Sennheiser HE60 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Sennheiser Model HE60
Headphone Type Open Circumaural Headband Type Single
Weight (g) 260 Driver Type Electrostatic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 10000 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 12 - 65000  
Connector Other Street Price US$700
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 8.0 Bass Impact 7.0
Bass Quality 8.0 Mids Quality 8.0
Highs Quality 9.0 Soundstage 8.0
Detail 8.0 Portability 0.0
Isolation 0.0 Comfort 8.0
Durability 7.0 Improvement With Amplification 0.0
Value for Money 9.0    
Overall Score 8.1 Total Reviews 1

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member TrevorNetwork on 19 Apr 05  12:13
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality9
Detail8
Comfort8
Durability7
Value9

As you, the reader are undoubtedly aware the Senneheiser HE60 are electrostatic headphones. That is, they utilize a far different technology than traditional headphones to produce sound. That said, this review is of the traditional Sennheiser HE60 setup (Baby Orpheus), that is, the HE60 headphones, and HEV70 amplifier. However, my experience may differ from other reviewers, as I have a custom linear, heavily regulated power supply for the HEV70 amplifier.

First off, the HE60 headphone resemble the HD580/HD6xx in general aesthetics. This however would be an inaccurate statement as the HE60 were conceived before the HD580s. The HE60 have a solid, metal mesh a la HD600 on the outside of the cup. However, the same mesh is also inside the cup. This of course is to protect the electostatic diaphragm. The HE60 diaphragms also sit further from the ear due to the thicker ear pads. Other than that, the only distinguishing characteristic is the three conductor ribbon cable coming from each earcup.

Let's get to the sound shall we?

Right off the bat, I would prefer not to add to the endless electrostatic versus dynamic headphones debate. Ergo, I will compare the HE60 to the Stax Omega II, and Stax SR404. Two headphones with which I am intimately familiar.

Configuration:

Benchmark Media DAC1
Nordost SPM Reference IC
Stax SRM717 amplifier for Stax headphones
Sennheiser HEV70 w/ custom PSU
Stax SR-404 (Signature)
Stax SR-007 (Omega II)

Comparing the HE60 to the mid-end Stax offering (SR-404):

Throwing on the SR-404, I throw in one of my many CDs with some great violin. I am immediately struck by the midrange detail in the Stax. It is excellent. Great sense of air, and finesse. One is able to sense the movement of the bow upon the strings. Quite nice. However, I am dismayed by the lack of bass detail, and etchy, sibilant treble. However, the "warmth" within the violin when hitting lower notes is felt, and I find the sound generally satisfying. To stray somewhat, I find the SR-404 generally comfortable, however, the plastics used are quite cheap, so a creaking sound is heard when my head is moved.

Placing the HE60s on my head, I am immediately struck by the superior build quality. The HE60 feel more solid on my head. However, the general comfort is about the same. The HE60 do certainly sit on my head better however.

Sonically, the HE60 have superior treble extension, a complete lack of sibilance and great bass extension, and detail. It seems the bass on the HE60 is "localised". That is, the bass seems to originate from where one would expect it to. In comparison to the SR-404, whos bass seems to originate from a general source just in front of the face regardless of the perceived soundstage. This, certainly adds to the realism of the recording. The violin on the HE60 is far more articulate, that is, one can hear increased details throughout the frequency spectrum. The HE60 also have a superior sense of PRaT (Pace, Rhythm and Timing). They are certainly "faster" than the SR-404. The HE60 do not appear to have a "sound" of their own. They do not appear forward or laid back. I tend to feel the SR-404 are fairly metallic, and forward in comparison. The SR-404 have a tendency to become "harsh" far easier than the HE60.

Next up, the SR-007 (Omega II) versus the HE60:

Right off the bat, the SR-007 have a great look to them. Brown leather, and champagne coloured metal. Surely a class act. They have a nice sense of weight to them. Although I am not trying to delve too much into aesthetics and comfort in my sound section; I feel I must comment. The HE60 are more comfortable that the Omega II in my opinion. There, I said it. The Omega II sit on the head quite nicely, however, they are heavier, and one must monkey with the pads (which rotate) to get the right fit (and sound!) This, to me is quite irritating in its own right. That said, lets move to the sonics.

The Omega II are a headphone that are certainly "dark" sounding. That is, they have a tendency to "numb" treble, and some what alter the midrange. The midrange sports a frequency hump somewhere in its lower registers. This produces a sound that one may call "liquid" or "romantic". Listening to my violin reference track, certainly the SR-404's tendency to become harsh or treble intensive is gone. I began to listen for the sound of bass, as lower frequencies were played by the violin. There is that non-localised bass again! Immediately I am struck by a sense of dismay. The bass of the violin does not follow the violin as the performer moved, and swayed. This, coupled with rolled off higher notes contributes to a sonically satisfying performance, but certainly not consummate to the cost.

Moving to the HE60 I immedaitely notice the difference in bass, and the frequency extremes are returned. Although, I do miss that romantic liquiduity (new word!) of the Omega II. It does become quite obvious however, that the HE60 are simply the superior headphone for those that want to hear the actual performance.

I decided to pop in Radiohead's "high and dry" from "The Bends". One of my favourite songs by Radiohead.

As I suspected the bass localisation issue affected the realism of the music greatly. The detail, and "humanness" in Mr. Yorke's voice was certainly more apparent on the HE60. To confirm my findings, I allowed my girlfriend to take a listen to both the Omega II, and HE60, being sure not to affect her feelings with my own. She felt the HE60 "made her want to listen", and that "she liked the bass on the HE60, and felt she could hear the kick drum's hit". This coming from a person that typically likes HD650s!

All said, I feel the HE60 are superior to the Stax offerings as listed here. I have also spent a reasonable amount of time with the Sennheiser HE90, and Stax SR-Omega, however I will not comment regarding them here. Let's just say the HE60 are, in this reviewer's opinion about 95% of the HE90.

Cheers!