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Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX
Original: $240 USD
June 2022: $199 USD
70mm x 40mm (inside ear cup)
Wholesale site Drop has taken to partnering with audio companies to offer products at a discount, but are they any good? The site has partnered with Sennheiser to release two dramatically-cheaper options in both the Drop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee ($149 at Drop), and now the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX. Based off of the former consumer flagship and Sennheiser HD 650, the HD 6XX has enormous shoes to fill. We spent a couple of weeks using the product to see how it compares, and interestingly enough, there’s really not much difference anyone will notice between the two—the HD 6XX is the best deal currently for audiophile headphones.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on September 18, 2023, to update formatting, mention the Sennheiser HD 560S in the alternatives section.
Audiophiles on a budget, or Sennheiser fans looking for that high-end fix at less than half of sticker price will love the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX. While it won’t look the same, the matte black plastic and metal casing looks better to some. Additionally, the headphones come with all of the perks of the famed Sennheiser HD 650, so what’s not to love?
What’s it like to use the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX?
For anyone looking to get into the world of high-end audio, the Sennheiser HD 6XX is an excellent entry point. Not only is it more affordable than the legendary Sennheiser HD 650 that it’s based off of, it also provides an incredibly similar performance as well.
If you’re making the jump from more portable headphones, you need to know that open-backed headphones like the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX presents with some foibles that you might not be ready for. For example: the headphones do not offer any isolation from your surroundings, and you will find that outside noise will be incredibly annoying through no fault of the headphones. Because of that, you are insane if you take these out on a commute with you. Not only are you sacrificing audio quality, but you’ll have to crank the volume up to unsafe listening levels in order to hear your music above the outside world.
The natural habitat of the Sennheiser HD 6XX is by a computer, or plugged into a home theater setup. There are several reasons for this which I’ll get into in a moment, but for now you should assume that this is where you’re going to use these headphones if you buy them. This is perfectly fine for music lovers who want to rock out at home, and it’s a great place for these cans. If you’re wondering whether these are for you, keep in mind that the selling point of the Sennheiser HD 6XX is the audio quality and almost nothing else. There’s no microphone for calls, there’s no extra features, or anything like that. It’s a purely performance-centric device.
Because the Sennheiser HD 6XX is only about 260g (under 10oz.), the large ear cups with velour ear pads do a great job. Not only do they secure the headphones to your skull well, but they also don’t put too much pressure on your head either. The ear cups themselves are so large that they most likely will never touch your outer ears, or force them into an unnatural position.
This, combined with the open backs mean that you can listen to these headphones for hours on end with only minimal heat buildup or discomfort. Additionally, those who wear glasses will appreciate the velour pad covering, as it doesn’t bind or catch on the arms of your specs.
What does the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX use for connection?
Like most audiophile headphones, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX uses a good ol’ TRS 3.5mm headphone connector. This cable, in turn, plugs into each earcup at the bottom with a removable two-pin connector. On the off chance you somehow damage your cable, don’t worry: you can just grab a new one online (though that one has a 6.3mm connection—you’ll need a cheap adapter). Or if you don’t have time for that, you could always repair it yourself.
Can you use the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX with a phone?
This is a good time to point out that you may want to use a DAC and amplifier for this set of headphones, as it takes a little bit more power than you might be used to needing. Not every phone can get it to a good loudness, for example. On paper, only the LG G8, LG V30, V35, V40, V50 can satisfy the power requirements of these headphones. The Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX are much better suited for the computer.
To expand upon this, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX has a resistance rating of 300Ω and a sensitivity of 103dB/1Vrms. That’s a pretty significant amount of power needed to reach higher volumes, so you want to leave these by the computer. If you find that your preferred source can’t get the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX to a good listening volume, you’ll want to pick up an amp.
How does the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX sound?
I’m going to have a hard time giving this model up when the review is over, because the HD 6XX is a truly exceptional pair of headphones. A lot of that owes to the fact that it’s basically the same headset as another audiophile darling, just… $200 instead of $499 USD. There aren’t any channel balance errors, no appreciable distortion, and the sound is neutral-leaning. I personally prefer this sound over bassiness, so these headphones are a good fit for my life at home.
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Like many audiophile headphones, they target what we refer to as a “studio” response, where the headphones don’t add many “colorations” or swings in emphasis for the notes in your music. The main advantage of this is that you can hear a song closer to how it was intended to be heard, without any extra changes to the signal. Additionally, songs will appear a lot “clearer” than you might be used to because there aren’t any ranges of notes that make it particularly difficult to hear others. This type of response really excels with music recorded before the loudness wars.
While open-backed headphones like the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX have certain advantages, they also have a major weakness when it comes to dealing with outside noise.
You may be used to extreme bass over-emphasis in your headphones, so they may sound a little like they don’t have much bass at first. Your ears will get used to it, and in the long run you’ll enjoy these headphones more. Sure, our target rewards a little low end, but for those that know they want a more accurate set of headphones, these are an excellent pickup.
Should you buy the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX?
If you’re looking for a set of cans to stick by the computer, you’ll have to look long and hard for a better deal than this. Sure, $200 USD is a lot of money to spend on headphones, but in the world of high-end audio, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX is an absolute steal.
Of course, this isn’t the right set of headphones for everyone, and that’s okay. If you are a commuter looking for better headphones for the train or bus, this is a terrible choice. But if you want nothing but the best audio quality for your money at home, the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX makes a great case for your money.
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The Sennheiser HD 660S is a great open-back headset but if you have to choose between the two, we recommend the HD 6XX instead. The HD 6XX is half the price and boasts a frequency response that more closely follows our studio curve, relative to the HD 660S. Don’t get us wrong: the HD 660S sounds great, but the HD 6XX will sound better to some.
What should you buy instead of the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX?
Budget audiophile picks are a little difficult to navigate because there’s usually some tradeoff or another. However, an easy step down from the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX is the Sennheiser HD 560S ($207 at Amazon). This set of open-back headphones does a great job of offering a level of performance that’s commensurate with slightly more expensive headphones, but with a materials bill that enables a lower price. Coming in on sale at about $25 cheaper than the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, it’s a good alternative to look at if you’d like to spend the extra money on music.
Perhaps the Sennheiser HD 6XX from Massdrop isn’t for you, but you want something a bit snazzier. We recommend the HiFiMan Sundara ($299 at Amazon), a set of open-back, planar magnetic headphones with an excellent design and frequency response. The headphones are comfortable and sound great straight out of the box, no equalization is needed here. Be aware, however, that this headset is quite a bit heavier than Sennheiser’s and weighs in at 372g. Because of this, it will be slightly less comfortable over several hours.
If you’re a content creator who needs something with a low impedance, get the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X ($269 at Amazon). This set of open-backs reproduces sub-bass notes a bit louder than the HD 6XX but you’ll also hear a treble bump from 4-7kHz. What makes the DT 900 PRO X truly unique is how easy it is to repair and access internal parts that may need replacing down the road. If you care about sound quality and want to extend the life of your headphones, strongly consider this $299 USD headset.
Frequently asked questions about the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6xx
I wouldn’t. Because the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX has open-backed earcups, outside noise will wreck your listening experience. While open-backed headphones like the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX have certain advantages, they also have a major weakness when it comes to dealing with outside noise. That same phenomenon of auditory masking linked above will prevent certain notes from being heard if anything is going on around you.
Because of that, you’ll notice a drop in sound quality when your kids, roommates, or neighbors start banging around. It’s annoying on the best of days, and actively disruptive on the worst. If you live in a quiet area you have nothing to worry about, but it’s something to consider.
The Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX take much of their components from the Sennheiser HD 650, most importantly: their drivers. Of course, there was a fair bit of materials changes necessary to reduce the price, but the two pairs of headphones are remarkably similar in many ways.