Originally Posted by The Hairy Yak
So I bought some HD 598s since I have a new work schedule and was I hoping for an immersive late night listening experience. As it turns out, I was not adequately respecting the perspective of who commonly writes reviews for these and they don't really pertain to my music tastes and desires. I listen to rap, reggae, rock, dub-step, electronic, and others genres of the sort. These sennheisers simply do not create the bass/sub bass I was looking for in "powerful" music. So, I have a few options I would like to proceed with.
I do absolutely love the mids these create. However, I'm not sure if an amp is going to be able to salvage anything worth while from them. If you believe it might be worth it, I would be interested in something along the route of an E17 ($139 max) and any other portable DAC/amp recommendations are welcome. But if I am going to go with that option, I want something that will set me up for a back up plan if I am to return the 598s to amazon.
Admittedly I have no idea what I'm talking about in comparison to most/all of you, but I assume the best options for this price range (HD 598s+e17 = ~$350, but I would rather spend ~$250) are going to benefit from or require an amp in order to be what I'm looking for. Plus I'm going to need a DAC more or less anyways since I am currently running on-board, which is why the portable combo option is appealing. That or a sound card + portable amp/no amp (or I guess desktop use only if it absolutely blows other options out of the water), whichever the best option may be in regards to a headphone suggestion.
Can any of you please steer me in the right direction?
Thank you all for your interest.
The HD598, no matter what you're doing, is going to be anemic and shy with bass for the genres you're listening to. It's no secret, the HD598 is not a bassy headphone, it's mostly mids & treble. Simple as that. There are some huge fans of the headphone, who think it's good for everything, but it's all a big preference game. You clearly want more bass, and this headphone will never provide that. An amplifier will not change this. It's an efficient headphone and doesn't even need much amplification beyond a tiny bit of current. You can color it with an amplifier, but it's not going to bring that bass up to the levels you're probably looking for, even a +3db bump will warm it up, but still not give you the kind of sub-bass you're after. This headphone simply doesn't do it. You can equalize the headphone to try to make the most of it, and that may be you're only option if you cannot return this headphone. However, if you can, I seriously recommend you return the headphone and start with a headphone that is actually capable of dropping the bass you want.
Here's a short list of headphones that would be a good start to figure out what you're after:
Ultrasone HFI 2400
Ultrasone PRO 750
Mr Speaker Mad Dog
*Bolded models are the ones I would recommend most if you want the ability to get bassy, but retain great mids and keep it open-air.
If you are stuck with the HD598, and you do not need portability, the Fiio E10 would be completely fine and inexpensive. I would stick with that. It adds some bass options, via hardware, that add +3db of bass lines without distortion. From there, time to equalize. Open your equalizer, drop all frequencies except sub-bass and some mid-bass by 10db to start, and see what you think. It should warm up quite a bit. Do not push any frequencies up. Only bring frequencies down as a means to bring out frequencies you are not touching (ie, bass). This will let you do a big change without distortion. If it's bassy enough for you after that, you're good. You do not need fancy hardware or anything special. Just a software equalizer will do it built into whatever you're using for playback.
If you need portability (battery), then the E7 or E17 is good. If you don't need a portable unit with a battery, I would keep it simple with the E10.