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Over-Ear item created by , May 5, 2010
Pros - Varm, detailed and intimate sound
Cons - Pads could be softer / headband should be less thight
1) My setup at home: Naim DAC - Naim Headline - HD650. I love it. It's like being in a dark room sitting in the midst of the band playing - or rather inside each and every instrument simultaneously. My only complaint is that sometimes on some specific recordings I get the feeling I might prefer a slightly colder, more distant soundstage. The HD650 seems to have a slight bass "hump", which usually is very enjoyable, but sometimes can get a bit too much. Can't win 'em all
I also want to add that I experienced that the 650's needed 50 hours + burn-in. I was actually quite dissapointed at first.
2) Did a comparison for an hour or so in a dealers listening-room on these three great headsets on a Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear Amp using a rather expensive firewire-dac as a source.
1) Grado GS1000i
2) Sennheiser HD800
3) Sennheiser HD650
The 650s had a presence in the mids (vocals, sax, piano etc) the others simply couldn't match. Grado's are good - but I feel they are too bright for me. HD800 felt more bright, polite and subtle than the 650's and are terribly comfy. They all deliver plenty of detail, but the 650's make you listen more to the music...
The Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear struck me as a very, very good amp with the HD650's. (EDIT They are also great wtih the Grace m902, which I presently own.
(EDIT): I have now owned the HD800 and sold them. They sounded at worst anemic and bright, but detail and soundstage to die for. Now I have the T1 and HD650 - they are a good complementary pair. I alter between them after mood and recordings. T1's advantage is in the soundstage and its more "airy" sound signature. But if I had to keep only one (ignoring financial value), it would be the HD650.
Pros - Good with all kinds of music. Very revealing of micro details.
Cons - Hard to think of any.
I bought these used in near mint condition and they were already burnt in.
The so called Sennheiser veil won't bother you that much. You might notice highs rolling slightly off on instruments like harps. Some headphones might make Loreena McKennitt's harp playing almost pinch your ears, but on HD650 it's a pleasure to listen to.
I have never owned headphones of this quality before and it was something of a revelation to hear FLAC files through these headphones. Suddenly I heard details and sounds never heard before even though I have owned some of my CD's for 23 years.
These headphones obviously needs a separate headphone amplifier whether you're going to use them on your portable rig or on your stereo. Ordinary portable mp3 players can't play the HD650's high enough and the headphone amps built into CD players and pre amps might not be of good enough quality to take fully advantage of the HD650's.
Pros - Work well with pretty much every genre; extremely relaxing; superb bass; look great
Cons - A little bit of a tight clamp
I've owned these headphones for around a year now, when I first bought them they were a quantum leap forward in my headphone listening life. It felt like a big spend as I had to buy a desktop amp and a dac at the same time and it took a pay rise at the point where I was questioning the wisdom of it all to finally pull the trigger. I never looked back.
It is funny that the cost seemed so extreme to me now; once you delve into the audio enthusiasts world and see the prices some other headphones go for you realise that the HD650 is in fact a serious bargain, especially since many people (myself included) think it is a far better phone than many of those higher priced offerings.
The sound signature is one with bass emphasised yet superbly controlled and clear; I am definitely in the camp that thinks that a respectable boost in the bass region makes music sound more natural. Perhaps this is because the majority of cheap music systems have speakers that put out uneven bass so producers make the decision to counteract that with reduced bass? Whatever the reason, the HD650 level of bass and mid-bass is spot on for making the music sound real and natural and live.
Laid back is another term often used to describe these headphones and for good reason. Some people call this a "veil" over the sound but I think that again, what they are reproducing is a very lifelike sound. In real life the source of all sound is not an inch of so from the ear like with headphones, everything does seem a little pushed back from us and since we are used to this I find that it adds to the natural feeling of the phones.
In terms of sound stage, well I used to think it was perfect, but since I got the AKG K702 I have to say I have found myself wishing the HD650 could be a little spacier. Everything else about the headphones sound sig, from the laid back presentation to the natural bass boost seems to be aiming for a realistic sounding reproduction of live sound so to have it all so close around the head is a little self defeating. That said, it is certainly big enough for analytical listening and beats other high end phones, like Grados, by a country mile.
Since everything about the sound engineering of these phones seems to be aimed towards making you forget you are wearing them it does seem an odd decision for the product designers to have added a clamp so tight you really cannot be unaware they are on your head. This is well counteracted by the softness of the very comfortable pads and I was very used to it but when I got my AKG K702 I did start becoming a bit less forgiving. When my other main headphones were the MS2i with flats the HD650 showed up favourably in the comfort stakes, but with the velour laden K702 with its self adjusting headband and super light clamp I definitely now feel the pressure on my temples of the HD650. I've read about people bending parts of the headband to relieve this. I've also seen pictures of snapped headbands as a result so am going to play it safe and live with it. It has slowly reduced over a year and I imagine will disappear completely in the future. This is a shame though as the sound of these phones is one I find extremely relaxing and this effect is negated by an unfortunate product design decision.
This is the one minor bugbear regarding a high quality, great value package. Everything about them screams quality, from the classy timeless design to the velour pads and padded headband to the sound when you put them into action. While there are some genres other phones do better with (K702 certainly a better option for classical and electronica) there is no genre these do not do proud. So long as they don't break (and I do baby these headphones) I would not be surprised if I'm still putting these on my head in retirement.
Pros - Non Fatiguing, Accurate Yet Delicious
Cons - Unless You Can Properly Amp and Source, Don't Bother
I was enjoying these just fine using an RSA SR-71A portable amp. Quite powerful little amp for a portable.
Recently purchased a Channel Island Headphone Amp with upgraded Power Supply. Wow ! I thought I had heard the HD650 but in fact what I had been listening to was trash compared to what these are capable of when properly amped. Expansive soundstage, deep, powerful bass, crystal clear highs and a midrange to make you drool. Top notch headphone ONLY if you feed it properly.
Pros - Smooth, non-fatiguing sound, comfortable, well-balanced sonic signature
Cons - Sub-bass could be deeper, treble could be slightly more airy
My first Sennheiser was the HD555, which was a real gem for its price bracket, and then when it broke, I replaced it with the HD600. I immediately exchanged it for the HD650 as I found the HD600 to sound so similar to the HD555 (just a little bit more treble mainly) that the price difference wasn't justified. The HD650 is very similar to the HD600, but with a bit more weight in the bass, and a slightly smoother sound overall. But in any case, these upgrades are all diminishing returns, as the HD555 really is excellent already.
The HD650's clamping force is strongest of the three, but it's still comfortable enough that I often forget to take them off after I was done listening to something. The velour earcups are always the most comfortable to me compared to leather, pleather, or foam.
In terms of looks, the Sennheiser are probably lagging behind all the competitors, looking kind of drab and boring, while the HD800 takes things to the opposite extreme, looking like some science-fiction head gear.
I quite like the Sennheiser sonic signaure, which many people refer to as being relaxed, or veiled. I think of it as being very smooth and non-offensive. The treble and upper mids never get fatiguing or too bright, and the overall tonal balance is very good, with nothing sticking out or recessed in any of the frequency ranges. The sub-bass rolls off around 30Hz and I wish the HD650 had more extended sub-bass and weight, since that's what it needs in order to sound like a full-range speaker system. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50, ES-10, and Denon AH-D7000 all do this very well--sounding like there's a subwoofer in the headphones. The treble of the Sennheiser is nice and smooth and articulate, but it seems to lack just a little bit of that airiness that audiophiles really love.
Overall, I tend to think of the Sennheiser HD5xx/6xx series as workhorse headphones that sound great, are very comfortable, and are never offensive. They may not win awards for looks or have that really high-end "magical" hi-fi sound, but they are tonally well-balanced and very pleasant to listen to.
Pros - Warm sound signature, detailed, non-fatiguing
Cons - 3-blob soundstage, clamping a little strong at first
The HD650's don't do anything really wrong.
They have a natural sound signature and slightly elevated midbass that is easy on the ear (non-fatiguing).
Most people will find that they appreciate their sound.
They are not the final word in transparency and speed, but they are advanced enough technically to allow them to be true to the source material, offering an excellent sonic window into the music.
This neutrality allows them to be used for reference purposes; as a studio headphone mixes done on them translate well to monitors.
Similarly, they sound great with all genres, and don't dominate any particular one.
For a beginner head-fi'er, HD650's paired with a <$500 SS amp and a cheap DAC might be the last headphone rig you ever need.
Inversely, the HD650 scales very well with upgrades, sounding best to these ears with a powerful tube amp.
However, If you don't like the sound of these phones on first (amped) listen, don't try change the sound signature with cable upgrades because the differences are relatively subtle.
Pros - seductive vocals, overall SQ, relaxing signature combined with a good speed
Cons - soundstage is not large enough, clamping force is incomfotable for big heads
There are some who say HD650 demands for expensive amps. I disagree, HD650 is great with lesser sources/amps and excellent with higher gear. From Hi-Fi cans I tried (DT990, DT880, HD600, AD2000, AD1000PRM, W5000, D2000, K701), HD650 is less finicky to pair, while it is on top of this heap in terms of SQ. It is also moderatley priced for Hi-Fi can, half of those mentioned above are more expensive. Add that I bought mine barely used for $150, so it is a keeper for me.
Soundstage becomes bigger with better amps, like WooAudio 3 with upgraded tubes. Clamping force can be reduced, if you store HD650 with some spreader for headband. I recommend not to store it on a things like basketball, since you will flatten the earpads.
Pros - Great bass, scales well
Cons - 3-blob soundstage
A pair of headphones I wish I kept. Great bass, excellent highs with the right equipment. Scales with the best of equipment. Everyone should own a pair at least once.