Slickdeals Saves U! Apply for our $2,500 Spring scholarships today Learn More
Massdrop Discounts, Deals and Coupon Codes

Massdrop HD 6XX Headphones Review: Magical Sound Quality at a Low Price

Looking to buy Sennheiser HD 650 headphones, but don't want to pay $500? Get these instead!
Slickdeals content may contain references to products from one or more of our affiliate partners. If you make a purchase on their site through a link on Slickdeals, we receive a small commission. This in no way affects our opinions on products or services mentioned in our content.

As one of the largest and most respected brands in the audio world, Sennheiser is known for producing headphones that feature incredible comfort and sound quality. It's the reason why I was intrigued when asked to test out Massdrop's HD 6XX headphones, an exclusive model made in collaboration with Sennheiser that’s only available from Massdrop.com. These are basically a private-label version of the classic Sennheiser HD 650.

This reboot is a pretty big deal for audiophiles, but does the significant price drop on this model mean a significant drop in quality? I took a closer look to find out more.

Special thanks to Massdrop for sending a pair of HD 6XX for us to review!

Massdrop HD 6XX Headphones

Reviewed by Bill Henderson
4.5
    Design 4.0
  • Build Quality 4.5
  • Performance 4.8
  • Cost 4.6
  • Overall Value 4.8

Pros

  • Comfortable fit
  • Open back design
  • Removable cords
  • Killer price

Cons

  • No carrying case -- but it can be stored in its display box
  • A bit too much plastic
Buy Now from Massdrop

threadID: 11598675

Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX Headphones Full Specifications

Sennheiser Massdrop Headphones

  • Midnight blue color
  • Dynamic transducer
  • Open back
  • Frequency response: 10 Hz – 41 kHz
  • THD: < 0.05%
  • Nominal impedance: 300 ohm
  • Cable length: 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Connector: ⅛ in (0.3 cm)
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (260 g)

Out of the Box

The original Sennheiser HD 650 headphones have been in production since 2003 … 2003! Almost nothing in the headphone market stays available for that long. But after listening to the HD 6XX model for the past three weeks, I now understand why the HD 650’s popularity has endured all these years. 

Let’s start with the differences between the HD 6XX and the HD 650. The HD 6XX comes in a cheaper outer package (something that gets thrown away, so who cares), however the nice interior display box that houses the headphones is identical. The HD 6XX is a midnight blue color rather than the black of the HD 650, but the blue is so dark that it looks black except in certain lights. The cord on the HD 6XX is also a bit shorter (6 feet) than the cord on the HD 650. 

The speaker drivers are identical though — and that’s the important part. Identical speakers equals identical sound.

Fit and Comfort

One of the most underrated features of any headphone is comfort. There are many high-end, great sounding headphones that are not very comfortable, especially after a few hours of use. The HD 6XX headphones, however, are one of the more comfortable pairs I’ve ever used, even after extended listening sessions.

These HD 6XX are circumaural (over the ear) headphones — they’re big, but not dorky-looking. The ear cups are angled — much like ears — and can be slightly swiveled, which helps with fit and comfort. A metal slide bar can also be adjusted to better accommodate a variety of head sizes. The headband is softly cushioned with thick pads — something that follicly-challenged people can appreciate. Clamping pressure from the headband is a bit tight, but becomes more relaxed with age. The ear pads have a velour-like surface that doesn’t get too warm when wearing. (Face it: There’s nothing grosser than sweating while wearing headphones.)

Even though the HD 6XX "Y" design headphone cord is shorter than the HD 650 cord, it is removable, which can be a lifesaver if you have a pet that enjoys chewing anything it can find, or you just like to keep a neat workspace.

Sound Quality

As comfortable as the HD 6XX headphones are, the audio quality is even more impressive. Two words come to mind when listening: musical and effortless. 

So what does it mean for headphones to be musical? When listening to music, whether through headphones or speakers, I like to enjoy it without the distraction of searching for clinical details. Some headphones are so exacting when reproducing a recording that they sap the life and energy right out of the music. You might think that the more accurate sounding a headphone is, the better. That’s seldom the case, which is why the HD 6XX headphones seem so magical. They allow you to become immersed in the music — and that’s always a good thing. 

As for seeming effortless, the HD 6XXs never sound like they are working hard to reproduce music, whether connected to a laptop, a smartphone, or whatever. Some headphones allow you to more easily experience and enjoy your music without distractions from the things on your ears. The HD 6XXs are these kind of headphones.

The HD 6XX are open-back, which simply means that the ear cups aren't covered by a solid material, and are instead protected by a metal wire mesh. There are upsides and downsides with this type of headphone. Audio sounds more expansive and less “in your head,” which helps music have an open and live-sounding quality — much like speakers in a room. However, this effect is not as prominent on the HD 6XX as it is on some other headphones (like Grado headphones, for example). So if you’re a fan of other open-backed headphones, you may experience slight disappointment with the HD 6XX.

The downside of an open-backed design is well, they’re open. Any person sitting next to you on a train or subway can hear what you hear, meaning that secret Justin Bieber (ABBA in my case) obsession isn’t so secret anymore. Unfortunately, that’s the trade-off with any open-backed headphone. Bottom line is if you’re looking for a commuting headphone, look elsewhere. But for home use and private enjoyment, go for it.

As I was listening to some of my go-to songs for testing headphones, a couple of things became apparent. First was the bass — or lack of it. Don’t misunderstand me, bass on the HD 6XX headphones is accurate and impactful; it’s just not overpowering as on many other popular headphones. To me, that’s a big plus. However, if you are a bass head, you may not be a fan of these. I also appreciate that the higher frequencies are not overly bright. Even songs that were recorded a bit on the bright side sound more balanced. 

Vocals also have an intimacy that I found pleasing. On well-recorded songs, singers can sound like they are in the same room. Since most vocals fall into the middle frequency range, this means that the mids may be slightly forward sounding. This is a popular tweak many headphones (including the HD 6XX) employ and for good reason. It usually results in better sounding headphones. 

The HD 6XX model brings out hidden musical qualities and subtle detail sometimes missing or buried in other headphones. Even songs that tend to distort on some headphones were reproduced effortlessly. Once again, it’s that musical element to the HD 6XX headphones that make them so appealing.

Should You Buy the Massdrop HD 6XX Headphones?

While the original Sennheiser HD 650 headphones retail for around $500, the HD 6XX model costs just $200 at Massdrop. This is what truly floored me about them. Sure they're comfortable and the sound was incredible, but you really can't beat that price for this level of quality. Considering that the HD 6XX headphones are practically identical to the original model, it's not just a good deal, it’s a steal. You could buy two pairs, put one away for safe-keeping, and still have money left over.

threadID: 11598675

Do you have the older Sennheiser HD 650 headphones? Are you considering the HD 6XX? Think you've found even better headphones at a lower price? Let us know your experience in the comments!



Add a Comment
About the Author
Bill Henderson Contributor

Bill Henderson is a pathetic Apple fanboy who also loves audio, especially headphones and earphones. He has years of experience reviewing music for the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. He is currently an Art Director at Scholastic Book Fairs in Florida.


7 Comments

1
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Mar 2004
L3: Novice
208 Posts
114 Reputation
Our community has rated this post as helpful. If you agree, why not rep Sarfdawg?
#2
I have heard so many great things about these headphones, but 99 times out of 100 I listen through my phone. The other 1 out of 100 is thorough my computer. I've read in numerous places that an amp or DAC is a must. If that's the case, suddenly, these $200 headphones become a bit more. Will a computer push these headphones enough to get what you want out of it?

I own the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 and 2.0, and I love those. Will these sound infinitely better as it seems they will.

Thanks for the review. Enjoyed it greatly.
Reply Helpful Comment? 3 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Nov 2011
L1: Learner
6 Posts
14 Reputation
#3
Quote from Sarfdawg
:
I have heard so many great things about these headphones, but 99 times out of 100 I listen through my phone. The other 1 out of 100 is thorough my computer. I've read in numerous places that an amp or DAC is a must. If that's the case, suddenly, these $200 headphones become a bit more. Will a computer push these headphones enough to get what you want out of it?

I own the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 and 2.0, and I love those. Will these sound infinitely better as it seems they will.

Thanks for the review. Enjoyed it greatly.
If you are listening through your phone you will not get the full effect as these cans need a good amp to help them realize their sound potential. I would seriously suggest the Dragonfly Black USB DAC. It can be connected to computers (windows, OSX and Linux),iPhones and most popular Android phones that support USB OTG (on the go.) The Dragonfly Black is only 99 dollars USD and will significantly impact the quality of your music in a positive way Dragonfly's amp can drive these cans easily.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Dec 2015
L1: Learner
9 Posts
10 Reputation
#4
Quote from Sarfdawg
:
I have heard so many great things about these headphones, but 99 times out of 100 I listen through my phone. The other 1 out of 100 is thorough my computer. I've read in numerous places that an amp or DAC is a must. If that's the case, suddenly, these $200 headphones become a bit more. Will a computer push these headphones enough to get what you want out of it?

I own the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 and 2.0, and I love those. Will these sound infinitely better as it seems they will.

Thanks for the review. Enjoyed it greatly.
You can connect an HD 650 to a Smartphone; I've done it with my iPhone 6S, and it sounds plenty loud and still carries that effortless smooth sound. It will drain your battery a bit faster than the Momentum (now called HD1 in the United States), and it will probably surprise you how it sounds less strong in the bass, but also cleaner, more expansive, and might trick your brain into thinking something sounds realistic from time to time. The first thing you would notice, of course, is that the earcups are large enough to avoid any contact with your ears, and also that the headphone is fairly light and comfortable despite being quite snug.

So, why does everyone recommend upgrading the DAC and amp? And I mean, pretty much everyone? Despite spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a premium smartphone, the built-in DAC and Amps are still a small fraction of the construction budget. Once you get used to the HD 650, especially since you've had other headphones that are a noticeable notch down in quality from the HD 650, you'll start to intuit what remains different about the HD 650 vs natural hearing, and the HD 650 will sound a bit constrained on a smartphone. A computer might sound a bit better than a budget smartphone, but most wouldn't sound as good as an iPhone 6S or LG V30. An upgraded DAC and Amp will loosen the bottleneck and improve the quality of each area of the headphone's sound, like building a fire with the wood stacked like a teepee for better oxygen will burn much more heartily than the same wood laid out flat on the ground. The HD 650 is finally good enough that you will notice improvements in gear up the signal chain (and often people spend more on the DAC and Amp than the headphone), whereas a Momentum imparts it's own flavor to any sound and might only improve a little with better DAC/Amp components.

You said you mostly listen with a smartphone, and I presume you stream due to variety/price/smartphone storage considerations. I think the Momentum is still great for commutes and walks, and more compact and less "hardcore" looking for "On The Go" usage. But once you get to an office, or get home, there are many great options for add-ons which upgrade your phone output. Pocket options from FiiO, and transportable desktop options from Schiit Audio, Audioquest (The Dragonfly is about the size of a USB thumb drive), Little Dot, Garage1213, and many more popular or boutique brands can sound great for not much money, certainly under the combined cost below the price of an MSRP HD 650. If you already have a home theater receiver with a headphone jack, try that too with some movies or streamed media... you might be surprised.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by EverettM1119 May 26, 2018 at 04:42 AM.
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Aug 2015
L6: Expert
1,439 Posts
5,092 Reputation
Pro
#5
Quote from Sarfdawg
:
I have heard so many great things about these headphones, but 99 times out of 100 I listen through my phone. The other 1 out of 100 is thorough my computer. I've read in numerous places that an amp or DAC is a must. If that's the case, suddenly, these $200 headphones become a bit more. Will a computer push these headphones enough to get what you want out of it?

I own the Sennheiser Momentum 1.0 and 2.0, and I love those. Will these sound infinitely better as it seems they will.

Thanks for the review. Enjoyed it greatly.
You need an amp or DAC for sure. I ended up getting the Schiit stack https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32-X4sDzLXw
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Jan 2017
L3: Novice
152 Posts
36 Reputation
#6
These look physically extremely close to my crazy old sennheiser hd580 cans, even down to the ohms, weight and frequency range. I bought these headphones back in the mid 90s for ~200 dollars and to this day, they still blow me away! How often can you say that about any piece of technology in your house? I don't even understand how it has survived my abuse for so many years. Numerous apartment moves... Over driven till the speakers clipped for hours on end... It's been dropped, yanked, stepped on countless times. The sheer amount of hours clocked on this thing must be insane! and it still... sounds... awesome. I have no desire to replace them but if I lost them, I'd buy this one in a heartbeat.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Jul 2016
L6: Expert
1,165 Posts
55 Reputation
Pro
#7
So how well do these 6XX's fare compared to the 598's?
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
This comment has been rated as unhelpful by Slickdeals users
Joined Sep 2014
L3: Novice
241 Posts
20 Reputation
#8
Quote from KVW
:
These look physically extremely close to my crazy old sennheiser hd580 cans, even down to the ohms, weight and frequency range. I bought these headphones back in the mid 90s for ~200 dollars and to this day, they still blow me away! How often can you say that about any piece of technology in your house? I don't even understand how it has survived my abuse for so many years. Numerous apartment moves... Over driven till the speakers clipped for hours on end... It's been dropped, yanked, stepped on countless times. The sheer amount of hours clocked on this thing must be insane! and it still... sounds... awesome. I have no desire to replace them but if I lost them, I'd buy this one in a heartbeat.

Massdrop.com also has an update to your hd 580 headphones. It is called the HD 58x I believe. it's considered the latest in this series of headphones. There is also an HD 660s. I wouldn't part with your hd580 no matter what.
Reply Helpful Comment? 1 0
Page 1 of 1
1
Join the Conversation
Add a Comment
 
Copyright 1999 - 2018. Slickdeals, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright / Infringement Policy  •  Privacy Policy  •  Terms of Service  •  Acceptable Use Policy (Rules)  •  Interest-Based Ads
Link Copied to Clipboard