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HD650 Help and Info

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

So I have been reading a bunch on this website the past few days and I decided that it might be beneficial to sign up here and post some questions for these obviously knowledgeable people. I currently have a pair of Tritton AX Pro's which have a total of 8 drivers in them (4 on each side for a 5.1 surround sound effect). I have come to find out however that the build quality is not all that great and that because there are more drivers in them they are smaller and of poorer quality. I have been heavily looking at the Sennheiser HD650's for a while now. I don't really have any experience in higher quality headphones besides the Tritton's that I have been using for gaming but I really do love something that sounds great. When I first switched to the Tritton's from my old crappy $15 headphones I was amazed. I got chills from the difference in quality. It gave me such a great sensation. But as I looked farther down the rabbit hole, into the world of high quality audio hardware I found that I was really missing out on what is out there. That's when I found that many people say that the HD650's are some of the best in their price category. I'm not about to make the leap to a $1000 pair of headphones but I would be willing to save up and drop $400-$500 on something like the HD650's. There are only a few gaps to fill in after that. One, what is the best way to set these up with what I have. I would be using my laptop mostly. Or I could conect them to my TV somehow (not sure how that works) as I usually have my laptop hooked up to it via HDMI. I have a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1, which is basically an external usb soundcard. I think that it also qualifies as a DAC although i could be wrong. Again, not very well versed in this stuff but I love great sound. I've also been looking at amplifiers but it seems like getting the headphones AND a decent amp will break the bank a little. Anyone know what the decoder box I have with my Tritton's will do for me on this front? I'm guessing nothing but it doesn't hurt to ask. It has 5.1 analog outputs (front, surround, and ctr/sub, all 3.5mm jacks) on it's side so I don't really know. Anyone know of any amps that will work well with the HD650's that isn't really expensive?

On a side note... are the HD650's even the way to go now day's? They have been out for a while now right? Anything better around the same price?

Thanks in advance guys. I know that I'll get a lot of good info here.

post #2 of 23

On a side note... are the HD650's even the way to go now day's? They have been out for a while now right? Anything better around the same price?

 

FWIW, I love my 650's.

 

I'm using an ASUS, Xonar STX sound card, upgraded power supply and custom headphone cables.  I either listen to the CD itself or some massive lossless ripped WAV files.  I'd say that yes, there's cheaper and there's much more expensive and the 650's hit the middle ground smartly.

 

I'm the type of personality that researches, reads a boatload of reviews and then buys once.  The Sen 650's kept rising to the top of the heap in all the reviews with comments like "reference quality," and no, I'm not disappointed in the sound quality.

 

As to anything better, that's a subjective question and my experience is with lesser cans, not better.  At a certain point, you just have to hit the hip or you'll sit paralyzed, afraid to make a decision and you'll never get your wanted set of cans.

 

Hope the above helps.

post #3 of 23

Wall of text FTL.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Sorry, I tend to be long winded. It's in my nature. And I had a lot of info to get out.

Thanks for the constructive thoughts beeman458. I will be making the jump soon. Just got to make sure everything is set. I don't think my USB soundcard would be enough to drive them though, would it? I doubt it.

post #5 of 23

I know that onboard sound cards are crippled from the gate by unintentional design.  Laptops are small and when you start integrating sound processors into a laptop MoBo design, something's got to give.  That's just the way it is.

 

If you're wanting quality sound, you'll have to port your signal from your laptop over to a DAC/Amp and that's gonna mean you're going have to lose some of your portability because you're now adding a box on the side that will need a wall plug.

 

So one has to know what they're wanting before they light the candle or they're just throwing money at a wall they can't see, in the dark.

 

Again, not very well versed in this stuff but I love great sound. I've also been looking at amplifiers but it seems like getting the headphones AND a decent amp will break the bank a little.

 

Without realizing it, you've said a mouthful in your above.  My opinion, set a budget and then triple it and then "maybe" you'll have a reasonable budget in which to work with.  Now that you have a reasonable budget (three times what you thought it was going be) you'll have to decide which way you want to go.  Do you want to go portable or are you willing to be happy with desktop sound?  Do you want two systems, one portable and one for the desktop?  What sound quality are you willing to settle for?  If you want all of the above, then all bets are off on a budget.

 

Let's seeeeee, do I want HD-650's for the desk or do I want IEM for on the go?  But what will I use for working out because of the sweat?  Let's see, home, gym, office, airport, or panning for gold in dem der hills; what to do?

 


Edited by beeman458 - 8/11/10 at 5:43am
post #6 of 23


 

Quote:
On a side note... are the HD650's even the way to go now day's? They have been out for a while now right? Anything better around the same price?

 

 Anyone know of any amps that will work well with the HD650's that isn't really expensive?


I'm a loyal Sennheiser's listener after listening to the original CX300's a few years back. I like their laid back sound signature and the overall comfort of their headphones. Thus, I recently got a pair of HD 650's a couple weeks ago. They have two versions; the older version was more dark and veiled, while the current version, IMHO, is bright and warm.

 

I have an Schiit Asgard paired with my 650's, but my cMoy gets the job done with minimal loss of sound quality from my Asgard. I've seen 650's go for 220 - 280, and with a decent cMoy, it should be about a little over 300. I don't think that breaks the bank. Check what head-fiers are selling at the for sale forums.

 

There are many debates whether or not the 650's are the 'best" headphones for their price point. I just personally prefer it over Grado and Audio Technica (havn't heard any others besides those two sound signatures). I'm sure there are many opinions in this regard if you look at some appreciation threads for different headphones.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beeman458 View Post

I know that onboard sound cards are crippled from the gate by unintentional design.  Laptops are small and when you start integrating sound processors into a laptop MoBo design, something's got to give.  That's just the way it is.

 

If you're wanting quality sound, you'll have to port your signal from your laptop over to a DAC/Amp and that's gonna mean you're going have to lose some of your portability because you're now adding a box on the side that will need a wall plug.


As stated in my original post (again, sorry for the wall of text, you might not have read it all because of that) I do have a Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 which I believe qualifies as a DAC. However it is just USB. Here is a link to the specs.

http://us.store.creative.com/Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround-5.1/M/B0017QQQAE.htm

I also have the Tritton decoder box that came with my AX Pro's. This does plug in to the wall and has several outputs on it as well.

External Audio Controller:
Dolby Digital and Dolby Prologic certified decoder
Fiber Optic Digital Audio input
Analog 5.1 outputs to surround speakers
USB microphone connection
Two AXPRO headset outputs
Dynamic Range Control/Time Delay audio selection
Master Volume control
Power input

I don't really know what, if anything this stuff will do for me. Would I still need an amp on top of this? Would I use this stuff at all?

BTW this set up is strictly for the desktop. I detach cables and take my laptop when I have to but most of the time it is on my desk hooked up to my TV via HDMI.

post #8 of 23

well, the hd650 was the former sennheiser flagship, and now that the hd800 is here, we consumers can reap the benefits of lower price on these hd650s 

 

so it's a great time to be buying either used gear or new sennheisers. at least the price premium isn't that high anymore...

 

let us know how the usb x-fi performs with the hd650. i use mine with either the asus xonar d2 alone, the xonar + little dot mk2, or the xonar + audio-gd c-2c. surprisingly the soundcard does a passable job. maybe yours will do too. although a dedicated desktop amp is much recommended to get the best out of them...

 

at the hd650 price range, you could try the various beyerdynamics (dt880 600 ohms and dt990 600 ohms are nice cans i have good experience with), and denons (d2000 and d5000 although i haven't heard them, and grados (tried the 325is and used to own the alessandro ms2i, but they weren't for me sadly)... they have a wide range of followers here, also the akg k701 and k702. you can do your search for these headphones as they are quite popular here 

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info guys. I guess it's more of a trial and error sort of thing? Start out with what you got and buy more equipment as needed is the feeling I'm getting. I might just go ahead and pick up the HD650's (after checking out the others suggested by maruzen to see if there is anything I like better) and go from there. Add a desktop amp when I get the chance.

Thanks for the tip about the sales forum. Is there a downside to buying used? Or will they work just the same if they have been kept in good condition? Would buying new be a great improvement?


Edited by Th3irdEye - 8/11/10 at 9:42am
post #10 of 23

almost all of my audio gear are second hand 

 

advantages: if you believe in burn-in, the seller has already done it for you. the price is very good. the quality of the item is usually great since headphones like these are kept in the studio or at home where they are protected from the harsh elements...

 

disadvantages: warranty is probably non-existent. so test before you buy, or buy from reputable people. have backup arrangements just in case...

 

the used/for sale forums here is a treasure trove i tell you 

 

one of the best advantages in the audio hobby: you can always enjoy someone else's previously new gear! audio guys are usually very careful with their stuff, so you can save a lot buying used...

post #11 of 23

I just bought the 650's and love them - but I do think they'll get even better over time.

 

I also just bought the NuForce Icon HDP, which is a magical little box that pairs well with the 650's.  I run FLAC's from my MacbookPro over USB in 16 or 24 bit.

post #12 of 23

Th3ridEye wrote:

 

BTW this set up is strictly for the desktop. I detach cables and take my laptop when I have to but most of the time it is on my desk hooked up to my TV via HDMI.

 

The above makes it easier.  Buy the HD650's if the budget is there.  No need to over think it.  In the simple, you won't be disappointed.  After a hundred hours of use, the HD650's loosen up and you end up with a decent sound stage, good separation and tight bass for the hundred hours.

 

Next, for the desk, add a decent DAC/Amp.  If I were going stick a DAC/Amp box on my desk, for the price, this is the one that I'd go with as to me it hits the middle ground smartly.

 

My above is a bit more than your $500.00 USD, but not by much and well under the three times that I originally wrote of.  There are many, many different possibilities so don't take my suggestions as the final word.  I'm just sharing with you what I've come up with over the time I've been checking things out from a level similar to yours.  What was I wanting out of the deal, decent sound at a decent price that wasn't a bank breaking deal.  My final outlay was about $1,200.00 USD (different set up then yours) but it's got great sound built around the HD650 and in the end, for the price, has a high level of personal satisfaction.

 

Hope the above gives you some coherent Ideas.



Edited by beeman458 - 8/11/10 at 2:11pm
post #13 of 23

If your budget is around $400-500, you can get a pretty nice setup based around the HD 650s. If you pick up the HD650s, I would recommend you try buying used from the forums here first. There are several reasons for this:

1) Save the premium of buying retail price. This means more money can be used towards better supporting gear.

2) Most people here take meticulous care of their headphones, so 'used'  usually means 'almost new.'

3) If you decide the sound signature is not to your liking, you can sell them and recoup most of your cost.

 

Okay, so say you buy a used pair for a conservative price of $275. That leaves you with around $225 for a nice DAC and/or amp.

 

Most (if not all) people here would agree that an amp is crucial to a HD 650 reaching its potential. Now, the HD 650s will sound awesome when you get them and amp them through your soundcard, but trust me, there's a whole new world waiting. You have 2 choices of amp types: solid state amps or tube amps. (Look up both or ask us if you want to know more.)

 

Most of your money left over should go towards a good amp because your laptop and soundcard will not drive the 650s properly. Use the search feature on HeadFi to find some nice suggestions for HD 650 amps in your price range.

 

From similar experience, your soundcard is okay as a DAC, but there are very noticeable upgrades for a bit more ($100-130). You can choose to wait on upgrading your DAC if you feel you have only enough for a nice amp.

 

Well, that about sums it up I think, so... welcome to Head-Fi and sorry about your wallet . (It's our motto around here :)

 

Hope that helps...


Edited by KnightK - 8/11/10 at 2:32pm
post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Lots of amazing posts in here. I think that I'm set on the HD650's. Just waiting for a good deal on the forums and looking at amps now. I'm thinking that at most I can manage $300 for an amp after the HD650 purchase. Saying that I get them for about $275 as stated above. I could do that or I could spend less on an amp and get a better DAC also. So that would be about $200 on an amp and like $100 on a DAC. Which plan do you guys think is would benefit me more?

Man I just keep increasing my budget...

post #15 of 23

research and read on how well the HD650 responds to balanced gear. That may break your budget, though, as you need balanced source as well. YMMV, but to me, it's worth it

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