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Over-Ear item created by Csericks, Aug 11, 2010
Pros - Mids, Detail, Imaging, Soundtage, Balance/Accuracy
Cons - Clamping force, I have seen some say that the headband broke, Sub Bass
(Excuse me if bad grammar )
Sennhieser hd 600 review (So Far, No AMP.) *keep in mind I have never been a person who likes loud music, so the HD600s have enough volume directly plugged in for my ears. Not everyone is the same and it does not mean you are death. Im just accustomed to listening at this level because I believe you get more fidelity from doing so.
Highs- Not as prominent as I want them to be. Very peaceful on your ears though, absolutely no fatigue and very natural. It seems the 558s color this area to a much greater extent than the 600
Mids- The most beautiful I have heard. Even directly plugged in to my macbook pro the mids are very detailed and natural, sometimes even sounding realistic slightlyoverall better than my SR 325is.
Bass/Lows- VERY good bass (atleast to me) lacking a bit of sub-bass but the mello highs help establish a good amount of body.This means, It never really seems like it lacks body although it’s sub bass is not as prominent.
Detail- On par with the m50, less fatigue. Absolutely brilliant
Imaging/soundstage- So far the imaging increases as the quality of the file does. This is a forgiving headphone but it does benefit from higher quality recordings. Good separation and soundstage, although a bit bigger would be nice. In the long run, the amp might give me what i’m looking for here .
Compared to HD 558 (Modded foam pads) directly plugged in (NO AMP YET PEOPLE)
HD600>HD 558 Detail
HD600<HD558 Highs (The 558s are more aggressive especially during guitar riffs, and I like it better so far)
HD600>558 Overall presentation, NO amp or DLC
But remember, this is directly plugged into the 3.5mm jack. Subject to change when my DAC/AMP arrives sometimes next week.
I received my shiit valid/modi amp.
Overall I am very satisfied with the result. The soundstage seems to have increased and I can now hear “layers” of instruments. I did not think this level of fidelity would be possible with a sub-200 dollar amp/dac combo and the HD 600.
Everything seems to be perfect. And I actually don’t believe it!
Highs- It seems like the dac/amp combo is slightly brighter than neutral and a tad more aggressive. To me, the combination with the HD 600, being more laid back, made it absolutely perfect!
Mids- These beasts were already good without an amp. Now I am hearing the same amount of refinement and balance but with even more detail. It’s safe to say this headphone now has more detail than my ATH m50s. Definitely getting to a point where they sound realistic.
Bass- Absolutely one of my favorite parts of this combination. The bass has been increased but has also gotten tighter than when directly plugged into the Macbook Pro. This is more noticeable with high quality recordings. There is enough “Thump” for most music, but I still feel it’s not proper for EXTREMELY (Slightly annoying and restarted) dubstep.
Imaging/SS- Is this a dream? I am hearing layers of instruments and the wind around them. No i’m serious. Do i really need to upgrade further?
In direct comparison with an amplifier there is absolutely no competition with it’s little brother the HD558. I am so satisfied with this purchase I don’t think I will be upgrading in the near future. 5/5
Pros - Sound Quality, Build, Comfort, Scalability, Modularity
Cons - Stock Cable, Veil, Slow Speed
The Sennheiser HD600's are my first set of headphones. I have long wanted to pen down this review, and here I am writing this review after several months of experience with my beloved HD600’s.
Intro : I am an 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself an music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I mostly listen to Bollywood and Indian Classical Music. There is not much audiophile-community presence in India, Though lot of potential remains to be tapped. Auditioning an headphone is almost impossible in India. At the time of my purchase, I took recommendations from fellow Head-Fi ‘ers who guided me into right path, towards the Mighty HD600.
I will try to keep this review simple and hope it will help fellow enthusiasts to know more about the wonderful HD600.
Sennheiser HD600 is an upgraded version of the HD580, which was an revolutionary headphone released in 90’s and has won thousands of ears along its journey till today. The HD600 is made in Ireland, and comes packed in an thick and strong cardboard box which is cushioned from inside, where the HD600 stays put, for its onward journey towards the beloved owners! No complaints here.
Design and Build : Excellent and practical build with professional grade materials. High quality joints, nothing squeaky, sturdy grills, conventional yet very reliable connectors. nano-carbon material ensures in light weight. Very durable, sturdy and reliable construction, along with an attractive Marble finishing. Now not many prefer marble finishing, but as for me, I love it! The HD600 is modular! One can fully dismantle it and assemble it back with ease! Which ensures in long life and easy maintenance of the headphone.
Comfort : It is very comfortable, can be worn for hours without any sign of discomfort, thanks to oval shaped earcups. The Initial clamp force is a bit strong, but the force relaxes off gradually according to the shape of our head. Ventilated velour pads along with head cushions keeps us cool and comfortable, which is a big plus for Hot climatic countries like India.
Sound : The HD600 is an Wonderfully sounding headphone. It’s sound can be consider as ‘Euphonic’ Rich, Textured, magical sounding with very good sound stage and details. It’s natural, smooth and grain-free sonic quality often makes one feel as If they are hearing their music in real concert and not through an headphone!
Lows : Very good bass and sub bass. Balanced and Tight, well extended, and clean.
Mids : Seductive and very natural. Mids are presented in a lush and rich manner, which results in its pleasing natural sound.
Highs : Realistic and smooth. Not Bright. Just ‘Right’
Sound-Stage and Details : Sound stage is very good though not as wide as Q701 and not as detailed as DT880. The soundstage and detailing of HD600 is very balanced and ‘Just Right’ and ‘Realistic’
The HD600 can be said as more natural than neutral with respect to its sound. The HD600 gives Hi-Fi sound at Mid-Fi price point. One can listen to HD600 for hours together without any hint of fatigue or discomfort. Another positive point about HD600 is that, HD600 scales very well with equipments! I can easily recommend the Bottlehead Crack, which is an excellent OTL amplifier, has special synergry with the HD600. Otherwise an economical O2 amp will also do for an very good listen. The stock cable is quite thin, a reasonably priced Cardas cable would further enhance the already wonderful sound of the HD600.
Conclusion : HD600 is an truely amazing and exceptional headphone! One can cherish it for lifetime. The HD600 is an masterpiece, which is a bliss for audiophiles and enthusiasts alike.
The following features are hard to find anywhere else, but are present in the HD600 :
1. Eternal Sound Quality
2. Super Comfortable
3. Very Durable
I would like to thank Sennheiser for creating the legend and Head-Fi for continuing the legacy.
The Sennheiser HD600 is not just another headphone; It’s a Legend.
Pros - Soundstage, balanced natural sound, versatile
Cons - Initial clamping force
The HD600 is a pair of excellent sounding cans. They have a balanced, natural sound and the soundstage is remarkably large. I can hear all sorts of sounds while listening to these cans and I can say that the instrument separation and detail is superb. The only problem I have encountered is that the initial clamping force is slightly strong.
Pros - Sound Quality, Clarity, Soundstage
Cons - Clamp force, Design is funky
Note that the price I put is buying used from a fellow head-fi user
I am an 18 year old music lover. I have gotten into music more and more in the last year, with this being my first major headphone buy. Since I was 14 I knew that music would be my thing. I have enjoyed listening to Tapes and CD's since I was very young, and over the last few years I have been growing as a music lover. My headphone collection has gone from Beats Solo hd(trash 1/5) -> Beats Studio(ok but broke 2.5/5) -> Monster DNA(alright 3/5) -> Sennheiser hd439(surprised me for the price 3.5/5) -> Sennheiser hd600(pure gold 5/5). I've heard some nice headphones besides the ones I've owned, but nothing flagship. The sennheiser hd439's made me re-listen to my entire music library, and really got me into the whole hifi thing. Me set up is rMBP->headphone or ipod nano->fiio e5->headphone. At the time of writing this I have ordered the schiit modi/vali. Also something about my music style is I like the music to sound as real as possible, with no over the top bass or treble. Most of the music I am listening to with the hd600's is stereo FLAC and ALAC with a few MP3's. I know I don't have the greatest set up, but I can still hear a huge improvement.
The HD 600's have an awkward design in my opinion, and clamp hard on your head at first until you get used to them. The open design might let a lot of noise in and out, but improves sound quality over anything I've ever heard that was closed. The paint on the headband of the plastic looks very 80's and is unattractive in my opinion. Besides that there is not much to complain about the headband is comfy. These headphones are also extremely light feeling on your head. After your body adjusts to the clamping from the headphones they feel comfortable and you can wear them for hours.
Listening setup/test songs:
As previously stated my setup is rMBP->hd600 and iPod Nano->Fiio E5->HD600. I know I'm not getting the full potential out of the headphones but they still sound great. The albums I used for the testing were Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan on a CD, Abbey Road by The Beatles on a 256kbps MP3, and finally Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys on a 96/24 FLAC.
No matter the quality of the recording, I can honestly say the Sennheiser hd600's greatly improved the overall sound quality of the music. While I haven't heard 192/24 music with the highest quality DAC/Amp/Headphones, I can still say with certainty the hd600's are some of the best headphones on the market and would be hard to beat with a direct connection to my computer. I will be holding on to these headphones for along time. The sound the produce is very realistic. They are a little warm sounding but defiantly not dark. While I haven't listened to much fast music (I hear they can struggle with faster music) I still would say they are detailed and clear sounding with all the music I listened to. They have a great sound stage with good separation of instruments, so that you can hear front, back, right, and left easily. The highs are not overly present but sound fantastic. The mids are my favorite part of these headphones, and really bring out the best in the music. The bass is great with out being over the top
These headphones are the greatest I have ever had. They are built well, and sound amazing for listening to music. The most realistic sounds I have ever heard from music have come from these headphones. I highly recommend them over everything else in their price range ($300-$450).
Pros - Detailed. Tight natural sounding bass. Fairly balanced frequency response. Lightweight and comfortable.
Cons - 3 blob soundstage. Lacks visceral bass (sub bass). Headband seems fragile.
I've been listening to the HD 600 with the FiiO E07k/E09k combo. I realise that this DAC/amp combo might not really get the most out of the HD 600 but I thought I'd share my thoughts nonetheless.
Firstly, I really like the sound of the HD 600. It's detailed, the bass is tight and present but doesn't dominate. Personally I think these headphones sound great with rock and classical music, I especially find drums and violins to sound very realistic. The comfort of these headphones is superb, the ear pads are very comfortable and the headphone is rather lightweight. I think the fit is also perfect and ensures that these headphones don't wobble around much. I find the HD 600 comfortable enough for hours and hours of listening.
My biggest complaint about this headphone is soundstage. I've heard people referring to its soundstage as a 3 blob soundstage and I think that sums up my opinion perfectly. The bass while it sounds really good, it lacks the visceral component that adds emotion to some RnB, rap and pop songs. The HD 600 still sound great for these genres but I can't "feel" the music as much as I would like to.
Some other minor quibbles are that the headband does feel like it could break quite easily and I think there is slightly too much treble for my tastes. Movies sound realistic but do lack the excitement of bassier cans IMO.
Overall, I'd say that these are excellent headphones. Good all rounders that perform well with most (if not all) types of music and really shine when listening to certain genres. Comfort which is a vital requirement for me is also top notch!
Pros - Clear, open, neutral, comfortable and just a great all rounder
Cons - Headband is relatively fragile, not the bassiest headphones I've heard
I've owned these for a year now so I think I can pass fair judgement. Great headphones. A legend among headphones. Neutral, clear and the reference I use to compare all others. Very comfortable, the most comfortable headphones I've ever used with the Beyer over ears. I sold my Audeze LCD2.2 and kept these, that's how much I like them.
Surprisingly easy to drive for 300ohm. They improve with adequate amplification, but I think people really overstate how important it is.
I did have the headband crack on me when stretching it (they have a bit of a tight grip initially), but Sennheiser were great and replaced them straight away for a new pair.
Pros - Neutral, clear, subtle, comfortable, affordable, outstanding sound quality when properly driven.
Cons - None
Well I'm kinda new to Head-fi & since I'm a big fan of the HD600 here's my personal review of them which also touches on the amps & replacement cable (only mention it not analyze it). Here goes :
What I enjoy the most out of the HD600 sound is the balance & clarity. Right now I'm listening to Jeff Beck, "Blow by Blow" c1975 (produced by George Martin). My sources are : TEAC PD-H600 (PD-H600 uses the Burr Brown PCM1796 D/A converter, a 192kHz/24-bit component) & Kenwood KA-8006 (70WPC) vintage integrated amplifier (1974); the HD600 replacement cable is from Headroom, Cardas Fatpipe cable for HD6XX.
The sound is simply exquisite. I was listening to the album with my HD650s previously and the difference I noticed immediately when I switched to the HD600 was the forward clarity of the cymbals & ping sound with no roll off (sibilance free) while simultaneously hearing all of the other instruments & nuances, perfectly balanced; some in the background but never overwhelmed. My amp is set at it's most neutral possible i.e. the loudness option is never activated; I only put the emphasis on the filters to bring out the subtleties when I'm listening at a reasonable high volume.
This set up which is about all I can afford works wonders & truly makes the HD600 perform at it's peak. They never sound coloured at any time. As for the lack of bass or sub bass mentioned so often, let me just say that I can feel the bass in the sound as well as hear it i.e. the bass drum is felt & is always there & it's a special kind of subtleness by which I mean you can't miss it and I believe these headphones were designed this way in order to capture every sound possible without any over powering bass/sub bass or added treble/sibilance. Again, when properly driven the bass sound/feel is unmistakably present. It's quite ingenious when you consider it. I own the HD800 but I seem to listen to the HD600 more often. When I put them on after having put them aside for a while and turn the music on they never fail to bring a smile on my face & a nod because my ears & brains are saying to me : "Ah yes, good ol' 600s, they never let me down"
Pros - Most Musical, Sennheisers most comfortable, need amp, great treble extension, very nice bass--Thanks for Correction folks..It does need an amp.
Cons - None can think of. Best of all my headphones
Most Musical and enjoyable, Sennheisers most comfortable, Does not need amp, great treble extension paired with correct source, very nice bass.
Out of all my cans this is best overall and most enjoyable sound. The HD650 right there but it does have a diffrent sound. I would say Q701 are a great headphone but missing bass.
Have: Grado Sr-60, HD555, HD595, HD600, HD650, ATM-50S, Ultrasone HFI 780, AKG Q701, Bose QC15
Had: Grado Sr-80
Worst headphones: Grado SR-80 and HD555(tried twice)
I am sure the $1000+ headphones are better paired with a great amp but this is what I have.
The Sennheiser are by far the best brand with combo of great fit, great finish, great comfort, great style, and great sound.
I started with Sr-60 and wanted to go up with higher models with the Grado but the comfort is terrible. Bowls or Pads. Grado has great sound but after years of wearing them and then trying other headphones. I could never wear grado's again for more than 2 hrs at most every couple of months.
I use an STX and Audigy 2 sound card.
Pros - Beautifully natural, very comfortable after a bit of use, great value for money
Cons - Does need to be powered by a decent amp to get "the best" sound, pet hair can easily get into grills, be wary when stretching headband
First off I'm going to say I was rather hesitant about buying these headphones.I had recently purchased the Hifiman He-400's, and while I very much enjoyed the SQ on those i found them far too cumbersome and uncomfortable. This was most likely due to the weight of the cans and lack of cushioning on the headband (which you can buy cushioning for). I also found that the velour cups didn't form a precise seal on my head which i suspect really didn't help with the bass.
My preferences for headphones have to date been a rather bright sound signature. I was brought up on a healthy dose of AD900's and i freakin loved the comfort they offered. The bass was a bit lack lustre. This was my incentive for searching for a new headphone.
I read a lot about the Hd600 and was struck curious by the sound signature that it offered. A much more natural sounding headphone, with a mid emphasis. This was most definitely different from my normal tastes. I demo'd a HD600 at a friends and was really quite unimpressed. I have a feeling that something was up with his setup (he was running a Matrix M stage amp and dac combo which i suspect was not genuine, as were his various headphones).
Still after a lot of trawling through forums, friendly help from the lovely folk here, and a nice discount from the local audio store I made my purchase.
Quite impressed with the packaging truth be told. It has the feel of a quality product. It comes enclosed in a hefty black box with metal clasps. To open the lid has the feeling of opening the lid on high fidelity music. There on a foam bed lie the HD600's with an instruction manual on top.
Build Quality & Appearance:
Straight out of the box the build quality seems solid. The first thing that struck me was the 'marble' design. From pictures I was anxious to see what it looked like in person. I had a bad feeling it would look tacky and cheap but this was not the case. You can immediately appreciate the build of the headphones, the marble finish is actually quite sophisticated.
Coming from the Hifimans I was quite suprised at the comparative light weight of these cans. They really don't weigh much.
When I first put these on I was a bit taken aback at the clamp. I have a medium sized head (i would like to think) and the force was quite apparent. I was told however this would ease with time and it has. I have had these headphones on for the past four hours straight and they are sitting very nicely. They stay firmly in position if i say feel the need to bob my head vigorously, which is quite a bonus if you like to have a bit of quiet time at the desk and place you're head on your forearms. With the hifimans they would immediately slide out of place and I would be constantly needing to adjust them. Given time these headphones seem to adjust and stretch naturally to your head.
That Sennheiser veil. It had to be mentioned. This was one thing that I was again anxious about. I like my music to be upfront and alive, not be distanced. Having listened to the Hifimans for a few weeks I had gotten used to that sound signature. If theres anyway to describe the Hifiman's in one word it would be 'alive'. Music on the hifiman's sound almost electric, very energetic and present. I enjoyed it. When I loaded up 'Beast' by Nico Vega the very first chord was like two cymbals crashing together at the center of your head. That was one of the moments where my eyes widened, I sat back and went 'huh... that.... sounds *******... awesome.' I have come to understand that this is a characteristic of the planar technology in the Hifiman's. To give a quick quick summation the sound signature I would describe as being present and alive if one can use those terms. The high's are good, the mids are a bit recessed from what I could tell, and the bass is pretty good. I was however a tad dissapointed with them as I was led to believe the bass would be something that it clearly was not. When users describe the bass as 'phenomenal' I expected it to be super impactful, deep and rumbly, almost visceral. This was not the case and I unfortunately regarded the Hifimans as having not met my expectations. Despite this the bass was deep and quick, it made rock music sound awesome whenever a snare was present. After listening to the Hifiman's for more than half an hour things tend to, for me, get a bit uncomfortable. The weight of the headphone caused strain on my head and having to constantly readjust the strap was a bit of a pain. I also found that despite the comfort factors my ears started to get quite fatigued from the headphone itself.
Now back to the Senn's. As a comparison when I first started listening I was a bit shocked and intrigued by what I was hearing. There was none of this excessive 'im alive' sound coming from the music anymore. It sounded different, and in a good way. To put it bluntly it sounded the way it was supposed to sound. I then realized that what I was hearing on the Hifiman's was really something that I didn't overly care for. They did sound good but in comparison to the HD600's they sound a bit fake and overemphasized. I would liken it to getting a new girlfriend, and finding out that your recent ex had fake boobs, and your current gf had the real deal. For some reason they just seem better. This was really a turning point for me in appreciating a different sounding headphone. While i did enjoy the bright sounding headphones I found an immense pleasure in the reality of the Senn's. Listening to music the way it was meant to sound without any artificial meddling to accommodate the 'mass audience'. By this I mean the treble centric and bass heavy headphones that seem to popular these days......coughbeatscoughcough.
As I have previously mentioned I am or was a fan of bright headphones. I liked hearing that sparkling treble as I listen to a lot of female vocals. I was absolutely terrified that I would lose that sparkle and a lot of my music would lose that magical allure that sends shivers down your whole body. The infamous sennheiser veil was something of a dealbreaker for me. I am very happy to report that the highs on the sennhieser while not able to be as in your face as other bright headphones (a good thing it turns out) does a remarkable job.
Now. This is what really suprised me. The HD600's have changed my perception of what I consider sounding 'good'. I listened to a lot of music that centered around mid's. One track that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to was 'Iron Man' by Nico Vega. That whole album in my opinion is very well recorded. The guitar, piano, pipes(organ?) that come in half way through the song redefined my perception of good music. It was also conincidentally the moment where I knew I would not be getting rid of my HD600's for a very. very long time. The HD600's seem to bring the mid's forward a tad, it makes male vocals standout a lot more which I find pleasant. Michael Buble has never sounded better. One thing I will note, and I can't say for sure. Is that it really depends on the quality and recording of the source as to how much these come through. For Buble's music his voice is very prevelant, if it was any more so it would be in danger of becoming uncomfortable. When I switch to Tool however the whole band seems to have taken a step back from the microphone, sounding ever so slightly distant and far away.
The bass was something I was not expecting to impress me. The Hifiman's were allegedly a bassier headphone both in regards to the quantity, impact and depth. I have a feeling people will have very different opinions as to which bass sounds better. The bass on the Senn's in comparison with no EQ has roughly the same quantity with a marginal amount more impact which I would I would say comes to its alleged slightly boosted mid bass. I would say that in general the bass does not extend to the depths of sub bass that the 400's can (Pun. Bet that's never been used before). There are moments when you are listening to some recordings when the Senn's delight the socks off you with some rather visceral subbass. You kinda just sit there thinking where.... the fudge did that come from. Despite the inconsistency in subbass I do find it more enjoyable than the 400's. The impact is greater and that really does add a lot of value to music for me. Whether it be Part of Me by Katy Perry or Flume's latest album (which sounds freakin dope by the way. If you own the HD600's please give it a listen. It is fantastic). The bass never ever overpowers the rest of the frequencies and is very consistent. If a song calls for an appropriate amount of bass it will deliver, if it doesn't then no bass for you.
These headphones... LOVE EQ'd bass. While I love the natural sound they produce 90% of the time. Increasing the bottom two frequencies in the STX centre releases the inner bass head. For stuff like flume or Mt Eden Dub where just a touch more bass really does add a lot to the music its incredible. Just bumping up the frequencies makes the Senn's breathe new life into the bass. The impact becomes a lot greater and the subbass more prevalent (although not greatly so). What is best is that in doing this, it doesn't mess with the rest of the frequencies. No distortion, no nothing. With the 400's I couldn't increase the bass without the rest of the spectrum suffering a noticeable amount.
I'm a competitive gamer. Not professionally but I play a lot of FPS to the point where if I'm not in the top 3 I'd be dissappointed. With my current soundcard the Asus Essence STX I find the game and EAX settings completely useless. Not to say they don't work, but they don't work with the Senn's. Once you activate them positioning becomes completely indistinguishable. Sounds become muddied and it sounds like its all coming from center stage. If you keep the HQ option ticked where the source is the cleanest you can get a fairly good idea of where things are. Not pinpoint accuracy by any means but you can get the general gist of where things are coming from. For non competitive I jammed some Mass Effect 3. Focussing just on the audio experience the Senn's do a good job. The mids do a good job of making dialogue clear and the overall experience is pretty flawless. Only option I could mention is again upping the two lower frequencies a tad. Just allows for a more immersive experience.
Just as a note, if you are planning on getting the 600's the source and recording of your music will impact on you're listening experience.
Also as much as I may have whinged about the Hifimans the SQ is still stellar. A great headphone and the after sales service at Head Direct was nothing short of spectacular. After a month of owning the 400's and finally (and at the time slightly begrudgingly) returning them, Head Direct had no problems with extending that two weeks when I was due to travel to HK so I could avoid the rather steep return shipping fee. If you find the Hifiman's comfortable (or perhaps invest in the cushioned pad if you don't) they would be a fantastic addition to any headphone collection.
To finish I will say this. The HD600's have redefined my perception of quality audio. Whilst i was previously a pure bass and treble fan the HD600's have grown on me at a lightning rate. The detailed an prominent mids have made music I have loved that much more enjoyable and that really is priceless for me. Best of all In the hour it took me to write this, I have listened to a large portion of a Tool album, with this being the 5th consecutive hour of wearing the 600's. I have absolutely no fatigue and have no need to readjust them. I may as well sleep with them on.
Apologies for the poor grammar and spelling errors but it is now 3am. Bloody Sennheisers.
Pros - Exquisite detail and separation across the entire spectrum, resulting in a neutral yet very natural sound. Comfortable, and modular.
Cons - Requires more power than most mobiles or on-board sound cards can provide. Open, so you can't use them in public.
I have used these directly connected to my Creative X-FI Fatality Pro sound card, then through my Fiio E11 and Bravo Audio V2 amplifiers (separately). I have also tried them with my Sansa Clip+ (Rockboxed) and my Galaxy Nexus phone, both paired with the Fiio E11. I have owned them for a little over 2 months now, with over 100 hours of run-time on them.
I tested these with various media formats (OGG, MP3, FLACC) at various bit rates (128kbps – 320kbps). My operating system is Xubuntu 13.04, and I am using the default ALSA driver. I use Audacious as my media player with EQ off. I enjoy all genres of music from many different era's, so I prefer a neutral sound signature with adequate but not overpowering bass. Below are some of the other headphones I currently own.
Sennheiser HD 558, HD 25-1 II, CX-200 Street II
AKG K142, K403, K350
Sony MDR-V700, MDR-V300, XB700, XB500
Am I a true Audiophile? I am proud to say yes, yes I am. I am not really sure why people are hesitant to call themselves an audiophile. Maybe they think it's some elite cult you have to be voted into or something. In any event, the definition of audiophile is "a person who has a great interest in high-fidelity sound reproduction." I would venture to say most people who invest in these headphones fall into that category, whether they know it or not.
However, because I have a wife and two kids to feed, I can't afford the $$ or time to get the setup some people have. Yes, that means I can't afford a $300 cable, or a $3,000 amp. That means I am your average Joe audiophile who has to think long and hard, to squeeze the best sound out of every dollar spent. Because of this, I think my setup is likely very close to what most people might have who are considering a headphone like the HD 600. And let me tell you now, you do not need a $1,000 budget to get high-fidelity sound.
From the satisfying "click" you get adjusting the headband, to the sexy looking speakers behind the steel mesh, you get a sense of quality and style that justifies the price. The padding (velour) is soft and plush, the clamping force is just right. The paint job is akin to a granite counter top. When visually comparing these to the HD 558, you can tell it's in another class entirely. In addition, Sennheiser has managed to make them even more comfortable. I wear glasses, and I have worn these for 6+hrs straight with no discomfort whatsoever. This is quite a feat considering the heavier and larger construction.
The replaceable cable is slightly thinner and allot lighter than the 558. The isolating material on it is soft and slick to the touch, vs the rubbery, sticky feeling of the 558 cable. It is terminated to a standard straight 3.5mm, but includes a really nice 6.5mm adaptor. When the adaptor is on, you would think it's actually terminated to 6.5mm. I was actually fooled into looking for a 6.5mm to 3.5mm adaptor in the box. I had issues connecting my 558 to some mobiles with the bulky adaptor, not an issue with the 600.
This is a completely open headphone. In comparison to my other open headphones, it seems to "leak" sound out the most. I am not sure if it's because they have larger drivers, but people in the room will definitely hear your music, even at low levels. At times the wife watching TV in the same room (15 ft away) will ask me to turn them down, albeit only when I crank them. But this design is part of the reason it sounds so wonderful. Just be aware this is not something you want to be using in public.
In terms of durability, this has stood the test of time, and even if you were to have an accident, nearly every single part can be removed and replaced on this headphone, including the speakers themselves. In this regard, it is just like the legendary HD 25-1 II. Best of all, Sennheiser does not charge you a premium for replacement parts. This gives you piece of mind and a sense of belonging. Once your in, your taken care of for life.
I have heard many headphones, but none gave me the feeling this one does. The closest would be the Grado SR60i, the one that got me started in all of this to begin with. I purchased many headphones since, but none sounded significantly better, until the HD 600. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be "mouthwatering". The detail is so raw and natural, and the separation of each note across the entire spectrum (even bass) is exquisite. Particularly impressive to me was the depth/texture you hear from instruments (and vocals), from drums to violin, and everything in between. Everything the SR60i does well, the HD 600 does better, and everything it lacks (bass/comfort/design), the 600 does masterfully.
The experience is best on acoustic or live recordings. More complex compositions like you find in classical or rock, or anything with great vocals, are fantastic too. Honestly, nothing sounds "bad" with this headphone, those are just the area's where you can easily tell the difference when comparing it. Those who primarily listen to electronic, with allot of bass, might not appreciate everything the HD 600 is capable of.
Do you need an Amp?
Probably the most commonly asked question about this headphone, so I give it a section of it's own. The short answer is, try it out with what you have first. You will be surprised at how easy these are to drive, despite the high impedance. When connected direct to my X-FI Fatality Pro, volume was sufficient for me at 45%, on quieter tracks I would go to 60%. As reference, the HD 558 and SR60i would require no more than 30% on the quietest tracks. I could still experience the headphone in all it's glory connected this way.
In my experience, the HD 600 needs about double the power of your average headphone. So if you set volume past 50% with your current setup using an average headphone (32-70Ohm), you will need an amp. Contrary to what people say, most modern aftermarket sound cards (like mine) in the $90-$150 range can drive these to adequate levels. Specially new ones with built in headphone amps. So I suggest you get a sound card before considering an amp, this would give you a better DAC (most are 110dB SNR or more). That way if/when you get an amp, you wont need one with a DAC. This increases your options and will usually save you money.
If your going to be using a laptop/mobile device or all-in one PC, you will probably want an amp. I suggest to start with something portable, affordable and powerful, like the Fiio E07K (Andes). This amp has a DAC, but if you must use your devices DAC, simply leave volume under 70% on the device to avoid introducing more noise. Let the amp do the work, and you will be fine. That is what I do on my Fiio E11 with my Galaxy Nexus/Sansa Clip, and it sounds fine, with plenty of power to spare. I suggest the newer E07K model because it's more powerful and can be used as a desktop amp too (works while charging).
When comparing my X-FI to either the E11 or Bravo, sound seems to stay more neutral and clear (less noise) at higher volumes with the amps. But the volumes I need to push it to hear that difference is beyond what I consider safe for longer periods. Listening at safe levels, differences are negligible, even more so when comparing one amp to the other. If I was to get very analytical at higher volumes, I would say the X-FI has slightly heavy highs, the Bravo more mid heavy and warm, with the Fiio being the most flat. However, I hear a much larger improvement when going from my Galaxy Nexus+E11 to my X-FI alone, than going from the X-FI to X-FI + E11/Bravo. The main improvement is in sound stage and separation. This probably holds true for most cases going from a mobile to a desktop setup. I still consider the sub $100 amps worthwhile if you actually "need" more power, just don't expect it to improve the sound significantly, beyond adding volume. In my case, to make a worthwhile upgrade from my X-FI, I would need to spend $400+ on an amp.
For those who are into it, I hear great things about how receptive the HD 600 is to all forms of amplification. Some claim to hear big differences between amps or cables, even within the same price range. However, be careful not to fall victim to buying based on reviews at this stage. I say this because improvements at this point are largely dependent on ones tastes and/or analytic listening ability. People and their ears are not all created equal. In addition, reviews are based on the individuals unique setup, which could be drastically different than yours. Just like buying a new set of clothes, consider it a process to determine what fits you, at a price your comfortable with. You may have friends/family that own some good amps or hi-fi stereos, the older the better. Give those a try next time your there. If you actually hear a big improvement then you know it might be worth it for you to start shopping around. Go to a local store with your own source and headphones to test, or at least buy with a flexible return policy. Don't rush it, the more time you take, the happier you will be with the outcome.
I highly recommend this headphone for anyone who is considering spending this much, you will be hard pressed to find anything with a better blend of sound quality, comfort, style, and durability. The only other real contender is the Beyerdynamic DT880 600ohm. The 880 has better bass but requires allot more power and is not as modular, durable, or stylish (in my opinion). If you plan to ever use them away from your rig (but not in public), the HD 600 is a no brainer. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy they are to drive. Worst case scenario you just need a sound card or a sub $100 amp like the Fiio E07k. If you are looking to get into amplification, this headphone is a great one to experiment with. 10/10 across the board for this puppy.