Ultrasone HFI-650 revisited
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dougli

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These phones now have about 48 hours of burnin, so I thought I'd see how they sound. Sound path was from a Sony DVP-NS500V DVD player through a Behringer GEQ-3102 equalizer, a Meier Analoguer, and a Corda Blue amp. Unfortunately, there were some background conversations in the room. Also keep in mind that I have tinnitus.

The first album I ran through them was Eva Cassidy's Songbird, a blend of studio and edited live recordings. My current favorite headphone for this one is the (unmodified) HD600. When compared to the Senn, the HFI-650 lacks fullness and refinement. But it didn't come off too badly. Its bass is more impactful. The midrange seemed rather similar, and higher frequencies were represented nicely, although Eva's voice was a little harsh. But the closed, constricted sound of this closed phone was no match for the openess of the HD600.

The second album was Nightwish's Over The Hills and Far Away, also a mixture of live and studio recordings. For this one I normally pick the (unmodified) DT931. In comparison to this phone, the HFI-650 lacked detail and complexity. But here again, it had some good points. The bass response is more energetic and crisp. The mids and highs were fine; just not up to the standards of the DT931. Tarja's voice came through quite well, although it was not up to the clarity of the DT931. The 650's closed can acoustics also presented themselves as a distractant.

So it is clear that the HFI-650 is not in the same league as the HD600 and the DT931. Frankly, I don't think it is meant to be. It does sound better to me than any other closed phones that I've heard. This would be almost everything short of the AT W2002. The 650 has adequate isolation, and also sounds pretty good right from my receiver's headphone jack. Thus a dedicated headphone amp may not be required for acceptable sound. Soon, I hope to put the HFI-650 up against the W100 in a side-by-side comparison.
 
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Jan Meier

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Dear Doug,

I'm glad you like your new toy and I fully agree with your comments :)

The HFI-650 indeed is not on the same level as the DT931 and HD600 but it comes close (IMHO). The mere fact that people tend to compare this closed system with some of the best open headphones is quite an achievement, especially considering its much lower price.

Enjoy,

Jan
 
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