For a while now I’ve been enjoying great sound from a few different headphones. The problem with great sound though is that every time you get better equipment in one area, it makes you want to upgrade in other areas. That’s been the result of my purchase of the HFI-680s and then, more-so, the Shure SE535 LEs.
I loved my Audio Technica ATH-AD900s, but it was time for them to find a loving new home and for me to return to Sennheiser, a brand I’d previously sworn off due to some poor experiences at the lower end of their range.
I was offered the HD650s by a good friend of mine who is very knowledgeable in the world of head-fi. In addition to the stock 650s, he also had an after market cable for them. The cable is custom-made with silver-plated copper. There are plenty of options available on eBay and from companies like Cardas and Toxic Cables. Custom cables will generally set you back a couple of hundred dollars on top of the cost of the headphones, but they are often worth the cost.
The HD650s were Sennheiser’s flagship open headphone for many years before the introduction of the new HD800s. They are still considered an audiophile headphone, but their price is significantly less “audiophile” these days. They can now be had for less than $500 in Australia brand new. They were once more like $800.
The HD650s are an open style headphone so they don’t seal out external noise and the sound from the headphones themselves also leaks out to the world around you. Other than being open, here are some key features and specifications you might want to know:
- Impedance: 300 ohms
- Connector: 6mm stereo jack (with an adapter for 3.5mm connections)
- Cable length: 3m (detachable)
- Frequency response: 10 – 39,500 Hz
- Sound pressure level: 103dB
What these stats tell us is just that the HD650s are difficult to drive (300 ohms). You won’t get much volume trying to run them out of an iPod. On top of that, studying more complex information actually reveals that the sound will lack mid-bass driven from anything less than a good amplifier.
Having tried the HD650s from my iPod and Cowon X7 I can confirm that they sound OK, but not special and you need to be at full volume to get a decent listening level. All-in-all not an option for most portable players without an external amp.
The fact that Sennheiser supply the HD650s with a hard-wired 6mm plug should tell you that they aren’t expecting people to use them with iPods and similar players with 3.5mm outputs. The 6mm jack is clearly for amplifier connectivity.
Finally, the frequency response range of the HD650s is encouraging and suggests that they should provide great detail at the top end while also giving the right amount of rumble down low, but figures don’t always translate so we’ll have to wait and see…
I don’t normally review the packaging of equipment. Although it’s nice to unbox a well-packed item, the memory of packaging fades quite fast and it’s the item’s performance that matters. Although that rings true for the HD650s, their packaging reminds you of their previous place in the Sennheiser range. They come in a great looking corrugated silver cardboard sleeve. Under the sleeve is a beautiful silver box with a hinged lid.