Music is a very personal thing, even more than movies, and games for that matter. People can be really particular about their kind of music and more importantly, how natural it sounds to them. There are a few companies that do this really - one of the popular names in the market, undoubtedly has to be Sennheiser. The Sennheiser HD650 has long been one of the most recognized headphones around the world. We had to review it, even if it wasn’t one of the newest headphones on the scene. The Sennheiser HD650 is good seven years old now. Let’s look at what makes it so legendary.
The Sennheiser is in no way glamorous, in terms of its shape and finish. There are no exotic materials used in the frame or on the cans themselves. Sure, the thick dual-wire cables give away that the HD650 is meant for greater things than showing off. It’s long, strong and split into two separate cans. There’s enough space, so you aren’t choking by the V-shape cabling. The 6.3mm TRS connector is gold-plated, there’s also a convertor patch cable that lets you connect to sources using a 3.5mm jack. Gold-plated connectors aren’t anything new and can be found on almost every headphone that’s priced above the Rs. 2,000 mark or so.
The only clear branding, on the large, sturdy headband
The headphones are supported by a flat, metal band that takes the weight of the entire set-up above your head. There’s a padding of foam on the top, neatly shaped to distribute the weight evenly. The HD650 headphones are an expensive pair, so the last thing you want is to have customers complain about how uncomfortable these headphones are. We’ll come back to the comfort a little later. The rest of the headphones are mostly plastic with the exception of the grill, facing the outsides. Yes, the HD650 are an open headphones and there’s a dense metal mesh protecting the insides of the headphones.
The cans are flexible - the hinge lets them shift inward, outward and a little sideways, too. That bundled with the foam makes them easy to fit almost anyone. The design and shape of the cans are elongated, not circular, in order to better fit the shape of the human ear. There’s simple foam, not any kind of exotic leather or velvet to keep your ears warm. The quality of the foam is good, it’s hard enough not to tear and fall apart after a few months, but also smooth and soft enough to enclose your ears snugly. The flat surface on the ears don’t touch the hard plastic, either. There’s a thin layer of softer foam that keeps a comfortable distance between your ears and the drivers.
The features section of our reviews are written to explain the specifications of the product, while talking a bit about its functionality. In the case of the Sennheiser HD650, the numbers by themselves are impressive. Like other headphone and speaker manufacturers boast of numbers, explaining frequency range and power output and so on. The HD650’s have a frequency range that extends from 10Hz to 39,500Hz , as specified by Sennheiser. That’s way better than any headphone we’ve reviewed and most speakers don’t stand claim to such hardware either. Human ears can’t pick up very low frequencies, but we decided to put it to the test, by setting a frequency sweep from 10Hz to 30Hz. Even at 10Hz, there’s a clear movement of air around your ears that can be felt and it only grows stronger when you approach the 30Hz.
Separate connects for each driver
Moving on to the impedance, that’s where the downside to owning such high-end headphones comes into picture. Sennheiser rates the headphones at 300 Ohms - the average everyday-usage headphone has an impedance of 32 Ohms. This kind of impedance has more driving power than the typical PMP, laptop or PC. The HD650s need to be driven by a powerful amplifier of some sort. Sound cards, such as the ASUS Xonar STX should do the job just fine. There are a whole bunch of smaller brands selling headphone amplifiers and DACs that are available on popular Indian technology forums. This is a growing trend - one should really research on this before going out and making this purchase.
Updated 19 May, 2013, 1:20 pm IST
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