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Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones

  1. bracko
    My precious
    Written by bracko
    Published Jan 13, 2013
    Pros - Great smooth, lush beautiful sound, very balanced and relaxing. Quite detailed. Dark. Very comfortable
    Cons - Build quality
    I love my HD650 for rock, jazz and weightier orchestral pieces. The sound is very detailed but somehow dark (which is good with some recordings). This headphone never sounds obtrusive or hard. It is very comfortable. I have it as a companion to another great headphone, AKG k701, and they work great with their parts of my record collection.
      MrTechAgent and Pokemonn like this.
    1. XxDobermanxX
      You got them for a good price
      XxDobermanxX, Jan 13, 2013
    2. bracko
      That was on a discount here in Sweden a couple of years ago.
      bracko, Jan 14, 2013
  2. MightyChimp
    Great Overall Entry into Hi-fi.
    Written by MightyChimp
    Published Jan 10, 2013
    Pros - Excellent sound at the price. Much improved sound stage vs lesser headphones. Very comfortable for long listening session.
    Cons - Could be more detailed & in-your-face
    These are a great pair of cans all around. Very few complaints. Fantastic value. I've been driving them with E17 / E09k - it may not be perfect but it sounds great to my ears!
    These are the kind of headphones you forget you are wearing because they are so comfortable. The rolled off treble is great for long listening sessions.
    I find that I tend to use them when I want my experience to be a little bit hands-off. The sound, the feel, etc. is all very comfortable. The bass is a little bit underwhelming, but it fits the 'comfortable' experience.  They are nonetheless quite detailed. They aren't bad at really low volumes, but I am more likely to reach for my grados if I want really low listening volume with clarity. 
    The build quality is quite good. I am worried about the paint chipping though. 
    They are a massive step up from entry level headphones and IMO about 75% of the way to hi-fi headphones (e.g. LCD3). 
    In my opinion they work quite well with all genres of music, but are a little bit too laid back for rock. 

    Thumbs up! 
  3. FlyinPigFetus
    Great Christmas Present
    Written by FlyinPigFetus
    Published Dec 29, 2012
    Pros - Comfort, Build Quality, Detail
    Cons - Open back lets in noise, after hearing them with an amp. you'll have to drop another $300+
    Just got a pair of these for Christmas and have to say that I was very impressed with the box they came in, very solid packaging, and neatly organized cord. There is a 3.5mm adapter included in the box, something I was not used to coming from a pair of Grado SR225i cans.
    The build quality is very good, I don't feel like I will scratch or dent them without a decently high tumble. The cord is detachable and feels like it will not likely give out anytime soon.
    As for comfort, I never really found my old Grados that uncomfortable (I know you guys/gals on Head-fi and reviews on Amazon always talk about Grados being uncomfortable) but now I can hardly wear them after having used the HD 650s. It is a very comfortable fit once you get them adjusted nicely to your head.
    As for sound quality, I play everything in FLAC or MP3 @ 320kps using Foobar2000 with the kernel streaming plugin.
    Due to the fact I don't have my Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus Edition in yet, I have been trying to use the 3.5mm jack from my laptop to listen to music. The HD 650s don't sound very special through that source at all, they are very boring when plugged up to my android phone as well. I almost picked up my Grados again just until my amp came in, but I just like the feel of the HD 650s so much more.
    I eventually used HDMI out from my laptop to my harman/kardon AV receiver along with Foobar2000 w/ WASAPI (manually selecting the receiver in the output list) and plugging my headphones into it as a source. This made the headphones sound much more worth their money and really blew me away.
    Music I tested included Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Daft Punk, OutKast, The Chemical Brothers, Kanye West, and Fleetwood Mac. I heard details in Time by Pink Floyd I have never noticed before.
    I am very excited to get my Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 Plus Edition in. My library is waiting for me to listen to everything over again.
    If anyone wishes me to report in how the D1 sounds as a source for these cans let me know in the comments.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. HeretixAevum
      That's the exact combo I'm considering upgrading to (and from the 225i no less, we must be twins!). How do you compare the 650 to the 225i in terms of bass presence and overall clarity. Do they ever sound congested at all in busy tracks? I'd love to hear your thoughts, really considering pulling the trigger.
      HeretixAevum, Jan 10, 2013
    3. FlyinPigFetus
      The bass of the HD 650 is very accurate and never too punchy. It never gives you that "thud" feeling that Beats or anything else with an exaggerated bass do. The overall clarity is greater than 225i as well as the 325i (my friend brought his pair over to test out my amp). The 225i do have a "brighter" sound than the HD 650 that I could see some people missing. The amount of detail the HD 650s have to offer make them by far the greatest headphone I've used.
      FlyinPigFetus, Jan 10, 2013
    4. FlyinPigFetus
      So I picked up my 225i to listen to a rap album (good kid, m.A.A.d city) I just got.
      I selected the song "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" to see how the difference in bass was between the HD 650 and 225i.
      The bass was the least of my worries.
      The sound stage was non-existent on the 225i, the background vocals were fainter and less interesting.
      HD 650s are well worth the upgrade, holy hell, I don't remember my 225i ever sounding so bad, but I guess I've spoiled my ears.
      I'm sure I'd feel the same way about the HD 650s if I heard a pair of LCD-2 or HD800s.
      FlyinPigFetus, Jan 12, 2013
  4. tdockweiler
    Magic Headphone
    Written by tdockweiler
    Published Dec 24, 2012
    Pros - see review
    Cons - see review
    I'll try to be brief here, which is nearly impossible for me to do.
    I bought this headphone last month and previously had two pairs. Those pairs had really anemic upper mids and had bloated mid-bass. This pair does not. I even used my old reference tracks I tried previously and this pair has a quite balanced sound signature. Not dead neutral or completely uncolored, but I would say it's just smooth sounding. Possibly one of the most musical headphones i've owned.
    This headphone for me makes a lot of my crappy recordings that are harsh and fatiguing a bit easier on the ears. I don't ever get bombarded by treble or anything else. No shouty vocals or whatever else. It also doesn't make any very warm recordings worse by making them sound congested or less clear. I've found that they also seem to have better bass extension than my HD-600. Punch me if you want, but the bass on THIS HD-650 seems more controlled than that of my HD-600. It's closer to the bass quantity of my HD-580 (same driver I know).
    Despite being very forgiving for bad recordings (only the garbage with the mids/treble cranked to max in the studio) it still need higher bitrate files. You can still tell the difference between high quality recordings and bad ones despite being both in FLAC.
    These are very detailed. Nothing is missing, but all that detail is not shoved in my face. As hard as it is to believe, my DJ100 and HD-650 benefited more from my ODAC than the Q701. No idea why. The HD-650 seemed to become more revealing and detailed. The Q701..not as much.
    This is a good headphone for when I just want to listen to my music and not be bothered by recording flaws. I can listen to these all day without fatigue.
    The soundstage is better than that of the HD-600/598 IMO, but it's not larger. Better imaging etc. I think the ODAC is playing a role here too. Never thought such an improvement was possible unless my ears are playing tricks.
    The sound is nice and full sounding, but not excessively warm. I thought I hated warm sounding headphones, but now I guess not.
    This pair also doesn't seem to have sucked out upper mids, but at times there seems to be a very slight peak. Maybe a tiny one. I know this goes against what nearly everyone says. This pair also doesn't seem dark. The treble is very good and not lacking. It has slightly less than my DJ100.
    Despite making my bad music sound a bit better than it should be, it still is quite accurate to how the recording is..sometimes. You often don't realize how bad the recordings are until you switch to a different headphones such as the KRKs, DJ100 or Q701.
    I gave it a 1/5 for value. It's worth $400, but $500 is nuts! My $80 DJ100 with the same setup isn't that much worse and often even better in some areas. Both have some similarities. The DJ100 just has slightly more forward mids and more treble. DJ100 has better low bass. Sounds a little clearer too sometimes. Both are now my top 2 favorite headphones.
    This review might be off the general consensus, but I don't care. This one is much more balanced than the others i've heard.
    Setup was Headroom Micro Amp (not a portable amp an drives it with ease) from ODAC. I always use FLAC files. I previously used the Asgard with the HD-650, but found the Micro amp way better.
    BTW this is as close to my DJ100's sound as I could find. My DJ100 sounds like a weird mix of an HD-650 and maybe a Sextett. Maybe the 650 and another AKG. The DJ100 is definitely a little more forward sounding, but still smooth sounding (with my setup, which I think is very neutral). I only mention this because I always wanted an open headphone that had some similarities to my DJ100.
    NOTE: if this was priced at $350 retail it'd definitely get a 5/5 for value.
    If you're curious I'd rank my Sennheisers as:
    HD-650 > HD-580 | HD-598 > HD-600
    Weird, I know..not a ton of difference between the 580 and 600. 580 just sounds better than the 600 to me. Clearer and with slightly more forward upper mids and maybe less bass.
    Strange as it sounds, I tend to prefer the AKG type sound, but the HD-650 is just addicting.
    EDIT: The only change after use I've noticed is that the lower mids smoothed out a bit. Out of the box they were a bit "shouty". Kind of like the PX100-II (for me) without an amp.
    I also think it's a mistake to do many A/B comparisons of these headphones with something that's dramatically different (like a flat studio monitor). With crappy recordings the HD-650 will always sound better and it's easy to be fooled.
    Oh yeah.. I also use these for gaming! 40 hours into Dark Souls and even use them for movies. The HD-650 can't match the soundstage of the Q701 though. HD-650 is obviously much warmer and a tiny bit bassier.
    1. yokken
      they are quite magical aren't they? :)
      yokken, Dec 25, 2012
    2. Pianist
      Value is relative - remember the law of diminishing returns. If you compare HD650 with Koss KSC75 for instance, the former is obviously a horrible value. Compared to a Stax SR-009, I am sure HD650 is a great value. Compared to most modern flagships, which usually cost in excess of $1k these days, HD650 is an excellent value as well, in my opinion.
      Pianist, Feb 26, 2013
  5. harney
    HD 650 A steal at $227 and still with 1years warranty left on them
    Written by harney
    Published Dec 20, 2012
    Pros - Comfort is super and the sound is well music rolls in
    Cons - Need an amp to drive them to their fullest
    Very happy with them for the price and the sound is great i highly recommend the purchase if its your 1st set of quality head phones the music just doesn't come in it rolls in...
    I will write a more detailed review once i get an amp to match them i have narrowed it down to the schiit lyr ,valhalla or maybe the bottlehead crack..who knows one things for sure its driving me mad trying to choose....
    Peace :=)
    1. LacilyJaci
      Dude! Where did you snag these for $227?! I'm dying to upgrade my Ath-m50s. Thanks in advance for the info :D
      LacilyJaci, Dec 20, 2012
  6. amudhen
    HD 650 Improved with Upgraded Cables
    Written by amudhen
    Published Oct 20, 2012
    Pros - Hard to beat the performance for the money, upgradeable
    Cons - Stock cable
    I felt compelled to write about the performance of the HD 650 when used with upgraded cables. I purchased my HD 650s used from a Head-fier in Canada. They came with a nice burned-in Stefan Audio Arts (SAA) Equinox cable which I compared with the stock cable, and there was a very big improvement in performance. After using the Equinox cable for a long period, I recently upgraded to a  used SAA Endorphin cable which added increased performance I did not believe possible, especially in the area of bass authority, timbre naturalness, and soundstage renderings.
    I also have tried and use the Cardas cable on my HD 600s which also adds noticeable improvements, although not as great as those generated by the SAA cables on the HD 650s.
    I listen to vinyl on a VPI Aries with a Clearaudio MC, Nordost Tyr cables to a  phono stage in my Spectral preamp, then out to a WOO WA6 SE fed with Nordost Freys. I also use upgraded power cords and power conditioners as well as BDR carbon fiber isolation devices.
    After listening to a bunch of cans at last weeks' CanJam at the RMAF in Denver, I am still impressed with the HD 650s and their performance vs price. I did listen to the new HD700s but not long enough to form a strong opinion, but they sounded better to me than the HD800s. THE AUDEZE LCD-2S WERE AMAZING with ALO cables into a Ray Samuels Dark Star!
    In conclusion, if you really want to get the most out of the HD 650s (or the HD 600s), try some of the aftermarket cables available, if you can, on a demo basis.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. silversurfer616
      A good cable does make a difference!
      silversurfer616, Oct 21, 2012
    3. dukeskd
      HD700 better than the HD800? Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I wouldn't take your reviews seriously.
      dukeskd, Oct 21, 2012
    4. amudhen
      As I said, I did not listen to the HD 700s long enough to form a strong opinion, but I was able to directly compare them with the HD 800s using the HD Resonessence INVICTA DAC/Amp) (one plugged into headphone outlet A and the ot her plugged into headphone outlet B using constant trim levels) and after listening to both using several different Hi Res files with different types of music, I must admit I preferred the 700s using this particular set-up. But since this was a first and quick impression more listening is obviously warranted. Thanks for your comments.
      amudhen, Oct 21, 2012
  7. Rawdawg3234
    Great detail
    Written by Rawdawg3234
    Published Sep 11, 2012
    Pros - Good soundstage and mids
    Cons - Lack of bass and veil
    This was my favorite headphone for some time. Mainly because its the first decent pair I owned.
    However as I listened to other cans these became less and less important. Now all I see when I look at them is a plain headphone with dull sound.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. szoze
      You don't actually need to compare these to more expensive headphones to give them 3/5 for audio quality or even lower. Just compare them to more natural/neutral sounding phones in their own class, like AKG or Beyerdynamic, and you will be amazed. After owning HD650 for 5 years I was still waiting for the string musicians in the symphony orchestra to take off the mutes of their instruments. Sorry, but this headphone is not adequate for all kinds of music. Classical and jazz lovers should definately look elsewhere.
      szoze, Sep 23, 2012
    3. FraGGleR
      Everyone has the sound that they are looking for in general and for specific genres. I would disagree that these are dull or not good all-rounders. Most people who think these are muted or veiled tend to like the phones with over emphasized treble as this give the impression of better detail. If you are looking for a warm, easy to listen to sound with good detail and treble, than these are fantastic. I listen to a lot of classical and jazz and I think these do a great job of giving natural weight to string instruments and a lushness to voices. Plus these scale wonderfully. I already enjoyed these with all genres with a Nuforce HDP, but once I heard them on a $3500 Ray Samuels Darkstar, I finally understood what these are really capable of. I felt like I was in the room with the jazz singer that was playing.
      FraGGleR, Oct 2, 2012
    4. Nirvana Woman
      "Plain headphone with dull sound". That's just not a very fair review - it's at best an extreme simplification of what may or may not be a well-founded opinion.
      Nirvana Woman, Oct 15, 2012
  8. Tilpo
    Sennheiser HD 650 review
    Written by Tilpo
    Published Sep 9, 2012
    Pros - smooth and laid-back sound; good bass, mids and treble; comfort
    Cons - bad instrument separation; lacks detail in treble; paint chips
    Sennheiser HD650 review

    My HD650 was my first hi-fi headphone, and also one of my most priced possessions for well over a year. I regret nothing in buying these, but I plan on selling them since they do not get enough head time since I acquired my SR-202's. I only got these back yesterday, after sending them off to get the left driver repaired since it produced ringing in the sub-bass. This pair has the new drivers, in case you're interested.

    I already wrote a detailed comparison between this headphone and the SR-202, but I felt that it was simply not a good review. As a result, I have decided to rewrite my review in a different fashion only focusing on one headphone at a time. Like my HD 25-1 II review, I meant to keep it concise and clear without leaving anything out. If you want extreme detail in the sound description, give my other review a read and tell me what you think.

    Listening setup
    I have used these headphones with many an amplifier, including but not limited to the AMB Mini3, Audio-GD NFB-12 and Little Dot MK IV. For this review I used my HD650 out of the headphone output of the NFB-12.

    I personally have not heard any significant difference between different amps, but I do believe that differences may exist.

    DSC01049.jpg DSC01048.jpg
    DSC01046.jpg DSC01043.jpg
    DSC01041.jpg DSC01051.jpg

    Build quality
    The paint on the headband has the tendency to chip off. This is visible in the 6th image above. It's not really noticeable under normal use, but still unacceptable for this kind of equipment imo. I have not heard of a good method of preventing the paint from chipping, since it happened to even those who were extremely careful with it.

    Other than this small issue, I would say these are incredibly well built and feel like they could easily withstand 20 years of regular use. They also look absolutely stunning, in my opinion.

    Cable & accessories
    The cable is really well built, and is detachable too. It feels smooth, strong, and will not curl up in any way. I see no reason to get aftermarket cables with this headphone, despite the large popularity of such cables.

    The headphone comes with a 6.3mm -> 3.5mm adapter cable of similar high quality.
    It also comes with a travel box, which although not of super high build quality, does its job quite well. On one of the corners the cardboard started tearing (see picture 7), and I have no idea how this happened.

    Comfort & isolation
    These headphones are amazing in terms of comfort. It's the most comfortable headphone I have tried to date, which is no easy feat. In my case, the clamping force is of medium strength, although people have reported it to be too high and found that slightly bending the black metal ribbon fixed the issue.
    The cups can be adjusted in height, and the entire construction can be twisted. This ensures that it will fit pretty much all heads comfortably.
    The pads are made out of velour, and are very soft. They do wear after some time, and people have reported that washing or replacing them for new ones has increased comfort and sound quality.

    These headphones are of open design, but still have a decent amount of isolation. Not enough to serve for portable use by a long shot, but more than enough to make you want to put them off when having a conversation. The sound leakage is also reduced because of this isolation, and as long as you don't listen to your music loudly the sound leakage is too soft to bother a person sitting next to you in a normal office environment.

    Sound quality
    I find the HD650's very good sounding, and definitely worth their price in this regard. Even with the price increases of about a year ago. I got these sound impressions completely based of my other review of the HD650, as well as my own memory.

    Frequency response This can is not flat. It has a considerable mid-bass boost and an overall warm sound. They sound very laid-back and smooth with most music. The treble is fairly flat, although a bit attenuated. They are relatively neutral, and can become next to completely flat with slight EQ. Personally I like their natural sound signature since it's fun.

    Bass The bass extension is nice and deep. They have a good amount of bass thump and is excellent for electronic genres in my opinion. They are good with rumbling bass guitars and convey a strong sense of energy.

    Mids The mids are sometimes drowned out a bit by the bass, but overall it feels pretty flat. The mids especially feel nice and smooth and present a good natural timbre. Instruments like acoustic guitars sound very good on the HD650 because of its smooth nature.

    Treble Treble feels fairly flat, but attenuated compared to mids and bass. Cymbals sound good, and there is no sibilance. There is no harshness and they do not sound fatiguing. The treble does lack a bit of detail, but is otherwise of excellent quality.

    Soundstage Every headphone has a weakest link, and for the HD650 it's its soundstage. It conveys a good sense of width and distance, though it's smaller than my electrostatic SR-202. The soundstage is smoothened out a lot, and has relatively bad instrument separation. In cases where many instruments are present, it feels like the can loses control and puts it in one big blob of sound. Overall it's not bad, but it leaves me wanting for more.

    Apart from their relatively weak soundstage, these are very good sounding headphones. Taking into consideration their excellent build quality and comfort, I can see why these are so popular. While my experience with other mid-fi cans is limited, this one definitely has my glowing recommendation at its price point. Especially when comparing it to it's price before they raised it.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. RudeWolf
      Well, I guess that I'll play out the amp card. THAT B22 WONT BUILD ITSELF!
      RudeWolf, Sep 10, 2012
    3. Tilpo

      Once I've sold my HD650 I'll have money for more components! After that I SHOULD be done.
      Tilpo, Sep 10, 2012
    4. vc1187
      Spot on review to what my ears hear from these headphones, and I even have the old black driver HD650s.
      vc1187, Sep 11, 2012
  9. Lex Tan
    An Excellent Audiophile Headphones
    Written by Lex Tan
    Published Sep 8, 2012
    Pros - One of the best Headphone around, Reasonable Price, Almost unbeatable with the correct setup
    Cons - I can't really tell....
    A good headphone with an affordable price. With the right AMP, LOD and headphone cables. It can be godly. Strongly recommend to those who are new to audiophile headphone. 
    The default HD650 may sounds warm, thick or even muddy but still it voice down if this is the type of style you would prefer...
    I have rewrote this article as today I'm delighted that my new setup on HD650 has reached another level, a level which I really like it so much.... 
    The sound is a lot more brighter. Soundstage became wider, and best of all not at the expense of losing the mellow and warm of HD650.
    It sounded especially good when listening to LIVE recording Jazz and with your eyes close, I bet you will feel that you are in the concert. Everything sounded so REAL...
    1. XxDobermanxX
      Georges St Pierre : sennheiser HD 650 im am not impressed by your performance!!! lol
      XxDobermanxX, Sep 8, 2012
  10. szoze
    They are not all that really
    Written by szoze
    Published Sep 6, 2012
    Pros - pleasant sound, quite comfortable, easily exchangable parts
    Cons - lacks clarity and transparency, overblown bass, quality issues (paint flaking, one of the drivers broke after three years)
    As much as I cannot understand the overwhalming positive reviews of these headplones I admit that I actually can understand that people can get in love with their pleasant and forgiving sound. If you wish to get close to the soul of a recording however, you should go somewhere else because HD650 are neither natural or neutral sounding headphones. Compared to some other cans (AKG k70x or Beyerdynamic DT880 namely) these Senns are muddy to say the least and lack sparkle, transparency and sheer excitement. The bass is more prominent than with k701's but the definition of the same is not as good. Listening to the HD650 I really miss the sparkle and the excitement that should be there. When listening to accoustic music and classical there is no air at all. A huge amount of information, upper harmonics are simply absent.  It is important to say that I have had some issues with my pair. One of the drivers broke after three years of use. The paint on the headband started chipping after 2 years.
    However I can understand that many people get in love with their sound. They sound "relaxing" in their own way and are very forgiving on the quality of the recording. The problem is that you can get all that and more at half their price.
    Amplifiers used: Lehmann Black Cube Linear, Musical Fidelity X-Can v3, Matrix M-Stage
    1. View previous replies...
    2. szoze
      @miceblue No, they are definately not for everyone. People who like classical and other kinds of acoustic music should look elsewhere. HD650 sound too "dark" and colored.
      szoze, Sep 23, 2012
    3. alwaysec
      each to their own
      alwaysec, Jan 19, 2013
    4. shinndigg
      As an owner of both the Q701 and HD 650, I can say that they're both good. I find the sound of the Q701 to be too thin for a lot of music, suitable only for acoustic and classical. There's little bass to speak of. Vocals can sometimes sound recessed. It's also strangely difficult to amp for a low impedance can. It sounds great on something like Trey Anastasio and the Scorchio Quintet. But, at least in my opinion, Hd 650 beats it in most other genres.
      That said, Q701 beats the 650s in the comfort departement if, like me, you have a big head, as they have absolutely no clamping force. It also has an enormous soundstage which makes it great for gaming. And they look amazing. They're the only headphone I always leave out on display. Chicks dig a guy with fancy looking headphones.
      shinndigg, Feb 13, 2013