I was disheartened a few weeks back as I schemed with a friend to get myself a Meze 99. I have been contemplating on getting one for quite some time now and when I finally made a decision to get one, some unfortunate events prevented me from getting one. Just to be brief, I was supposed to get one from Zeppelin and Co. through the help of that friend but unfortunately the messenger who was supposed to bring the stocks that day was unavailable, and my friend was there for just a day (he is based in Indonesia) so to go straight to the point, I was a sad Marlowe. Too bad but apparently it wasn’t time for me to get one. Not a staunch believer of fate, but that was the reason I came up with to accept the disappointment.
Fortunately though, another good buddy (Puds Edurise) offered me his Sennheiser HD 6XX which he got off Massdrop. Well he intended to have it as a personal can, but given his recent acquisitions (man this guy has such a taste for his gears) he thought the HD 6XX is something no longer necessary. Call it driven by the disappointment or just a simple curiosity, I went ahead for the deal and acquired the HD 6XX.
To my pleasure, Puds even had the package delivered sealed as he gave me the honors of personally unboxing it (as an enthusiast for any hobby I guess everyone would understand my excitement to unbox the said cans) which I did in an Audio-Fi meet over the weekend. It sure was fun, but more so when I finally tried the cans.
The form factor is exactly similar to that of the Sennheiser HD 650: oval cups covered in grilles, adjustable headband, 2-pin termination of the detachable cables. What is noticeably different though is the weight. As the HD 650 was made of aluminum, the HD 6XX is made of acrylic thus the lighter weight. Also, while the finish of the HD 650 is polished grey, Sennheiser opted to give HD 6XX a deep blue matte finish. It was initially confusing as the light in the cafe during the meet made the can look like it was matte black, but upon getting a brighter light did I see that it was actually deep blue.
Packaging was of the same size of the one for HD 650; it still has that fancy chest type box which added a bit or premium look on the packaging considering the price. Plus it is nice to keep the cans in the said box whenever you need to stow it away.
Clamping on the cans seems a bit strong, I guess it is given the fact that I just opened the box a week ago. I am hoping to that it will eventually loosen enough to the point of comfort soon.
Termination of the cable is 3.5mm TRS, which I find odd as the cans doesn’t seem to be easy to be driven by merely a phone or a typical portable DAP. Yes, upon testing it I find it easier to drive than the HD 600, but it sure still can’t be driven by a phone alone. Anyway, I have plans of going balanced with it anyway (XLR) so it is not much of a bother. In case it is, there’s always an adapter handy which can be had for a cheap price.
Pads are a bit stiff; it is made of a typical memory foam but the stock ones are indeed a bit tougher than those that comes with the HD 600 or HD 650. But then again in case one finds it uncomfortable, there’s always the aftermarket pads available for the HD series (I think it might be Dekoni, not sure though).
With the sound test, I thought it might be nice to go for a tube amp to drive the HD 6XX, so I decided to go for the following:
- Xduoo TA-03
- Xduoo XD-05
- Onkyo DP-X1
- JT Hi-Fi Cables PH Hybrid Copper/SPC RCA to 3.5mm Interconnect Cable
I was right with my assumptions: HD 6XX sings well with a tube amp. The cans sounded warm to my liking with ample sparkle on the high end (it actually has a good extension on the high end without any sibilance at all). Bass sounded sufficient, it yields out enough controlled kick without going too lush.
Let’s go through some of my choice tracks using the cans:
Sweet Child O’ Mine (Slash, Deluxe Edition)
Just to make a point on how well it manages sibilance, I used the track as I found it usually sibilant using some of my IEMs or cans. Not surprised though, I was able to handle the track with ease without flinching as the highs slid through easily. It felt as if it almost bordered sibilance at some point of the track, but was still manageable. Slash’s solo and riffs are crisp and accurate while Miles Kennedy’s vocals nicely harmonized with the guitars.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) (Stevie Wonder, The Definitive Collection)
Trumpets work nicely in the track using the HD 6XX, with Stevie Wonder’s vocals resonating clearly through the track in spite of the jambalaya of instruments. Excellent detail retrieval is evident with the track as well, while imaging sounded superb. I concluded that the cans indeed has a good bass control with the track, with the track keeping it’s distinct style during the era when it comes to the blend of frequencies.
Teleblister (Clever Girl, No Drum And Bass In The Jazz Room)
I always find Clever Girl quite amusing especially when used for critical listening. The play between sax and guitars has such a good blend yet allows a listener to properly analyze the track given a good set of gears. In the case of HD 6XX, the blend is quite so good as to how each frequencies harmonize between my ears while keeping that level of imaging that allow good analysis of the track. The track also allowed me to properly understand how nimble the resolution is for the gear, and in the case of HD 6XX it was quite fast enough. Not the kind of Stax type of fast but fast enough to enjoy a track without feeling any drag.
Overall, with all tracks I used, what I noticed as strength of the can is its excellent execution of highs, imaging, soundstage and clarity. Given those, I think this will be one of my keepers for at least the next couple of years.
Is the HD 6XX a good alternative for its predecessors, the HD 600 or HD 650? I would say yes, given the price to performance ratio. While the HD 650 may seem to scale a lot better, the HD 6XX is still priced half of it so a small sacrifice for scaling is forgivable for me. Maybe for those who has the budget to get the HD 650 should go and do so, but for those who may find the price difference a bit too much considering what gain you will get out of HD 650, the HD 6XX is a perfect choice. As for me, I might want to get both, but as I have been quite satisfied with the performance of the HD 6XX, I will keep to this and forego the older brother. I am getting what I want from HD 650 anyway out of the HD 6XX.
Sennheiser HD 6XX can be had for only $199 from Massdrop, and as we speak I have seen thousands of requests for it so don’t be surprised if a drop appears sometime soon.