The Sennheiser HD600 hardly have to be introduced. They are most likely the most well-known headphones released before 20 years. Following a Sennheiser HD560 Ovation, the German brand released the HD580 in 1993, which includes formed the foundation for all open-back models developing after, including HD580 Jubilee (1995), HD600 (1997), HD650 (2003), HD6XX (2016) and HD660S (2017).
The HD600 are state-of-the-art headphones with high sound quality and exceptional value, among almost all of the offerings in today’s time.
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»Extremely natural and neutral response
»Very reliable and simple to repair
»Bass extension is a lttle bit light
»Sometimes more width is appreciated
Built & Style
Some will find the look of them dated and similar to the nineties as a result of the blue « marble effect » within the plastic, but I actually see them pretty. In all honesty, aesthetics is generally not really a priority for me so far as headphones are worried. However, some persons like owning nice-looking gear and I totally understand them.
The Sennheiser HD600 are mostly manufactured from plastic, but it includes a high-quality plastic believe that is more premium in the hands than that of the competitors, including the AKG K701 or the Beyerdynamic DT880. The construction is quite solid, especially the metal articulation between your headband assembly and the ear cups.
The driver’s enclosures are protected by external grills, that can be easily twisted if some pressure is applied; hopefully, they are removable and repairable. The ear pads are constructed of high-quality velour, nonetheless they will certainly degrade after some years of powerful use.
The stock cables are, however, somewhat too cheap for a $300 pair. The connectors are too thin and fragile, and may swiftly become defective. The Sennheiser HD650 has a better quality cable. Like all Sennheiser headphones in the HD580/600/650 line, all cables are compatible.
Connectors of the HD650 cable
Among the strongest points of the model is its durability. Each part is replaceable and will be easily aquired online. The HD600 are made from simple components and will go longer. The drivers are incredibly reliable aswell. The oldest pairs are actually around twenty years in age but still work perfectly. My very own HD600 can be an early version from 2001 and I never really had to displace anything, except the ear pads (twice) and the cables (I purchased the cables from the HD650 because they are thicker and more reliable).
This is a fruitful article about different variants of HD600/HD650. Older types of HD600/HD650 have a black dampening foam within the driver (visible behind the external grills), whereas newer models have a grey cover. I wasn’t in a position to find the specific date of the change of color and material, nonetheless it was probably made somewhere within 2007-2009. This picture illustrates it well.
I rank the HD600 as the summit of comfort among over-ear headphones, with simply a few other models including the DT880 or K501. To put it simply, I can put them on without break.
Left: slightly used pads; right: three-year-old pads
I battle to find cozier ear pads compared to the HD600. The oval condition fits well of all ears and the inner foam is quite plush (around 2.5 mm). With large ears, the non-round condition would be somewhat tighter. The velour is a delight for lengthy sessions, and much more during summer.
Headband & Weight Distribution
At 270g, they are on the lighter side of open over-ear headphones, which often weigh around 300 to 400g. The lightweight is nicely distributed through all of the construction, with a strong headband and its own 4 four bits of very thick foam (1.5 cm). With the passing of years, this foam will eventually lose its thickness and sponginess, and can eventually require replacement.
The Sennheiser HD600 has probably the most natural and transparent presentations I’ve ever heard within my sound journey!
They have an capability to sound effortless, whilst keeping an extremely balanced tone. I find the HD600 to be very near neutral, with a coherence from the bass up to the treble.
You will find a light, but nonetheless present midbass bump around 100 Hz accompanied by a progressive roll off below 80 Hz. Modern music that is recorded with focus on the bass will sound fine with the HD600; however, of all other tracks they will surely sound bass-light or at least slightly under average regarding bass quality in comparison with recent headphones.
Going back to the entire year of their release (1997), they definitely offered a good impact when compared to competition in those days. AKG K501 or Sony CD3000 don’t carry the same midbass weight.
The caliber of the bass is decent: the distortion is barely audible, but sometimes the midbass and upper bass light boosts leave the feeling of muddiness as opposed to the clean linear bass of a planar pair.
The midrange is quite engaging and slightly forward. Each time I switch to the HD600 after having spent time with another pair, I am immediately enamored by their character and tonality. However, as time passes I have began to less appreciate some genres with high density in the upper-mids region (and lower-treble) – around 3-5 kHz. The HD600 could be somewhat piercing and too elevated for the reason that region.
Vocals and string instruments are incredibly nice, and the upper-midrange emphasis is compensated by a tiny lower-midrange emphasis around 100-400hz. The mids sound full with not the single tone fault, and without the graininess.
HD600’s highs are great; well calibrated and without sibilances. They extend very far. The “Sennheiser veil” is obviously a myth at present (although I possibly could understand persons who may find the HD650 somewhat veiled given that they have reduced highs).
The lower-treble is obviously smooth for the sake of our ears, even while they have sufficient energy, above 9 kHz, to avoid them from sounding too muted or lacking air.
Dynamics & Soundstage
The Sennheiser HD600 have the correct soundstage and detail retrieval is among the finest I’ve heard from a sub-300€ couple of headphones when well-amped. The presentation is quite engaging and somehow frontal along with open. Still, I’d not call them laid-back sounding. However, on very mid-centric music, their qualities and occurrence in the mids could make them sound somewhat mist over.
Given their 300 Ohm impedance, they scale well with higher-end amplification and especially OTL amplifiers, including the Bottlehead Crack. When connected to a smartphone, the bass will be very loose and the dynamics more compressed than usual, making them sound a lttle bit dull.
Mid-fi Headphones Comparisons
The AKG is a lttle bit more analytical with less musical charm, but a much wider and open presentation. The bass impact is slightly lean and there is obviously too much lower-treble for me personally to appreciate them as time passes.
The K712 are solid mid-fi headphones with a decent sound tone. They give a more technical bass (a little more punch and better extension) while sounding more open and with extra treble. I’ve never been a fan of their midrange; it sometimes sounds artificial and in addition lacks natural quality.
The AD900X sound very open and airy, but lack bass impact and the midrange always sounded weird for me. I could recommend them for gaming, but as an only couple of headphones with a major use for music – a major no!
These German-make will be the best analytical sounding mid-fi headphones I’ve run into. They sound somewhat wider compared to the HD600, with a slightly tighter bass but a lot more mid-treble and having a drier midrange. I’ve never appreciated them much for pure music- listening sessions.
The Hifiman HE-400i sound very good and so are to this day among the rare mid-fi offerings that I’ve really liked sound-wise. They have a far greater bass quality compared to the HD600. They have significantly more treble energy and a slightly less present midrange, but without the odd peak or dips so far as I’ve heard.
Philips Fidelio x2
The X2 are much not the same as the others; they have a fairly fun profile with a solid bass and quite somewhat of energy in the treble. The midrange feels distant and recessed, plus they have a broad image. They are actually an excellent complement to the HD600.
The HD650 sound like the HD600, except a bigger boost in the mid / upper-bass and less energy above 2 kHz. The treble is rolled off so persons looking for sparkle and air will be somewhat disappointed. They are simply just a warmer variant of the HD600 with an excellent, smooth, and romantic tone.
The Sennheiser HD600 continues to be, to this day, the very best sounding all-rounder headphones I’ve tried under $300.
They have a neutral sound profile, without having to be too analytical. They are really comfortable, simple to repair and maintain, rather than so hard to operate a vehicle.
They are genre-master and would only be average on tracks with loudness in the sub-bass. For the others, I can’t stop recommending them. The overall trend of highly priced new headphones makes them a lot more appealing, much more when compared to a few years ago. Choose them; enjoy for some time!