Sennheiser HD 595 moving to HD 650 or HD 700
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smy1

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Hey I'm sort of a rare type I'm a sixteen year old audiophile and as you can imagine I'm on a shoestring budget. I own the fiio x5 and e12 combo paired with the sennheiser momentum, though I'm soon to upgrade to the cayin c5. I'm trying to buy my first true audiophile headphone and the hd700/650 are at the top of my list. With my gear would the difference between the two be earthshaking, is it worth dropping the extra 100+ to get the 700's? I listen to mostly edm, ambient, and r&b. Any suggestions would be great.

Your not the only one I am 17 :wink:

But which one will be better for edm 650 or the 700? My type is neutral sound with very clear vocals good separation good soundstage with good quality bass and sub bass but not overwhelming bass and some warmth in it with the Fiio x1 and nx1. I have the 595 but the vocals aren't really clear and realistic my favorite sound sig is the dunu 1000
 
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ProtegeManiac

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Music - No country or Rap, pretty much everything else. I love slow rock or Alt Rock  - Staind ( their older, depressing albums), Blue October, Some classical and classical vocal. Don't like heavy rock that is a mash of instruments. 
 
Just one note about that: when the audio system has a balanced enough response and has good instrument separation and imaging, even the most complex symphonic metal tracks will not end up like the audio equivalent of facing Hellenistic infantry. That's why I use an HD600 despite the "common sense" recommendation for Grado when one listens to heavier music - it won't sound like everything is being pushed at you like a bunch of pikes.
 
Just imagine what this looks like head-on.

 
 
 
 
 
Warning, I do not know the proper Audiophile terms, so please bear with me as I try to put aesthetics into words. Also, not to be rude, I would like to keep the scope of replies to Sennheiser 650 or 700 if that is ok, I appreciate all opinions but would prefer not to start a wild thread suggesting I go with a totally new brand I have no experience with.
 
I currently am trying to decide on a Sennheiser HD 650 or HD 700. I have a HD 595, and have been very happy with them. The time has come where I can't help but think there may be something I am missing though. Something better that will make me wonder how I could have missed this greatness for so long and probably be the last headphone I will ever buy. The 700s or 650 appear that they would do this for me.  I have spent a month trying to research as many reviews as I can, even as far as literally having the 700s sitting in my cart on amazon, but just cant justify 800 bucks for headphones unless its something well worth it. The following is - 1. My opinion of the headphones in question based on reading, and 2. Why I am getting buyers lock on pulling the trigger.
 
Unless you've actually heard what you want to upgrade to know for sure that it actually is (not just by reputation but by your own listening), this desire is usually a symptom of what is diagnosed in audio forums as upgraditis. Those who are perpetually upgrading or otherwise switching equipment are suffering the full blown effects of the infection more known as SARS, or Severe Audio Replacement Syndrome.
 
 
 
*I love my 595s. They seem very neutral and quality is amazing. They literally make everything sound so good. They are what I would view as entry level audiophile headphones, and as such, still have a flavor and quality levels that protect the listener from the flaws in the source material.
 
1. From what I can tell the 650s would be a worthy upgrade. They appear to have better bass than my 595s but may be too much of a warm dark bassy flavor. While this never affects the quality they still hide some of the detail. Almost like it steps on some of the analytical qualities of the headphones - too much veil. A very very fancy, nice thick veil hiding a very very high quality sonic  beauty- but still a veil and a maybe a too thick veil nonetheless. 
 
If you look at the graph, the shapes of their curves are similar, however while they're neck and neck at around 500hz to just 1,000hz, the HD650 has more bass response all the way down to 10hz, as well as the HD595 dipping down farther everywhere from 1,000hz to 10,000hz, and even where it rises the HD650 still rises farther up except at 11,000hz. That means that overall the HD650 would actually have more detail. The human brain however isn't a neutral interpreter of all sensory inputs (example: your nose is actually in your field of vision, but your brain ignores it...normally; it can take a while before you start ignoring it again after reading that), so in some cases people end up getting distracted by the bass response. Or, they're comparing the HD650 to other headphones with more treble, like the K701 (which also has a sharper peak at around 9khz, compared to the overall smoother curve of the HD650; although in terms of fit and imaging I prefer the AKG).
 

 
 
 
 
 
The 700s seem to improve in almost all aspects of the 650s. The veil is of an even higher quality and is not as thick. Still there is enough to protect you from source flaws, but some may be noticeable but is a worth while "sacrifice" as these are amazing headphones and are unbelievable outstanding with high end source material. The bass is the only concern, as all reviews say they have less than the 650s. That said, the bass they do have is on the level of precision and clarity we would expect from a premium German engineered product. Compared to the 650, the 700s are enough of an upgrade due to their HD 800 roots to justify the price over the 650s.
 
Looking at this graph with the HD700 response curve superimposed on the HD595's and HD650's, it has a weaker response in the midrange from around 1,500hz to 4,000hz, then there's a taller, two-peak mountain centered at around 4,500hz and 7,800hz. Subjective reviews claiming "generally" more detail are just hearing sharper cymbal crashes at the cost of reduced body in the vocals, but they somehow think that that is in effect more accurate overall when in fact it's just inaccurate in a different way than the HD595/600/650 are inaccurate. The HD800 has a stronger response where the HD700 is weakest and then moves the peaks at a lower range.
 
 

 
That said, what the HD700 and HD800 really have over the HD5xx/6x0 is the chassis design. You have the drivers mounted at an angle forward of the ears, the best a headphone can get to speakers with toe-in angles, resulting in a slightly deeper soundstage that you can't get otherwise (Crossfeed can't get that deep, and it does so at the cost of width). That's something you will not be able to mimic with EQ, while you can at least trim the peaks on the HD700 and HD800 to match where 1khz is and add a little bit to where they're weakest.
 
 
 
2. I am hesitant on the 650s as I keep thinking I am going to be missing out on something truly great if I pass on the 700s. While I am not a bass head, bass can add a lot. I do worry the 700 may lack the bass of even my 595, which in my opinion has the perfect amount. Will the 700s be at least as good as the 595 in the LEVEL of bass, while also improving the quality by a lot? I am not worried about them having too much bass, which is my concern with the 650. 
 
What you will miss out on the HD700 if you get the HD650 is the slightly deeper soundstage; it's up to you if it's worth spending double for it. As for missing out on bass, you can see in the graphs that they're neck and neck - what's happening with subjective reviews is that they hear more of the treble, especially that peak at 6,800hz, which is why others deem the HD700 ear-piercing. This is why it's better to look at graphs than rely solely on subjective reviews - you can connect what is being said subjectively to data and determine why they made that observation. It can't guarantee you'll have the same subjective observations that you can get from your own listening, but you can understand what led to those observations, like how you can see that the bass is actually not a problem, but the supposedly "detailed" treble actually is in terms of not really being "detailed" as it is actually "peaky," as well as in distracting listeners from all the bass it it's capable of, which is not less (and actually stronger by a hair) than the HD650.
 
Personally, here's how I'd approach that problem. If the HD700 is too expensive, then I'd much rather give up the soundstage, and if necessary EQ the bass on the HD650 (I use NeutronMusicPlayer to apply a wide, -2dB cut in the bass off my HD600). If I can afford it easily (as in I won't have to eat instant ramen instead of real ramen, or steak, for weeks), I'll just EQ that treble peak to just under where 1khz is.
 
One thing to note about the chassis design and bass response: the HD600 and HD650 out of the box may have very strong bass and it isn't necessarily the drivers, but how they fit. The metal headband frame is too round and has a strong (though actually comfortable) clamping force, which compresses the earpads and puts the drivers much nearer to the ears, contributing to the bass perception. Note that when performing the test on a mannequin head with a mic inside testers might not necessarily put on the same clamping pressure (ie it might be looser, and subjective reviewers talking about the HD6x0 bass could be wearing them tighter). What many people do is bend the metal headband frame to reduce the rounder shape at the exposed areas between the gimbals and the plastic headband aesthetic cover. Mine are practically straight (outwards from the headband plastic).
 
Here's an example with a headphone similarly known for strong bass - the Superlux HD330. First photo is how it looks stock, with instructions on where to bend (do not use the same instruction for the HD650); the second photo shows the end result on my headphone. The fit when worn is similar on both my HD600 and HD330 - just resting on my head with barely any clamping force around the earpads, with just enough friction to anchor to my earlobes. Basically, a lot like the fit of the AKG K7xx with the self-adjusting headband, or similar to the HD800/700.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
So I guess really, going from a HD 595 and liking "that type of "sound"" are the 700s worth it over the 650s?
 
Based on the graphs the HD650 has a sound curve more similar to the HD595, and it's not much more so that could be a good upgrade. The HD700 will cost more, the treble might not be to your liking, but you can EQ that if you use the right app with a parametric EQ (I use my SGS3 as a music server with USB digital audio, so I can apply corrections using NeutronMusicPlayer) and get imaging improvements that you can't get otherwise.
 
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francisco Z

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that was quite a flood of knowledge, and I've made my choice the 650 is the seemingly more reasonable option. Thanks a ton that post was extremely thorough! A thousand thanks my friend!
 
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francisco Z

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Well two months later I listened to both headphones and saved up the money and my final decision was to get the HD700. I did enjoy the HD650's warmth but I enjoyed the micro-detail of the HD700 even more and the treble issues were non-existant to me. Thanks for all the help and opinions guys but my decision became pretty clear after some time with both. So far Ive had my HD700 for two days paired with my fiio X5+e12 combo and thouroughy enjoying the vivid soundstage and clarity of the HD700.:):):D
 
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alynx

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There are a lot of headphones with peaks similar to the HD 700. Just to name a few: DT 880, K702, HE 5, SR 60. There is just way too much fuss about the HD 700s treble. 
Enjoy your HD 700 :)
 
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Tumalu

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I have to agree wholeheartedly with you on this one alynx. Just got the HD700 myself, hooked it up on my new Oehlbach XXL DAC (great German combi ^^) and I have never heard anything so beautifully in my life before. I am really enjoying it. The treble is just fine and the overall bass is good and apparent and certainly not too much. Didn't even need to change anything in my equalizer. I liked it just fine standard :)
 
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francisco Z

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Yeah I tried both, and the hd650 will make Edm very musical and pleasurable to listen too, but the HD700 just pumps out detail like no ones business, and in really sound design intensive edm the HD700s are awesome.  I went with the HD700s, right now they're hooked up to my fiio x5.
 
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