HD 650s without an amp, will they be ok?


Standard Member
Nov 8, 2006
Reaction score
Hi there, well these have taken my fancy for £180, and they seem to be amazing headphones.

But I've got one question about them, and I couldn't find any thread dedicated to HD 650 discussion so I've had to start a new one.

Will running them without an amp have any negative effect?

I mean obviously the sound quality won't be as good, they won't go as loud, and this being a mostly audiophile forum most people will say it's not worth it without an amp.

I'll be running them off a MacBook which has a digital 3.5mm output.

So my question is, will running them without an amp make them too quiet to listen to, make them sound no better than say a £50 set of senn's, or cause any other negative effects.

I've read a review which included an iPod in the test and they said the went just as loud, if not louder as normal in ear headphones even powered by the iPod.

So I would of thought they'd be fine on a MacBook with a digital source?

I don't care if I don't get as much out of them as I could with an amp and uprated cables etc, but I just want the best sound quality I can get for £180.

In answer to most of the above,the phones will work fine with the output of most sources such as iPods and computer sound cards,but you wont be getting anything like the best out of those particular headphones.

Ideally,something like a USB DAC/headphone amp would give you much better quality,but as a starter,with the potential to improve the sound later if you wish,it will work just fine.
Cheers for the reply, appreciated.

Yeah I'd definitely get a proper headphone amp in the future, but at the moment I can't really afford £180 on the headphones then another £200 on the amp.

I think I will probably go with these then, since i've been looking at 5.1 setups etc for the same money, which obviously aren't going to be as good for music etc.

Again, much appreciated.
A pleasure to convert another to headphones......for the same outlay,a headphone system will give you sound quality miles ahead of a similarly priced speaker/amp system,but obviously you do lose the weight,and also the more social aspects!

That aside,I really enjoy my headphone system and probably listen to it rather more than the speaker based system.

Good luck,and come back when you need an amp!
The HD650 is a great headphone, because it will bring your present kit to a higher level, and will never stop improving as you bring in better amplification and source.

And this is now first hand info! I have experienced it in the German headphone meet last month.

So go and buy them, you won't be disappointed.


I got them today, nice packaging.

Just listening to them now, on my MacBook, and they certainly go louder than is comfortable, so being unamped is no problem with regards to volume.

They were a bit tight around my head at first, but they've given way a bit now and feel ok.

Just testing out various types of music on it now, performs brilliantly with everything so far, it certainly makes you aware of any poor quality files though, but luckily I don't have many.

I can definitely tell the difference from burning in though, in the short space of about 30minutes, so I think they should keep on getting better, all in all I'm pleased with them.

And for anyone concerned about running them without an amp off a computer, go for it, like I said further up, they go more than loud enough, I think I've made a brilliant investment which will keep on getting better when I add a good headphone amp and whatnot.

Thanks for the advice, alexs2 and cribeiro.
Headphone amps are not used merely for getting volume out of a source, but are more for quality content.

The HD650 will be loud enough for most folk but once you hear the extra quality and detail they are capable of - which will normally be when using an amp or a good source with a decent headphone out - then you'll appreciate just how the Senns scale up with your equipment.

I'd discount any 30 min burn in - after the first 50 to 100 hours perhaps the burn in will start to be evident. You are most likely just appreciating the music more.:)
Headphone amps are not used merely for getting volume out of a source, but are more for quality content.

I hope you don't mis-understand my posts, I'm certainly aware of the benefits an amplifier delivers, but since they have such a high ohm rating compared to most headphones you would use un-amped, I was concerned that an un-amped source may not even have the power to drive them at a decent listening volume, and that they would effectively be useless without an amp.

But that's not the case as I now know :clap:

I'm definitely buying a headphone amp for them though.

They're much more comfortable and I'm used to them now though, I forget I'm even wearing them.

Out of interest, what does the silver moon balanced HD-650 in your signature refer to, aftermarket cables or something like that?
Mr_WhiteUK, I am glad you liked them. I also had the same impressions the first time I plugged them into my gear.

Now wait until you have a high end source and amp! :cool: (not that I have them, but I did listen to them some weeks ago).

Out of interest, what does the silver moon balanced HD-650 in your signature refer to, aftermarket cables or something like that?

Yes it's an aftermarket cable. Another good thing about the Senn 650 is the ability to change the cable even if it's only to replace one standard cable with another.

But the cable is probably one of the last changes to make, far better improvements can be found by upgrading the source and/or headphone amp first.

I love these headphones, if I could marry them, I would :rotfl:

I get amazing sound quality, it makes listening to every song an amazing experience.

I can listen to them loudly whenever I want, with my windows open in the early hours of the morning, enjoying the summer temperature, I can listen to my music whenever I want in enjoyment, without disturbing, or waking up the whole community, since it's getting hot now and it can get uncomfortable with the windows closed.

And my speaker set up just added to that heat too much with the windows closed, the headphones really are priceless to me.

I have uploaded some pictures here for anyone interested.

I'm probably going to spend £200-£250 on an amp and around £50 on the cables and that will be all, I'm extremely pleased with them as it is, so I won't be spending anymore than that.

If anyone is in a similar position to me and thinking about buying some HD-650s, get them :smashin:

The latest video from AVForums

StormAudio ISR Fusion 20 AV Receiver - review coming soon #HomeCinema #Amplifier #VideoShort
Subscribe to our YouTube channel
Top Bottom