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Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions #2749562
07/05/18 03:34 PM
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Hello everybody!

I'm opening this topic in the hope of getting some aspects regarding headphones clarified. I joined a sale on Massdrop this spring and a couple of days ago I received the Sennheiser HD58x. It's the first headphone this expensive that I own. I still have my Samson SR850 which I really like, and I also had a Superlux HD681 Evo and a Samson SR950.

I have a couple of (noob) questions:
1. Did anybody else get them?
2. How is the plastics quality and paint on other Senn HD6 models? - to me it looks like the plastics are a little badly finished, with slightly uneven areas.
3. The headphones get very loud on my UR22 mkII interface, although they were described as only slightly more efficient than the rest of the series. They are louder than the SR850. Would the HD650 get enough power from the same interface in that case? And also, is it possible that the power (mW) is not necessarily related to the loudness? I mean, the UR22 has a maximum phones output level of 6 mW+6 mW, 40 Ω, from the specifications.
So basically, if it's loud enough, than it has enough power? Or is it possible that it's loud but sounds poorer because it's underpowered? I always thought that power directly correlates with loudness, but now I'm a little confused.
4. How about the phantom center? Is anybody using headphones getting the phantom center in front of you sensation that you get with monitors?

I'm asking all these questions and maybe more to come, because I'm having a hard time deciding if I should keep them. I'm less impressed than I hoped. I also have the possibility of getting an HD650 for a good price, sold locally, but I was worried I wouldn't get enough volume out of it, or that it will be too dark (although these are darker than what they were supposed to be). They're very good, but I'm not sure they fit that well with piano playing and listening to classical and jazz. When I upgraded from the LSR 305 to the Focal Alpha 65, there was the wow factor. A huge improvement.
These are a little better than the SR850 in several areas, but there is no wow involved, and the sound signature doesn't seem to fit my intended usage that well. When they were initially advertised, it was a preproduction version that resembled the HD600 fairly well, so I was hoping for a rather neutral headphone of similar quality, but easier to drive. The final product suffered significant changes and what came out is quite different. Maybe I'll try modding them, but I don't expect getting close enough to what I hoped for.
As they are, they seem to fit rock, EDM, probably hip-hop and other genres quite well, but jazz and classical definitely leave me hanging. The female vocals don't sound anywhere near as clear and beautiful as they do on my cheap SR850. They don't have the clarity and the air that make them so charming. The resolution is good, the soundstage is good. Other than this, I don't really have anything to compare to in this class and I was kind of expecting more.

If anybody has experience with similar headphones, I would greatly appreciate your input!

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Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749734
07/06/18 10:06 AM
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That UR22 will work with most any headphones. But I think you should try the HD650 with your amp and piano before buying.

In my view, this is essentially connecting a very cheap & underpowered amp to.... an expensive and power-hungry headphone.

--UR22 AMP--

The UR22's 6mw is extremely little power. SoundOnSound magazine complained that the U22 headphone amp distorted at higher volumes. Audio "specs" are generally useless marketing drivel but "low power" and/or "impedence mismatch" could provide distortion, odd EQ of certain frequencies, low volumes. This thread about the UR22 is worth a read:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/new...mpedance-headphones-audio-interface.html

--HD650 HEADPHONES--

The HD650 was a top-tier audiophile headphone many years ago. There is a lot more competition today. It is well documented that the HD650 requires a powerful amp to perform properly; that is also my experience. Personally, I found the HD650 to be a bit heavy, very uncomfortable over time, and dull sounding to my ears. I also did not find the HD5xx models to be compelling but these are very popular here at PianoWorld.

--GENERALLY USELESS MARKETING STATS--

Samson SR850
Impedance 32Ω
Sensitivity 98dB

Sennheiser HD58x
Impedance 150Ω
Sensitivity 104 dB at 1V, 1 kHz

Sennheiser HD650
Impedance 300Ω
Sensitivity 102dB/1V RMS

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749743
07/06/18 10:37 AM
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I have owned the Sennheiser HD600 headphones for numerous years now. They are great headphones which definitely have their own sound. I didn't initially purchase them for playing a digital piano/VST though. I purchased them for music production as I wanted headphones which had a neutral frequency response for critical listening so I could reference (and in some cases) completely mix without relying on a fully acoustically treated studio room. They are the only headphones I've being able to mix on and have the mix translate on my studio monitors and other audio systems (with the natural sound). If I use sound calibration software to EQ the frequency response of the headphones even more flat they are even better again. I doubt I can find anything better for this task.

The HD650 which you have are very similar to the HD600, slightly more veiled/dark sounding (reduced treble) and a slight bass boost. I'd say HD600 are closer to acoustically flat and the least veiled and I would recommend them over the HD650 personally.

The negatives of the 600/650 range is the soundstage isn't very wide but that is what contributes to the Sennheiser forward sound and they are the complete opposite of fun V-shaped sound signature (DT 990 for example). Again that Sennheiser veil is a problem across the range with the 650 sounding the most dull.

The reason you may not be wowed by them is because you are used to more v shaped headphones and i doubt the UR22 will be driving them properly as well.





Last edited by Jay017; 07/06/18 10:42 AM.
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749778
07/06/18 12:35 PM
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Power to the phones is directly related to loudness. Always.
... and ...
If it's loud enough for you and it's not distorted ... then you're golden.
Originally Posted by mcoll
Is it possible that the power (mW) is not necessarily related to the loudness? So basically, if it's loud enough, than it has enough power?

As for this ...
Quote
I'm having a hard time deciding if I should keep them. I'm less impressed than I hoped.
None of the power/loudness stuff has any bearing on this decision. If you don't like them the sound or the fit then return them.

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Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: MacMacMac] #2749810
07/06/18 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
None of the power/loudness stuff has any bearing on this decision. If you don't like them the sound or the fit then return them.


True.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749811
07/06/18 03:11 PM
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BTW, mcoll ... Can you tell us where you bought those headphones? In particular I'd like to know about their return policy.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749901
07/07/18 12:52 AM
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Thank you for the input everybody! I realize my post might have been a little long and unclear, sorry about that, but I'm trying to make sens of it myself, while also reading other sources about these headphones.

@newer_player, thank you for the interesting read! The volume gets uncomfortably loud. They're even loud enough through the smartphone (unlike the SR850). But I was thinking that maybe the overall sound isn't as good as it should be, because of the very low power of the interface.
@Jay017, Thank you for your thoughts! I actually have the HD58x from Massdrop, they're 150 ohms and more sensitive than the HD600 and HD650.
@MacMacMac - thank you! After some cross-eyed reading, I am under the impression that a good headphone amp will make a difference in overall sound quality and even if it gets loud enough, I might not be getting the sound I should get with these. Quite frankly I chose them for the enticing price and the possibility of driving them directly from the interface, without using an amp.

Now a little about the headphones. The HD58x was announced by Massdrop in the winter and they seemed to be similar in signature and of the same quality with the HD6 series, more similar to the HD600 and a little to the HD660s than to the HD650. Digitalguy pointed them out in another thread here, that's how I found out about them. They're supposed to be a form of homage developed by Sennheiser for Massdrop, to the original HD580 Jubilee, the precursor of the HD600. Basically they were pretty flat, with thinner bass, and easy to drive, according to reviews, so I thought I'd see what's all the fuss about, given the tempting 150$ price (+shipping and customs). They said they'd try increasing the bass extension for the final production version that was going to be delivered in the summer. The end result is a little bassy and dark for my taste, not the fairly neutral one I was expecting. Sadly I have no comparison to anything similar, but the SR850 sound sig felt more natural to me - less bass, a little bright maybe, but it felt airy and natural, some describe it as flat and boring. That's the short story.

Now I have these headphones, which I'm not sure sound as good as they should, since I was expecting a major improvement, not a minor one. If I'm going to have to buy an amp for them, I may have just as well gotten an HD650. And there is one for sale locally for not much more money, brand new, that's why all the doubt. I'm trying to figure out if this was what I should have expected, if they're indeed similar to the HD650 or they fall short in sound quality and overall quality, and if both need an amp or not. And for the HD650 I saw 2 very interesting plugins - Sonarworks Reference and Toneboosters Morphit that adjust the sound of the headphones, and I'm not sure they'll have a preset for the HD58x in the future, since it probably won't make it to mass market.

So, decisions, decisions..

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749910
07/07/18 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mcoll


@Jay017, Thank you for your thoughts! I actually have the HD58x from Massdrop, they're 150 ohms and more sensitive than the HD600 and HD650.


Oh sorry. I seemed to have missed that part lol. Your post makes a lot more sense now I have re-read it. I have no experience using the HD58x so I can't comment how similar they are to the HD600 or HD650 that I am familiar with. I just looked at some EQ graphs online of the HD58x and they suggest they are similar enough in frequency response but with the different drivers and construction its hard to say.

Originally Posted by mcoll

Now I have these headphones, which I'm not sure sound as good as they should, since I was expecting a major improvement, not a minor one. If I'm going to have to buy an amp for them, I may have just as well gotten an HD650. And there is one for sale locally for not much more money, brand new, that's why all the doubt. I'm trying to figure out if this was what I should have expected, if they're indeed similar to the HD650 or they fall short in sound quality and overall quality, and if both need an amp or not. And for the HD650 I saw 2 very interesting plugins - Sonarworks Reference and Toneboosters Morphit that adjust the sound of the headphones, and I'm not sure they'll have a preset for the HD58x in the future, since it probably won't make it to mass market.

So, decisions, decisions..


Your audio interface should be able to handle 150 ohms headphones and i wouldn't think that purchasing a dedicated headphone amp would make a major difference to your conclusion. So I definitely wouldn't recommend that.

Can you not return the HD58x?

As noted by me in the previous post the HD650 are dark/veiled so you might find yourself in the same situation/conclusion. The only advantage you will have is you will be able to use the Sonarworks Reference corrective curve which is very very good.

If acoustically flat headphones is important for you another option could be that you purchase pre-calibrated headphones from Sonarworks with the more accuracy (+/-0.9dB) calibration file or send them your HD58x via post.

Last edited by Jay017; 07/07/18 02:54 AM.
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749913
07/07/18 03:37 AM
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No, Massdrop purchases are not returnable - you pay in advance and the submit the order to the manufacturer after a certain number of orders has been made and the products are manufactured and delivered afterwards. And even it were returnable, the cost of shipping + customs makes it a better choice to simply sell locally, maybe at a small loss, if I don't like them.

The acoustical accuracy itself isn't the top priority. But these seemed like I would be getting a high quality, rather flat sound, that would work really well for playing piano (Pianoteq almost exclusively, very rarely CFX lite) and listening to music - 90% of the time jazz or classical. Due to the changes they made to the final production model, these seem to have veered towards a different type of usage.

PS. I am starting to warm up to them and they do sound great, but I'm still not sure if I enjoy their sound sig for my intended usage. There's also some modding that I may do which apparently brings them closer to the HD600 in sound. I guess it would've helped if I would've ever seen and heard the rest of the HD6 family and other similarly priced offerings. It's hard to get an idea of what is reasonable to expect and how big the differences are between different price tiers when there's no place that stocks a decent selection of headphones.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2749915
07/07/18 03:48 AM
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Yeah that is annoying. It is the same here. There is no place to demo headphones and most of the audio stores have a no return policy.

I wonder what Amazon's return policy is now for headphones?

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751173
07/13/18 06:36 AM
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So, a follow-up after much reading and testing and some answers received from experts :), just in case the drop becomes active again, or there are people interested in similar offerings and some of my experience proves useful.

First of all, I want to say that my expectations were a bit unrealistic about the imaging. Apparently there are no headphones that will give me the sound scape that I'm getting from my focal alpha monitors. The phantom center floating in front of you, the sensation that you have the artist singing in front of you isn't really achievable, not even with the best headphones out there. You get nice imaging, good instrument separation, but not the front to back kind of sensation.

For the frequency response, these headphones sounded a bit dark and with bass somewhat covering the rest of the range. Lacking in clarity and air was the sensation. It improved after burn in and using them for a while, but still not enough. The piano sounded thick and lacking soul.
So I modded them according to solderdude's guide from diyaudioheaven and lo and behold! No more wooly sound, the overall balance of the sound is very good, the clarity is ok, and personally I would like maybe just a bit more air, but I'm sure plenty of other people will like them better this way. After the mod, the piano sounds very natural across the whole range and it's quite pleasant to play and the listening experience is also much improved.

When all is said and done, I still wonder if I shouldn't have tried an Hd650 that I would've eq'ed, for little extra cost, or a new hd599 at half the price, from the local ads. Both of these are supported by sonarworks reference, which I don't think the hd58x will be, and even if it would, I've already modded it, so I'd have to use a similar profile or eq them by ear.

In conclusion, I'm quite pleased with the end result, but at the start, it wasn't exactly what I expected.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751197
07/13/18 09:45 AM
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First of all, I want to say that my expectations were a bit unrealistic about the imaging. Apparently there are no headphones that will give me the sound scape that I'm getting from my focal alpha monitors.


There are several ways to address this imaging issue. One is to use a headphone amp with adjustable crossfeed like those from Meier Audio. Perhaps a better way is to use a VST for this purpose; I regularly use TB Isone between my piano VSTs and my audio chain when using headphones. It makes a remarkable difference.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751209
07/13/18 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mcoll
Apparently there are no headphones that will give me the sound scape that I'm getting from my focal alpha monitors. The phantom center floating in front of you, the sensation that you have the artist singing in front of you isn't really achievable, not even with the best headphones out there. You get nice imaging, good instrument separation, but not the front to back kind of sensation.


You can get a very fine, realistic image, even with cheap headphones. What matters more is what you feed the headphones with than the headphones themselves. If you want to hear the image outside your head, in front of you, then a biaural signal would word - or might work. From my experience, sometimes biaural is little more than vaguely ambient. Other times, it's miraculous: you could swear that the program (whatever the sound is) is right out there in front of you. But that is entirely dependent on the recording or the program you're listening to.


Roland HP 302 / Samson Graphite 49 / Akai EWI

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Focusrite Saffire 24 / W7, i7 4770, 16GB / MXL V67g / Yamaha HS7s / HD598
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751213
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I will definitely experiment with TB Isone and other similar software. And I'll also try the adjustments of the binaural mic in Pianoteq with more patience - I tried them before but didn't achieve the result I hoped for and lost patience, since the player preset mode sounded better despite my efforts.
Thanks for the suggestions!

Last edited by mcoll; 07/13/18 11:00 AM.
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751224
07/13/18 11:54 AM
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I think there's a big psycho-acoustic component with binaural. It has a lot to do with how your brain processes the sound, and I reckon it's probably adaptive. Sometimes you interpret the sound as absolutely placed in front of you - or behind, at the side, above.....

It's an illusion, and like other illusions, different people react to them in different ways. Some people see green, others see blue, gold or grey.

Perhaps you can learn to hear the sound outside of yourself, but it's probably involuntary.


Roland HP 302 / Samson Graphite 49 / Akai EWI

Reaper / Native Instruments K9 ult / ESQL MOR2 Symph Orchestra & Choirs / Lucato & Parravicini , trumpets & saxes / Garritan CFX lite / Production Voices C7 & Steinway D compact

Focusrite Saffire 24 / W7, i7 4770, 16GB / MXL V67g / Yamaha HS7s / HD598
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751229
07/13/18 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mcoll
First of all, I want to say that my expectations were a bit unrealistic about the imaging. Apparently there are no headphones that will give me the sound scape that I'm getting from my focal alpha monitors. The phantom center floating in front of you, the sensation that you have the artist singing in front of you isn't really achievable, not even with the best headphones out there. You get nice imaging, good instrument separation, but not the front to back kind of sensation.


Maybe imaging is more of a fun audio trick that does not happen in real life or real concert halls. I do not think there is imaging when we play an acoustic piano but I understand what you are saying.

Some good speakers properly set up in a room can provide a more exciting music reproduction than headphones can. They allow one to feel bass at least and maybe change with your room acoustics. Regardless, even the best audio technology does a mediocre job of reproducing acoustic instruments.

To my ears, the best headphone for realistic +ambience+ is the ultra-open HD800. Unfortunately, it is uber expensive and requires an expensive amp, else the mid-range peak is irritating. There are DIY mods. Or buy the much more expensive very similar newer model which might not be quite as good but is less peaky. You should NOT even consider this headphone without listening to it in a store as it is expensive and might not be your cup of tea.

Originally Posted by mcoll
When all is said and done, I still wonder if I shouldn't have tried an Hd650 that I would've eq'ed, for little extra cost, or a new hd599 at half the price, from the local ads. Both of these are supported by sonarworks reference, which I don't think the hd58x will be, and even if it would, I've already modded it, so I'd have to use a similar profile or eq them by ear.


The HD650 is a :darker: headphone, which you said is not what you are looking for.

Confusingly, the MassDrip HD58x is not comparable to other HD5-- headphones. The MassDrip HD58x you purchased has a new driver which is said to be a significant upgrade in tech but I don't know if that means you would prefer it. [/quote]

Originally Posted by newer player
I think this table gives a reasonable idea of what Senn is selling in the HD5-- line (table EXCLUDES the NEW MassDrop HD58x) although it is not complete (USD list prices)

559_______$99__Open__50Ω_108dB_1cable
569_______$179_Closed_23Ω_115dB_2cables&Mic
579_______$199_Open__50Ω_106dB_1cable&3.5mm adapter
599_______$249_Open__50Ω_106dB_2cables&3.5mm adapter

_"Amazon edition or factory website only"
598CS_____$249_Closed_23Ω_115dB_2cables
598SR_____$249_Open__50Ω_112dB_2cables&3.5mm adapter

Some of the lower-priced models have a small strip of foam tape to "boost bass" and "mess up higher fq". That foam tape was included in the 559 and 579 but excluded from the 599. Just remove the 3cm tape for a free "upgrade":

https://www.headfonia.com/sennheisers-new-hd558-and-hd598/3/

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-foam-mod-lives-on-the-sennheiser-hd-5x9-lineup.853644/


Originally Posted by mcoll
And I'll also try the adjustments of the binaural mic in Pianoteq with more patience - I tried them before but didn't achieve the result I hoped for and lost patience, since the player preset mode sounded better despite my efforts.


PianTeq*s binaural mics have some really nice features. You can change the stereo width, change the the head diameter (!!!!), move the head on x-y-z axes. It is not earthshattering but is better than the Garritan CFX binaural to me.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751320
07/13/18 08:29 PM
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I will definitely experiment with TB Isone and other similar software.


Perhaps try one of these out when using a source other than you playing: an audio music file or a piano midi file. This would keep the variables a little more under control.

FYI there's a long thread on TB Isone somewhere over on Head-Fi.

Good listening.

Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751423
07/14/18 08:27 AM
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Just wanted to add that in my experience, both the sound source and the headphones can make a significant difference to the sound stage. One of the reasons I don't really get on with AKG headphones is that they tend to put you right in the middle of the sound, with the sound source split sharply between L and R, with little appearing in front or behind. Makes for a clear but rather analytical experience. Sennheiser headphones tend to put the sound in front of you; the L-R divide is less sharp and more continuous. For orchestral music, it feels like being in the audience, vs AKG feeling like you're on the conductor's podium.

For playing the piano, I find the HD600 to give a convincing sound stage, as in I can believe I'm playing an acoustic instrument; the HD650 are not bad as well, and the old HD595 was surprisingly good in this regard (less good in sound, unfortunately). In my case, this is driven through a PC and a headphone amp by an old X-Fi Titanium HD with a good SNR but also support for spatial manipulation, so it can be fine-tuned anyway, but I find I don't really need to.


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Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: karvala] #2751475
07/14/18 12:30 PM
07/14/18 12:30 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 82
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-Jay- Offline
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Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 82
Originally Posted by karvala
Just wanted to add that in my experience, both the sound source and the headphones can make a significant difference to the sound stage. One of the reasons I don't really get on with AKG headphones is that they tend to put you right in the middle of the sound, with the sound source split sharply between L and R, with little appearing in front or behind. Makes for a clear but rather analytical experience. Sennheiser headphones tend to put the sound in front of you; the L-R divide is less sharp and more continuous. For orchestral music, it feels like being in the audience, vs AKG feeling like you're on the conductor's podium.

For playing the piano, I find the HD600 to give a convincing sound stage, as in I can believe I'm playing an acoustic instrument; the HD650 are not bad as well, and the old HD595 was surprisingly good in this regard (less good in sound, unfortunately). In my case, this is driven through a PC and a headphone amp by an old X-Fi Titanium HD with a good SNR but also support for spatial manipulation, so it can be fine-tuned anyway, but I find I don't really need to.


I agree with everything you said about the HD 600 and prefer them to the HD 650 which are to dark sounding. I described them previously as having a narrow sound-stage but maybe that is slightly unfair and it is also what is useful about them and why many music producers choose to mix on them. If I use sound calibration software such as Sonarworks to EQ the frequency response of the headphones even more flat they are even better again and add the missing bass that the default sound doesn't provide. My main issue with them is they are still a little bit veiled sounding sometimes and without Sonarworks are bass light. I'm still looking for a secondary headphone to complement them.


Last edited by -Jay-; 07/14/18 12:38 PM.
Re: Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, HD58x - questions [Re: mcoll] #2751931
07/16/18 02:39 PM
07/16/18 02:39 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 756
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mcoll Offline OP
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mcoll  Offline OP
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Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 756
Europe
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and suggestions!
They have put me at ease and in the end I'm pleased with the result. The time has been scarce lately, so I'm glad I got to mod them and (finally) enjoy listening to them. I'll also try some plugins when time will allow it, despite not feeling the need anymore.


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