Last Updated on February 27, 2020 by Facundo
When first starting out on your home recording journey, one of the most important factors you have to take into account is budget, at least for me it was, and still is, a huge issue. So, I couldn’t just buy whatever gear I wanted.
One question came immediately to mind, should I buy studio monitors or headphones?
And yes, while mixing on monitors may be better most of the times, it’s also advisable to use Headphones to check the mix, plus you can also create really good sounding mixes while using ONLY headphones (read more on how to mix ONLY with headphones here).
I had to decide, sub-par monitors, or top-tier Headphones. So, I went with the Sennheiser HD650 Headphones. These aren’t exactly cheap, but you will never need another set of high-quality headphones.
So, why should you use them for mixing?
I honestly think that getting Headphones of this Quality is far better than using lower-tier monitors and even if you have great monitors you can still create amazing mixes while only using the Sennheiser HD650’s.
They are the best sounding Headphones I have ever tried! However, if you are interested in knowing if these are really for you, keep reading, because they do have some cons.
Note: These headphones might be great for Mixing and for listening to music while being in a quiet place, but since they are open back headphones, you will also hear every sound around you, plus everyone will be listening to your music as well.
Basically, they are designed to be listened to in a quiet room without any other sounds competing with them.
In this post I will be going over the features, design, sound quality, amplification, and the pros and cons of the Sennheiser HD650.
The Sennheiser HD650 Headphones are a bit old now, almost 15 years! But they are still considered one of the best, if not THE best headphones on that price range, and they even sound exactly as good or even better than other headphones of double the price range.
They are the successor of the Sennheiser 5HD80 and HD600, which also achieved the status as one of the best headphones amongst audiophiles.
As for the aesthetics side of the Sennheiser HD650, it will certainly not win any beauty contest. It has a glossy gray metal finish, the outside headband, the bales and the ear cups are plastic, while the inner headband is spring steel and the outside earcup grill is some sort of metal mesh, so it does not look flashy at all… it’s not a real head-turner!
But does it matter?…
They are not designed to be pretty, but rather to be effective at doing what they are supposed to do, which is sounding good… And they do achieve this quite well!
The build quality is very solid, as expected for Headphones at this price. As soon as you pick them up or put them on, you don’t get feeling of them being cheap, as if they were going to break soon. These should last you forever, in the right circumstances of course!
One cool thing about the Sennheiser HD650 is that they can be disassembled manually by you to its bare components, which you can buy directly from Sennheiser should you need to replace them.
That is something that I haven’t seen other companies do, at least yet.
It comes with a dual sided cable that is detachable and has pins for each side that you connect into the Headphones.
One thing I don’t like about this is that they NEED to be plugged in on each side, it would be much more comfortable to have just one cable on one of the sides.
The stock cables are decent enough, you probably won’t have any reason to change them, but if you wish to do so though, they have others available on the Sennheiser store. After reading a couple of reviews though, many peoples suggestion is to change the cables, that the sound quality improves dramatically.
I personally haven’t tried this since they sound absolutely fantastic to me.
One HUGE complaint I have though are the ear pads.
They should be made out of some denser material, or one that will not lose its form so quickly. I know that over time they will get worn down, but I feel that these collapse a bit prematurely.
You could always buy replacement ones, but they are actually quite expensive.
One more issue I have with the ear pads is that they are a bit narrow and not as deep as I’d like, they often times press down on the back of my ears… which after some time of wearing them, I can definitely notice.
This is actually all caused by the pressure generated by the Headband, which is a bit strong… After an hour or so of wearing them you might get a bit of a headache.
Luckily there’s a way to alleviate this;
You can simply stretch the headband a bit. Of course, you need to be careful enough as to not break it.
After reading many reviews on forums, of people complaining about the headband being too tight, I found that some folks would remove the padding and leave the Headphones over a shoebox overnight.
This helps stretch them out! Just remember to remove the padding, you wouldn’t want to put any more pressure on it, since it wears out quite fast.
The Headband is a nylon-type material and has plenty of padding. There is an indentation in the middle of the pad so you can rest the headphone on a stand and not dent the padding.
I know what you are thinking…
Why buy these Headphones after all I just described to you? And the answer, to me at least, is because of the next point.
I was lucky enough to be part of an Engineering Studio for a year some time ago, and I had the possibility to try a lot of different sets of Headphones and the reason I’m writing this post about the Sennheiser HD650 is because I found it to be my favorite one, even despite the couple of negative things I listed above.
Taking a look at the sound quality of the Sennheiser HD650;
The treble has a great extension with a slightly elevated top end. It’s present, yet very subtle. It’s still a bit less refined than on the HD600, but honestly after trying them both out for quite some time… I’d still stick with the HD650.
The mids are definitely where the Sennheiser HD650 shines. They sound intimate and forward from the lower to upper mid-range. After using them for a while and then switching to other headphones, I feel as if the mids got scooped, as if everything sounded a bit hollow.
When listening to male and female vocals, both sound equally strong, and instruments have a more natural timbre to them.
The bass is definitely an interesting part; it is responsible, along with the treble, for the HD650’s great mid-range.
The upper to mid bass notes are really enjoyable and present. In comparison to the AKG k240, which has a boosted bass, it won’t sound as groovy, but it definitely sounds more natural which is a huge plus for mixing in my opinion.
The sub bass is the HD650’s only “weak point”, after the lower mids it gets rolled of a bit. This would only affect you if you are listening to stuff that has heavy drumming, like the Japanese Taiko drums. Aside from that, I think they are absolutely astonishing.
I honestly feel like the Sennheiser HD650 are the best headphones you can get for the price.
The Sennheiser 650HD are Headphones that prefer a powerful yet somewhat lush amplifier.
Since it has an Impedance of 300 ohms, you won’t be able to drive them with simply any amplifier.
Connecting them to your smartphone will definitely not be a good option. Not only will you not get the volume you desire but also the sound quality will simply not be there.
Check the specs of the Audio Interface you own and see if it can handle a 300 ohms Headphone, if it can’t you can always buy another amp to enhance the signal. But it will be necessary, otherwise why get the best sounding Headphones if you can’t get the to sound the way they are supposed to?
If you need another amp, I’d recommend you check out the FiiO E10K Headphone Amplifier.
- Top-of-the-range open, dynamic hi-fi stereo headphones. Balanced and transparent sound.
- Systems with narrow tolerances (± 1 dB), hand-picked in pairs.
- High-quality titanium/silver finish.
- Specially developed acoustic silk for precise, uniform attenuation over the entire area
- Specially modulated connecting cable (detachable) made from highly conductive OFC copper, with very low handling noise, i.e. low structure-borne sound sensitivity (even though like stated earlier, you might want to change them, since according to many reviews this will improve the sound).
- Extremely lightweight aluminium voice coils ensure excellent transient response
- Can be directly connected to stationary hi-fi components of the highest quality, in particular SACD, DVD-A and CD players.
- Built-tough with a 2 YEAR warranty (Probably won’t need it, like I said they should last you forever).
Ok! Now to the actually boring part… which is still very important.
- Superb audio fidelity
- Great build quality
- You won’t get fatigued from using them
- 2-year Warranty
- High Impedance: Won’t run perfectly on any amp
- A bit too much clamping force on the headband
- The ear pads aren’t the best, they get worn down pretty quickly
Who would benefit from the Sennheiser HD650?
Whether you are just starting out, and you don’t have the budget for great monitors and Headphones, or you simply need some superb Headphones to have another listen to your new mixes, I think that you can’t go wrong with these.
You can do everything with them, from mixing to listening to music or even watching movies and playing games. It’s an easy recommendation since they are great, especially for the price.
Like I stated above, recommending the Sennheiser HD650 comes easy. They are one of the best, if not THE best Headphones I have ever tried, and also after reading lots of reviews online, the consensus seems to be that they are in fact top-tier.
Just remember that it’s not as easy as plugging them in and you’re done… If your Audio Interface hasn’t got a powerful enough amp, then you will need to buy the FiiO E10K Headphone Amplifier to get the most out of them.
You can check the specifications of you AI on their official website or simply by Googling the name of you AI plus Sennheiser HD650 should give you the answer.
Like I said, the Sennheiser HD650 Headphones are one of the best headphones you could get at this price point!
I Hope this information was useful to you! See you on the next one.