Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

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Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:16 pm

I'm looking at upgrading my headphones and I'm looking at the $650 price tag of the Sennheiser 650's, and I'm wondering if they produce sound quality to match their premium price tag

I want to use these for gaming as well as listening to music, and I've read that some headphones are better for some than others, whether they be open or closed designs among other things. My current headphones are a closed design, and open is apparently better for music but I haven't heard a definitive word on their quality for gaming (positional audio is important).

My current sound card is a Xonar STX, so I know I have decent enough hardware to get the most out of my headphones, I just wonder if ones such as this would be a worthwhile upgrade
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:29 pm

internetsandman wrote:I'm looking at upgrading my headphones and I'm looking at the $650 price tag of the Sennheiser 650's, and I'm wondering if they produce sound quality to match their premium price tag

I want to use these for gaming as well as listening to music, and I've read that some headphones are better for some than others, whether they be open or closed designs among other things. My current headphones are a closed design, and open is apparently better for music but I haven't heard a definitive word on their quality for gaming (positional audio is important).

My current sound card is a Xonar STX, so I know I have decent enough hardware to get the most out of my headphones, I just wonder if ones such as this would be a worthwhile upgrade

Here's some user reviews, as well as a price tag of $499.95. If you're worried about the retailer, don't be. They've been around for at least a decade and both know their stuff and have great street cred.

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/sen ... hd-650.php
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:32 pm

I'd be hard pressed to say they are going to be significantly better than Beats by Dre Pro at $400 or the Sennheiser 595's at $200. There is going to be some seriously diminishing returns with audio. Personally, I'd lean to the older 595's but Beats definitely have a cool-factor to them. They are powered by battery, and when it goes down you are sound-less. The 595's run... shoot, $150 now?
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:49 pm

They're great headphones, but the street price has apparently gone up over the last couple of years. IN my experience, they sound particularly good if you get a balanced cable for them (requires balanced headphone amplifier or low power speaker amp). As everyone is now selling for the exact same price of $500, maybe Sennheiser is cracking down on retailers who were selling below a certain amount? I remember when shopping for mine about 3 years ago that you could find them for ~$350 at online sellers like JR.com, etc.

Why not skip the racket and purchase from an ebay seller? $389 here (including shipping).

Edit: Fixed link
Last edited by cynan on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:56 pm

TheEmrys wrote:I'd be hard pressed to say they are going to be significantly better than Beats by Dre Pro at $400 or the Sennheiser 595's at $200. There is going to be some seriously diminishing returns with audio. Personally, I'd lean to the older 595's but Beats definitely have a cool-factor to them. They are powered by battery, and when it goes down you are sound-less. The 595's run... shoot, $150 now?


The Beats Pro are a completely different kettle of fish as they are closed and the HD 650s are open. In my experience, all things considered, open headphones usually trump closed. The advantage of closed is that they don't disturb those around you (anywhere near as much anyway), they block out external noise - which might come in handy if listening in noisy environments and don't want to damage your ears - and are more conducive to noise cancellation (like the pro). Open headphones have and airier, somewhat more speaker-like sound (at least near field speaker listening) and your ears don't start to sweat if using them during an intense gaming session.

As for whether they are worth the cost.. I probably wouldn't spend more than $400 on them. It depends how much you treasure hi-fidelity, how much you like the HD-650 sound signature, and how good your other equipment is. If you have a nice balanced DAC, the HD-650s can be worth every penny. If you are using them with integrated audio on a PC then something sub $200 (and probably significantly less) like the Sennheiser HD 558 (if you like Senns) or Audio Technica A700, etc, would be about the best I'd recommend.
Last edited by cynan on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:01 pm

If you want to play with premium open-back 'phones, the HD-600 is a 25% cheaper while having nearly identical design, and nearly identical frequency response range and magnitude. The HD-558, also open-back, is 50% cheaper (although it does fall off faster above 10kHz). That would leave you some extra budget for a headphone amp, which will make a much bigger difference than just a 'phones upgrade.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:16 pm

Anything in the high-end will always offer only diminishing returns. So as for the question of "worth the cost?" - it probably is not.

Personally, I am very satisfied with my ATH-M50 (Closed back) at $120. But to each his own.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:09 pm

Did someone just seriously say "Dr Dre Beats" and "headphones" in the same sentence? :evil:
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:15 pm

morphine wrote:Did someone just seriously say "Dr Dre Beats" and "headphones" in the same sentence? :evil:


That, and getting my HD555's for <$60 refurbished just makes me smile when I look at the prices quoted above.

For the open/closed argument- open for fidelity, closed for bass? I know that using a closed headset for any decent length of time gets tiring.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:31 pm

The Sennheiser 800, 650 and 600 been on Stereophile's headphone A-list for quite a while now:
http://www.stereophile.com/content/2012 ... headphones

Here's what they had to say about its predecessor, the HD600
WP, KR, and ST were unanimous in calling these the best dynamic headphones they’ve ever heard. “The only ones with which I have ever been physically or sonically comfortable,” says KR. “Sennheiser has kept all of the qualities that made the HD 580 among the best of its breed, and in several areas has even managed to better it impressively,” according to WP. Says ST, “The magic of the HD 600s is their midrange—a purity of tone, especially when driven by tubes, that is quite special.” Astonishingly transparent when driven in balanced mode by a HeadRoom BlockHead, found J-10 in July 2002.


The 650 is supposed to be better still. I dont think you'll go wrong with them, but as mentioned above you might have to choose your headphone amp carefully to match with the Sennheisers.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:30 pm

The benefit of getting a high end headphone now even if you don't have a dedicated amp to drive it with is that you can stop getting the upgrade itch and just focus on getting the best DAC/AMP you can afford and just be done with it.
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Re: Sennheiser 650 - worth the cost?

Postposted on Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:49 am

The good news is that these headphones are likely to last for a long while. That huge pile of money that you're planning to spend can be amortized over many years of enjoyment.

I bought a set of Sennheiser HD430 headphones over 25 years ago that still work well. I've replaced the pads once in that period, but you can still buy the replacement ear pads for less than $20 a set.
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