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Sennheiser HD-558

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #32 in Over-Ear

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Posted

Pros: Forward, engaging mids. Overall euphonic, non-fatiguing, super comfortable, etc.

Cons: Lacking deep bass extension

At the time of this writing, these headphones cost less than $130 on Amazon.  At that price point, they are an incredible value.  For some reason, these headphones seem to be damned with faint praise in many reviews on the web.  I think some of the professional headphone reviewers are afraid to give top marks to inexpensive headphones, so they use terms like "more refined" for the more expensive ones.  I enjoyed listening to the HD558 more than my $400 HD600 (yes even with a good DAC/AMP), so I sold the HD600 and continue to enjoy the HD558.  If that makes me unrefined, so be it!

What the 558 offer:
-Beautiful, natural, relatively neutral sound overall
-Forward, engaging mids (what I like best about these)
-Non-fatiguing highs
-Rich bass with good bass impact but not exagerrated bass (look elsewhere for "bass monsters")
-Wide soundstage
-One-sided, replaceable cable (my favorite type)
-Good looks (my second favorite looking current-production Sennheisers after the HD650)
-Easy to drive (50 ohm impedance means you can drive these easily with iPod, phone, etc)
-Supremely comfortable on my fat head

What they don't offer (and neither did the HD600):
-Great sub-bass extension

Other points to consider
-As an open design, these do not offer noise blocking or prevent leakage (this is not a con, per se)
-They come with a 10ft (really long) straight cord terminating in a 6.35 mm stereo plug. The 3.5mm adapter is a bit unwieldy for use with phones, etc. However, Sennheiser offers a separately sold inexpensive 4.5ft replacement cable with a 3.5mm termination, perfect for such uses

If you are not using a dedicated amp and are looking to plug headphones directly into your phone/MP3 player/laptop/computer, don't need closed headphones to keep sound out/in, then IMO these are the best Sennheisers available and one of the best choices of any brand at any price point.  Of course they sound even better with a dedicated amp.  I'm primarily using them with a Schiit Modi DAC and Asgard 2 amp, and they sound fantastic.

 

The only limitation I find is that the bass extension is not adequate for 2% of my rap and electronic music.  Eg, ODB's "Harlem World" or MF Doom's "Hey".  Otherwise they sound fantastic with all genres (including rock, jazz, pop, and 98% of my rap/electronic).

Posted

Pros: Comfort, style, and sound are 2nd to none in its price range.

Cons: 3.5mm connector too large to fit some portables. Cable replacement is hard to find. Price continues to go up with demand, specially outside the US.

 

I have only owned this for a couple months, but it did not take long to see why these are highly regarded. They quickly became my favorite all-rounder headphone for home use. I also own the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II, and Grado SR60i, I will make some comparisons to these also. Although sound quality is important, I will take a more balanced look at how practical these are to use on a daily basis.

 

Comfort/Design

 

I consider the comfort and design of a headphone to be just as important as sound quality, because this is what will ultimately determine whether I will find it practical to use on a daily basis, and whether it will last for many years to come.

 

The HD 558 is hands down the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. The open design, the Velour headband and ear pads, the light weight construction, the perfect clasping force, and the roomy size inside for the ears all work in harmony to create what many consider to be one of the worlds most comfortable headphones, in any price range. I can wear them all day long (even with my glasses on), with no hint of discomfort, no heat or sweat issues. Grado SR60i's being on ear style do get slightly uncomfortable with glasses on over extended periods. This is a non issue with the HD 558. In terms of style, these look fantastic on your desk, or on your head. The fusion of comfort and style is truly a feat of engineering on Sennheisers part.

 

Some have concerns about the plastic construction, and what affect it will have on durability. Although I have only owned them for a couple months, I have no doubt they will last many years. The Sennheiser HD 25-1 II has legendary durability, and is completely plastic also. The look and feel of the plastic is top notch. There were reports of cracking on earlier models, but this has been addressed with newer models. Sennheiser has been great in honoring their 2 year warranty from what I have read of those affected. Heck, you have 2 years to “break” them in ;).

 

The only real conn in terms of design for me is the cable. The 3.5mm connector is huge, and wont fit many portables, specially ones with protective cases. And even if your lucky to have it fit, it will stick out by nearly 4inches, more than doubling the size of most portables, making them not so portable anymore. On my desktop, I use Logitech Z-2300 2.1 speakers, which have a 3.5mm input on the remote control that I used to use for my other headphones, but this connector is too big to fit, really annoying.

 

The length of the cable at 3m is over double what most people need. The fact it's replaceable is nice, however, I can't seem to find any of these cables to buy. The headphone connector is 2.5mm, but its a really narrow shaft, and most 2.5mm cables I found are too fat to fit. Plus, theres that nifty locking mechanism that only the official Sennheiser cables have. My only option seems to be to cut this one down and re-terminate it myself, or find a pro to do it for me.

 

Sound

 

The sound stage on these is similar to the Grado SR60i, that is to say, its fantastic. Yes, it will occasionally have your head turning to locate that “noise” behind you, on tracks you heard hundreds of times already. The HD 558 does this all with slightly better separation on more complicated compositions, especially in the mid range. In comparison to the SR60i, the highs are more subdued, which I consider an improvement. SR60i's are great, but the highs are a little overdone in my opinion.

 

The area where the HD 558 really takes the cake is the mids. The mids are in your face, right where you want them. They are far superior to any headphone I have in this regard. The only real conn in terms of sound, for some, will be the bass response. It is a noticeable step up from the SR60i. It keeps up well, you hear it all, but not with that satisfying punch or rumble that you would get with a closed or more expensive ($400+) open headphone.

 

The nice thing about these is your average source or portable will be able to to run them with no problem. It seems when you break the $250 price range your going to need to double your budget to get a decent source to enjoy their full potential. Not the case with the HD 558. As with most higher end headphones, these can shine even more when connected to high end amplification, but it is by no means required.

 

Verdict

 

If your looking for a great all-rounder for the home under $200, these are hard to beat. At home people tend to leave headphones on for extended periods, and you will have a hard time finding something more comfortable or better sounding in this price range. The only way I can't recommend these, is if your a complete bass head, in which case, your alternatives in this price range will be destroyed in every other area besides bass, and will leave you in a puddle of sweat within the hour. And if your looking for something portable, you should not be looking for an open headphone, specially a full size one. My HD 25-1 II is my portable headphone of choice, and the HD 558 has become my home all-rounder of choice. Between these two, I have a quality headphone for any application, at home, or on the go. Viva la Sennheiser!

Posted

Pros: Mostly neutral tonality, quality timber meets or exceeds expectations for the price, good presence across the spectrum, great all-rounders

Cons: Sennheiser veil, bass can bleed a little and doesn't go all the way down, mids not always as forward as I would like ideally

My chain: Lossless -> Foobar 2k -> HifimeDIY Sabre DAC -> E11

 

The HD558 are doing it for me right now. I was not blown away, but they really don't do anything wrong. The bass is not boomy but does bleed a tad, not ideal for classical but it's not hugely problematic.

 

The mids are nice. Never overly resonant, just enough bite to give realism but not intrusive. Imaging is very nice, but transients are a little weak.

 

Having started my hifi game at IEMs and gone far enough to see the kind of soundstage they are capable of (TF10, SM3), and opting for my first real can to be closed yet with a good stage (DT770), I feel like I can really discern the elements of sound presentation that are unique to open headphones, and they are well-present in the 558s. The sound is not necessarily much "bigger" than my DT770 in terms of the size of the stage or how far away certain sounds are; the DT770 actually wins out on this in some cases, especially with certain types of electronic music (psytrance in particular). However the benefit of the open sound is literally the dimensionality of the sound: the individual "sounds" themselves actually have distinct dimensionality and spacial presence of their own, rather than simply being placed at relative distances to each other. It improves the actual realism of the sound and makes it sound more speaker-like or even "live" sounding. 

 

Timbre and decay are both superior to any phones I have owned; the warmth is obvious, and I can hear the "Sennheiser veil," but it doesn't really interfere with detail or realism when you listen closely. It is more noticeable with some music than others; it makes violins and pianos sound a bit veiled, meaning these are not the BEST cans for classical, but they are VERY far from the worst; again better than anything else I own.

 

These guys really show their strengths with music that combines synthesized and analog sounds, like Lindsey Sterling and Massive Attack. They give a very pleasant fullness to instruments and never let synthesized bass drown out real instruments, isolating everything neatly without giving that slightly artificial separation that some multi-BA earphones can showcase.

 

I will say that I personally I wish I had thrown in the extra $80 and gone with the HD598; I would like a little more upper midrange presence out of these guys, and the bass could be tighter. However that doesn't detract from the fact that these are definitely quality cans, they make a great compliment to my DT770 for when I want a more laid-back listen. Overall the sound is laid back yet involving, almost seductive; it doesn't have tons of punch in the bass, so some electronic like Justice or other dubsteppy-like stuff is underwhelming (my DT770s are better suited there) but more intricate, atmospheric stuff like psychill, Lindsey Sterling, later Simon Posford stuff (Shpongle, Younger Brother) is very involving. Even deeper house like Deadmau5 and Jackbeats is good. It can't quite keep up with some of the faster, super-intricate Shpongle tracks (I found the album Nothing Lasts...but Nothing is Lost more problematic than the rest), but then the only thing I've yet heard that can is the SM3, which handled anything I ever threw at it.

 

Overall I am happy with my purchase, these make a great compliment to my LEs; now to complete my mid-fi conquest I am going after something fast and aggressive with tight, extended bass, maybe a Grado? Perhaps HD25-i-II...any recommendations? ^_^

Posted

Pros: Everything

Cons: none

So I bought these hd 558's and I cant be happier, they rock and are a amazing headphone in all ways especially for the price!

Music like Frank sinatra and the ink spots sound awesome on these! The bass is absolutely perfect for this kind of music and the bass reminds me of a old console stereo with 12-15 inch drivers.

They are clear and precise as well, all vocal music sounds amazing but so does rock and dubstep/bass type music.

I would highly recommend these phones 

You do NEED a high quality source! I want to build a tube pre-amp or something for these to make the sound even more warm.

Posted

Great sound quality and value! The sections in the ear piece can touch your ears if they are large and they are made entirely our of plastic, but overall they are extremely good headphones!

Posted

Pros: Comfortable, light, non fatiguing, sub bass

Cons: bright, not for a basshead, long cable

Comfort and build

These headphones are extremely comfortable, I have worn them for upwards of 8 hours, with out my ears hurting. The ear pads do collect a lot of "stuff" like lint and animal hair very easily. The HD558s are build very well, holding up to abuse I put them through. Even though they are made completely of plastic, it feels of top quality.

 

Sound

I love the sound signature of these headphones. The Sub-bass is satisfying enough for most music, but if you are really into Hardstyle and other bass eccentric EDM genres, these will not suffice. I found these headphones the most enjoyable whilst listen to classical style music, such as works from Hans Zimmer's, and soft house music. The only thing that would make the 558s better would be a larger, more gratifying, extension into the bass.

Posted

Pros: Nice Soundstage, Deep Bass, Euphoric, Mids, Forgiving

Cons: None, just maybe a little bit too warm at times.

This was my first open headphone and I fell in love with it the moment I heard it. I would say it's a rather dark -sounding headphone with a really pretty midsection. It has a tight, well defined bass that tends to do quite well with low quality recordings (but does not extend really deep). It does exceptionally well with trip-hop artists such as Massive Attack (In my opinion).

 

This is the best budget for under 200$. It will work with a phone, and even though sennhieser recommends this, It sounds the best when plugged into a slightly better sound source like my MacBook Pro.

 

It does benefit slightly from a DAC or AMP, but not by much.

 

 

Also, people say this sounds better than the HD600 when un-amped. However, That is really not true in my opinion. BUT it's still is a great headphone nonetheless.

Posted

Pros: Comfort, sound quality, removable cable feature, replaceable earpads, soundstage.

Cons: The 3.5 mm converter/adapter is huge, cannot use with phones/media players that have cases, all plastic build.

So, these were purchased on September 17th of this year from best buy online for $179.99, and I was overcome with joy the very second I submitted the order. I actually have never owned a pair of these before, so, I knew this was going to be a new experience for me.

 

I waited day in and day out patiently hoping that they would arrive soon, and guess what? My patience paid off. About 2 days after I had placed the order, they had arrived at my doorstep. Once I opened the box, I was actually surprised at how simple the packaging was. Nothing fancy. You get the headphones and the detachable cable. That is it, and I was ok with that. When I plugged them into my FiiO E17, I started to smile inside. I was very surprised at how balanced these were. As I started to listen to these more and more, the openness of the sound and the clarity in the midrange and treble became more and more noticeable.

 

Lows/Bass: Well refined, but not overdone or bloated in any way. I don’t listen to dubstep or bass oriented music, so bass was not a priority for me. It blends into the midrange very well, and it never gets to that point where I want to take these off or where my ears are fatigued.

 

Midrange/Vocals: Clear, easily heard, and never boring to listen to. With enough detail to satisfy even the pickiest people, i think these have the potential to be one of the best vocal performing headphones that i have heard.

 

Highs/Treble: The treble is easily heard, but it takes a back seat to the midrange, but just a bit. I think that was done on purpose by Sennheiser so that people will be able to listen to these for a longer period of time.

 

Soundstage: This portion is really great! The HD518, 558, 598, and other open back headphones from Sennheiser really succeed in this region. It is very 3D like. I am able to hear individual instruments clearly. Part of the music was in the back of the room, and the other was in the front. Like that basically. Everything was very enjoyable.

    

Conclusion: To wrap up this review, I highly recommend these at the $179-$200 price point. I got these for $179.99, like I said before, and I think, at that price, it is a steal. Overall, these headphones are really great! I cannot stress that enough.

Posted

Pros: Smooth, Euphoric, Naturall, Soundstage, Looks, Long Cable,

Cons: May be too slow for you, Lacking a bit of treble,

I Like It. I can't tell you I don't. :L3000:

Posted

Pros: Smooth mids, non-fatiguing but interesting highs and overall comfort

Cons: May be bass light which may feel a little muddy, ungodly plug and clamping force

First review but here goes :P

 

The Sennheiser HD 558 comes with a 3m detachable cable, a 6.5mm to 3.5mm converter and the headphones themselves.

 

Comfort and Build: Although the headphones themselves are made entirely of plastic it doesn’t feel like the cheap plastic. In fact the build seems solid enough to take light abuse but I really wouldn’t recommend anyone stress test these to any high extent. They do however feel like a well-constructed pair of headphones. In the comfort department it feels light on the head with heavy padding on the headband and thick padding on the ear cups. Both quite soft but the cloth material is a dust magnet. Even within a day of use you can sort of already see the dust being picked up by the pads. I guess it might just be my room that’s extremely dusty but just thought I’d give a heads up. Also right out of the box the clamping force is quite high although they aren’t horrendously tight (they are in fact extremely comfortable) they don’t feel like the clamping feeling around your ears are going to disappear anytime soon. Because of this my ears do get quite warm over a period of time. However that being said it does mean that when adjusted correctly there is almost no feeling on the top of the head. The cable isn’t all that special, it’s pretty thick but isn’t overly stiff terminating at a thick and chunky jack. Strain relief on both ends of the cable are more than adequate.

 

Sound

 

Bass: I wouldn’t consider myself a basshead but having a bass presence and that low rumble or pounding always helps in finding the beat of a piece. In this case you can hear the bass of a song with some bass presence but the thump really isn’t all that impressive. It’s there but it isn’t going to knock you out if that’s what you’re into. There is some rumbling when there isn’t much else in the track otherwise it just gets trampled over but mids and highs and you really have to concentrate to notice the full effects and rumbling of the bass. There just seems to be a slight lack of overall tightness in the bass, in some passages it just feels a little muddy with some bleeding into the lower mids when there is just a stampede of sound with . All in all I find the bass somewhat sufficient for me, but I would prefer to have slightly more tightness in this area for cleaner sound.

 

Mids: Ahhhh the mids, so smooth and relaxed. They never feel harsh or obtrusive, taking a more relaxed tone that is sweet and lilting. Lower strings and guitar are clear and feel extremely laid back with a light airy sound. Cellos feel just as how I feel a cello should sound for more calming pieces with viscosity and a slight warmth to them that just give you the feels inside. Male vocals are a tin bit veiled and lacking in weight and power, it seems as if they are TOO polite. This is absolutely fine for slower and more relaxing songs but when they need it for that powerful tenor sound I find a generally lacking. Female vocals are so wonderful to listen with that silky smooth flow of voices. Again however the voices are almost too polite for some songs. It’s just too rounded and relaxed it lacks the bite or attack in their voices. This is not dissimilar to the headphone in general, there just doesn’t feel like there is any bite to the sound whether it be strings or voices. This is perfect for lyrically emphasized songs and jazz that require a warm velvet sound that just allows you to relax and have a good lie down.

 

Highs: The smoothness of the mids carry over into the high range allowing for longer listening periods that have a ton of high frequency sounds. There is plenty of treble sparkle without a lack of thickness. I wouldn’t say that the highs are thick like the mids but rather there is a good balance between the two. Neither is really fighting to overcome each other and I find a good balance of the two ranges. That being said the upper registers of violins and voice are again smoothed over. There is also a sense of clarity and breathiness which make the highs all the more enjoyable. The airiness and smoothness reduces the harsh sibilance allowing in longer listening periods. It isn’t totally smoothed however and you’ll be glad to know that there remains a slight edge to the sharpness of the highs. Giving back the bite to strings which sometimes is just so crucial to make the sound much more intense than if it was totally smoothed over.

 

Clarity/Soundstage: The soundstage feels large but you will never feel that you are sitting in a concert hall. It feels more like you are sitting in a largish room. It’s certainly big enough but I don’t feel that I’m really suitable commenting too much as I’ve been pretty much using IEMs only so these are a vast improvement. Due to the larger soundstage, open feeling and breathing room between the instruments and vocals it takes a large step up in the clarity and also transparency. I can hear the subtle snapping of fingers or the light thud of a piano pedal in the recording in comparison to my IEMs which masked these tiny details.

 

Overview

For the price I paid (around $160US) I find these headphones a nice deal. It’s generally pretty comfortable (although clamping is pretty damn high >.>) and delivers a warmer, pleasing sound to slow relaxing songs like jazz and vocals but because of this it just doesn’t really have the power or bite that sometimes just makes you go WOW at the performer. The light airy sound help with relieving congestion overall, but it just really isn’t suited for intricate bass pieces as it just becomes slightly muddy even though there isn’t that much thump or rumbling. Furthermore the bass department just doesn’t have the emphasis to satisfy some users. If bass is the sole thing you are looking for in a pair of headphones maybe try to avoid these? But in my opinion this isn’t too much of a problem to me, what is the problem however is how Sennheiser decided it would be an absolutely marvelous idea to terminate the cable in a 6.5mm plug. This makes the plug freakishly long and it is a good 9cm in length when you add the converter t-.-t (like why?!). Luckily you can buy replaceable cables online so just a temporary setback although I would really have just preferred a 3.5mm jack and a converter. Another thing you should consider when buy these is the level of isolation or sound leakage. Due to the open design it doesn’t block out a noisy environment particularly well and if you raise the volume too loud be prepared to share your music with the outside world.

Sennheiser HD-558
Description:

With their special internal Surround Reflector, the HD 558 open, circumaural headphones are able to generate an extended spatial sound field, making them ideal for listening to home cinema as well as music. They are also fitted with Sennheiser’s innovative E.A.R. technology which ensures accurate channeling of audio signals into your ears, as well as sophisticated Duofol diaphragms which reduce unwanted resonances to an absolute minimum. The HD 558 come with skin caressing velour ear pads and headband cushion which provide outstanding wearing comfort, even for long listening sessions.

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