sennheiser hd650: burn in time and veil? first impressions
Feb 26, 2006 at 5:08 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

mcygn

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[size=x-small]Sennheiser HD 650: veiled? burn in? replacement cables?- a first week[/size]

Having read alot about the wonders of the hd650 in this forum, i tried a set at a local shop: they let me hear detail via a musical fidelity dac hooked up to a decent cd player (an x-ray, in the shop) and that to an x-can v3 that my existing closed back studio phones - which i enjoy tremendously - seemingly did not.

So i have had a brand new set of 650's for 5 days.

First Week's Impressions
So far, they have been a disappointment: now i know what posters here mean about a "veil" over the sound. There's a kind of thickness that is a surprise. Not muddied but muffled-ish. I've noticed this particularly with female vocals, but also with orchestral work. Where solo strings can rip through very nicely, there is a murk when the full orchestra kicks in. French horn sections sound like they have cotton batting in them. I was expecting something fast, tight, distinct, throughout the spectrum.

Burn In?
The headphones have been left on with symphonies pumping through them for the past 5 days - so they're past the 100 hour mark, and yet the thickness remains.

First question is: what is the burn in time for these phones?
Second question: does this veil go away after that point, or is it a constant "feature" of these phones?

Third party cables
Of the reviews on this site of the 650s, more than a few mention using the phones with third party cables like the silver dragon or zu mobius.
Indeed, one of the richest reviews makes it clear that the phones were NOT reviewed with the stock cable:
jude's at http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showt...threadid=48059

There is also considerable interest in replacement cables:
http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showt...ser+650+cables
http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showt...ser+650+cables

Such reviews on cables suggest that they are one way to address the veil problem, but is it really so bad that a $495 set of headphones requires an additional outlay of $100-200 to pull the sponges out? That's a crass way of putting it, isn't it, but perhaps you know what i mean?

So Far
So while i like what i'm hearing in many respects, there's simultaneously a murkiness or cotton batten-ness that i wasn't expecting, and find disappointing - so far.

I'm hoping that another hundred hours will rectify this, but i'm not sure, from what i've heard in this forum, that that will be the case; that a costly cable upgrade may be the only solution?

Looking forward to replies/experiences of people with hd650's...

points i'd like to hear about:
burn in time: how long? changes to expect?
only replacement cables as a solution to pull the orchestra and horns out of the mud?
or after an approriate burn in time, life will be sweet again and replacement cables only sweeter still?

bonus question: how take the ear pads off (without damaging the phones)?

Thank you for yoru time
mcygn

system:
musical fidelity
version 3s of
x-psu driving an x-dac, x-10 buffer, into x-can
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 5:18 PM Post #2 of 25

TheSloth

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They just don't seem to be the right cans for your system. I was about to say 'get a different amp' and explain why, but I hate it when people ask you to change your entire system just because your headphones doesn't sound quite right. In the end, that is in fact what I ended up doing, but $>3k later, it's hardly simple or cost effective. There is some concensus amonst those who believe in the veil that the top tier balanced amps really wake it up. But that's a slightly silly recommendation at this point.

Upgrade cables do NOT change the headphone to perhaps the degree you are looking for (how could they, it's still the same driver?) and require an extra investment in something that you are already not feeling particularly great about. I really feel that the cables are for people who love the headphone and just want to extract more. Return it or sell it, and head for the K701 or DT880 (in that order).

Let's not get into an argument about 'the veil' again. But I do suspect you have a rather warm, tubey system that will bring out the worst of the 650 - the 650 is only 'slightly' warm for classical music, however when you add slightly warm to a system that is slightly warm, you get very warm! Those same qualities should bring out the best in the DT880 certainly, and the K701 I just don't know.

edit: just looked again at your system, and saw you have the all tube X system, including the X-10 buffer. That signal is going through a lot of tubes. Try it without the X-10.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 5:42 PM Post #3 of 25

vpivinylspinner

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I am burning in some HD-650s through a Aria Corda now. I have only listened to them so far through this amp being fed via USB from iTunes. I think I understand what you are referring to as the veil. On dynamic changes there seems to be a grunge of some sort that swells with the music. It was very bad when they were new but I notice it significantly less now. I don't know if I just got used to it or if burn in settled the problem. The sound has also opened up through burn in resulting in a much better sound that fresh from the box. I am also thinking about replacement cables as with the stock cables they have the ability to sound wonderful on many songs but a bit boring on others. I am looking for something to liven them up a bit as there are some things they do very well but for others, and most of the music I listen to on my main system, I prefer the Beyerdynamics DT-880s. I have a set of Grado SR-225s in the mail that were intended for my office system, but after hearing strengths and weaknesses of the two phones I have now I might have to resort to changing phones based on source/music. I also have a new to me Gilmore Dynamic V2-SE coming that might at least make running two sets a bit easier and hopefully might bring a bit more than the very good Aria Corda.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:30 PM Post #4 of 25

smeggy

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This is the reason why so many of us get a little polarised over the upper senn's. Personally I find them irritatingly dull/muffled/lifeless/recessed/thick whatever you want to call it. I've gotten to the stage where I can't stand to listen to them anymore and the notion of having to spend another few hundred bucks on a replacement cable and maybe another whole setup just to adjust the senns to a listenable state is almost laughable when you could simply get more suitable 'phones. It's not like Senn's are on another rarified plateau or anything. Lot's of people here love their muffled qualities, you may not be one of them. Oh, and burn-in does nothing to help with the veil.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:36 PM Post #5 of 25

PhilS

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I agree with TheSloth. No use arguing about the veil . . . .again. I have never heard it in my system, and other poplular phones sound bright to me. Some people prefer one kind of sound and others prefer another type of sound. It sounds like the HD650 is not for you. As to burn in (and there's no point in arguing about this also . . . again), some have reported that the "veil" or whatever diminishes or disappears over time, so there's no harm in giving it more time to see if they are right or wrong, if it's not inconvenient. But, again, it sounds like these cans may not be your cup of tea. Everybody has different preferences.
 
Feb 26, 2006 at 6:37 PM Post #6 of 25

markl

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Quote:

I was about to say 'get a different amp' and explain why, but I hate it when people ask you to change your entire system just because your headphones doesn't sound quite right.


Word. Find a headphone you like first, then build a system around them. Aftermarket cables are throwing good money after bad if you just don't take to the basic sound of the cans. Cables do make a difference, but IMO, should be used by people that already like the cans in the first place.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 12:45 AM Post #7 of 25

Stoney

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Senns have a dip in the upper mid frequency response that is intended to compensate for the resonance that results from having the headphone so close to your eardrum. The idea is to make it sound like the music is coming from a distance, as it can sound on good speaker systems. But to engineer this notch, they had to decide on an "average" ear, the length of the canal, the shape of the pinna, etc.

I think a lot of the disagreement about Senn phones is due to physiological differences. There is nothing to argue about... there are just those who's hearing works well with them, and those who do not.

If you are in the "not" camp, don't throw more money at them. I like them with the stock cables, but my Cardas cable makes a huge difference. If you don't find them appealing with the stock cable, albeit not as detailed as you'd like, you may not be satisfied even once the cable is upgraded.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 12:58 AM Post #8 of 25

Zorander

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I found the HD-650 take a looong time to properly burn-in. Around 100-200 hours mark is not a joke. From there, these cans begin sounding more open, with much less of that bloated bass. I have also since defoamed the phones (and replaced them with thinner material). Now, whenever I listen to the cans, I hear a well-extended and refined-sounding pair of cans, with a little touch of bass and warmth. I personally cannot hear anything veiled with these cans, which in turn also sound best to me with stock cables.

That is coming from someone who likes the Sennheiser signature sound. If, after more exposure to these cans, you still do not find them to your liking, sell them off and get a different pair of cans. No one particular brand of phones can satisfy everyone after all.

Cheers!
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 1:06 AM Post #9 of 25

TheSloth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Stoney
Senns have a dip in the upper mid frequency response that is intended to compensate for the resonance that results from having the headphone so close to your eardrum. The idea is to make it sound like the music is coming from a distance, as it can sound on good speaker systems. But to engineer this notch, they had to decide on an "average" ear, the length of the canal, the shape of the pinna, etc.

I think a lot of the disagreement about Senn phones is due to physiological differences. There is nothing to argue about... there are just those who's hearing works well with them, and those who do not.

If you are in the "not" camp, don't throw more money at them. I like them with the stock cables, but my Cardas cable makes a huge difference. If you don't find them appealing with the stock cable, albeit not as detailed as you'd like, you may not be satisfied even once the cable is upgraded.



Very nicely put. It's very rare that someone bothers to point out that the frequency response of the 650 is tuned for valid psycho-acoustic reasons. Of course, psycho-acoustics by their very nature vary from person to person, so the results will be more accurate for some than others. But it's good to note that it is done in the name of 'accuracy' even if for a particular set of ears it fails to achieve this.

Anyway, again, burn them in for a few more days, and if you are no more excited by them, sell them and move on. There are plenty of people who would be happy to take them off your hands!
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 1:23 AM Post #10 of 25

spike33

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Slightly muffled at first, started opening up after 50 hrs, at 100hrs, it was completely clear, I hear no veil even compared to K701. I'm using stock cable. I don't know anything about your setup but maybe it doesn't have synergy with HD650.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 3:01 AM Post #11 of 25

OceanEnthusiast

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i have some hd580's, and for me the burn-in had mostly to do with my ears getting used to the sound. just had to get used to them, especially if you're used to bright headphones. but in comparison to other headphones, the 'veil' is a sennheiser characteristic. sometimes my ears find it more comfortable on my eardrums, sometimes i lust for more sparkle. try listening to the hd650's exclusively for a week.
 
Feb 27, 2006 at 7:31 PM Post #12 of 25

mcygn

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What a difference a day makes...
Thank you for your time on this thread about sound. It's great. It's particularly rewarding to hear head-fi'ers say "what sounds good to you is right for you" - and to build the system around the sound you like.

I will say, that the burn in now at about 150hrs is getting a different vibe on the music - whether that's me adjusting or the phones or both, as one poster suggests, i'm not sure, but they seem clearer than even a day ago. I've also taken a poster's suggestions to try just listening to the hd650's straight without jumping back to my reference set. That's been instructive. This may be why they're growing on me.

As for my system and the hd650's and one kind poster's suggestions that perhaps the tubes are overwarm for these headphones (if i'm not misinterpretting): i note - other posters have similar systems, and have said the "650's sing" with tubes (http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showp...4&postcount=11) in general. Wes Philips lauds the 650/x-canv3 combo in particular (http://www.onhifi.com/product/sennheiser_hd650.htm). But in taking the suggestion, (can too many tubes be too much?) I've been going back and forth between with and without the x-10 tube buffer: if anything, the x-10 adds a spaciousness, rather than warmth, per se. That's interesting. Thank you for the suggestion. It's been helpful. Indeed, on a related note, if i had to chose between the x-dac and the x-10, i'd get the x-10.

I have a few more tangentially related, comparitive questions, but they're perhaps more "new thready",
re terms used in this thread, such as bright, neutral, and psychoaccoustic.

I've posted these queries at
http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=166124

Hope to see you there!
Thanks again for your time and good ideas and encouragement.

mcygn
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 3:58 PM Post #13 of 25

mcygn

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A week and 100+ hours of burn in later, and the senn's are sounding remarkably more open (or perhaps i'm acclimitizing) but the detail experience is more distinct, clearer, more present.

So, lessons learned: if evaluating a pair of hd650's, it may be worth testing a pair in store that's clocked between 200-300 hours. The difference from the out of the box experience is compelling.

Also, if possible, take one of the above poster's advice and just listen with the hd650's for awhile and self-acclimitize, too.

thanks again for the info.

mcygn
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 4:02 PM Post #14 of 25

mrarroyo

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Since it seems you are enjoying them more try a little test, remove the foam and see if the sound is more to your liking. If no put the foam back in, if yes then get a panty hose and cut a piece to act as a barrier to dust and hair. Good luck.
 
Mar 4, 2006 at 4:34 PM Post #15 of 25

coco

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I think I may be in the Senn camp, I just don't know! I listened to the 595s a couple of weeks ago and was interested in the sound. I have the 880s now and love them, but not for all types of music. I need a all-rounder. See my sig for a WTT.
Thanks, Colin
 

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