Hey everyone. I just received my HD598's today (purchased for my wife) and I couldn't resist doing a quick comparison to my existing pair of HD600's.
None really, I used to work as a sound engineer at a theatre but I consider myself an amateur at most. This comparison is purely empirical and to be taken with a grain of salt.
I purchased the HD598 so my wife would have a nice pair of phones to listen to music and watch movies on. I wanted something that wouldn't require an additional amp. purchase and would mesh well with her music tastes (Dave Matthews Band, Top 40). I also wanted something sonically similar to the HD600 because she seemed to like my headphones . Let's dive into it:
I have a larger-than-average-head, which at times makes the clamping force of the HD600 too great; because of this my listening sessions are limited to around 1.5-2hours. The HD598, possibly because of it's plastic construction, has a more flexible headband and sits more naturally on my head; because of the decreased clamping force and lighter weight, the HD598 wins in this area.
At the time of this review, the HD598 costs $246US and the HD600 costs $399 on Amazon. You can find better deals from other merchants but the HD598 gives you some serious bang-for-your-buck.
I tend to like reviews that compare headphones using specific songs so that's what I did.
Track 1: The Lighthouse and the Whaler [Album: The Lighthouse and the Whaler, Track: Under Mountain, Under Ground, Genre: Indie-folk]
I love the intimacy of this acoustic track and the HD598 portrays that wonderfully. The forward mids of the HD598 are evident in the vocals and the acoustic guitar. The acoustic is wonderfully textured and detailed. There does seem to be some graininess in the treble but not so much to be distracting. The drums sound excellent, especially in the snap of the snares. IMO there was a dip in the mid-bass.
HD600 - Winner
During the intro the mandolin really showcased the detail of the treble on the HD600's, they seemed to have more sparkle and presence. Compared to the HD598, the vocals have a more airy-quailty. The acoustic guitar is equally well-presented here but because of the increased treble-detail, has a greater sense of impact when the pick strikes the strings. Bass is more prominent but not bloated.
Track 2: Pat Metheny [Album: Pat Metheny, Unity Band, Track: New Year: Genre, Jazz]
The graininess in the last track is present here as well, but not to the point of distraction. The guitar is timbrally realistic, though a bit soft in it's detail. The horns sound fantastic and are very realistic. The cymbals really make this track and they sound great through the HD598; they are not sibilant at all and the decay sounds very natural.
HD600 - Winner
The guitar sounds beautiful on this track. The smoothness of the HD600 is very evident in Metheny's guitar. Potter's Saxaphone sounds a bit more forward in the mix on the HD600's. Double Bass on the HD600's sounds detailed but does not dominate the track. Overall, this track is more immersive on the HD600.
Track 3: Emancipator [Album: Safe in the Steep Cliffs, Track: Old Devil: Genre, Electronic, ]
HD598 - Winner
On this track the soundstage of the HD598 really shines. The instruments are well-separated and can easily be picked out of the mix. There is a strange-artificial quality to the strings though. Some characterize the HD598 as bass-light but I found it to be very enjoyable here. The violin is wonderfully detailed and textured here. The heart of this song is the drums, it drives it forward; the HD598 portrays them realistically. The kicks are impactful but never overpowering.
While the bass was great on the HD598, it is tighter and more detailed on the HD600. Those troublesome orchestra hits sound more natural and mellower on the HD600s vs the HD598. While the HD600 sounds a bit more cramped width-wise, interestingly, this track has a greater sense of depth. The solo-violin loses some of the texture vs. the HD598, but still sounds detailed.
It was a pleasure listening to both the HD598 and the HD600, and while I preferred the HD600 on 2/3 tracks, it was not a sweep by any means. If price was an issue, I would not hesitate to recommend the HD598 given than it performs nearly as well in most areas (Mids, Timbre, Detail) and exceeds in Soundstage + Comfort. Hope you had fun reading the review, it was a blast writing it!
FLAC>iPod5.5>LOD>Crack + Speedball>HD600
FLAC>iPod5.5>LOD>Musical Fidelity XCANS>HD598