Sennheiser HD650

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.

Lachlan Fennen Written by:

Facilitator, training design consultant, blogger / writer and amateur photographer


  1. October 7, 2012

    i was impressed when you reviewed ath-ad900 and hoping you have something to say about the sennheiser hd 650.hands down there are no headphones $1000.00 below cant match the hd650 just for pure listening enjoyment and with the right equipment you will be rewarded with listening nirvana.cable upgrade is minimal and more so on your equipments.mostly i have high end tube headphone amps and and very much satisfied paired with my hd 650.recently i came across with my yamaha receiver rx-v 995 which i paid 1500.00 in 98 and can be fetch now for 400.00 or sennheiser hd 650 when paired with this receiver is nothing short of perfection without the cable upgrade.i find the hd 650 better than my audeze lcd2 in some genres considering lcd2 is twice as much.with the hd 650.i will discuss the soudstage .of the hd 650 later with you

    • October 11, 2012

      Hi Alexander,

      Yes, the HD650s are something very special. They are unique in their ability to be so revealing and engaging and yet so relaxing to listen to.

      I find the upgraded cable really brings out the best of the 650s too and I look forward to receiving my Bottlehead Crack amplifier kit soon as it’s apparently an excellent match with the 650s. I’ll write a full review so stay tuned!

  2. alexander
    October 12, 2012

    i recommend trying yamaha rx-v995 and connect your cd output to the fiber optic input of the receiver.i think you will be extremely satisfied with the outcome.happy listening

  3. guy
    October 22, 2012

    and also analog cd output to the analog input and toggle to analog and auto playback

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