I used to feature numerous product reviews on this blog, however that has really tapered off over the past few years. I’d like to get back onto letting people know about some of the cool things that I have been using, so without further ado, I bring you this review on the HD6XX headphones.
I have been a happy customer of Drop (previously Massdrop) for many years now. I like their sales model, and I’ve been impressed with the quality of everything I’ve purchased from them. Drop are the evolution of a group-buy website – some products they feature are not yet in production, and others are in-stock, waiting to ship as soon as you place your order. For pre-production items, it can can be frustrating to wait for the drop to enter production and shipping, but once the product arrives, and I look at how much I’ve saved over buying a similar item at retail, the wait times are quickly forgotten. I do recommend checking them out, and if you sign up for free, with my referral link, you get $10 in credit towards your first purchase.Anyway, with that out of the way, I was looking for some new headphones recently and my mate Michael over at Massdrop recently sent me a pair of the acclaimed HD6XX headphones to check out. I’ve spent the past week or so listening to a wide variety of music with them, while jotting down my thoughts.I own a pretty decent selection of headphones, and over the years have listened to an even wider range; within the Sennheiser marque alone, I own two different pairs of Momentum over-ears, as well as the GSP 600 gaming headset. These new cans are up there with the best of them.
Listening to Random Access Memories by Daft Punk.
This is one of my favourite albums of all-time, for many reasons. I’ve liked Daft Punk ever since I first heard them clubbing in the 90s. Random Access Memories, as it now turns out, is their swan song. It’s the pinnacle of their musical career and it shows in all aspects of this album. Every track on the album is solidly in the Funk category, but within these boundaries, there are a wide range of different musical styles. The production quality on this album is, without a doubt, first-class. Staying well clear of the loudness wars, this album has a massive dynamic range, and really makes the most of the digital formats on which it was edited, mastered and released. I’ve got a high-res version of this album, and it’s always my go-to when evaluating any new audio equipment.On Giorgio by Moroder, which gets pretty wild after the 8-minute mark or so, these headphones really held it together well. There is a lot going on in the track at that point, as it builds to a peak and everything was still clear – I could still pick out individual sounds in the mix.The bass at the start of Lose Yourself to Dance was a tangible thing – I could almost taste it. What does bass taste like? It tastes like a warm hug with a glass of single malt whisky.
Listening to Californian Soil by London Grammar.
I listened to this album a few times over on a plane trip recently – using my Momentum 2 Wireless noise cancelling headphones, connected via Bluetooth to my iPhone, and while it sounded very good, listening to the album again with a DAC and wired headphones took it all to the next level. The HD6XX is nothing short of amazing on vocals, and Hannah Reid is as clear as a bell throughout the album. While she doesn’t show as much vocal range as on previous albums, I still like the more up beat electronica vibe of this release. Lose your Head is uplifting with a rich palette of instruments and vocals. All My Love then brings things back down a step and really showcases the range of sounds that London Grammar is capable of.
These headphones are good for all sorts of listening – you don’t need to have them turned up to make them sound good. When you do turn up the volume, they can play loud, but they’re not noisy. They are what Sennheiser does best – a sound that tends towards being neutral, while also bringing a bit of warmth without adding distortion or really leaning on just boosting the bass. In this aspect, they are the polar opposite to brands like Beats or SkullCandy. With an impedance of 300Ω, they are a medium impedance headphone. This means that you can drive them straight from the headphone output on your device, however you’ll really be able to make the most of their sound quality if you have a dedicated headphone amplifier.Being an open-back design, they do not isolate you from your environment – this means that people in the room with you can hear what you’re listening to, and the ear cups don’t block much in the way of external sounds. Not the best headphones to listen to music while in transit – I wouldn’t take them on a plane trip, or use them on the train, for example. If you work in a quiet office environment, they may annoy your coworkers if they don’t share the same taste in music as you do. Otherwise, for listening at home, or if you want to hear what’s going on around you when you’re on the move, they’re very good.
ComfortI was initially bit conflicted on the comfort of these headphones. On one hand, they are beautifully lightweight, tipping the scales at just 260g. The velvet ear cups are well padded and a good size, surrounding my ears without applying pressure. On the other hand, the spring in the headband was a bit tight on my head straight out of the box. I don’t think I’ve got an overly large head, but it’s just a smidgen too tight for the headphones to feel weightless. Compared to my Hifiman HE-4XX headphones, these cans are over 100g lighter, however with foam on the ear cups being firmer, and the tighter clamping force, I do notice them more on my head. As an upside of the tighter spring in the headband, they do hold themselves onto the side of my head well, so the padded headband barely touches the top of my head. After breaking them in for a few hours, the comfort level definitely improved.Sound QualityThese are top-shelf headphones. Depending on who you ask, and how you measure it, they are either identical to the far more expensive (and very well known) Sennheiser HD650, or they’re slightly different but well within the ballpark. They’re clearer and slightly brighter than the Momentum Wireless (even compared to running them as wired headphones) and have a smoother, slightly richer sound than the HE-4XX. They are also more lively than the AKG K7XX, particularly with vocals coming through clearly and effortlessly. The midrange is full, but not crowded and bass is clear without being overcooked – they definitely aren’t as dark as my Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro with the bass slider in the middle position.Value for Money10/10, no question asked. The equivalent headphones direct from Sennheiser are at least twice the price of these, and even then they’re good value. There’s absolutely no comparison with the sound of other fashion-oriented brands at the same price-point.
Oh and a big shout out to my trusty ol’ xDuoo XD-05 DAC and Headphone Amp – this little unit really punches above it’s weight, delivering clean and clear, undistorted amplification even with high resolution audio, and it can natively decode high-resolution PCM audio and DSD (aka SACD) audio. I used this unit for all of my initial listening to these headphones.
I received the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD6XX headphones as a review sample from Massdrop. All other products and services mentioned in this review were purchased by the author. Links to Drop.com contain a referral code. If you sign up using my link, and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.