Jupiter Audio Research HD650 Impressions/Measurements (Finalized Mod)

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Hands, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I’ll do a quick validation test on the loaner unit before kicking off the tour, so it’ll be making its way around soon.

    I would assume people can start buying these whenever, but they’d need to contact @ext1 and confirm. I don’t think there are going to be further changes. Unsure on shipping in your own pair. That can cause headaches for both parties. Ultimately up to @ext1.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Excellent. It's was just super weird for me (and probably 10000 other readers) to read about an such exiting product; but have no fricking idea WTH actually makes it or HTF to buy it for several months. I've been in an irritable mood lately, so calling a lot of stuff out. I tried using my psychic powers to identify and find the maker of this JAR mod, but my alas, my powers were too weak.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  3. Elmer Danilovich

    Elmer Danilovich MShenay trying to pretend to be an old man

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    Pretty interesting stuff, though like many of you I'm curious to see how the JAR 3L compares to the existing KISS Modded HD 650's this community is known for. Both in hard measurements and subjective listening
     
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  4. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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  5. starence

    starence Facebook Friend

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    I just received my JAR modded 650 a few days ago, and it's very impressive. I don't have experience with other 650 mods, but I strongly prefer it to the stock 650, 660S and 58X. For me, the stock 650 is a little too laid back. With the JAR mod, they seem faster and more controlled, and brighter (but not excessively so). Mids are still what they do best. The bass quality doesn't seem dramatically better, but it is perhaps tighter. The 650 is still far from neutral, but with Jupiter's mods, it's more balanced and more lively.
     
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  6. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    FULL DISCLOSURE: I paid full retail for my JAR650. Jupiter Lee is a friend, but I have no financial interest in Jupiter Audio Research.

    Recently I received the final/updated version of my original JAR650 (reviewed on Head-Fi in July). It's the 3rd version of this mod I've heard, and easily the best. FYI, I've heard it at length on the V281 & LC v2 + Woo WA3 OTL tube amp (balanced for the SS amps & SE for the OTL). It sounds similar/equally good on all 3 (not amp-picky at all).

    A few observations:
    • Changes resulting from feedback by @Hands are significant, audible & uniformly positive.
      • The JAR650 bass has much less bloom than stock, and is even a bit tighter/flatter than the version I reviewed in July
      • The midrange remains the star (as always w/this design)--but the latest JAR650 has the most accurate, level, yet musically satisfying mids of the 3 iterations I've heard
      • The treble is now just about ideal--more detail & accuracy than stock, and very slightly reduced in level from the mod I reviewed in July. The JAR650 nails the treble IMO.
      • Soundstaging was already tight, intimate & focused, and now seems slightly more so.
    • Overall, I find almost nothing to criticize about the final JAR650. It sound balanced, flat, accurate, and detailed, yet consistently musical, never bright or fatiguing. If I were a studio pro* I'd use this headphone in a heartbeat for mixing/tracking.
    Frequency extremes & dynamics are still not SOTA, though better than stock. Still, what this headphone does tonally/timbrally, it does so well that I tend to forget it's a mod of the humble-yet-legendary HD650. I like the stock HD650 a lot, but this mod takes that good sound to another level.

    I don't have top-flight open-back dynamics for comparison, so I compare it to open-back planars (pre-fazor LCD-2 & -3, HEX v2). The big surprise is the JAR650 now exhibits a quality I assumed only planars have: a quiet blackness from which notes suddenly emerge/blossom. That quality (I'm told it stems from low distortion of planar drivers) is one reason I love planars--and here it is in the JAR650.

    I know the JAR650 costs more than a stock HD650 or HD6XX. I also know many can mod their own HD650s (though not to this extent). Still, the JAR650 is totally worth the money IMO. It's an excellent headphone, strongly recommended.

    *There's a discussion on Gearslutz about "Mixing on Monitors versus Headphones." Interesting to see how many there use HD600s or 650s, though some complain about the "musical" 650 sound (the pro audio crowd does 99% of their listening for profit, not love of music).

    https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-...230644-mixing-monitors-versus-headphones.html
     
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  7. Jinxy245

    Jinxy245 Friend

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    From everything I've read any iteration of the 650 driver is somewhat amp picky, it's just that you have some quality amps at hand. They do need adequate power (among other things I believe) to sound it's best.
     
  8. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Yes and no... I agree one should have a reasonably good standalone HP amp (or a solid combo DAC/amp) to hear the best from the JAR650 or stock HD650. But it doesn't really need big-$$$ amping to sound great. In the post above, I used the V281 (big balanced power); and the Woo WA3 (less power, though still more than needed, + impedance matching). The V281 is pretty high quality, but the WA3 is probably not the equal of larger/more powerful OTLs.

    In my original Head-Fi review of the JAR650 (then termed "J-Mod"), I used 5 amps, one of which (M Stage Matrix HPA-1*) sounds very nice IMO, but has far less power than the others.

    Amping: I listened to the J-Mod on 4 solid state amps (V281; LC v2; Lake People G109-A; M Stage Matrix HPA-1); and an OTL tube amp, the Woo WA3. The surprise was that I preferred solid state amps by a large margin. Not sure why, but the J-Mod is amp-agnostic and can sound very good with less-than stellar sources (it sounded fantastic on the HPA-1, my cheapest & least powerful amp). I heard the expected differences between these familiar SS amps, but those differences were not spotlighted by the J-Mod. Balanced cable & amp sounded better than SE, but again, margins were not large.

    * The HPA-1 is outfitted with my favorite of 3 opamps used for it, 2 X OPA827AIDs on browndog adapter. No doubt this contributes to the good sound I get from the it (a significant improvement vs stock),
     
  9. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    Just listened to my JAR650 (HD650 heavily modified by Jupiter Audio Research) in my secondary system, which is headphone only (DAC is Audio GD DAC-19; amp is M Stage Matrix HPA-1 w/rolled opamps). This is my least expensive & powerful SS amp, and the JAR650 sounded very good on it, as it has before.

    As usual with this headphone, I completely forgot I had it on my head & listened non-analytically to various genres of music. The JAR650 is flat, uncolored, and straightforward in sound, so it gets out of the way of the music. I've grown to appreciate the relatively intimate/close-in soundstaging of this headphone (very similar to that of the stock HD650, perhaps a touch wider). It aligns with the overall sonic profile IMO.

    Later in the evening I switched to a larger, more expensive headphone on my primary system (V281 + NOS 19 DAC). The JAR650 wasn't blown out by the comparison: sound on the primary system is certainly very good, but not 10X better...

    I find you don't have to spend grand theft money to get satisfying headphone audio.
     
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  10. m17xr2b

    m17xr2b Friend

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    Let's not fool ourselves into thinking the HD650 or any mod you do can have a flat frequency response. It has subbass rolloff like no other with a warm(coloured) midrange and timid high end. It's fantastic and a bargain but not flat and uncoloured.

    Once you'll listen to a wide variate of headphones you'll notice the shortcomings and true character of the HD650.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  11. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I have listened to a wide range of headphones. I also compared stock vs JAR650 at length & find the JAR650 to be flatter, less colored, and with an obviously improved high end vs the stock HD650.

    Of course, this is all a matter of degree: neither version is ruler-flat, and the mod doesn't turn the HD650 headphone into the HD800 or Utopia. Then again, neither the HD800 nor Utopia is ruler-flat, either.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  12. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Friend

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    I do find this when swapping between my 800 and modded 650. The latter is quite colored, albeit very pleasing, but I really can't listen to the 650 for more than a couple albums before I feel smothered in warm mocha and need to sober up. YMMV. Really curious about the JAR mod though.
     
  13. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    thank the maker this was finally stated in clear and abject accuracy for all to read (hopefully) in the future.
     
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  14. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Though tbf for a lot of quote-audiophile-unquote music with no bass content whatsoever and screechy treble it's about perfect.

    I mean, i know that (by your powers combined) I'm captain obvious, but there's a reason modding the treble up a bit has produced what, 20 something years of nonstop gushing yeh.
     
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  15. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Friend

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    I was planning on waiting a few days of listening before posting my impressions, but I did quite a bit of note taking last night and this morning, so I figured why not just post my notes. I have a pretty good handle on these since I've listened to the KISS modded 650 for a while and am pretty familiar with the 650 sound at this point.

    I had previously removed the dynamat on my KISS but put it back on weeks ago and have been listening to standard KISS ever since.

    Chain: CDP/BNC/Gungnir Multibit A1/maxxedT3 (GE 12AZ7 tubes)

    JAR = JAR modded HD650
    KISS = KISS modded HD650 (Spider cage removed, coin mod, dynamat)

    The good:

    Overall JAR sound is more "open" and spacious. Less compressed.

    Compared to KISS, treble is smoother, less grainy, less sibilant, less crunchy, more refined but also less present. It is a bit more smoothed over and less emphasized. The mids take more center stage.

    Bass, mids and treble transition into each other more smoothly. More cohesive sound. KISS just seems overall slightly more disjointed, but not offensive in any way.

    More bass, more slam. Not subtle. This is not necessarily welcome, which I will get to in a bit...

    Slightly less dark/cloudy sounding. Closer to 600 in brightness. Not as bright, but closer. Still has that 650 smokiness/Ray-Ban tint.

    Moar microdetail. I could hear more reverb trails when the track called for it. Can hear a bit deeper into the mix. This was a welcome change.

    Volume level is noticeably louder when switching to JAR (despite using same cable and not touching the pot) which surprised me. Not sure what's up with that. Really the overall sound is louder and more in your face.

    JAR is more midrange focused to a fault. The 650 is already a mid heavy can, so this is not necessarily a good thing, which I'll get to...

    The bad:

    Even though the treble is smoother and more refined, it is less euphonic and more plain/ordinary sounding. The 650 is really known for it's magical treble and this kind of neuters that. It's not subtle either.

    They are a bit more in your face sounding because of the elevated midrange and more slam. I can see them being more fatiguing over time if people are sensitive to too much impact, espescially on pop/rap/electronic/bass heavy tracks. The more present midrange actually became kind of annoying over time. It almost felt smothering. This may actually depend on setup though since my Shunyata power cables are more midranged focused as well. But this does not really affect my KISS much, so....

    They are slightly less precise in the imaging department. A little murkier in separation. Sounds are a little more delineated with KISS, more precise.

    Depsite the increase in bass, they are more thump thump thumpy sounding, which came off as slightly unnatural. Bass is not really localized like you get in TOTL cans, but more bloaty, like you are in an annoying rave club. KISS is noticeably better at localizing the bass, even though there is less quantity.

    JAR is less wet/magical/euphonic. Drier overall. Not subtle. They lose alot of that 650 juju/sparkle that made them legendary. This is actually a major mark against them because the 650 isn't really the 650 without that IMO. It was too radical of a change for me personally, but it's going to depend on the individual listener so YMMV.

    I would not necessarily give up a KISS for this and see it more as an alternative when you're feeling like a little more slam/excitement/detail. The tradeoffs for slightly better technicalities is not necessarily worth it. Over time I became less and less interested in the JAR and I kept switching back to my KISS, which I feel is a better headphone despite slight losses in technicalities and bass quantity. I would even go so far as to say JAR is a bit more dull sounding than KISS. But YMMV.

    FWIW I personally would not buy JAR, especially if its more expensive than a used 650. But I can see others being interested. Definitely a good idea to demo before deciding. It would be interesting to see if pad changes do anything to alleviate the criticisms.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2019
  16. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    I did buy the Jupiter Audio Research-modded HD650 ("JAR650") for reasons of sonic curiosity and friendship with Jupiter Lee. I'm not even sure what I paid for it, which is kind of my point. The $$ no longer matters much...what does matter is this modded Senn has become a valued member of the handful of headphones whose sound I totally rely on. I wouldn't think of being w/o it.

    I liked the stock HD650 a lot, but this is really better. A more transparent, accurate, yet still extremely musical headphone. The mids are very very good, and the treble is among the very best I ever heard from any HP, regardless of price.

    It's usually the 1st one I reach for when trying to figure out the sound of a new component, or to compare to a new HP.
     
  17. famish99

    famish99 Friend

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    I didn't really have much opportunity to critically listen to them, but I feel that the differences between the JAR and a KISS modded pair are pretty easily explained.

    I would say my impressions largely echo @m17xr2b's impressions of it. It's most simply described as a cleaner, brighter, and more aggressive version of the KISS mod. It sort of does everything the KISS mod does, but just more of it; the greatest improvement being the reduction of veil. Even though the treble is brighter, it's definitely smoother. Ultimately, the brightness and the improved transient response made the JAR a bit more fatiguing for me, even more so than the Clear. Bass extends a bit better, but still doesn't quite compare against the Clear in that department either.

    I would strongly consider one for myself if I hadn't bought the Clear, but I'd say it doesn't quite add enough for me at this point to add one to my stable of headphones.
     
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  18. EagleWings

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    @Pharmaboy , the version that you own and the one I tested (@famish99 also had a chance to test it briefly) back in August was Jupiter's initial version of the JMOD. I think the loaner unit is a more recent version of the mod, and based on @famish99 's post I am getting the impression that this one is a little cleaner and more aggressive than the initial version I tried. I definitely liked the first version. This version seems like it might be a bit too bright/aggressive for me.
     
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  19. Pharmaboy

    Pharmaboy Friend

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    @EagleWings, the version I owned & reviewed on Head-Fi was the initial version of the JMod. Aactually there were 1-2 earlier versions, the later of which I heard--but don't want to confuse matters.

    My personal pair then became the loaner pair. I have no idea exactly who else heard it, whether it was the one Hands reviewed/gave feedback on, etc.

    However, several months ago Jupiter contacted me to say he had my JMod (which had been the loaner unit). By then he was doing the mods somewhat differently, based on feedback from Hands, possibly others. I was reading good things about the update & Jupiter offered to update my pair. I received the final/updated HP a couple months ago.

    My sonic memory is not good enough to compare this updated JMod to the original. All I can say is its sonic qualities rise far above the price. I never heard a KISS mod, but both the initial JMod & the updated version of it (after my usual 150 hrs of burnin in various genres of music and/or noise file) sounds exemplary to me--definitely less vague (ie, resolved better) and w/less veil than the stock HD650--but not even close to brightness, peakiness, etc. The bass does extend a little better & the mids are very good, as they are on the stock HP.

    I've heard many headphones in my 3-4 yr headphone journey, and the treble of the JMod, in particular, stands out as equal to the best I've heard.

    The only "flies in the ointment" w/the JMod (as w/the stock HD650) remain less than ex;pansive soundstaging (it's on the intimate side, which I've grown to appreciate) & the middling comfort (I have a big head--look at the avatar).
     
  20. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The JAR mod should be at worst only slightly brighter than stock. I personally don’t hear it as such at all. In fact, it mitigates the 5KHz resonance to make them easier to listen to. The strained, tizzy sound is gone. It is more dynamic sounding, less veiled and sleepy, clearer, which may give the impression of sounding brighter.

    However, this may not be the case if your HD650 is older/a unicorn pair or has softer, flatter pads. I’m not sure how much the JAR unit’s pads have worn from the tour, but they were fresh at the start. Pads make a big difference on the Sennheisers.

    Assuming fresh pads all around, the JAR actually sounds most like an older, unicorn HD650 pair I borrowed a while back. New units just don’t sound as good as they used to.

    And, yes, this older pair was much more lively sounding than the newer pairs. I consider it a very desirable trait. This is still the HD650 we’re talking about. Not like it becomes some aggressive, overbearing beast.
     
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