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 Sennheiser HD650 - $449.95

 HD650 - Audiophile Open Back Dynamic Hi-Fi Professional Over Ear Headphones
Sennheiser HD650
Sennheiser HD650
HD650 - Audiophile Open Back Dynamic Hi-Fi Professional Over Ear Headphones - HD650
HD650 - Audiophile Open Back Dynamic Hi-Fi Professional Over Ear Headphones - HD650

Sennheiser HD650

HD650 - Audiophile Open Back Dynamic Hi-Fi Professional Over Ear Headphones

Item# HD650
Price: $449.95
Average Review: 5 / 5 Stars Click here to read all reviews!
  • Product Details
  • Manufacturer Info
  • Expert Reviews
 Product Specifications
Cable Length:
Connector Type:
1/8" (3.5mm) & 1/4" (6.3mm)
Frequency Range:
10 Hz to 40 kHz
Headphone Fit:
Over Ear
Headphone Type:
Audiophile, Open Back, Studio
300 ohms
Usually Ships Within:
1-2 Business Days
Black, Silver/Gray
2 Year

General Description

The audiophile HD 650 is the ultimate in open, dynamic headphone design. Developed from the award-winning HD 600, the HD 650s feature improved materials for even better sound reproduction. They captivate the listener with their expressiveness and emotion while maintaining absolute precision and lifelike reproduction. Enjoy sound in perfection!


  • Systems with narrow tolerances ( ? 1 dB), hand-picked in pairs
  • Highly optimised magnet systems for minimum harmonic and intermodulation distortion
  • High-quality titanium/silver finish
  • A specially developed damping element, made from fine acoustic metal mesh, ensures a precise damping over the entire diaphragm surface, highly constant in all climates.
  • Specially modulated connecting cable (detachable) made from highly conductive OFC copper, Kevlar-reinforced, with very low handling noise, i.e. low structure-borne sound sensitivity
  • Extremely lightweight aluminium voice coils ensure excellent transient response
  • Gold plated 1/4" jack plug with adaptor lead to 3.5 mm jack plug
  • 2-year warranty


Nominal impedance 300 Ohms
Contact pressure ca. 2,5 N
Weight w/o cable ca. 260g
Jack plug 6,3/3,5 mm stereo
Transducer principle (Headphones) dynamic, open
Ear coupling circumaural
Cable length 3 m
Frequency response (headphones) 10 - 39500 Hz
Sound pressure level (SPL) 103 dB
THD, total harmonic distortion 0,05 %

For measurements and details of this headphone's performance, please feel free to download this informative data sheet, generously supplied by our friends at innerfidelity.com.  This download provides a series of graphs detailing the headphone's unique frequency response, isolation ability, impedance and phase characteristics, Total Harmonic Distortion characteristics as well as other headphone-specific measurements. 

Superb sound without compromise.

Our headphones have been created with just one objective in mind - to deliver sublime sound with no compromise. For more than 60 years the name Sennheiser has stood for the highest quality products across all areas of sound recording, transmission and reproduction. We create the greatest and most exciting sound experience for people worldwide – whether at home or out and about; on stage or behind the DJ console; in a museum or in a concert hall.

Expert In House Review - David Solomon


Expert review by David Solomon

Sennheiser's HD650 is one of the purest sounding headphones I have ever heard. While quite a few offerings trump the HD650s in terms of detail retrieval, soundstage and instrument placement – very few headphones sound as seductively beautiful as the HD650. For this reason, I often find myself returning to the HD650 even though newer flagships are stronger in specific areas.

The HD650 was an evolution of the HD600, a headphone which was already an evolution of another headphone – the HD580. Experienced headphone audiophiles like to debate which of these three headphones is the superior one. It is generally agreed however that this trilogy was comprised of Sennheiser's three finest dynamic transducer headphones until the release of their HD800 in 2009. Even today, there are plenty of headphone enthusiasts whom prefer the warm lush tone of the HD650 to the more neutral / analytical tone of the HD800. For me, it is a matter of which amp I am using and which music I am listening to. The HD650 are much less picky when it comes to amplification. For relatively little money, you can get a terrific sound out of the HD650. With the HD800, I recommend tubes when possible, and a good tube amp at that. When compared with the HD800, the HD650 sounds thicker. The soundstage is also much narrower than that of the HD800. For this reason, I still prefer the HD650 for rock music more than the HD800. When it comes to classical, I would take the HD800. What I am really getting at here is that for some listeners, the HD650 is still going to be among the best headphones on the planet, if not the best. It is that gorgeous sounding – I am willing to make such an assertion.

I will also mention that for me the HD650 is perhaps my favorite of the trilogy mentioned previously (HD580 / HD600 / HD650) because it is the most flavored and it is a flavor I really like. The HD600 and HD580 are more neutral by comparison, but for me, lack a certain magic that the HD650 has. The HD600 however is one of the most neutral headphones on the market and I can certainly understand if someone preferred it to the HD650. The HD580 has been long discontinued by the manufacturer.


One thing Sennheiser does better than anyone else, in my opinion, is ear cushions. I love the earpads on the HD650 – the shape; the feel; the removability. Ovals fit the human ear better than circles in my opinion. It ensures that the ear will not have a pad resting on it. One criticism I have heard in the past is that the pads are so large that they can exert some pressure on the jaw. This has never been the case with me, but I think it is worth mentioning. The outer grills are removable as well – should you dent them or wish to replace them in the future, the manufacturer makes it easy! It is worth mentioning here that the headphone itself is open-back – the grills are vented to allow sound in and out of the headphone. No sound isolation here.

The cable is removable too! This way you can easily use an aftermarket cable should you get the urge to upgrade your system. The cable itself is a Y-split design, approximately 3 meters and terminates to a ¼" plug. Sennheiser includes a very nice 1/4 " to 3.5 mm adapter. This adapter is designed as a small extension cable in order to not put stress on the headphone minijack you plug it into. The HD650 ships in a hard cardboard box with a secure foam interlay. Outside of this box is a thin ridged cardboard sleeve.


When I think about the sound that the HD650 brings to my ears, a few words come to mind: Beautiful; Smooth; Sultry; Warm; Dark. Of course, I state these attributes with a positive implication, but if I had any criticism of the sound at all it would be perhaps that the sound is simply too beautiful, too smooth, and in the process, not as revealing as some other headphones. Still, when listening to something so pure sounding as the HD650, it is hard to imagine a better sounding headphone.


  • The sound is as beautiful as it is transparent
  • Voices have great presence and depth
  • Bass is punchy without any bloat
  • Extremely forgiving with bad quality recordings
  • Non-fatiguing for long listening sessions
  • Sounds great with most genres (Rock, Jazz, Hip Hop and even Classical)


  • The headphones do not render upper harmonics as forwardly as some other headphones and this leads to what some have called a slightly veiled sound
  • The soundstage and instrument placement abilities are bested by other offerings

To get the most out of the HD650 you will need to use an amplifier. I highly recommend the SPL Auditor. At its price, I have heard no better amp for the HD650. I also particularly like the way the HD650 sounds in balanced configuration. Balancing the HD650 will require you buying an aftermarket cable that terminates to dual 3-pin XLR or 4-pin XLR and then you will also need to plug it into an amp which has balanced outputs. Finally you will need to have a source that connects to your amplifier in balanced mode. This can be rather expensive!

Listening to Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" I am reminded by how impactful the sound of the HD650 is. Drums sound so full and have so much slam; the round tone of the bass is forward without interfering with the vocal at all. The cymbals have a lot of presence without being particularly piercing or fatiguing. In fact, I'd venture to say that the HD650 is among the least fatiguing audiophile-grade headphones in the industry.

Listening to Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", I am struck by the sheer openness and seductiveness of the sound. With the HD650, I almost completely forget that there are headphones on my head. When John Handy's tenor solo began, I felt like I was in Columbia Studios 1959, hearing it live as it was played just before me. For me, the HD650 is among the finest choices for jazz. The music sounds alive! It is with jazz in particular that I feel the HD650 excels over the HD600.

Listening to Mahler's Symphony No. 2 as performed by Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, I feel the sound is a tad masked and congested. The instruments do not sound as though they are spread out across a stage. Strings sound a bit lush and lacking in realism. Still the overall tone is extremely compelling. The HD650 are not my preference with classical, but they certainly do not sound badly matched.


The HD650s have been around for nearly a decade. In this time, several manufacturers including Sennheiser have released new headphones which were their attempt at raising the bar. While the bar has certainly been raised, the HD650 still has a place in a state-of-the-art headphone set up. In my opinion, there is still reason to call the HD650 the world's most beautiful sounding headphone.


Sound Quality 10
Design & Features 9.5
Comfort 9.5
Value 9.5
AV-Guide Review - Chris Martens

September 7th, 2008 -- by Chris Martens

Source: Playback

The HD 650 has been Sennheiser's flagship audiophile headphone for several years now, but it is only recently that the firm decided to buck contemporary pricing trends to reduce the product's list price from around $600 to $500. Sennheiser has been building very high-performance open-back headphones for years, so in a sense the HD 650 is an evolutionary design that leverages insights and know-how gleaned from the classic HD 580 and the critically acclaimed HD 600. Even so, Sennheiser says the HD 650 breaks new ground by offering a sound that "captivates your senses where you used to be a mere observer" and that "allows total immersion in an ocean of music," and I would agree.


  • Drivers matched to within ± 1 dB.
  • Driver magnet structures optimized for low distortion.
  • Acoustic metal mesh damping elements help control the entire surface of the driver diaphragm.
  • Low mass aluminum voice coils promote faster transient response
  • 'phones come with a detachable, Kevlar-reinforced connecting cord with oxygen-free copper connectors.


  • Tasteful, flip-open presentation case.
  • ¼"-inch-to-mini-jack adapter with gold-plated jacks

Sonic Character

When you first put on the HD 650s you might feel a little like Indiana Jones discovering lost treasure because the Sennheisers manage to dig up delicate, extremely low-level textural and transient details that most other 'phones simply miss. Tonal balance is almost perfectly neutral and dynamics are highly expressive and—where appropriate—explosive. If there's any downside to this headphone, it might be a tendency for upper mids and especially highs to sound analytical at times, meaning the HD 650s occasionally expose rough edges in records that other 'phones would probably gloss over.

Musical Examples

As you might expect, the HD 650 prove particularly rewarding when listening to well-recorded material that's rich in textural detail. A perfect example would be Holly Cole's performance of the Tom Waits song "Take Me Home" from Temptation [Metro Blue]. The track opens with Cole softly whispering "here we go" to her sidemen before the music begins—a detail the HD 650s rendered with exceptional clarity, then expands, and then begins to unfold as bassist David Piltch and pianist Aaron Davis join in. The acoustic bass is recorded at high levels that can be tough to handle, but the HD 650s kept the low end perfectly but powerfully under control. What really floored me, though, was the way the Sennheisers nailed the subtlest of inflections in Cole's voice, making the whole track come alive in the process. The Sennheisers consistently provided an up-close-and-personal view of the music.

Sometimes, though, this means getting more detail than you bargained for. On "You Were Always There" from Lyle Lovett's My Baby Don't Tolerate [Lost Highway], for example, the HD 650s reveal that both Lovett's voice and Russ Kunkel's cymbals are so closely mic'd that their sound can momentarily become hard-edged and aggressive—problems that other 'phones won't always expose (probably because they can't). My point is that the HD 650s are sonic truth-tellers, at times almost to a fault.

Comfort Factor

At first I found the HD 650s squeezed the sides of my head much more firmly than other 'phones did, but after experimenting with the Sennheiser's sliding earpiece arms, I eventually found a position that was more relaxed, yet not overly loose. Hint: if the HD 650s grip your head too firmly, try lowering the earpieces relative to the headband.

Bottom Line

The HD 650 must be considered one of the benchmark products— if not the outright "gold standard"—in it price class, because it does all things well while exhibiting few if any weaknesses. While there are a handful of 'phones that can perhaps outperform the Sennheisers in one or two areas, few if any offer a more balanced and refined set of sonic virtues overall. Indeed, the HD 650's only "shortcoming"—if you can call it that—is a tendency to sound almost hyper-revealing at times, owing to its accurate but slightly analytical-sounding highs. But it's better to have too much clarity than not enough, right?


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