Classical Music: HD650 or HE-400?
Oct 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

Atriya

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I have ~$800 to spend on Headphone + DAC + Amp.
 
I listen to mostly classical music.
 
I had almost decided on:
 
Sennheiser HD650 ($385) + DacPort LX DAC ($250) + JDSLabs CMoy Amp ($60) = $695 for now - with the idea of replacing the CMoy with the Bottlehead Crack later.
 
However, I've just come across the new HE-400, which a lot of people seem to recommend over the HD650.
 
Would you recommend them over the HD650 for classical music?
 
If so, what's an optimal HE-400 + DAC + Amp setup for under $800?
 
EDIT: By classical music, I mean the full range: solo piano, violin, cello; symphonies, concertos, chamber music.
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 1:35 PM Post #2 of 17

clams

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I can't say I've heard the HE-400 but I've owned the HD650 for the past two years. HD650 has been great for classical. So much so that I've sold my AKG K702 in favor of the Sennheisers. They're excellent at pretty much every genre of classical although I'd say they shine the most with large symphonies and less so with solo violins. Not a knock on them, just an observation. I've actually nearly stopped thinking about upgrading after I built the Bottlehead Crack for them. I've actually had the cmoy and they'll do a decent job but the the Bottlehead Crack is just a ridiculous improvement, even above other amplifiers I've tried like the Matrix m-stage or Objective 2
 
The only thing really concerning me about the HE-400 is this huge midrange cavern that might not be great for a lot of instruments used in classical
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 2:18 PM Post #3 of 17

Atriya

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Thanks.
 
Yes, the HD650 is great for classical - that's why I almost decided on it.
 
I hear people raving about the new HE-400 though.
 
A comment from someone who owns both and listens to classical, would be very welcome. So would advice on which DAC + Amp, totaling to less than $400, has best synergy with the HE-400.
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 2:50 PM Post #4 of 17

Lord Voldemort

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Quote:
Thanks.
 
Yes, the HD650 is great for classical - that's why I almost decided on it.
 
I hear people raving about the new HE-400 though.
 
A comment from someone who owns both and listens to classical, would be very welcome. So would advice on which DAC + Amp, totaling to less than $400, has best synergy with the HE-400.

I don't know what clams mean by "midrange cavern" but my only concern for the HE-400 is that it might not quite have the soundstage to satisfy classical music music. That and its comfort level is below the HD-650. But I have never heard the HE-400 and that headphone should be at least quite decent for classical music.
 
The HD650 is great for classical music although I liked my HD598 better for its superior soundstage, more balanced frequency response, and superior comfort. Some music I use to audition classical music is the Bach Organ Trio Sonata because it covers everything from the subbass to the upper midrange, and also tests how well your headphones separate different voices. The HD650 sounded quite dark and made the bass sound bloated in many regions. Often I will test modern symphonies (Mahler, Prokofiev, etc.) for treble performance and that area felt a bit lacking on the HD650 as well. 
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 4:30 PM Post #6 of 17

Atriya

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@TMRaven:
 
I see you own both headphones.
 
Could you please tell me which you prefer for classical music, and why?
 
I have read your HE-400 vs D2000 review, where the HE-400 outscores the HD650.
 
Would you say this remains true when restricting the genre to classical?
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM Post #7 of 17

clams

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Quote:
I don't know what clams mean by "midrange cavern" but my only concern for the HE-400 is that it might not quite have the soundstage to satisfy classical music music. That and its comfort level is below the HD-650. But I have never heard the HE-400 and that headphone should be at least quite decent for classical music.
 
The HD650 is great for classical music although I liked my HD598 better for its superior soundstage, more balanced frequency response, and superior comfort. Some music I use to audition classical music is the Bach Organ Trio Sonata because it covers everything from the subbass to the upper midrange, and also tests how well your headphones separate different voices. The HD650 sounded quite dark and made the bass sound bloated in many regions. Often I will test modern symphonies (Mahler, Prokofiev, etc.) for treble performance and that area felt a bit lacking on the HD650 as well. 


 
 
This is what I meant by the "midrange cavern" on the HE-400. The Sennheisers seem a tad more flat which I enjoy more for classical but obviously that's subjective. I haven't listened to the HE-400 so that was only a minor concern I brought up. Obviously those that have listened to it would know better.
 
As for bloated bass and treble performance on the HD650, what are you using to amplify them? I had that problem with the m-stage and O2 but got a lot better results on other amps (mostly OTL). Also listened to a lot of modern classical albums like the Gunter Wand conducted Brahms symphonies (Classicstoday 10 SQ/10 AQ) and those problems were not there through the Crack. 
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 4:35 PM Post #8 of 17

KCxSmacker

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I love my he-400s. The soundstage is amazing and they can be modded with a headband from a senn. for more comfort. As for which is better for classical I feel it depends on the type of classical. While both will sound amazing, I would prefer the he-400 over the 650 mainly because of the bass quality/quantity. If you like anything with low end I feel the he-400 will win hands down. Take a look at this chart : http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm if you mainly listen to something that has lots of low end when played I would suggest the he-400. Dont think the he-400 does not shine elsewhere though. The mids are to die IMO.
 
cheers
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 4:45 PM Post #9 of 17

jerg

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Both would be great, depends on your priorities.
 
HE400s have better separation, speaker-like openness and timbre, upper treble / lower bass detail and texture, overall an ultra-detailed and "exciting" open sound.
 
HD650s have sweeter and smoother mids, more forward voicing, and overall a more integrative and "nice" smooth sound.
 
Pick your poison.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
This is what I meant by the "midrange cavern" on the HE-400. The Sennheisers seem a tad more flat which I enjoy more for classical but obviously that's subjective. I haven't listened to the HE-400 so that was only a minor concern I brought up. Obviously those that have listened to it would know better.


A few points about this:
1) those measurements were done with pleather pads; all head-fi HE400 owners now know that velour pads balance out the sound objectively, raises the upper mids by approx 5 dB, and lowers the 1kHz bump by 4 dB or so, meaning it is a gentle slope around the upper mids presenting the mids as laid-back, NOT hollow.
 
2) velour pads also even out the treble, extending the two "shelves" adjacent to the center of the treble hump, increasing upper treble and further connecting the mids with the treble.
 
3) it's definitely coloured still, however you need to hear it for yourself before making judgements. HeadRoom FR graphs are notoriously simplifying the nuances of headphone sounds; it is by no means even adjusted correctly in terms of perceived hearing compensations.
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 7:49 PM Post #10 of 17

planx

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ODAC+O2 best value/performance, by a mile. Can't think of ANYTHING that does things that well for that little. However, with that said, I never tried the O2 with the HE-400 so you might have to experiment a little. I did notice that the HE-400 and HE-500 excelled with Tube Amps while they were just "pretty" good with SS like the Fiio E9 and Asgard. I cannot stress this enough, a clean and good DAC is VERY VERY important. A DAC isn't supposed to color the sound and do the "amping" of headphones and people mistake that concept. To me, a great DAC is something that sounds fairly neutral and uncolored. The ODAC is a great example, it's a terrific DAC because it sounds fairly neutral and it's size is just perfect for transportable use, if you're into that kind of thing. 
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 10:07 PM Post #11 of 17

MattTCG

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I own both and I find them both to excel at Classical music. I like to listen to Vivaldi, Brahms and a few others. YoYo Ma gets a good bit of play for me. It's a close contest TBH. If I was really forced to pick just one hp for classical, I'd go with the hd650 (on the right amp). I just really enjoy the tone of the mids with the 650 listening to classical. 
 
Oct 27, 2012 at 10:36 PM Post #12 of 17

cheuh

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Quote:
I own both and I find them both to excel at Classical music. I like to listen to Vivaldi, Brahms and a few others. YoYo Ma gets a good bit of play for me. It's a close contest TBH. If I was really forced to pick just one hp for classical, I'd go with the hd650 (on the right amp). I just really enjoy the tone of the mids with the 650 listening to classical. 

How does the HD 650 sound with the E17, compared to the HE-400 with the E17?
 
Feb 27, 2013 at 5:08 PM Post #14 of 17

Fearless1

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As an owner of both as well, I reach for the 650 for classical. Honestly the 650 makes everything sound good when properly amped.<<<<important
 
I also love the HE-400, but there are some genera's it does better then others.
 
Either way it is a win win situation, they are both excellent.
 
Feb 27, 2013 at 5:25 PM Post #15 of 17

fabio-fi

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This is a tough decision. Both are great headphones for classical, the HE-400 have better sub-bass but the 650's are more refined. 
 
Just flip the coin 
wink.gif

 

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