Sennheiser HD650 Love (Appreciation Thread)

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Sep 27, 2015.

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  1. Nateman831

    Nateman831 Friend

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    I tried my HD650 with a lot of different DAC/Amp combos including Fiio E10K, Fiio E17k, Fiio E18, Teac HA-P50, I also tried the O2 Amp, as well as the headphone ports on my iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 4, and iPad 1. All of these devices powered the HD650 at least loud enough to listen to comfortably, and only the iPhone 4 and iPad 1 couldn't make them become "too loud". However, when I bought the Asgard 2, an amp that's actually rated to deliver plenty of power at 300 ohms, the sound on these headphones really "grew up". With the Asgard 2, it sounds a lot smoother, and has a lot more kick and drive. I've heard it said that a good amp that's rated for high impedance headphones has the ability to ensure you're hearing all the frequencies in their proper proportions, whereas an amp that's not up to task might get loud enough, but it won't sound optimal because it doesn't have the power to deliver all the frequencies evenly at higher impedances. I'm fairly new at all of this, but that analogy made sense to me... I'm not neccesarily recommending this amp as being synergistic with these headphones - just saying it sounded so much better than everything else I tried before - and I think that's in large part because it's powerful enough to properly drive 300 ohms headphones
     
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  2. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    Yep, an amp's least important job is making your headphones louder. It's more about ensuring there's no distortion (some of it is inaudible but can be perceived), dynamic range is preserved, etc. I wasn't a believer in quality amps for a long time until I properly powered by HD650s and became a believer.
     
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  3. Nateman831

    Nateman831 Friend

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    I'm using the Asgard 2 with my HD650... I really like the A2 a lot, and it definitely seems to have the power to drive the HD650 and it has a lot of clarity. I'm not sure whether it's synergistic with these headphones though. It's the only amp I've tried thats properly rated for 300 ohms headphones, but sometimes I feel the sound is too "euphoric" for my tastes, and doesn't produce a "fun" enough sound for me - but I'm not exactly sure what I want more of. Probably more in some of the mids, and definitely more in some areas of the bass. I'm actually curious to hear these headphones with the Bottlehead Crack + Speedball Amp which I've heard mentioned several times as being synergistic with these headphones - but since I haven't heard them yet, I'm not sure what the differences would be. Sorry I couldn't be a bigger help...
     
  4. Nateman831

    Nateman831 Friend

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    I can totally relate with this comment... For whatever reason, I had to get over a hurdle so that I was willing to spend more money on a better amp. After I did though, I heard a lot more dynamic range. The whole sound was different...
     
  5. Olor1n

    Olor1n Friend

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    Best I've heard the HD650 was when I had the pleasure of owning the Ragnarok.

    I've since scaled my headphone rig back and am slumming it with just the Valhalla 2 driving the HD650.

    I didn't expect much from the Valhalla 2, despite the praise it garnered at Changstar, but I was astounded at how good this modest amp sounded. And like all Schiit components I've owned in the past, it improved with burn in as expected. I rolled some nice Herleen factory Bugle Boys and was again surprised to find the V2's ability to resolve the Amperex tube's distinct signature. The stock tubes are pretty good though.

    I'm curious to hear how the Gungnir Multibit pairs with the V2, compared to my M51.
     
  6. Jeb

    Jeb Friend

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    Hi Nate - Also a HD-650 user here - I had the Crack and Asgard 2 on my desk for quite a few months a little while ago. At the time I also had a WA7 with the tube power supply with me to compare (now departed). DAC was the Rega DAC with a USB/SPDIF converter. Unfortunately I have not fitted the Speedball yet but have played with some nicer tubes. I wrote quite a lot of notes at the time so can share some of the differences.

    I had previously used the LCD-2s with the Asgard and didn't really enjoy that pairing at all. It felt weak, a bit dry and very narrow. By contrast I thought the Asgard 2 with HD650s was a really nice, smooth, clean, grainless pairing with the feeling that there was decent quantity of clean juice on tap. It surprised me how much I enjoyed it and also the degree of delicacy and sparkle I heard through the 650s with the Asgard. Very smooth in the top with little sign of any 650 veil. It sounded more precise, deliberate & considered than the Crack with a decent sense of control over the 650s. It helped tighten up some of the 650 bass-softness - more so than the Crack. Both amps sound "warm" to be me but the A-2 is a little airier while the Crack takes it up another level in thickness and richness. I will say that prior to listening to the Crack I was worried it would sound like spongey-gloop but it's not that way at all. I'm comfortable with the separation and detail it offers vs the A-2.

    One of my test tracks was Star Guitar by Chemical Brothers and the Asgard was more proficient than the stock Crack at producing a well-defined & impactful rapid-fire baseline. The stock Crack struggled quite a bit in this department, sounding quite slow, loose & bloomy in comparison. Listening to something more organic and natural sounding like Midnight in Harlem by Tedeschi Trucks Band with the A2 the HD-650s still retained their cohesiveness and vocals were again smooth and robust with little sign of fragility. One criticism would be that although the staging has respectable width the sound is a bit flat and one dimensional - so I can understand your desire for something more fun and engaging.

    The stock Crack is more blended, atmospheric & liquid sounding. Crack is also a little rougher around the edges, grainier and does not hit as hard as the A2. That makes the Crack sound like the loser but I actually ended up selling the Asgard 2 instead. Where I felt the Crack was better than the A2 was tonally (more natural) and holographically. While it struggled with anything requiring a greater degree of precision (like electronica) for real instruments the Crack/650 delivers more of a sense of being able to see/hear all around an instrument or note. It sounds wider, deeper and more layered.

    Crack: Theres more lifelike elasticity and reverberation in guitars. Vocals sound very sweet, lilting or gritty/throaty when they need to be and despite the A-2 seeming a little more accurate and detailed I'm more inclined to notice the little emotive vocal idiosyncrasies with the Crack than with the A2. Again, the A-2 probably sounds more professional, composed & smoother but the Crack is more lifelike in tone and timbre & therefore more emotionally involving for me. More of a rough diamond.

    I prefer the overall texture of the Crack but it can also lose it's composure with multi-layered guitar driven music. Listening to some of the tracks on Radiohead's album The Bends or something by Cocteau Twins, there was a lovely sense of atmosphere in quieter passages but climaxes, although having a good sense of scale, sound a little too loose, raw and fatiguing. On these tracks the A2 is again flatter, smaller in scale & less emotive (for me) but keeps better control overall.

    I felt both amps delivered a cohesive sound with the 650s & I thought having both around would actually be quite complementary. I just connected more with the Crack (partly due to the building experience) as well as feeling it had greater potential since I'm only half-way through my journey with it. My hope is that adding the Speedball/mods will help tighten up the Crack a little, especially in the low-end.

    I hope that helps - sorry if some of the descriptions are a bit contradictory or flakey.

    Cheers.



    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  7. Nateman831

    Nateman831 Friend

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    Thanks for the in-depth comparison. This is really helpful as I consider the pros & cons of a Bottlehead Crack vs what I'm using now. From everything I've read around, the speedball upgrade tightens up the bass end and the overall sound so I'll definitely get that if I get the Crack. Love the test-bench picture :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  8. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    Hey Olor1n - you on order for the Gungnir Multibit? I have the loaner right now and it's sounding very good with the 650s (pirate-issue Leckerton as the amp since I have nothing else on hand). I heard a bit of stridency/etch with the Gungnir Multibit in my speaker system, but that was a quick test while it was still cold. I'll do another test now that it's warmed up a bit.

    Have you tried the mods on the 650s yet?
     
  9. Olor1n

    Olor1n Friend

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    Hey sphinxvc.

    No I don't have a Gungnir Multibit on order. I'm building a home in the next few months so I'm trying to exercise restraint. Otherwise I would've kept the Ragnarok, even though I wasn't using it to drive speakers, and would've probably pulled the trigger on the Yggdrasil. The Gungnir Multibit is tempting but it is over $2k AUD.

    I've not done the HD650 mods. I'm on my third HD650 now and this one is brand new. I kinda like how it sounds at the moment, particularly with the stiff pads adding some clarity compared to the older HD650 I had and having the right tubes installed in the Valhalla 2.

    There's been a lot of speculation that the HD650 has continued to undergo quiet changes. All 3 HD650's I've owned were the silver screen version. The first 2 came in the older silver packaging and the lighter bluish display case. The latest one I have now came in the all black packaging and black display box. I had two HD650's on hand briefly to compare and the difference between old and new is minuscule and I would attribute it to the stiffness of brand new pads over the softer and more compressed older pads. If Sennheiser has tweaked the HD650, it was over 5 years ago and before I bought my first set.
     
  10. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    I doubted whether the new packaging was really indicative of a new HD650 version as well. My 650s came in the older ribbed silver packaging. I recommend those mods if you're ever curious. It's a subtle shift, the same old HD650 really, but it gets the treble energy right, and the bass becomes tighter. I was already of the impression that the 650s had very few weaknesses, but I have a lot of respect for the driver after discovering the bass and energy issues weren't endemic to it.
     
  11. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    Any recommendations for a particular balanced cable or brand of balanced cable for the HD6x0? Not looking specifically for an enhancement of sonics (silver, etc.) but what is considered a good value pick?
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Ethernet CAT5/6 in teflon jacket (plenum grade cable). I shit you not. One of the best headphone cable types I've ever heard. Not a fan of silver. Especially partial silver. Really not a fan of aluminum alloy or gold cables.
     
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  13. KurtSvensson

    KurtSvensson Friend

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    A cable I recently bought which I think looks sick, is EXTREMELY flexible, doesn't have shitty red/black (for left/right) moonaudio connectors without costing the price of a mid-fi amp is one I purchased here: http://forzaaudioworks.com/en/category.php?id_category=36

    In case you're wondering I got the claire HPC mk 2, no experience with his other stuff.
     
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  14. SKiring

    SKiring Friend

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    I can vouch for the quality of Matthew's cables, very well crafted, 3 years of warranty, excellent service, very pleasing. Cables look great and are extremely flexible (don't let the picture fool you).

    Been very happy with mine on my HD800. I'm getting a HD650 next week when my next paycheck comes and have been planning on ordering my cable at Forza again.
     
  15. spoony

    spoony Spooky

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    It works as a speaker cable as well.
     
  16. Besnia

    Besnia Facebook Friend

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    I second that opinion. CAT6 in teflon jacket makes an excellent headphone cable. Just make sure to purchase a cable manufactured in Germany. The Chinese ones use conductors that have too much impurities.
     
  17. rott

    rott Secretly hates other millenials - Friend

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    I wouldn't have imagined using CAT5/6 for audio signals was a solution, but I've now read up on it (and seen the followup posts here). Seems the only real issue could be relative inflexibility of the cable due to the sheathing.

    @purrin my guess is that you use a DIY balanced cable when listening/evaluating gear with your HD650?

    Any experiences with the Sennheiser-branded balanced cable?
     
  18. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I use the stock Sennheiser HD650 cable balanced with Neutrik connectors:
    Male Neutrik NC4FX-B XLR Female 4 Pin Black/Gold
    Female Neutrik NC4FX-B XLR Female 4 Pin Black/Gold

    Grand total for a great balanced HD650 cable is ~$25 if you call Sennheiser and order a replacement cable. You only need the female connector if you want to also make a Balanced -> Single-ended adapter (you do).

    I don't have soldering equipment, so I sent mine off to a dude on Etsy to do it for me.
     
  19. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    So I've been using a friends set of stock 650's (well except for the balanced cable) for the past 2 weeks.
    I have also been using the Sonarworks Plug-in with the average HD650 compensation curve.
    I was mightily impressed with the 650's, with but one complaint.
    I had to take them off every 2-3 hours and let my pinna's 'breath' due to irritation from being slightly squished by the ear pads.

    But today I blew away my previous appreciation of the 650's and by a wide margin.

    Some may know of my desire to use a full bandwidth compensation curve for my 800's.
    I had been trying to extend the FR of my 800's well below 20Hz and had succeeded.
    But I asked Sonarworks to NOT chop off the low end and continue the compensation curve all the way down to 20Hz (and below?).

    This along along with the sub-sonic boost mentioned below,
    is,
    well,
    magical,
    and enticing,
    and further added to my difficulty in trying to remove my 800's, like to go to bed, or get something to drink, or go to the bathroom etc.

    The net change of extending the very lowest portion of the audible spectrum down well below 20Hz is, in a word stunning.
    The entire audible spectrum becomes seemless, to a degree that is beyond compelling and becomes IMPERATIVE that listening not stop.
    Ie. 'Just one more track', Oh I HAVE to hear this song, etc, etc.
    Some others that have used their Ref 3 plug-in have noted similar improvements.

    This same degree of magical involvement just happened again with the 650's.
    If you are running the Ref 3 Plug-in and using 650's, my suggestion is to ask them for the "Sennheiser HD650 Average No Limits" compensation curve. Or I can email it to you.
    Also for the full effect and assuming you have a suitably capable system, add 5dB at 15Hz with a Q of ≈ 1.4
    AND play with the "Bass Boost" and "Tilt Control" and the Wet/Dry control within the Ref 3 plug-in to help dial it all in.
    Give it about an hour or so of playing time (I'm not sure why).
    And get carried away by the music.
    And do play with these settings to dial it in further on your system.

    650's certainly ARE underrated.
    And if you haven't tried the Sonarwworks Plug-in yet, I'd suggest that you try their 21 day free trial.
    And after you have them dialed in, disable the plug-in, or turn it off, and see how long you can keep it that way. o_O

    JJ
     
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  20. spoony

    spoony Spooky

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    Annd that's why Solderdude designed the 'Sennator' specifically for the HD6x0 cans.
     

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