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One of my coworkers just purchased a pair of Sennheiser 650’s. He let me borrow them over the weekend so I could make a comparison between the 650’s and my AKG 701’s.

I brought them home and using the headphone out on my Denon 2802 receiver. I made a comparison between the two sets of headphones playing the beginning 60-90secs of a sample of songs. One thing that I think I should mention upfront is the sensitivity between the two headphones. The 650’s are much more sensitive. Using the 701’s, I would need to adjust the volume to -9, with the 650’s I’d adjust the volume to -19. That seemed to be where I subjectively thought they had the same sound level.

Here are the notes I wrote.


Miles Davis/A Kind of Blue – Freddie Freeloader

650’s have softer edges and sound “warmer” than the 701’s
There are a couple points in the song where Miles Davis seems to end a note with a very short puff. Almost like he “double clutches” the end of the note. I could hear this a little more clearly on the 701’s.

On this particular song, I seemed to prefer the 650’s


Rufus Wainwright/One – Oh What a Life

The bass abilities of the 650’s were evident here. The song plays a lot of oboe and tuba (at least that’s what I think they are). Anyway, deep notes. The 650’s were able to dig noticeably deeper than the 701’s. The 650’s were also warmer than the 701’s and (maybe) had a wider soundstage. On the flip side, the 701’s seemed to be more clear.

This one was tougher to say which one I liked better – I’d give it a push.


Sleepytime Gorilla Museum/Grand Opening and Closing – Sleepytime

A berserk song from a berserk band. It starts off with simple “in the background” music with chimes and bells and other stuff then comes forward emphasizing the vocals. Usually, it’s pretty simple, but occasionally gets “cluttered”. It also plays around with the imaging. For example, the chimes at one point panned across the soundstage.

The chimes were much more clear and “real” on the 701’s and the separation of the instruments/vocals was better on the 701’s.

I easily preferred the 701’s on this song.


Tool/Laterus – Schism

The edges were rounder on the 650’s
The soundstage was wider on the 701’s.
The instruments/vocals were easier to separate on the 701’s

Between the two, I preferred the 701’s.


Flogging Molly/Within a Mile of Home – Factory Girls

Flogging Molly is my current favorite band and Factory Girls is my favorite song by them. One note: this was the only CD in the bunch that I had to adjust the volume from my normal -9/-19 to something like -19/-27. I assume this means the CD suffers from the current epidemic of over-compression. Sigh.. that kind of bums me out.

Anyway, on to my impressions -- I started with the 701’s. When I put the 650’s on, I did my first double take – the vocals seemed a lot more muted. I didn’t get that on any of the other CD/songs I listened to and the strong impression faded after a little bit. Other than that, it seemed to exhibit the same characteristics as the other songs, namely, the 650’s went deeper and were warmer and the 701’s were cleaner/crisper.

I again preferred the 701’s.


Overall notes

The 650’s were clearly louder, warmer and able to go deeper.

The 701’s were “cleaner” and more detailed.

The 650’s have an adjustable headband, whereas the 701’s have an auto adjustable headband. I have a fairly big melon, so I don’t know if my decision would change, but I found the 701’s more comfortable to wear. Both are extremely comfortable, but I liked the 701’s better.

Which one would I buy if I were to do it all over again? Both are great headphones, but I think I’d go with the 701’s. I can see the appeal of the 650’s, but I liked the 701’s better. Of course, one must take into account I already own the 701’s and am used to their sound and this wasn't a double-blind test by any stretch.

 

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One of my coworkers just purchased a pair of Sennheiser 650’s. He let me borrow them over the weekend so I could make a comparison between the 650’s and my AKG 701’s.

I brought them home and using the headphone out on my Denon 2802 receiver. I made a comparison between the two sets of headphones playing the beginning 60-90secs of a sample of songs. One thing that I think I should mention upfront is the sensitivity between the two headphones. The 650’s are much more sensitive. Using the 701’s, I would need to adjust the volume to -9, with the 650’s I’d adjust the volume to -19. That seemed to be where I subjectively thought they had the same sound level.

Here are the notes I wrote.


Miles Davis/A Kind of Blue – Freddie Freeloader

650’s have softer edges and sound “warmer” than the 701’s
There are a couple points in the song where Miles Davis seems to end a note with a very short puff. Almost like he “double clutches” the end of the note. I could hear this a little more clearly on the 701’s.

On this particular song, I seemed to prefer the 650’s


Rufus Wainwright/One – Oh What a Life

The bass abilities of the 650’s were evident here. The song plays a lot of oboe and tuba (at least that’s what I think they are). Anyway, deep notes. The 650’s were able to dig noticeably deeper than the 701’s. The 650’s were also warmer than the 701’s and (maybe) had a wider soundstage. On the flip side, the 701’s seemed to be more clear.

This one was tougher to say which one I liked better – I’d give it a push.


Sleepytime Gorilla Museum/Grand Opening and Closing – Sleepytime

A berserk song from a berserk band. It starts off with simple “in the background” music with chimes and bells and other stuff then comes forward emphasizing the vocals. Usually, it’s pretty simple, but occasionally gets “cluttered”. It also plays around with the imaging. For example, the chimes at one point panned across the soundstage.

The chimes were much more clear and “real” on the 701’s and the separation of the instruments/vocals was better on the 701’s.

I easily preferred the 701’s on this song.


Tool/Laterus – Schism

The edges were rounder on the 650’s
The soundstage was wider on the 701’s.
The instruments/vocals were easier to separate on the 701’s

Between the two, I preferred the 701’s.


Flogging Molly/Within a Mile of Home – Factory Girls

Flogging Molly is my current favorite band and Factory Girls is my favorite song by them. One note: this was the only CD in the bunch that I had to adjust the volume from my normal -9/-19 to something like -19/-27. I assume this means the CD suffers from the current epidemic of over-compression. Sigh.. that kind of bums me out.

Anyway, on to my impressions -- I started with the 701’s. When I put the 650’s on, I did my first double take – the vocals seemed a lot more muted. I didn’t get that on any of the other CD/songs I listened to and the strong impression faded after a little bit. Other than that, it seemed to exhibit the same characteristics as the other songs, namely, the 650’s went deeper and were warmer and the 701’s were cleaner/crisper.

I again preferred the 701’s.


Overall notes

The 650’s were clearly louder, warmer and able to go deeper.

The 701’s were “cleaner” and more detailed.

The 650’s have an adjustable headband, whereas the 701’s have an auto adjustable headband. I have a fairly big melon, so I don’t know if my decision would change, but I found the 701’s more comfortable to wear. Both are extremely comfortable, but I liked the 701’s better.

Which one would I buy if I were to do it all over again? Both are great headphones, but I think I’d go with the 701’s. I can see the appeal of the 650’s, but I liked the 701’s better. Of course, one must take into account I already own the 701’s and am used to their sound and this wasn't a double-blind test by any stretch.

Thanks for your input. I think its great you shared this with us. One thing I find a little annoying about purchasing headphones, at least here in New York, is that you can not get the same headphones together in the same place. i think not one of us would buy speakers, sight unheard. Unless, you heard them already.

Warm sound is good, but I also like detail. I want to hear everything that is on the record.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your input. I think its great you shared this with us. One thing I find a little annoying about purchasing headphones, at least here in New York, is that you can not get the same headphones together in the same place. i think not one of us would buy speakers, sight unheard. Unless, you heard them already.

Warm sound is good, but I also like detail. I want to hear everything that is on the record.

I don't think it's just New York, I think that's a problem everywhere. I even attended a head-fi meet near my home (yeah, it's pretty nerdy). Anyway, it would have been tough even there with literally dozens of headphones and amps there for the listen -- there was just so much ambient noise, you couldn't really listen properly.

I ended up buying my 701's based on the impressions from someone I respected and thought that we had similar tastes in audio. In the end, I think I made the right choice for me -- to my ears they're very natural and revealing. Based on your last statement, I'd say go for the 701's.. however, I think most of the folks on Head-Fi prefer the 650's.
 

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I don't think it's just New York, I think that's a problem everywhere. I even attended a head-fi meet near my home (yeah, it's pretty nerdy). Anyway, it would have been tough even there with literally dozens of headphones and amps there for the listen -- there was just so much ambient noise, you couldn't really listen properly.

I ended up buying my 701's based on the impressions from someone I respected and thought that we had similar tastes in audio. In the end, I think I made the right choice for me -- to my ears they're very natural and revealing. Based on your last statement, I'd say go for the 701's.. however, I think most of the folks on Head-Fi prefer the 650's.
I hear you. I like the folks at headroom - Right Between Your Ears. I think I`ll make my purchase with them. I`ve been talking with them fr a while now, and feel comfortable. And I know someone who has dealt directly with them. Unfortunately, I don`t know anyone who is a headphone person like us.
 
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