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I recently had a chance to compare my Sennheiser HD600 headphones to the newer HD650 set owned by a family member. Understanding the HD650 to be an updated, improved design over the HD600, I was expecting the HD650 to win the match.

Imagine my surprise to find that the highest frequency range, represented very nicely and smoothly by the HD600, was MISSING on the HD650. The HD650 sounded dull compared to the HD600, a big disappointment. Any other subtle improvements that might have been present in the HD650 - there were no obvious ones, nothing else that jumped out at me - were totally lost on me. The HD600 is NOT a bright headphone, in fact is somewhat laid back compared to my flatter AKG K701 set. Why Sennheiser would want to chop off the high end of the oh-so-smooth HD600 and think of it as an improvement is a mystery to me.

Has anyone else directly compared the two models? What do other headphone users think of that change? Are there other improvements in the HD650 that I overlooked?
 

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I have not compared them.
When I was shopping I read everything I could find and chose the 600's because the 650's did not clearly separate themselves from the 600's in the reviews.
Price certainly played a factor in the decision too.
I love the 600's and consider them to be a home run for me.
Like almost everyone else though I do wonder how much better the higher models sound.
Very difficult to find a retailer with $$+ headphones on display for audition.

Thanks for posting your experience with the 650's.
 

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Last I checked, the general consensus was that it's more like a sidegrade compared to the 600. I'm not sure how interpretable frequency response graphs are for headphones (especially in the treble range), but you can compare the two headphones using Headroom's build a graph page.

I own the 600s and like them, although I haven't heard the 650 personally. I do tend to use a pair of Ultrasone Pro 750 more often because of it's greater bass extension and its closed nature, but they do have their own weaknesses as well.
 

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It depends on the HD650 you listened to whether it is an older model or a newer one.
The newer one (with white drivers) gas different pads and is brighter sounding.

I favoured the HD650 when auditioning as it had lower distortion in female voices.
This is backed up by measurements.

The HD600 is a lot 'flatter' than the K701 which peaks in the treble (the HD600 does not) and is rolled off in the lows and has higher distortion.

When you use the HD650 EQ'ed it is unrivalled and just a hair better than EQ'ed HD600. The K701 cannot be properly EQ'ed, there is too much technically wrong with it.

So in the end... yes the HD650 is a step up, just not for everyone, in fact a LOT of people prefer the HD600 over the HD650.
 

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Thank you for the detailed background info. Interesting that design changes can occur to a model without any indication or model number change. They say it can happen without warning, but it would seem nice that they would let us know somehow.

Sennheiser usually has reps in the headgear room at RMAF (in Denver in 3 weeks). I hope to spend some time with them this year, will see what else they have to say about the relationship between the HD 600 and HD 650 models.
 

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Thank you for the detailed background info. Interesting that design changes can occur to a model without any indication or model number change. They say it can happen without warning, but it would seem nice that they would let us know somehow.
A lot of brands have made changes over the years be it 'improvements' or simply because of the usage of other materials (cost ?)
The ATH-M50 has undergone some changes around 2012 and not to mention the HD800 that has been quietly revised.
The HD600 also had some changes over the years by the way.

It seems I can't post linkies to pictures (yet, due to post count) so need to get my post count up as I have some interesting info to link to.
 

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Sennheiser usually has reps in the headgear room at RMAF (in Denver in 3 weeks). I hope to spend some time with them this year, will see what else they have to say about the relationship between the HD 600 and HD 650 models.
It is quite possible reps don't know what happened to the products over the years or aren't allowed to talk about this officially.
Of course its entirely possible they are willing to share this info as well...

Need one more post to be able to 'bypass' the anti-spammers watchdog.
 

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Needless to say though that both the HD600 and HD650 are great headphones and the HD600 are 'flatter' and the HD650 more 'speaker like/warmer' but also appears to have lower distortion in voices as the FR around 2-3kHz in the HD600 has a slight lift where the HD650 does not.
Rumours are they share the same drivers though (with HD580 as well).

post count is now 5 so hope to post linkies in the next post.
 

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Thank you for the detailed background info. Interesting that design changes can occur to a model without any indication or model number change. They say it can happen without warning, but it would seem nice that they would let us know somehow.
Some info about the pad changes to HD650 is found here:
http://sonove.angry.jp/HD650_Pad_effect.html

I use the HD650 with EQ and got it from this:
http://diyaudioheaven.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/hd650.png?w=990 (embedding pics isn't working as expected)

to this:

http://diyaudioheaven.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/hd650-kameleon.png?w=1016

and now it doesn't sound dark and still has lower distortion than HD600.
It should be noted that these are early production (black driver) HD650's
I love it to death and is the only headphone that is easy to get ruler flat and have low distortion.
 
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