Sennheiser HD650 & Massdrop HD6XX Impressions Thread
Dec 2, 2015 at 9:29 PM Post #30,826 of 44,586

cuiter23

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  I think the consensus is that it's really not that hard to find an amp that will make the HD650 sing. Even my lowly Magni 2 and Vali will do the job admirably.

 
That's true, although I've found the o2 at high gain (6x) does a sub-par job. At 12 o'clock (quite loud but not deafening) the sound starts to fall apart and distortion is very prominent.
 
The HD650 does scale well with associated gear.
 
Dec 2, 2015 at 10:44 PM Post #30,827 of 44,586

painted klown

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Painted Klown, Tube amps tend to be better with higher impedance headphones on the whole. With low impedance, noise generated by tubes can be a slight problem. Senn is fine, but go down to 32 ohms and you'll find that the headphone is demanding more current, rather than voltage.

They are also more sensitive to amp hiss.

That's why in a way that I prefer the Polaris. It's more configurable and the gain can be taken right down, and yet at full throttle, it drives the Senn with ease.

The Ember foes a fantastic job with the Senns, but not so gepreat with say, my th900. Hiss becomes apparent.

This also depends on the tube used though.

Thanks for the info. With all of the Garage 1217 talk ITT, I took a look at their website and was pleasantly surprised that their stuff is all reasonably priced.
cool.gif

 
I looked at their line up and it looks like all of them have a single tube (Polaris being the exception) only? That would make tube rolling a lot easier and cheaper for those with zero tube experience (such as myself). I would have to order the pre-built amps, but even fully built, the prices weren't bad IMO. I will definitely be reading over their website to learn what I can from there. 
 
I'm thinking one of these little amps may be a good way to jump into tubes. Priced right, and you can roll the tubes (unlike Schiit Vali). With only having one tube to worry about, I think even a novice would be ok with one, yeah?
 
Having said all of that, the Schiit Valhalla 2 is also in the same price range, and they claim it can drive everything from IEMs to high impedance cans (even mentions Sennheiser specifically), so I may be able to "get more use" from one of them. 
 
From reading what you have wrote here, it looks like a Garage amp would be a "dedicated" amp, that probably wouldn't pair well with anything else I own (whereas as I think the Valhalla 2 probably will). I do, however, have an HD-600 that I ordered, but is still on back order. My CC hasn't been charged yet, and I have thought about cancelling the order after having my 650's for several days now, but I'm not sure if I would regret not getting the 600s. I snagged them on a sale for $250, so I think if I let the deal go, I may end up regretting it...or I will get them, and they will gather dust as my 650s will receive all of the "head time"...first world problems, I know.
tongue.gif

 
  What you say about high distortion levels causing damage it true enough, but considering the iphone and tablets inability to delver any real power I would not be concerned about their ability to injure your 650s.
 
"get my "gear lust" running high!"  
Welcome to the world of Audiophilia Nervosa.  I'd like to give you some advice like "run like hell", but I know you'll never listen. Maybe just read a few things written by a 90+ year old audiophile and one of the most intelligent and honest people to have ever graced this industry. Good Luck
 
http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/audio_critic_web1.htm#acl
http://www.biline.ca/audio_critic/mags/The_Audio_Critic_26_r.pdf

Thank you for the confirmation. Glad that I won't do any harm.
smily_headphones1.gif

 
Also, thanks for the links, I clicked on the first one and started reading through it. The dude was cracking me up! I have to say that I was agreeing with a lot of what he said though. Almost all of my "audiophile career" (for lack of a better term) has been on the Emotiva forum (the brand that introduced me to hi-fi audio) and most of the regulars from back in the early days sound just like the guy you linked to. Most of the guys over there are not cable/audio tweak "believers" so that is pretty much all I have known.
 
Over the past couple of months, I have been visiting this forum regularly (mostly reading) and I feel like it's a different world altogether on here. Expensive cables are almost the norm, and I have seen several posts where users swear up and down that their big $ USB cables really do sound that much better.
 
Strangely, I don't feel that either camp is lying. I do feel that confirmation bias, expectation bias, brain burn in, and other such things probably come into play in some cases, but I have seen guys get SERIOUSLY angry when it comes to cables. There have even been heated debates on the Emo forum about this. Eventually, Emotiva's CEO, Dan Laufman jumped in on one such thread and made the comment "Politics, religion, and cables". LOL! Never has there been a truer statement.
 
As for myself, I have all Emotiva and Monoprice cables, so I cannot comment on any of the esoteric stuff. I do admit that I would at least like to hear for myself some day. 
biggrin.gif

 
On topic: I have a feeling that my review of the 650 is going to be very short. I spent some time talking to my girlfriend about them tonight, and think I have pretty nailed down how I feel. However, I want to do some serious critical listening Friday after work (and into the night) before giving them a final judgement. 
 
Dec 2, 2015 at 11:57 PM Post #30,828 of 44,586

castleofargh

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  I think the consensus is that it's really not that hard to find an amp that will make the HD650 sing. Even my lowly Magni 2 and Vali will do the job admirably.

 
That's true, although I've found the o2 at high gain (6x) does a sub-par job. At 12 o'clock (quite loud but not deafening) the sound starts to fall apart and distortion is very prominent.
 
The HD650 does scale well with associated gear.

maybe a little unfair to blame the O2 for not behaving well when used wrongly? 
wink_face.gif

even on typical amp designs, it's usually advised to use the lowest gain options unless you can't go loud enough. which is even more important on the O2 as having high gain only forces us to use the lower part of the volume control that can have pretty bad channel imbalance. and then using 6.5X with a 2V or more home DAC is an easy way to go clip the O2, it is very well documented so here most likely the 6.5X is a 1 action, triple bad decisions ^_^.
 
 
 on the O2  the gain settings were primarily thought of as a mean to compensate for weak portable sources when used as portable amp with weak daps such as an ipod(yes the gain is to adjust the source in this case, not the headphone).
only with my sony A15 could I explain the need for 6.5X for a hd650 and loud computer volume setting. as the line out is somewhere in the 0.25v so 18db quieter than the 2V odac.
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 12:00 AM Post #30,829 of 44,586

abhishekSPS

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  Over the past couple of months, I have been visiting this forum regularly (mostly reading) and I feel like it's a different world altogether on here. Expensive cables are almost the norm, and I have seen several posts where users swear up and down that their big $ USB cables really do sound that much better.
 
Strangely, I don't feel that either camp is lying. I do feel that confirmation bias, expectation bias, brain burn in, and other such things probably come into play in some cases, but I have seen guys get SERIOUSLY angry when it comes to cables. There have even been heated debates on the Emo forum about this. Eventually, Emotiva's CEO, Dan Laufman jumped in on one such thread and made the comment "Politics, religion, and cables". LOL! Never has there been a truer statement.
 
As for myself, I have all Emotiva and Monoprice cables, so I cannot comment on any of the esoteric stuff. I do admit that I would at least like to hear for myself some day. 
biggrin.gif

 

here is what Roger Russell from McIntosh says about cables:
 
"We have been told by advertising that the exotic speaker wires offer fabulous advantages over ordinary lamp cord. It would seem reasonable that using this same wire for lamps would also enhance their performance. In the same vein as wire literature, you can have your lamp reproduce light with the full spectrum color fidelity of natural daylight, finally allowing you see light the way it should be seen and bring out the natural performance of your lamp. It could offer greater warmth, detail, brilliance, definition and speed by providing wider bandwidth and reduced skin effect. It can provide a distortion free illumination that reduces eye strain, resulting in clearer vision and optimal color perception. It can allow you to work for longer periods of time with less visual distraction or fatigue. Just imagine what it might do for your electric razor or microwave, etc.!"
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 1:06 AM Post #30,831 of 44,586

cuiter23

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  maybe a little unfair to blame the O2 for not behaving well when used wrongly? 
wink_face.gif

even on typical amp designs, it's usually advised to use the lowest gain options unless you can't go loud enough. which is even more important on the O2 as having high gain only forces us to use the lower part of the volume control that can have pretty bad channel imbalance. and then using 6.5X with a 2V or more home DAC is an easy way to go clip the O2, it is very well documented so here most likely the 6.5X is a 1 action, triple bad decisions ^_^.
 
 
 on the O2  the gain settings were primarily thought of as a mean to compensate for weak portable sources when used as portable amp with weak daps such as an ipod(yes the gain is to adjust the source in this case, not the headphone).
only with my sony A15 could I explain the need for 6.5X for a hd650 and loud computer volume setting. as the line out is somewhere in the 0.25v so 18db quieter than the 2V odac.

 
That is a good point, I wish I had the o2 to test it again on the lower gain setting (with the volume knob turned higher, of course.)
 
I found it strange that my Asgard 2 on high gain had no issues but when switched to the o2 on high gain (6.5x) same volume as the Asgard 2 the o2 completely fell apart. 
 
I'll see if I can borrow my friends o2 again. Anyhow, thanks for the response!
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 1:09 AM Post #30,832 of 44,586

mrflarp

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Picked up one of these recently looking for a good neutral sounding set (and also my first Sennheiser headphones). I probably have less than 20 hours on these so far, but they sound pretty fantastic even before being really burned in. I actually like these on solid state amps (currently using m9XX) more than tubes (on Modi+Vali) for most of what I've listened to on them so far.
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 1:56 AM Post #30,833 of 44,586

Sal1950

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  Thanks for the info. With all of the Garage 1217 talk ITT, I took a look at their website and was pleasantly surprised that their stuff is all reasonably priced.
cool.gif

 
I looked at their line up and it looks like all of them have a single tube (Polaris being the exception) only? That would make tube rolling a lot easier and cheaper for those with zero tube experience (such as myself). I would have to order the pre-built amps, but even fully built, the prices weren't bad IMO. I will definitely be reading over their website to learn what I can from there. 
 
I'm thinking one of these little amps may be a good way to jump into tubes. Priced right, and you can roll the tubes (unlike Schiit Vali). With only having one tube to worry about, I think even a novice would be ok with one, yeah?
 
Having said all of that, the Schiit Valhalla 2 is also in the same price range, and they claim it can drive everything from IEMs to high impedance cans (even mentions Sennheiser specifically), so I may be able to "get more use" from one of them. 
 
From reading what you have wrote here, it looks like a Garage amp would be a "dedicated" amp, that probably wouldn't pair well with anything else I own (whereas as I think the Valhalla 2 probably will). I do, however, have an HD-600 that I ordered, but is still on back order. My CC hasn't been charged yet, and I have thought about cancelling the order after having my 650's for several days now, but I'm not sure if I would regret not getting the 600s. I snagged them on a sale for $250, so I think if I let the deal go, I may end up regretting it...or I will get them, and they will gather dust as my 650s will receive all of the "head time"...first world problems, I know.
tongue.gif

 
Thank you for the confirmation. Glad that I won't do any harm.
smily_headphones1.gif

 
Also, thanks for the links, I clicked on the first one and started reading through it. The dude was cracking me up! I have to say that I was agreeing with a lot of what he said though. Almost all of my "audiophile career" (for lack of a better term) has been on the Emotiva forum (the brand that introduced me to hi-fi audio) and most of the regulars from back in the early days sound just like the guy you linked to. Most of the guys over there are not cable/audio tweak "believers" so that is pretty much all I have known.
 
Over the past couple of months, I have been visiting this forum regularly (mostly reading) and I feel like it's a different world altogether on here. Expensive cables are almost the norm, and I have seen several posts where users swear up and down that their big $ USB cables really do sound that much better.
 
Strangely, I don't feel that either camp is lying. I do feel that confirmation bias, expectation bias, brain burn in, and other such things probably come into play in some cases, but I have seen guys get SERIOUSLY angry when it comes to cables. There have even been heated debates on the Emo forum about this. Eventually, Emotiva's CEO, Dan Laufman jumped in on one such thread and made the comment "Politics, religion, and cables". LOL! Never has there been a truer statement.
 
As for myself, I have all Emotiva and Monoprice cables, so I cannot comment on any of the esoteric stuff. I do admit that I would at least like to hear for myself some day. 
biggrin.gif

 
On topic: I have a feeling that my review of the 650 is going to be very short. I spent some time talking to my girlfriend about them tonight, and think I have pretty nailed down how I feel. However, I want to do some serious critical listening Friday after work (and into the night) before giving them a final judgement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lG-3KyURXqk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVDTwzCKIC4
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 2:13 AM Post #30,834 of 44,586

jimmers

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  here is what Roger Russell from McIntosh says about cables:
 
"We have been told by advertising that the exotic speaker wires offer fabulous advantages over ordinary lamp cord. ...

And now they make, advertise and presumably sell them.
More ironic than his quote? Maybe.
 
Edit: Available even in Australia for only $2,395.00 AUD for 3 Metre set
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 2:31 AM Post #30,835 of 44,586

Sal1950

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  And now they make, advertise and presumably sell them.
More ironic than his quote? Maybe.
 
Edit: Available even in Australia for only $2,395.00 AUD for 3 Metre set

Yea you can pay over $3K for a 6 foot power cord too.  LOL
What about the miles of wire from your outlet to the power station? Incredible how gullible people can be.
But sadly way too many folks drank Jim Jone's KoolAid too. :frowning2:
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 2:46 AM Post #30,836 of 44,586

Michael T

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Power cords and connectors can have a surprising effect tone, speed and soundstage. I'm not saying it's wise to spend huge money on power cords as you'll get a better return on upgraded components. It is worth exploring if you have an end game set-up.
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 3:30 AM Post #30,837 of 44,586

Solrighal

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I started out with an O2 and as much as I admire it's design & execution it's not in the same league as the Project Ember. Also, the Project Ember is a lot more flexible than the Valhalla 2 and will work very well with a broad range of headphones.
 
Dec 3, 2015 at 4:00 AM Post #30,838 of 44,586

olor1n

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A lot of posts to wade through.
 
Quote:
 
  Any consensus on the recommended burn-in time for the HD650s, or the Valhalla 2, for that matter? Is there anything I should be aware of while I'm getting acquainted with this setup? Do's and don'ts? This is my first pair of full-sized cans, so I'm stupid excited for it to arrive. 

 
The HD650s and the Valhalla 2 are an excellent pairing, as is the HD650s and the Asgard 2. The Valhalla will deliver it's peak of power ( typically 800 miliwatts per channel ) into your 300 ohm HD650s. 
 
I own the HD650 as well as the Valhalla 2 and the Asgard 2, and I'll honestly say I cannot hear a difference between them. They are both that good. 
 
I'm not a big believer in burn-in, or tube rolling for that matter, so when I get new gear I just choose my favorite tracks and start listening. Tyll Hertsens from Innerfidelity summed up his burn-in testing with this statement. "The miracle is in your head ... not in the headphones.".
 
As always, YMMV.
 
Enjoy your new system. You might find it's all you ever need.

 
Tube-rolling does not require "belief". Yes, on some amps the differences between tubes are minuscule, but there are designs that will convey these differences in a much less subtle manner. The Valhalla 2 is such an amp. While the stock input tubes are very good, rolling some vintage Heerlen factory Amperex tubes highlights the Valhalla 2's ability to change. Soundstage, imaging, bass impact, organic mids, crystalline highs - these are all affected and far from subtle.
 
 
So, my question...

Any consensus on the recommended burn-in time for the HD650s, or the Valhalla 2, for that matter? Is there anything I should be aware of while I'm getting acquainted with this setup? Do's and don'ts? This is my first pair of full-sized cans, so I'm stupid excited for it to arrive. 

I've got that set-up, they are fantastic from the start. Imo my 650's were awesome the first time I put them on so I'm not into the whole burn in thing. I think you'll be very pleased with that setup, enjoy

 
Agreed that the HD650 sounds like an HD650 straight out of the box. People are fussing over burn-in and depriving themselves of enjoyment with unfounded audio nervosa.
 
The Valhalla 2 also sounded very good out of the box. I've owned quite a few Schiit components and all of them have changed for the better after a few hundred hours of burn-in. To my surprise though, the Valhalla 2 burn-in change hasn't been that drastic in the few weeks I've owned it. What I have noticed in every listening session, is that the Valhalla 2 sounds noticeably better after it's been running for about an hour, when tubes are aglow and the top of the chassis is hot enough to cook a steak.
 
 
Actually I have the vahalia2 and it is sublime with my 650's & 800's. Bottlehead crack is another great option

How highs and upper mids sound with HD650?

 
 
Depends on the tubes used. Stock is pretty good though. Just a tad dry and I find the soundstage somewhat lacking in depth. I'm listening with Amperex Orange Label A-frames at the moment and there's an organic, analogue quality to the whole presentation. Coloured? Yes, but damn engaging.
 

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