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Decisions, decisions, decisions... Sennheiser HD558, HD598, HD600

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

It is time again for me to buy new headphones to take the place of previous ones--Superlux HD668B, Audio Technica ATH-m50--which have found a lucky owner on eBay. To keep this simple and self-explanatory, I will give some background on my audio preferences and preferences:


I used to own the Sennheiser HD555 which has been the most satisfying headphone for me. It had a decent soundstage, good low-level detail extraction compared to the HD280, ATH-m50, SR225i, HD668B, and even DT880, as well as a wide genre bandwidth. However, it was a little too polite in its signature. One day, I tried to modify it to compensate for it and melted the driver. Soon after, I bought an Audio Technica ATH-m50 and later a Superlux HD668B, both of which did not provide nowhere near the air, resolution or soundstage of the HD555 but were the only satisfying headphones among the others listed and the AT even had mind-shocking bass depth which is not important to me, but was a nice benefit.


Recently, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get a better headphone again. I went store to store to try many different headphones, both open and closed. I went to Guitar Center and not one closed headphone was worthwhile. Sony, echoey and false. AKG, artificial and boring. DT770, somewhat good balance but with unfocused hiss. However, I saw a DT880 and tried it. It was smooth everywhere but spiked in the treble then rolled-off, too, and the midrange seemed too distant. It was as if the treble was designed to give the impression of detail which it did not have. Even so, it was better than any other headphone I have mentioned but the HD555, which I felt had an upper hand in detail and musicality. I then went to Best Buy and demoed the headphones in the Home Theater section. I tried the Sennheiser HD558 and I had a pleasant surprise. It had all the strengths of my HD555 with a much more engaging and accurate midrange and even better detail extraction throughout the whole frequency band. I then went to the pro-audio section and tried the AKG q701. Even more impressive--it was the most sonically realistic device I ever heard. Extension, detail, warmth. I immediately decided to get it for Christmas.



I am now trying to decide between the Sennheiser HD558, HD598 and HD600 to see which will compliment the AKG q701. I would be satisfied with the HD558, with its slightly more impactful upper bass and overall warmer sound, but what advantages or disadvantages do the other HD598 and HD600 headphones have? Some say the HD598 has more treble extension and midrange accuracy than the HD558, but others say it is too close to tell the difference. Some say the HD600 has the best balance of any headphone on the market but lacks uppermost treble extension. Stereophile and several other sources suggest that it has more extension than the HD580 and HD650, the first pair which I haven't tried but has many fans and the other which I have tried and enjoyed considerably.



(On a side note: To me, the Sennheiser HD650 which I demoed over five years ago had a more defined and natural treble extension than all others except the q701. It, however, seemed to have even richer and slightly more involving bass and impact than the q701-in other words, HD555/HD558's bass in another league. Yet it could have a slight raise in the treble, and opinions of the HD600 seem to consistently suggest it does have this added treble which the HD650 does not have. To me, the HD558's soundstage seems to be better than the HD650, but it has been a while since I heard the HD650.)



I have read these articles and comments thus far to help answer my question. You can read them to understand my point of view:


http://www.overclock.net/t/515746/sennheiser-hd600-and-akg-k701-an-8-track-one-night-showdown - This comparison makes me want to get the HD600 now to see if the AKG q701 is even necessary.


http://www.stereophile.com/content/2012-recommended-components-headphones - I noticed the Sennheiser HD600 is in there. I went to the linked article ( http://www.stereophile.com/headphones/408 ) where I took note of the advantages of treble extension over the HD580 and naturalness over the mentioned Stax setup. It is old but maybe still applicable.


General comments of tdockweiler - I read a lot of articles on head-fi, many of which do not have much seem to correlate with my findings except his. He likes the HD598 (similar to HD558) and the q701. However, I do not agree about the assessment of cables because of a cable change which I performed and unsuccessfully deperformed on a Sennheiser HD555. (I noticed no difference in sound quality with the new cable, but the sound quality was still better than after I melted one channel driver.) He calls the HD600 a "snore fest," but prefers the HD580. Yet Stereophile and a few others say the HD600 extended further in the treble. Is the midrange boring or just boringly natural in the HD 600? If I could live with the boring midrange of the HD555, would the HD600 be even more boring, or more tonally inviting and accurate? Would it compliment the q701 well in this hypothetical case?


http://www.head-fi.org/t/598828/how-much-better-are-sennheiser-hd598-compared-to-sennheiser-hd558/15#post_8524421 - The user states the HD598 was much more balanced than an HD800 although still in a different league compared to the HD800. He adds that it goes deep in bass, midrange, and treble.


http://www.head-fi.org/t/387991/advice-please-hd595-vs-ad900-vs-hd600-without-amp#post_5094761 - The user indicates that the HD595 (similar to HD598) and HD600 both have wonderful sonic qualities but admits that when going from one to the other, there is "no contest." Be it "unamped" or with any genre, it wins hands down.


http://www.headfonia.com/hd600-and-hd598-comparison/ - Mike at Headfonia says the HD600 has less distortion and grain, but says the HD598 is better with soundstage and involvement. It seems to be similar to my comparison of the HD555 and HD650 more than five years ago, but I would further add that the HD650 has a lot more low-level detail and, thus, lets the recording come through better than the HD555. It is for this reason I do not like many headphones outside of the open Sennheisers and the AKG Q701. To me, Grados (SR60 to RS1) add treble and bass to create the perception of detail and fun, but steal the dynamic range and detail from recordings. It is the same with the DT880, but more refined and detailed than any Grado. It is also the same with the Superlux HD668B, which has a smaller soundstage and low-level detail than the DT880 and is very "foggy warm "yet treble laiden at the same time--but better to my ears than any Grado. Would the HD600 give me more of the music as the HD650 did compared to the HD55 or slightly "editorialize" here and there as some headphones do?


(I will add and edit this over time as I find the links to other places where I have gathered opinions and ideas.)



With what I have told you, which headphone--the HD558, HD598 or HD600--best fits me?

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 9/22/12 at 3:20pm
post #2 of 11

I used to own the 555. Cracks occurred and eventually the the left ear died on me. Then I bought the hd 558 and cracks occurred and the left ear died on me again. Very disappointed. Great sound but noticeable distortion in the bass at higher volumes. I have to note that Sennheiser has fixed these crack issues.


I'm not able to speak for the HD600 or HD650 but their price is significantly higher than other headphones. I advise you not to get too caught up in trying to achieve the perfect sound. 

I feel the AKG Q701 from Amazon is a really good buy at $230 USD. Great build quality 2 cables, made in Austria and great sound. I really love the 20 foot cable that comes with them. People state the bass is light on them, however, I feel the bass is very similar to the HD 558 headphones and goes noticeably deeper without the distortion. The HD 558's do seem bloated in comparison. The mids and treble are also more vibrant on the Q701.


HD 598 are slightly better than the HD 558 with more response in the upper treble. Beyond that, I feel the HD600 and HD650 are not worth their $400 and $450 price tag.

Edited by Robr12 - 9/21/12 at 5:57pm
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks! I agree the Q701 has deeper bass yet less impact and perhaps bloat than the HD558. I did, however, like that color of the sound in the HD558 since it still seemed to be detailed and make things fun without getting out of hand like some of the other headphones I have tried before.


Although I am not trying to get necessarily the best sound or end-all, be-all, I am looking for the best complimenting sound to the AKG Q701. It is already given that I will have the Q701 later on in the year, which I prefer more than any of the other headphones listed above, except perhaps the HD598 and HD600 which I have not heard.


I am trying to get something to compliment the Q701--along the lines of what I could find in my previous combo of the HD668B and ATH-m50. The HD668B produced treble and soundstage relatively well--still not as well as my HD555--and the ATH-m50 managed bass and warmth better. I am just trying to see if there is anyone with any opinions to further reinforce what I have read. Until now, I am leaning with getting an HD600 to compliment my Q701, but I am unsure if it will be a step up or down compared to the HD5x8 series.


I would imagine it would be better, but you can never tell without demoing. Unfortunately, there is no place in Utah, where I am now, which has an HD600 available.

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 9/21/12 at 6:06pm
post #4 of 11

I see. It's difficult to say. What are your opinions on closed headphones? I feel that if you're looking for something to contrast and compliment your current headphone then the best idea would be a closed headphone.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

I don't really care for closed headphones because they sound too congested and false. The ATH-m50 was the only closed headphone which some worked for me, but I still preferred the bass of the HD555 I had trashed. I have tried the AKG K550 which made me ask myself "why all the hype?" I also tried a Sennheiser HD-25, but it was like a bassy, closed Grado under the Sennheiser moniker. No way.


I was thinking about getting AH-D2000/5000 a few years ago, but now they're discontinued or available used at an astronomical price. That means that's out of the picture. I really think the HD600 is going to take me places in music that the other Sennheiser HD5x8s just couldn't do. But I don't want to pull the trigger, bite the bullet and then accidentally shoot myself in the foot. I really can't say without having some ear time, but I am hoping some other users on here who have tried all of these could chime in and give me a recommendation that will work for me.

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 9/21/12 at 6:30pm
post #6 of 11

Well, I say go for it. Do whatever makes you happy. I'm sure you won't be disappointed beyersmile.png. I'm sorry I am unable to personally speak on the HD600. This graph shows some of the sonic capabilities of the headphones in mention.


post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
By the way, thank you, Robr12, for taking the time to help answer my questions. I am going make the plunge! Ready or not, HD600s, here I come! Sorry wallet... Time to throw down some cash for audiophilic awesomeness.
post #8 of 11

If you like the Sennheiser sound, the HD600 will not disappoint. The only thing truly missing from the HD600 is really low bass notes. The mid bass hump is almost enough to make up for it. Depending on the music you listen to, you won't really notice it. The soundstage width will probably be smaller than you are used to, but the depth is good. I have tried a lot of phones and always stuck with my HD580 (600 in disguise).

post #9 of 11

Yes the HD600 is very good, it's the headphone that I have held onto the longest at this point.


But the OP might want to re-investigate the D2000, I just picked up a LNIB D2K on the FS forums for $200 shipped. It's also a keeper smile.gif

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you Slaughter and Grokit for your helpful comments in making my final decision to buy the HD600.  It will be a month or so before I get the rest of the cash together, but when I do make the purchase and I then have some head time with the HD600, I will be sure to share my comments here and likewise help others understand what it has to offer sonically. "HD600 smile."

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 9/22/12 at 3:27pm
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Instant update: Just take back all I said about not wanting a closed headphone. (Robr12, thank you for suggesting this once more.) I am now demoing the Shure SRH840 headphones and cannot stop listening to them. Every sound is so balanced to the point that I prefer it to everything I have heard thus far.

These are the equivalent of audio chameleons. They can masterfully add warm color when the music calls for it, as in symphonic pieces. But these call for treble literally out of nowhere with all the air, static and siblance in the music, too--and yet my ears don't bleed like Grados, Beyers or ATs. I can hear dynamic ebb and flow in music so easily that it makes me want to break out the plastic right now. I am still listening to everything to confirm this, and am doing head checks with ATH-m50s just to be sure, but right now the difference between the two is like a 128 kbps and 320 kbps mp3--no contest. Besides, these isolate well, too, so I can use these in public areas while keeping my mind on my business and work in front of me. I cannot adequately type because I am on a mobile device, but when I get home, you'll be sure to hear more rave from me.
Edited by Hifihedgehog - 9/24/12 at 4:10pm
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