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4.7 out of 5 stars152
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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!
1818 comments198 of 209 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
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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.
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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.

The Weaknesses:

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).

The Assets:

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!
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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 :)
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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!
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on 17 October 2014
Well I figured I would add my voice to the growing number of audiophiles who have all fallen in love with these headphones.

I must admit that when I was researching for a new set of studio headphones and came across all the reviews for the HD650, the thought did cross my mind that it was all just a lot of hype - like the Apple fanatics you see online who will blindly defend their every move, whether it's relevant or not (not that I have any issues with Apple by the way, but nobody is perfect, especially not a multinational corporation).

Anyway. The point is that I was prepared for a few minor niggles, especially considering £250.00 is quite a lot of money for a set of headphones. You can purchase decent loudspeakers for less.

Sennheiser have certainly put some time and effort into the packaging. One might ask why they bother but I can tell you, it definitely makes a difference when you open your beautiful hard-shell storage case to reveal the headphones resting resplendent within, like some highly valuable royal jewelry. When I opened it in the office I received a highly pleasing chorus of "ooooh"s from my colleagues standing around me. There may as well have been a set of keys to a Ferrari in the box. I will agree with a few other reviewers that the build quality of the headphones is not the absolute highest, but they are definitely solid, and I don't think they will be likely to break anytime soon.

Next, I did the most logical thing possible under the circumstances: I put them on my head, plugged them into my iPod (the only thing I had to hand with music on it), and hit play. Then for the next few minutes I stood transfixed with a glazed look on my face, like a stuffed sloth (look up a picture of a sloth on Google images and you'll understand what I mean). As a semi-professional producer / musician, I listen to a LOT of music, on a lot of different sound systems, but I can safely say I had never heard anything as detailed as this before. It was like the difference between watching an old 1970's TV and then walking into the next room and being presented with a brand new 4K flatscreen. The tracks I listened to all had an extra sense of headroom to them, as though a lid had been removed and the music could finally breathe properly. The top end was detailed and delicate, I could literally hear every tiniest detail all the way up to the edge of my hearing.

I did have one gripe however: I didn't like the bass. It was (in my opinion) too loud and, although it was fairly detailed, it tended to overpower everything in the music. I had to make a conscious decision to ignore it if I wanted to focus on anything else otherwise my mind just kept coming back to "BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM..."

However, there was one point which had come up in pretty much every review I had read so far, which is that these headphones need to be run-in properly before they sound at their best. So that night I took them home, hooked them up to my amp, turned the volume up pretty loud, and proceeded to feed them some challenging tech-house on repeat. As they are open-backed this did get quite annoying after a while, particularly for my long-suffering girlfriend, so we managed to improve the situation somewhat by stuffing the headphones back in their box and then covering the whole lot in a pile of cushions.

I left them like that for 48 hours, then let them rest for another 12. This was exceedingly difficult as I just wanted to play with them. But finally it was time to get back in the studio and work on some music projects. This time, they were like a completely different set of headphones. The super-detailed soundscape was still there, in fact, even broader than before, with better stereo imaging as well so that I had much more of a "surround sound" feel. But best of all, that boomy, rude bass had completely vanished, to be replaced with a clear and controlled lower end which complimented the rest of the range perfectly. There was still plenty of low end (going down so low that I could feel the lowest frequencies vibrating my cheeks), but it was perfectly positioned now - delicate, just like the rest of the spectrum. Since then I have worn them for many hours in succession, and they never once have got tiring on my head, nor have my ears ever got tired while listening to them.

There may be audiophiles out there with more listening experience on high-end equipment, and they might tell you that there are better options out there. But I can tell you, as someone who has spent nearly their whole life working with music, these headphones are absolutely stunning, and are full deserving of their 5-star rating.
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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.
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on 27 October 2006
I got these headphone to fit in to an all-Naim system. Naim have a reputation for delivering on pace, rhythm and timing, and after reading a great review in What HiFi, I thought these would deliver. My old headphones were a pair of Beyer DT990's which were comfortable and easy on the ear, in both physical and musical terms. They could be listened to all day with no fatigue. They were blown out one day whilst connected to the computer, so I decided to have a change, in spite of the fact that they are still made.
I am fairly useless at judging the sound of stuff in HiFi shops, no matter how helpful they are... and the pressure of making my mind up in those enviroments has often lead to poor decisions.
I am pretty pleased with them so far. I am using them with a (non-naim) Musical fidelity X-can3 headphone amp and the sound is crisp, clean, fast, revealing and well-defined, with huge dynamic range. Bass is articulate and well extended. In my system, although the sound could never be accused of being harsh, there is a slight tendency for them to be fatiguing at higher volumes... so in a hard sounding system it might be worth considering something like the Beyers. If the system is balanced, or tends towards warmth, they would probably excel.
The quality of construction is first rate, and the speakers fit completely over the ear, the vellum pads being very comfortable. The headband is a little tight on me, causing the phones the feel as if they are clamped to my head, which, although they are not uncomfortable, it's a bit of a relief when removed after a session. The open backs allow outside noise in easily, so it is a little easier to hear the phone or doorbell.
All in all, they are a good buy and sound great in a well balanced system.
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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!
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