8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2014
I had the opportunity to compare a pair of Sennheiser HD650s with a pair of Philips Fidelio L1s at a friend's house recently. The source was a Nottingham Analogue Spacedeck turntable fitted with a Rega RB250 tonearm and a Nottingham Analogue cartridge. (This is a superb turntable and sounds wonderful!). The amplification was a World Designs HD3S valve headphone amplifier worth about £500. To cut a long story short, after extensive listening over several hours with a variety of material, I much preferred the sound of the Fidelio L1s as I found them far more enjoyable and engaging. I understand that both sets of headphones are in absolute terms regarded as coloured. The HD650 is of course known for its fuller bass when compared to the HD600, which many feel is the better headphone. However one feels about such coloration of the sound, the most important aspect for me is whether what I'm hearing gives me pleasure and fuels my desire to spend long periods of time listening to music. The Fidelio L1s do this in aces. BTW, both sets of headphones have had many months of use.
With regard to the HD650's build quality, I thought it was good but it's not in the same league as the L1s which are very well made and use high quality materials. I also noticed that the paint on the HD650 had started to craze along the lower edge of the headband. Not particularly impressive in a pair of headphones that were until recently approximately £350. They were, however, very comfortable to wear and felt lighter and less apparent on the head than the Fidelio L1s, which I also consider to be very comfortable. The ear openings on the HD650s are also nice and wide and should suit the larger-eared amongst you.
In conclusion, I felt that whilst the sound from the Sennheiser HD650 was certainly of a high quality, it didn't really satisfy me anything like as much as that from the Philips Fidelio L1s, which I consider to be excellent. I strongly suspect that this is because the Fidelio L1s are more coloured than the HD650s and I prefer this colouration. This verdict brought home to me the importance of making your own judgements when testing audio gear as perceived sound quality is a very personal matter. I also believe the current price of approximately £250 is about right for the HD650s. They are simply not worth the previous price of £350 in my opinion.
I would certainly recommend trying the HD650 as they are very highly regarded by many people and may tick all the boxes for you. They just weren't right for me. Some other headphones I have spent considerable time assessing recently that also didn't quite float my boat for one reason or another include: Beyerdynamic DT880 Premium (250 Ohm), Audio Technica ATH-M50x, Philips Fidelio X1 and Philips Fidelio L2. It has to be said though that if it wasn't for the Fidelio X1's itchy earpads they'd have been my first choice. They are fabulous sounding headphones.
NOTE: The Fidelio X1 has now been replaced by the Fidelio X2 which are making significant waves in the headphone world. (Check out innerfidelity.com for a great, in-depth headphone review of the Fidelio X2.)
So, given that I was unable to settle on the Fidelio X1s, the next best choice for me were the Fidelio L1s. I've got them on now and they sound divine. My friend loves his HD650s too. Luckily there are many very good headphones to be had for under £250 so I suggest doing some serious listening to several pairs before parting with your hard-earned cash.
192 of 202 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2007
I have owned a pair of these headphones for almost a year now, and the sound they produce is quite simply divine. The first time I put them on, I felt the pads did press quite hard on my head, considering what I was expecting from reviews. After a little tweaking of the headband, I found them to be more comfortable and once I had been wearing the phones for a couple of days the pads softened. The result was the most comfortable fit I have ever experienced in a pair, and believe me I have worn many a pair of headphones..
I think after stumbling upon the review below, I felt compelled to leave my feedback as I thought the reviewer seemed truly misguided. The sound these headphones produce, while not completely geared towards a completely flat response (as this was the idea of the 600s) is very truthful. You will find that if you have not been subjected to 'proper' sound, for example in a studio environment, you may think that they sound perhaps different to what you would expect. The average person's opinion is perhaps generally that one wants lots of deep bass and high treble to create an 'impressive' sound. While this may impress, at the end of the day one has to fiddle with equalization controls to adjust the sound for different records, as not all of them will sound good. The reason for this would be that the sound the equipment (speakers or headphones) is producing is not a balanced sound. One will probably, for example find that some records appear 'harsh' on the ears when up loud on a lesser system, and this would be the fault of the listening equipment. There are many other factors that would make this review too long, but the general idea is that if you want to hear exactly what the producer created in the studio, then you want something that matches the 'standard' of sound as closely as possible.
I have been producing, recording, editing and listening to music for many years and these headphones represent what I would consider to be some of the best in headphone sound quality. I actually think that I will never want another pair to replace them.
Decent sound comes at a price, as the materials chosen have to be picked and put together extremely accurately so as to perform exactly as required. Creating accurate headphones is an art, and Sennheiser's many years of experience has clearly lead to their producing headphones of such a high quality. To think that a company with such experience in building accurate devices such as these would place a piece of material in their headphones that degraded their sound is completely ridiculous. Do you really think that a company that invests so much money in developing accurate drivers would sully their reputation and bring down the quality of their high end products by not considering such a thing? I think not. The headphones were designed to be used as they are presented, no changing of cables and ripping out of integral parts will make them more accurate, in any case it will probably do the reverse.
On a brand note, I did have the opportunity to experience Some high-end Sony DJ headphones, which did sound quite good until I compared them to the 650s. The immediate thing I noticed as the harshness of the Sony sound. Playing 'Hunter' by Bjork, I found that the vocals became ear piercing on the Sonys, yet remained silky smooth and accurate on the 650s. All the separate sounds in the track remained clear and were never drowned out, a problem I discovered with the Sony earphones.
(if looking for high quality headphones I highly recommend this track for judging the quality of the midrange, (something often overlooked) as the vocals really push the equipment you are listening to to it's limits and at high levels will really sound painful on anything of a lower quality)
The bottom line is, if you are looking for headphones that will impress the un-trained ear, then go for some of a lower calibre. Perhaps consider some sub-£100 Sennheisers, as these are of a pretty high standard and probably will sound better than most of the other 'high-street' brands. If you are, however looking for a pair of headphones that will give you the true sound of your records and will probably make you hate every other piece of sound equipment you have ever listened to, then buy these. The quality is superb for all genres, and until you have sat down and watched a big budget film with an orchestral soundtrack on these cans, you do not know what you are missing.
** You do not need ridiculous hardware to appreciate these headphones. Integrated circuits today are of such a high quality that even cheap amplifiers (as long as they have the EQ turned off) will produce a decent sound. The only thing one has to worry about is how powerful the amp is. I found that my friend's iPod for example did not really have enough 'kick' to turn these up loud. Not all portable devices have the same output power and I am sure to some 'audiophile' reader's disgust I should point out that I had the opportunity to try the 650's on a sub £10 CD player, and they sounded just as good as they did when plugged into my hi-fi. A lot of this expensive CD player business is just a great big con!
67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2007
Contrary to a couple of other reviewers who have stated that these will not sound good without a quality headphone amplifier - balderdash! I own a quality headphone amplifier, and whilst this doubtlessly improves things (as one would expect) the HD650s still sound excellent when plugged directly into my CD player or even my Hi-MD walkman, no problems driving them at all. And the supplied literature backs this up, stating that they can be 'directly connected to stationary hi-fi components of the highest quality' - well, admittedly, whilst mine are good they are not the HIGHEST quality, but nevertheless, these phones have no trouble delivering. But, yes, a dedicated headphone amp does take things to the top level.
And the sound - it is close to perfect. The bass is completely realistic and well extended, rather than overblown or muddy as is the case with many cheaper phones. The high frequencies are naturally airey and clear, making for relaxed listening without the need to push the levels too hard (unless you really want to of course).
The mid range is sounding very clear and undistorted. These cans have only been out of the box for an hour, and they have a recommended run-in time of at least one or two days constant useage, so I only expect this already wonderful sound to improve further still.
Comfort is not a major issue. The earcushion on each of the cans fits very nicely around each ear with room to spare (for my 35-year-old ears anyway). The pressure is, however, just a tad too tight on the sides of the skull (but I can cope - and maybe they are expected to loosen with age). The literature also states that the pads should be replaced periodically for hygenic reasons, but I can't work out how these are detached since they appear to be stuck very securely in place. I've already tried pulling as hard as I dare without the risk of ripping them. So I don't get it.
Anyway, the earcushions (in theory), along with the 3 meter cable (which does detach easily enough from each of the cans) are replaceable, to extend the life of the product.
And it all comes in a hard box with a hinged lid.
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2010
There has been a lot of talk in the reviews about the use of headphone amps in realation to the quality of these headphones. Without wishing to veer off on to a completely separate discussion, I just wish to make the following point:
These are a quality pair of hi-fi headphones. If you do not use a headphone amp, they will still sound great. If you do use one (e.g. Grahma Slee Solo), they will sound even better.
If you are looking for headphones to use with an iPod or similar device, do not buy these. They are hi-fi headphones (i.e. not designed to be portable or driven by low output equipment). Your money would be far better spent on a pair of B&W P5s or Klipsch Image X10s which will give you far better results from that kind of source.
Do not jusge these headphones (or any headphones, for that matter) straight out of the box. They sound muffled, veiled and distant, like they are full of cotton wool. Give them 50-60 hours to burn in and they turn into a completely different beast.
Gone is the distance and the veil. Music sounds a lot more immediate and focused. The soundstaging is excellent, giving the impression of space. The music is presented as if it were coming from speakers either side of you (which it effectively is) rather than being piped directly into your ear.
The level of detail and clarity at this price is stunning. Mid-range and vocals are stark without being harsh. Bass feels tight and responsive. They do what all good audio equipment aspires to do - present the music as it is intended by the source. There is no colouration, no quickening, no 'enhancing', just clarity.
I have heard detail on records and CDs that I have never heard before. I suddenly want to dig out everything from my music collection and listen to it all at once and fall in love with it all over again. I feel like I am discovering my favourite bands and artists for the first time.
In my eyes, that is the highest recommendation of all.
NB. This review is my opinion of these headphones. Your ears are different to mine. Just because these are a great pair of headphones to many, does not mean they will be to all. Some people just do not get on with Sennheisers, others may have systems that do not match (I have heard that these do not match well with a valve orientated set-up). All headphones have their own characteristics - it is important to find what works best for you.
Other headphones in a similar price bracket include Grado 325is and AKG 702s, both of which are excellent and well worthy of an audition.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2007
I do not intend to get technical, but will simply focus on my experience of using these headphones over the past year. I will identify the key weaknesses and assets of these headphones.
1) - At nearly £200 they are considerably more expensive than the average headphones.
2) - Your speakers will probably sound awful when you take your HD650s off.
3) - They are a bit uncomfy (see asset 4).
1) - They come a in fab presentation box which is a good (though unrequired) bonus.
2) - They allow you to hear the most subtle detail - for better or worse.
3) - They sound great with music, TV and film (especially modern programmes and films) and playing games on the PC. For example, Stargate SG1 is amazing - you feel like you are there.
4) - The more you listen to them the comfier they get. I can use them for hours and not really notice that they are there i.e. they become comfortable in time.
5)- They are upgradable via specialised cable such as Cardas.
If you are thinking about buying these, but are not sure, consider the following.
1) - Spending money on these does not mean that you will have no money to buy more cds, currys, clothes or whatever. All the other things you want to buy will be there next month and the month after that and so on.
2) - Your next wage is probably only 4 weeks away at the most. If you've never starved in the past, you probably won't starve if you buy these.
3) - If you buy these you can rest assured that you will not have to buy a new version 6 months from now. As headphones have been around much longer than new technologies such as the mobile phone and mp3 player, headphone technology has already matured past the initial design and redesign stage. Headphone technology is pretty stable and established. Therefore, these headphones can reliably be claimed to be more or less at the pinnacle of headphone technology.
4) - If you buy a punto, you get a punto. If you buy a Daimler, you get a Daimler.
5) - Go and buy them!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2013
As a former Beats Pro owner ( Yes I know... it was an impulse buy ) I was used to listening to my music with the base turned way up. I decided to go for something more high-brow as a replacement and after reading several reviews, I decided to go for the HD650.
The headphones arrived in a beautiful box ( as you would expect for the price ) and although they feel slightly plasticky, the robust build is something I can't argue with. They feel like they'll last me a lot longer than my now defunct Beats.
As far as sound goes, these are not the type of headphones you are going to run from your iPod or phone. I am using a Fiio E7 portable amp ( will shell out for a more powerful one eventually ) and listen to mainly FLAC files and Spotify. At first I was slightly disappointed by the sound, having listened to the Beats for the past two years.
The HD650 sounded flat, muffled and not very powerful. I've been braking them in for three days now, and I am simply astonished by the improvement. They sound so damn crisp and warm - they just make me appreciate music on a whole new level. The Beats had bass I could feel, but the HD650s have lows that are not intrusive and let everything else about the music shine, especially the vocals and high notes. It's a pleasure listening to them, and honestly, I have re-discovered my music library. I can now just sit and listen to a song with my eyes closed and appreciate every single little note that goes into it.
My old Beats Pros were more powerful, louder and had a lot more bass, but that delicacy in the music that I have found with the HD650 is lacking, and I'd have that over the bass any day of the year. Honestly, best 330 quid I ever spent. I am loving my new-found music enjoyment and I am looking forward to upgrading my amps and music collection.
My only complaint is the hyper long cable ( not bad in its own right ) but I wish Sennheiser supplied a second shorter cable as this one gets tangled in my legs quite a lot.
Apart from the, the HD650 are just brilliant. I feel like such a knob end for having used the Pros for so long. I love music <3 :)
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2010
Ok, i am not an audiophile, i want to be, but i am not. I dont have the budget for it and i am not in pursuit of that pure sound that i hear many audiophiles talking about.
I know what i like things to sound like, this may not be right in the audiphile sense, but it makes sense to me.
I purchased these headphones after reading several reviews and i just want to say they are FANTASTIC!
I use them for Gaming on my PC (shock horror) Watching Movies and also listening to music, everything from rock to classical.
You dont need £00000s of pounds worth of kit for these headphones to let you know they are special, that being said they need a fairly reasonable system.
Ignoring all other tasks i set before my headphones, and just concentrating on music, i can say these headphones will deliver you a perfect, very clean, natural sound.. things sound as they should. a cello is clearly a cello, wind instruments sound like they should.. Odds are if your a regular person like me, you wont understand fully until you hear these headphones and audition them against other types. I am told the top end is rounded off very slightly, this my poorly trained ear will have to just agree with. What i can say is the sound is just right.
I then use an EQ to bring the bass to where i want it, the mids, the treble... and across the world many audiophiles who read this and are calling me heathen. But my modest little system and these headphones give my ears the sound that i want, and it is crystal... perfection!
These were an upgrade for me from the HD555, which i also recommend, but really.. if you have the budget these are the best headphones i have ever heard!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 March 2009
I bought these headphones as a replacement for the Sennheiser PXC450. Prior to that I had Sennheiser HD600 and Bose Quietcomfort 3. I must say, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound of the HD650. The bass is well defined and clean, going down to very low frequencies. The treble is clear and non intrusive.
They are comfortable to wear for extended periods.
I use these for classical and world music - I use Sony MDR7506 for modern rock and pop - both are excellent headphones.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2011
Wow, these are superb, everything everyone said they would be! I have an elderly system (comes with my increasing age!) and have no desire to upgrade, but needed to get headphones to enable me to make the most of this. I hooked these up to my Audiolab 8000a, powering the Cambridge Audio cd4se and sat back, it was lovely. And what is great is that i know that over time, the sound quality will only get better and richer and warmer - every incentive to make lots of use of them to get tham warmed up!
Unlike many people here and who leave very detailed reviews about all the technical bumph, i am a middle aged woman with a half decent hi fi system and all i know about it all is how good it all sounds on the stuff i like to listen to. I cant tell you all the stuff the real audiophiles can, but i can tell you that these sound great, are comfortable to wear and allow me to enjoy my music whenever i feel the need and quite frankly - that does it for me!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
These are without doubt very high class phones and the best I have heard. I am using them with a Little Dot Mk IVSE valve headphone amplifier and a Musical Fidelity X Ray CD player. Neither the phones or the amp are fully run in yet, but the sound they give is excellent, detailed and crisp yet easy on the ear. Neither the bass extension, soundstage or dynamics are quite equal to my in room system, but I would not expect them to be and all are improving as the units run in. There are a couple of things to note. The dynamics and resolution of detail is greatly improved if both CD player and amp are placed on spikes and it is vital to keep the mains lead and the interconnects well separated, otherwise you will find a loss of top-end and detail. The music I listen to is mainly classical and jazz and folk vocal and the system suits these types of music perfectly. This combination would be too 'soft' for good reproduction of hard rock type music. The phones are comfortable to wear too. I find I do not want to stop listening to them once I start, which is as good a recommendation as one can make.