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Full Review of the Sennheiser HD580s

post #1 of 16

This is a really long review. Some of it may be repetitive to you, but I want it to be a very complete review. All of the sections will be labled in bold so you can skip parts more easily if you want. The sections will include construction, comfort, portability, sound, and conclusion, all in that order. All listening was done on my Panasonic SL-CT470 portable CD player, powered by it's wall-wart, with anti-shock off through the line out to my Yamaha R-8 receiver, which outputs 1.25 volts at 270 Ohms, unless stated otherwise. All tone controlls (e.g Bass, Midrange, and Treble) are set to the defeat position with tone bypass on. Also the phones are using the stock cables.


The housing of the phones is completely made of plastic except the adjusting mechanism that connects the phones themselves to the headband, not to say that is bad. They feel very rugged. The adjusting mechanism fells very graduated and there are very noticable clicks when adjusting the phones position, it takes some force to do this, they will not do it on their own, but it also is not too hard. I think it has just the right feel. This makes Grados adjusting rod feel sloppy and less thought out though I have not compared it to the HP-1 Grados which should be most certainly better than the new Grados, if a bit less convenient. The cups can rotate, not very much though. This is especialy true if compared to Grados that can rotate freely. Again this is not necessarily bad because it prevents cord tangle and the cups rotate enough to be comfortable on most anyone. The detatchable cord connects to both cups, though I wished it only connected to one, and each wire is a different color, red for right black for left. The wire comes terminated with a 1/8 plug with 1/4 adapter that fits snugly on the 1/8 plug. The single cord splits into 2 about 10" from the earcups. When the adapter is attached it looks like its always been there, but is a little long. The phones themselves are not perfectly symetrical, they look like they lean back a bit if the headband is held vertical, so that they do not fit the same if left and right are reversed. The headband padding is made of 4 different cushioned sections covered in some plastic cloth and the earpads are made of a cushion material covered in velour, with a back made of plastic. The phones seem to be completely modular. The rear grille is much less fragile than it looks and is actually quite strong. It can be bent, but it takes quite a bit of force. In addition, there are 3 small raised bumbs on the left ear cup holder. All in all, they are built very well and I have no complaints except the cord that connects to both sides.


In short, they are very comfortable. The velour earpads and the headpand are very soft, yet firm. They allow my ears to breath and my ears have never gotten hot even after extended listening ~6-7 hours. At first I though they had a vice like grip, but after about 15 minutes of adjusting to the new phones I couldn't even feel them on my head. Afterward when I put on my Grados, the Grados felt like they were loose, like they would fall off of my head. The earpads are circumaural, and even with glasses on they comform to my head very well. Pressure from the phones is evenly distributed across my head. In addition, the headband is very soft, and provides more comfort than the grados plastic (leather for the RS-1/2) headband.


These phones are not the most portable phones. If not for their size, then because of the 10' long cord. The cord is more flexable than the Grados, but being 2 ft longer will get in the way of your feet unless properly secured. Also, these phones do like the power available only from a dedicated amp or home components. A portable, though able to supply plenty of volume, cannot supply enough power to the phones to make them sound their best. When compared to my receiver, they have less bass and treble extention, less detail, and a collasped sound stage. Even then, they sound leagues better than any cheap Sony. (e.g. Street Styles)


This is the part most of you have been waiting for. These phones have a completely different sound than my Grados. The first thing I noticed when I put them on is the sound stage. It is enormously wide. The music seems to come from outside the phones. The sound is just there. They are the most transparent phones I've ever heard, except the HD-600 and a pair of Stax phones, I'm not sure of the model. I let some other people listen to them briefly, and after each person took them off they just said how clear they are. Even the most discriminating duh!-m-bass at school appreciated the clarity they provided out of a portable. He said, "My God! These are so clear!" Then he ruined that staement by saying, "Now only if they had some bass I might get a pair", but that's why he's a dum!-m-bass and not an audiophile. In comparison my Grados and Sony 888s sound muddy. This is not noticable by itself, but only after listening to the Senns for a while. Both the Sonys and Grados when next to the Senns have an emphasized midbass, but not a lot, and certainly not comparable to S-xbs or something similar.

These cans have really good stereo imaging. Each instrument is well defined and separated from the others. Vocals are well centered. Every frequency is equally represented, except for the extreme treble which may be a little rolled off. Even on the brightest CDs I have, they are never sibilant. They handle every thing with lots of controll. The song Promises, by The Cranberries (Bury the Hatchet, Track #3) has a lot of bass that is overshadowed by the omnipresent guitar. These phones expose the bass and let it shine through, where my Grados just muddle over it and most of the low details are lost. This brings me to another point. The bass these phones make goes deep. Much deeper than my Grados. The Grados have more bass presence and slam, but the Senns go low, and are more balenced, they let you hear every part of the bass, where as the Grados let you feel it. Some prefer the Grado bass, but I'm a convert to the Senns.

The Senns have an airy quality to them. Some sounds seem to just float around your ears. This is only bad, well not bad but not good either, when certain instruments like drums play. They have a good amount of snap, which my Grados lack, but they can feel dissipated. As far as drums go, I much prefer the RS-1 to these, lots of snap and impact, but I thought that the RS-1s were too bass heavy compared to the Senns and I like the Senns better than the Grado SR-225's drums. I have not heard the 325 or RS-2, but the RS-1 was the only Grado that I heard with just the right amount of snap. I also thought that the midrange in the RS-1 was better suited to vocals, but the Senns are not bad at reproducing vocals, and much better than my SR-80s. For classical music, the Senns are better than the Grado line, they give the music a feel that the Grados do not have. The Senns seem to be better at complex music with a lot of sounds at the same time, but music with only a few instrument or solos does not benefit from the Senns as much.


I really like these phones. Since getting them they have become my primary headphone and lately my Grados have been collecting dust. This is not to say that the Senns are better than Grados, but rather that they sound different. I am sure that with a betterpair of Grados, I'd like then just as much as my Senns. If you are in the market for a new headphone, check out the HD580s even if you do not think that you will enjoy the Sennheiser sound in general. They are a great phone and will not dissapoint.

EDIT: Added the conclusion which was missing
post #2 of 16
Where'd the rest of my review go?
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Full Review of the Sennheiser HD580s

Hey voyager thanks. I think the senns are very good at simple types of music as well as complex passages. The senns have such a lovely portrayal of the decay of piano notes, its wonderfull to listen too.

The only caveat I have is that you should try the 580's out with a better source and amp. Then you will really see where they better grados. They respond to changes in your system. The 225's I had sounded very much the same no matter what I plugged them into.
post #4 of 16
...Bated breath...

Please post the end of the review... Was very informative
post #5 of 16
Voyager, that was a great review back on HW, and it's still a great review. You hit the nail on the head, very articulate too I might add.
post #6 of 16

Rockin' review! If you weren't able to post the whole thing, please kindly try again. There was a number-of-characters-per-post limit that was set too low. You may have been the first to test the limits as they were set. Needless to say, I've increased the limits with plenty of room to accomodate even the longest reviews/article.

My apologies if you hit the limit. Should be okay to try again now if you did.

-- Jude --
post #7 of 16
I just posted the conclusion. It was only missing a paragraph which wasn't too bad. ai0tron, I do now have an amp (thanks again to john acton!) and I wil soon be posting another review using that amp. [The Rega Ear incase you didn't know]

Jude, how many characters was the limit? And how many can be posted now? I thought it was kind of odd that I was missing the end of my review, but it seems to be working now. Thanks for the comments everyone!
post #8 of 16
Hope I'm not tredding on Judes toes here...

But.. the old limit was 10,000 characters... the new limit is 200,000 characters...
post #9 of 16
Great review, Voyager.......very articulate and thorough!
I have the 600s and the RS-1s. I agree with you regarding vocals. And since that is what I primarily listen to, your statement, "I also thought that the midrange in the RS-1 was better suited to vocals,......" is the reason my Senns are collecting dust.
Thanks a lot for your efforts.
post #10 of 16
Very nice review.

Great to see these types of review here at Head-fi
post #11 of 16
Thanks for the review, Voyager!
post #12 of 16
Thanks for the review!

I passed the URL to my wife as an extra argument in my defense to justify for paying so many EUR for a headphone.

It helped!
post #13 of 16

I'm not blowing smoke up your rear when I say I'm really proud to have such a phenomenal review be the first one copied to any of the full reviews section! I rated it! A five-star review!

For any of you who don't know, you can rate threads (look at the bottom right of your screen when a thread is open).
post #14 of 16
great review voyager!

it's nice to have a review of the 580, since it seems as though people often pass them up for the more expensive 600s. now i want to go audition a pair =)
post #15 of 16
Great review, Voyager!

Now if only Richer Sounds delivered to North America....
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