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Sennheiser HD600 or HD650

Home Theatre Systems

bhaskie

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Hi,

I am planning to get one of these two - Sennheiser 650 (15K) or the 600 (13K). I am looking at comments from those who have heard both and if anything like AKG K701 / Beyerdynamic DT 990 is a better option.
I have read several threads at Head-Fi.org: Headphones, iPod earphones, portable audio, MP3 players, high-end audio but haven't reached a conclusion yet (in fact its confused me a lot now, earlier I had decided to get the HD600 only).

I am going to plug the cans into this sound card's headphone out - ASUS Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Express Interface 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card - Newegg.com - ASUS Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Express Interface 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card - Sound Cards

The Headphone Amplifier used in this card is Texas Instruments 6120A2 (120dB SNR, 100dB THD+N @ Vcc12V, RL=600?, f=1kHz)

The headphone output is:
- Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 110dB for Headphone-out
- Output Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz(-3dB) :0.001% (-100dB) for Headphone-out
- Headphone Impedance - Optimized for 32~600?

I am not buying a standalone headphone amp or getting new cables etc., just the headphones. Guys using this sound card at head-fi have claimed it to match some $400 amps even, so it definitely shouldn't be junk!

I have never heard the 600 or the 650. I have been using the Sennheiser HD280 pro (64?) for the past 3 yrs and definitely need something better than that.

My headphone usage is primarily music (10-12 hrs continuous listening a day) which consists of classical and rock, and movies.

TIA!
Bhaskie
 

reignofchaos

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A word of warning from a previous HD650 owner - these headphones are not for everyone. They are incredibly refined but at the same time they are super laid back. It just doesn't gel with certain genres of music while with others they are absolutely brilliant. The partnering electronics, the cables and every single other component in the chain will affect the sound.

Also a word of warning - they sound nothing like your HD280 pro which is more a headphone for DJs and bassheads. I'd very highly recommend that you audition them once before pulling the trigger. Please do not buy them blind.
 

grubyhalo

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A friendly caution from a current HD650 owner, who has listened to the HD600's as well. :cool: Please bear in mind that I might sound a little biased towards the HD650's. Here goes:

The HD600 and 650 would mop the floor with the HD280's. Though I have never heard any can run from the sound card you mentioned, you would be doing the 650's great injustice if you do not get a head-amp, atleast in the future.

To use a slightly non-technical description, both the 600 and the 650 are cut from the same cloth. Let's just say that the 600 ended as a sombre 2-piece suit that would not be out of place in any surrounding. The 650, you ask? Think of it as a gorgeous sherwani with burnished gold threads (or whatever the technical term is) Sorry if I let my bias show :D Does this mean the music sounds unnatural? Nope. It just sounds a bit polite instead of slightly in your face like the 600.

So what are the 650's strong points? The 650's do classical music extremely well. Don't be surprised if you started buying a lot of classical music after buying the 650's! Jazz is not given the short stick either, big-band, swing, latino, trio and everything between the gaps. The mid-range is more fleshed out and the bass has to be heard to be believed. When it comes to blues and rock, the 650's ace most of the material and is even forgiving of low quality MP3's better than the 600's (atleast in my setup). The only time the 600's beat the 650's is when it comes to metal. The bass on the 600 is a tad more faster and the hi's are more obvious if you listen to Tool and Meshuggah a lot (Although Gojira sounds equally good on the 650's :confused:)

Having said that, the 600's cannot match the 650's midrange lusciousness or the fantastic sound stage or the depths that the 650 can so easily plumb. Though you could reportedly improve on the 650's sound to some extent by getting an after-market cable and to a large extent by going for a tube amp (like the Little Dot IV). I am planning to do these upgrades sometime later this year.

Well, to put it simply, I'd go for the 600's if all I want is a headphone that would do everything well and I'm not planning on burning money further. On the other hand if you love classical, jazz, blues and reggae and willing to spend more to have the cans do everything exceptionally well... ;)
 

bhaskie

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A word of warning from a previous HD650 owner - these headphones are not for everyone. They are incredibly refined but at the same time they are super laid back. It just doesn't gel with certain genres of music while with others they are absolutely brilliant. The partnering electronics, the cables and every single other component in the chain will affect the sound.

Also a word of warning - they sound nothing like your HD280 pro which is more a headphone for DJs and bassheads. I'd very highly recommend that you audition them once before pulling the trigger. Please do not buy them blind.

I don't think I can audition them anywhere in Delhi. Earlier I'd ended up getting the HD280 without auditioning as well which I regret now :(

Since you say they dont gel with some genres, do you have any in mind? I am interested in western classical and rock only (and a few jazz albums).

Thanks!
 

bhaskie

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The HD600 and 650 would mop the floor with the HD280's. Though I have never heard any can run from the sound card you mentioned, you would be doing the 650's great injustice if you do not get a head-amp, atleast in the future.

The Xonar essence's head amp out is very good... one guy found it to be better than his Corda HA-1 MKI and nearly as good as a Corda Opera amp.

So what are the 650's strong points? The 650's do classical music extremely well. Don't be surprised if you started buying a lot of classical music after buying the 650's! Jazz is not given the short stick either, big-band, swing, latino, trio and everything between the gaps. The mid-range is more fleshed out and the bass has to be heard to be believed. When it comes to blues and rock, the 650's ace most of the material and is even forgiving of low quality MP3's better than the 600's (atleast in my setup). The only time the 600's beat the 650's is when it comes to metal. The bass on the 600 is a tad more faster and the hi's are more obvious if you listen to Tool and Meshuggah a lot (Although Gojira sounds equally good on the 650's :confused:)

Having said that, the 600's cannot match the 650's midrange lusciousness or the fantastic sound stage or the depths that the 650 can so easily plumb. Though you could reportedly improve on the 650's sound to some extent by getting an after-market cable and to a large extent by going for a tube amp (like the Little Dot IV). I am planning to do these upgrades sometime later this year.

Well, to put it simply, I'd go for the 600's if all I want is a headphone that would do everything well and I'm not planning on burning money further. On the other hand if you love classical, jazz, blues and reggae and willing to spend more to have the cans do everything exceptionally well... ;)

Yes, all I want is a headphone that does everything well... I don't plan to burn money on amps and cables after this purchase... though I love classical I am willing to make the compromise ;)

I guess 600 is a better choice!
 

reignofchaos

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If you like rock, absolutely avoid the 650. I just couldn't stand rock on it. It sounded as if the singer was dead.
 

moserw

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My headphone usage is primarily music (10-12 hrs continuous listening a day) which consists of classical and rock, and movies.

TIA!
Bhaskie

Hi Bhaskie,

Not to throw a spanner in the wheel here, but any reason why headphones and not speakers. It is medically proven that headphones cause more ear damage than speakers and it is not recommended to listen to them for that long (one branch of my family tree is filled with doctors and another engineers, I am the black sheep of the family), but on a serious note I used to listen to music via the headphone route on my iPod and mobile phone for hours on end and would end up with ears ringing for a while afterwards. I am totally off headphones now.

Please do take care and play them at low to reasonable volumes if you have to use them for extended hours. Still would prefer you go the speakers route than the headphone route though.

BTW my cousin has the HD600 and they are very good, very clear, the best soundstage that I have heard yet in headphone territory.

Finally an article on headphone usage for extended hours, please go through it HeadWize - Article: Preventing Hearing Damage When Listening With Headphones (A HeadWize Headphone Guide)!
 

marsilians

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Yes, all I want is a headphone that does everything well... I don't plan to burn money on amps and cables after this purchase... though I love classical I am willing to make the compromise ;)

I guess 600 is a better choice!

Headphones are very finicky when it comes to supporting a vast genre of music. Some are excellent for jazz/classical while others are better tuned for rock & metal.

I have an AKG 501 that is fantastic for classical and jazz but plain right sucks for rock.

Is there a reason you are looking at the particulars Senns? If you must, surprisingly good headphones for R&R are the cheap Grados, SR60, SR80 or Allesandro MS-1s (they are made by John Grado based on Allesandro's design). Don't be put off by the price, they are one of the best that I have listened too. Good thing is that they dont need an amp to sound good where as the HD 6** and AKG do definitesly need amp to sound even reasonably good.

BTW Allesandro is priced the same irrespective of where they get shipped to around the world!
 

bhaskie

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Hi Bhaskie,

Not to throw a spanner in the wheel here, but any reason why headphones and not speakers. It is medically proven that headphones cause more ear damage than speakers and it is not recommended to listen to them for that long

Please do take care and play them at low to reasonable volumes if you have to use them for extended hours. Still would prefer you go the speakers route than the headphone route though.

moser, the cans are for usage during work (4-6 hrs of mainly classical) and late-night sessions (around 3-4 hrs) when I can't use speakers! I play at very low volumes (<15%) and pause every 30-45 min since I am concerned about ear damage as well ;)

I never said I am not getting speakers! I am getting Dali Ikon 2 or 6 for music+movies (2-ch instead of 5.1 for as long as possible).

Thanks for the article!
 

Asit

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I have an AKG 501 that is fantastic for classical and jazz but plain right sucks for rock.

I still have an AKG K500 headphone bought when they were their top of the line. Now it's being constantly used by my son. When I bought it, after two days of auditioning, it was certainly a better one than the comparable ones from Sennheiser and another one I cannot remember now (Bayerdynamic?)

I have used it with all kinds of music except rock, which I do not usually listen to, but my son occasionally does. He is very happy with it. Ergonomics is also very good.
 

bhaskie

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I'll be looking forward to your impressions. I'd also be very interested in finding out how they get a -12V to that 6120, as the PCI-E interface has no connection for that voltage, only +12V. Any power regeneration device or inverter will probably be the only difference between a dedicated headphone amp and the Essence, and IMHO a pretty significant one.

Very interesting. I did some digging up on this:

My coolermaster PSU says: +3.3V@20A, +5V@20A, +12V1@16A, +12V2@16A, -12V@0.8A,+5VSB@2.0A.

This means it has a -12V rail right? But I am not sure how/if it is being used.

Found out that the Xonar essence draws a 12 volt line from the pci-e and a 5V line from the molex connector (+12V --> 0.15A, +5V --> 0.68A).

Maybe the essence has something like this (just wondering):
Negative Voltage Generator

"This circuit starts with a single-polarity (GND and +V) input and produces an approximate opposite voltage (-V), enabling dual-polarity op amp circuits to be used with single-polarity supplies"

Will keep you updated! Got the Essence delivered yesterday at my friend's place, will receive it in 2 weeks.

Cheers!
Bhaskar
 

marsilians

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within the AKG family, i auditioned the 501, 601 & 701. I hear the 500 is similar to 501 except it is low on treble.

High level comparo:

Soundstage/dynamics : 501 > 701 > 601

Variety of Genre Supported : 701 > 601 > 501 (501 is phenomenol for full instruments setup such as orchestral, jazz setup. Everytime I put these on, it feels like I am sitting in the middle of a circular setup in an orchestra. but with any synths. driven instruments, it sounds like crap).

Ability to drive (power requirements) : 701 > 601 > 501

501 are the most inefficient. So a good amp definitely helps.

Realism in listening : 501 > 701 > 601

Bass heaviness : 601 > 501 > 701 (surprisingly 701 sounds dry and flat with no feel for the body of the music).

Physical Comfort : 501 > 701 > 601

Equipment used :

CDP : Rotel RCD 1072/Shanling CDS-100 MK2
Cables : Blue Jeans Copper Analogs & 1/8-1/4" adaptor
Amps : Little Dot Micro+/Mk2/ & Headroom Total Bithead v1.0
CDs : Remember Shakti (Saturday night in Bombay), Jasraj, SS Sharma, HP Chaurasia, Zakir - Live recordings and bhajans, Vikku, Selva and Umashankar (Together), U Srinivas (Pancharatna krithis), Beethoven Symphonies 1, 2 & 6, Mahler Symphony 1 Abravanel, Verdi Requiem Gergiev, Outkast - stankonia, Porcupine tree - stupid dream, Pink Floyd - DSOTM

Bottom line : 701 seems to be jack of all trades which means I felt trade offs across the board except the phones themselves. The earpads were most comfortable.

601 sounded very muddy due to their overemphasis on bass

501 - again for the genre of music I listen to, they sounded the best. The are very very picky on the type of music you listen to. So buyer beware!


I still have an AKG K500 headphone bought when they were their top of the line. Now it's being constantly used by my son. When I bought it, after two days of auditioning, it was certainly a better one than the comparable ones from Sennheiser and another one I cannot remember now (Bayerdynamic?)

I have used it with all kinds of music except rock, which I do not usually listen to, but my son occasionally does. He is very happy with it. Ergonomics is also very good.
 
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