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Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
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- Lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Neodymium ferrous magnets maintain optimum sensitivity and excellent dynamics
- Sophisticated design, elegantly finished in black and gray
- High quality open metal mesh earpiece covers
- Detachable, Kevlar reinforced oxygen free copper cable with very low handling noise
- Connectivity technology : Wired
- Note: The unit ships with 1 ¼” (6.3 mm) headphone adapter plug
Buy this product as Renewed and save $111.95 off the current New price.
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From the manufacturer
Sennheiser HD 600 Open Back Professional Headphone
These headphones are engineered for the true audiophile. Thanks to an open circumaural design, computer optimized magnets and aluminum voice coils, you won't find cleaner, crisper stereo sound anywhere. The HD 600 is an audiophile-grade open dynamic hi-fi/professional stereo headphone. The advanced diaphragm design eliminates standing waves resulting in a clean sound free of artifacts and acoustical disturbances. The HD 600 is a fantastic addition to a hi-fi stack or dedicated listening room.
- High-quality open metal mesh grilles deliver extremely transparent sound
- Computer optimized magnet systems minimize harmonic and intermodulation distortion
- Extremely lightweight aluminum voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Neodymium ferrous magnet systems ensure optimum sensitivity and an excellent dynamic response
- Exceptionally natural, spatial and accurate sound
- Detachable, OFC copper cable
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|Sold By||Zack Electronics Inc||Bsd Wholesale||PHOTOTECH||The Deals Gallery||HIFIMAN|
|Headphones Form Factor||Over Ear||Over Ear||On Ear||Over Ear||Over Ear|
|Item Dimensions||0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches||4.33 x 7.48 x 9.06 inches||6.70 x 7.90 x 3.90 inches||10.12 x 4.25 x 12.60 inches||11.00 x 6.80 x 12.10 inches|
|Item Weight||0.57 lbs||0.91 lbs||0.66 lbs||0.58 lbs||0.82 lbs|
|Special Features||lightweight||Tangle-Free Cord, Lightweight||Lightweight||Lightweight||ultra-fine diaphragm, 3.5mm connectors for enhanced durability|
From the Manufacturer
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Let me first attempt to burnish my credibility. I've had my HD600s for a few years. I'm not Steve Guttenberg and I haven't heard every system on earth. I have installed a number of 4-figure home theaters, designed my own room correction, and annoyed the Magnolia people at Best Buy by spending way too long running test material through 5-figure Martin Logan electrostats. Also, I didn't spend my youth at KISS concerts, so at least for now, I'm not deaf.
Some cans I've owned or still own:
Grado SR80 (open, dynamic, $100)
Sony MDR-7506 (closed, dynamic, $100)
Oppo PM3 (closed, orthodynamic, $400)
Hifiman 400i (open, orthodynamic, $500)
I compared all of them back to back with these HD600s for many hours through a huge variety of well-recorded material, in all cases powered by an O2/ODAC. This latter component has ruler-flat response and zero audible distortion; I'm not messing with the output with anything that might favor one can at the expense of another.
My short take: start with these HD600s. Pleasure listening, mixing, whatever; if your environment allows for open cans, start here. Nothing cheaper is a more complete product in aggregate. You can spend more and get improvements in some areas, but almost always with disadvantages elsewhere. Plenty of folks with $1500 HD800s keep their HD600s anyway for when they tire of the pointed treble of that otherwise stellar can. Orthodynamics and electrostats can top them in the midrange and highs, but often lose on bass impact.
Start with the HD600s so you can find out what you like. Because they've been around for 20 years as an audiophile benchmark that everyone's heard, you can find endless measurements and comparisons. A sentence that starts with, "I like my HD600s except for ..." is likely to bear more fruit than any other reference.
That in mind, let's talk about how they're designed and how they compare with the others above.
OPEN VS. CLOSED:
Headphones are just small speaker sets. With any single speaker, you only want to hear one side. The other side makes the same noise at the same volume, but reversed in polarity. If you could magically direct both sides at each other, they'd cancel out. (This is incidentally why it's important not to wire a channel backwards in your home stereo: weird frequency nulls ensue. Desirable nulls, perhaps, if you're inverting a mic feed to make noise-canceling cans.) We therefore need to do something with the flipped signal so it won't pollute the primary.
Closed cans (and conventional box speakers) cover the back of the driver with baffling material to absorb the sound energy. While this approach doesn't want for accuracy or frequency response, it does tend to make the listening space sound smaller. Open headphones (and "infinite baffle" speakers) solve the baffling problem by not solving it; they just vent the back of the speaker into a huge space. Great for acoustics (no need to account for backpressure and the like), but at the cost of treating the missionary one seat over to your collection of Eazy-E.
Sennheiser assumes you're listening at home with this can, so they've opted for an open design.
These are not fashion or luxury headphones. The're light and plasticky with a marbled gloss finish that must have been avant garde in 1998. While I've heard good things about the long-term durability of the ear pads, overall quality (box included) seems little better than the pair of HyperX gaming cans I bought for $60. That middling impression was reinforced a few weeks after purchase when I started getting intermittent cutouts in one channel.
Sennheiser supposedly solved this problem eons ago. Their warranty department was responsive, but wanted me to send back the old cable before they'd ship me a new one. (Counterpoint: Logitech's repeatedly sent me replacement Anywhere MX mice with little more than a request and a serial number.) That wasn't worth the hassle. I bought an aftermarket version on the big auction site for $15 that's been reliable for years.
SOUND AND COMFORT:
Comfort is excellent. I have a big head and big ears. There's a lot of compression and I had to stretch the band a bit. After that, low weight and plush cups that actually fit around my ears make them easy to forget. The SR80 are on-ear and uncomfortable, the PM3 are on-ear (for me) and very uncomfortable, the 7506 are on-ear and equally comfortable (because they have no clamping pressure), and the 400i are over-ear and equally comfortable.
Treble is very good. Clean, not strident, and neutral or very slightly forward. On par or better than the 400i for most material. The PM3 is noticeably recessed, but otherwise excellent. The 7506 has a somewhat forward mix with at least one frequency peak that can make it sound thin. The SR80 is quite sharp and tiring with trumpets, violins, and so on. This same treble overemphasis can add life to otherwise dull recordings.
Midrange is excellent. The 7506 sounds fairly good, but a bit "fake" and radio-ish back-to-back with the others. The SR80 has a large emphasis here suited to solo vocals, but becomes fatiguing quickly on any recording with more than a few things going on, particularly modern rock or pop. The 400i is stellar. The PM3 is almost as stellar, though ever-so-slightly colored. The HD600 has a very subtle, pleasing coloration I didn't catch until I equalized it. Detail resolution is slightly behind the orthos.
Bass is very good in quality and good in balance. Both orthos play a little deeper and with better definition, but lack the HD600's "punch." The 7506 is decent here, though not terribly precise. The SR-80 might as well not have bass at all. There's a definite argument for the PM3; I might even prefer that one because, like all good orthos and unlike conventional dynamics, there's less distortion at low frequencies. Very pure, distinct tones.
My best description of the HD600 is "euphonic." There's nothing wrong with the sound. It doesn't sparkle or pound or whatever wine-review description accompanies cans that try too hard. It's the kind of sound that makes you wonder where the last three hours went, the kind that can make some pieces sound almost distressingly beautiful.
FILES AND DACS:
You can't talk about an output device without a parallel discussion of the signal chain. That includes your audio file, a DAC, and an amp.
The importance of file format is overrated. No one's ever been able to reliably tell the difference between 44 KHz / 16-bit CD "Redbook" audio and any ostensibly better (e.g., SACD, DVD-A) digital format. Surround sound or the limited dynamic range of analog records might be pleasing to some folks, but for pure 2-channel listening, there's no point chasing anything better than a CD.
In fact, even lossy compression may suffice. Much of the vitriol directed at lossy file formats stems from bad encoders. If you converted your CDs to low-bitrate MP3 with whatever terrible encoder we had fifteen years ago (et tu, Xing?), you'll probably catch some noises you won't like in some material (e.g., a subtle warble in the ring of a cymbal). But modern high-bitrate AAC (Apple's preferred format) or MP3 encoded in the last five years? The confluence of factors necessary to be able to distinguish it from the original source (trained listener, good hearing, great gear, isolated sound, repeated listening, looking for that specific flaw) is so rare as to be irrelevant.
DACs (digital to analog converters) take your MP3, FLAC, MP4, or whatever digital source and transform it to an analog signal that can be amplified. They're not that complicated; this conversion is very much a solved problem. Or would be if not for the lack of a line-out to skip the amplifier stage in most audio devices, the tendency to bury the poor DAC among other noisy components (read: every motherboard ever), or design priorities that favor subjective impressions over measurements (defensible with an amp, less a DAC). Still, the audible difference between a mediocre DAC and an average one is modest, and between average and great, only slight. If you want a standalone DAC anyway, consider jumping straight to the $100 price range for an ODAC or JDS OL DAC. Both measure well enough never to need upgrading.
Amps have one chief purpose: make the cans play loud enough. Your laptop, phone, iPod, and sound card all have amps already. Whether any particular amp/headphone combination plays loud depends on the sensitivity (dB/mW) of the headphones, their "ohm" rating (their input impedance; the electrical equivalent of backpressure), and how much power the amp can output at that ohm rating. Cans with low impedance (< 50 ohms) and high sensitivity (100+ dB/mW) are easy to drive. Most any device can push them to deafening volumes. Higher impedance cans like the HD600, not so much. They need more power. They need an external amp, whether portable and battery-powered or a metal box at home.
Just for kicks, let's do some math to prove the point. Loudness is all about decibels. Deafening is 120 dB, loud is 90 dB, and libraries are 40 dB. On this scale, things sound twice as loud every +10 dB, but every +3 dB needs double the power. You probably want to be able to hit at least 110 dB for transients. Maybe 115 dB if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of tomorrow's hearing for an emotional kick today.
The iPhone 6 has pretty typical power output for a portable:
Driving 15 ohms: 45 mW
Driving 30 ohms: 25 mW
Driving 300 ohms: 3 mW
The scale is linear: cut the ohm load in half and (in physics land with spherical cows and amps that don't run out of current or voltage) you double the wattage. These HD600s are 300ish ohms with sensitivity around 97 dB/mW. The iPhone manages 3 mW for a load like this, so we're looking at maybe 101 dB max. Weak sauce, particularly since that's the loudest possible volume and the average volume for most recordings (that aren't Metallica) will be quite a lot lower. (If you raise the average levels with a maxed-out amp, the peaks won't get any louder, but they will clip and distort.) Compare Oppo's PM3: that one does 101 dB/mW with impedance around 30 ohms. With 25 mW from the iPhone, we end up at 115 dB; much more potent. You'd need 63 mW at 300 ohms (about 25 times as much power) to get the same volume from the HD600. (See my comment on 7/12/17 for the calculations.)
After power, the amp's next challenge is to not ruin frequency response. That's hard for one big reason: the impedance of dynamic headphones (all of them unless labeled orthodynamic or electrostatic) changes with frequency. It might be 200 ohms at this frequency and 400 ohms at another. If the amp's output impedance is zero, this shift in headphone impedance doesn't matter. If it's more than zero, the voltage sent to the cans (and by implication how loud they are at that frequency) will change over the frequency range. Whatever response curve Sennheiser had in mind ("Ve shall haf 14% less zeebilance"), high output impedance can result in something very different. This is why it's hard to take subjective opinions seriously if you don't know how the headphones were driven.
There's another benefit to low output impedance: better bass control. Speakers tend to get sloppy and distort at frequencies near their resonance peaks (where the enclosure amplifies sound energy instead of damping it). That manifests as a muddy, definition-smothering bass hump. The best way to prevent this distortion (assuming you want to; some people actually like it) is with electrical damping, the ability of the amp to electrically resist unwanted movement (much like it's hard to spin a motor if you've shorted the power terminals). To keep bass distortion and frequency response changes inaudible, the amp's impedance needs to be, if not zero, at least 8 times less than the headphone impedance. A few inexpensive devices manage this 'damping factor' of 8 with just about every can (e.g., the original Sansa Clip+ that measures 1 ohm), though not many (the various iPhones tend to be 5-10 ohms).
Everything else about amps starts to get subjective. To me, a perfect amp has zero distortion. To the folks buying tube amps, distortion is the whole point. Same thing with deviations to the frequency response curve; best-case, it's flat over the entire range, but if your headphones have a V-shaped response curve to boost bass and treble, an amp that rolls both ends will make them an easier listen over the long term. Many tube amps attenuate the high end; since the classic "audiophile" curve has strong treble to emphasize detail, softening that treble peak quite often sounds better.
Anyway, long story short, if the open design of these HD600s didn't already to consign them to home use, their high impedance probably will unless you want to supplement your traveling kit with something like a Fiio E17K. JDS's Atom is an endgame choice for a setup tethered to an outlet.
They don't matter. Buy whatever you want.
The only electrical characteristic we care about is impedance. Thicker cables have less, thinner cables have more. Provided the combined impedance of the amp and the cable doesn't result in a damping factor below 8, it doesn’t matter if the cable can tow a boat or floats in a breeze. An improvement in impedance you can’t hear isn’t an improvement.
Let's evaluate the stock HD600 cable, a 9-foot pair of skinny 30ish-gauge wires Sennheiser hasn't touched in twenty years. For that length and gauge, we can calculate an impedance of about 0.8 ohms, barely a rounding error relative to the 300+ ohm impedance of the headphones. A typical 10-ohm amp paired with the HD600s has a damping factor of 30. Add the cable and it's 300/10.8, or 28. The difference in sound wouldn't even be measurable.
Output volume is likewise unchanged. The power reaching the drivers is 300/300.8, or about 99.7%. It’d take a 20% loss to drop the volume by a single decibel. Run the same weedy cable to a 4-ohm living room speaker and you’d lose 17% of the amp's power and reduce the collective damping factor to 5, best case. In a room bedecked with acoustic panels, you might just detect a loss in fidelity. In an untreated room, the cable would be the least of your worries.
Better cables do tend to have more durable interconnects, though they won't sound better unless the old ones were corroded. Neither will balanced cables. Their claim to fame is a reduction in channel crosstalk, but that benefit is marginal for high-impedance cans and further obscured by the even stereo mix of most material.
HD600 vs. HD650:
The HD600 is one of the most neutral headphones available. Everyone says that about speakers they're used to that don't have glaring response anomalies (and sometimes even if they do), but it's true here: the correction to flatten the HD600's frequency curve is minimal. Music tends to be mastered with a neutral output device in mind; if your hearing isn't unusual, neutral cans are likely to sound good over the broadest cross-section of material. Inner Fidelity's response plot of the HD600 might as well be a genre reference.
The HD650 is the same experience less some treble. It's constructed almost identically to the HD600; the $100 price difference has nothing to do with quality. Rolling the treble lends a "warmer" and slightly less detailed sound that'll flatter music mastered "hot" (with compressed dynamic range to make everything sound loud) or with an excessive treble bias. The HD650 also won't draw quite as much attention to themselves. Whether that's better is personal preference. The HD700 and HD800 take the opposite approach: you're getting detail whether you want it or not.
Not all detail is the same. Detail comes from boosted treble, better drivers, or improvements to the driver enclosure. Lesser cans favor adding treble. Bumping the high range sounds clear and vivid on first listen, but quickly becomes tiring. (Bose speaker demos are notorious for relying on this effect.) Better cans opt for more powerful, higher-impedance, lower-distortion drivers (or different technologies entirely as with electrostats) so intrinsically revealing that the manufacturer can use a more relaxed tone curve. The most detailed dynamic cans (i.e., the HD800) have only a mild treble bump (albeit marred by an unfortunate 6K peak). Less, even, than the HD700, which makes do with a less sophisticated driver. It's unsurprising, then, that reviewers tend to find the HD700 a little harsh on direct comparison.
You could approximate the HD650's tone curve by plugging the HD600 into tubes, but if that's really what you want, there's a better way.
Here we enter controversy. Audiophile purists believe in maintaining the integrity of the signal from recording to output. 24-bit audio, SACD, fancy cables, and Class A furnace amps are not out of place in this crowd. I respect the motivations for that view, but I've abandoned it with the HD600 for the better. We've had enormous advances in signal processing over the last twenty years. The HD600 is a mechanical device. It doesn't, and can't, have an ideal frequency response. The earcups and driver enclosure impact the sound too much, even if the driver itself could be made perfect, which it can't.
But if we measure the output curve, we can recreate any frequency response we want by digitally modifying the input. This is DSP: digital signal processing. The software equalizer in iTunes is a basic DSP, as is Autotune and every "enhance" button you've ever seen in a music player. The processing is almost never "free" (in the sense that it'll only have positive effects), but the benefits can vastly outweigh the downsides.
To jump straight to the point, a company called Sonarworks has measured and corrected the HD600. The plugin to apply the correction is about $70, and in addition to making the HD600 a legitimate tool for mastering, it’ll correct any perception that the HD600 is ‘bass-light.’ Bass impact sounds speaker-like through it. Equalizer APO is a free alternative with more flexibility, though Sonarworks seems to introduce a bit less distortion with the low end plumped to similar levels.
Wave Arts Panorama is another interesting software enhancement. It's a powerful binaural emulator that'll take recordings out of your head and put the singer in front of you. Real binaural recordings use a dummy head with physical ears to create realistic positioning cues. Panorama (and free, albeit much inferior alternatives like 4Front and Psypan) attempt the same with math. Done well and matched to your ears, it can leave you agog. ("Why is my neighbor pounding on the ceiling? Oh. Wait.") Likewise a program (aptly) called "Out of Your Head," which is expensive because the author measured a bunch of high-dollar audio setups. Want your HD600s to sound (exactly) like a movie theater? That's now a thing.
To wrap this novel: definitely try the HD600s. They're often on sale in the low $200s and there isn't a more complete product at that price. For $300 even, if you don't want to bother with an amp, consider the Hifiman 400S. While I preferred the Senns over the 400i, a number of folks rate the 400S slightly better than both despite the price gap. Oppo's PM3 remain a terrific choice if you're on the go, have small ears, and don't want to annoy everyone. Truly though, you can't go wrong with any of them.
The verdict? It's almost too close to call, but for my preferences the 650 is the better headphone. The two have been compared to death online, but if you have the capacity to think for yourself, audio review sites and forums are usually an unsavory if fascinating combination of shilling, self-justification, and "follow the leader" parroting of received opinions. Many self-proclaimed "audiophiles" have strong opinions about equipment they've never actually heard, which I can't accept.
Given that, I decided the only way to compare the two headphones honestly was to listen to both myself for hours, going back and forth on a wide variety of recordings. The difference between a good recording and a bad recording dwarfs the difference between lossy and lossless, and the HD600 (more so than the HD650) may end up changing your taste in music because it makes good recordings sound SO GOOD and bad recordings sound SO BAD. In other words, it reveals the "truth" of the recording, and sometimes the truth hurts—it's really hard to enjoy The Killers now.
The fact is that the 600 and 650 are ultimately more alike than different, and the popular insistence that they sound completely different has more to do with what Freud called "the narcissism of small differences" than the headphones themselves. If you Google some variation on "HD650 vs HD600," you'll hear over and over that the 650 is "bassier" or "darker." Not really. There's actually very little difference across this parameter. Piano music presents an exception, but this is rarely what people think of as a bassy genre.
There are two significant differences. The first is soundstage. The HD650's soundstage is wider, but that doesn't mean it can make a cramped recording sound airy. The HD600's soundstage is more intimate; there's less space between left and right channels, but it's not a huge difference, and I could see people preferring (or at least not minding) the HD600's tighter spacing.
The most striking difference between the two headphones is in what I'd call "smoothness." The best analogy I can think of comes from digital photography. As an image sensor increases its sensitivity, it also increases its noise because you can't amplify a signal without also amplifying noise. There are two rival philosophies for dealing with noise: leave it as "grain" or smooth it out. Grain has its devotees, and the advantage of grain is that it preserves fine detail. The disadvantage is that past a certain point it becomes a distraction. The advantage of smoothness, meanwhile, is that it looks superficially nicer. The disadvantage is that when you look closely you won't see all the fine details. Like all things, it's a continuum of compromise. The 600 is the headphone to get if you value detail at the cost of an occasionally unpleasant grainy and even metallic quality to the sound. The 650 is the one to get if you care more about music than sound and don't care if your headphones sand down the sharp edges of your music a bit.
Going back and forth between the two, it quickly becomes clear that the 650 is the stronger all-around performer: it sounds nicer on more recordings and across more genres. The 600, meanwhile, is the champion of a particular niche: good recordings with lots of micro detail. Want to be able to count how many times the skin of a drum reverberates after it's struck? Want to hear such fine vocal gradations you'll know how a singer felt during recording? The 600 is for you.
Make no mistake: at its best, the 600 produces the most astonishingly detailed sound I've ever heard. Unfortunately, at its worst it sounds grainy, jumbled, and not particularly musical. I'm sorry to report that piano music sounds particularly off on the 600: low frequencies disappear and take the fullness of the keys with them. Vocals can sound oddly recessed, even far away. In general, the 600 seems to fare better with female vocals than male ones, and with strings over pianos. It's absolutely glorious for acoustic guitar, but then, so is the 650.
The 650's great advantage lies in its ability to bring out vocals like a spotlight. They stand out so clearly and powerfully from the instrumentation that you'll feel like you're hearing your favorite songs for the first time. The effect is really quite incredible: it's like there's a special sonic space reserved for vocals and unpolluted by other sounds. Based on Sennheiser's own specs, the 650 has lower distortion than the 600 and it's clearly a more refined driver unit. Whatever the technical reason, the 650's background is pitch black: sounds rise from and fall back into a sea of silence. Be forewarned: a well-recorded vocal track through the 650 may bring tears to your eyes, and that's why I kept the 650 and returned the 600.
Finally, let's talk about measurements. While there's a valid SUBJECTIVE argument for preferring the sound of the 600, the 650 has an objectively better driver that improves on its predecessor in every way: higher sensitivity, lower distortion, and better power handling. Here are the figures straight from Sennheiser's manuals, which you can find for yourself on the product pages for both headphones at bhphotovideo[dot]com. The terminology used isn't consistent from one manual to the other, but the parameters in question are the same. I've noted these variations where applicable.
Frequency response (-10db): 12 – 38,000 Hz (HD600), 10 – 39,500 Hz (HD650)
Impedance: 300 ohms (same for both)
Sensitivity/"Loudness" (Sennheiser also calls this "Sound pressure level at 1 kHz"): 97 dB (HD600), 103 dB (HD650)
Load rating (Sennheiser also calls this "Long-term max. input power"): 0.2W aka 200mW (HD600), 500mW (HD650)
THD (Total Harmonic Distortion): ≤0.1% (HD600), ≤0.05% (HD650)
In short, the HD650 will get louder than the 600 because it has higher sensitivity at the same resistance. The fact that it can handle almost twice as much INPUT power is a positive, not a negative; if you turned a decent amp ALL THE WAY UP with the HD600 connected, you could damage or even destroy the drivers. The 650 has enough headroom for more than twice as much input power, but there's little point in driving your headphones loud enough for permanent hearing loss.
At the end of the day, headphone preference, like any preference, is primarily subjective, and I can't seriously imagine anyone being unhappy with the HD600.
I hope that when & if Amazon's stock of these headphones turns over to the new production run, they have the courtesy to update their photos, so the customer knows what they are buying. My other vendor did not.
Top international reviews
The 600s perform so well, that you would be tricked in to believing that they are worth not double, but triple their price. They are so old as well, but their sound has really survived the test of time. If I was given £300 and asked to purchase some (open) headphones, I would buy these. Even if I was given £1000, I'd probably still buy these.
The reason they are so good is that they manage to transmit so much detail, but still maintaining a really natural sound. It is a flat sound, they are objectively a "boring" headphone, but it's hard to have "natural" (in the sense that the sound isn't coloured) without boring, and without spending hundreds more. If you want a more coloured, warmer sound, look at the 650s, or the 6xx on massdrop. But you will lose detail. Compared to the 800S they have a slightly smaller soundstage, less detail and are a little less musical (less boring). But they also cost £1100 less. Compared to anything in the Audeze line, the 600s have less bass, but similar detail. Again, the 600s cost hundreds less.
In addition to sounding great, they are also extremely light and comfortable. The pads are very easily replaceable, in fact every single element of the headphone is user replaceable. It also comes with a nice box. Sennheiser also have a fantastic 2 year warranty with great customer support. There's also a good factory tour video on youtube from Linus Tech Tips that is well worth the watch if you are interested in any Sennheisers.
You may need an external amp to power these, they are a little thirsty. Most modern half decent motherboards will be able to power them with ease, so don't be tricked in to buying an amp right away. Some laptops will be able to power them as well. Phones won't. Tablets maybe. Flac is a waste of time and money, spotify or apple music is fine as long as you are streaming in high quality.
They come in a sturdy wood-ish type box - not posh polished wood, but sturdy enough and covered with dark brown lining. The phones are nestled in protective grey foam, cut to the shape of the phones to keep them safe during transit. A manual accompanies them, although I just dived in and started listening.
I love the sound of a piano so I had plenty of classical themed music to run through these 600s.
First up was an old Naxos 1980s Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1 CD. Hmm. The sound was dull across the entire range. The playing is fantastic though and led me to buy the sheet music, which I never could play. To be fair it never sounded great through any headphones, but I was expecting some kind of magic.
Let's try something recorded more recently. Second up was Yundi Li's "The Art of Yundi" (a fantastic collection of piano pieces - many new to me a few months ago). Flipping heck! What a difference a good recording/sound engineer makes! I heard nuances in individual notes I'd not heard before. I even heard accidentals/accent notes I'd not noticed before. The clarity from top to bottom was simply outstanding. Sparkling brilliance in the upper registers and warm dark sonorous tones lower down.
My love of piano music led me to buy an electric piano, 15+ years ago now. It went "pop" a year or so ago and died on me. I was sad but kept it as it's handy for my home theater speakers. When I've saved up I'll buy another.
Back to Yundi. Liszt's Rigoletto was one of the pieces that was new to me. I must have played it 100 times on the train to work, using my mobile + headphones. It's an addictive piece and I know it quite well now. Again there were notes/timbres/nuances that sprang into life, as though rescued from the cracks that lesser headphones would leave behind. It was like listening to a completely new recording. Rigoletto draws you in slowly, then makes you addicted with its clever ever complicating recapitulation, then exits the stadium with magnificent massive virtuoso chords crashing down the keyboard. And then silence. But there isn't. For a few seconds through these headphones you can hear the soundboard and frame of the piano ring and undulate as the brilliance of Liszt, through Yundis fingers, evapourates into the ether. That little piece of magic made me cry. It made me look at my beloved piano, now senza voce, and want to play it. But I could not, ever again. It made me remember all the good times, the bad times, the frustrations, the rare accomplishments but most of all my love of sound itself. Welcome back, my friend.
Let's not get too emotive - it's just a pair of headphones after all. However, music makes us emotional.
Third up was Bachs Toccata & Fugue in D Minor. These phones pick up everything, including quirks of an old air powered Church organ. You could almost hear the beast breathing through its nostrils. At full pelt in the "fff" passages with every single bank of notes from foot to teeth being tormented these phones did struggle. The music got lost as if overwhelmed. To be fair it's a cruel test as none of my headphones ever succeeded either. You have a huge Church organ pumping gallons of air to make those fat boy pipes play and expect a little piece of tech to replicate that? We need to be realistic in our expectations. However, the different registers/instruments the organ sounded were simply sublime through these. Really sweet.
Fourth up was a new addiction of mine. Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies. Played by the brilliant George Cziffra. Recorded in the early 1970s I didn't expect much from this CD. In fact I was worried these 'phones might highlight the fact microphones were not as sensitive then, tape noise, that kind of thing. Oh my - what a blast! Yet again I'm hearing those accidental notes (not really accidental - they are very brief deliberate embellishments and fiendishly difficult to play without whacking). Yet again I feel like my ears have been cleansed or I'm listening to a new digitally remastered release. Brilliant.
These 'phones give your ears exactly what's on the plate. If it's a poor recording then they won't make it better. If it's a good one then your ears, brain, body and soul will be overjoyed. Yep that's the word. The music I have gave me joy. Now it's joy++. Overjoyed.
These initially feel tight to wear, but soon you realise you've gotten used to slack ill fitting headgear. They encompass the ear (unless you are Vulcan) and fit nicely against the head, instead of pressing into parts of the ear. I find them very comfortable. After a few minutes you forget you are wearing them.
My first pair of "opens". Highly recommended. Closed gives me that "sea shell" experience of hearing my own bloodstream or something. Plus my ears now remain cool, they weigh less and I feel part of the environment rather than in some sensory deprivation chamber. A huge plus when it comes to listening to a concerto where you want to be in the audience, not isolated.
Having listened to much piano tonight I noticed sound engineers don't follow any particular rule regarding left/right; some make you the listener - you are facing the piano being played so high notes come through the left ear and low notes through the right. Very disconcerting if you are a player. As the player you hear low through left and high through right. I'm not a player, but have tried and like to be "in the seat" when I'm doing air piano.
Others seem to give a cross-fade which is even more disconcerting.
For the wrong-way-round listener experience I found a fantastic tweak you can do to these HD 600s. If you absolutely want the player experience where low=down and high=up then make the following adjustments to these cans. Yes I know these are very expensive, but the modification is reversible:
1. Take them off
2. Put them on the wrong way round
Immediately you are transported from audience to player. As these phones are symmetrically flexible they feel just as comfortable either way around.
Worth the money? If you're going to do something, do it once and do it properly.
With a frequency response of 12Hz-40500Hz it should cover most needs. Oh nearly forgot! So many questions out there about impedance. 32/80/300/600 Ohms. Will my X phones work in a Y thing? There's lots of "info" about needing to buy a specialist headphone amp if > 32 ohms.
These HD 600s are 300 ohms. I have them plugged into my Denon 4300 AVR. My CD is a Panasonic Blue Ray player. They are more than loud enough at 5/10. 3/10 would be my listening preference.
These just tell it like it is to be fair. No magic. No pseudo science. Simple transparent acoustic honesty.
No regrets at all.
Have owned 580, 600, 650, 700 and Baby Orpheus.
All with many amps. but mainly with a FiiO E10K dac and Audiolab - S amp.
580's - Great sound - great for the time - detailed
650's - Lush and detailed but too warm and dark for my liking,
700's - Some treble actually hurt my ears - even with a recommended high end headphone amp. Both were returned.
Baby Orpheus - Detailed but lacked power - lacked oompfh - lacked presence.
600's - Punch, clarity, detail, tight bass, musical - simply the best in my opinion.
It will sound terrible with mp3 files - Flac or better is recommended.
Headphone listening is highly subjective - I get it but...
Sennheiser's best were/are the 600's. Ask yourself why they still sell at that price mark after all the years.
Only cons are that they need a good amplification source - It's no good with portable devices.
Yes, you can buy more colourful/exciting sounding headphones but these aren't intended for that purpose. Comfort is also 10/10.
The HD600's are a decent alternative to not having access to adequate monitor speakers (with good room treatment).
*Note: They do need/benefit from having a dedicated headphone amp.
The HD600's give about the most accurate reproduction that you are likely to find for <£1000. There is a reason for being in continuous production for 27 years. They are phenomenal.
However......if you are the sort of person that likes the over inflated bass boom that you get with "Beats" headphones, then these are not for you....not that I am saying that they can't do bass. Put on Peter Gabriel's "UP" album and there are low frequencies there that will make you feel slightly I'll. Put on Dire Straits "Private investigations" from "Love over Gold" (my reference track), the detail and stereo separation that makes you feel like you're in a dark back alley are just incredible, then the drums punch in with incredible crispness and attack that make you feel like a '45 has gone off right by your head....
But if you like classical/rock/acoustic/jazz (uncompressed audio recorded for decent systems rather than on a phone...), then you're onto a winner.
As I keep adding entry hi-fi headphones to my collection (Momentum 1, Sony MDR-1A, DT770, Fidellio X2, T20rp MK3), none of them can stand up to these in side by side listening, it's quite surprising to me as I was expecting some of the others i've tried to best them in at least one area... For me, these just offer a punchier, clearer mid-range, less veiled (ironically), detailed sound that somehow manages to not be sibilant at all. The weakness you read about is the bass, it is true it lacks sub-bass heft but it's still present (just) and mid-bass amazingly detailed which is great for resolving bass guitar in tracks and general bass 'texture' even in electronic music.
Initially I was using the smsl M6 which was good, have since transition to the Audio GD NFB-11-28 which brings out the best in the bass and clarity and provides a solid basis to run these from and compare to others. They're not that hard to drive, the 300ohm rating seems initially off putting but it's not as bad as it looks, 250ohm DT770s require more power for the same listening levels.
The headphones had a noticeable background hum when connected to my iPad Pro second Gen & also when it was connected to my main Arcam Amp.
I suspect it was a return that got passed onto me.
Very disappointed as I had a pair of these when they first came out & had exceptional sound quality. ( with no hum) I did test out the iPad & amp with my existing Sennheiser momentum 2’s & they were fine with no hum
The problem was that the right swivel was very loose like it would fall off after a year.
I had to go through a few pairs before one had a decent enough build quality.
10/10 for sound, it's just a shame various first few copies felt flimsy.
I recently purchased from Hifiheadphones, and the version they sent is top notch.
Cons: Outdated design/Average Build Quality
The clamp force is definitely a bit tighter than the HD595s, but it's by no means uncomfortable. After a week or two, they'll feel even better. Immediately, I noticed the improved bass response over the HD595s and greater detail and clarity. I can hear lots of subtleties in songs which I hadn't been able to hear before, and it's almost like I am "listening for the first time". Background vocals are distinctly heard, cymbals clash and reverb with precision, the sound of triangles is subtle but noticeable. Even if you're not a fan of R.E.M., listening to "Man on the Moon" is such a pleasure as not only the quality of the recording is fantastic, but also the song shows off the many vocals and instruments used. And on these headphones this song really does shine.
I've paired these with an SMSL SD793-II DAC & Headphone Amplifier, and I only need to use them at the 11-12 (Roughly about one third volume)
o'clock position before it gets a bit too loud (or complaints from the wife!). These do require an amplifier to drive them. I have used them on my iPhone without an amplifier and at full volume, the sound is a little quiet and a little restrained. I also use them with my Onkyo TX-RZ810 receiver and listen to FLACs - mainly Rock - from Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Foo Fighters, Zeppelin, as well as some pop such as Adele, Michael Jackson and Elton John. They all sound magical.
Se han escrito millones de líneas sobre estos auriculares, y hay poco más que decir. Siempre he sido del mundo del sonido (Producción musical) y puedo decir con franqueza que, entre muchísimos que he probado, son los que tienen el sonido más natural. Los agudos son espectaculares. Medios naturales con un ligero toque cálido. Sonido abierto, representación espacial muy buena. Los recomiendo totalmente. Esta leyenda es apta para audiófilos (No aptos para amantes de los bajos).