In the world of headphones, few brands are held in higher esteem than Sennheiser and fewer still in their long history are more beloved than the HD650s. Thanks to a partnership with Drop, this classic headphone is back and better than ever with the Massdrop X Sennheiser HD6XX. If you’re looking for an amazing headphone to take your gaming and music setup to the next level, should this be at the top of your list? Read on to find out.
- Current Price: $220 at Drop (buy through our link to support the site)
- Massdrop x Sennheiser
- Color: Midnight blue
- Transducer principle: Open, dynamic
- Frequency response: 10 Hz – 41 kHz
- THD: < 0.05%
- Nominal impedance: 300 ohm
- Cable length: 6 ft (1.8 m)
- Connector: ? in (3.5 mm)
- Weight without cable: 9.2 oz (260 g)
- Made in Romania
- Warranty: 2-year
It was nearly 18 years ago that the original Sennheiser HD650 open-back headphones were released to the market. 18 years - in that time, they’ve become as near a gold standard as I’ve seen for a headphone under $500. They’re loved for their exceptional detail and wide open soundstage provided by the open-back design. For many of us, though, they were simply priced out of what we would consider reasonable. Even now, a new HD650 retails for $319 on Amazon. I’m sure it’s good, but that’s too rich for my blood.
Until now. Thanks to a partnership with Drop, we now have the HD6XX, custom version of this classic headphone that maintains the sound signature and comfort that made it famous. Put simply, this is the HD650 in a darker, more modern color. The best part? It’s $100 cheaper, available now for $219. That, my friends, is why we’re seeing this headphone popping up all over YouTube and Twitch. Also, it’s amazing for gaming… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I thought I had an idea of what to expect after reviewing the Massdrop X AKG K7XX back in 2017. Those headphones arrived in simple packaging with Drop clearly putting the investment back into the headphones themselves (they were great). In some ways I did, but I was surprised to open the box to find a nice, hinged hardback storage case. I’ve reviewed headphones that are much cheaper and much more expensive than the HD6XX but these easily offered the fanciest unboxing experience I’ve ever had.
The headphones themselves are classic Sennheiser and, excepting some new coloring and modern updates to the cable, are exactly the same as the HD650s. The HD6XXs are a much sleeker midnight blue instead of the silver of the original with matching dark nameplates above each ear. The cable has also been shortened to 6-feet, down from ten, and ends in a 1/8th jack with a 1/4-inch adapter, so you can easily connect it with smartphones and computers.
I love the distinctive look of the HD6XXs. They’re completely open-back, so you can look through the grill and see the back of the dynamic driver. What’s really interesting is that this headphone is also one of the most moddable you’ll come across. Since it’s so popular, there are lots of mod guides out there to adjust its sound or even turn it into a closed-back headphone. Now, I wouldn’t recommend that particular mod (the open back is a key element to its great sound and why it’s so suited for gaming,
They’re also exceptionally comfortable. The cushions are a pillow-like velour that feels great against the skin, even on warm days thanks to that open back. The headphones also offer enough grip to stay in place without being too tight or causing ear fatigue. Another common mod is to swap out the ear cushions, especially if you’re looking for extra bass. The velours allow the bass to escape so it stays smooth while a pair of leathers can easily add some extra punch. They’re also very light, coming in at only 260g. I was able to wear them for hours and hours without my head getting sore, which is a big win for long listening or gaming sessions.
I was also impressed at how adjustable they are. It might seem like a small thing, but the HD6XXs offer the most headband adjustment I’ve seen in a headphone. The Incredible Hulk could wear these things without straining the band, so it’s safe to say that you’ll find a comfortable fit. The earcups offer a little bit of swivel but no pivot, unfortunately, so I found I had to take them off when I was done listening or else my chin would bump into them every time I turned my head.
Another near aspect is the cable. It’s detachable, which means you won’t need to buy a whole new headphone if a wire breaks (though it’s solidly shielded and decently thick). It also means that you can a) pack the cable up to keep a clean desk space and b) replace it if you find something else you like. There are lots of cable options out there, so if you’d rather go with something braided, a different color, or even high-end audiophile like an XLR cable, you’ll easily be able to find something that suits your fancy.
But let’s get down to what you really want to know about: how do they sound? In a word: outstanding. As you can see in the graph above, the HD6XXs are a mid-heavy headphone, though bass and treble are also boosted enough to remain clear and detailed. It also features an extended frequency response range of 10 - 41000Hz to ensure they’ll never distort when given enough juice. The mid-tones are where vocals live, so you’ll easily be able to hear the details in your favorite singers voice, dialogue in movies, and the small, game-changing details that clue you in to an approaching enemy, and especially team call-outs. It also makes sure that the friends you’re chatting with on Discord will cut through the mix better than ever, giving you more room to balance out your game and chat audio.
Combining with this is the wide open soundstage. It’s a bit paradoxical because the open-backs really make you feel like you’re in the room with whatever you’re listening to. The sense of scale and relative distance is just fantastic with these and the stereo separation is simply some of the best you will find. You can easily hear when things are mixed to the left, right, or center with outstanding imaging of each instrument and audio cue. At the same time, that tuning make mid-tones as articulate as if they were right by your ear. As an example, listening to PVRIS’s White Noise from The Empty Room Sessions, it was almost as if I were standing in the middle of the room surrounded by the instrumentalists, but Lynn’s vocal amp was mounted by my shoulder.
This also makes it one of the best stereo headphones for gaming I’ve ever heard. Playing Battlefield V and having a grenade shatter a nearby room, it truly sounded like debris was falling all around me because of the enhanced soundstage. At the same time, the thump of enemy boots on the floor below came through loud, clear, and excellently positioned. It’s not an exaggeration: the HD6XXs gave me better positional awareness than my Steelseries Arctis Pros, a surround sound headset that’s not only more expensive but claims to offer some of the best surround sound in the business. Steelseries, Sennheiser would like a word.
Looking at the overall character of these headphones, I find them rather neutral. The mids are the highlight but the lows and highs are both rounded off, giving it a very smooth sound that doesn’t fatigue the ears. This does change depending on how you power it but only slightly.
One thing to be aware of is that these headphones have an impedance of 300 ohms. This is 10-15 times the resistance offered by the majority of headphones today and requires substantially more power to drive. That said, I was shocked at how scalable they are. I was able to connect these to my Samsung Note 9, my Behringer UMC204HD audio interface, my Sound Blaster X7 amplifier, and even directly to my motherboard and get enough volume to hear and enjoy anything I wanted.
That said, lower powered devices like my smartphone definitely didn’t make it sound as good. The low end is the first thing to suffer. It doesn’t sound bad but it becomes looser and less controlled. I wouldn’t let the lack of an amp keep you from buying these as they’ll still be better than most department store headphones and gaming headsets, but if you have the ability to give them more power, definitely do. If you plan on using these with your PC and have a modern gaming motherboard, you’ll probably find the onboard amp good enough for your needs. In my testing, the ASUS Z370 Maximus X Hero, ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate, and Gigabyte X370 AORUS Gaming 7, were each able to provide more than enough juice to keep the headphones sounding great.
At $219, the Massdrop X Sennheiser HD6XX headphones are an incredible value. They will outperform virtually and gaming headset you can find and allow you to take them on the go becoming a truly “all-in-one” headphone. Compared to one of those headsets, you indeed may be spending a bit more, but the trade-off in quality is absolutely worth it.
- Excellent, well-rounded sound
- Exceptionally comfortable
- Wide-open soundstage is perfect for gaming
- Very detailed with excellent positionality
- Very resilient to EQ customization
- Requires a good amount of power - a smartphone won’t do them justice
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.