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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Sennheiser HD 600 Audiophile Headphone Discussion Thread

by Wayne Myers
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MSRP: $399.95 -- Street Price: $399 -- Available from Amazon and Newegg

Introduction

The Sennheiser HD 600 Audiophile Headphones have been around for quite a while, and, if you count all the reviews posted by individuals in various places on the web, have been reviewed a gazillion times. That is just an approximation, of course.

Why review them again? Because they are still, after close to 20 years, one of the best sets of headphones you can buy, and are a good reference point for comparison. As we launch the Home Theater Shack Headphone Roundup, the HD 600s present a good anchor point for this upcoming series of headphone reviews.

Conclusions

Okay, so they are not perfect. In some of these categories, where you really start picking at details, the HD 600s do not stand up to the scrutiny that some newer high-end headphones do. But for overall listening likability, they still stand very tall. And in NO category would you call them significantly weak or deficient.

The Sennheiser HD 600s are an excellent set of reference headphones, and are a top pick for critical or relaxed listening sessions.

The Pros:
  • Smooth, laid-back sound, non-fatiguing, plenty of detail
  • Solid performer in all tested categories
  • Well-accepted music industry standard
  • Elegant appearance
  • Durable
  • Modular design, replaceable cable
The Cons:
  • Some might find them to be a tight fit

Performance Summary and Overall Performance Score
  • Imaging: 9.3
  • Soundstage: 9.0
  • Clarity: 9.8
  • Speed: 9.0
  • Frequency Response: 10.0 (Tilted Profile)
  • Overall Listening Experience: 10
  • Comfort: 9
  • Design: 10
  • MSRP: $399.95
  • Street Price: $399
  • Would I buy or recommend them? Absolutely.
  • Overall Performance Score: 9.6 out of 10

Go to the Headphone Roundup Overview for scoring and comparison details.

Go to the full review.

This thread is open for discussion about the Sennheiser HD 600s and the HD 600 review.

by Wayne Myers
AudiocRaver
 

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Personally I’ve never heard a pair of Sennheisers I didn’t like, and I’ve had a few pairs over the years, including the venerable HD-420 and HD-25. I have a love-hate relationship with them, however: The replaceable plug-in cables are always a problem. From what I can tell, the sockets get ever-so-slightly wallowed out, and then the connection is a make-and-break affair: Every time you put them on you have to wiggle the plug ends to get them working.

A few years ago I was fed up dealing with that on my HD-25SP’s and bought a pair of Sony MDR-V6’s based on glowing recommendations from fellow Shack Members. Their build quality was great, but the MDR’s couldn’t hold a candle to the smooth HD-25’s. The highs were raspy-sounding, not clean at all, and the bass was bloated. I sold them in nothing flat and went back to twiddling my great-sounding Sennheisers. Earlier this year I sprung for a pair of HD-25’s to replace the HD-25SP’s (same cans as the HD-25SP, but upgraded headband that minimizes movement [and therefore failure] of the cable plugs).

I’d love to hear some of Sennheiser’s upper-scale offerings, but honestly I don’t know what they could do to improve sound quality over the superb HD-25...

Regards,
Wayne
 

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Excellent review, makes me want a headphone rig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have a love-hate relationship with them, however: The replaceable plug-in cables are always a problem. From what I can tell, the sockets get ever-so-slightly wallowed out, and then the connection is a make-and-break affair: Every time you put them on you have to wiggle the plug ends to get them working.
Thanks for mentioning your personal experience with the connectors. In all honesty, I have never even unplugged the cable from my HD 600s in 2+ years, have been glad to know the option is there if needed, and never bothered to try it.

The mini XLR that AKG uses on some models is robust, but I wish for a four wire version. To be discussed in detail with the AKG K701 review.
 

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I have the Creative Aurvana Live headphones which I am very pleased with.
Over the last year I have been using headphones quite a bit and have decided I want an over the ear headphone instead of the on ear style I have now.
So in the next week or so I am fixin' to buy myself new headphones.
In the meantime I have been scouring the Internet for reviews and information.
The HD600 seems to be a universally loved product, and this review is in full agreement.
However this is the only review I have seen that indicates these headphones can be used with a portable device.
At least on paper with a nominal impedance of 300 ohms it does not look like these will work very well with something like an iPad. I would like clarification on this point because I will be using an iPad and/or an AVR to drive what ever I end up getting.
If driving high end headphones with an iPod is just something the audiophile community frowns on verses actually producing poor sound I would like to know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I have the Creative Aurvana Live headphones which I am very pleased with.
Over the last year I have been using headphones quite a bit and have decided I want an over the ear headphone instead of the on ear style I have now.
So in the next week or so I am fixin' to buy myself new headphones.
In the meantime I have been scouring the Internet for reviews and information.
The HD600 seems to be a universally loved product, and this review is in full agreement.
However this is the only review I have seen that indicates these headphones can be used with a portable device.
At least on paper with a nominal impedance of 300 ohms it does not look like these will work very well with something like an iPad. I would like clarification on this point because I will be using an iPad and/or an AVR to drive what ever I end up getting.
If driving high end headphones with an iPod is just something the audiophile community frowns on verses actually producing poor sound I would like to know.
By "Drivable with portable media devices," I meant you can get a solid listening level and they still sound good. With the HD 600s, I measure an SPL level of 88 to 90 dB on one side with a loud rock track at maximum volume, with no obvious distortion or degradation in sound quality. This was tested on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, on a budget Acer laptop, and on an iPad 3. If there was any serious sacrifice in the sound quality, they would not pass this test.

That is certainly not the loudest the 600s will go, nor will they be at their audiophile best for discriminating listening. For ear-cracking volume and the best possible fidelity, a good headphone amp is a must. That said, if you have them along on a trip and decide to run them on your iPad, and you are not in super-picky listening mode, they will still sound very good.

Thanks for your question. I will add some clarification to the writeup.
 

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Your write up is good.
Thank you for coming back to this thread.
I have been able to audition a few of the Sennheiser headphones at Best Buy and I like all of them (555, 280, 380 pro...probably have at least one model number wrong).
Unfortunately they do not have the 598, 600, or 650.
Probably should just buy the least expensive over the ear model and call it good enough, but the higher models are calling out to me LOL.
Thanks again for the info on the portable players, it eases my mind about taking the plunge.
 

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My very generous in-laws gifted some cash for my Christmas present so I decided to put it towards the headphones so I just ordered the 600's. :yay:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My very generous in-laws gifted some cash for my Christmas present so I decided to put it towards the headphones so I just ordered the 600's. :yay:
Wow, I really think you will be super happy with them. Good for you!

Check them out for a couple of weeks, then come back and give us your assessment. Would love to hear your feedback.

As discussed, they will sound great with your AVR. If you get to the point where you have some extra cash and decide to jump for a headphone amplifier, drop back and we will give you some ideas what to look for there, too.

Enjoy!
 

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You tested these with multiple common devices and reported very satisfactory performance, I expect the same results. I will be using them with an iPad most of the time and occasionally with the AVR.
I really do not see a headphone amp in my future (but a few short months ago I did not see expensive headphones in my future either).
The projected delivery date could be as late as the 8th, I will certainly post back in this thread once they arrive.
 

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Just received a terrific surprise from the big brown truck, the Sennheisers are here.
I happened to be listening to music on the speakers and was about 1/2 way through Stairway to Heaven.
Got these babies unboxed and plugged in right away, restarted the song and i am very pleased.
Went back to the Creative headphones and the Sennheisers produce some sounds in the cymbals that the Aurvana Live do not have, I would also describe the sound to be more well defined. Maybe there is just more details that can be heard.
I have used the Aurvana Live headphones for several years and have always liked them a lot, but the 600's certainly reveal more details in the music.
Trying them on the iPad right now and I am satisfied with this too, can't really discern much difference compared to the AVR, But there could be some crispness difference in the cymbals.
Might also be my imagination on this.
To get about the same loudness as the creative headphones requires 2/3 volume vs 1/2 volume.
The sound is still better defined and more clear compared to the Aurvana Live headphones.
Admittedly I do not listen to headphones real loud and I have only been listening for about 45 minutes but I am not hearing anything listening on the iPad that would make me hesitate to make a strong positive recommendation that these work fine.
I seldom use my phone for music but thought I would give it a try, sounds different than the iPad and the AVR but the phone sounds different with the Creative headphones too compared to the iPad and the AVR.
Different is not necessarily bad, just different. I am on the third song using the phone and I have just about forgotten it sounds different.
Nothing I am hearing is objectionable to me.

Music on the home system (Pioneer VSX 23) is mostly .wav files on a hard drive connected via USB.
Music on the iPad is MP3s mostly @ 320Kb.
Music on my Galaxy II phone is MP3s @ VBR max 256Kb.

Thanks for doing the review and then coming back to talk about using these with non-audiophile sources, everything I had read elsewhere indicated the lynch mob would be summoned if these were connected to a phone or iPod and even an AVR was of questionable value.
In my limited session I certainly do not find any issues with using these with a portable device or an AVR.
..........................................................

After living with these for a couple days I thought I would do a follow up.
These headphones are really comfortable, my ears do not sweat even if I fall asleep in my chair.
I have been using them a lot with the AVR and the iPad, I am not an expert but I have nothing to criticize about the sound quality.
In my middle age I do not blast the headphones anymore but the detail is so good with these I am listening at lower volumes than I did with the other headphones especially when listening to movies on Netflix, dialog is very easy to hear.
Since I do. Not have experience with other headphones at this price point you have to take that into account with this report.
There are many reviews of these cans from regular people and "pros" that overwhelmingly rate these at 9 or 10. I agree with those reviews.
The one thing I disagree with is needing an "audiophile quality" amp to power these headphones.
They work fine with a Pioneer VSX 23 AVR, iPad, and Galaxy SII phone (the phone had to be at max volume and got hot).
 

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Nice review and great follow-ups on the other "review".

Looking forward to the other headphones to be reviewed on the list. Will kepp checking the main section for updates.

Thanks as always HTS!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
chashint:

Thanks for the feedback, I am really glad you are pleased with your purchase. There are probably some very nice, well-meaning audiophiles out there who are cringing that you didn't buy a $200 amplifier for your HD 600s, bless their hearts, but the important thing is that you are happy.

Don't hesitate to shout out again if there is anything more we can do to help.
 

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After living with the 600's for a month, and listening to them almost every day I am still completely satisfied.
Listening to Judas Priest off the iPad right now.
Anyone that has not read the review should check it out.
 

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The one thing I disagree with is needing an "audiophile quality" amp to power these headphones.
Use them with an audiophile quality amp and you might change your mind! You're only hearing part of what they can do. But I should be quiet because I don't want to lead you down that slippery slope of headphone perfectionism. It gets a little pricey! :D

Hope you are still enjoying them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Use them with an audiophile quality amp and you might change your mind! You're only hearing part of what they can do. But I should be quiet because I don't want to lead you down that slippery slope of headphone perfectionism. It gets a little pricey! :D

Hope you are still enjoying them!
Slippery slope is right! And once you start sliding down it, there is no going back!
 

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When I decided to get new headphones the primary reason was to improve my comfort since I had started using them a lot.
The primary requirement for sound quality was to not go backwards from the Creative Labs headphones I was using. I think the comfort and SQ could have been accomplished for quite a bit less coin.
While I am not made out of money, I am willing to spend more than the minimum if I deem it worthwhile.
These headphones were on the do not consider list until the HTS review because everything I had read previously, indicated an amplifier is 'required' for these headphones and that is simply not true.
I am still very grateful the review was done the way it was.
Since several sources were used to directly drive the headphones for the review it gave me confidence to take the leap and I am very glad I did.
When it comes to outboard amps if a person wants one they should get it, and if there is a perceived SQ improvement that is great.
I just do not think it should be suggested that an outboard amp is required to make these headphones a worthwhile purchase.
 
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