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Massdrop Sennheiser HD 6XX Headphones

March 17, 2019

I was in the market for some audiophile headphones with a $500 budget. I got turned on to the Sennheiser HD 650 by the Needle Doctor when they lent me an original pair to test drive as a way of gaging my taste.  Based on what I thought of the cans would help them in their consulting. The HD 650s sounded extraordinary and were the most comfortable cans I had ever worn. They are no longer being manufactured. Used ones are available for $250 and the current version, the HD 660 S, are $500 new.  The HD 660 S were within my $500 budget, so I  did not feel the need to research any further – these would be the ones.

Then I noticed a Facebook ad for a Sennheiser HD 6XX headphones for $200. That did not seem right – were they counterfeits?  Turns out it is a legit deal from a legit company.  The company is Massdrop that works with manufacturers to reissue, at liquidation retail prices, in exchange for a massive wholesale order. They also do some crowd funding for new products.  Companies like Sennheiser are willing to cannibalize sales of their current products in order to move 72,000 units of a discontinued model (that is how successful the Sennheiser “drop” has been over the last few years). Hard to pass that up as a manufacture of boutique products I guess – that is gross retail sales of $14.5 million! That is a lot of headphones, but that is still a rounding error in Sennheiser’s annual sales – so it is still a baffling move by an audio giant. Perhaps they assume that these are sales (to budget minded audiophiles like me) that never would have happened.

I returned the borrowed cans to the Needle Doctor and told them about the Massdrop deal and they told me to snap them up – that is a confident retailer. Kudos to the Needle Doctor for putting their customer’s best interest first.  I ended up buying the Massdrop Sennheisers and I am thrilled with the product. I did come back a week later to the Needle Doctor and spent my headphone budget savings on a Dragonfly Black DAC and an Audioquest aux-cord – so it all worked out.

These Sennheiser HD 6xx sound magnificent. The best sounding headphones I have ever owned. A very natural sound – no additional color: not too bright and no pounding bass. They just sound right, close to listening to good speakers in a good room. The comfort on the ears is a bonus.

Per Massdrop:

If you know audio gear, you know the Sennheiser HD 650. The company’s flagship from 2003 to 2009, this open-back headphone has shown serious staying power. Praised for its richly detailed, effortlessly enjoyable sound, it remains one of the most talked-about products on Head-Fi today—and is still widely considered among the best headphones under $1,000.

The only complaint is that they let in a lot of ambient noise (and anyone in close proximity will be well aware of what you are listening to), but that is also why they sound so good. You just need a quiet place to listen with them. Sennheiser is the open-back headphone originator/innovator (they first introduced the concept in 1968). Open-back headphones sound less like music trapped in your head and more like music in a room. In other words, more realistic and natural.

I highly recommend these headphones for audiophiles who have a quiet place to listen. They are a great value at $200 – according to reviews comparable cans can cost five times their price. They are comfortable enough to wear for several hours. They don’t need a lot of power (some high end headphones do) so you can play them through your smartphone. Most importantly they sound great.

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