"One of the very best can designs EVER, at ANY price."4.5 starson by make_or_break
Pros: Superb detail and imaging, superior bass response when compared to Senn's prior flagship HD600, which itself is no slouch of a design.
Cons: Deserves better-sounding cables; as with all open-air designs, plenty of noise leaking, both in and outbound.
Summary: (CNET: ill-suited for an iPod? That goes without saying. These are not designed for use with portable devices, at least not without a seriously powered headphone amp. The HD650's impedance is totally wrong for such an application. I swear with too many of you tech-trend types it's as if music and high fidelity never existed prior to the iPod and/or compressed digital audio. You really DO NEED to reexamine your viewpoints and perspectives.)
The Senn HD650 is perfectly suited for any stereo hi-fi setup that has a high impedance headphone jack (which is most units). As mentioned above, if a headphone amp is in your inventory, it'll work fine with an iPod or Zen as well. For full-sized cans, the HD650 is comfortable beyond reproach; I encounter little or no fatigue when using my set during extended listening sessions. They work extremely well with all musical types I've used them with, providing precise and delicate detail coupled with an expansive soundstage. Whether alt-country, grunge rock or baroque classical, and pretty much everything else in between, these cans are so sweet-sounding and oh-so-flexible that by a large margin I'd say these are as good as they come, ESPECIALLY for the money.
CNET is correct in saying that the HD650 do like power; even with most normal home audio gear they still benefit from a proper headphone amplifier that can provide the sort of power that really make the HD650 drivers sing (few home components provide the sort of amplification to the built-in headphone jack that cans like the HD650 craves).
If there's one glaring weakness with the HD650, it's with the standard cable the unit comes with. Sennheiser in the past has claimed that the provided cable is precisely matched to the HD650. If that's the case, then there obviously differences in what they and I consider 'precise'. Aftermarket cables abound for the Senn HD580/600/650; excellent alternative examples are available from companies like Cardas and Moon Audio. The one cable set I personally prefer is the Equinox from Stefan Audio Art. It adds around $200 to the price of the HD650, but when connected to the flagship Senns...oh how it blows the standard HD650 away, even straight out the box (or zip-lock bag, as it were). And after about 100 hrs of burn-in...pure headphone heaven.
I can think of one or two two alternatives to the Sennheiser HD650 that I'd prefer purely from a sonic performance standpoint. But since this loudspeaker fan can't justify the price of admission for a pair of Stax SR-007 Omega II Earspeakers for those moments when I have to resort to using cans ($5750 retail list price with the matching 717 amp, last time I checked), the $320+$200 HD650/Equinox combo does the job very nicely indeed.
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