Sennheiser HD 650 vs. HD 600 Headphone Review

Sennheiser HD 650 vs. HD 600 Review

One of the best audiophile headphones series ever created is the Sennheiser HD 600 lineup.

The HD 600 and HD 650 have been the standard reference-class headphones in their category since their initial release.

Each one delivers a natural, musical, and remarkably accurate result that works in virtually any environment.

Even with new models released by competitive brands, the Sennheiser HD 600 and HD 650 are still two of the best.

That’s why comparing these options directly can help listeners discover which option works better for their specific requirements.

Sennheiser HD 650 vs. HD 600 Review

The build quality on the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 have remained almost unchanged since the initial introduction more than two decades ago. Even though the audiophile headphones are manufactured almost entirely with plastic, these products hold up well as time passes.

Except for some aesthetic changes in the most recent revisions of the HD 600 and HD 650, the manufacturing processes of these audiophile headphones have remained virtually identical since the original introduction to the market.

It is rare to run into any build quality concerns when using Sennheiser headphones. There aren’t any loose parts to worry about, creaking or cracking issues, or noise pollution problems.

If anything, the only place where Sennheiser could make some improvements is with the headphone pads on both models. They tend to wear out after a year or two, even with relatively light usage.

Comparison of the Sennheiser HD 650 vs. HD 600

When comparing the performance of the Sennheiser HD 600 vs. the HD 650, the latter model has a bit more presence with the bass.

If you’re someone who prefers music in the lower end, it’ll be worth considering the upgrade.

If not, saving a few bucks by sticking with the Sennheiser HD 600 makes more sense.

Here is a direct comparison of the two headphones to help discover which option might be appropriate for your needs.

 Sennheiser HD 600Sennheiser HD 650
Style:In-EarOn-Ear
Use:DJ-style headphones / StudioDJ-style headphones / Studio
Connectivity:WiredWired
Sound Output;StereoStereo
Accessories:Stereo AdapterStereo Adapter
Mic Mount Type:DetachableDetachable
Headphone Driver:DynamicDynamic
Headphone Magnet:NeodymiumNeodymium
Plated Connector Material:GoldGold
Headphone Cup:OpenOpen
Weight:9.2 ounces9.2 ounces
Cable Length:10 feet10 Feet
Frequency Response:10 Hz to 41 kHz12 Hz to 39 kHz
Nominal Impedance:300 ohms300 ohms

Once you get the headphones out of the box and onto your head, you’ll notice the quality immediately.

The HD 600 tends to be a little tight with its clamping right away, but they ease up after using them for a couple of days.

Both models weigh approximately 260 grams, which means you don’t have to worry about the headphones feeling like a massive weight on your head.

The pads are a bit shallow, which likely contributes to what I see as premature wear and tear.

After going through the process of breaking in the headphones, they become one of the most comfortable that you’ll ever wear.

You can get through almost the entire day without your ears feeling sore or fatigued.

What Is the Sound Quality of the HD 650 vs. HD 600?

Sennheiser created the 600 series to be a neutral option for reference listening. Both models have a similar sonic signature, possessing an exceptional tonal balance while offering an instrument presentation.

The lower frequencies are one of the regions where the HD 650 vs. HD 600 have some differences to consider.

It doesn’t take long to discover that the HD650 has significantly more base presence, while the HD600 tends to be flatter in the lower frequencies.

Both get a nice bump around 150 Hz, adding some extra character to what the HD650 offers.

You’ll notice some added warmth with the Sennheiser HD 650 because of these traits. With that said, both headphones don’t create faint sounds that lack structure and support.

You just don’t get the same levels of articulation and control that come from the more modern designs.

If you want something that sounds the same as a Sennheiser, I highly recommend giving the HiFiMan Sundara a closer look.

I’ve found that the HD 650 and HD 600 are appropriate for virtually any musical genre. I like to use them for jazz and classical music, but they also make rock, acoustic, R&B, and Latin stand out.

What Comes in the Box with the Sennheiser HD 600 Series?

If you purchase an older Sennheiser model, you’ll get a relatively large case that’s nice for ongoing storage. The newer versions don’t come with this benefit, matching what comes with the 500 series instead.

You’ll get a 10-foot cable that terminates on the dual-sided proprietary connectors for the headphone side, while the HD 600 uses a 3.5 millimeter with a thread-on adapter. The HD 650 uses a short cable instead.

If you want more flexibility with your listening experience, the HD 650 is the place to go because of this small difference. The HD 600 feels a little frail and inflexible in comparison.

Both headphones use a similar 300-ohm driver. The HD 600 is rated at 97 decibels, while the HD 650 earns a 103-decibel rating.

You’ll need an amplifier to drive these to ensure they sound right when listening to your preferred songs.

Most amplifiers tend to lean toward cleanly driving the headphones, even sounding halfway decent on beginner resources.

Their ability to scale is fantastic, especially when using a high-end amplifier. You’ll see a significant increase in treble and midrange resolution, creating an accurate representation of the soundscape to enjoy.

If you’ve been disappointed in other audiophile headphones in the past, the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 are both excellent choices to consider when you’re ready to up your listening game.

Best Audiophile Headphone Amplifiers

If you love listening to music through headphones, but degraded audio turns your emotions into something closer to frustration or disappointment, audiophile-quality products can solve many problems.

That’s what the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 hope to accomplish with their practical and affordable designs.

Although the headphones sound great by themselves, it often takes an amplifier to bring out the best of each product.

When amplifiers are built to a lower quality expectation, the sounds you hear through the headphones could be equal to the latest version released by Beats.

Here are the best amps to consider pairing with the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 to scale music to your preferences:

  1. FiiO Q1
  2. Soundblaster X G6 Hi-Res Amp
  3. Schiit Mani Heresy Headphone Amp
  4. Rupert Neve Designs Headphone Amp
  5. Fostex USA Desktop Headphone Amplifier
  6. Marantz NR1711 Headphone Amp and A/V Receiver
  7. Mayflower Electronics Desktop Objective 2 Amp
  8. Rolls RA62C Pro Headphone Amp
  9. Luxury and Precision W2 Portable Headphone Amp

1. FiiO Q1

The Q1 offers a compact user experience that comes with a 30-hour rechargeable battery. It’s the perfect solution for anyone who wants to take their audiophile headphones with them.

The digital input signal goes up to 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution from the micro-USB port, while the headphone output supports an unbalanced setup.

FiiO offers a recommended impedance range of 16 to 150 ohms. The design includes a two-position gain switch with an optional bass boost to deliver an updated custom sonic experience.

It’s even sturdy enough to secure to a smartphone, which means it’ll work well for the Sennheiser HD 650 or HD 600.

2. Soundblaster X G6 Hi-Res Amp

You have three options to consider when using a headphone amplifier from this brand. If you want an entry-level result, there’s a 100 dB choice at 24-bit, 96 kHz that does a reasonable job.

The best option is the 32-bit, 384 kHz model that provides sidetone volume controls, easy changes, and many features.

With this investment, you can incorporate 7.1 virtual surround sound, while the low one-ohm output impedance drives virtually any headphone design.

What stands out about this headphone amp is its oversampled multi-bit modulator.

It delivers mismatched shaping tech that does a great job of eliminating distortion from the listening experience.

You’ll receive one of the best audio experiences once connected with the Sennheiser HD 600 series because it improves fidelity and detail without harming the quality of the mix you’re hearing.

3. Schiit Mani Heresy Headphone Amp

With the highest output power in its price class, you’ll get one of the cleanest sounds possible when using this headphone amp.

It’s more than a starter product, delivering an impressive 2400mW into 32 ohms. The power reserves are exceptional, especially with the switchable gain and low noise floor it provides.

This amp has enough flexibility to work with a powered monitor, a standard desktop speaker, or the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600.

That means you can invest once and have something that works with virtually everything.

It’s also one of the few brands where the boards, chassis, and other components are manufactured in the United States.

4. Rupert Neve Designs Headphone Amp

Although this amplifier offers less portability, it also comes with a dedicated 24V reference-quality calibrated line that provides impressive results.

It uses a VESA-mountable steel chassis that’s remarkably rugged, while the sonic clarity will drive the Sennheiser HD 650 or HD 600 with plenty of benefits to consider.

The amp is marketed more toward performers and musicians than audiophiles, but don’t be offended by the approach.

The audio quality received after incorporating this amp into your setup is quite impressive. It’s even capable of receiving a broad range of inputs, always calibrated for optimal impedance. 

Some users might have concerns about the power output rating being low in comparison with other headphone amps.

Once you use a 300-ohm headphone like the Sennheiser 600 series, you’ll find that it works well in virtually any setting.

The only annoyance is the recommendation to power up the amp without the headphones connected. You’ll also want to have a muting relay to mute the squeal that happens when powering the system down.

5. Fostex USA Desktop Headphone Amplifier

There’s a lot of great stuff to consider when using this headphone amp for your Sennheiser headphones.

  • It uses an XLR balanced output with a four-pin connection and a quarter-inch unbalance option.
  • The brand upgraded its capacitors in this model to deliver an audiophile-grade product with low phase noise due to its improved crystal placement.
  • Playback options include 24-bit 192 kHz PCM and 11.2 MHz DSD audio. Transferring capabilities are included with USB 2.0 audio technology.

You’ll get two gain staging levels with this amp’s design, allowing an output boost of up to 10 decibels without needing to adjust the volume knob. It also comes with a selectable filter that cuts off the lower frequencies if you want.

The power supply, four rubber feet, and a USB cable are all included in the box. It’s the best solution when clicks, pops, and static won’t come out of your listening mix.

6. Marantz NR1711 Headphone Amp and A/V Receiver

When music is your way to relax, this audio/video receiver delivers one of the best all-around experiences for your entire entertainment system.

It’s a robust 7-channel discreet amp that delivers 50W to all of them. You can use the automatic ECO mode to reduce local power consumption without compromising on the sound received in your HD 650 or HD 600 headphones.

It’s an excellent choice for those who want an audiophile experience with their music while improving local gaming.

An impressive 8K upscaling inclusion incorporates HDR 10, QMS, and ALLM to deliver everything you need in one package.

You can even enjoy virtual sound effects without needing upward-firing speakers or in-ceiling support when not using your headphones.

This option delivers an entire home entertainment system, including built-in multi-room technology. It gives you complete control over everything without requiring any compromises.

7. Mayflower Electronics Desktop Objective 2 Amp

Each amp is handmade in New York, built with an upgraded aluminum chassis, strong knobs, and a straightforward user experience.

It’s backed by a 10-year warranty, ensuring that your investment in this product meets or exceeds expectations every time.

It’s a great little device that pairs well with the Sennheiser HD 650 or HD 600. You can also hook it up with your PC to increase clarity, quality, and volume by an impressive amount.

I’ve found that this amp is worth the price because of the sonic benefits it offers, especially if you’re dealing with some output issues.

8. Rolls RA62C Pro Headphone Amp

Although this option isn’t portable, it delivers one of the best experiences out there for the Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600.

It has six channels of support, each with independent controls, to ensure that you have the outcome you want for your listening enjoyment.

It’s fair to say that this headphone amp solves a lot of problems in an almost effortless package.

You can create six independent mixes with the design or run a stereo main into all the channels with the AUX send signal.

If you like to invite people over for listening sessions, this amp delivers the outcome you want.

It would be better if there was a second main channel to use and some tone controls, but you can control some of the brightness and attack by running the input through an extra mixer before sending it to the headphones.

9. Luxury and Precision W2 Portable Headphone Amp

This headphone amp comes with two DAC chips to improve the performance received when listening to audio.

It’s a flagship-grade including that delivers one of the best results you’ll hear in a Sennheiser product.

With this amp, you’ll have one of the few designs that offer a SPDIF output for a newer playback solution.

This option enables better clarity and signal transmission improvements. The design includes power-saving components to ensure that battery life is always maximized.

The sound characteristics of this amp are smooth, rich, and highly detailed. It would be better if the firmware update process were streamlined, especially since the instructions are only in Chinese.

Even with the potential issues, the hype on this product is real. It meets or exceeds the sonic output of virtually any amp sold today.

A Final Thought on Using the Sennheiser HD 650 or HD 600

The Sennheiser HD 650 and HD 600 are still impressive after 20+ years of manufacturing. That shows how ahead of the time this technology was when initially released. The natural tonality, with excellent technical specs and extra comfort, proves that these headphones are still one of the best options to consider at their price point.

When I think about using these headphones, one primary question comes to mind. Am I looking for something with a warmer experience and extra bass, or do I want something that delivers additional articulation in the upper register?

If you say yes to the first part of that question, the best audiophile headphones to buy would be the HD 650s.

When your preference leans toward the second question as an affirmative, the HD 600 is a better buy.

When your goal is to get a taste of what many people would consider a reference sound, you cannot go wrong with either model. Sennheiser has created a fantastic listening experience that comes at a great price.

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