JAR660S Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Ksorota, Sep 12, 2022.

  1. Ksorota

    Ksorota Friend

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    The JAR660S is a great sounding headphone...I have not been listening to it recently since it is making the rounds with members and is going on tour, but below are my quick impressions and a place for more user experiences.

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    I am a fan of the stock HD660S and think that it was a nice change from the HD650 and a bit of a lovechild of the HD580 and 650, not outright better than either, but a nice combination of tonality, speed, control, etc. The fact that it was easier to drive was a nice bonus, but still its not so easy that I feel a phone does any justice to the sound and that an amp is still needed. With this in mind, I figured the JAR mod couldn’t make it worse, and I am glad to say It is better.

    The JAR660S should still be considered a love child of good traits of the 650 and 580. The tonal picture is fast and accurate with low end control and presence. The upper mids/lower treble are forward leaning which keeps the engagement factor high on these. I get a wider sense of soundstage than either of the other two and detail retrieval is high up on the list of noticeable changes. Bass presentation is better defined and cleaner than the HD650, but more present than the HD580.
     
  2. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    I feel like the early consensus was that these lack the "refinement" of the 600/650. Less plankton...a little less damped.

    Do you disagree with that, generally speaking, or is it simply not enough of a difference to be detrimental?
     
  3. Ksorota

    Ksorota Friend

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    The 660S is not as transformative of good equipment as the HD650/600. The 600 is my preference between the 2 classics and still provides more of an experience with a nice tube setup. The experience is what i gather the plankton affect is. I dont know that I can necessarily put my finger on what makes the sound of those older Senns really catch me, but they do. The 660S seems to miss out on that affect generally speaking. IMO it is just a solid listening experience on most gear and makes a "jack of all trades" headphone to have. I am going to be using it at work, or to travel with where I can just run it off of a headphone jack.

    The mod brings out the best of the 660S and does bring in some more of the detail retrieval while cleaning up the low end. The thing that I am struggling with right now is just how good the HD700 can be with the "same" driver. The staging and depth is affecting me much more than I thought it would (is this the plankton coming through?).

    Im looking forward to putting it up against the JAR660S and the JAR800.
     
  4. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    Many thanks to @Ksorota for loaning out his personal pair of these headphones so that we can get ears on them. You're a hell of a guy.

    Some quick impressions of JAR660S.

    Very even tonality. No treble fuckery. Lots of front to back layering and spacious sound. Vocals are very present.

    Lacks that last bit of focus on a higher end system but this is made to use off a phone or dongle etc so this is likely not even apparent in the intended use case.

    Great separation and very good imaging placing different instruments in their own distinct places in the stage.

    Sounds kinda like a JAR600. Pretty clean, but also kinda chill. JAR600 takes the too-clean nature of the 600 and nudges it a bit towards the forgivingness of the 650. I definitely get why the comparison to 580 was made. They share that same neutralish FR.

    A cherry-picked 580 or BS/BP 650 is going to have a clearer insight into the finer details of the music. This is likely down to personal preference. Some want it all laid bare (the best and rare/older cherry-picked Sennheisers), and others want it filtered to make it more appealing (ZMF). This is neutral, but with some filters for added fun. Think model with tiny wrinkles and veins vs photoshopped model. Take your pick. The magazines choose to publish the lightly filtered pictures.

    Rig was Pi4 streamer>May KTE>Icon 4 Zen>ZDS
    and
    VPI Classic 1 with Denon 301 MKII>Allnic H-1202>Icon 4 Zen>ZDS.
    I wish I had a portable rig to try these on because I bet they'd be killer from it.
     
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  5. CEE TEE

    CEE TEE MOT: NITSCH

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    660S quick impressions (I listened through a bunch of JAR mods shopping for myself)

    Thanks to our awesome community, I was able to hear all the JAR v1 versions (580, 600, 650, 660S, 800, 800S).

    With 660S, the JAR differences were very dramatic. I would definitely listen to the JAR660S version more myself.

    JAR version is tighter, cleaner, the headstage is closer because vocals are up-front with more solid imaging overall, less smearing of space and more delineation of instruments. More refined top end.

    If you have and enjoy the 660S, you may also prefer the JAR660S (like me) or you might be like @Ksorota and end up wanting both!

    My stock 660S are in the personal loaner tour on SBAF right now because I would like everyone to hear the differences for themselves. (After the tour, they will go to Ksorota if he wants them.)

    End Results: I have decided to JAR-mod my 600 and 650. If I wasn’t already going to keep JAR600 and JAR650, I would definitely get my 660S modded and enjoy them. I thought JAR-modded they sounded good on all of my amps.

    Sometime, @Bill-P will publish some quick measurements after I ran them over to his place. A quick comparison of stock vs. modded impulse responses show some of what we are hearing…the difference between stock and JAR = ear-opening.
     
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  6. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Thanks to @Ksorota for offering his headphones for this loaner!

    Chain: Yamaha PX-3->Mani 2 (vinyl)
    Marantz CD5004/Roon->Pi2AES->Abbas .11SE (digital)
    All of that to Saga->Vali 1->660S/JAR660S

    I never bothered with the 660S. I remember reading Marv's review of it here when it first came out and wrote it off. Why bother when used 580s/600s/650s were plentiful for $200-$250 and sounded better? Enter JAR...

    It was generous and smart to add a stock 660S to this loaner package. First thing I did was pop the stock on my head to see how it sounded without any modification. And you know what? Not so bad! It sounded not far off from a 650, mids focused but with more bass quantity (kind of fuzzy bass), and a bit more upper range presence. Layering and soundstage was typical Senn 6XX series. If Sennheiser had released this at $350 instead of $500+, it would have been seen as a reasonable replacement for the 650. I wouldn't buy one instead of a 650, but if I needed something with 650 type sound that was more efficient/easier to drive, the 650 wouldn't be so bad at $300 or less.

    Once I got the lay of the land with the stock 660S, I put on the JAR660. And let me tell you, it blew my socks off my ass! I took the headphone off in disbelief because I couldn't believe this was actually the same base headphone. Supposedly the 660S has a 700 driver in a 6XX enclosure, but you would never know that from hearing the stock. Well, you do hear that when the JAR mods are applied. Everything tightens up, the low end goes from a bit fuzzy and thumpy to really well controlled and nicely balanced. The highs are more evident, but the real star of the show are the mids. My god, the mids! These achingly gorgeous mids. Put on anything with strong vocal harmonies and get ready to weep. A lot of headphones have been touted as a super 650 over the years, but this is the first headphone I've heard that really sounds like one.

    Now, I'm working off a Vali 1 here so I can't test how well it scales. It sounds as resolving and detailed as a KISS 650 does in the same setup. I've heard the 660S doesn't scale as well as the 600/650, and I trust the people who've told me that. But the real star of the show here is the tone and timbre, which are just so lush and striking. If I'm leaving the last 20% of resolution on the table, that's a trade off I'm happy to make.

    The long and the short of is that the JAR mods took previously great headphones and made them even better. The JAR mods for the 660 takes a decent headphone and makes it great, and it is simply an absolute pleasure to listen to.

    New stock 660s are on sale at Amazon for $300 at the moment. I'm going to be bold and urge people to buy a stock 660S and put an order in to get it JAR modded. It's worth it. It's a keeper headphone.
     
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  7. ThyDanMan99

    ThyDanMan99 Rando

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    Thank you @Ksorota for letting us try this wonderful mod and headphone! My opinions are quite similar to what has already been said. The JAR660S low end is much better compared to stock and much more controlled while remaining just as punchy if not more so. It has an extremely attractive tonality. Very balanced. The mids and really layered vocals are probably the biggest standout compared to stock. Very easy to listen to and quite hard to stop.

    I've only listened to one other JAR mod and that was the JAR650 v1. If I remember correctly, I do think I preferred the JAR650 slightly more than the JAR660S. I think I just appreciated the bass and the tonality a little more. It's hard to choose, and I only had about a week with the JAR650, so in reality it's probably a tossup on which I would prefer if I heard the JAR650 again.

    Compared to something like the HD600/HD6XX though I think the JAR660S beats both of those handily. The very upper treble of the HD600 might win slightly compared to the JAR660S, but that's about the only category it might win in. Otherwise I enjoyed the JAR660S more on every song I played. That yearning for the HD600 treble has made me realize I should consider getting a JAR800 though since I've heard it's like an HD600 with TOTL technicalities if anyone thinks along the lines I do.

    Listening to the JAR660S on my Modded Modi Multibit>SW51+ setup I would say I enjoyed the upper highs the most. The way the God of War Ragnarok soundtrack played was beautiful. The drums and the horns sounded fantastic. I switched to MMM>Piety to listen to Bad Bunny's new album, Un Verano Sin Ti, which was a joy and had excellent bass texture and separation between vocals and instruments. Again, it was hard to stop listening. Anything I threw at the JAR660S I thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommend this headphone.
     
  8. caute

    caute Friend

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    A big thank you to @Ksorota for loaning out his personal headphones!

    I've just finished with my time with them, but unfortunately, only had a few hours of actual listening time with both as I am quite scatter-brained and forgot I had my LCD-X eq engaged in moOde almost the entire time with these hp, so I have to recuse myself from more detailed impressions.

    Apologies to all who are interested in hearing more impressions of the JAR660S, dumb mistake. I wish I had some good notes to share, but looks like I'll just have a few sketches from my very brief time with the two hp, and as with all my impressions, take a lick of some salt rock when reading.

    (Unlike many other members here, I do not have the sonic lexicon—or patience—to point out the things I don’t like, whereas it seems like I have boundless ways of making my praise be known, even if it isn’t exactly the right way to state something, it’s at least somewhat intelligible in my own opinion, so forgive my already-brief impressions if they do not describe exactly what bugged me about the 660S, aside from the treble and mids.)

    Here goes:
    • Like @Erroneous, I don't have a portable rig use case for these, which I the JAR660S would be excellent for, so I listened via my main dynamic chain: Gungnir A1 > Piety > 660S/JAR660S. I feel like if I had a nice Shanling M-series DAP like @yotacowboy uses with his JAR660S, or even an iFi Go Blu or an older Geek Out v2, I would be super happy with the results, as high gain on the Piety was a bit too much for me, and preferred low gain at about 11 o'clock—which represents a huge increase in gain from the JAR600s I demoed (cf. JAR600B, when in low gain, I was at about 3). Can imagine a powerful dongle or DAP easily powering these with authority.
    • The base 660S is, relative to the 6X0 series, in my personal view, a bit of a tonally illegible headphone, even when I was sure flat eq was applied, I wasn't quite sure what the hp was going for, and expected a outstanding midrange only to find it was somewhat recessed relative to the treble, which sounded increased even though I didn't think it much brighter than a stock 6XX, I found myself turning down the volume at the pulse of some hot upper treble notes during certain tracks.
    • When I think of not-dark and nice treble on some hp that tilts upward, I think of the words "air", "extension", "smoothness" and maybe even "sparkle", but the stock 660S, to me, were just too bright, none of those words came to mind when trying to describe its upper range.
    • JAR660S pulls the again, relative-to-the-600s, wonky midrange of the stock into greater evenness, clarity and coherence, but sadly, I still found the treble too bright. Others may not have this problem at all, it's not a bright hp, I think I am just extra sensitive.
    • Vocals are more coherent and prominent on the JAR model.
    • As Jupiter’s modding philosophy seems to be to enhance a hp’s natural character and not to “turn them into a different beast”, I would say this was achieved, and to ingenious effect, in the JAR660S, but the base hp, imo, is just not up to snuff, making the mods feel like they were fixing rather than accentuating what good was already there (I'm comparing these to my memory of the JAR600v1 and JAR600B, the latter of which is seared into my brain). To turn the 660S into what he did might actually represent one of his greatest achievements—even if this mod is a bit of a sleeper—it tonally transformed the hp into something eminently listenable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2023
  9. Vtory

    Vtory Audiophile™

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    HD 660S and JAR 660S Short Review


    Opening


    I’d first appreciate Ksorota and CEE TEE for generously offering their JAR 660S and HD 660S respectively and making this tour happen.

    Now I certainly admit that I am an oddball to whom the SBAF general consensus cannot apply. And once I stopped pretending that I liked what others generally liked, everything in the hobby looked drastically different, and I’m fully enjoying whole new discoveries about what I thought I hated.

    That is one of the reasons why I signed up although I briefly heard HD660S before. These days I don’t praise (or pretend to praise) HD650 as much as I used to when I heard the 660S. And because the way I think the HD6X0 has changed, I feel like I should give the HD660S another chance from my newer perspective in 2023.

    And needless to say, I was also curious what sonic changes Jupiter/ext1 made on top of the 660S OG. Previously I heard two JAR mods (580 and 650) and neither disappointed me at all, which was enough reason to sign up for another JAR mod this time around.


    Pads

    One thing I noticed on the first day was that OG and JAR did not equip the same conditioned pads. Specifically, JAR had newer but still a bit worn pads and OG had pads that showed more wear. While I know some people purposely favor worn pads for Senn 6x0s, I do have a clear preference toward new and fresh pads as they are (to my ears) almost always associated with crisp highs and less warm tonality.

    To reduce a source of variability, all my listening and measurements were done with the new and fresh pads I had in the house.


    Associated Gears

    In my evaluation, I mainly used the M500.3 D/A converters and a couple of different amplifiers including M500.3’s built-in hp out and HO200 (both 4-pin xlr out). I also tried out a couple of loaner amps I’m having in the house (Piety and Liquid Gold X) but I didn’t find anything particularly reportable.

    I mostly compared both headphones to my Kiss-modded HD6XX (with new and fresh pads).


    Subjective Evaluation: HD 660S

    Tonality-wise, 660S OG is probably my favorite balance among all the Sennheiser headphones including light mods. HD650 and HD600 used to sound a bit too mid-centric and mid-forwarding to me (and 600 worsens it with extra forwarding treble, which is outside my confidence zone). I don’t hear forwarding upper mids with 660S any longer. All the mids and highs are cohesively linked and perceived response/tonality is buttery smooth. Much more so than what I hear with any prior 6x0 I heard to date.

    Bass does sound audibly lighter with 660S than 650/6XX. With both 660S and my Kiss-6XX, roll off starts around 150hz and gradually attenuates in lower registers. But very low notes of double bass or piano are louder with the 6XX. 660S behaves more like HD600. I’m unsure which bass presentation I like better. I don’t think Senn’s low bass is as clean or articulate as the orthos I’m using. HD650/6xx’s bass extension often reveals its own physical limitation too obviously and the 600/660S sound neater and relatively cleaner to my ears. But with certain situations or tracks, 650/6xx’s over-extended and warm bass voicing works better.

    Speaking of the technicality, especially when pads are matched identically, I realized there wasn't a meaningful difference between 660S and 6XX. For example, 6XX seems to resolve fairly many levels of gradations in sonic amplitudes but it’s presented/reproduced in a little blurred style. On the contrary, 660S almost resolves equivalent dynamics and conveys in less ambiguous ways. One area 660S does a great job for me is the reproduction of electric guitar’s sound. The presence is more life-like and the buzzing details were way more unequivocal. I generally think the 660S might be a better tool for less-experienced or less-trained ears. Anyway, I don’t want to go too crazy for technicalities because neither is what I’d take for uncompromised music analyses.


    Subjective Evaluation: JAR 660S

    I think it’s safer to say what JAR does to 660S is no worse than what KISS does to 650/6XX stock. And because 660S stock is better sounding to me than 650/580, JAR 660S is obviously the best sounding JAR headphones I’ve tried to date. Let me elaborate.

    After fixing the ear pads, the extent of tonal change is not as dramatic as what JAR brings to 580 or 600. The change in upper mids is audible though. I found JAR 660S is very slightly brighter in presence and comes with better finesse. This makes JAR sound even more uncolored and even-balanced than the already excellent OG. Easily the most neutral JAR pair to date.

    Moving on to the technicality, JAR’s custom covers show how additional weights and vibration controls can do justice for Senn drivers. The improvement was more audible in bass than in the rest of the spectrum. The top 3 technical performance categories I could hear a good improvement over were cleanness, tightness, and articulation. Overall, I found JAR 660S is indeed highly acceptable in any very serious listening -- and this is the claim from a person whose headtime gravitates toward totls.


    Measurements

    My measurements were taken with the MiniDSP EARS at 95 db SPL at 300 Hz. Please note that my frequency responses are averaged results based on 5 different positions (center/up/down/front/back) to control positional variance. Results from optimal positioning might differ even with the same measurement fixture/rig.

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    Conclusions

    To sum up, HD 660S is a clear evolution over prior Senn HD6X0, exhibiting more neutral tonality, less coloration, and equivalent performance tuned toward modern audio enthusiasts. The current price ($300 new in msrp) doesn’t feel expensive even when compared to Drop’s discounted price of HD6XX ($240 reduced from $280), to the extent I’m willing to trade the price delta with the performance/tonality gains. I’d like to reverse all my inaccurate or unfair criticisms I made to the 660S previously.

    Also, JAR is again a super solid mod that maintains all the inherent good things of the 660S and boosts incrementally every single way. For those who are serious enthusiasts but not ready to spend much for a pair of headphones, the JAR route is definitely considerable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2023

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