Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones

Average User Rating:
  1. Johannus
    "Fantastic clean, detailed, warm, present and well balanced sound!"
    Pros - Clean sound, fantastic resolution, great tone, warm, well balanced, very detailed sound, the highs and mids are smooth, clean and sound very musically
    Cons - Amp needed.
    Everything sounds great, extremely clean and extremely detailed on the HD 650.
    Fantastic clean sound, fantastic resolution, fantastic tone, warm, extremely well balanced, great bass (not boosted), very detailed sound, well separated instruments, very present sound, great sound stage, the highs and mids are smooth, clean and sound very musically.
    And how about the infamous veil of the HD 650? It, definitely, does not exist. Perhaps on the old models, with the black drive, it could be true. On my new model, with the silver drive, there is absolutely no veil.
  2. Petrosmalk
    "Fantastic warm, present and well balanced sound!"
    Pros - Clean sound, fantastic resolution, great tone, warm, well balanced, very detailed sound, the highs and mids are smooth, clean and sound very musically
    Cons - Amp needed.
    Everything sounds great, extremely clean and extremely detailed on the HD 650.
    Fantastic clean sound, fantastic resolution, fantastic tone, warm, extremely well balanced, great bass (not boosted), very detailed sound, well separated instruments, very present sound, great sound stage, the highs and mids are smooth, clean and sound very musically.
    And how about the infamous veil of the HD 650? It, definitely, does not exist. Perhaps on the old models, with the black drive, it could be true. On my new model, with the silver drive, there is absolutely no veil.
  3. mikoss
    "Beautiful non-fatiguing, laid-back, romantic headphones... "
    Pros - Scale very well with gear, sound superb with OTL/tube amps, very comfortable, well balanced sound
    Cons - Technically bested by newer headphones, not as bright/revealing as newer headphones, "slower" presentation than other headphones
    These headphones are superb in their presentation of rich, harmonic tones. They are not in your face headphones... the bass doesn't have the visceral impact of other headphones, and the highs are not cutting or piercing in any way. These headphones are smooth in a way that other headphones just can't match... they flesh out the tonality of the music, and present it as if you were sitting in the tenth row. You're left to close your eyes and take it all in, without it being pushed at you the way newer, more exciting headphones may do.
    The midrange can be lush, organic and supremely holographic with the right gear. The bass is controlled, slightly emphasized compared to completely flat headphones, but in my opinion, there is just enough emphasis to keep things sounding balanced. I'm not left focusing on the impact of the bass, or the sparkle of the treble. There is some of that, but the real star of the show is the smooth, romantic tone. Guitar and vocals really shine for me with the 650's, in a way that is just so natural and smooth. The long listening sessions without any kind of fatigue make these headphones a true classic.
    If you're looking to drive these headphones to their full potential, I would recommend a good OTL amp. The Bottlehead Crack, Woo WA2, or the LaFigaro 339 are probably the three that really bring out the best in these headphones. If you're looking for a cheaper solution, go for a DAC/amp combo that uses a tube... the Aune T1, or the Project Ember. Without one of these, you'll most likely find the 650's to sound somewhat unexciting, especially if you compare them with newer headphones. This is usually why a lot of people end up selling these headphones, moving on to better gear, and then buying them back. You've been warned! For the low price they're selling at now, they are well worth keeping and enjoying.
  4. bpandbass
    "A Headphone That Everyone Must Hear"
    Pros - full and intimate mids, soft treble, scales excellently, detailed almost every part is replaceable, easy to run balanced, bass warmth
    Cons - slightly soft sounding, some grain in the treble, bass rolls off early in the sub bass, clamp, ear cups aren't deep enough
    I bought the HD650 after owning a number of equally good headphones, including the Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro, DT990 Pro, AKG K702 65th Anniversary, and AKG K612 Pro. I'd have to say that while the HD650 has many competitors nowadays that it didn't have when it debuted in 2003; especially lower than its MSRP of USD 500, it nonetheless holds its own and still offers qualities that many of them do not offer. 
    The HD650 is the most recent incarnation of its family of headphones. The basic driver design and headband design as far as I can tell dates back to the late 1980s-early 1990s with the HD545 and HD565. The design takes inspiration from Sennheiser's volume production version of their 16,000 (1991 money) dollar Orpheus HE-90 electrostatic flagship, the HE-60 "Baby Orpheus". In around 1993 Sennheiser launched the HD580 "Precision", in 1995, they launched the HD580 Jubilee Edition to celebrate their 50 year history. It had metal earcup grills instead of plastic ones, McLaren F1-esque carbon fiber furniture, and was sonically identical to the HD600, which was launched the following year in 1996. The HD600 had blueish granite furniture, and a sound comparatively warm and lush for its time while retaining a good level of neutrality. Then in 2003 came the HD650, retaining its position of Sennheiser's flagship headphone until the launch of the technical masterpiece, the HD800. The HD650 and HD600 are still sold together, with retail prices of 500 dollars and 400 dollars, respectively. While the HD600 earned itself the reputation of being the "Veiled Senn" due to its relatively warmer and more relaxed treble compared to similar flagships such as the Beyerdynamic DT990 and AKG K501, the HD650 has arguably been more deserving of the title. The HD650 was known by detractors for having a veiled, dark treble, a compressed soundstage, and a boosted, almost obese sounding mid bass; while the HD600 was the neutral of the two. However in 2010, Sennheiser retuned and updated the drivers on the HD650 to give it a less thick and a more energetic sound. The bass was lowered, the treble was raised, and the soundstage opened a bit more as a result. 2010 updated HD650s can be identified by their silver diaphragm shields, vs the black shields of the 2003 models. My HD650s are a 2014 model with the silver shields, and mine comes in a black black box and updated slip box, whereas the 2003-2013 pre and post retuning HD650s had a silver box and corrugated outer packaging slip box design. According to some unconfirmed rumors, the HD650 was retuned a second time to sound even more neutral for the 2014 model. I previously owned a 2010 HD650 with a silver box, and while there might have been more darkness and a bit more bass in that previous model, I can neither confirm nor deny this, as it may be a placebo or anecdote.
    Here are some pictures of the 650's family members. The images belong to their respective owners. Just click on the names of the headphones. 
    HE-60 "Baby Orpheus"
    HD565 "Ovation" 
    HD580 "Precision" 
    HD580 Jubilee
    HD650 (black driver)
    HD650 (silver driver)
    Build-wise, the HD650 is a timeless and no-frills modular design of mostly plastic and some metal. The outside headband, the bales and the ear cups are plastic, while the inner headband is spring steel and the outside earcup grill is some sort of metal mesh. The headphone can be disassembled by hand to its component parts and basically every part can be purchased from Sennheiser and replaced. That's something you don't see on many headphones today. The dual sided cable is detachable and has two pins for each side, making the headphone easy to run balanced. Just unplug the included cable and plug a balanced one in. The stock cable has decent enough shielding, is dual channeled, is about 10 feet long, and terminates to a 6.35 mm stereo plug with an excellent 6.35 to 3.5 mm adaptor cable that will not put strain on the 3.5 mm output jack of your source device. The cable doesn't tangle easily and doesn't retain kinks. I would have liked the y-splitter to have been a bit lower but that is all I have to complain about. I have not used a Venus Audio or Cardas Canare cable on the HD650, so I can neither confirm nor deny whether they are worth the purchase. My biggest complaint is that replacement ear pads are 60 dollars from Sennheiser, making them very expensive considering they have a tendency to flatten out after a couple of years. There are third party Chinese made ones on eBay for half the price though. 
    Comfort-wise, I didn't originally like the HD650. I found the spring steel headband, while extremely durable, made it a vice grip on my head, causing a headache. Another side effect of this clamp was that the pressure caused the velour ear pads to prematurely collapse, leading to my ears pressing against the foam driver disks, making them red hot and sore. I find that the HD650 doesn't have deep enough ear pads, and the arey fairly narrow, causing the edges of the pads to rest on the backs of my ears. I found that stretching the headband out (by taking the ear pads off and placing the HD650 over a speaker cabinet overnight) lessened the clamp, and rotating the cup pivots to put more clamp on my temples made the ear pads keep their shape, and now my ears are no longer pressing against the drivers. I find this to be a lot of fiddle work just to make a headphone comfortable enough. Removing the foam driver covers does give a little more depth, though it makes the sound a little brighter. This might be desirable for some people though.
    Personally I would have liked Sennheiser to have stuffed the HD650 ear pads with a denser material like gel or double memory foam to keep the shape for longer periods of time.
    The hand band is a nylon-type material and has plenty of padding. There is an indentation in the middle of the pad so you can rest the headphone on a stand and not dent the padding, and for people with a Sagittal rest in the middle of their heads, this can provide a little more comfort as the headband isn't hanging up on the ridge and causing aches from hot spots.  
    As amplification goes, the Sennheiser HD650 is a headphone like prefers a powerful yet somewhat lush sounding amplifier or tubes on an amplifier. Though it is 300 ohms, the HD650 is quite a sensitive headphone, which means one will not have to crank up the gain on an amplifier to get a satisfying listening level, and will not hear as much amplifier strain. I was able to listen to the HD650 at perfectly satisfying listening levels from the headphone jack on my iPhone 5, and it also sounded good on the FiiO E07K portable amp and DAC I owned. The HD650 is more performance hungry than gain hungry. The better the amp to feed it power, the better it will sound. The HD650 isn't as system-picky as AKG headphones like the K702 or K712 Pro, so it is easier to attain a better sounding synergy with. The HD650 DOES prefer an amp that has a powerful sound to it, so solid state or hybrid amps are more preferable. All-tube amps such as the Woo Audio WA6, WA7 Fireflies and WA6-SE are supposed to sound excellent with the HD650 due to their transparency and power while still being refined. Higher end solid state amps such as the Violectric HPA-V200, Burson Audio Soloist and Conductor, and Meridian Audio Prime are also said to be great with the HD650.
    I personally use my Schiit Audio Lyr 2, which is a powerful sounding yet thick and refined hybrid headphone amplifier with the HD650s. It still doesn't make them bass cannons or treble monsters, as the HD650 will tend to keep its softer sound regardless, but on low gain it has plenty of power and refinement. On high gain, however, the Lyr 2 becomes a bit too gain happy and aggressive with its stock tubes on the HD650, making the midrange and lower treble too forward and splashy sounding. Low gain is the better setting and is more controlled sounding with the gain-sensitive HD650s.
    Now for sound: 
    The HD650 was and still remains unique, as unlike most Germanic headphones, and more similar to Japanese headphones, its sound is definitely tuned by the ear. And what I mean by this is that rather than being tuned to dig from the lowest to highest frequency, HD650's sound is slightly n-shaped with an intimate midrange, a polite treble and warm bass. 
    Treble-wise, the HD650 has very good extension with some elevation in the very top end. I don't consider it to have rolled off treble like newer Sony headphones have, though it's not a highly dynamic and front stage treble like on some Beyerdynamic headphones. It's present, yet subtle. The lack of a ton of lower to mid treble DOES make the HD650 a little less than perfect for orchestral music due to less  airiness, but it still has enough texture for acoustic music. That said, the HD650 will still show sibilances and some grain with poorly recorded music. Extremely sibilant tracks, especially on lower powered systems that may strain somewhat, will still have some harshness, even on the HD650, and the slight graininess to the lower treble can add to this. But it's infrequent enough that I don't consider this to be a deal breaker in any way.
    Mids are the true forté for the HD650. The mids are fairly intimate and forward from the lower midrange to the upper midrange. After listening to the HD650s, many other headphones will often sound "hollow" or "scooped", with some withdrawal or midrange recession in comparison. Female and male singers alike sound equally strong, and instruments have a natural timbre to them. People who love a front and center midrange without the added brightness of the treble will love the HD650. There is little to fault. As I mentioned in the amplification section, though, watch out for amplifiers that are overly forward sounding, as they can make the mid-forward HD650 harsh, brash or blarey. Headphone amplifiers and tubes with a neutral to somewhat soft midrange work best with the HD650. 
    Bass is an interesting point for the HD650s=, and along with treble, is responsible for the HD650's highly enjoyable midrange. Upper to mid bass notes are forward, textured and extremely present on the HD650. It does not have that overly "groovy" sounding bass like the AKG K240 MKII/Studio due to a highly boosted upper bass, but its bass is more upper and mid-focused than say, a Beyerdynamic DT990. This creates the more filled-in sound of the HD650's mid range. Wind instruments and bass guitars are excellent on the HD650. The mid bass has some bloom to it, and while not the tightest, lends well to drums, and synthesized mid bass with house, trance and dance music. The sub bass, however, is the HD650's weakest point in its low frequencies, as it rolls off after the lower mids. This makes it not the best headphone for genres that need a more filled in or neutral low end such as hip-hop and drum and bass, or genres with powerful drumming such as Japanese Taiko drums. Due to the lack of low end bass, but extra upper to mid bass, the HD650 has a somewhat soft or liquid sound to it. The extra upper bass gives the HD650's bass timbre a more chesty or "wooden" sound that lends well to African, Arabian and South Asian genres of music. 
    Soundstage, while being good with depth, lacks the layering and precise imaging of other headphones. This gives the HD650 that characteristic "3-blob" dimension to its imaging. You hear music from outwards, up and down, but instrument placing and layering is not as distinct. I would say that for symphonic and orchestral music this is probably the biggest weakness of the HD650.
    There are a number of alternatives to the HD650 one might wish to consider instead. The obvious one is its older but still produced sibling, the HD600. The two are basically the same headphone design, with the finish of the plastic being different color schemes, the HD600 being a little less expensive, different headband padding, and the HD600 cable being thinner and terminating to a 3.5 mm connector. Both have a similar, mid-prominent lushness to them, but the HD600 gives up some bass energy and trades it for a bit more treble, which gives it a more acoustic and orchestral-friendly sound somewhat closer to neutral. The two from what I heard are similar enough that owning both isn't worthwhile unless collecting is an endeavor. 
    The AKG K702, Q701, and K701 are often compared to the HD650, but they are lean and bright enough that they should be compared more to the HD600 than to the HD650. I owned a Q701, and it is a completely different sounding headphone, with deeper but harder ear pads, lesser grip but a bumpy headband, a zazzy upper midrange, bright lower to mid treble, tight and neutral though dry bass and a soundstage with outstanding airiness, layering, texture, dimension and imaging that made the headphone excellent for jazz, orchestral and symphony, and acoustic music. Though the strong upper midrange made the Q701 a bit too aggressive at anything above moderate listening volumes for trumpets and saxophones, and women singers who sing at high and loud octaves (e.g. Adele, Rebecca Ferguson).
    A fairer comparison would be the newer K712 Pro, or the K702 65th Anniversary Edition, as their sound is more comparable to the HD650. I have compared the HD650 to my brand new AKG K7XX Massdrop Edition that is tuned to sound similar to both the K702 Annie and the K712. Compared to the HD650, the K7XX is more comfortable and less tight fitting. The K7XX has more treble and more sub bass, while being a little more withdrawn in the mids than the HD650. The K7XX like most AKGs is highly source-dependent. It will sound like garbage on garbage recordings, and it will sound sibilant on poorly matched systems, unlike the more source-forgiving HD650. I will be writing a more detailed comparison review of the K7XX and the HD650, so more comparisons will be found there. 
    The closest Beyerdynamic for comparison is the DT990, as the DT880 is flatter and more comparable to the HD600. The DT990 Pro is less expensive than the HD650, and has a prominent u-shape to its sound, with very dynamic and bright treble, deeper and more rumbling sub bass and mid bass, a wider and more open soundstage, and a more scooped midrange. The HD650 is definitely the softer and more laid back of the two, and the DT990 the funner, more exciting sound. Both make excellent complements to one another for different listening moods. The DT990 Premium models are a little more neutral, with the DT990 Premium 600 ohm having the smoothest treble of the 990 models, and being the closest competitor to the HD650 due to its refinement. 
    In the planar range, Hifiman's HE400i is priced at the same 500 dollar mark as the HD650. From what I have read, the HE400i has a strong clamping force, is somewhat heavier, has deeper extending and tighter bass, and the treble is more energetic. 
    Another option to consider is the recently released Philips Fidelio X2, which according to reviews from owners, has a tighter and more present low end than the HD650, a more neutral treble, and a wider soundstage. 
    While the HD650 at times can be soft sounding and isn't the most comfortable for long listening sessions, it nonetheless will remain a staple headphone in my fleet. I'm interested in seeing what upgrades to DACs and better tubes will do to improve refinement. 
  5. cs098
    "Great for easy listening"
    Pros - Warm and dark sound sig, detailed mids and bass, good soundstage and imaging, very comfortable, never harsh or sibilant
    Cons - May be too polite and laid back for some, rolled off in both ends. Highs lack a bit of sparkle and detail.

    The Sennheiser HD 650, quite possibly most popular can in head fi. While IMO it doesn't live up to the hype, at it’s price point it’s the easy listening headphone to beat. Though the older HD600 is possibly the better option as it's cheaper and more balanced.
    Pros: comes with a box, and a ¼ to ⅛ inch adapter
    Cons: box too huge, lack accessories
    Nothing much to say except taking off the gray  textured wrapper is a tad annoying, but I do appreciate the adapter. Often you have to buy that separately.
    Burn in (modding?)
    Pros: cons all go away in a few days, removing the foam takes out the veil.
    Cons: veil highs, trident soundstage
    On first listen, while the headphones gave me great bass and mids. I wasn’t too satisfied with the highs, and the soundstage felt too three point to me. Meaning the the sound is clustered either to the extreme left, right and in the middle. But over time the soundstage gaps are filled in, and removing the inner foam improved the highs a bit. No big deal
    Pros: clean gray design, metal grill and the driver behind it looks quite futuristic,
    Cons: looks a bit cheap
    It’s function over form, but I do like the look of the grills and the drivers behind it. And at worse it’s just plain looking. Not ugly in any way whatsoever.
    Pros: sturdy, nice metal grills, nice flat cable, easy to remove cables and ear pads.
    Cons: made of cheap slimy plastic
    If you can get past the cheap plastic part, its build is quite nice really. It’s very sturdy, and honestly feels like it could take a beating. And the easy to remove cables and pads are still very rigid and reassuring. The cable itself is substantial and doesn't tangle either. Definitely function over form.
    Pros: Perfectly snug, very light.
    Cons: might be too snug for some, but I like the reassurance.
    Hands down the most comfortable headphone I tried extensively. It’s snug enough so that it doesn't move around when I turn my head, but it’s not too snug to hurt said head. Still with others talking about it’s death grip, YMMW.
    Outside of the snugness, you barely feel it on your head due the it’s thick band padding, soft velour pads and light weight. Utter perfection for me.
    Pros: Warm euphonic mids and bass, Stellar mid/bass detail, Good soundstage and imaging at it’s price point, Laid back dark sound signature is very inoffensive.
    Cons: A tad rolled off at sub bass and highs. Highs lack a bit detail and sparkle. Very polite leading to distant sound presentation.
    It’s really a mixed bag for me. On one hand it has one of the most pleasing mids and bass presentation I even heard. It’s warm sound and offers that tube like euphony that is quite pleasing to the ears. And it’s dark signature means I never have to deal with harshness or sibilance. But you do miss a lot of the highs and while the bass is has good punch and detail, the lack of bass extension means it loses a bit of the sub bass rumble. And adding the fact that it’s a polite sounding headphone, it won't even get fatiguing to listen to, but it does sound boring. If there’s one word to describe the sound, is that it’s comfortable. Throw in the fact that it’s actually very comfortable to wear, and this is the type of headphone that you can listen for eternity and will never cause you discomfort.  But that strength is also its main weakness. It’s too polite and recessed sounding, everything just sounds boring with all the engagement sucked out.
    On the other hand the Sennys do have good soundstage and decent imaging. Pretty good in its mid fi price range. But it doesn't excel compared to higher end headphones as the speed it a tad slow (though nothing particularly bad). The mid and bass detail however is quite excellent.
    You know listening to the sennheiser hd 650s is kinda like listening to a live performance under three thick warm blankets in a cold day. Sometimes you just want to pull those sheets over your head and have the sound lull you to sleep, But other times you just want to throw away those blankets away and be engaged to the music potential harshness be damned.
    As it is, it’s a niche headphone for the kind of person that’s sensitive to harshness and wants a warm, euphonic and detailed (minus the highs) passive listening experience.
    And provided you don’t mind a polite sound, it’s quite good with most genres.  But like the akg 271s I had before (though to a lesser extent) it’s just a bit too polite for me to enjoy in most situations.

  6. Mr Vicarious
    "Will Appeal To Many, But Distictive Sound Will Not Please Everyone"
    Pros - Refined, articulate and excellent detail retrieval.
    Cons - Too coloured, too relaxed.
    My time with the HD650 was short: bought on Amazon and returned 6 days later.
    Prior to serious listening, I 'burned-in' the headphone for 48 hours with constant pink and white noise. This did improve the sound, firming up the bass and eliminating some perceived hollowness.
    The thing that struck me first about the sound of the HD650 was its sumptuous smoothness. Vocals especially had this syrupy sweetness which many enthusiasts will like about the HD650, but for me just masked the natural characteristics of the human voice. I find it difficult to understand why recording studios would use this headphone, as Sennheiser claims in its advertisements, when vocal presentation especially, is so obviously coloured. When I listen to a headphone I want instruments to sound as close as possible to 'real life' instruments, timbre being particularly important. The HD650s do manage to preserve some accuracy in instrumental timbre but simply fail on the human voice, where neutrality is traded for chocolate-smoothness.
    The overall sound is indeed warm and smooth which is sometimes appealing, but together with the relaxed, sometimes listless presentation, music is robbed of the vitality and vivacity it needs. This does make the HD650s the headphone to go for if you just want to listen to music in comfort for hours on end; but some of us want some energy and excitement - when the music demands it - which these headphones frequently fail to deliver.
    Bass is quite deep and usually remains fairly tight, but sometimes sounds soft in some music, which is I think is a consequence of the overall 'plump' warmth of the headphone. And again due to the - for me - suffocating smoothness, the high treble sounds blunted; the HD650s never manage to reach the heart-stopping heights that the female voice especially, is capable of.
    As for other qualities...imaging is good but nothing special, nicely formed but by no means holographic. Sound-staging is very good, in fact it can be ruthlessly revealing of poor quality source material in that regard; some of my less than perfect recordings had a 'gap in the middle' effect on the HD650s which was not apprarent on other headphones.
    Detail retrieval is excellent. The HD650s are able to pick up background and ambient sounds with ease and elegance, but musicality always taking precedence over outright detail-scavenging.
    As for build quality, really disappointing - masses of plastic that has an uneven appearance in certain lights; and they look as if they could easily break or crack if dropped on a hard surface or accidentally sat on.
    So I recommend this headphone to someone who a favours a warm, smooth and 'friendly' representation of music. But those who want crave neutrality, realism and energy - look elsewhere.
    Hal X likes this.
  7. Tonio
    "A true classic!"
    Pros - Very smooth sound, Impactful and extended bass, not sibilant, Good build quality, very comfortable.
    Cons - Soundstage not as wide as other headphones in the same price range, not ultra detailed.
    These headphones are a true classic!  Even if they are bettered today by some in technicalities, their sound signature and non-fatiguing nature remain a must hear in today's very crowded mid-fi range.  However, you'll need a good source (they're quite forgiving on the quality of the recording though) and an amp that can drive them to their full potential since they scale very well with high end amplification (in my case the ALO PanAm dac/headphone amp).
    Pokemonn likes this.
  8. Willy 2 Streams
    "The 'tube amp' of the headphone world...."
    Pros - Smooth, lush articulate mids. Deep, tuneful, powerful bass. An organic, 'all of one piece' sound.
    Cons - Air...give me AIR!
      Wow...these cans seem to generate a lot of passion! Mr. Tech Agent's review below is a pretty tough act to follow, but I will try. 1st a quote from the literature that comes with the HD 650's: "With the HD 650, Sennheiser has followed the changes in the listening habits of music lovers and the way in which they experience sound. In spite of all purism and the highest demands on precise sound reproduction, a slight change in listening behavior is detectable. Today many music lovers want to feel the sound more instead of plainly analysing it. The HD 650 now captivates your senses where you used to be a mere observer. It allows total submersion into an ocean of music and lets you completely forget your surroundings..."
         So there you have it! They are clearly telling you that they are tailoring the sound of these cans to what they think audiophiles want to hear. Maybe, with all the bright, over equalized recordings out there, you might not WANT a pair of 'ruthlessly revealing' headphones. You MIGHT just want a pair of cans that can make almost ANY recording sound like MUSIC that you want to listen to. If so, and especially if your signal chain is all solid state and digital, that tends to head in the same 'relentless' direction, than these are your cans! I'm thinking that's what Sennheiser was thinking, when they designed these headphones. In a word, they put a slight mid bass hump in these, they gave them silkier sounding mids, and they rolled off and smoothed out the treble, compared to the 580's.
         I've had a pair of HD 580's for 20 years. I was thinking of replacing them with a pair of HD 600's, but I felt that might be too close to what I already had. After all, the 600's have the exact same drivers; the only difference being the carbon fiber along the earcups. So I bid on a mint pair of 650's on Ebay, and won them. $275.00 delivered. When I first connected them to my Schiit Valhalla (a SUPERB match BTW...these 2 were literally made for each other!) my 1st thought was "Are they SUPPOSED to be THIS DARK?" Actually, my very first hit was how velvety smooth the mids were-better even than my 580's, but clearly cut from the same bolt of cloth. I was at this point listening to vinyl, via my tubed Quicksilver pre amp. So I switched to CD. My goof...the signal just wasn't quite as high voltage as off the CD outputs. Once I corrected for that, they sounded pretty equivalent... But, a word to the CAN go TOO far to the Dark Side with these, if your front end  is already that way.  So then I started swapping the 580's and the 650's back and forth while the CD was playing. The 580's actually seem to be more 'ruler flat' sounding. No slight mid bass rise, and the treble was more extended. But the treble was definitely grainier than the 650's, and seemed a bit disconnected from the rest of the frequency spectrum.The 650's made the 580's actually sound more analytical. I would not have called the 580's 'analytical sounding' before I heard the 650's, but compared to them, they are. That's that 'organic, all of one piece' sound. And that, I submit, is the magic of the 650's. There is something about them that makes you just want to listen to music...for HOURS! And like the 580's, they are comfortable enough that you can do so. So, I think that's who these cans were designed for: people who already have a good sound system, and want a nice sounding pair of cans that matches the overall sound quality of their big rig, but they don't want or need to spend thousands on an all-out set of ortho headphones and amplifier. If I were an audio engineer mastering a recording, I probably would not choose these cans to work with. I'd probably go with the 600's. And if I were a DJ, these could not be a good choice due to their lack of sound isolation. And for portable, they are not the best due to their 300 ohm impedance. These cans are clearly designed to work with a dedicated headphone amp (again, the Valhalla is a stupendously good match for these cans, for the money!) as part of a dedicated high end system. For that application, these are primo. Not for everyone; some people like a brighter sound. But if you want a comfortable pair of cans that just makes the music sound RIGHT, that you can listen to for HOURS without any fatigue, give these a try. As I continue to listen they're sounding closer and closer to the frequency balance of my 'big rig'. I'm not sure if it's because they are still breaking in (being used, I'd assumed they already were), or it's my ears that are adapting. Either way, these are 'good enough' for me, in the application I'm using them for. These things have finesse, but will go stupid-loud without any hint of break up...and that's another thing they do better than my 580's. When the orchestra goes "baum BAUM!!" the 580's get a little congested. The 650's don't. Like I said, you can play these things crazy-loud with no hint of congestion or break up.
         In summary, this is a good design, that has passed the test of time. While these don't have the gorgeous transparency of the best ortho or electrostatic headphones, they have the best bass and midrange of any dynamic cans I've ever heard. If your front end is a bit bright, or your current cans give you listener fatigue, definitely give these headphones a try!
    Pokemonn likes this.
  9. MrTechAgent
    "Klassische Kopfhörer !"
    Pros - Sensational Excursion Factor , Exquisite Bass Extension , Almost perfect Mid-Range , Classic HE-60/90 Design , Potential Upper Treble Extension
    Cons - Spare Part Cost , Grainy Compared To Beyers and E-Stats, Could Be More Distant

    The one who started it all, the 650s was a unexpected purchase for me, I was 16 back then when I got the 650s , the only nice headphone I had was the v6 and a cheap Supra Sony but since I was building a nice PC at the time, I decided to invest in some Audio , wanted to get the best ....Initially I was gonna get the hd800, the price wasn't a issue since I had a huge budget but I decided to invest that elsewhere and got the 650s instead, these in one word are my "Favourite" Headphone, love them.
    To the sound , I always thought the 650s were a acquired taste until I got AKGs, little did I know what I had there
    The 650s signature is warm, rolled of yet detailed with a amazing bass extension, as far as dynamics go the only headphone I enjoyed the bass on was the Tesla 1, no other headphone has the 650 bass , control is just exceptional , I have test tones which determine the tightness and the 650s are off the charts , no headphone has performed like them , they also have a great excursion factor ...what that means is that they will never rattle, the membrane will never be over-driven, usually a lot of people call it SPL but not all high SPL headphones have a good excursion factor, usually excursion factor affects low frequencies, Output Impedance can minimize it but not eliminate it, more the control less the rattle but the 650s are extremely robust, these will never fail ...just sensational  



    Let's descend this time - 
    Treble - There is no doubt they are rolled off but ...I have heard the 650s on systems where the treble was right there, with all the detail and presence, would I call them veiled or muddy ...absolutely fuc**** not , they have all the detail, but this roll off can be good for some people who like a relaxed sound, they are just luscious and full bodied , they are never thin . As much as I love the treble they aren't grain-free when compared to Ultra-high end headphones, do I care, again absolutely  fuc**** not, musicality wins. 
    Mids - If you are considering buying these, I don't need to tell you about the 6XX mids, imagine a sound which encompasses you in it , that's what the 650s do when it comes to the Mid-Range , they have one of the best Mids I have heard, to this date I have to find a dynamic headphone which has the musicality in the Mid-Range like the 650s do, if you know a dynamic headphone which has what I'm looking for, let me know down in the comments. 
    Bass - The bass man ...I love the bass on these, the extension, tightness and overall sense of impact is top notch, as I said earlier the only dynamic headphone which impressed in the bass was the T1, now of course I know a Planar will kill it when it comes to sub-bass, that metal never rolls off, goes to down 20Hz with a flat line, but these are not a Planar so for a dynamic they are my top headphone, nothing touches the 650's extension and refinement. 
    Build and Comfort - 
    I think they are well put together, Senn is the Samsung of Headphones..all plastic of course.
    But as I said they are well put together and have the solidity I could expect from a decent headphone. The Headband is plastic with two spring steel rails attaching to the ends.
    They can easily be bended to make them clamp less if they bother you initially, I never found the clamp any rate natural break-in is the best of course, my two year old 650 compared to my brand new 600 have a significant difference.
    The Earpads are generously padded and are very comfortable, the 650 happens to be my top headphone for comfort, which is a goof thing of course.   
    Yes of course there are some negative things - 
    1) The dt880 is more refined in the treble, is much less grainy but again it doesn't have the other tonality edge and the excursion factor is not even close to the 650s. 
    2) The Soundstage is not that impressive, a lot of people use the classic term "3-Blob" I still don't know what that exactly means but hey ....The dt880-990 surpass the Senn in terms of Soundstage. 
    3) I wish the Spares weren't so expensive, for a earpad I could buy a entire headphone like a NVX XPT100 , not cool Senn !!!!!
    Some Random Notes - 
    1) Although these are 300Ohms I find them to be fairly easy to drive.
    2) The Stock cable can be easily made balanced.  
    3) I would recommend a nice OTL, I am using the Valhalla 2, in a perfect world I could choose SS, like a Violectric Stack or maybe a HDVD-800 but since it's not a perfect world I have to resort to Mid-Fi/HiFi amps which are fine, they still portray the emotion. 
    I will add more..this is all I can think of right now :p 




    So yeah, love them to death 
    I don't think my opinions will change until I get a 007 from STAX, till then I will enjoy the mids on my 650s 
    The comfort is excellent and so is everything else , if you want some of the best dynamics in the world get the 650s , they will surely make you smile , it doesn't matter if you have the best of the best setup, if it doesn't make you smile, it's a waste of money, take this analogy .....Upgrading a BMW 328i (F30) to make it faster than a RS5 is more fun than getting a RS5 , of course a RS5 is a RS5 but it will not make you smile as much as a upgraded F30 will, that's what the 650 is for me .....a must have headphone, take it easy folks, my Video Review will come in 2 days. 
    Video Review - 
    Essence STX, bpandbass, zanox and 5 others like this.
  10. homeros8000
    "A Review For Classical Music Listeners"
    Pros - Tonality, Easier to match with other equipments, smooth sounding, beautiful mids
    Cons - For some recordings and with some equipment it can sound bass heavy or too dark, narrow soundstage, colored treble
    My reference for reviewing the HD 650 is the AKG K701. I've used the HD650 with various amps and sources including the Nuforce HDP, Headroom Ultra Micro Amp (now discontinued), the Beta 22 (2 channels), Musical Fidelity M1 and the ALO Rex MKII. Sources included Marantz CD5003, Ultra Micro DAC (discontinued), Ultra Desktop DAC (discontinued) Nuforce HDP and Centrance DACPort LX.
    I think many reviewers have already talked a great deal about the characteristics of the HD650. Most of them have better experience and probably are more capable of discerning the pros and  cons. I only wanted to add a few points regarding classical music listening.
    Some listeners shy away from the HD650 when listening to classical for their dark sound and lack of airiness but for my ears they are suitable for the genre. First of all they have a beautiful natural tone for strings and winds, in comparison to the K701 which has an anemic neutral to bright tonality. The HD600 has a similar tonality to the HD650 but IMO the latter is more refined, less grainy and enjoys a better sound stage and imaging. The only drawback is the HD650 need for a neutral to bright system to sound their best. With some set ups it can sound too dark and dull. I heard them at their best with the Beta 22: a very big and tall soundstage with exceptional depth and detail. 
    When listening to orchestral music on the HD 650 there is more weight and impact. The experience is closer to live performances in comparison to K701. There is also more emotional involvement, using the K701 is like reading the notes, while both HD600 and 650 reveal the mood and the feelings of the piece. In other words, listening to the HD 650 is like being in the concert hall, while the K701 experience is closer to being in the studio. 
    The HD650 is more forgiving with older recordings. Classical gems like Arrau's recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas or Oistrakh glorious recordings of Prokofiev and Shostakovitch can't be rendered with revealing headphones like the K701 or the HD800.
    It's also much easier to match the HD650 with the right DAC and AMP in comparison to the K701. Actually the HD650 is an excellent performer with high grade equipment and a steal at its current price (around $300 used). For the K701 it's very hard to find the right amp to pair with it, it sounded at their best on the Luxman and MF M1 HPA amps. 
    The K701 is definitely more airy, with a wider sound stage, but the warm tone of the HD650 provide a solid placement of instruments in space. Sometimes I feel the K701 too thin sounding for complex passages compared to the HD650. 
    This review was done on mid fi gear involving Cetrance Dacport Lx and ALO RxII. 
    Update 03/28/14
    I did an extensive comparison on the current set up: Flac and Aiff files played by Audirvana plus on a Macbook computer. The macbook is connected by optical cable to Headroom Ultra Desktop DAC. The UDAC is connected to Musical Fidelity M1 headphone amplifier via DiMarzio RCA cables. 
    On this set up the AKG Q701 is performing very well indeed. The highs are smoother and the sound is more open, with fuller, richer and clearer mids. The imaging and the depth of the soundstage have been immensely improved. In short I feel that the Q701 and the MF M1 amp are very good combo, much better than the HD650 combined with the same amp. Probably the M1 being slightly warmish works better with brighter headphones like the Q701 and the HD800. 
    The HD650 is certainly more fun to listen to, but the Q701 is more detailed with a wider and bigger sound stage, better imaging and more extended treble. But the tonality of the HD650 is more true to life, where K701 sounds pale in comparison. When listening to the HD650 you feel like living inside the music, while the Q701 is more objective and cold. The mid on the HD650 is rich and has a palpable presence, compared to the thinner mid on the Q701.
    Of course these observations are purely subjective, and based on my experiences with different set ups. 
    dunhill and SunTanScanMan like this.