Sennheiser HD650 Love (Appreciation Thread)

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Marvey, Sep 27, 2015.

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  1. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    This is a continuation from the Changstar thread with some edits and updates.

    6/26/2016 WARNING: Those coming from K701, Q701, or brighter headphones might prefer the HD600. The HD650 is supposed to have a more laid-back sound. This fact should not be forgotten. Just because there is "HD650 love", doesn't mean you will like its sound. Also, the HD650 seems to be very demanding of amps and upstream gear; and finally, the context of "HD650 love" includes the modifications being discussed. I actually find the stock HD650 slightly on the boring side.

    [​IMG]

    START OF ORIGINAL POST


    The Amazing Super Duper Underrated HD650.
    A Headphone That Kicks Serious Ass And Should Be Considered Before Any Other Thousand For Multi-Thousand Dollar Purchase.

    I cannot emphasize how good this headphone is, even for those with a lot more money to spend. Sennheiser veil? Dunno anything about that. This is 2015. I purchased these HD650s from Amazon a few weeks ago. We aren't in 2007 anymore.

    I decided to pick up the HD650 because I wanted something a bit different than the HD600s. More of a return to the slightly dark sound that I've always preferred. By slightly dark, I do mean slightly dark. A gentle downward slope. Not rolled off to shit. Also, if there was one thing that bothered me about the HD600, it was its slight vocal harshness, a bit shouty at times. This characteristic of the HD600 didn't do any favors with the mastering of the second and third Taylor Swift CDs. The idea of my actually buying the HD650 originated from my working at EC. Craig doesn't have any super exotic headphones like the Abyss or HEK (I was too lazy to bring my own into the workshop for two weeks), so the best stuff on hand were the HD600 and LCD2r2 (special cherry-picked edition). I found myself using the HD600s the most often to assess sound quality. So I ended up purchasing the HD650 variant for the reasons mentioned above.

    I don't exactly know what the differences are between the HD600 and HD650 drivers outside of a slightly different FR, but it does seem like that the HD650 driver is better damped, more controlled, more refined. The HD600 driver sounds looser - less controlled. What was surprising to me that some of the older HD650s had a depression the upper mids and similar bass, but this one wasn't like that all at. This HD650 had a very similar FR response as the HD600 outside of a slight bass elevation around 100Hz. Maybe this is why people who heard this particular HD650 didn't think it sounded veiled at all. There is some anecdotal evidence that the latest HD650 that come with the silver screens aren't as veiled as the old ones with the black screens.

    This latest HD650 has semi-transparent driver that you can see through. There is a semi-permeable baffle (see third picture down) extremely similar to the HD800 metal mesh material. I assume this baffle material does quite a bit to maintain low bass extension. The Sennheiser engineers are pretty amazing. I did few tweaks (not invented by me, but can be seen all over the Internet) to liven up the HD650s sound. The tweaks don't change the measurements that much. The measurements pictured are with these tweaks in place:
    • Removal of the foam behind the driver. Pop the cage cover out. Push in the foam with tweezers (see red arrows). Then pull the foam out from the middle. This mod should be reversible if you are careful.
    • Quarter mod. Put a quarter in the middle of the foam covering the driver on the insider. Cut around it to make a hole. I tried not using the foam at all, and I didn't like it. There's a reason why the Anax mod exists for the HD800.
    With the tweaks, the HD650 sounds faster, crisper, more lively, less over damped. I would not attempt these tweaks on the HD600 though. Overall, maybe a few db too much mid-bass, but everything else sounds just right. (I would ignore the roll-off past 10kHz in the FR graph, it's a measurement thing with how the microphone is angled on the measurement system.) Recordings which are a little bright like Midnight Oil Diesel and Dust are indeed a little bit bright. Recordings which are laid back like Natalie Merchant Tigerlily are laid-back, but not rolled off to shit. Taylor Swift's voice is a bit shouty, but not unbearably so. As I've said - just right.

    I've got the HD650 hooked up the Eddie Current Zana Deux Super with either Theta Data III/Schiit Yggdrasil or a VPI Classic as the source and have been enjoying it every night. This is a fantastic combination that is easily end-game for most people. I know it's a little bit odd with me talking about a $300 "mid-fi" headphone as end-game, but I assure you this headphone is anything but mid-fi. Yes, the HD650 does belong in an obscene TOTL type rig. It's rather funny because today I received a PM:

    Hey if you get a quick chance, I also wanted to hear your thoughts on the HD-650 vs LCD-3 for details. I'm hearing much, much more with the HD-650's, and it is making me think the LCD's will never offer the same presentation. The 650's seem to be presenting much more micro detail and I'm hoping I can take the LCD's to that level. Do you think it's possible with the right setup?

    Here is my response:

    It's funny you mention the HD-650. The latest HD-650s are really fantastic and IMO a superior headphone to the LCD-3F. The new Fazors are actually a downgrade from the older non-Fazor LCD2 and LCD3s. Yes, they sound worse. I know because I have an old LCD-2r2 non-fazor which has better transient response and faster less muddy bass than anything Audeze currently produces. The HD-650 is an extremely resolving headphone that doesn't get enough credit. Best kept secret for just over a few hundred bucks. It keeps scaling and scaling, even with a resolving DAC and amp - even up to the $7k amps that EC makes.

    So I'm pulling your chain right? Nope. You guys have to remember that this is Changstar SuperBestAudioFriends. We won't sell you guys on thousand dollar headphones if they do not perform. So before any of you guys drop serious money on headphones, seriously consider the HD650 with a good amp and a good DAC. And BTW, traditional dynamics, especially the Sennheiser dynamics, tend resolve better than most planars. They don't sound as clean, they aren't as fast, but they do resolve better. Something to keep in mind if you have Yggy or spin vinyl on a quality table. The downside to the HD650 is that they don't have clarity of the exotic TOTLs and the bass can be wooly compared to most planars.

    This is a measurement of the stock HD650.
    hd650.gif
    HD650.jpg

    MASTER LIST OF LINKS
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ove-appreciation-thread.44/page-36#post-51202

    If you've enjoyed this post, help me help you,
    I have a growing family, blah blah blah,
    consider buying an HD650 from Amazon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
    econaut, landroni, Dino and 9 others like this.

  2. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Here are the mods that I performed.

    6/26/2016 UPDATE AND LINKS TO MEASUREMENTS:
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...d650-dynamat-mods-proof-that-its-not-bs.2098/

    Pulled out the foam behind the driver. I found out layer that the foam disc was really three separate discs squashed together.

    DSC_0154.JPG

    Put a quarter over where the foam covers the driver and cut a hole around it. I did not like the HD650 at all without any of the foam. The treble was too nasty without it. It would appear that the metal shealth does need the foam on top of it. Might be interesting to find a similar low density foam and use it to cover up the HD800 metal sheath.
    DSC_0155.JPG

    This inspired by Bill-P. I didn't go overboard like he did, but instead applied Dynamat Extreme to targeted locations. The major difference is that I applied two small strips of DE directly on the driver magnet. In order to do so, I had to snap off two small pieces of plastic resting over the driver magnet.
    DSC_0931.JPG

    This last mod seems to really help not only the bass (it's tighter and less wooly), but also overall articulation and resolution. In all, I highly recommend these mods for people wanting the "HD850" (a headphone with HD800 resolution and clarity, but with HD650 frequency response.)

    Unfortunately, my own measurements, unlike Bill-P's don't show a damn thing. Frequency response and distortion are more or less the same. I just wanted to point that out, so my subjective impressions could very much be wishful thinking.

    If you've enjoyed this post, help me help you,
    I have a growing family, blah blah blah,
    consider buying Dynamat Extreme from Amazon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
    Yuheng Du, Chuck, pedalhead and 16 others like this.
  3. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Marv,

    Did you measure the effects of just removing the rear foam discs? Is the back of the driver vented?
     
  4. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I did measure effects of the foam discs removed with no significant differences in the measurements. The back of the driver is vented.
     
  5. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    I really need to hear a silver vs. black mesh HD650 with the same pads. I have an older black mesh pair that I love, but am always curious about the silver screen love affair. I don't perceive a "veil" with mine, but it has been a long time since I've run them from a poor chain.
     
  6. smithj

    smithj Rando

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    I just tried the Dynamat mod. Very easy to do when you get the hang of it. The photos make the back look aesthetically terrible but there isn't much you can do about it since the material is pretty gooey. The backing material isn't the easiest to remove but it seems the gooey Dynamat material seperates from it if you pull hard enough.

    Since the HD600/HD650 are basically symmetrical, I recommend just cutting one of each section accurately and use those pieces as a template to cut out additional pieces with small + sharp scissors. It sounds annoying but takes only took me around 10-20 minutes to cover most sections of both earcups.

    I don't have a headphone measuring rig but I don't think the difference between stock and modded is trivial. The kick drum and bass guitar hit surprisingly hard when played loud out of the Asgard 2.

    The consequences of the Dynamat mod is that the headphones feel a fair bit heavier than before. I could just be tired but it definitely doesn't feel as comfortable as stock.
     
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  7. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    I colored some of the DE pieces black with a sharpie so they would be less evident behind the grills.
     
  8. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    Dino, TwoEars and zonto like this.
  9. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    Tried the Dynamat mod too, but my measurements also did not show any changes, neither FR- nor distortion-wise. Applied a little more D than Marv did, but, yeah, still no visible effect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2015
  10. Marvey

    Marvey Loves sex and records

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    Any subjective effect?
     
  11. AustinValentine

    AustinValentine Friend

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    Going to put some Dynamat in the freezer this evening (to harden for easy, clean cutting) and give this a try.
     
  12. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I wonder if enough creatology foam would also do the trick, haha. I hate working with Dynamat or similar, nor do I have any on me. I've always meant to try cup damping on the HD650, just been too lazy for all that cutting.
     
  13. Mrip

    Mrip Friend

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    I believe there was someone who claimed a Sennheiser rep denied there were any changes to the 650 since the silver driver, yet people keep claiming silent upgrades. I don't get why sen would explicitly deny making changes, if there were changes. Makes no sense.
     
  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I have something else that sounds kinda nonsensical, and also cannot be measured like dynamat, and yet it has an effect on resolution and staging as well. Will post more details about it once I have verified things. It's less messy than dynamat (yes!), and seemingly improves transient as well. Perhaps even more so than dynamat. It'll be a good alternative to dynamat since it's relatively not as expensive.

    So... stay tuned, Hands. :)

    I've just been too caught up with the HD800 to really get going on writing that HD600 guide, but it's coming alright. I'd think aside from front damping (because of mesh thickness), the HD600 and HD650 should be comparable everywhere else.
     
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  15. stratocaster

    stratocaster Friend

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    I was using a bit more Dynamat than you did and initially I had the impression that it cleaned up the bass a bit, but after a while I had to admit that this was just something I 'wanted' to hear. So, as far as I am concerned I would say it does not seem to be really effective.
    Something like that happens quite often to me. Right after a mod I am happy with the result, only to realize a day or so and some prolonged listening later that the mod wasn't that much of an achievement after all and only then my brain gets really sensitive to the weaknesses again. And this is also the reason why I like to 'see' the effects of mods reflected in my measurements.
     
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  16. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Thanks for all the impressions. Just got my pair last week and enjoying so far. Cymbals sound like cymbals again as compared to the K7XX.
     
  17. audiofrk

    audiofrk Guest

    Any links to claims?
     
  18. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    I think the dynamat mod only reliably improves resolution in the bass for me. Mid and high didn't seem to change much if at all.
     
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  19. Poleepkwa

    Poleepkwa Almost "Made"

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    I contacted them last year to ask about black/white screen difference.

    This was my question:
    I have currently a pair of HD650 dating from around 2009. Actual manufacturing date unknown.. I have read a few times that the drivers for these have been improved (I have black screen, the new ones are white.)The material of these screens were changed as well. Is this information correct? Is there a sound improvement as well or is the changes all just visual? Do the older batches sound the same as the newer ones?
    Thank you for your time.

    The reply:

    Hi

    There has been no changes in at least 10 years except the screen color. If there was any change before this it has been very small. "Huge" changes would be a result of damaged drivers or something else causing abnormal response. Of course if you compare HD 600 and HD 650 they sound different and they should do so.

    BR,
    Jukka

    Jukka Kulju
    Service and Support Technician

    I was going to order myself some never versions for comparison purposes, but it seems they are unavailable from Thomann (also HD600).
    I wonder if they are being discontinued`?
     
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  20. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Friend

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    Sennheiser doesn't want customers with the older black drivers demanding upgrades. Solderdude and that Japanese guy proved half of it is the improved pads anyway. Many have ordered pairs of new silver drivers from Sennheiser without new pads, swapped out their older black drivers, and noticed a difference. HD 580s and 600s also sound more neutral with the improved pads and the 600 drivers did not have audible changes from black to silver.
     

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