Is it necessary to introduce the HD600 ? One of the most famous headphones ever released, already well over 20 years old. Its older brothers, the HD580 and HD580 Jubilee, were released in 1993 and 1995 as high-end open-back models at the time.
The HD600 was first launched at $450, which was quite a lot of money back then for a headphone. Street prices are now around $250-300. A new 2019 updated design is available for the HD600 : the kitchen countertop is gone and they are now made in Romania. They are very comfortable though clamping force can be strong on a brand new unit.
The HD600 has many competitors, some of them being around for a long time, like the Beyerdynamic DT880 or AKG K701. Many newer “mid-fi” open headphones were released in the last few years, like the Philips Fidelio X2, Hifiman HE400i or Sundara, trying to lead in the sub-$400 segment.
○ Release : 1997
○ Current status : In production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 266g
○ Impedance : 300 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~98 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $140-200
The HD600 is my favorite “mid-fi” headphone. It combines great durability, excellent comfort and superb sound. The timbre is one of the best (if not the best) I have heard in a headphone. It simply sounds super natural.
Bass is the major weak point of the HD600, though now that I’ve heard a lot of vintage open-back cans, I find it not too bad. Low-end extension is missing below 60-70hz but the slight midbass bump give a touch of impact to the notes. Midrange has an amazing timbre, and every instrument sounds right. Same for vocals.
The upper-mids / lower-treble might be a problematic region on certain songs, I won’t argue that. The only EQ I sometimes apply is -1.5 / -2 dB around 3.5 khz, with that done I have the perfect midrange – to my ears. I like the treble as well, no harshness, decent extension, detail and clarity. Not the finesse of a HD800, not the air of a Stax, but above average mid-fi standards. I would actually take the treble of the HD600 over many high-end headphones.
Not only I like the HD600 tone a lot, I also find them quite good on a technical plan. Better resolution and micro-details retrieval than most competitors, and only the soundstage, a bit closed-in, and the punchiness, a bit too soft, are my mild criticisms. I recommend the HD600 without the single hesitation to anyone looking for a pair of open-back around $200-300.
Measurements & Resources
Only look at the blue line. Other one is borked. Pretty flat from 100hz to 5 khz. Small recession in the low-treble but around 7 khz it goes back to the midrange level.