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Upgrade from the HD 650s?

  1. SmashBruh
    Hey guys, I've been struck with a case of upgrade-itis. I have a pair of HD650s paired with a Cavalli Tube Hybrid (powered by and LPS) and being fed by a Modi 3. While I love what I have I frequently find myself feeling like it lacks "oomph " (eg bass I suppose lol) and some clarity. I suppose I also feel like the Senns might be a little too dark for me. I also feel like the Senns don't separate the instruments quite as much as I'd like them to which can make pop songs a little muddy (I was noticing this when listening to Sia a lot.) I've been thinking about getting a pair of Focal Clears since I can get a brand new pair for around $900 but I worry that I'll find myself dissatisfied with the upgrade or fatigued by the Clears when listening for long periods (I use my headphones while working at home which I do for several hours every day, so that's actually one of the biggest concerns for me.) What are your thoughts? Are the Clears a good upgrade from the HD 650s? Should I get something different? Or should I just stick with what I have?
  2. megabigeye
    I have the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 as a complement to the HD 650. It seems to solve a lot of the problems I had with the Sennheisers.

    DT 1990's bass is more linear, with more sub-bass and more slam. Bass detail and control is also better than the HD 650. I've never found the HD 650's bass to be woolly, as others have, but the DT 1990's bass is tauter still.
    Compared to the HD 650, the 1990's mids are somewhat less forward, but I don't think I'd ever call them recessed. Not as "romantic" as the HD 650, but nothing ever sounds off, to me.
    Treble is way more present than the HD 650. If you're sensitive to treble (in particular 8kHz), these might not be for you, but the emphasized treble coupled with the bass causes them to have a more exciting sound than the HD 650. Some people find the sound too analytical, but with tubes I don't find this to be a problem. The DT 1990 are able to play aggressively, where the HD 650 are always polite. Electric guitars can have that satisfying grit.
    Detail retrieval is much greater than HD 650.
    Overall dynamics are greater than HD 650.
    Soundstage is about the same as HD 650, but imaging is more precise on DT 1990.
    HD 650 is warmer, but I don't think I'd call the DT 1990 cold, per se. More neutral.
    I feel like there's something else I'm forgetting...

    Drawbacks might be that the exciting sound of the treble and bass coupled with the dynamics can cause it to be a bit fatiguing if you listen at higher volumes... And it is a headphone that seems to prefer being played a high volume. And if you have a lot of poorly recorded music, the DT 1990 is not going to flatter you into believing otherwise, like the HD 650 will. That said, I can think of only one album that's truly excruciating on the Beyers, and it fairs only slightly better with the Senns.

    One of the best things, though? Despite the DT 1990 being superior in almost every technical metric, it still leaves room for me to love the HD 650. They're just very different.

    Anyway. Them's my 2¢!
  3. Varmintbaby
    I am also interested in this topic. I recently got Massdrop X Sennheiser HD6XX which are essentially HD650's. I love the sound of them, but like OP, I've gotten a case of buyitis and I'm wondering which headphone I should try next? I don't have a fancy amp/dac combo, I run these on my PC off an Asus Essence STX II, which is a sick sound card. If you don't believe me, Burson support sent me a link to a site not linkable from their main page where they did a lab with the different Burson amps and this sound card. They are also offering a deal to get 3 of each amp for cheaper than normal, just for this card. They loved it! It sounds great, and really brings my HD579 and now my HD6XX to life, but I want to try other headphones. I at one point said I would only ever buy Sennheiser headphones, but upon finding this site, I think I want to try other brands. So the guy above me says the DT 1990 is great, but are there any others that would be a graduation up from the 6XX (650)?? Let us know!
  4. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Have you loosened the clamp? If you haven't and owned them long enough it might be kind of too late if you've already worn down the pads. Other than that, stretch out the metal arms, then bend them in the opposite direction at the center and closer to the gimbals, holding it for 10secs and cycling through those four points (one side center, opposite side center, first side near gimbal, opposite side near gimbal) several times.

    Pop songs aren't exactly known for the kind of recording and mastering that puts a lot of air between instruments, not to mention most instruments are coming out of a speaker with the mic just in front of it and not an acoustic instrument being recorded in a room, ie, it's not exactly an orchestra or even jazz.
  5. bixby
    Agree the DT-1990s are a logical place to investigate. But you do have to deal with the Beyer peak. EQ will help as will physical mod with fabric. To the other person, the 650s do scale with better equipment as do the 1990s but you will never get 1990 bass out of the Senns.
  6. LarryM
    I haven't heard either the Clear or the Beyer, but I went from the 650 to the Audeze LCD-2. Similar sonic signature but better in every way. Harder to drive, however; so make sure your amplification can handle an inefficient low impedance load.
  7. calebthelion
    So both the Beyer and Clear are going to be fairly bright in comparison to the 650s and with that feature an entirely different sound signature, one that I personally not a huge fan of, they're both high detail but fatiguing in my experience. I also don't care for the 'tinny' feel the Clear has at times. I also am not a huge fan of the 650 but not because I don't like the sound signature, I just feel it sounds congested and lacks "oomph" but I love the forwards mids, and the tilt to dark. I think the truest upgrade if you're looking for improvements across the board but prefer a dark sound signature is the ZMF Atticus. It seriously improves on the 650 in every category aside from soundstage but I'd say with the slight reverb effect the Atticus has, it sets the venue better than the 650. I haven't heard the Aeolus yet but I'm sure it would be another contender for the place of "super 650"
  8. tomb
    Almost all complaints about the HD650 are because they're not properly amped. If another headphone performs better (assuming equal quality and similar price), it's usually because the particular amp can drive those headphones better than the HD650.

    Keep in mind that the HD650 was considered top-of-the-line, world-class not too many years ago. It will respond with dividends to ever-increasing amplifier quality. Although, it's best to have an amp that focuses more on voltage swing rather than current. That's why tube amplifiers are usually recommended. Because of their high-voltage operating parameters, tubes do not have an issue with too small a voltage swing. Solid-state amps usually need to be fully differential (or balanced) before the HD650 veil lifts and it really sings.
  9. serman005
    I know it's not really an open headphone, but here is another vote for the Atticus. I just think it ticks your boxes best.
    calebthelion likes this.

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