Large pads to snugly fit your head
The Sennheiser HD650 is a joy to wear, unlike some of the other headphones that require a lot of adjustments to the band extension and the position of the cans, the HD650 fits naturally on everyone’s head. At first, the lower half of the can can apply a bit of pressure under the ear, making you feel a little light headed, but some tweaks and you get over it. The ears tend to make contact with the inner foam lining, but it doesn’t hurt like it does, with some other headphones.
So far, the HD650 has been all about its sober look and its functional design. Performance is where the HD650 headphones need to shine, to justify the price that you’re expected to shell out for these cans. The set-up we used to review them also had to be top notch, keeping in mind of course, the requirements for a high-end headphones, such as this. We used the ASUS Xonar Essence One USB DAC-amplifier, something we had reviewed a while back. We used FLAC audio files, which are lossless and offer the best quality audio off a PC. We had the system set up with foobar2000 and the WASAPI output plug-in.
The first things you notice about the HD650 is that they’re pretty well balanced. The tone isn’t all over the place and there’s close to no coloration to the sound, either. Grados for example, are considered to be very warm sounding headphones. They are slightly inclined towards the mids and they have a well rounded sound to it. The HD650 is in a different direction - more shrill, more crystal clear, but without being too high on the high frequency range.
Large drivers hidden behind the mesh
Of course, everytime I receive a new pair of headphones, I need to run through my collection of tracks that span a variety of genres, trying to discover nuances that I haven’t noticed before. And at that, the HD650, along with the Xonar Essence One opens up an entire world of these things that you’ve never heard before. There’s an incredible amount of detail, all across the spectrum that you slowly come to notice as the seconds pass by - it’s pretty surreal. Of course, some part of it is due to the fact that you’re wearing an expensive pair of ear-gear.
Let’s take for example, Eric Clapton’s Layla played live. It’s primarily an acoustic track. There’s a very natural sound to it that’s different than any studio recording. You hear people clapping and cheering in the background. The coarseness of Clapton’s voice, without too much of audio treatment is there. Sound separation also is very visible, with the pianos specifically playing off the left channel - there’s no mixing, distortion or anything of that sort. It’s something that’s present in mainstream alternative rock songs, too. Most of them use guitars with overdrive, a clean sounding bass and a vocalist.
Metal tracks are often more complicated, especially the newer bands that use a variety of instruments in additional to the existing guitar, bass and drums. Between The Buried and Me (or BTBAM) has a vocalist who plays the synthesizer. Tracks such as White Walls have almost all the instruments playing together. There are two guitarists, a bassist, a synthesizer, vocals and a bass drum, all of which are playing together at some parts of the track. The HD650 does a tremendous job of handling all of these instruments together, doing justice to each of them. It’s easy to pick out instruments from this mix, all thanks to the neatly isolation of tracks. For example, the double bass doesn’t eat into the guitars and bass guitar.
Simple design, functional and great performance
Insomnium’s Down with the Sun is another similar track with loads of high-gain guitar setups and double bass guitaring playing through the song. There are waves of sounds coming from the cymbals and the crash from the drum kit, all of it that is clear to hear. There’s no loss to detail at higher volumes or when the song peaks. When things slow down, and there’s even fine details, such as the feedback off the speakers that can be heard with great clarity.
Updated 18 May, 2013, 1:16 pm IST
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