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Disappointed with my Sennheiser HD598s. Thoughts about this..

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

It's not without disappointment that I'm writing this post.  I've given these HD598s a good few months now and I'm on the verge of selling them and wondering if anyone here has ideas about which alternative cans might be the next right choice for me.

 

I'd like to state that I've been into hi-fi for a long time (since about the age of 16, I'm 35 now) and sound quality is very important to me.  I should also say that I'm a professional musician (trumpet player) and have years of experience sitting in brass sections of orchestras, big bands etc. in all sorts of acoustics, so I am very much aware of the dynamics and sound of being in and amongst environments like that.  This is mainly why having a good sound system is important to me, to as closely as is possible to a certain budget reproduce these noises convincingly.

 

My music tastes are broad though, ranging from large scale orchestral stuff to solo piano, chamber music, jazz, big band, funk, hip-hop and rap, rock, heavy metal, death metal and electronic/industrial music.  Big dynamic range, extended frequency response and accurate tonal colour reproduction are very important to me, but I've never spent mega bucks on my equipment and through testing and research have been able to satisfy my needs and even exceed my expectations.

 

My current gear is:

 

Home Hi-Fi:

 

Cambridge Audio Azur 640C  CD Player

Arcam Alpha 8 Amp

Acoustic Energy Aegis Evo 3 floorstanders, biwired with QED silver anniversary cable

 

Active Monitors:

 

Yamaha HS80M

 

PC Setup:

 

Asus Xonar Essence STX

Focusrite Saffire 6 USB

 

Headphones:

 

Sennheiser HD598

Grado SR80

Grado SR125

Koss Portapro

Koss KSC75

Pioneer SE-CLX60S

 

Headphone amp:

 

Fiio E11

 

I thought I'd treat myself to a new set of cans, as I've been having intermittent cutting out issues with my Grados.  I love both Koss phones for casual listening and when I'm out and about or cycling, but I fancied a change and have never owned any Sennheisers before (except a pair of PX100s a few years ago, which were great).  I did my research, and settled on the HD598s as I gathered that they punched above their weight (especially in soundstage and reproduction of acoustic material).  They also looked gorgeous to me (for indoor use, anyway!) and fit the bill for a lovely audio treat for myself!

 

Anyway, I pulled the trigger on them and started listening.  I was initially disappointed, but I also understood that coming from faster and more upfront and bright cans such as the Grados and the Koss, that I may need to let my ears adjust.  I also burned them in for a while and continued.  I have also used them for a fair few hours now, so I don't think that's the issue here.

 

To be specific, there is a big artificial colouration to the sound of these headphones in maybe the upper-mids that renders orchestral strings and brass in an unrealistic and almost electronic way (for want of a better way to describe it.).  Putting my Grado 125s on straight away with the same piece of music showed an altogether more open and detailed sound (to the orchestral strings).  I know the Grados are overly bright and lack bass, but the quality of the treble seems so much more accurate on them.

 

The HD598s lack the grunt of bass needed for most types of music for me as well.  I mean, a cello and bass section needs that physical grunt to come across excitingly.  So does a rock or metal drum kit.  More electronic music fared better, as the drum sounds are very often artificially EQ'd or manipulated to sound more present anyway, but for most things, the low end wasn't anywhere near physical enough.  I'm not a basshead, I just like some physical presence to the low end on playback!  I've seen people describe these as 'reference' and cans to go to for critical listening.  That cannot be accurate.  They have an inescapable 'boxiness' to their sound that I don't think should be there on cans that cost this much and claim where they are in the rankings.  It almost sounds like the plastic housings of the drivers are colouring the sound, for want of a better description.

 

In their favour, they sound great with movies and games.  The soundstage is very open and telling and they do cope with dynamics very well.  I also love how they sound completely different with different tracks, so much so, that I keep thinking I don't like them, then I listen to something else (such as Radiohead or James Brown) and they blow me away with how the sounds jump out in such an exciting and dynamic way!  I'm torn basically.  There is something fundamentally wrong with something in the mid or treble that makes acoustic instruments sound artifical.  I have not yet heard them produce a convincingly realistic orchestral string sound, which really bothers me!  I love wearing them though and would choose them over anything for gaming of movies, but my £10 Koss KSC75s reproduce most of my music collection with a more consistently inviting and realistic sound, which depresses me somewhat!  Do I need to sell them, or will I grow to love them more?  I really want to love them more, but I don't know if I will (but I will be sad to see them go!).

 

If I do sell, what should I go for next?  If I don't like these, would I not like the HD650s as well?  Everyone rates these HD598s except me, it seems!  My research, which I don't trust any more has led me to consider AKG Q701s?  Beyer DT770s? Hi-Fi Man?

 

What is important to me is open at all frequency ranges, great dynamics, exciting sound with realistic tonal colour and good with dynamic music like big orchestral stuff, films and metal.

 

Any feedback would be most welcome!  Thank you!


Edited by amigomatt - 12/23/12 at 6:52pm
post #2 of 67
Thread Starter 

bump
 

post #3 of 67

I play(ed) the trumpet. I'd point you towards the HE-400. I think brass sounds great on them. I have not heard the 598/600/650 though.

post #4 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by amigomatt View Post

 

To be specific, there is a big artificial colouration to the sound of these headphones is maybe the upper-mids that renders orchestral strings and brass in an unrealistic and almost electronic way (for want of a better way to describe it.). 

 

I've seen people describe these as 'reference' and cans to go to for critical listening.  That cannot be accurate.  They have an inescapable 'boxiness' to their sound that I don't think should be there on cans that cost this much and claim where they are in the rankings.  It almost sounds like the plastic housings of the drivers are colouring the sound, for want of a better description.

 

There is something fundamentally wrong with something in the mid or treble that makes acoustic instruments sound artifical.  I have not yet heard them produce a convincingly realistic string sound, which really bothers me! 

 

Ha! This was exactly my impression of them as well--I just couldn't reconcile the praise of them here to the harsh strings I heard from my orchestral recordings. I sold them within a fortnight. Something definitely wrong. (And I was a fan of the Sennheiser HD595, which doesn't have that problem at all).

 

I would recommend the Beyer DT880. I got a pair of the Pro model (250 ohms) more or less out of curiousity and have been very impressed by the neutral and balanced sound (and no wiry strings). Yes, they have a peak in the extreme treble, and that's why they're best used with an an integrated amp where you can use the tone controls. Other than that they punch way beyond their weight.

 

What about using your Arcam Alpha amp? Frankly, it's likely to be just as good as the Fiio (sorry, Fiio lovers). A lot of nonsense is talked about using integrated amps with headphones--the rule is, suck it and see. Used with an integrated with around -3db on the treble control you'll get a sound you can't believe you only paid $250 for.

post #5 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

 

Ha! This was exactly my impression of them as well--I just couldn't reconcile the praise of them here to the harsh strings I heard from my orchestral recordings. I sold them within a fortnight. Something definitely wrong. (And I was a fan of the Sennheiser HD595, which doesn't have that problem at all).

 

I would recommend the Beyer DT880. I got a pair of the Pro model (250 ohms) more or less out of curiousity and have been very impressed by the neutral and balanced sound (and no wiry strings). Yes, they have a peak in the extreme treble, and that's why they're best used with an an integrated amp where you can use the tone controls. Other than that they punch way beyond their weight.

 

What about using your Arcam Alpha amp? Frankly, it's likely to be just as good as the Fiio (sorry, Fiio lovers). A lot of nonsense is talked about using integrated amps with headphones--the rule is, suck it and see. Used with an integrated with around -3db on the treble control you'll get a sound you can't believe you only paid $250 for.


Thanks for your reply.  The Arcam is definitely a better sound than the Fiio.  It's a true hifi amp.  The problem still persists through just the Arcam, in fact the problem I have is with the headphones, not with the equipment I play them through.  I have looked into the DT880s, but I'm swaying towards the DT770s for reasons that I can't quite remember the details of now as it was a while ago when I was reading comparisons of the two.

post #6 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimBlanchard View Post

I play(ed) the trumpet. I'd point you towards the HE-400. I think brass sounds great on them. I have not heard the 598/600/650 though.


Thanks Tim. Actually, the HE-400s are above my intended budget, but coincidentally, my dream target cans from what I've read (and I have read NOTHING negative about them).  I might just save a little longer and pull the trigger on these...

post #7 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post

 

(And I was a fan of the Sennheiser HD595, which doesn't have that problem at all).

Funny that, just before I bought these, I was posting about headphones on my Facebook page and a friend chimed in saying to just get the 595s, no need to pay the extra for the 598s.  I was thinking, 'nah, the 598s look way better and will also sound better.' eek.gif

post #8 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by amigomatt View Post


Thanks for your reply.  The Arcam is definitely a better sound than the Fiio.  It's a true hifi amp.  The problem still persists through just the Arcam, in fact the problem I have is with the headphones, not with the equipment I play them through.  I have looked into the DT880s, but I'm swaying towards the DT770s for reasons that I can't quite remember the details of now as it was a while ago when I was reading comparisons of the two.

 

Yes. I wasn't suggesting the problem was the Fiio. The problem is the HD598. I was suggesting you use the Arcam with the DT880 so you can reduce the treble slightly for a more balanced sound.

 

I haven't heard the DT770, but some little voice tells me it's not going to be right for someone trying to reproduce large scale orchestral properly. I urge you not to buy till you try.

post #9 of 67

If you were disappointed with the bass, i would also point you in the he-400 direction, or possibly the hd650. The hd650 definitely has more midbass impact than the 598, and i'm glad i made the switch. However, the he-400 would work better with your e11, while the 650 needs a stronger amp to truly shine. Honestly, if i was in your situation, i would probably save up a bit and get the he-400. They are a good compromise between the mids of the hd650 and the bass of say the denon d5000, and a lot of people here love it and recommend it. The q701s are great too, but i don't think they are what you are looking for, as i thought they had less bass than the 598s. Aas for the dt770s, imo they are a downgrade from the 598; you would be losing the amazing soundstage and mids of the hd598. It does have more bass though.


Edited by jwusoccer - 12/16/12 at 10:17pm
post #10 of 67
Originally Posted by amigomatt View Post


Thanks Tim. Actually, the HE-400s are above my intended budget, but coincidentally, my dream target cans from what I've read (and I have read NOTHING negative about them).  I might just save a little longer and pull the trigger on these...

 

 

If I was in your shoes, i'd jump to the he-400 straight away. If they are your dream can, most likely you'll buy them at some point in the future, (especially given the amount of positive feedback they've earned on here.) You'll save more money in the long run by not purchasing an intermediary pair such as the beyerdynamics. 


Edited by TimBlanchard - 12/16/12 at 10:32pm
post #11 of 67

The DT-880 seems rather boring and flat compared to the HE-400. Looking at what you've written in your first post, I would say that planar magnetic headphones (aka hifi-man) are the way to go. They are very fast, and do have some fairly good detail. The DT-880 seems to be struggling compared to the HE-400, and with very aggressive metal the DT-880 becomes a mess while the HE-400 seems to cut right through it.

 

If it wasn't for your budget I think you should go for the HE-500 actually. The HE-400 laggs some in the treble.

post #12 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

The DT-880 seems rather boring and flat compared to the HE-400.

 

Odd though that the DT880 comes off vastly more flat on the FR graph. Nice response up to 1khz and then...whoa, tobogan...

 

 graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=723&graphID[]=3651

post #13 of 67

Heya,

 

I think you would probably be more in tune with:

 

Beyer DT880

Hifiman HE-300 & HE-400 & HE-500

Sennheiser HD600 & HD650

AudioTechnica AD900 & AD2000

Sony MA900's

Mr Speakers Mad Dogs

Audeze LCD's

 

The reason I'm not recommending an AKG at this point is because the Q/K701/2/s are actually more similar to the HD598 than not. You'll find the signature is quite similar, though maybe a drier sound, but the same lacking grunt in the bass frequencies so you would just be getting another version of what you already have. I would suggest something with a little more weight down stairs.

 

And you're not the only one who doesn't like the HD598. I don't care for it. Then again I don't care for the HD650 either. The only sennheiser I seem to care about is the HD580/HD600. I like Hifiman and Beyer better myself.

 

Very best,

post #14 of 67

I'd encourage you to try the HE-400 before you commit to it. Perhaps try it and if it's not for you, utilize a return policy for a refund.

The glowingly unanimous approval of the HE-400 had me nearly assured I'd love it when I decided to try it. That wasn't the case though, and even after giving it three weeks to grow on me, it didn't. I seem to be in the minority who don't like the HE-400, but I just want to point out that it's not for everyone! For orchestral and non-vocal pieces, though, I think it is indeed a great buy. Just try it first before committing!

post #15 of 67
I has the 598.Iw was one of the worst sennheiser phones I had and sold it. Go for the AKG K550. You can get it on Amazon for around $250. It's a sleeper phone. I love it.
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