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Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones Reviews

4.5 stars based on 26 customer reviews
Questions about the Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones?

Questions about the Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Mike Conyers

    For an exceptional pair of open-back reference headphones, the Sennheiser HD 650s are the only pair I'll ever need. Mixes sound beautiful and alive, individual instrumentation comes through with more clarity... you'll wonder if you ever listened to anything accurately with headphones before!

  • from December 9, 2016Music Background:
    Enthusiast and hobbyist for about 35 years. Take that with a grain of salt.


    While not completely transparent, (there's a dip at 1Khz), these phones provide a rich and satisfying musical experience. They're not so colored that you couldn't use them for mixing, but I think they're better suited to mastering tasks.

    And for pure listening pleasure, these cans make "Dark Side" sound phenomenal! ("Money" just KILLS!) And with the open back design you can still hear the environment around you, plus no "bass reflex" hype that you get from closed back designs. Can't go wrong with this pair!

  • from Utah November 18, 2016Music Background:
    Musician/Recording & Mix Engineer

    A useful reference, but needs a powerful amplifier.

    Having owned a lot of headphones over the years, I think I have tentatively settled on these - after I finally matched them up with a headphone amplifier that is capable of working with 300-ohm cans. Plugged straight into my “decent” audio interface, I found them to be a little underwhelming - and after looking at the specs of the built-in headphone amp, it became clear why. Specs aside, the high frequencies seemed a bit recessed, and the mid-range lacked the clarity I expected of a pair of "reference headphones."

    I tolerated this for almost a year. Then I caved and bought a third-party headphone amp for a reasonable price. (i.e. Not more expensive than the headphones themselves!)

    The difference was not night-and-day, at least at first, but after hours of critical listening and hearing refinements that I was not hearing before, I came to the conclusion that the HD 650s really do benefit from a dedicated, powerful headphone amp - more than most.

    So, now that I have them working the way I want them to, I will say that they do have a subjectively "warm" sound. My previous reference headphones were the AKG K701s, and they were noticeably more clinical. But with a 62-ohm impedance, they didn't seem to need a dedicated amplifier as much as the HD 650s do. Also, the low-mid frequencies are slightly more present on the Sennheisers (hence the “warm sound”), and the bass frequencies are MUCH more present than on the AKG headphones, which always sounded bass-light to me - this was the reason I let them go. I prefer something that makes bass-frequency problems more obvious than the K701s did.

    I’ll also say that the HD 650s are a good reference, in that they give an engineer a better idea of how a mix will sound in the real-world than more linear transducers would - and since 99% of end-listeners listen on headphones that are far from that ideal, it is my opinion that rigid linearity is an unnecessary complication to the mixing process. I know some engineers who would disagree with me on that, and I would say to that, “to each their own.”

    Here’s the bottom line: these headphones work for me because they are comfortable, they reveal more detail in recordings than I need them to the vast majority of the time, and their sonic presentation is not fatiguing in the least - something that I can't say for many of the headphones I have owned. The trade-off in absolute accuracy is one that I believe is worthwhile, keeping in mind that recording is a fundamentally reductive process as it is. Also worth mentioning is that they are reasonably priced. I have auditioned much more expensive headphones than these, and the value of that extra $ is dubious.

    I’ll end this review with the standard audio-engineer-consumerist proverb: if you can’t make a good recording with these, you have bigger problems to address. These headphones (with an adequate amp) will not stand in your way, at any level. Whether they work for you is impossible to know until you integrate them into your workflow for a significant amount of time. Auditioning is HIGHLY recommended!

  • from New Jersey November 2, 2016Music Background:

    Must have for the Audiophile

    Great pair of headphones that really bring music to life. The surround-sound effect these give you is unbelievable and make them the perfect pair to watch a movie on. I recommend them to anyone who really wants to be absolutely lost into their audio. The bass isn't crazy like the standard consumer sound, and much more reserved. The bass notes come through with detail I've never heard before.

    If you're looking for something to mix and master on, I recommend getting the HD 600's, as they're flatter sounding and have a solid center. The HD 650's lack a strong center which was hard to mix on. The sound of these is colored, and may be too warm for some, so the 600's can be seen as the tame, less adulterated version. HD700 is just over the top, don't even think about it.

  • from Los Angeles October 31, 2016Music Background:
    Persian Classical Music

    Love it

    I am not a professional but needed an extra tool beside my monitors in order to increase the quality of my mixes, as my home office is not ideal for mixing.
    My Sales engineer, Aaron Cieslikowski suggested this reference headphones over other open-back reference headphones (including Shure SRH1840, which was my first choice based on the customer reviews) and I am very happy that I eventually listened to him. As many other people truly mentioned here, you definitely need a good pair of monitors for mixing and mastering but HD650 is a very good extra reference tool for a final check over your mix and as Aaron said, you can hear things that you could hardly hear on monitors.
    Nice and solid design, comes with a wooden box, very comfortable, super clear sound.

  • from Houston, Tx April 27, 2016Music Background:

    Smooth Operators

    I bought these on the recommendation of a Grammy award winning engineer producer turned mastering engineer. They are very detailed and easy to listen to. An extremely smooth and extended top end. They have already taught me some valuable lessons in constructing the soundstage in my mixes (I've been mixing for 30 years). My only gripe is that they are slow to break in as regards the headband being a bit tight. I can tell that it is loosening up to fit my head shape (narrow), but I wish it would hurry up and settle. The sound quality is excellent for the money. You would have to spend $1,200.00 to get into the realm of a significantly better set of headphones.

  • from April 17, 2016Music Background:
    Professional Musician

    Reference Sound

    True reference sound, along with the ATH-RX70s by (Audio Technica).
    Nice low end, full mids, and the treble is nicely extended but never SssssSSSSSSSSSSSsssss.
    Best for listening, tho excellent for mixing & mastering.
    Real value for your dollar.
    You really cant go wrong with these or the ATH-RX70s.

  • from NYC April 1, 2016Music Background:
    Musician 16 Years

    Necessary Tool.

    It's been about a year since I've purchased these headphones; I wanted to tune my ears to them before giving an accurate review.

    I have to say, after listening to these day in and day out, and finally having a listen on my old cans (HD280), I really have no idea how I ever got by without them.

    Granted, you should use monitors when mixing. However, certain details will only be revealed by having the sound directly up to your ears, and at the end of the day if your mix is good on your monitors, your headphones will confirm that. These are so well balanced, bass extremely tight and detailed, highs are crisp and detailed, and mid tone detail is very transparent.

    As for comfort, these headphones can be worn all day, and when you take them off there will be no irritation.

    These headphones are worth every penny, as you will never need another pair of headphones again after buying them.

  • from Chicago January 29, 2016

    HD 650

    I like these cans, but I was a bit disappointed. The sound is a bit flat for my tastes when compared to some of my other headphones; for example my Grado 225's blow them out of the water. But those Grado's are a twisted up mess, so I guess the HD 650's have that on them.

  • from New York November 23, 2015Music Background:
    Music Producer

    True flat Flat Reference - You hear the reality!

    Well, goes without saying that you don't need hyped frequencies or a lack of clarity when you're working on your mix or master. Senheiser HD 650 is the one I needed the most, because of its flat reference!
    These are extremely accurate, natural-sounding headphones, an utmost importance for any recording engineer like me, who does his own mixing and mastering.
    Thank you Senheiser for this AWESOME headphones.

  • from Tallahassee, FL. October 16, 2015Music Background:
    Dedicated listener

    Sennheiser HD 650

    I use these HPs for listening in a home system. My rating is this low only because I'm comparing these with some reference headphones that I own. These are some of the best bang for the buck cans that I own but I'm not saying they are inexpensive. They have the Senn. smoothness but with a warmer sound than an unmodded HE 800. To get everything these beauties can give, I would use them with a dedicated headphone amp. If the user has a balanced output on their amp I would recommend getting a 4 pin XLR balanced cable. The clamping force is tighter than some cans I own but because of the sound quality, I can put up with that slight inconvenience. If I only had to have one set of headphones and wasn't going to spend for one of the reference cans then these are the ones I would buy. Also Sweetwater's finance plan is a great way to get into some nice equipment.

  • from United States February 5, 2015Music Background:
    Mastering Engineer

    Mix Translation

    Mixes and Masters translate well. If a something sounds bad on these there is a big problem you need to fix... Don't quote me wrong...you still need speakers to reference effects (reverb,Delays and compression) however EQ decisions are easier to make on these. I took em for a spin in the mastering house and boy do they give the mastering speakers (i.e Barefoots) a good run...sssshhh don't tell anyone...

    If you need them to be completely flat in response i recommend the sonarworks plugin but they are very pleasant in response regardless. Extended listening is a breeze.

  • from HORSESHOE BAY, TX January 18, 2015Music Background:
    Minored in Music in College

    Sennheiser HD650 even better after 50 hour break-in

    I read reviews from many sites and from InnerFidelity and all the great things said about these headphones is true. What was even more impressive was how they sounded after about 50 hours of break-in. Don't get me wrong, they are very clear and neutral sounding headphones with a slight bass warming, which I like, especially at normal listening. But, the soundstage is so real after break-in, I wonder if I was listening to the same recording that I listen to with my other headphones, both Sony and Boise. My other headphones are very good performers but they are not in the same class as these Sennheiser's. I highly recommend them and I am sure you will not be disappointed. And if you want to really further your listening pleasure, add a good DAC and AMP and you will be very impressed.

  • from Doylestown, PA January 9, 2015Music Background:
    Studio owner, producer, engineer, musician

    Great mixing tool

    Like so many for years I used good closed back cans to "check" mixes. I finally got wise and bought a pair that were specifically made for that purpose. You have to think about these as a set of alternate speakers. I would use them exclusively, but they will offer a truly valuable and unique perspective on a mix. They're also very comfortable and enjoyable.

    If you're in any situation where acoustics are compromised (ie bedroom) these are a must. But even in a pro studio they are very helpful.

  • from Seattle, WA June 27, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer/Songwriter

    Great reference headphones

    These are my go to headphones for studio mix and CD listening reference!
    Open sound field with balanced response and imaging.

  • from Seattle, WA June 16, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, composer, teacher......

    Sennheiser HD 650

    Great headphones as recommended. Well built, great looking and the detail is sharp but not cold. Huge soundstage. When you check your mixes you may hear the tiny details that you never knew were there. This is a great thing allowing for better mixes and better work. Very comfortable to wear for hours upon end.

  • from Chester, PA June 4, 2014Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer, Recording Engineer, Pro Musician, Acoustic Engineer, Transducer Engineer, Loudspeaker Enginer.

    Excellent Sound

    Love the sound, still a bit uncomfortable was expecting it soft and like if you would forget to have it on, but hurts after ten minutes, but that's personal and might go out once it ages and I get used to it.

  • from Chicago March 8, 2014Music Background:
    Producer, Recording Engineer, Mastering Enthusiast

    Best Purchase

    These could possibly be the best investment of 500 bucks I have made in awhile. You probably should have an amp for them but they sound great regardless. I've been using mine for three years with countless hours in the studio, listening, and traveling. They have held up nicely, but do have some wear/chipping in the paint finish. The material is perhaps a bit plasticky but I do drop them a decent amount and they seem to be in good shape still. These headphones make everything else sound and feel stupid. They are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn and I have never once gotten tired or uncomfortable with them on. The response is super flat and accurate. It takes some time to get used to this so make sure you check your mixes on other systems. I would not recommend these for anything other than studio use. I am always excited to hear music through these and am convinced that these deliver the most detailed and spectacular listening experience.

  • from Stapleton, Alabama August 20, 2013Music Background:
    Technician with national touring acts

    Great reference

    Let me start by saying 2 good reasons I will always buy from sweetwater (Dennis k.) great informed advice and the best tech support ever.
    The headphones lived up to the claims. An accurate reference for analyzing your mixes. Also great to listen to music on. Not all hyped up. They are a great tool for eq, stereo spread and balance.
    Thanx again for the advice

  • from Kemah, TX USA May 30, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Sennheiser HD 650 Extremely Satisfied Owner

    I use my Sennheiser HD 650 headphones for mixing and mastering.
    I am extremely satisfied with the results. They accurately translate my masters on systems ranging from PA systems to Ipods.

  • from Rochester, NY April 27, 2013Music Background:
    Just a guy into his music.

    Buy Buy Buy!

    After reading many reviews on these headphones, I decided to take a chance and buy them. I believe these cans are the best headphones in this price range. I own, or owned Dre Beats Studio Detox, Grado SR125, Shure SRH440, Audio Technica ATH-M50, and Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones. These Sennheisers beat them all in clarity and detail. They bring out every nuance in music, and have an airy, wide soundstage. There are a couple of details that should be said. The first is that these cans require POWER to sound very good. If you try to use these with your MP3 player, they'll most likely sound thin and lackluster. Home stereos, studios, or headphone amps will fare much better. Second, they're open-backed headphones, so anyone in the room can hear what you're listening to. To me, these aren't drawbacks, but they may be for someone else. All in all, if you got the loot (and you do because you're already considering them) buy them. Even if you don't have the money, Sweetwater makes buying them a breeze. Top notch headphones from a top notch company. Thanks Sweetwater!

  • from South Carolina November 30, 2012Music Background:
    Home studio

    Sennheiser HD 650

    Awesome !!

  • from Milwaukee. September 8, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Live Sound Engineer, Hobbyist

    Sennheiser HD 650

    This headphones are, extremely confortable, but over all the sound is really close to what I hear coming out of my main studio monitors, ecxellent to do mix reference, to do mixing on the go then to come back to the studio and just do minor ajustment, this cans are expensive, but you will get what you pay for.

  • from Puerto Rico- USA September 15, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, AV_IT Specialist

    Truth within the Specs

    Definitively accurate ! Absolutely The Best Flat Reference Headphones for the price. A must have for mixing and/or mastering at a suitable volume. Very impressive bass response and detailed sound dynamics.

  • from NY May 31, 2011Music Background:

    The truth

    When I auditioned these headphones listening to mixes that I've done in the past, they brought a smile of astonishment to my face. They translated exactly how my mixes sounded in the studio! No bass, treble, or mid range hype, just the truth! You can't ask for anything more in a headphone and in fact, I heard slight panning details that I've never heard before when I checked my mixes on other cans. Buy these headphones, you won't be disappointed...

  • from Colorado Springs, CO November 14, 2010Music Background:
    Musician, Audiophile, and DIY

    These are it

    We went on a trip this summer and I let my wife use my Beyer Dynamic DT770's, and she said she wanted them. They are great cans, but this was the opportunity that I need to upgrade to the Sennheiser 650's. Within a week of returning from our trip they were at my door. Thanks Sweetwater.

    I use them primarily for listening. Shortly they will be plugged into my Bottlehead Crack Tube Headphone amp. As they are the sound is just awesome. Very clean highs, and a nice but not overpowering bass. One of the most important things besides sound quality for me is the comfort. These are right up there with the Beyer 770's for comfort, but are definitely a step above the Beyer's for sound quality.

    I can listen to these for hours with zero fatigue.

  • from Boulder, Color-Ado June 19, 2008Music Background:
    Pro Stuff


    How good can these headphones be? The price says they gotta be good, but really, that good?
    The HD 650 is Sennheiser's current top-of-the-line, serious, audiophile, reference headphone, and I've had them long enough now to listen to all types of music (through a special headphone amp) and they just keep sounding better and better. I don't get it. Well, I do . . .

    The HD 650's are very nicely-built, light, yet substantial-feeling. Very comfortable soft velour pads. Quality, make no mistake. The cable is fairly heavy-duty (but not a sausage), unlike most phones' cables where they are skinny and frail. These have a gold-plated, one-quarter-inch pro phono plug and come with a likewise gold plated mini-plug adapter. The box these headphones come in has metal hinges, if that tells you anything.

    If one were to describe the airiness, the spacial, tonal width, the landscape, the effortlessly tight response, the naturally keen detail, the lack of point source and the total, overall sonic VIEW these phones lay down, it would be very difficult to say enough about them. I mean, when you hear music (or anything) through these phones it's like nothing you've ever experienced. Speakers can't even come close. I have owned a bunch of headphones in my time, and always better, more expensive ones. These are the top of the mountain. From hear you can see it all.

    Sorry if you were waiting for something negative about these headphones. I can't find anything like that to say.

    Get these phones to experience the best. I don't say that because I bought a set. I say I bought a set because it is true.

Questions about the Sennheiser HD 650 Open-back Audiophile and Reference Headphones?

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