If it ain't broke...the Massdrop Sennheiser HD 6XX

Those Massdrop guys are pretty damned smart; they've essentially created a business model that monetizes a group buy. But more than that...they lurk in the shadows of headphone enthusiast forums and read looking for good products to make small improvements on. They cherry pick a good product, go to the manufacturer and ask for a few changes based on what they've heard themselves and on-line, and place a big bulk order to drive the price down. And then they sell a boatload of them because they're terrifically priced and they're often better performers than the original headphone.

Massdrop's Fostex TH-X00 came out second best in this survey of Foster headphones, and it was the cheapest of the bunch! And they were the top U.S. AKG headphone seller with their numerous AKG K7XX drops. My experience is that Massdrop headphones are consistently a big win for the consumer.

Well...they've changed their tune a bit with the just announced Massdrop Sennheiser HD 6XX because in this case they didn't change the headphone's tuning it at all. (Measurements show the HD 6XX and HD 650 essentially identical within measurement errors.) No, there is really no reason for them to re-tune the Sennheiser HD 650. They've done their homework. They know that this is widely considered amongst headphone enthusiasts the standard by which all other headphones are compared. I've reviewed them and love them. Yes, there are better sounding high-end headphones, but none deliver the price/performance ratio of this icon.

Massdrop's genius this time was to go straight for the jugular and slash the price to drive up the value of this already terrific headphone. You do give up some niceties compared with the HD 650, though. The paint job is plain-Jane dark blue—I think they should have gone black as black, oh well. The cable is exactly the same as the HD 650 but shortened to 50" and is now terminated with a straight 3.5mm plug rather than the 1/4" plug of the HD 650. I think this is a great idea as it makes them more versatile, and those who are really serious about these cans should get aftermarket cables anyway. The outside packaging is boring black and white—that'll get throw out so who cares—but you still get the hefty storage/presentation case.

Bottom line: This is a smoking deal. If you have an interest in high-fidelity audio on headphones and don't have a pair of Sennheiser HD 600 or HD 650s, I suggest you have a finger hovering over the buy button on November 8th at 6AM Pacific Time when the drop goes down. I bet they sell all 5000 in the first day!

Here's the HD 6XX drop!

tony's picture

eBay prices are around $400, even used they're running around $300 or a bit less.

Phew, $199 for NEW seems remarkable!

I wonder if this is only for a short time ( an inventory reduction ) or made in China versions.

I'd like to hear Sennhieser's comments about this.

Tony in Michigan

ps. "too good to be true" is usually a useful maxim. This will certainly change the used/new market pricing or as we'd say in the Car Industry: "Dilute the marketing effort"

It certainly looks "legit"

Impulse's picture

Amazon has been selling them for $340 max for a long time, sometimes even under $300, and they've sold the HD 600 for $250 if you were willing to take an Amazon gift card (as good as cash for many of us)... I don't see what the big deal is. HD600/650 prices had actually trended up a few years ago, they're still fee more stable (and higher) than AKG/Beyer's older models.

Impulse's picture

The Amazon average dating back to 2008 and including all the various stages when it shot back up to $500 is still as low as $360... The true average if you were a savvy buyer is well under that. Anyone buying then used for over $300 is being taken for a fool... Maybe if they're well moded, maybe (and only if they have fresh pads).

tony's picture

OK, I'm outa touch on the pricing, maybe outa touch on lots of things but I'm holding on the idea of the HD600 series being a great transducer system.

I accept your wisdoms.

Tony in Michigan

Impulse's picture

Agree, even closer to MSRP they're a great value, closer to $300 they're impossible to beat unless you just need something much easier to drive.

I bought my HD600 last year thru one of those Amazon deals after dancing around them for ages, spent the $150 gift card immediately on something else I wanted so they came out to $250. Should've bought them sooner...

You can check pricing history on Amazon btw using a site like www.camelcamelcamel.com

Massdrop's group buy is probably a drop in the bucket compared to Senn's sales year over year, if anything it's a cheap publicity stunt for them. 'Hey kids look, or HD650 are so awesome Massdrop didn't even bother tweaking them!'

It'll probably kick up a bit more interest into a pair of classics that are already recommended ad nasseum, which never hurt.

tony's picture

This is a de-Branding, one time deal.

Usually, this hurts or injures the short term for the Brand.

It also "Fouls" everyone else in the market

It might start a price War, for gods sake.

KEF in England considered doing a "Franklin Mint" kind of thing but decided against. Legit dealers feel betrayed.

If I'm TTVJ, I'd be totally pissed, his inventory is now virtually worthless and un-sellable.

5,000 units can do serious long-term damage.

I wonder what price the HD6xx will get as used on eBay? and who will support.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Years ago, a Dealer Group created the Mustang 11 version of the Factory Car. It left scars.

Sennheiser should've done coupons if they needed to move units.

darwinosx's picture

No this is the third drop of the HD6XX

tony's picture

Ok, third drop.

I'm concluding it's an off-brand of the original brand. Hmm.

It's an XX brand headphone for re-sale purposes, something like B Stock.

Sennheiser has just released it's HD 660 and the HD 650 Apogee versions.

So, they're widening out their Sweet Spot by presenting the HD6xx, the HD600, the HD650, the HD650 Apogee and the HD660.

All look pretty much identical

This is a fantastic headphone, if any headphone can tolerate this sort of spreading it's the superb HD580/600/650 series.

Tony in Michigan

darwinosx's picture

If it was b stock it would be lower quality.
It looks like these are purpose made with some H600/650 components and some standard components.
People say the plastic feels a little cheaper and we know the cord is shorter and a different size.
Apparently 5000 at a time is enough to make a somewhat one off design.

tony's picture

Mass drop seems lower quality in the Brand Sense.

It's semantics, I guess, a matter of terminology.

A Rolex can be a nice watch but it is not a Rolex without the Rolex branding, is it?

Branding carries value.

The same headphone without the Branding will cost less.

Can we accept a Rolex Watch without the Rolex Markings and with lesser materials?

Well, some people will buy a Stripped-out trim level in a Car, the number of such buyers is something less than 1% and even then those stripper cars are slow sellers.

Tony in Michigan

ps. back in 1982ish, I tried to have KEF loudspeakers make their Coda Loudspeaker for us to Import thru our B&K Imports. Raymond Cooke declined, calling our scheme a dilution to their Valuable Brand . I think he was right, we would've diluted his marketing.

HeadphoneAddict's picture

Rolex also makes Tudor watches which are less costly with slightly less build quality. Maybe this could be considered a less expensive version by Sennheiser, with cheaper plastic and less cost put into the cabling (length and termination).

tony's picture

Isn't the Branding a direct reflection of the Owner ?

A person could wear a Vostok, so why don't they ?, I'll bet it's because they want the esteem of being associated with Sailboat racing in the America's Cup.

I would probably wear a Rolex Submariner to promote myself as an outstanding Water person & exotic adventurer with a successful career. Perhaps lesser aspirants would consider Tudor, ( is Tudor a Rolex on training wheels ? ).

Of course, I'm not an "Outstanding" water person or an "exotic" adventurer but I can dress like I imagine them to dress, so Rolex might be a successful costume designer. Conversely, I imagine real adventurers are wearing Timex.

On Brands, I'm just now re-discovering PS Audio, after being one of their Dealers ( in the late 1970s & 1980s ). I like what I'm seeing from the PS design team, I may return to enthusiastic audiophilism, thanks to Paul McGowan's YouTube Video Series.

PS has become one hell of a ultra high performance Brand, hasn't it ?

Tony in Michigan

GimmeCans's picture

I wonder how (actually, IF) these are as good- even considering bulk buying power, the cosmetic changes (blue, ugh) make me wonder if NON-cosmetic changes have been made... Have you had a pair of these apart to see if, for instance, the baffles are carbon fiber as in the 650 or if cheaper plastics have been substituted for example? There have been rumblings of QC issues with the Massdrop/AKG K7XX, which I believe to be a QC trial for AKG's rumored relocation of all production to China.

Earlier poster makes a good point, good luck getting anything on the used market for your 650s or 600s after these drop.

Magoo's picture

The close up of them looks like a knock off from different molds...not the factory ones...maybe it's just the photo...but they don't seem to look as nice as the factory units ...

echineko's picture

Saying it's a "knock off" implies it's a ripoff of the 650, when this was very much a collaboration between Sennheiser and Massdrop. I wouldn't go so far, since it is a actual authorised product, though I'd be curious to see details of warranty.

Now, there could be cost cutting measure taken for sure to arrive at that price point, one very obvious one is the packaging, it's more along the lines of the no-frills packaging MD employs for their other drops. As long as the headphone itself stays pure, I doubt most people will care, at that price.

Taissef's picture

In the UK these will end up at about £210.
The normal 650s can be had for £250 on Amazon. In terms of build quality and comfort do you believe these are a more compelling buy for a roughly 15% price redcution

ktmracer's picture

Massdrop has been after Sennheiser for years. Sennheiser refused to play along for the exact reasons mentioned above (TTVJ). But now is the perfect time. The HD650 is so long in the tooth. It played king of the hill for a long time, while Focal, Hifiman, etc. spent their time making new (better looking?) headphones. The end of the HD650 is near. With the exception of some select retro headphones (Koss), the HD600/650 has the most outdated looks of any mid-fi/hi-fi high selling headphone on the planet. The design is horrendously outdated, but then they coat it in the most 80's of paint styles: "Speckles." This was fine in 2003, they looked good then (sort of). But in the age of Beats, style matters. The 800 just got an update, the 500 line just received a whole refresh/makeover. The 600 line is obviously next in line. This is just Sennheiser being nice to the audiophiles that put sound ahead of style. The HD660/650S/698/etc. is just around the corner. It may slightly resemble the 650, but I absolutely guarantee it won't have the speckles. Now we just need to pray they've kept the sound.

darwinosx's picture

I don't find the design to be outdated as far as how it looks other than the paint.

KG_Jag's picture

A fine headphone but one that has been on the market a very long time--much longer still if you include the 580 & 600. Senn has propped the price up the last several or more years with their MAP. Senn has recently released a number of new headphones, turning over much of their line. Timing of this makes sense and will probably give them a good boost to their sales numbers--certainly in the short to medium run.

zobel's picture

Especially when Massdrop incorporates design improvements on top headphones, it is undoubtedly the deserved leader in sales of those models. The AKG K7XX is a prime example of this. These HD6XX,cans by Massdrop are really no better than my 19 year old HD600, so the advantage here is limited to value for the consumer, and profits for Sennheiser. Dealers carrying stock of this original model rightly ought to be reimbursed the margin they lose by the headphone manufacture, or be given the opportunity to return stock to the manufacturer at their wholesale price.

darwinosx's picture

That sounds like something a dealer would say.

kobe A5's picture

the 6xx drop finished in 2 hours with 10s thousands missed out and now screaming at Massdrop.

Really hope their next project will be using now 'old' HD800 and make a 8xx for $500

DaveK1977's picture

I sure hope that this one happens again.

marcovibes's picture

$199 for new headphones? I can't believe. I hope you are not kidding :)