I enjoyed the HD650's sound a lot.. it's unique.. and obviously not neutral.. but I tend to judge phones for their individuality and cohesiveness more than how they perform relative to other phones. As far as the HD650 veil, it became more apparent with lower quality sources & amps. Driving the HD650 with more able & carefully matched source gear & amps, the veil really wasn't a factor. There is no 'veil' to speak of with the Paradox. In fact, it's the most 'anti-veil' phone I've ever heard.. haha. While I can appreciate the HD650's sound on it own terms, I enjoyed the Paradox much more. Not just for it's more neutral signature (a personal preference), but for it's technical abilities as well.
The HD650 is noticeably more forgiving than the Paradox. LFF tuned the Paradox for neutrality & for it to stand up to the rigors of mastering work. It will reveal the shortcomings of poorly recorded music with incredible ease. Feed it well recorded music, drive it well, and you'll hear just why I (and other Paradox owners) praise it at every given opportunity. There's virtually no coloration so the sound you hear is remarkably faithful to the original recording. It's highly transparent quality offers the ability hear 'deep' into recordings, sources, and amps. I've heard many phones which boast excellent transparency, speed, and instrument separation.. but there's a certain effortlessness & cohesion with which the Paradox pulls all that off that separates it from most everything else I've heard. Also notable is the soundstage: both the width & depth is fantastic.. you'll be quite surprised to hear such a spacious sound coming from a closed phone. Imaging, too, was extremely impressive in its accuracy.
The LCD-2 was a very enjoyable phone for me as well.. again, it's not the most neutral. nor does it aim to be.. but it certainly provides a unique flavor that's executed with precision and cohesion. After a fairly extended period of A/Bing, I preferred the Paradox to the LCD-2 r.1 as well. I kept coming back to it's addictive clarity, neutrality, and ability to simply 'get out of the way' and leave me with just the music.
This brings me to the HE-500. It has long been one of my favorite headphones. It's delicate, natural coloration makes it a lot of fun to listen to. While impressively linear through the bass region all the way up through the midrange, I find this area a little too forward/aggressive at times. The HE-500 puts you a few rows closer to the stage while the Paradox positions you seemingly at a perfect distance. Not too far to where everything sounds distant.. but not so close as to fatigue your ears. I recently converted the HE-500's stock, silver cable to banana plugs so I can drive it from a speaker amp (and feed it oodles of current in the process). It did a lot to neutralize the overall sound, as well as bring excellent control and clarity.. but, I still find myself drawn to the Paradox more often. The HE-500 is more dynamic (thank in part to the larger driver/magnet structure), but the Paradox has a smoother, more natural, inviting sound to my ears. It's neutrality is wholly relaxing and engaging at the same time. Some might equate neutrality with 'boring, sterile, clinical, or uninvolving.' All I have to say to those people is.. you obviously haven't heard the Paradox! It's a little difficult to explain what a phone that, essentially, sounds like 'nothing'.. one that aims to present the music with utmost honesty.. 'sounds' like. What you're left with is supreme clarity, tonal accuracy, and resolving ability that's seemingly only limited by your source component quality.
tl;dr? I preferred the Paradox' sound & technicalities over that of the HD650, LCD-2r1, and HE-500. The HE-500 offers a very nice sound that complements the Paradox quite well, to my ears.. and that's part of the reason why I still own them.
Setting aside the controversy surrounding the gear, I highly recommend pairing the Paradox with the Objective 2 amp (and ODAC). LFF tuned the Paradox with the Objective2.. and when I heard the combo for the first time, I was utterly floored. There's an uncanny synergy at play here that is sure to wow. I'm sure there are better amps & DACs to throw at the Paradox, but for those on a budget, I can't recommend this combo enough.. as the creator himself used it to perfect the Paradox.
I hope that helps you with gaining some perspective on the Paradox. I'm obviously a big fan & there's quite a few other, well respected listeners here that can provide additional thoughts. I'm actually in the process of writing/finishing a review of the Paradox. I've been obsessing over getting the review right so it's taken a lot longer than originally expected. I've lent it out to some studio buddies and musicians who had nothing but praise for it (so much so that I had a hard time getting it back .. haha). It's pretty well road tested, in my eyes, and passed with flying colors.
PS. Did I mention they're ridiculously comfortable? Suspension headband FTW!
Really good mini review. I agree on what you have stated here.