet audible bass notes are excruciatingly important to me. When they are absent or recessed, I feel that the entire lower frequency response is weak and lacking in body and richness. None of these headphones are particularly lacking in this department. I found the R10 to have adequate bass relative to whatever amp I plugged it into. On the Max, it was better than most and on the RKV (the very same RKV Vertigo owned, albeit a repair or two later), the bass was excellent and full. I expect many would disagree with me but I also expect those people might often be referring to tactile bass. Those HP-1000s aren't particularly impactful either and the Stax I love so much are practically as free from bass slam as the Etymotics are. And yet I love their bass because every note is reproduced and at the approriate level of volume.

So maybe my priorities aren't the norm. I don't expect that they are. I think we're talking about excellent high end headphones here regardless of where you mark the rankings and to tell you the truth, the pissing match that has become who has the best what seems unnecessary to me. I'd rather simply describe how I hear things and hope that information is useful to some other people. I'd not be at all surprised if anyone stacked any of these in a different order of preferences. Even the things that I found fault with in the HD600 for me are traits that endear them to some of their biggest fans. How can someone be wrong for liking a different flavor of ice cream than you like? To each his own, I say.

Is the R10 overrated? For me it is, yes. It falls too far short of the ideals the Stax and Grados come closer to achieving and not far enough ahead of the Sennheisers to be worth their extremely high price. For you, it may turn out differently.

And what about the HD590? Just so as not to leave a stone unturned, I only heard the HD590 briefly at the World of Headphones tour stop in Dallas. There I found the HD590 to be a little dryer, a littler brighter and a little thin sounding compared to the HD600. Clearly I liked the HD600 better but again, not by miles. If you'd never heard the HD600, you'd probably like the HD590 a lot and that there are a couple of people that like the 590 better is of no surprise to me.

That's enough. EOF and all that. Thanks for reading if you made it this far without cheating. If you don't like my spelling and sentence structure, you'll just have to find a way to go on living.
post #19 of 49
Great review! It's nice to see people are actually taking the time to listen to the HD590's and give them a chance. I look forward to your comments when you listen to the 590's with the Equinox.

I find it interesting you found the 590 "bland", I find them rather aggresive, especially compared to the 600. But then again I haven't compared them to anything else.
post #20 of 49
Just did a brief listen on SHA-1 (Sylvania 7308's), comparing HD-600/Cardas, HP-1, and R10.

In brief:

HD-600: slightly veiled, tonal balance good, vocals strong and natural, very seductive. Bass strong, but not as defined as it should be. Detailing and imaging good.

R10: veiling gone...but so is tonal balance. Some of the best bass I've ever heard with the R10...but the midrange and highs aren't right. Extreme detail, fantastic imaging, but the overriding issue is brightness. Tonal balance is out of whack. Vocals are stunningly clear, but emotionally uninvolving. The last time I tried the CD3K with the SHA-1 it was so bright it was painful. The R10 doesn't go that far, but it's just bright enough that the headphone is drawing attention away from the music.

HP-1. Tonal balance back. Vocals strong and natural again. none of the veiling that was present with HD-600. Bass clear, but not as well-defined as R10. Highs crystal clear, not a hint of excess brightness. Not as detailed as R10, but a more natural presentation of music.

This was a quick listen, not any kind of review. I'm impressed by the HD-600/Melos combo. It's flawed, but the flaws don't interfere with the music. The HP-1 is better still. This is the headphone the SHA-1 was designed for, and it shows. The R10 did all the right things, but the brightness flaw is a nasty one, as it draws attention away from the music.
post #21 of 49
Originally posted by Hirsch
Just did a brief listen on SHA-1 (Sylvania 7308's), comparing HD-600/Cardas, HP-1, and R10.

In brief:

This was a quick listen, not any kind of review. I'm impressed by the HD-600/Melos combo. It's flawed, but the flaws don't interfere with the music. The HP-1 is better still. This is the headphone the SHA-1 was designed for, and it shows. The R10 did all the right things, but the brightness flaw is a nasty one, as it draws attention away from the music.
But aren't you really saying that the flaw lies in the Melos? Does this same flaw follow the R10 from amp to amp? With your impressive selection of amplifiers, you might have a unique perspective on this.
post #22 of 49

This is my third attempt at posting a reply and it's getting very late so I will answer in more detail later but I really want to respond to one comment in your post and that is that I agree with you when you say that these two phones are not that much different from each other. The 590 is brighter than the 600 which as everyone knows is said to have a "rolled off" top end but that difference cannot account for the reactions some detractors (I beleive this should be read as "HD600 fans" since it is obvious the "detractors" for the 590 are almost always 600 fans/owners) have to this headphones. Head-Fi is also in my opinion somewhat gulty of ramming the 600 down everyone's throat too and I think that explains the results you see on the Most Over-Rated Headphones thread where the HD600 is leading by a mile.

When you factor in the fact that Sennheiser designed the 590 as an improvement on the shortcomings of the 580 it is surprising the reaction the 590's have gotten. I think this is directly related to Headroom's incredibly unprofessional comments about the 590 and their equally questionable endorsement of the HD600.

Anyhow, I can't wait until you get the Stefan Audio Arts Equinox cable. It is supposed to make a bigger improvement on the 590 than the cable swaps do on the 600. I can't comment on that since I upgraded cables, headphones, CD players so much and so quickly when I first became interested in headphones that I cannot remember what they sounded like with the stock. It will be great to hear your opinions when you get the cable.

I'm beat. I'll post more tomorrow.

Thanks again for the effort you've put into this. It's great to get someone with your length and degree of experience with headpone gear to evaluate this for me.

I also never expected the 590's to compete with the R10 it's just that I feel strongly that the 590 is a radically under-appreciated headphone and is worthy of serious consideration by anyone spending $500.00 or less (quite a bit less in the case of the 590's) on headphones.

post #23 of 49
*Jaw drops at reading this argument....*





post #24 of 49
Originally posted by pigmode
But aren't you really saying that the flaw lies in the Melos? Does this same flaw follow the R10 from amp to amp? With your impressive selection of amplifiers, you might have a unique perspective on this.
No, I may have phrased myself poorly. I'm saying that the R10/SHA-1, combined with Sony NS500V and Silver Sonic BL-1 cables, has excessive brightness. It's possible that changing any of these components, or even the tubes in the Melos, could alleviate the issue. It's hard to say that the Melos is flawed, given its performance with other headphones. In addition to HD-600 and HP-1, it also is great with W2002. I'm also very particular to tonality when I listen, and may react more strongly than many. There was a lot that was very right with the R10/Melos: detail was superb, there was a solidity to the sound that is a Melos signature. Aside from brightness, it sounded great.

Oddly, the one issue that I do have with the R10 across amps, its bass response, was more satisfying with the Melos than with any other amp so far, including EAR. I haven't explored this a lot, because I'm uncomfortable listening to an overly bright high end, regardless of any other virtues in a particular system.
post #25 of 49

Now that I've gotten a little sleep I will better able to respond to your comments.

I read your comments again and now I would like to respond to the second thing that I think I agree with most in your post and that is that the timbre of the instruments is more correct on the 590's than on the 600. I couldn't agree more. On the 590 a guitar sounds like a guitar. A violin sounds like a violin and drums sound like drums (a very important difference). The 600's have a very ("very" is probably too strong a word) colored sound in this regard. I see that you had trouble coming up with a word to describe this coloration on the 600's and I think I know the answer to this. In my opinion the drivers in the 600's are just a tad slower reacting than the 590 and this mechanical difference essentially acts as a compressor on the 600 limiting the 600's ability to reproduce the last level of detail on a recording. Some people will call this "coherence" and point to this as the 600 greatest attribute but I think they are ultimately wrong on this. What I think is actually happening is the same thing that would happen if you took the 590 (since they are so close in sound) and ran the signal through a studio quality compressor. The compression will make everything more coherent allright since what it is doing is making everything on the recording respond in the same way. Does this make it sound more likeable? I think the answer to that question lies in the fact that compression is used on just about every recording there is today and has been for years. However, my complaint, in the case of the 600's, is that it is not necessary to add any additional compression and even if it does makes your headphones more likeable it is still an uneccessary coloration. So, for those that think the 590's are more detailed because they are brighter, I think you need to listen again because the brightness helps but the speed of the drivers is what I think really adds the realistic detail and gives the 590 the ability to more correctly portray the instruments actual timbre.

See what you think of that Mark. I'd love to hear your comments on this.

For those of you reading this who don't know me you should know that I own both of these phones and in final analysis I like both of them very well. My arguments favorinjg the 590 would sometimes seem to condemn the 600's but that just isn't so. I like the 600's and, just like Mark, I rate them pretty close with my final judgement favoring the 590's over the 600 but, once again, just as Mark says, not by much.

In another thread I could argue for the many strong points of the 600 but the 600 has already been praised plenty so there is not much need.

Anyhow, Mark, I am looking forward to your response.

post #26 of 49
Of the headphones discussed here, I've only heard the Grado HP-1000s, Grado RS-1s, Sony R10s, and Sennheiser HD 600s, and those only because of the great fortune of having been to Hirsch's magninficent headphone meet. Now that they've caught the sniper (we both live in the area), maybe he'll have us back again sometime. I did do some compulsive A/Bing off in a corner at the meet and the HP-1000s, on a short-term A/B (which has its limitations), sounded like the best headphone for my ears and my taste. I must also say that all of them sounded exceptional to me, it's just if I switched them out quickly, the HP-1000s gave me the impression of "that one's better."

But what I really want to say is that this is an AWESOME thread! The quality of the observations, and the writing for that matter, is just unbelievable, and based on my limited personal experience, everything from everyone rings true.

And I'm tempted to pick up a pair of 590s! The rest is out of my league financially.
post #27 of 49

R-10 brightness???????????????

Its incredible! One time more I understand that the R-10 is a phenomenal cans, and I find especially when someone tells something “not so good”, I try to explain myself: The incredible quality of the R-10 is that if you do not do the sound test with the same level instruments, you are totally out. For ex. I tested the R-10 with the Copland CD 266 as a source and then I tested the Senn. HD600, the difference betweens the two headphones was not so incredible, but with the Linn Sondek CD 12 as a source you can listen without doubt the incredible superiority of the R-10. The same thing (or more) is for the direct partner you add to this cans: the amplifier. I resolve that the R-10 gives the best (that is the best of any headphones) if they have the best components, more than any others cans proportionally. I do not believe, as Hirsh said, that the R-10 is too brightness, its impossible for me to accept this and for this reason I suggest that this “brightness” come out from another thing, not from the cans, certainly! I don’t know: the source or the amp used, or even the cables or power conditioner if installed. I repeat one time more: the R-10 needs a dedicated amplifier and a very Hi class source and cables. If not you cannot speak of this fabulous object correctly.

post #28 of 49
I have to admit, my impressions were not of the R10 connected to the custom R10H amplifier and Linn Somdek CD12. Maybe at that point it would be my favorite headphone, but I doubt it. The bulk of time I spent auditioning the R10 was at the last Dallas meet and my best experience with it was with the Sugden Headmaster and Headroom Max listening to SACDs on the Sony XA777ES.
post #29 of 49

Re: R-10 brightness???????????????

Originally posted by Nik
...I suggest that this “brightness” come out from another thing, not from the cans, certainly! I don’t know: the source or the amp used, or even the cables or power conditioner if installed. I repeat one time more: the R-10 needs a dedicated amplifier and a very Hi class source and cables. If not you cannot speak of this fabulous object correctly.

It (brightness) may very well be due to the silver-plated BL-1 ICs. I've seen many comments attributing the same to those cables. There is no doubt in my mind that such a cable can easily overpower the sound signiture of a system, or the individual components within.

At the least, I think Hirsch's results bespeaks the R10s transparency in a positive sense. I heard the R10 through an EMP and RKV and (Totem Sinew ICs, Sony 333/Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000) and the term bright nevr ever entered the thoughtstream.

Hirsch, what is a lusher tube that you can use with the Melos? Is the HP 1000's impedance similar to the R10?
post #30 of 49
Originally posted by Steve999
Now that they've caught the sniper (we both live in the area), maybe he'll have us back again sometime.
Check the Meetings forum...
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