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Sennheiser HD 597 + Fiio e17

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,

 

The situation is a bit more complicated, so let me explain first. At the moment I have a pair of HD 555 (had them for 4 years) and using the onboard sound from an Asus laptop. It's pretty decent, and it was a blast the day I received my headphones after being used with Creative and the likes. Until now I've been very satisfied, but I feel it's time to change my headphones since the sound has started to decay a bit (less bass, highs are a bit rough, less power, etc.).

But first and foremost I'd like to find out what's the limiting factor. Whether I should stick with the onboard sound or if it's worth investing in an external DAC, such as the Fiio e17 or other suggestions. Sound level was never an issue with my current system, so I am mostly interested if there is a benefit in the quality.

I mostly listen to rock/hard rock/alternative/electronic, no hip-hop,pop. I prefer a richer sound with well defined mids/highs than loud bass, but some degree of bass is necessary. Sources are either flac or 320 kbps mp3. To be honest I haven't been able to notice much difference between 320kbps mp3 and flac (I assume it's because of the onboard chipset and not the headphones/ear, but I might be wrong). The sound tends to distort at max level, feels somewhat dull and there is some background noise, especially at high volumes.

And speaking of headphones, is the 598 a noticeable leap in quality compared to the 555? Or any other suggestions in that price range. I prefer open headphones and I am a little biased towards Sennheiser (don't hate), if not for the sound quality alone, but the fact that they lasted so many years while taking a lot of punishment.

I am in UK and the price differences between USD and GBP tend to vary a lot. Budget for DAC (if needed) - £100, and headphones - £200. I'm willing to push my budget if the improvement is worth it.

 

Thanks

 

LE: Corrected to 598, sorry for the typo.


Edited by fireblast - 1/31/13 at 3:56pm
post #2 of 15

There is a noticeable leap in quality in the 598s over the 555s.  I have the 598s and really love them, not so much the look though.  You'll probably have a much more significant improvement in quality just by upgrading your onboard with an amp/dac.  Fiio has some good entry level stuff; e17 is great and you can plug into pc/laptop but was meant for portability with its battery: ipod, iphone, etc.  I use the e10 which is meant to just be plugged into pc usb 24/7.

post #3 of 15

Beyerdynamic DT880 (250 or  600 ohm) with a Schiit Magni, than a Schiit Modi when you have more money.

post #4 of 15

uhh the headphone is decaying a bit?

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by fireblast View Post

[...] Until now I've been very satisfied, but I feel it's time to change my headphones since the sound has started to decay a bit (less bass, highs are a bit rough, less power, etc.). [...]

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuggetsPie View Post

uhh the headphone is decaying a bit?

 

Yeahhhhhhh. So... this isn't something that actually happens. :)

post #6 of 15

Have you removed the tape inside the 555 yet? The 555 and 595 should basically be the same, except that the 555 is nerfed.

If your 555 still works well, I'd say go for an amp before thinking about the 598.

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies.

 

About the sound decay, it might just be placebo, but in the past year the sound felt duller than usual and the range has also been smaller.

I've looked for Schiit Magni and Modi and they are priced £120 each in UK, and they both are not in stock. Are the DT880s better than HD555/HD598, and can they be driven by a £120 amp (the 600 ohm). I am seriously considering buying those, although I need to find a decent priced amp which is available.

 

And how do I connect the amp directly to the laptop if I don't have an external DAC? Sorry for the newbie questions.

 

Also, I haven't modded the HD555. I've read about the mod a while ago, but I was too afraid I would break the headphones. If I decide to go DAC+amp path, and the quality is better, I guess I can stick to the current headphones and upgrade to something better later.
 

post #8 of 15

Here's waht you should do to get better sound:

 

1. Change earpads.

2. Do the foam mod- It's very strairtforward buisness if you're careful.

3. if you still feel you're ready to take a quantum leap forward- Go for a better transducer. I recommend Beyerdynamic DT880s for your genres, I remeber upgrading from the HD595 and it was the proverbial "night and day" improvemnt across the board.

4. Upgrade your upstream eqipment, If you have an onboard card then go for a nice desktop amp first.

 

Good luck and sorry about you wallet. smile_phones.gif

post #9 of 15
Definitely upgrade your headphone before spending a lot of money on amp and DAC. I owned a 595 and difference with amp/DAC wasn't that great. If you aren't happy with your 555 now the Magni/modi combo won't change that.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by ztreb185 View Post

There is a noticeable leap in quality in the 598s over the 555s.  I have the 598s and really love them, not so much the look though.  You'll probably have a much more significant improvement in quality just by upgrading your onboard with an amp/dac.  Fiio has some good entry level stuff; e17 is great and you can plug into pc/laptop but was meant for portability with its battery: ipod, iphone, etc.  I use the e10 which is meant to just be plugged into pc usb 24/7.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Have you removed the tape inside the 555 yet? The 555 and 595 should basically be the same, except that the 555 is nerfed.

If your 555 still works well, I'd say go for an amp before thinking about the 598.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireblast View Post

Thanks for the replies.

 

About the sound decay, it might just be placebo, but in the past year the sound felt duller than usual and the range has also been smaller.

I've looked for Schiit Magni and Modi and they are priced £120 each in UK, and they both are not in stock. Are the DT880s better than HD555/HD598, and can they be driven by a £120 amp (the 600 ohm). I am seriously considering buying those, although I need to find a decent priced amp which is available.

 

And how do I connect the amp directly to the laptop if I don't have an external DAC? Sorry for the newbie questions.

 

Also, I haven't modded the HD555. I've read about the mod a while ago, but I was too afraid I would break the headphones. If I decide to go DAC+amp path, and the quality is better, I guess I can stick to the current headphones and upgrade to something better later.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amarphael View Post

Here's waht you should do to get better sound:

 

1. Change earpads.

2. Do the foam mod- It's very strairtforward buisness if you're careful.

3. if you still feel you're ready to take a quantum leap forward- Go for a better transducer. I recommend Beyerdynamic DT880s for your genres, I remeber upgrading from the HD595 and it was the proverbial "night and day" improvemnt across the board.

4. Upgrade your upstream eqipment, If you have an onboard card then go for a nice desktop amp first.

 

Good luck and sorry about you wallet. smile_phones.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dillont3 View Post

Definitely upgrade your headphone before spending a lot of money on amp and DAC. I owned a 595 and difference with amp/DAC wasn't that great. If you aren't happy with your 555 now the Magni/modi combo won't change that.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD


I, personally, don't think that the HD-598 is really a significant upgrade over the HD-555 at all.  In fact, my modified HD-555 is approximately in the range of 85% the performance of my new HD-600 headphones from Sennheiser.  I've done my fair share of thorough listening to many Sennheisers recently in order to be able to share some input into this area, so I'm not just talking from a paper statistic standpoint.

 

My HD-555 headphones, had the foam strips removed from the ear cups by the previous owner.  However, I then performed a slight mod variant that took them into a much better direction.  Inside the grill area, I placed about a 1" diamond of craft felt with an adhesive on the back.  This went into the area where the original foam pieces used to reside.  Then, within the cup surrounds, I applied a small layer of newplast, which worked to dampen the plastic that was present around the inside oval areas of the cups.  This really solidified the bass response.  I didn't add more bass, but increased the quality of it.

 

Then, driving them with some good power is key.  I have a Magni amp, but amp using a $30 Muse Mini DAC that is quite the stellar performer for the price.  In fact, I sold my Modi DAC in favor of this Muse DAC instead.  Good sound quality doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.  At this point, my modified HD-555 is really performing at a level where I would not consider it to be any weaker in performance than the HD-598.  Again, I've heard the HD-598 many times and at the current going rate of $210, or so, it's really not a worthy upgrade to jump to from the HD-555.  Instead, if one keeps their eyes on the F/S forum here, they can often find deals on a used pair of HD-600 headphones.  In fact, I purchased a pair of "nearly new" HD-600s for $215.00 (shipped) price.  I didn't offer a lower price, that was the price being asked for the headphones including shipping.  This will be my 2nd pair of HD-600s that I'm adding into my collection.

 

Just my .02 based upon some solid experience with the Sennheiser brand.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by fireblast View Post

About the sound decay, it might just be placebo, but in the past year the sound felt duller than usual and the range has also been smaller.

I've looked for Schiit Magni and Modi and they are priced £120 each in UK, and they both are not in stock. Are the DT880s better than HD555/HD598, and can they be driven by a £120 amp (the 600 ohm). I am seriously considering buying those, although I need to find a decent priced amp which is available.

And how do I connect the amp directly to the laptop if I don't have an external DAC? Sorry for the newbie questions.

Also, I haven't modded the HD555. I've read about the mod a while ago, but I was too afraid I would break the headphones. If I decide to go DAC+amp path, and the quality is better, I guess I can stick to the current headphones and upgrade to something better later.

I would say to get the Senn HD558's.

Remove the black rubber tape from inside the cups.

 

Get the Fiio E10 USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier.

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

I would say to get the Senn HD558's.

Remove the black rubber tape from inside the cups.

 

Get the Fiio E10 USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier.

 

I'd still say, keep the HD-555s and perform the mods I suggested.  The HD-558 is a bit "dark" and loses some detail.  Even with the foam removed, I still thought the HD-555 was capable of producing better sound.  I priced the HD-558 replacement drivers from Sennheiser.  They are $41.00 (each), but out of stock in the U.S. for about 3 more weeks.  Plus, there is $6.50 shipping on top of the $82.00 for the drivers.  In the end, I decided against that idea after spending time with the HD-558 since I wasn't sure of where the sound would go with my HD-555 cups.  The HD-558 is $179.00 + tax from Best Buy.  You can find it for less on Amazon.  However, again, I'll repeat that you can find a pair of HD-600s priced in the low $200s (e.g. $220 - $240) every now and then on this forum's F/S section.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

I just did the foam mod. Was quite easy, don't know why I was scared I would break them. Anyway, I haven't noticed much difference in bass like most people claim, perhaps it's just a bit more focused. However, what I did notice was a better soundstage and treble. Especially treble is better defined than it used to be. My only concern is that treble sounds slightly harsh on some songs, but I'll have to adapt the eq. Overall impressed and I will keep the headphones modded.

 

I've decided I will keep the 555s for the time being. 558/598 sounds as an incremental upgrade and I would rather save for a better set of headphones. It's probably going to be hard to decide between HD650 and DT880. I've read most of the forum threads about those 2, but I'm still confused which one should I get. Any suggestions on which one would mix better with my music genres, and which one has better soundstage? I am also going to try and find both of them to listen to.

 

And would the Schiit Magni be able to drive HD650/DT880(600 ohm version) well? I've read people complain the 650s being hard to drive.

 

Thanks everyone for your help.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by fireblast View Post

I just did the foam mod. Was quite easy, don't know why I was scared I would break them. Anyway, I haven't noticed much difference in bass like most people claim, perhaps it's just a bit more focused. However, what I did notice was a better soundstage and treble. Especially treble is better defined than it used to be. My only concern is that treble sounds slightly harsh on some songs, but I'll have to adapt the eq. Overall impressed and I will keep the headphones modded.

 

I've decided I will keep the 555s for the time being. 558/598 sounds as an incremental upgrade and I would rather save for a better set of headphones. It's probably going to be hard to decide between HD650 and DT880. I've read most of the forum threads about those 2, but I'm still confused which one should I get. Any suggestions on which one would mix better with my music genres, and which one has better soundstage? I am also going to try and find both of them to listen to.

 

And would the Schiit Magni be able to drive HD650/DT880(600 ohm version) well? I've read people complain the 650s being hard to drive.

 

Thanks everyone for your help.

 

 
I can't speak for the Beyerdynamic, as I have never heard them.  But my HD-600, and my HD-650 don't have any issues with Magni.  Plenty of power - keep in mind that the Magni is designed to drive planar headphones, such as the HifiMAN headphones.  Even my HE-400s, which are the most efficient in the HIfiMAN lineup, use a slight bit more juice on the volume dial than my HD-650.   You could even use a Fiio E9 to drive the HD-650s.  I've used the Magni and the FiiO E9, without any issues at all.  
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post


I, personally, don't think that the HD-598 is really a significant upgrade over the HD-555 at all.  In fact, my modified HD-555 is approximately in the range of 85% the performance of my new HD-600 headphones from Sennheiser.  I've done my fair share of thorough listening to many Sennheisers recently in order to be able to share some input into this area, so I'm not just talking from a paper statistic standpoint.

 

My HD-555 headphones, had the foam strips removed from the ear cups by the previous owner.  However, I then performed a slight mod variant that took them into a much better direction.  Inside the grill area, I placed about a 1" diamond of craft felt with an adhesive on the back.  This went into the area where the original foam pieces used to reside.  Then, within the cup surrounds, I applied a small layer of newplast, which worked to dampen the plastic that was present around the inside oval areas of the cups.  This really solidified the bass response.  I didn't add more bass, but increased the quality of it.

 

 

 

My experience is that the 555/595 are excellent headphones and not easily upgraded. I didn't care for the 598 at all; I sold it off but still have a 595 which I refer to regularly. I owned the 650 for 3 years but wasn't entirely satisfied; there was just something not quite right. I'm currently using a DT880 Pro and busy looking for faults in it which I can't seem to find, even in comparison with a HE-500. In  fact I've already decided that the 880 is a keeper; it just does everything right.  

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