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Auditioned HD650 and LCD-2

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This isn't a review; it's more of a short story I wanted to share about how my wallet got a lot lighter yesterday. 
 
 
I just got back from working in Saudi Arabia and every time I'm there I love to read this forum in my down-time. I always end up coveting something and generally buy it when I get back in the states so I can try it out. I really enjoy seeing how my perception of sound compares with others'. I've long been lusting over the LCD-II, but have been very curious about the HD-650 as well. 
 
I'm visiting my girlfriend in Baltimore right now, and I thought it would be great if I could find a dealer for one of these two cans. I managed to "stumble upon" (aka discovered it after searching for hours) a hifi store in Baltimore (called Grammophone) which is a Sennheiser dealer. I went in with the intention to buy an HD650 as I've really been wondering how they sound.
 
So I went in there and was happy to find that they had a pair in stock and one to audition. I put it on and plugged it straight into my S3 (I failed to bring my Pico DAC/Am for whatever reason) and immediately got a big smile on my face. They sound awesome! They are not veiled at all like a lot of people say (apparently there was a revision to the drivers somewhere along the way) and have plenty of bass in my opinion which is also contrary to what many say. It's not basshead bass, but it is all there the way it is supposed to be and I haven't felt it to be lacking yet. I was sold and told the guy I'd buy them but was curious to check out the other equipment in the store, just for kicks. 
 
They had some 4k TV's which are AMAZING! The one he showed me was about 83" or so. I asked how much it was expecting something crazy like 10-12k. It was $25k. I was not prepared for that at all LOL. Apparently the first plasma TVs cost that much too when they first came out, so I'm looking forward to a 4k TV in the next 5 years or so at a reasonable price. I have always thought 1080p could be improved upon a lot, and this is exactly what I thought it should be like. You can get right up on the TV and struggle to see individual pixels. 
 
Anyway, he wanted to let me hear some nice speakers which cost $15k. They sounded pretty awesome, and I was loving all of the McIntosh amps and stuff they had in there. I really admire the build quality of the higher end stuff. Then I spied some LCD-II's on a stand in the room. I was amazed and told the guy I'd have to try them out. Long story short, I A/B'd the LCD-II and the HD650 for a few hours. They are both awesome! I couldn't decide which I liked more though. The LCD-II has incredible lows, but the midrange can be a little bit too forward for my liking. To me, the HD650 sounds just a little more realistic because I think I usually hear mids as a little more laid back in real life honestly (that is not to say that the HD650's mids are laid back, just not as forward as the LCD-II). I like the high end of the HD650 better too. There is just something about the build quality or craftsmanship of the Audez'e though that just draws me to it.
 
So I still couldn't decide after that time. I had to get out of there at some point, but I wanted to try both for a longer period of time. So what did I do? I bought both. 
-__-
 
The saying here has never resonated with me more... "Sorry for your wallet!"
 

 

 

 

 
 
Let me just give some basic impressions here after 24 hours with these two great cans. 
 
The entire time I've been A/B'ing these two cans, I have been so confused. Generally my impressions of IEMs agree quite well with the consensus of head-fi in general. I've tried all sorts of them from low end to high end ($35 to $400), dynamic to quad balanced armature, and it always makes sense to me. My experience with full-sized cans is more limited, but I've generally found it to be on par with others here as well (Pro900, Momentum, and a few others). 
 
People love to say certain things about the HD-650... that the high end seems "veiled" and that they are on the warm side, yet fairly bass light. The same applies the the LCD-II; it has certain stereotypes. People like to say that the highs are recessed, the mids are beautiful and forward, and that the bass is the best in the game. 
 
What I found when I listened to these was that the HD-650 was surprisingly NOT veiled, and that I really enjoy the amount of bass it can provide. It is never excessive, yet never feels light to me. It feels just right whether it is with EDM, rap, stringed instruments, orchestra pieces, vocal, you name it. To me, it just feels so natural and cohesive... the way I hear things in reality. I was worried I'd be disappointed with the HD-650's, but they very pleasantly surprised me! It is worth noting that this was my first experience with open cans, so I was loving the space provided by these as opposed to what I'm used to (closed cans or IEM's). 
 
When I tried the LCD-II, a few things really stuck out to me. Mind you, these were being played through McIntosh speaker equipment, so the power was not lacking. The bass did have a bit more quantity than the HD-650, and I suppose you could say the quality was better, but I really wasn't blown away with it. Now, when EQ'd, it does become a bit more impressive. I think in my case, the mids just distract me from it a bit too much. The thing that stuck out most through was the midrange. It was significantly more forward in terms of dB level (these are very flat!), yet sounds more distant in the soundstage than on the HD-650 to my ears and unfortunately for me, not in a way that sounds particularly natural to me all of the time. I also noticed that the high end just doesn't have that sparkle and that kind of... PRaT... that the *GHASP!* HD-650s seem to possess. HOWEVER, I was just listening to some orchestral pieces and the depth of the soundstage on these LCD-II simply trounces that of the HD-650.
 
Sometimes I do appreciate the syrupy midrange of the LCD-II, but the majority of the time, I find the HD-650's sound to be more natural. Other times, the HD-650 sounds slightly thin, and thus slightly less natural when compared to the LCD-II, but it isn't as often. I really wanted to LOVE the LCD-II, but at this time I have already fallen for the HD-650's much more. These comparisons have been consistent from my Headamp Pico DAC/Amp and the McIntosh front end at the store where I demo'd them. I suppose the HD-650 colors the sound just the way I like it somehow. I've never been truly impressed with any other Sennheiser headphones I've tried, but these just do it for me!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
post #2 of 22

Get ready for the LCD-2 Defence Force!

 

I get where you're coming from. The HD650 was my favourite headphone and naturally, I was drawn to the LCD-2 hype. Pulled the trigger on an early rev.2 and lived with it for a while. I appreciated many qualities but overall felt the praise was overstated. I'd reach for the HD650 the majority of the time.

 

I moved on to the HD800 and that has since become my favourite headphone. Bought another HD650 due to nostalgia and couldn't resist giving the latest iteration rev.2 a try in my current system. The newer LCD-2 was much better than the first. More even across the spectrum, and gone was the empty corridor resonance that gnawed at me with the first pair. The HD650 still got more head time though. It's simply more engaging, despite what it concedes technically. The LCD-2 has left the stable for the second and final time. The HD650 remains.

post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Nice to see I'm not the only one. I find your description of the mids on the old one to describe what I'm hearing pretty well, just not as pronounced as you might have heard in the earlier one.

I'm listening to them now and there is a lot to enjoy, but maybe not enough for me to keep.

Out of curiosity, how do you feel the hd800 compares to the 650 in terms of overall sound sig? A lot brighter? I'm not a fan of big treble.
Edited by loxxrider - 5/14/13 at 6:08am
post #4 of 22

Take everything you love about the HD650 and refine it. Pull back on that mid-bass colouration, and extend the sub-bass. Polish the upper mid/low treble grain and open up the upper registers. Add a taut and snappy response, and a precise and expansive soundstage. Maintain that level of musical involvement. That's the HD800.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ugh why. Now I have to try it!
post #6 of 22

I love Grado but also love HD650. The veil is a myth maybe it is for the first version? There are 3 version if I am award. Black Paper -> Black Silk -> Silver? 

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

I've run my Pico's battery out for the first time ever which shows how much I've been listening in the past day. I feel that the LCD's are actually changing a little (for the better) with time. I'll keep my impression updated as they evolve with burn-in (perceived or physical). 

In particular, I'm finding the LCD-2's soundstage and imaging to be quite nice as compared to the HD650's. That might be enough to make me like them a bit more if the sound continues to improve. 


Edited by loxxrider - 5/14/13 at 7:57am
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by loxxrider View Post

I've run my Pico's battery out for the first time ever which shows how much I've been listening in the past day. I feel that the LCD's are actually changing a little (for the better) with time. I'll keep my impression updated as they evolve with burn-in (perceived or physical). 

In particular, I'm finding the LCD-2's soundstage and imaging to be quite nice as compared to the HD650's. That might be enough to make me like them a bit more if the sound continues to improve. 


We have posters among us who declare there is no 'burning-in' of electronic products... and that frosts me! Loxxrider is correctly saying that the "LCD's are actually changing a little (for the better) with time."

And that leads me to say... any reviewer should never lead someone astray with any kind of 'sound' review of brand new electronics, because they are going to change for the better over the first 100 hours, and even some over 150 hours. That goes for power cables, interconnects, speaker / headphone cables, amps and dacs.

 

I don't have the LCD-2's, but I have had an earlier edition of the HD650's. I now have the Hifiman HE-500's, and have had all the HE products except the HE-6. And I can tell you that the 500's changed considerably over the first 100 hours. So did my Schiit Lyr and Bifrost. All do.

 

I'm just saying this, not as a criticism to Loxxrider, but to help others who are not familiar with break-ins. I've read some who after 10 hours of listening had given up and sent them back or sold them. They might have missed a gem in the rough.

 

And, one more things... for those who have tube gear... like the Lyr. When you roll in a new pair of tubes, you must give them time to really hear them. I don't A-B tubes until the new ones have 100 hours on them... then I A-B and can make a better determination of which is better with the phones you have.

 

This comes from one who has many years as a stereophile... or should I say a serious listener of high end audio products. I love audio!

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Very valid points (although I wouldn't extend the concept to any kind of cables or DACs). I don't ever judge the gear completely until I've spent some good time with it which is why I didn't mean for this to be a review, but more of my observations.

I have ordered lyr actually so I'm excited to hear these through a powerful amp and good dac.
post #10 of 22

I also have the HD650 and LCD-2 and A/B them from time to time, and I agree with most of what you were saying: They have many similarities, but I felt that some qualities of the LCD-2 were quite clear and striking in comparison on some tracks but even in movies. Both are toned to the warm side, bass is better on the LCDs, but what really got my attention was the lush and full sound of the LCD-2; the sound seemed to have more body all of a sudden compared to the thinner sound of the HD650. In movies the LCD-2 felt almost like small speakers; better separation and soundstage than the HD650, and a very film-like heavy sound - which is important for me as I watch a lot of film.

 

I really liked the HD650 with OTL tube amp. Haven't tried the LCD-2 through a tube amp yet, but I hear that the results with WA6SE, LD MKVI+ and Decware Taboo should be stunning. The source is also very important when listening with something like the LCD-2, even more so with the more revealing headphones like the HD800--from what I hear. I'll be auditioning the HD800 soon and comparing it to both HD650 and LCD-2.2. Who knows, I might end up buying a pair of HD800 later on.

 

The veil on HD650 is quite old, and applies only to the earliest version I think - the one with the black drivers pre-2007.

 

Of course, I agree that the HD650 is a very good performer for its price. But I actually felt that the majority of the time the LCD-2 was more natural and organic than the HD650 to my ears - it always felt like I was listening to headphones with the HD650. Could be due to its very compact soundstage and its thinner sound. In my opinion I don't think the LCD-2 is made to be mind-blowing, it's rather flat and precise with a tone of musicality (yeah I hate using that term too often). If you're into hi-fi the HD650 is an excellent option, but if you want to take the extra step the LCD-2 is a very good alternative, especially when paired with an appropriate amplifier. I feel it offers that which the HD650 sometimes struggles with which is soundstage/separation, bass, micro-detail and a more lush sound.

 

I rarely EQ headphones like these, but out of curiosity: how does your average EQ look like with the LCD-2?


Edited by Monir - 5/16/13 at 7:00pm
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
.
Edited by loxxrider - 5/17/13 at 3:16am
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Multi post sorry :/
Edited by loxxrider - 5/17/13 at 3:15am
post #13 of 22

I'm really curious about the HD650's as from what I've read they have a similar sound signature to the LCD 2's. I love the organic, thick sound of the LCD's but I'm not sure I can justify spending almost $900 on a pair of headphones. Would I be happy downgrading to the HD650s?

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dryvadeum View Post

I'm really curious about the HD650's as from what I've read they have a similar sound signature to the LCD 2's. I love the organic, thick sound of the LCD's but I'm not sure I can justify spending almost $900 on a pair of headphones. Would I be happy downgrading to the HD650s?

 

Very hard to say, at least audition them and try to A/B them at home before buying or selling. To my ears, the HD650 sounds quite anemic in comparison to LCD-2, they lack the same thick and powerful body, plus they have a totally cramped soundstage. The longer you listen to the headphones the more differences you spot. In film especially I noticed that everything sounded thinner and lighter on the HD650. If you were to downgrade I'd suggest also looking into HD600, they have similar traits but little lighter bass and better soundstage, at least what I could discern.

 

But who knows, maybe you'll like the HD650 more than the LCD-2; it's all so very subjective after all.

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monir View Post

Very hard to say, at least audition them and try to A/B them at home before buying or selling. To my ears, the HD650 sounds quite anemic in comparison to LCD-2, they lack the same thick and powerful body, plus they have a totally cramped soundstage. The longer you listen to the headphones the more differences you spot. In film especially I noticed that everything sounded thinner and lighter on the HD650. If you were to downgrade I'd suggest also looking into HD600, they have similar traits but little lighter bass and better soundstage, at least what I could discern.

But who knows, maybe you'll like the HD650 more than the LCD-2; it's all so very subjective after all.

Is there any other cheaper alternative to the LCD's?
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