Sennheiser HD 600

Average User Rating:
4.8/5,
  1. Eisenhower
    4.5/5,
    "The gold standard"
    Pros - Fantastic sounding, great comfort, easy to amp
    Cons - Can rip hair out, looks weird, stock cord is weak
    These were the best audiophile purchase I have made. I've used them nearly everyday for 5 years, and I have little desire to purchase another set of open over-ear cans.
     
    Sound:
    The sound signature is neutral. Some have criticized the treble for being rolled off. While the treble lacks a certain energy (stemming from a lower quantity) one might find on Grados, I find that it still replicates high frequency instruments very well, and that the "laid back" nature makes listening non-fatiguing. They also have a great airy sound to them, which makes them sound more like speakers (which is a good thing).
     
    The bass response is perfect, not too little, not too much. They can "slam" as much as the music allows. Using a decent amp helps in this area. In my experience, I can not tell the difference between my cmoy, Aria Headfive, EMU 0404 usb headphone out, and from my Onkyo receiver headphone out. These are all considered to have/be good headphone amps. You don't need anything super expensive.
     
    The mids are very rich and full. It's got just the perfect amount of warmth in the mids.
     
    Comfort:
    The padding is velour, and is extremely comfortable.
    I have longish hair, and sometimes the headband pulls  on or rips out my hair. Once you know how it happens, it's not hard to avoid.
     
    Conclusion:
    I just don't see how anyone could be disappointed with these. They just do so many things right. They also aren't that expensive nowadays.
  2. nikp
    5.0/5,
    "A Living Legend"
    Here's a quick summary on the HD600. I am going to leave out headphone specifications because you can find them on Sennheiser's website. These are open cans ,not suited for portability, and they do require amping (300 Ohms).

    Comfort
    They are very comfortable and my ears don't get too hot after listening for quite some time. The cups are quite deep and I like it that way. I had hours of listening enjoyment with it and so far had no problems with comfort.
     
    Sound Quality
    Wow, these cans sound completely natural! I know the differences between natural and neutral but the HD600 has both elements. Although Sennheiser has been long associated with a veil, the HD600 does not seem to have any. SQ is completely transparent and I can assure you that the HD600 has no veil at all.
     
    The HD600 is very detailed although not up to DT880's level of detail. For classical music, hands down the HD600 is the king. Violins are wonderfully textured and have a fantastic weight on them. Highs and mids were fantastic and the bass has great impact and that nice punch in them. The HD600 is no slouch, it is aggressive and sound very neutral and balanced across the frequency range. 
     
    It did a great job in instrument separation although the size of soundstage could be bigger. Don't get me wrong. Its soundstage is fantastic and has the characteristics of an open can but vocals are more upfront and intimate. 
     
    Quick Comparison to the HD650 and HD800
     
    Neutrality: HD600 > HD800 >>>> HD650
    The HD600 is the most neutral among the three cans although as mentioned the soundstage should be a tad bigger. HD650 to my surprise is dark sounding, veiled and coloured (in a good way). It has more bass than the other two headphones. The HD800 has slightly too much treble in my opinion.
     
    Soundstage: HD800 >> HD650 > HD600
    No challenge here. The HD800 is the clear winner.
     
    SQ: HD800 > HD600 = HD650
    The HD800 has a much better presentation and detail retrieval than its younger siblings. On the HD650 & HD600, it's a matter of preference really. If you like listening to pop/rock, it's best to stick with the HD650. And if you like uncoloured headphones or listen to the music audio engineers intend them to be, go for the HD600 and ultimately the HD800.
     
     
    Conclusion
    Amazing cans and they deserve the title of a legend. They are worth every penny and imho is a top tier can. Comparing them to the Beyerdynamic DT880, I cannot say that they're better/worse than them but all I can say is that both cans are one of the best headphones out there and they compliment each other. When listening to classical music I always reach for my HD600. They are simply astounding and sound heavenly in your ears. 
    homeros8000, Syros and Dave Zember like this.
  3. Brooko
    5.0/5,
    "Sennheiser HD600 - Timeless Sound Quality"
    Pros - Pros : Sound quality, comfort, build, modularity (parts), balance, naturalness, clarity, detail
    Cons - Cons : Headband not as strong as it could be, initial clamp force
    The Sennheiser HD600 is an open dynamic circumaural head-phone which Sennheiser market for audiophiles, and also state as ideal for studio monitoring.
     
    hd600-1.jpg  
    Pre-amble (about me at time of writing)

    I'm a 44 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile - just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current entry/mid-fi set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (i-devices + amp) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > HP).  My main headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD600s, a modded set of Alessandro MS1i, and a set of B2 iems.  I previously owned Beyer DT880, Shure SRH840 and 940 + various other IEMs. I have auditioned quite a few entry and mid-tier cans, but have yet to hear any flagships (at current time of writing this review).  I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical and opera to grunge and hard-rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced - with a slight emphasis on the mid-range.  I prefer a little warmth in the overall signature.  I am neither a bass or treble head.  Current amps = NFB12, GoVibe PortaTube, Fiio E11.  Previous desktop set-up was a Fiio E7/E9 combo.
     
    Packaging and Accessories
    I purchased my HD600s from another Head-fi member.  They come with a very solid and well padded case, and a 3.5-6.3mm adapter.
     
    Technical Specifications
    From the Sennheiser website :
     
    Nominal impedance = 300Ω
    Contact pressure = ca. 2,5 N
    Weight w/o cable = 260 g
    Jack plug = 3,5/6,3 mm stereo
    Transducer = principle dynamic, open
    Ear coupling = circumaural
    Cable length = 3 m
    Frequency response (headphones) = 12 - 39000 Hz
    Sound pressure level (SPL) =  97 dB at 1 mW
    THD, total harmonic distortion = 0,1 %
     
    Frequency Response Graph
    (From HeadRoom)
     
    graphCompare.png
     
     
    Build / Comfort / Isolation
    The HD600's build is solid - but not 'bullet proof'.  They are very light-weight (plastic headband - with a carbon fibre inner band) - but they are well put together.  If I had one criticism, it would be that the headband is not as strong as I expected.  When I got mine, I found them a little 'clampy' - so thinking the carbon fibre inner would be strong enough, I tried to stretch them to alleviate the clamp.  Big no-no.  Snap!  One broken headband, and me almost shedding 'manly' tears.  Admittedly, I stretched more than I should have - but it was because I expected the carbon fibre to allow the plastic outer to bend.  Anyway  - you have been warned.  I'll tell you how I fixed them down the page shortly.  The shell is plastic (very light) with some plastic moldings - the outer shell has a marbled look - that I think actually looks quite classy.
     
    hd600-2.jpg   hd600-3.jpg
     
     The headband padding is actually very soft and extremely comfortable.  The ear pads are a soft velour which has quite deep cups, and are also very comfortable.  Note - after a while you get used to the tight clamp - and I've found I could wear them for hours.  They would be the second most comfortable headphones I've owned - just behind the DT880s.
     
    hd600-5.jpg   hd600-6.jpg
     
    These are an open can - so there is no isolation in or out.  They are not as bad as a Grado - but they are open.
     
    The huge benefit with these cans is that they are completely modular - you are able to break them down fully, and all parts are replaceable - even the drivers.  So after my "mishap" - I got in touch with Sennheiser, and they had a replacement headband on it's way to me.  It was a very simple operation to dismantle the headphone and swap the parts out.
     
    hd600-4.jpg
     
    The cable is also replaceable, and you can go after market if you wish.  Personally I find the stock cable to be very sturdy (advertised as OFC copper and kevlar reinforced) - and it doesn't seem to be prone to cable noise or tangling.
     
    Listening Set-up
    My main set-up with the HD600 is PC > Coax > NFB-12 >HD600.  For a transportable rig, I use iPhone4 > PortaTube > HD600. 
     
    Sound Quality
    These are very simply "keepers".  They are the most natural sounding headphone I have used or auditioned to date.  They are very well balanced across the spectrum - with a slightly elevated mid-bass and lower mids.  Overall I would call the sound slightly warm without being dark.  I used to play guitar, and have spent time in my youth listening to live orchestra and solo violin - and I found the HD600 to be quite realistic.  A quick summary of the main sound quality headings:
     
    Detail - While not as detailed as the DT880, I found the detail on these still quit high.  They do tend to be slightly laid back, and can get slightly congested with very fast music.  The clarity is very good.  I find them articulate and refined.
     
    Sound-stage - Similar to the DT880 in overall size.  Depth and width ifs quite good, and instrument separation (particularly for classical) is quite good.
     
    Highs - These surprised me.  They are nowhere near as etched as the DT880, but I don't find them veiled at all.  For me the highs are quite natural - no trace of sibilance or harshness, with still good detail.  Highs are not the focus, but they are still presented beautifully.
     
    Mids - IMO this is where the HD600 really shines.  Acoustic guitar (any stringed instrument really), piano, and female vocals especially are wonderful on the HD600.  I recently bought Alison Krauss and Union Station's album Paper Airplane.  The combination of Alison's vocals and the bluegrass flavour of the music is simply divine.
     
    Bass - on the NFB-12, the bass is well defined and punchy - with good impact.  it just doesn't reach low into the sub-bass like the DT880.  But it doesn't need to - because once again the bass is beautifully balanced with the rest of the frequencies.
     
    Power Requirements
    The HD600 has 300 ohm nominal impedance - but what surprised me is how easy these are to actually drive.  They do sound wonderful out of the NFB-12 and also my PortaTube - which both have plenty left on the pot.  But I can also play these easily on the little Fiio E11, and even out of the headphone out of my iPhone4 (admittedly on about 80% volume).  On the iPhone4 unamped, the bass becomes quite boomy and muddled - so it's obviously not being driven properly - but these don't require huge power.  They do seem to scale well - the difference between E11, my E7/E9 (when I owned it) and now the NFB-12 is noticeable - with extra body and definition from the NFB-12.  I'm looking forward to trying these with a Schitt Valhalla sometime next year.
     
    Summary / Conclusion
    The HD600 has become my favourite headphone for simply listening to music.  They are well built, comfortable, and sound simply phenomenal.  Their tonal balance and the naturalness of their sound is the best I've personally heard so far.  While I wouldn't recommend them for critical listening (the DT880 is better for the extra detail and extension it brings), for non-critical listening enjoyment - there are few better IMO.
    msee, homeros8000, gopack87 and 15 others like this.
  4. cheapskateaudio
    5.0/5,
    "Classic Sennheiser sound"
    Pros - Amazing, lush, liquid mids, vocals that are so rich and palpable you can taste them
    Cons - Bass can be muddy without really good amplification, highs can sound wrong to some ears.
    These were my first foray into high end, high fidelity sound. They were a true revelation. These headphones were built for my ears, laid back, rich warm mids, deep but controlled bass, the de-facto ultimate headphones of their time.
     
    Treble: Laid back, airy, great sound stage, contrary to popular belief, bigger is not always better with regards to sound staging, some things weren't recorded on a giant sound stage afterall. Liquid cool and never fatiguing, the treble was far from analytical but still revealing of source quality, a transparent headphone to be sure.
     
    Mids: Wow. Rich palpable midrange to die for. This is what you dream of. Perfect vocals, anyone could hear the sound of a singing voice coming from these and be instantly transported. The mids on the HD 600's are capable of amazing things on the right music with the right amp. Still punchy and musical on almost all music types. My only complaint was with symphonic music, which always felt a little strained to my ears. In the end, I loved these most with the xcan v2, perfect, perfect vocals, any singing voice shone through on that setup like the voice of angels.
     
    Lows: Rich enveloping bass cradles the music in a seamless landscape of liquid sound. Can be boomy on some tracks. Not the best headphones for rap or other excessively bass heavy music.
     
    Very comfortable.
     
    High build quality.
     
    An excellent headphone which with the proper amplification (tubes) has a unique sonic signature, that if it works for you, is nearly impossible to beat at any price.
    Syros and Dave Zember like this.
  5. homeros8000
    5.0/5,
    "HD600 a Classic!"
    Pros - Excellent mids, beautiful timbre, warm signature, deep soundstage, comfort...etc
    Cons - Non to my knowledge
    The HD600 is one of the best headphones around. They are neutral, easy to drive, comfy, with a touch of warmth and enticing natural presentation and timbre. I didn't like them the first time I bought them with the stock cable. I bought another pair driven by the formidable Beta 22 amplifier and the HD600 was transformed into another league. 
     
    Although I listen mostly to my K702 which is more accurate in comparison to HD600 warmer tone (which is closer to concert hall sound IMO) I save the HD600 for very special listening sessions, I don't use them for occasional listening at all but only when I really need to enjoy rather than analyze my music.
     
    The highs are soft, smooth, non fatiguing. The mids are large and wide and the bass is just right, without being exaggerated. The sound stage is not very large like the K702 but the instruments and the performers are very close in very good distributed space which gives a very intimate musical experience.
     
    The greatest thing about the HD600 is the easy amplification. A uDAC can drive them to very acceptable level and they can excel with most available amplifiers with a neutral sound signature
     
    Some reviewers believe that the HD600 is boring. I think this can be attributed to several factors, poor synergy with amp and source, stock cable, lack of burn in or may be personal taste!
     
    IMO the HD600 is the best headphones under $300 (unless you find the HD650 for less than 300!), and may be the only headphones you will ever need if you keep to one HP.
  6. CATaft
    4.0/5,
    "Balanced, accurate listen to music all day headphones"
    Pros - Strong natural Mid bass, Loads of mid range texture and graceful balance tone balance. Very natural sounding
    Cons - bass can be a little muddy, thick and slow.
     
    First off let me say this is my first foray into "audiophile" headphones. I have tried a few of the in the ear style buds over the years (apples and Sony's) but I find them unpleasant to wear for more than a few minutes, along with the sound lacking. So I few years ago before an overseas flight I picked a pair of Sony MDR-V150 on a whim. They worked great and I thought I be happy. But then I started to see all these cool little headphone amp and such. So I started just innocently enough reading sites such as these just a few short months ago. Well on thing led to another and well I now am the proud owner of a pair of the Sennheiser HD600's, along with an amp/DAC combo.

     

    When I received my brown box in the mail I could not wait to get it home and open it. I carefully open the shipping box and inside was a beautiful black corrugated box with gold shaded picture of the ocean with words "Sennheiser HD 600 for digital Natural Sound" I open up then corrugated box and slide out what feels to be a fabric type coated dark charcoal box. It's completely plain other than the small company logo and name in the company’s trademark blue. The whole packaging is high class, clean, and simple. To my surprise the box has metal hinges on the back edge and opens up much like a fine watch/jewelry box. As the aroma of pent up closed cell foam and plastics hits my nostrils I am fully intoxicated with my purchase. Quickly I grab the phones from the box and hold them up to admire them. Everyone is right the marbling looks a thousand times better than the photos show. The next though these are much lighter than I thought they would be. I quickly dash to my Pioneer VSX92-THX AV receiver and fire it up. I attaché my iPhone bypassing it's DAC in favor of the Pioneers. Quickly I launch Bob Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" (*all tracks are Loss-less encoded) the sound that flows from the headphones instantly sound like an old friend. The separation of his voice, guitar, and harmonica floor me. The sound-stage is unlike any headphone I have every listen to. It's very close to my home speaker setup.

     

     I turn the volume nob up bit to see what the headphones and my receiver can do. My impression is that the pioneer has a very decent headphone stage. It can easily push the cans well in to the deep pain range with utmost clarity. I don’t see me needing an amp for the front room, which saves some cash for more music. I reach for my Sony’s to compare the two but realize that the included adapter plug  with the HD600 will not accommodate the Sony plug. No biggie I pick up my new toy and head to my office. This is where I will be using them most of the time anyway. I have an old Mini JVC bookshelf system that I use as my near field stereo setup with my computer and it has the appropriate size connection to test both. To my surprise the JVC push both head phones very well. And also to my surprise both headphones have a similar sound at mild volumes. But when pushed the Sony’s quickly start to sound smeared and strained. Not so with the Sennheiser. They sound so incredible that you can easily slip in to the danger zone as to the volume level.

     

    At this point I start to listen to some of my favorite tracks to better take in the sound of my new phones.

    I fire up another Bob Dylan song “Most Likely you go your way (and I’ll go mine)” The detail of each instrument is very impressive and they are spread very nicely apart without feeling like they all come from the same space. Next was Clark Terry’s “Chat Qui Peche (A Cat that Fishes)” the horns sound so natural and I can hear each strand plucked on the upright bass. Each band member sound like they are in the appropriate spot. “Six Blade Knife” by Dire Straits has a very strong bass line that runs from the start to the end of the song. For a set of headphones that are said to be a bit soft on the bottom end they hit it with authority and without strain. The ability to hear every little sting touch on the lead guitar brought new elements to life. Song after song the amount of texture these headphones present is unreal. Everything is presented just as it was recorded. Every little breath the singer makes, every finger drag over an amplified string instrument, and every hacked mastering jobs.

     

    These headphones are great and are everything I hoped they would be. Balanced and uncolored with exceptional midrange control. Can’t see me needing another set for a long time. Well maybe….  

  7. SolidSnake3
    5.0/5,
    "All I Could Want"
    Pros - Cohesive, Natural Sound
    Cons - Not crazy head slamming bass...so a con for some?
    Well there really isn't much to say that hasn't been said before about these headphones I feel. They do an amazing job of representing music in a cohesive and natural manner. I had have these for quite a while now and can honestly say that I have NOT found anything *genre* that they didn't do a respectable job with. I have be unable to find a specific fault with these cans aside from not having a huge amount of bass which, depending on your personal tastes, is not actually a con. 
     
    Anyhow to make this super short I feel that they are the most natural and "together" sounding headphone I have ever heard. They do an unbelievable job of making you forget about the headphones and the gear so that you just listen to the music. I find myself not thinking about the sound or what could be better with it and just enjoying it. They do really need a decent amp to sound their best though, out of an ipod they are lacking for sure but pair them with a nice tube or solid state amp and you have cans that will shine.
  8. BlackbeardBen
    5.0/5,
    "Dethroned, yet still one of the dynamic kings."
    Pros - Very detailed. Balanced. Good soundstage. Absolutely amazing mids. Entirely modular, with all parts replaceable.
    Cons - Bass could be a little tighter. Some would say subdued treble, but I'd say it's at a very realistic level. Soundstaging has room for improvement.
    Note: The price paid is used from Amazon Marketplace.  Also, I've duplicated my review from the other product listing here on Head-Fi.  If it is possible, the two HD 600 pages ought to be merged.
     
    The first thing about these the HD 600 is the excellent tonal balance - it's never harsh, but the highs are still there and very detailed.  Sometimes the finest details may get lost in very complex music thanks to being overshadowed by other parts of the music, but the resulting detailed smoothness is a very good thing.
     
    The mids - ahh, they're to die for!  They're the highlight of the headphones.  They're detailed and lifelike, similar to the highs.  But they're so realistic sounding - even so more than the HD 800 and Beyer T1 I've auditioned.  As far as I'm concerned, the HD 800 (haven't heard the HD 650) still falls short here in comparison.  Guitars, brass, saxes, vocals, and more sound so much more realistic (and and have more visceral impact) than anything else I've heard (my new Alessandro MS1is come close, but not as much with the low mids).
     
    Bass is fairly tight and at just about the right level for all types of music.  You'll never make anyone happy with any given quantity of bass, but I think these are as close to a neutral level as you'll get.  Very low bass can be a little loose, and rapid bass notes aren't as distinct as the HD 800, Beyer T1 or DT 880, but it's still excellent overall (and especially compared to lesser headphones).
     
    Their soundstaging is very good - but there are, of course, far superior headphones for this.  Depth is good, width is good, and precision of placement is good - again, a very balanced sound.  The sense of spaciousness (a function of all three factors) falls a little short of the AKG K701, and of course the HD 800 and Beyer T1 - but of course is far more evident than the close-in Grado sound.  The "It sounds like they're playing in the room with me!" sensation never really happens to the same level that my speakers (Infinity Renaissance 90) can provide.
     
    The build quality is very good - the headband and frames are supposedly made of carbon fiber, but after inspecting them (and seeing photos of cracked headbands) I believe it is probably a carbon fiber reinforced plastic instead.  Less impressive to your friends, perhaps, but an excellent material nonetheless.  They do of course feel slightly plasticky as a result (but it never feels like cheap plastic).
     
    They're quite lightweight, and the padding is excellent - the velour earpads and headband are very comfy.  I know some complain about them being too tight - I can't really comment, since I bought mine used.  I never found them to be too tight myself.
     
    They stand up to abuse admirably well - mine have lived in my backpack for four months straight and only have superficial damage to the grills (they get dented when sharing the backpack with my Nikon) to show for it.  They haven't been babied at all - just no abuse like trying to bend the headband over on itself...  Anyway, since everything is modular, you can easily replace any part that has broken.  I just got new pads and a cable to replace the worn originals.
     
    The marbled finish does wear off a little over time, but it has yet to become detrimental to their appearance so far.  Oh, and by the way, the finish looks a whole lot cooler in person than in photos of the headphones.
     
    I've found amp'ing them not to be as difficult as some seem to think.  A/B'ing my uDAC (my main source and amp) against a Beyerdynamic A1 amp, I really couldn't consistently tell any difference between them other than ultimate power output.  The Sansa Clip+ actually does an admirable job running them up to moderately loud levels (not short-term ear blasting, of course), and never clips with them when playing music.  It does, however, sound slightly (yet noticeably) less dynamic and with a narrower, less well defined soundstage in comparison to the uDAC. I forgot that I have a crossfeed plugin (HeadPlug MKII) running on Winamp, so I have to retract those opinions for now - although it does stand for now that I can't get a crossfeed with the Clip (without using an amp with one).
     
    So, the verdict?  These are amazing headphones, deserving of their place as one of the best dynamic headphones available to this day (15 years after their first introduction!).  Their smooth, slightly warm (not dark!), but very realistic and - yes - exciting yet neutral sound is near-perfect in balance.  Soundstaging is perhaps the area I would like to see the most improvement, but it is good in this respect already.
     
    You'll have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands.
  9. Sam-Fi
    5.0/5,
    "HD600 - Thumbs Up"
    Pros - Airy, warm, full, conveys musical information that other headphones can't
    Cons - Upper bass hump, This sometimes leaves the bass sounding a smidge shallow and slow
    These are some of my favorite headphones. They have twice come into my life.
  10. Marlene
    5.0/5,
    "Unfailing Workhorse"
    Pros - Balanced, refined, sturdy, classic design
    Cons - not very "fast"
    What? Nobody wrote a review of this gorgeous headphone yet? Maybe it´s because many people already own it and don´t talk about it - because once you do you won´t need another headphone. I use the HD-600 everyday and I did the same the six years before. I´ve never heard such a balanced headphone since and I think I never will. I´ve heard a HD-650 a few  months ago but it didn´t make me happy, it sounded too dark and too warm. I missed the easy precision and crispness of my HD-600. Which is exactly what still baffles me: how was Sennheiser able to produce a headphone that is both detailed and laid back at the same time? It´s brilliant, but not too brilliant. It´s warm but not too warm. No, it´s a perfectly balanced headphone. Everything is there but nothing is too much. The soundstage is very natural, wide and deep.
     
    I do a lot of private remastering and the HD-600 never failed me, they are analytical. I can hear errors easily and can correct them. Still, it´s not an overtly honest headphone. If it could talk it would say: "Observe these errors here and there, I´ll present them to you very pleasantly and neutral." That pretty much sums it up.
     
    There are some minor obstacles: deep bass is a bit muted (from 20-70 Hz), depending on the source it may have some problems with differentiation. Another valid criticism is that it is not very fast - with the HD-600 you won´t exactly marvel at the punch, directness or dynamic of Punk or Hard Rock music. While this sounds a bit boring it isn´t - it just seems to present music as it is.  They are more like passive "spectators", presenting music with a bit of distance. Another little downside is that it requires a good headphone amp, it needs a lot of power to sound good. If you don´t own something like that you´ll get an exaggerated upper bass - there goes your balanced sound.
     
    If you think the sound to be a bit harsh you can buy the replacement cable that originally is intended for the HD-650 - with that you can add warmth at the cost of resolution. That depends on your taste of course.
     
    All in all, I would buy it again anytime. But I won´t need to because it still sounds and looks wonderful. This headphone is the reason that I fell in love with Sennheiser, a love that is still growing.
    Dave Zember and Garraty like this.