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Having owned the 598 for several years, and 280's, 212, and 201's before that, I was skeptical about upgrading to more premium set of cans. I had invested in a balanced cord for the 598's for use with my PonoPlayer and owned premium sound card. There's nothing wrong with the 598's. In fact, i use them now as dedicated gaming headphones. But the moment i tried the 650's, i knew I was in a different league.
The build quality is a huge step up from the 598's. The clamp force alone makes them feel secure and rugged. The 598's tended to slip out of my head when laying down and didnt compress the ears nearly enough to obtain the presence and immersion of the 650's. The cushioning has been improved dramatically. In fact, just now i looked around my desk for a glimpse of the 650's, having forgotten that I was still wearing them.
The sound quality is phenomenal. If you've never listened to music on high-end speakers, you will be blown away. I am not much of an experienced audiophile, but I have invested a good amount of my money into higher quality sound. My most recent home setup was comprised of a pair Polk Audio Monitor 70 speakers, biwired into a 200watt per channel receiver. The experience of first listening to high-res, uncompressed music on the Polks nearly eight years ago is comparable to throwing on the 650's, even after years of delving into more premium sound. Having an intimate set of speakers in your head that 's comfortable to wear all day long is truly a magical experience. I don't think i would have bought this pair at anything above $250, but that's not because the sound doesn't warrant them. I was simply to skeptical to invest further into the rapidly narrowing ceiling that is premium sound.
At $200, Massdrop accomplishes a miracle. Nothing about this version of the 650's feels like the company cut corners or tacked on too much on an excellent piece of hardware. In fact, other than the Massdrop logo on the inside of the head-brace, the headphones look completely manufacture stock. The hard-box packaging it showed up in was very nearly majestic. I have to wonder how these folks are breaking a profit. However they're doing, Massdrop has an awesome winner with the 650's. Well worth the price tag. If they released 700 or 800 series at a discount, I might consider chasing that ceiling again.