Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Hands, Oct 19, 2018.
Bifrost 2 + SW51+ > JAR650 = killer synergy
Been working crazy amounts of hours so, again, this will be a much shorter and condensed review of the JAR HD650. I tried the JAR HD600 for a few hours but ultimately I went back to the JAR HD650.
System: PC --> BF2 --> SW51+ | Oblivion Amplifier
Sound: I really enjoyed the JAR HD650. Truly, I was skeptical of this mod, but found it tamed the mid bass bloom wub wub and made it even more articulate. The mod kept most of what's great of the HD650 and dampens/tightens up everything else. It veers just a few short ticks to the neutral side compared to the HD650, with the mids just slightly being dialed back, and with a much clear/cleaner sound.
HD 650 vs JAR HD650:
The JAR HD650 is just faster and much tighter overall headphone.
Bass is more tactile compared to the bass on the OG HD650.
Mids are slightly dialed back.
It definitely sounds clearer, cleaner, and slightly wins out in resolve.
The HD650 has an open sound while the JAR HD650 feels slightly constraint.
The JAR 650 still retains that smooth mid to upper mids/lower treble transition.
Transients just feel more satisfying on the JAR 650. Snares and cymbals have more thwack and shimmer to them.
The JAR 650 demands more energy for the same volume as the HD650. This shouldn't be an issue but on the SW51+ I had the HD650 at about 10 while the JAR 650 was around 11 - 11:30.
ZMF Auteur vs JAR 650
Surprisingly the JAR 650s reminded me of the Auteur. Eerily close to each other.
The Auteur has better transients but the JAR 650 has a smoother mids and up transition.
They both resolved instruments about equally while I give the nod to the JAR 650 in microdynamics, the Auteur was technically better at everything else.
Speed was similar on the SW51+ but on the Oblivion the Auteur pulled away.
On very busy tracks, they both exhibit that wall of sound but with the slight nod to the Auteur in keeping it together.
The Auteur sounds great out of both amp but the JAR 650 just paired beautifully with the SW51+.
The Auteur's bass reaches low. Almost planar low. While the JAR 650 looks at its bigger brother and dreams that it can say, "The water was deep and a cold" standing next to him in a urinal.
Focal Elex vs JAR HD650
The JAR HD650 wins out in timbre and tonal balance. Instruments and vocals sound natural.
The JAR HD650 takes the L in speed.
The JAR HD650 takes the L in transients.
They both equally have the same great microdynamics, while the Elex wins out in macrodynamics.
Bass slam and extension easily goes to the Elex.
Elex has more air and is stronger at instrument separation on very busy tracks.
The Elex is better at imaging and portraying a 3D sound effect compared to the JAR 650.
Resolve was a little harder to gauge but I'm giving the nod to the Elex.
Few Nitpicks: One thing that I found is that images seemed smaller on the JAR 650 compared to the HD650. Also, the stage itself didn't feel as tall and the stage felt more constricted.
Conclusion: Really, this is a great sounding headphone for the price. The Elex is being sold now for $600 and, to me, has great synergy with the SW51+ but so does the JAR HD650 which is half the price? You get a headphone that sounds clearer and cleaner than the HD650 while still retaining most, if not all, of it's characteristics. It has a more natural sound than the Elex but you're sacrificing stronger imaging, speed, slam, and macrodynamics. For Jazz, Bossanova, Blues, and some Rock, I'd take the Elex over the JAR HD650 but for everything else I'd be happy with the JAR HD650, especially in Acoustics and Vocals. If my budget fell around the JAR HD650 price range, I'd purchase the SW51+ and call it a day. If I wanted to step up to the next tier, I'd save up and purchase the Aeolus or Auteur and skip the Elex altogether.
I haven't heard the Elex at all, and spent relatively little time with the Auteur--just a short spell IMS & the rest mostly listening in show conditions. So I'm not up on those comparisons.
Still, I agree with most of your comments about the sound of the JAR650 vs the stock HD650. The latter is a headphone I enjoyed & liked right away. It's easy to see why it has been a big success for probably longer than any other--it has a very well chosen, balanced sound. The JAR650 just takes whatever is good in the stock headphone & makes it somewhat better, all in the direction of resolution, focus/clarity, control, and better bass.
I didn't notice any real differences in soundstage in the stock HP vs JAR650. Perhaps the somewhat less diffuse sound of the JAR650 makes even more obvious the "intimate" soundstage both headphones share? I was OK with that soundstaging; to me it makes the JAR650 sound like a music monitoring headphone, the type that gives a realistic picture of the recorded music w/no added flash & sizzle.
JAR 650 and 580 Loaner Impressions
iPhone -> iFi iDSD BL
Pi2AES -> Pavane -> Freya S -> Stratus
I focused my comparison time with my HD 6XX. Are these a big improvement? Yes. Could they replace my Autuer, Atticus, Clear, or HD 800? No. Considering the price point that isn't a surprise and they are still quite good.
Fatigue came up a lot, this was a period of rather poor sleep.
JAR 650 vs 6xx
650 clearer, revealed 6xx mud (which I didn't notice initially)
650 Less bass
650 heavier in hand, noticed no difference in on-head comfort
Perhaps 650 a little livelier
650 less fatiguing when I listened to Garbage (normally don't find the 6XX fatiguing at all)
Various classical: Sometimes close but always preferred JAR. Fuller tone and revealed more detail
Jazz: Tie. Sometimes preferred the 6XX tonal balance and percussion hits felt more sharp, liked clarity better with JAR.
JAR 650 vs JAR 580
This was my first time hearing a 580, I've never heard the 600 either.
650 a bit muddy / 580 clearer
Vocals were a toss up, sometimes I felt the 650 brought them more forward, other times the 580 clarity made them more enjoyable. 650 bass sometimes overshadowed vocals
The 580 has more treble emphasis, 650 more bass. Both of them are smooth and I didn't find either fatiguing
Sometimes found the 650 sharper despite 580 having more elevated treble
Most of the time I preferred the 580 for acoustic, definitely better for classical.
Overall liked the 580 better but each one was better for different music, there wasn't a definitive winner, my preference was music dependent
JAR 580 vs HD 800
I wanted to know how well the 580 holds up against my favorite classical headphones. The 800 wins no doubt, specifically tone, balance, stage, and presence. There was a lot more emotional engagement with the 800 and I noticed a little fatigue with the 580 (weird). Could 580 be a solid holdover to save money? Yes, probably gets you 50% of the way there.
650 vs 6XX
Mostly the same results as the iFi chain with some minor differences. I found the 650 a little more fatiguing and heard more bass than the 6XX. The bass specifically seemed like it could be an issue of clarity. Either way, most of my previous impressions were the same with the Pavane/Stratus.
Ranking for an all-rounder: 580 > 650 > 6XX > 800
Ranking for classical music: 800 > 580 > 650 > 6XX
Thanks to the loaner tour, I got to check out the JAR 650 and 580. For context, I haven't owned a 650 in years, the last time I did it was a KISS modded one, I had a completely different chain back then and even at that point I still preferred the 600 unmodded. I later acquired an ever so slightly modded HD580 that was my daily driver for years.
The chain for this was JRiver->UPnP->Moode Audio on a Pi 4 (Sox resampled to 24/88 for all files)->Pi2AES->Gungnir MB A1 via BNC->SW51+ with Telefunken EF805S tubes on the high impedance output (and briefly a Mjolnir 1 but I don't think the Mjo1 has the best synergy with the 580/600/650 in any configuration).
Aesthetically, the mods look nice, feel solid, and make the headphones feel more substantial. It's not adding so much weight that they felt overly heavy on my head, but those who love the lightweight nature of the Senns should take note that these mods add noticeable heft.
First up was the 650. And frankly, I was surprised. The mids were very forward and compelling, as was always the strong suit of the 650s, the darker tint of the 650 was still there, but the bass was, to be totally honest, bad. The low end sounded like one note blub blub blub with every track I tried. No texture, no slam, no refinement in any way. I don't think this is the result of the JAR mods. I think the 650 just has absolute shite bass and I didn't notice it back when I had them, both because my chain was not as refined as it is now, and also because I hadn't heard enough excellent bass reproduction from headphones to have reasonable points of comparison. This honestly shocked me because while the 600 and the 580 don't have the best bass reproduction in the entire audio world, there is at least some slam and texture, but with the 650 it was like Sennheiser just went for the seductive mids and everything else was out the window. Put the absolute final nail in the coffin for me ever wanting to own a 650 again. Since it's been so long since I've heard a stock 650 or even a KISS modded 650, I really can't reasonably compare this to a stock unit to say whether or not it's worth getting the mods. I trust the voices of others here who do feel it is an upgrade over stock or over other methods of modding.
The meat of this loaner for me was the 580. I've long been a 580 fanboy, ever since I heard a pair Bill brought to one of the SoCal meets, and I've been vocal here about my preference for it above the 600 and 650. I think it's the most balanced of the three out of the box, and the most versatile and responsive to modding. Until recently the 580 was my daily driver and had been for many years, so I am extremely familiar with its sound. And the first thought I had when I switched from the 650 to the 580 was "Ah, there's the bass!" and also "Oh yeah and here's the treble that should be here too." The low end on the JAR 580 is a big step up from the 650, with discernible texture and resolution and a varied sound that wasn't one note, with some slam to boot. The mids were not as upfront, and the high end more clear and extended, and overall this is just the sound I prefer, even for rock music where I know a lot of people choose the 650. But it wasn't just the FR where I noted a difference. One of my main test tracks was "Close to the Edge" by Yes. I find this track so useful because it contains sections with different sounds and approaches and types of attack. The opening is sheer cacophony as the entire band plays furiously before settling into a groove, and going back and forth I noticed I was able to make out the individual instruments and what they were playing more easily with the 580 than with the 650. I think this speaks both to the clarity of the 580 as well as the greater treble emphasis, as this allowed me to hear some of the detail more easily. Also I could hear the individual notes Chris Squire was playing on the bass on the 580.
The biggest question for me was is the JAR 580 a noticeable improvement over my 580, itself lightly modded but much closer to stock than the JAR mods. And the answer for me was, yes, I was able to notice that the JAR 580 did seem more controlled, a little more resolving and clear, and generally sounded like an upgrade over my 580. However, while this was noticeable to me, it wasn't smacking me over the head like going from the 650 to the 580. The differences were subtle, and going back and forth between the two pairs of 580s, they did sound very close. You're not going to mistake the Jar 580 for a different headphone. And given that the 580 is no longer my daily driver, I ultimately felt mine were close enough without being compelled to splurge on further upgrades. If the 580 is your daily driver though, and you've built your system around it as your main headphone, then I absolutely think the JAR mods are worth it over stock.
I do appreciate being able to hear these and want to stress again that I think the JAR mods are likely getting the most out of the 650 that can be gotten, I just feel that the 650 isn't what I want in a headphone regardless of the mods applied to it.
Realize I never pasted in my impressions for these beauties from the loaner. Life has been busy and all. These were in my notes so i’ll be copying and pasting with minimum revisions due to lack of time, so please excuse these ramblings / Stream of conscious notes, but hopefully this at least provides some use for someone looking to get these (TLDR; get these. I plan to lol.)
///// INITIAL SESSION - Day 1 ////
=== Unboxing ==
wow the matte material is very very nice
=== Setup ===
Source - Schiit Modius/ Sonic Frontiers sfd-1
Amped by the wa6se (sylvania and russian tubes).
15 min warm up. stock cables
=== Headphones being compared** ===
580 OG. stock old black mesh. only change in grilll and Shure pads + Shure Pad Filter
580 new stock. newish pads
580 romance - sleeper lotsa mods (did the full copper tape mods recommended by Bill-P
6xx kiss mod plus slight grill tweak (some copper tape + absorber materials)
** Excuse the crazy names. I nicknamed my 580s since i have so many lol
== first impressions ==
JAR650 - oh woooow. chiiiiiils omg. Incredible “real” and organic sounding. so much emotion. ok gotta stop otherwise i can’t get work done.
JAR580. technically very capable. clear and crisp. also seems to depend on source material. some of them sound incredible (drake -views is great. still not as soulful tho). Transparent, accurate? but maybe a bit too clean and not much”soul”/
== After about an hour or two ==
Edit: JAR HOLY GOD this is incredible. this is end game and everything i’ve ever wanted.
JAR580 needs juice to shine. high z on the wa6se and balanced high gain on the jot2 opens it up quite a bit more and the realism/soul seems to be coming back a bit more from its clinical nature.
======== ////// Proper Listening Sessions /////// ========
roon downsample to 44khz 16bit from 24 bit.
roon on mac streamed to pi2aes (pi4) on moode,
SPDIF (better cables) to WA6SE.
Stock 650 cables for WA6SE.
pi2AES > Mogami Gold AES cable to Schiit Modius
Mogami Gold XLR cable pair to Jot2
Audiophile Ninja cables for XLR to Jot2 balanced.
Serves as the baseline. all will be compared to this.
Mod Setup: Nearly stock
(new pads + new baffle + new grills (slighty mod copper tape)
More bite when highZ wa6se. might be too much depending on the song tho
This pair / driver has more organic feel, slightly more intimate soundstage. JAR650 and OG580 takes the cake on the lifelike feel though.
Very Organic tone, and clean, crisp delivery. Emotionally engaging
But it feels like its very intimate soundstage. as if the singer is singing next your ears
FANTASTIC with something like billie Eilish, with her whisper-tones
bass is nice and textured, sorta spread across the floor
Heavily modified, “sleeper” unit
Spider cage removed and application over magnet
6xx grill with front and back tape (no top tape)
Beautifully intimate mids, textured bass that doesn’t slam but rumbles beneath you / behind you.
songs feel like sweet whispers next to you. hence “romance”
This pair has fantastic mids, very organic and lifelike. a medium sized soundstage (bigger especially horizontally compared to all the other 580/650s)
One way to express is that its… Tasty.
Vocals and instruments are lightly sweet and glistening, but never overly sugary.
Also Very smoooth sounding without losing details.
bass is textured and present. More so than all the other 580s, but has less mass and more recessed compared to the 650/6xx.
it actually has a balanced sound across the board. less “oomph” but still there to be felt emotionally.
It’s quite amazing for anything with mid/vocal emphasis
Shure 1540 Pads, 650 Grills, everything else stock
6XX KISS mod+
Just right across the board
Pretty good organic, lifelike sounds. not quite the same level of the OG & JAR650, but quite nice
Basslines are nice and textured, punchy enough to be felt
Plenty of energy and emotional engagement (makes you bob your head / groove when it calls for it)
Soundstage is on the intimate side, maybe a bit more intimate than the Fresh580
Sounds don’t quite appear out of the void like the OG580 & JAR650, but placements are still very nice
Overall a fantastic listen. not quite OMG, but “mmm. very very nice”
Right tape falling off but pressed in place for all listening tests
Tested across high z, low z on WA6SE, and Jot 2 Balanced low gain & high Gain.
Slightly more detail / clarity when compared the fresh580
A tad more energy, a bit sharper, but not necessarily a cleaner sound. more like a saw-tooth, revealing the digital details of a song. (not a more organic sound)
soundstage is about the same as fresh580.
Similarly, they gain more organic qualities & bigger soundstage when on the Jot2 low gain setting
it feels a bit “synthetic” and the feelings/tones of the music don’t quite come through compared to the other pairs (especially compared to the JAR650)
Just not emotionally engaging. even though it is technically very sound.
(Not sure if this is any better than a good stock pair of 580s with fresh parts in my opinion)
WOW. clear. organic.
spacious sound stage
way better than the 580 fresh / JAR580 / Romance580.
Slightly more intimate than the OG580, but there’s no “border” in the soundstage, it feels like it actually spans out & fades out on the outer edges without being bounded in.
I get chills listening with this pair. feels like the voices are right in front of me.
Very very life like
Emotionally Gripping (makes you want to stop doing anything else and just be enveloped in the music)
Sounds just clearly appear in their respective spaces
The lower registers & baselines are nice and textured with mass, without being bloated or muddy.
This is the end game. i NEED one. and i think I’m done with headphones for a long while for my musical tastes.
This sounded Fantastic on the WA6SE. The Jot2 was still fantastic but not quite as emotionally gripping
=== Rankings ===
Romance 580 / 6XX (Tie)
Basically - I REALLY want the JAR650.
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