A few of us nonetheless need great-sounding headphones, wires or not, and we’re keen to spend a good amount of cash to get them. Right here’s the excellent news: You don’t have to interrupt the financial institution to get among the greatest headphones cash should buy.
Acclaimed audio model Sennheiser has had greater than its fair proportion of hits within the audiophile candy spot, however the firm’s HD 650, usually thought to be among the best audiophile headphones of its type, stands aside.
Greater than a decade after debuting, the HD 650 have gotten a refresh (type of), and also you may even say they’re higher than ever. This second coming of the HD 650 was actualized within the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, the results of a collaboration between the storied audio model and the “audiophile” subset of Massdrop’s commerce neighborhood which have confirmed extraordinarily standard — so standard, in truth, that the corporate remains to be promoting them years later.
Nothing has modified in regards to the 650’s sound signature — the identical golden grit, silky clean bass, and ultra-detailed topside are all current and accounted for right here. However Massdrop, now recognized merely as Drop, has resculpted some key design traits for higher usability and a loopy low worth level of simply $220. Better of all of the HD 6XX are not a fire-sale choice with restricted amount – they’re now obtainable from Drop frequently.
Out of the field
When the HD 650 debuted in 2003 (and for a lot of their tenure on the entrance of Sennheiser’s fleet), the headphones price a cool $500-plus. And whereas the value has plummeted for the 6XX model (and the unique HD 650 on most websites), that doesn’t imply potential consumers received’t get an actual style of audiophile luxurious. That have begins with a hefty black case of thick cardboard, layered with an ample mattress of arduous foam, and boasting a black-gloss Sennheiser emblem on the lid.
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Inside, the cans relaxation of their foam mattress, wanting comfortably near an OG pair of HD 650s. The enormous, open-back earpieces come out like oval hula hoops, hooked up on an adjustable hinge and layered with dense mesh home windows that unveil spiderwebbed drivers beneath. On the inside are thick earpads cloaked in the identical fuzzy lining of “acoustic silk” that breeds luxurious consolation within the HD 650, and likewise boasts an excellent acoustic seal. A Sennheiser emblem atop the scarf assures you of the high-quality sound inside, and few particulars betray the brand new HD 6XX design.
A tweak or two
A more in-depth examination, nevertheless, reveals some reasonable upgrades pushed by Mass … er, Drop’s person base that set the 6XX aside. Essentially the most notable design change on the outset is the colour — the HD 6XX commerce the HD 650’s charcoal grey for nearly pitch black, with strains alongside the borders solid in a delicate shade of midnight blue (you’ll seemingly want daylight to see them). The unique “HD 650” badges above the earpieces have additionally been changed with the “HD 6XX” moniker and are matched by a Massdrop emblem on the inside.
Maybe most notably, the detachable cable now terminates with a three.5mm jack somewhat than quarter-inch (with an included quarter-inch attachment), making these cans far more versatile to pair with all of your many units.
The cable size has additionally been shortened from a studio-friendly 10 ft to a tighter 6 ft. Complete weight is 9.2 ounces, and these infants have some severe clamping drive. That’s alleviated by the mushy padding, making it straightforward to put on the 6XX for lengthy listening classes, though your hair will get appropriately matted by these mondo earpieces.
By the numbers, the HD 6XX tout a large frequency response of a claimed 10Hz-41khz, which is otherworldly for headphones considerably under $500.
In case you’ve already heard the HD 650, you could simply wish to skip this part and head straight to the “the place the hell do I purchase these” hyperlinks under. In case you’ve by no means heard the HD 650 earlier than, you might be in for a buttery deal with that leads to among the greatest sound dynamic drivers can deliver to the desk — at this worth level, and above.
You might be in for a buttery deal with that leads to among the greatest sound dynamic drivers can deliver
Particularly, we’re speaking about heat and inflexible bass, a midrange that dips near the ruddy colours of analog tape saturation (with out sacrificing an oz. of element), and a laser-tight response up high that helps illuminate vivid readability and granular instrumental texture throughout the board. So yeah, they sound fairly good.
It’s straightforward to treat the HD 6XX’s sound signature as simply one other dynamic-driven headphone, bringing with it traits that always have audiophiles drawing strains within the sand between those that love a drop of pleasing heat of their sonic espresso, and those that demand near-clinical dedication to the recording because it was initially rendered. Nevertheless, what’s so pleasing in regards to the HD 6XX (and the 650 earlier than them) is that these headphones provide a nice combination of every, for a best-of-both-worlds situation.
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Sure, within the bass and midrange particularly, these cans revel within the dirty grunge of ‘70s electrical guitar tones and crunchy B3 organs, driving the sounds house with the presence of a classic Marshall amplifier head. However they’re equally adept at revealing the subtleties of every recording because it stands, leaning into the chilly detachment of a pop tune a la Chvrches, and even Depeche Mode. The HD 6XX’s knack for element and presence contains all of the instrumental textures and timbres an audiophile longs for, that are particularly effectively outlined within the bubbly puffs of a saxophone reed, or the delicate scratches of a horse-hair bow throughout a violin’s strings.
Other than that beautiful sound signature, the HD 6XX provide an open-range soundstage match for Massive Sky nation. The open-back design completely distributes the sound waves, letting the devices stretch out of these few inches from ear to ear and increase right into a sonic cloud round your head. The result’s a sound that’s surprisingly akin to sitting in entrance of pair of studio screens — and even sitting on the middle of the recording room itself. That enables for the often-discussed advantage of listening to belongings you’ve by no means seen in earlier listens to your favourite tracks, from the rogue buzz of a guitar amp, to a quiet vocal double that’s by no means surfaced earlier than.
The HD 6XX include a two-year guarantee on components and workmanship that’s backed by Sennheiser.
The HD 6XX are a welcome and brilliantly executed second era for one in every of Sennheiser’s greatest values, and an opportunity to nab simply accessible audiophile sound for a severe cut price.
Is there a greater different?
Truthfully, we’ve but to listen to a pair of headphones that provides this degree of readability, heat low finish, and soundstage growth on the $220 worth. Even considerably dearer fashions pale compared to the sound of the HD 6XX (and HD 650), which is why they’re nonetheless so beloved amongst audiophiles.
How lengthy will it final?
Many individuals have owned the HD 650 for a decade-plus, and provided that they’ve replaceable cables and are very effectively made, they need to final for a really very long time if handled proper.
Must you purchase it?
Sure. These are, palms down, the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever heard for $220. They simply compete with headphones that price many multiples of that worth. If you need the absolute best sound to your cash, these are among the many greatest you’ll discover.