I recently tested the HD600 alongside the HD650, HD700 and HD800
all by Sennheiser.
I have since purchased the HD600 for my studio, where I use them for mixing tracks, and for mastering. I do all my mixing and mastering on speakers, but a good set of open back headphones gives a different perspective on a mix.
The comparison was done on a decent D/A converter with a good headphone amp. I listened to different styles of music ranging from , Jazz, Classical, Electronic, Rock and Metal as well as acoustic guitar and vocals.
I have to say the top headphone by far in every possible respect was the HD800
. It had an amazing 3D soundstage where you could locate every instrument. Excellent frequency response from lows to highs with a solid but not overpowering bass. In fact it felt like I was listening to a set of high end speakers.
The biggest disappointment out of the 4 headphones tested was the HD700, it sounded very shrill in the high end, and that was enough to put me off testing it further.
Then came the HD650 which has very good imaging, not quite like the HD800
but excellent none the less. It's bass was very solid and clear, but the big downfall of these headphones in my opinion were the highs... they seem to have vanished when listening to acoustic guitar, which sounded like something other than an acoustic guitar through the HD650s. That alone put me off these phones. But, Metal and Rock sounded great through them as well as Electronic Music, mainly because of the great low end response.
Now to the HD600s. I was wishing I had the money to buy the HD800s but alas not at the moment, so I tested the HD600s thoroughly on all types of material. The first thing that became evident was that the HD600s had quite an even frequency response. The acoustic instruments sounded very real over the entire frequency spectrum. These phones sounded good on most material even on Metal, the top end was clear and crisp without being harsh. The bottom end was detailed and clear without being overpowering. Compared to the HD650 low end the HD600s are a little less pronounced, but still clear. In terms of the high end, the HD600s sounded far more natural to my ears than did the HD650s.
Comparing the imaging of the HD600s to the HD800 and HD650, the HD600s were not as wide as either of the other two phones, but still had a decent sound stage.
Comfort wise, the HD600 and HD650 were pretty much identical and felt perfect, and compared to the HD800, I found the 600s to be a better fit for my head. The HD800s might be better suited for people with larger heads than mine, and felt a little loose to me.
In terms of headphone distortion, the HD800s provided the purest audio of any of the 4 headphones I tested, with the HD650 coming next, and the HD600 following closely behind that. So the HD600 sounded very smooth to my ears but the other two were slightly smoother in sound quality.
Overall weighing up the price /performance of the 4 headphones, the HD600s were perfect for my needs and are an excellent headphone and for $333US new, a great deal.
I am using these in-studio with Waves Nx room modelling plugin with head tracking, which makes the headphones sound like you're listening to speakers, thus drastically imrpoving the imaging. I've also added Sonarworks Reference 3 headphone calibration software to my DAW which balances out the headphone frequency response, thus improving the bass response as well as evening out any frequency peaks or dips in overall response.
The HD600 headphones sound amazing through this system, and give me the ability to mix whole tracks entirely on headphones when I'm travelling and haven't got access to a full studio.
I'd definitely recommend the HD600s to anyone who's doing studio work and doesn't want to mortgage their house, but if I had more money to spend I would have definitely gone for the HD800s....... Maybe one day...
As for the HD600's 4 star rating, the HD800 would get the full 5 stars, but in this respect the top of the bar was set very high, and in comparison the HD600's did very well in my opinion.