Sennheiser HD 600 or 650 - Which would you pick and why, and how do you drive them?

If you are new here check this forum first, your question may have been answered.
KVRian
909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 1:23 pm

From what I can tell, there are tribes pushing both the Sennheiser HD 600 or the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. From experience, has anyone compared these and found one better than the other for general use and mixing? My understanding is that the 600 has a smaller slightly reduced frequency response, whereas the 650s boost the bass and (according to some) create a darker, veiled effect.

A secondary question is whether it's even possible for me to drive either of these headphones. I have a MOTU Ultralite Mk5, which, according to MOTU support, was tested to handle 300 ohms, but I am not sure if I can rely on that. I could also consider alternative audio interfaces like the UAD Apollo Twin (thunderbolt 3), but I am also not sure if it would fare any better on the headphone out.

I would much prefer not to get yet another amp just to drive these.

Thanks for your time.
Last edited by synchronizer on Fri May 14, 2021 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

KVRian
863 posts since 27 Oct, 2004 from Inside the kick drum

Post Fri May 14, 2021 1:31 pm

I have Motu M2 and it drives my HD650 perfectly fine. I am pretty sure, that many people going to suggest you the HD600, but for me, I found HD650 to be more neutral, more refined and more what sound should sound. HD600 has this terrible 3k boost, which makes them shouty and boxy. I have owned HD600 4 times, because I wanted to like them, but no. Currently I have HD650 with my personal own EQ settings, mainly to give little more sub bass and highs, but that is just my personal taste. Sonarworks also call HD650 most neutral headphone out of the box, and use them as their reference. I still suggest you to go store and test which one you like more.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 1:44 pm

keel wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 1:31 pm
I have Motu M2 and it drives my HD650 perfectly fine. I am pretty sure, that many people going to suggest you the HD600, but for me, I found HD650 to be more neutral, more refined and more what sound should sound. HD600 has this terrible 3k boost, which makes them shouty and boxy. I have owned HD600 4 times, because I wanted to like them, but no. Currently I have HD650 with my personal own EQ settings, mainly to give little more sub bass and highs, but that is just my personal taste. Sonarworks also call HD650 most neutral headphone out of the box, and use them as their reference. I still suggest you to go store and test which one you like more.
Thanks for your take on this. (I'd try in-store, but no nearby stores have both, and the pandemic situation makes it a little unwise for me to browse stores casually, even still.)


If the M2 can power the HD 650, then so can the Ultralite Mk5, but then again -- how do we know that what you're hearing is the expected performance/sound without having tried using an amp or more powerful rack audio interface that you'd find in a professional music studio? (I mentioned UAD because apparently they're more heavy-duty, but I'm not really sure if the headphone out is going to be that much different.) Is the volume decently loud? I don't plan to listen at crazy loud volumes, but I need to hear what I am doing clearly.

As for the shoutiness on the 600, yes, that's exactly the criticism I keep seeing. It's "shouty," whereas the 650 is too "dark/veiled," though I don't think I fully understand what this comparison really means in practice.
I also hear the 600 is "more neutral" actually and sounds better for jazz rather than pop/rock.

For what it's worth, I'm interested in composing piano-heavy music with inspiration taken from e.g. jazz rock, jazz fusion, Steely Dan, and Return to Forever.

We could approach the problem from the angle of "what do my favorite artists/companies use?" That is, if the headphones they use aren't in an order of magnitude higher price bracket.

For reference, I was alsoconsidering the AKG 702 and the Shure 1840. For tracking, I've just been using ATH m50xes.

KVRer
17 posts since 14 May, 2021

Post Fri May 14, 2021 5:06 pm

I don't have experience with the HD 600 unfortunately, but from everything I've heard they have more similarities than differences. That said, I've had an HD 650 for almost a decade now, and it has been great. I usually use a JDS Labs O2 amp for it, but I also use it on my Motu M2 which doesn't seem to have any issues driving it. I typically turn the volume up to around 12 or 1 o'clock, but then again I try not to turn things up too loud.

One thing I might suggest over both of them is the Drop/Sennheiser HD6xx. It's basically an HD650 with a different cable and color scheme, but for a much lower price.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 5:42 pm

Interesting. So the M2 is fine for you as well at mixing volume?

re: 600 vs 650, I’m still not convinced one way or the other. Apparently people prefer the first for mixing and classical music, specifically.

The price shouldn’t be much of an issue in this case. What might be a problem for me, because I wear glasses, is that both models fit very tightly, at least from what I hear.

KVRer
17 posts since 14 May, 2021

Post Fri May 14, 2021 6:51 pm

Sorry I can't really give a definitive answer for mixing volume as I just use the M2 as an interface for guitar sims. I mostly just use the 650 for listening to music.

It does clamp down on your head pretty hard at first, though it does loosen up over time. I don't wear glasses though, so I''m not sure if that will be an issue.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 7:05 pm

That's alright.

I do hope there might be someone here who has tried both though.

KVRian
1349 posts since 2 Jul, 2007

Post Fri May 14, 2021 8:28 pm

600's are flatter, 650's may sound a bit brighter.. either heritage audio r.a.m.2000 or antelope discrete 8
Cpu: Win10/Intel Core i9-10900K + Apple Mac OSX/BigSur/Slate VMS/Antelope Audio Discrete 8 Synergy Core
Synths: Sequential Prophet 10|OB-6/Deepmind 12/Virus TI2 61/Waldorf Blofeld/Yamaha Motif XS7/Akai MPC X

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 8:40 pm

Why would I want one over the other? (I wish I had some good frequency response graphs.)

KVRist
398 posts since 28 Jul, 2006

Post Fri May 14, 2021 10:00 pm

I think the 6xx from massdrop is almost exactly the same as the 650, but half the price

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat May 15, 2021 5:07 am

So far it seems everyone here has the 650. I’m curious what people think about the 600 for mixing and general purpose use in comparison (since I am trying to decide between them).

User avatar
KVRAF
32497 posts since 14 Sep, 2002 from In teh net

Post Sat May 15, 2021 6:20 am

I have 650's too but have never had a problem using my RME Fireface to drive them - I guess they only really need a dedicated headphone amp with lower end interfaces.

User avatar
KVRist
236 posts since 2 Sep, 2012

Post Sat May 15, 2021 6:42 am

I have the 600 and have been using them for maybe 8 years or so. I’m very happy with them, I’ve used them for mixing a lot and the mixes translate really good for me. I have no complaints about the frequency response. I plug them in directly to my Allen & Heath Zed R16. It’s the same as anything else, you have to get accustomed to whatever you use for monitoring, no matter how neutral they may or may not be - I think there’s always a period of time to get familiar with the sound.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat May 15, 2021 6:50 am

DMG68 wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 6:42 am
I have the 600 and have been using them for maybe 8 years or so. I’m very happy with them, I’ve used them for mixing a lot and the mixes translate really good for me. I have no complaints about the frequency response. I plug them in directly to my Allen & Heath Zed R16. It’s the same as anything else, you have to get accustomed to whatever you use for monitoring, no matter how neutral they may or may not be - I think there’s always a period of time to get familiar with the sound.
Is there any chance that the midtier MOTU will be able to drive them at an acceptable level? All the sales representatives claim I need an external amp.

KVRist
313 posts since 9 Dec, 2006

Post Sat May 15, 2021 7:19 am

HD600's here, no issues driving them from an Ultralight AVB.

Return to “Getting Started (AKA What is the best...?)”