There are basically two types of over-the-ear headphones: Open-back and closed-back. Most of the headphones available to consumers are closed-back. They’re called closed-back because their cups are completely sealed, so they’re perfect for isolating you from the outside world for total music immersion. The downside is that the music is “in your head” sounding, and not as pleasing as, say, listening to music in a live concert. Open-back headphones offer a more “realistic” sound experience. They let in a certain level of outside noise, so you are still aware of your surroundings, which some people prefer. Listening to music through them is like listening to music in your room. One of the most often regarded best audiophile headphones of this kind is the Sennheiser HD 650.
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The Sennheiser HD 650 is the premium older brother of the more affordable HD 6XX. It debuted in 2003 and has since been Sennheiser’s top-of-the-line professional headphones. The HD 650’s design is very industrial-like. Nothing too fancy, with large suede-covered earcups that are nicely padded and sit comfortably on your head. It has a two-tone (dark gray and black) color scheme with a glossy finish. It’s worth noting that the HD 650 don’t clamp as tightly on your head as most headphones do, so wearing them for extended periods of time won’t become uncomfortable.
The cups are protected by a metal mesh cage that shows off the intricate driver construction inside, which also allows air to come in, so your ears won’t get uncomfortably hot. These headphones are large and bulky so they’re not the most portable. They’re best left at the studio (if you’re a music producer). Otherwise, you need to purchase a case or a pouch to store it, which, disappointingly is not included.
The sound that the HD 650 offers is truly exceptional. Music sounds well-balanced, with great punchy bass, clear midranges, and wonderful treble. Nothing gets boosted, so these headphones give off accurate sounding music exactly as they sound during studio recording. Since these are open-back headphones, expect music to come out of them. The HD 650 is wired and do not support Bluetooth connection, and it comes with a 3.5mm jack plug.
The Sennheiser HD 650 is geared more toward music aficionados and record producers. It is not ideal for everyday casual use but for critical listening. Of course, if it’s noise cancellation you’re after, it’s best to avoid these.
For more options visit these pages for our best noise-canceling headphones, true wireless earbuds, and wireless headphones. And for more awesome deals visit our curated deals page.
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