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Rhamnetin
167
May 28, 2018
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It's a Sennheiser HD 600, the build quality might just be a small step down but nothing major. Same exact sound, meaning it's on the smoother side of neutral, with a somewhat closed in sound stage. For reference, I have used this amp with a Chord Mojo DAC and two amps: Schiit Lyr 3 and Garage1217 Project Ember II, both with quality NOS tubes in them.
This headphone is excellent for chamber music, good for jazz and pop too I suppose (don't care for these genres), weak for rap, so-so for pretty much everything else. It's extremely overrated in all honesty (by that I mean also the HD 600 and HD 650), it is not the majestic all-around wonder that many would have you believe; if you want such a thing in a headphone, you have to spend a lot, the bare minimum being the ZMF Blackwood/Ori unless you also demand top tier classical music performance, in which case the bare minimum becomes the Stax SR-007A.
As I said, the HD 6XX is only particularly great for chamber music. I can't really enjoy it for anything else, granted I am used to much better, more expensive gear. But for $200 the HD 6XX is a good price. No other $200 headphone is particularly great for any genre, like this one is for chamber.
Note that there is unspoken treble harshness with this headphone. I think it can probably be negated with a REALLY nice tube amp like an Apex HiFi Audio Teton, but on 99% of amps you will encounter this harshness at times. Not all the time but it's there, and can be heard in certain female vocals sometimes. An artificial tonality that can be fatiguing.
This headphone's primary competition is Massdrop's own AKG K7xx, which I've owned, and the Beyerdynamic DT 880 which I have also owned, since these are three neutral sounding open back headphones in the same price range. The K7xx has the biggest sound stage of the three, HD 6XX the smallest. The K7xx is a bit more resolving than the DT 880, can't call it between it and the HD 6XX though. The HD 6XX is more "intimate" sounding than the other two. The K7xx is the easiest to drive which is a big bonus for budget headphones like these. It's a close call between these three... although my favorite $200 and below headphones personally is the Fostex T50RP MKIII. I primarily listen to rock and rap for reference.
This headphone is extremely amp picky, being 300 ohms and sounding dull out of plenty of good amps. The safest bet is an OTL tube amp, Massdrop often has such amps from Little Dot and Darkvoice. Better yet, you can get the Bottlehead Crack 1.1 for $200, $300 with the Speedball upgrade, and this amp murders most sub $1000 OTL tube amps since Bottlehead knows what they're doing more than most other tube headphone amp manufacturers.
May 28, 2018
exxr
15
May 30, 2018
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I have to say I agree with this overall.
For rap and rock the HD650 isn't that amazing. Plus the statement that you need good amp voltages with this about 15 Vrms seems to do the job just like your Lyr and Ember.
Though for indie pop and electronic it's excellent which is what I listen to mostly nowadays. The only thing is I am not sure about what you said with the female vocals, most everyone says they are sublime and I tend to agree (though I'm no seasoned audiophile).
May 30, 2018
Rhamnetin
167
Jun 1, 2018
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Perhaps it's an amp synergy issue I have. Female vocals can be slightly strident and harsh at times, but not always. Honestly this might not be noticeable to most people unless accustomed to listening to TOTL gear.
Jun 1, 2018
siddacious
17
Jun 5, 2018
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I'm going to have to push back on the "weak for rap" comment. I listen to a lot of rap and the 6XXs sound amazing. The bass is rich and meaty without being overpowering and the mids and highs to great with the vocals. It probably comes down to personal preference and breadth of experience but I don't feel any shortcomings with the 6XXs, rap included.
Jun 5, 2018
Rhamnetin
167
Jun 7, 2018
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I would question what planars you've listened to. But from an objective point of view, the bass response on this headphone is pathetic. Massive drop below 100 Hz, there's not much there below 100 Hz.
https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD600.pdf
No matter how you slice it, there is hardly any sub-bass on this headphone, a weakness no matter what. Peoples taste on desired bass quantity differ of course.
Jun 7, 2018
siddacious
17
Jun 7, 2018
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I have not listened to any planars, so there is a bit of ignorance in that regard on my part. Maybe they're great for rap? That said in this context I don't care about them as this discussion is not about them.
With regards to an objective lack of sub-bass; who cares? As you suggest people listen with *subjective* ears, and what I'm trying to say is that the objective "shortcomings" of the 6XXs shouldn't turn away rap fans if they otherwise think they might like them.
I no amount of my reasons for liking them for rap is going to change your mind and vice versa. Maybe potential readers tastes price sensitivity and other concerns will align with yours. Maybe not.
Cheers; enjoy your tunes.
Jun 7, 2018
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