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[Review] Sennheiser HD600 - Page 3

post #31 of 33
Thanks for the reply. I have both the HD600 and the O2 ordered.
post #32 of 33

just got y hd600 today! woooo! exactly what I've been looking for!!  I'm so glad i didn't get the hd650.  Not that they would be bad, but these are bassy enough and I wouldn't want to lose the incredible treble performance even a bit.  the only downfall is that they are really really really "open" headphones.  I was shocked the first time i put them on.  They block zero, and i mean zero sound.  I wouldn't know they were on if i didn't feel them.  Oh well.  But otherwise, yes yes yes...  Yes.

post #33 of 33
These were my first "serious" headphones. I bought them about 16 years ago; back then, if you had $500 (more than $700 in today's money), they were the main — and perhaps the only — game in town. That is, aside from mega-expensive 'phones such as the Sennheiser Orpheus system and the high-end Staxes, the HD 600s were considered an "end-game" product, bested by none. Year after year, they'd make the Stereophile list of super audio buys.
I drifted away from the high-end music-reproduction hobby over time, but recently rekindled the passion when I heard and bought a set of Audeze LCD-3f headphones. At almost $2,000, the Audeze redefined (for me) what headphones are capable of, with prodigious but well-controlled bottom-end slam, a fantastic, luscious mid-range (not that the Sennheisers ever lacked in the latter department), and airy, non-sibilant highs. I've since added two even pricier headphones to my little collection (the Hifiman HE-1000 and the Stax SR-007), and am enjoying the hell out of all three of them.
So that makes the HD 600 obsolete and inadequate, right? Surprisingly, not at all. I found them in a closet last night and spent hours listening to this late-nineties star performer.
Appearance had held up well over the years. Cheap foam (such as the stuff in most equipment hardcases) often turns nasty and starts to crumble in as little as four, five years, but the ear pads and driver covers on the HD 600 still look great. Only the foam on the underside of the headband looked deflated had lost pretty much all its springiness — no flaking though. I had a Diono soft wrap lying around (look for it on Amazon, under five bucks for two!) and wrapped it around the top of the HD 600 headband. Problem solved.
The 'phones sprang back to life with satisfying punchiness and vigor, failing at practically nothing. Vocals sounded fantastic, with that typical Sennheiser liquidity and "realness." Snare drums and cellos and tube-amped blues guitars, same deal. Niiice, said my brain.
These are the only dynamic 'phones I have (that is, they have drivers with magnets and moving cones, like the ones in most loudspeakers). On paper they should bite the dust against my electrostats (Stax) and planar magnetics (Audeze, Hifiman), all of which have vibrating membranes for transducers. Those membranes are just microns thick, have way less mass to move than dynamic drivers do, and thus are faster and more responsive to transients like the snap of a guitar string or the sound of a stick on a cymbal.
But the Sennheisers acquitted themselves very, very well. They still sound fast and euphonic, exhibiting a musicality that is likely unmatched by anything in their price class. Also, I actually prefer the smooth HD 600 highs over the harsh, etched top end of the HD 800, 'phones I auditioned at length recently before I sent them back, and which cost almost four times what the SD 600 does.
No, the HD 600 doesn't reach the quality level of my reference headphones. Bass is a bit laid-back, and softer around the edges. The Sennheisers don't quite have the same micro-detail, or the same ability to transport me deep into the music where I can just float away on a little cloud of bliss. The HD 600s sound a little less organic and "whole," and less forgiving of poorly recorded music. Bonnie Raitt's breathtaking ballad "Love Has No Pride" is diminished on the Sennheisers, as the HD 600s can be prone to a certain scratchiness in the frequency band where the upper guitar strings reside. Granted, it's technically a pretty bad recording, with lots of tape hiss and a metallic brittleness to the guitar. The Hifiman and the Audeze, though, don't hide that fact, but still manage to translate the song in a way that, to me, seems accurate, mostly uncolored, and pleasing. The Sennheisers are not as accomplished in that regard, interpreting accuracy as a license to get a little screechy, and occasionally sounding not completely coherent.
Then there are the plastic materials used on these headphones, "adorned" with a faux marble pattern that looked a little Donald Trumpy 20 years ago — and that, like the man himself, hasn't exactly improved with age. Nuff said.
Regardless of their hardly glaring shortcomings, the Sennheisers are an incredible value. When paired with a good headphone amp, they will get you most of the way along the path to sonic perfection. In fact, for most people (not obsessives like you and me), the HD 600s will probably be the only home-use headphones they'll ever need or want.
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