Looking for a brand new pair of headphones when you have about $500 to burn can be a bit stressful once you are aware of the options. The most logical thing to do is to look for the latest and greatest products from reputable companies. But the results aren’t always favorable especially the latest products happen to be targeting an audience that you are not a part of. Some folks are willing to pay top dollar for overemphasized bass while others may need a pair of headphones that is virtually indestructible. Before you give up and wait for even newer products, always remember that some of the best headphones products ever made are still being sold today. The Sennheiser HD 650, for instance, is a legend in the audio industry being more than a decade old and reviewed by just about every major tech publication. Of course these publications reviewed the HD 650 several years back when the price of a pair was more than $500. With the price much lower now, it is time to pay the legend another visit.
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About the Sennheiser HD 650
The HD 650 was released in December 2003 as their flagship headphones. Flagship in the world of Sennheiser normally means a love letter to audiophiles and the overall design really shows that. In fact, the Sennheiser HD 650 doesn’t look outdated at all. The titanium-silver finish and grille outside the earcups give the headphones a nice industrial look fitting for a sound engineer. But Sennheiser didn’t just make the HD 650 for sound engineers alone. People that want full-size open-back reference headphones are sure to get kick out of this. Even though this Sennheiser product aged better than other headphones, you can still breathe new life into this pair of headphones by getting a fresh new cable as the existing headphone cord is detachable. Both earpieces have a connector for the cable too so setting things up is pretty straightforward.
Wearing the Sennheiser HD 650 is a pleasant surprise considering its highly technical appearance. The headband is reinforced with thick padding and the black velour circumaural earpads complete the luxurious feeling. Compared to the Sennheiser HD 600, the metal grilles feel sturdier and the headband feels tighter. Combining strong build quality and high-grade comfort is tough to do but the HD 650 pulls it off nicely.
The earcups of the Sennheiser HD 650 are so big to the point that it is pointless to wear these headphones outdoors. Sennheiser made the HD 650 for home listeners and didn’t bundle the headphones with a pouch as a result. Despite the huge earcups and striking looks, the Sennheiser HD 650 only weighs a bit more than 9 ounces without the cable. But what really wipes out the portability potential is its demanding requirements. For basic media players like the iPod, you will need a headphone amplifier.
The HD 650 truly shines when it is fed lossless audio formats because it does stereo imaging really well. It is outfitted with various technologies and even design choices. The aluminum voice coils, for instance, contribute to the audio quality without adding too much weight on the headphones. Detailed is the best word to describe the sound quality and for $500, it is to be expected and there is no pouch to contribute to that price. The Sennheiser HD 650 can actually play double duty and serve as a monitoring headphones. The best thing is that the $500 asking price had nothing to do with gimmicks so customers knew they were paying for the advanced internals and comfortable design.
Whatever genre you throw at the HD 650, the audio performance is stellar. You can even wear it while watching movies but don’t keep your expectations too high since 5.1-channel surround sound isn’t supported. Your mileage can vary depending on the sound system you use with the microphones. For PC users, a great sound card certainly helps.
• Some places sell it cheaper than $500.
• Highly detailed sound with no weak areas.
• Lossless audio sounds terrific.
• Sturdy construction.
• Cable is replaceable.
• Doesn’t work on its own with typical mobile devices
• More than a decade old.
• No 5.1-channel sound.
One of the biggest complaints about the Sennheiser HD 650 was its price. But if you take the time to look for it, it is far cheaper making it a viable option if you are after pure audio quality, virtually no distortion and maximum comfort. But one has to wonder, will Sennheiser ever discontinue this long-running model? It could be soon but it doesn’t matter. The HD 650 is perfectly fit for modern-day listening and it is far more accessible than ever before. Fixing some of the “flaws” would probably mean an unwanted compromise on audio quality.