JAR HD600 Impressions and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Hands, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Been a long time coming on this, meaning I kept running into real-life delays (or just procrastinating), that kept me from posting my thoughts and some measurements on these.

    JAR = Jupiter Audio Research, this time with a modded HD600.

    Mod Updates, Context, and Background

    Please be aware, the original HD650 mod had a layer of foam sandwiched between the large damping piece in back and the rear driver/magnet, somewhat preventing the actual silicone stuffing from making full damping contact with the back of driver/magnet. He has since switched to making sure the damping piece has nothing in between it and the driver/magnet or enclosure.

    The new solution involves a removable, plastic piece, which you can attach to the back of the headphones (over magnet port), adhered with doubled sided 3M tape (easy to replace when it loses stickiness), with a cutout that will hold about a 2mm thick piece of circular foam. This means you can use around 1 layer of the original Sennheiser rear foam, choose your own, or go naked!

    The JAR HD600 in this case uses the new damping scheme. The JAR HD650 mod will now come as such too, and I think has been since he sorted this all out. I can't speak to what you might need to do to "retrofit" an older pair, nor can I say if it's worth it or not for you.

    JAR HD600 Impressions

    I was never a huge fan of the HD600. It always had too much of an upper-mid emphasis that drove me nuts. It sounded hot, hot, hot.

    To put the JAR HD600 in perspective, I've more or less stopped listening to any form of the HD650 since receiving it.

    I would say the JAR HD600 is sort of a mixture of the HD600, HD650, and Focal Clear, with its own sort of flavor and not so much of the more egregious downsides of those three individually.

    The low-end is similar to that of a fresh HD6XX, which I think are a little more neutral sounding than the older HD650 units. But, even then, it's dialed down just a wee bit from there. It's also just a little less thick through the midrange in general. It sounds a little tighter and cleaner than the HD650/6XX.

    There is still a bit of an upper-midrange bite to the JAR HD600, but it isn't hot sounding like the HD600 I had years ago. In fact, it's most akin to the Focal Clear here, having a bit of extra bite through 1-4KHz, but still not quite as aggressive as the Clear.

    Nonetheless, on some genres, you might hear a bit of that upper-mid sort of emphasis. I'd best describe it as a sort of high-pitched "heeeeee" sound. But it's fairly mild and not something that bothers me. A good tube amp can take the edge off, but even that is not necessary.

    Beyond that, the treble performance is again somewhere between the HD650 and Focal Clear. It doesn't have the bright, rough, metallic nature of the Focal Clear. It retains the nice Sennheiser timbre. But it's overall a little brighter than the HD650, especially around 10KHz. Taking this into account, it doesn't have the HD650 veil at all, but it's more agreeable to listen to than a stock HD600 or Focal Clear.

    Even though there's still a bit of upper-mid aggression on the JAR HD600, it's hard to go back to the HD650. The JAR HD600 is very lively, really grips the music, and has a little bit of that HD600/650 flair or coloration while remaining relatively neutral overall.

    I just find it to be a more engaging and tangible listening experience over the HD650.

    However, I do still think the HD650 reigns supreme with overall midrange and treble tone and timbre. It's more refined and balanced, but can be a bit sleepy at times. Well, I think it's more than the fatter bass/low-mids on the HD650 slow it down, which is certainly not an issue on the JAR HD600.

    But there are times the additional low-end coloration and more relaxed sound of the HD650 are more up my alley. Depends on my mood. I've also found that, with the new damping piece on the JAR mod, I can run denser foam on the JAR HD650 to make it a little more neutral sounding. I'll try to say more on that later.

    Note: For all tests, I ran the JAR HD600 with 1 piece of original Sennheiser foam on the rear side.

    Conclusion

    I couldn't deal with the hot sound of the original HD600. The HD650 can be a little too heavy handed or sleepy at times, even with mods, despite being so good in many areas. The Focal Clear improves on both of these in many ways, but its timbre isn't super great and it's a little too aggressive/bright sounding. It's also not comfortable.

    The JAR HD600 is very listenable, has some of the Focal Clear aggressiveness without so many nasty side effects, and has a more lively and more neutral sound than the HD650 (or HD6XX or JAR HD650). It has more or less become my main reference headphone for the last few months.
     
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  2. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Measurements

    I was sent two pairs, one for the SBAF loaner (currently in the hands of @purr1n, bug him if you want his impressions/measurements and to get the tour started) and one for myself. Both used 1 piece of Sennheiser damping in the rear in all tests.

    While I usually match everything at 1KHz, I broke my rules a bit here to better present how I think these sound.

    You'll see left channel results for both pairs here, just to show relative consistency. The variations you can see can mostly be chalked up to differences in pads, headbands, measurement mic insertion, etc. I'd wager that covers about 60-70% of the differences here, with the remainder coming down to product variance. And they sounded almost identical in listening tests. I could make up for slight differences by swapping out the pads and headbands on each.

    I think they sound like the measure. Little bit of upper-bass boost, slightly aggressive upper-mids, but relatively neutral overall.

    JAR HD600 FR Left Two Pairs.png


    Distortion results were more or less identical on both pairs, so I averaged a few takes on each together.

    Problem is, my radon mitigation system is just outside my exterior wall, and it's possible the AC was running too without me noticing. Ignore the low-end spikes. I tried to give my best-guess, conservative, estimate at the overall low-end distortion (green dotted line).

    JAR HD600 Left Distortion Pairs Averaged.png


    Both pairs had very similar CSD results, and since I don't have a way to average those together, I have -36dB and -45dB results for one pair below. Nice and clean!

    JAR HD600 Pair 1 Left CSD -36dB.PNG
    JAR HD600 Pair 1 Left CSD -45dB.PNG


    Frequency response compared against a relatively fresh HD6XX.

    Note the 6XX is a little thicker overall, from the low-end till about 800Hz. The JAR HD600 has a slightly more concentrated high-bass hump, so the mids don't sound quite as thick. (See how the response bows down more quickly after 100Hz on the JAR HD600 vs. HD6XX.)

    You can see the JAR HD600 is not quite as linear as the HD650 in the mids through low-treble, and overall a little more aggressive. But it's still fairly well behaved. It's also a bit more emphasized around 10KHz, which makes it sound sharper, less veiled, than the HD6XX.

    JAR HD600 vs HD6XX FR Left.png

    JAR HD600 compared to the Focal Clear. Surprisingly similar from about 80Hz to 4KHz. But whereas the Clear gets kind of ragged above 4KHz, the JAR HD600 is smoother. No 5-6KHz hot spot on the JAR HD600, less severe or sharp peaks and troughs. I do have to give a nod to the Clear for having a noticeably better bass response.

    JAR HD600 vs Clear FR Left.png

    Just for your convenience, as a reference point, here's the HD6XX distortion results. Don't worry so much about the D3/D4 "floor" being lower here than on the JAR HD600, because that all comes down to the how much I've used the 9V battery powering my mic supply. Ignoring the spikes in my JAR HD600 results, I think the JAR HD600 does just a wee bit better with bass distortion. Too hard to tell, though.

    HD6XX Left Distortion.png
     
  3. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Touching on the JAR HD650 using the new damping piece vs. the original loaner...

    I put some 2mm charcoal foam in the rear of my JAR HD650. It's denser than the Sennheiser foam, but generally behaves well with headphones (i.e. tightens and lowers bass without necessarily causing weird treble peaks, or is a very smooth front-side attenuator).

    It sounded quite promising! However, since I was packing up the loaner JAR HD600 to send to @purr1n, I went ahead and dropped that JAR HD650 in the box for him to test. I'm curious if he finds the new damping scheme beneficial, with the foam now in a removal rear piece, and if he likes the denser rear foam on the JAR HD650 over a single disc of Sennheiser foam.

    Because of that, I can't do any formal listening and measurement tests with that JAR HD650 configuration until it's returned. But I'm in absolutely no rush. Just wanted to bring that up so people were aware of some tuning possibilities.
     
  4. starence

    starence Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for the measurements and impressions, interesting stuff. I wonder why not many people mod their 600s.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  5. fierce_freak

    fierce_freak Friend

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    @Hands, is your jar 650 still out? Definitely interested in hearing your more detailed impressions between the two using different back foams.
     
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  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Yes, @purr1n currently has both the loaner JAR HD600 and my personal JAR HD650, latter with a different foam I picked for the rear. It’s a pretty easy and risk free tweak. Helps tone down bass and tighten overall sound (cleaner bass, less treble veil) IIRC.

    Though we may need to check if the loaner HD600 is missing some silicone damping on the front side to see if that caused the slight extra bass and upper mids/treble.
     
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  7. tommytakis

    tommytakis Friend

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    ECB80325-97B6-42E5-850C-AB97358D9184.jpeg
    After reading @Hands ’s impressions on the JAR600, I became curious with the mods and contacted @ext1 (Jupiter). He was more than happy to send me a review unit for me to try before deciding whether to purchase or not. I think about a week later, the headphones arrived at my doorstep and I was quite smitten by the sound as soon as I put it on my head. I couldn’t put it down for many hours even though I still had studying left for the day.

    Listening chain: Eitr > Gungnir Multibit A1 > ZDT Jr.(loaner from @ChaChaRealSmooth ) > JAR600 | 650K
    • Aesthetics and non-sonic related: JAR600 is a bit heavier than the stock HD600 due to the added parts, but no where near ZMF and Audeze level and still extremely comfortable.
    • Overall tonality is that it retains a similar overall signature to the original 600, but slightly tweaked to get rid of that hot upper-mids and technical refinements on the macro level. Like Hands has stated previously, the upper mids are nowhere near as hot as the original HD600. It’s quite enjoyable to listen to now. The hot upper mids were the major nitpick I had with the stock 600 that made me choose the 650 over the 600 even though I preferred the treble presentation of the 600. Ultimately, the JAR mod fixed that issue for me. It has a bit of that “focal aggression” or forwardness that I personally enjoy without the metallic timbre.
    • Macrodetail and Macrodynamics: Overall, it feels more focused and dynamic on the macro level. What I mean by “focused” is that sound feels less dispersed and blurred out and each component of sound seems to be more localized and exact. Therefore instruments are better separated and compartmentalized than stock 6X0. Images sounded less blobby than with stock 600/650.
    • JAR600 vs. 650K: Everything seems tighter and hits a little harder with more energy and impact. Cymbals have more “crisp” and energy contributing to the overall livelier sound. When comparing complex passages in classical music, the JAR600 is a step above the 650K in terms of rendering macro detail and transient. Music sounds more snappy with a bit more air in the JAR600, where the ends are more clearly defined. Attacks are just a bit sharper without being overly bright or causing listening fatigue. Long and complex piano passages sound a bit rounded on the 650K when directly compared to the JAR600. Listening to classical music on this headphone was just pure bliss.
    • I still love the 650K as it instantly made me doubt my kilobuck headphone purchases. Sure it sucks at bass extension, but it’s super resolving and affordable. But from time to time, I would get listening fatigue from it. Maybe it’s the quarter-sized hole that exposes the driver directly up against my ears from the mod? I’m happy to report that there was no listening fatigue at all when using the JAR600.
    • Bass still rolls off in sub bass but there is more heft and weight into it, contributing to the increased macro-dynamics. definitely punches harder than the stock 650/600. I listen to a lot of vocal oriented music so the roll off doesn’t bother me as much. I’m sure this could still be a deal breaker for some. Maybe give JAR650 a go if this bothers you, or look for a different headphone with better extension.
    • Clarity: No Sennheiser veil here. Excellent clarity without a hint of veil or darkness. Vocals and instruments sound vivid and clear. Switching to JAR600 from 650K, it felt like cranking up the contrast knob... More vibrant images and I was kept engaged with any genre I threw at. Seriously addictive sound.
    Closing thoughts: To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first, but JAR600 is legit. It won't transform your 600 into a different headphone, but a noticeable jump in some inherent qualities such as macro-detail and -dynamics. It's livelier, snappy, full of color, and with a hint of aggression and forwardness for more engagement. Even though the JAR600 felt brighter, it was less fatiguing for me than the 650K. Jupiter is doing something right with his mods. I haven’t heard the JAR650, but I’m perfectly happy with how the JAR600 sounds and effectively dethroned the 650K as my daily driver.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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