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Sennheiser HD 558

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #22 in Over-Ear

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 $100 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. 

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
-Good looks 
-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.  

 

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: Relaxed musical signature, earpad comfort, imaging

Cons: Hard clamp, bad 1/4"-1/8" adapter design

About Me:

I'm just your average guy making his way through college with a passing interest in audio fidelity. I'm NOT an audiophile, but I've got a little experience ranging from lower-end products to flagship designs. I don’t make professional reviews and by my own account, I’m not much good at describing what I hear either. But I’ll do my best and we'll just have to see how that goes.

 

Introduction:

The Sennheiser HD558 is a full-size open dynamic driver headphone. It has been on the market for several years now, proving itself to be a very capable set of headphones for a reasonable price. Sennheiser has been in the headphone game for a very long time and while it’s very well known for mid-fi offerings like the HD600/650 and flagship HD800, the HD5x8 line is the most recent iteration of their affordable open headphone design.

 

Disclaimer:

I’m not the most eloquent or well versed in describing what I hear, so take my words with a grain of salt. Also keep in mind that everyone hears differently; it’s not bad, it’s not wrong, it’s just different.

I bought this HD558 over 3 years ago and it’s served me well.

For this review, the HD558 is connected to a Firestone Audio FUBAR IV Plus, using USB input from a Macbook Air supplying lossless and .mp3 audio files.

 

Packaging and Accessories:

The packaging for these “lower-end” Sennheiser headphones is really nothing special. Honestly, it feels quite cheap. A cardboard box with clear cutout to show off the headphone, the removable 3m cable, and a 1/4” to 3.5mm adapter are all you get from the box. No padding, no felt, no carrying case/bag; the presentation felt as cheaply Spartan as could be. It’s a stark contrast to the nice acoustic foam padded cases for the HD600 series and up.

 

Build Quality and Comfort:

Let’s start off with the build quality. For a set of headphones that costs $120 (when I bought them), they don’t really stand out in any way in terms of build. When I got them, it felt sort of cheap, but now I recognize that it’s almost par for the course. The entire headphone is constructed of plastic; the outer headband shell is plastic, the cups are plastic, and the inner adjustment band is plastic. It’s all made of this solid, but cheap feeling, scratchy lightweight plastic. The adjustment band clicks for adjustment, but no indicators of any sort how many clicks you’ve gone, though it is of a good fine scale. The cable: I’ve got some nitpicks with the cable Sennheiser includes as well as the adapter. The cable is 3 meters long and it’s pretty well relieved, terminating in a standard 1/4” jack. It’s a little rubbery and springy, but not too bad and of appropriate thickness in my book. That concludes the good/okay parts of the cable. Firstly, it’s 3 meters long and while some people like that length, I find it way too long for my desktop use; that’s just for my personal use, I recognize some people like that length but I’m just not one of them. Secondly, the cable is removable, but it’s a proprietary 2.5mm twist-lock connector. In a consumer budget-friendly headphone, what’s the problem with using a 3.5mm stereo connector? Why use a twist-lock 2.5mm stereo connector? Then there’s the adapter Sennheiser supplies with the cable for those who need to plug into a 3.5mm jack. They give you an adapter that essentially creates a 5-inch mass sticking out and hanging onto dear life by the 3.5mm connection plugged into your device (amp, phone, etc.). The reason this pissed me off was because Sennheiser itself makes a better adapter that it could’ve packaged with the HD558. The sleeved cable you see in the pictures is the aftermarket cable I bought, which includes a screw-on 1/4" adapter.

 

 

On to comfort. Sennheiser usually scores very high marks here in my book. Well, at least the higher-end models do. I’m afraid I can’t be as generous to the HD558 in this regard, though it’s not to say everything’s bad news. The headband uses a single large velour pad for where it contacts your head for even weight dispersal and the earpads use the same soft velour. The earcups are adequately large for my ears, but more importantly, they’re oval shaped! Manufacturers really need to realize that human ears are not circular. The problem with these is the clamping force; there’s a lot of it and you feel that pressure the moment you put them on. This clamping pressure is also a noted trait of the HD600/650 line, but those headphones have a metal adjustment band, which can be stretched and bent appropriately to fix the clamping pressure. No such luck with the HD558; the plastic adjustment band has stayed in the same rigid shape since day one.

 

 

Sound Quality:

Let’s be honest, this section is gonna be kind of a mess. I’m not able to describe sound very well and what I can describe is only going to make sense if your mental references of all the terms are similar to what I’ve got going on in my head. Nevertheless, let’s give it a shot anyway.

 

To my ears, the overall sound signature of the HD558 could be described as tonally warm with a slightly mid-forward sound. This sounds like a baby HD600 and at $120, that’s a very good thing. It’s overall laid-back in terms of speed, but the notes feel accurate and cohesive. This versatility helps it be great at most genres.

Sound stage is pretty average for an open headphone but the imaging ability makes for good placement of sounds.

Treble is very relaxed; I wouldn’t say it’s recessed, but it’s polite and non-intrusive resulting in a fatigue-free listening experience.

As said earlier, I feel this headphone has a slightly mid-forward signature and the quality is up to snuff as well. Instruments have the right ring and musicality and vocals are clear and have nice warmth and body.

The bass is there, but like most open headphones, is lacking in weight and impact. For my tastes, there’s enough quantity and quality is good. Bass response feels relatively tight, though it’s still at little fuzzy at times. The problem it encounters, which I feel many open headphones do as well, is the lower the frequency, the less accurate and resolving it becomes. It stays quite cohesive in the mid-bass area, but gets looser the lower you go and can’t extend into those lower frequencies as well as high-end open headphones. For example, its bigger brother the HD600 does better. Because of this and its bass-light nature (compared to closed headphones), the HD558 doesn’t deal weighted blows and some music, EDM especially, loses a little bit of energy due to the lack of punch.

 

Music/songs used during the review:

Rumours (feat. Mark Johns) by Gnash

Halo 3 OST by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori

Clear (feat. Mothica) by Pusher

Cowboy Bebop OST by The Seatbelts

Sunday Morning by Maroon 5

Neon Cathedral (feat. Allen Stone) by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Ants by edIT

25 to Life by Eminem

Kick, Push by Lupe Fiasco

Freaks and Geeks by Childish Gambino

Flynn Lives by Daft Punk

Stop and Stare by OneRepublic

Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC

Lost Stars by Adam Levine

Beyond Monday by The Glitch Mob

Darling VIP (feat. Missio) by Said the Sky

 

Conclusion:

The HD558 is an older headphone now at this point, but for today’s asking price ($100 on Amazon at the time of this review), it’s still a very good headphone. The plastics might feel a little cheap, but they’re sturdy and the pads that contact your head are all very comfortably padded with velour. Overall, I enjoyed the slightly thicker mid body complementing a relatively neutral (with a warm tilt) sound signature. Several years ago, this was the first full-sized headphone that I bought with my own money.  I had hoped that it would be an incredibly good headphone and after several years and even a few upgrades along the way, I’ve come to the conclusion that the HD558 has lived up exactly to my expectations. It is indeed a very good headphone.

Posted

Pros: Pristine sound clarity for it's price. Very neutral sound having the right amount of everything. Very very comfortable can be worn for hours.

Cons: Just like any other open back headphone sound is audible to people around you, that's about it!

When I bought the headphones I was amazed at the comfort level these headphones offer. I must admit this is my entry into the world of premium headphones,:L3000: and I truly feel pleased with my decision. So it goes without saying I'm NOT an audiophile. :p

 

I'll keep this video short and crisp.

 

These over-ear headphones offers premium comfort with near sonic perfection. I was amazed even after keeping EQ in the flattest possible setting in my amplifier these babies sounded so detailed. This meant two things, Sennheiser is truly giving you a neutral sound and if you want you can tweak the EQ to give the bass, mids or highs a little push to make it shine all the more. I plugged into my amp as well as in portable devices and as expected the full blown setup brought out the jewel in it while the portable devices sounded detailed in their own right. Being an open back headphone made my ears sweat less but also made sure everyone surrounding me got a taste of what I'm listening too. So if privacy is you're concern make no mistake it'll be intruded once you get these! :beyersmile: 

 

A few scenarios:

Gaming - One of the best headphones for gaming simply because of the wide sound stage and correct frequency response.

Movies - Again the feeling of having speakers in your room while listening to them makes them awesome for this purpose!

Music - If you're into all genres of music it is perfect for you! However if you're into only contemporary forms of music (like electronic, trap music and the likes with extended bass lines) and crave for enhanced bass you must look elsewhere.

 

 

So apart from the great sound and supreme comfort in this price bracket what else do I have to say...pretty much nothing!

If you're a newbie like me just shut your eyes and make the purchase and you'll be fine...actually more than just fine! On the contrary if you're a veteran and want something in this range you'll know better and will be able to define how wonderful these sound!

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: Well Built, Great Price, Long Cable, Great Sound Stage

Cons: Lacks punch, sound is not colored enough

These were my first headphones that got me interested in listening to music at a higher level. The sound stage is impressive, headphones are tough and well built. Extremely comfortable with nice and easy adjustments. Great intro headphone into the world of sound. They sell new for under $100 now, definitely recommend, one of the best open ear headphones in this price bracket. Also, the bass is more present in these then the HD598.

Posted

Pros: Sound, Comfort, price, open back

Cons: kind of creaky, doesn't fold

-Sound: Compared to my Bose QC35, and V-Moda LP2, these definitely have more depth, which isn't surprising considering they're open back. I've also found the sound to be quite nice. I'd go so far as to say they're much better than my previous favorite, the Beyerdynamic DT880 since they're much warmer, and because of that, less fatiguing.

 

-Comfort: I often give comfort priority over sound because I can get used to how headphones sound, given they're not complete garbage, and more than not, a unique sound signature adds to the music I listen to, depending on the case of course. These headphones are incredibly comfortable in both sound signature and fit. I have a normal sized head and, while they do clamp down a bit tightly, something that isn't very necessary considering their light weight, the earpads and construction of the earcups make it easy to wear them for hours on end.

 

-Open back: Spacial awareness while gaming is on point.

 

 

-build quality: for the most part, they're plastic, but well constructed. Not as creaky as a lot of headphones, but they're not the most luxurious headphones either. Overall, they're built well enough and seem durable enough to stand up to years of use.

 

-portability: Lastly, These headphones don't fold. In my case, I use these with my laptop and often need to take them places. Because of the lack of folding mechanism and/or case, they're not the easiest things to cram into a bag. Folding flat would be a welcome feature.

 

-other thoughts: the cable is very long and not coiled which is either good or bad and depends on your use case. One thing I find annoying is that my pair came with a cable that terminated in a 1/4" plug. Since I'm using this with a laptop, a 3.5mm plug would've been better. They do include a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter, but it'd unbelievably bulky. Luckily I had a short 3.5mm male to female extension to take some strain off the adapter. Just something to think about before buying.

 

The cable is indeed removable and locks into place so there's no worry about it coming unplugged and if it were to get damaged, you don't need to buy another set of headphones.

Posted

Pros: Soundstage, highs, mids, bass.

Cons: None for me

For the money they are extremely comfortable, sound great plugged into my Onkyo TX-8255 receiver playing either music or watching videos from my pc through the Onkyo.  I know you can spend many times more (a little more for ex on the HD 598s) and there are some great phones but for my classical and jazz lossless music they are amazing.  I prefer open headphones also so these well as they say "fit the bill".  I'm not saying others may prefer for ex Grados, Audio Technica and others and headphones & speakers are very much individual taste.  I owned some very accurate Grados and for me these are much more comfortable. I will rarely if ever be connecting them to my iPhone (for which I have a headphone amp) so again they fit my receiver phone jack perfectly.

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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