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Senn HD598 and bloated bass

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Forgive new post on this 'phone, but would like some advice. I listen to lots of jazz trio piano bass and drums. I am finding the piano sounds as pretty terrific on the hd598s but the upright acoustic bass is bloated in the lower register. Really great recording - Badlands cd - Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, the late Dave Carpenter on upright bass.

I am only two weeks into these phones, and am listening through the headphone output stage of Sherwood Newcastle cd980 - late 90s vintage, but good sound (20 bit dual Burr Brown DACs). I plan to get an amp to compete this simple rig, and possibly a new CD player such as Onkyo 7030 with the Wolfson DAC.

I have no interest in ripping CDs to my PC at this time.

Would an amp tighten up the bass on this phone, or should I perhaps look for a new phone such as Hd600?
I can still return the 598s to Amazon.

Thoughts are appreciated!
post #2 of 16
I would question the quality of the headphone jack on the Sherwood. It would be interesting to know the output impedance at that jack. The HD598 is only 50 Ohms nominal, with a big impedance peak at ~100Hz. The HD598 is also open-backed and is not really known as having a fabulously defined & dynamic bass. I think I would describe them more as warm and laid-back. Probably OK for more easy-listening music, but I wouldn't think it would excel at fast changes.

I guess what I'm saying is that an amp *might* tighten things up - especially if there are indeed potential impedance issues when paired directly with the Sherwood. However, I probably wouldn't expect miracles - the HD598 might be doing as well as it can. You might need to step up to the HD600 or HD650 to get more refinement.
post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by drjdrum View Post

Forgive new post on this 'phone, but would like some advice. I listen to lots of jazz trio piano bass and drums. I am finding the piano sounds as pretty terrific on the hd598s but the upright acoustic bass is bloated in the lower register. Really great recording - Badlands cd - Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua, the late Dave Carpenter on upright bass.
I am only two weeks into these phones, and am listening through the headphone output stage of Sherwood Newcastle cd980 - late 90s vintage, but good sound (20 bit dual Burr Brown DACs). I plan to get an amp to compete this simple rig, and possibly a new CD player such as Onkyo 7030 with the Wolfson DAC.
I have no interest in ripping CDs to my PC at this time.
Would an amp tighten up the bass on this phone, or should I perhaps look for a new phone such as Hd600?
I can still return the 598s to Amazon.

 

I'm guessing (best guess) the bloated bass coming out of the (50-Ohm) HD598 is caused by the the high output impedance of the CD980's headphone jack.

(kind of surprised that a CD player would have a high output impedance).

A 300-Ohm Sennheiser HD600 should work better with the CD980's high output impedance.

An external headphone amplifier (which usually comes with a low output impedance), should improve the bass of the HD598.

A $60 FiiO E11K should improve the audio quality of the HD598, just connect the headphone amplifier to the RCA line-outputs on the back of the CD980.

Or a Schiit Magni, $99 (+tax/shipping).

http://schiit.com/products/magni-2

post #4 of 16

Many of the headphone sections of CD decks vary widely and in general are not particularly good.  It also has to play well with a 50 Ohm can with a high sensitivity rating.

 

The 7030 headphone out section is decent.  It can certainly be improved with a quality headphone amp.

 

If you know someone with a good headphone listening set up that is friendly to a 50 Ohm can, ask if you can plug in and listen for a bit.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your time and responses!  Please forgive as I'm sure this line of questions has been asked many times...

 

Can anyone recommend an alternative to the Senn HD598 for me?  I find the 598s pretty loose in the bass, not very quick, and somewhat forward and unbalanced in certain frequencies.  Clearly very nice for the $$, but just not for me. 

 

My budget can go up to $250 - $325 or so for the phones. I am planning to get a desktop amp.  I don't do mp3s, FLAC or anything on PC.  Just CDs at this time.  I will soon have the Onkyo CD7030 as my source to this rig. 

 

I am looking for a neutral, musical, uncolored sound signature and am looking for something that will shine with rock (think Steely Dan), small group jazz, big band, acoustic (love piano/guitar), symphonic, classical piano.  I like to hear details in great recordings (again, think Steely Dan).  Being a drummer, I love to hear a snare drum crack, as it is supposed to sound. 

 

Another Senn, such as HD600/650?  Maybe these are too warm?  Any others?  I am not in a position to audition much beyond the mass market stuff given my location.   

 

Thanks in advance!

dj

post #6 of 16

If you are OK with a bright headphone, the DT 880, in either a 250 or 600 Ohm flavor, may be for you--see:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_DT880

 

You should also explore the HD 600 (which is faster than the 598 but still not fast):

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared-update-audeze-lcd-2-revision-2-6-4-13#user_HD600

 

The new AKG K 7XX (from Massdrop) is also very good and a best buy.

 

Just outside your price range is the excellent closed MDR 7520--see:

 

http://www.soundandvision.com/content/sony-mdr-7520-headphone

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by drjdrum View Post
 

Thanks for your time and responses!  Please forgive as I'm sure this line of questions has been asked many times...

Can anyone recommend an alternative to the Senn HD598 for me?  I find the 598s pretty loose in the bass, not very quick, and somewhat forward and unbalanced in certain frequencies.  Clearly very nice for the $$, but just not for me. 

My budget can go up to $250 - $325 or so for the phones. I am planning to get a desktop amp.  I don't do mp3s, FLAC or anything on PC.  Just CDs at this time.  I will soon have the Onkyo CD7030 as my source to this rig. 

 

The AKG K77X are good headphones, guessing you can find used for just over $200.

Try them plugged straight into the CD980, see how them sound, then decide if you also need a new Head amplifier.

(I'm guessing you will get a new headphone amplifier anyway)

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply!  I am interested in learning more about the Sony MDR-7520.  My first set of phones were Pro4AAs, many many years ago, (I'm 57) which were also studio closed back phones.  Really liked them.

 

I would not use these for any mixing or studio work, but for listening enjoyment.  I really like to discover details in fine recordings, and like tight, musical, detailed, but not overbearing bass.  Love natural piano sounds.  I think that these would provide that from what I have read. 

 

I am also considering Senn HD600 - open back of course.  What is the trade off between the two?   I am concerned that the Senns would sound rather relaxing in comparison, maybe too much for me.  Would the Sonys be too harsh and colored compared to the Senns?

 

I want neutral sound, with reasonable sound stage.  Can anyone speak to the low impedance of these phones?  I like an inky black background in my listening - would this be problematic?  My rig is an Onkyo 7030 CD player, matched probably with a Schiit Magni 2 - this amp does have a low/high impedance switch.

 

Thanks! 

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by drjdrum View Post
 

Thanks for the reply!  I am interested in learning more about the Sony MDR-7520.  My first set of phones were Pro4AAs, many many years ago, (I'm 57) which were also studio closed back phones.  Really liked them.

 

I would not use these for any mixing or studio work, but for listening enjoyment.  I really like to discover details in fine recordings, and like tight, musical, detailed, but not overbearing bass.  Love natural piano sounds.  I think that these would provide that from what I have read. 

 

I am also considering Senn HD600 - open back of course.  What is the trade off between the two?   I am concerned that the Senns would sound rather relaxing in comparison, maybe too much for me.  Would the Sonys be too harsh and colored compared to the Senns?

 

I want neutral sound, with reasonable sound stage.  Can anyone speak to the low impedance of these phones?  I like an inky black background in my listening - would this be problematic?  My rig is an Onkyo 7030 CD player, matched probably with a Schiit Magni 2 - this amp does have a low/high impedance switch.

 

Thanks! 

 

As you can see from my tag line, we began with the same first serious headphone.

 

The Senn is neutral-ish (highs are a bit rolled off and it has less bass and bass extension than the Sony) and the 7520 is dead neutral.

 

The 7520 is a small sound stage, especially when compared to an open can with even a middling sound stage for its class like the HD 600.

 

The 7520 will do better out of the Onkyo headphone jack than the 300 Ohm Senn.

 

The Magni 2  has the high/low switch, which can easily ascertained by going to the Schiit web site and product page.

post #10 of 16
Adorama has the HD600 at all time low price of $239: http://www.adorama.com/als.MVC/nspc/revisedProduct?sku=SEHD600&emailprice=t&utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=cj_552179&cvosrc=af
post #11 of 16

Most HT receivers of that era, and theater receivers in general have a bass-heavy signature.  At least this is what I have found with my Sony and Denon units.  I would not auto-dismiss the 598 just yet.  Spectrally it has a very similar signature to the HD600 you are considering.  My experience with my own HD600 and HD558 (598-near modded), and the amps in my prof is that amp circuits with a bass-heavy sound on the 558 likewise sound bass heavy with the HD600.  So my opinion is generally headphones in this price bracket are all detail revealing enough to highlight sonic attributes of the amp that powers them.  Plugging a different headphone of this class into a bass heavy circuit is not going to alleviate that... unless of course you go with a headphone thats considerably bass-shy.

 

You could also be hearing an impedance mis-match as others have mentioned.  A mis-matched impedance can lead to congestion and lack of clarity.

 

Assuming you have a properly matched impedance load, my recommendation would be a K702/701.  Its one of my most bass-shy headphones.  Its bass response (when properly amped) is dry/neutral and accurate.  At times I find it boring to listen to though, but thats just because I prefer a more colored presentation in general.

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey - thanks for the tip on the HD600 deal!  I really appreciate it.  $239 brand new is a very good price for these 'phones.  

 

I have had them for a week now, and after some A/B on some very familiar CDs, I chose to return the HD598s, and keep the HD600s.  There was a lot to like about the 598s, but in the end, the 600s IMO have far more accurate and musical bass, as well as less colored mids, and a more realistic sound stage.  The 598s are a fun and comfortable set of cans at a value price, but I feel the 600s better meets my goal of a reference quality, neutral signature - cans that I plan to keep for years.  My source is the Onkyo C7030 CD player - very nice for < $200.  I did headphone comparisons using the Onkyo CD player and my 41 year old Marantz 1060 integrated amp, using it's headphone output stage.   

 

This leads to another set of questions - I have budgeted $250 for a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp. But, I am finding my old Marantz through it's headphone jack sounding quite nice in driving the 300 ohm HD600s.  The 1060 is all original, with no new parts.  All still works as it should (for now) and sounds very nice.  I am not at all familiar with the design of dedicated headphone amps, and how they differ from more traditional amp designs. 

 

Would there be appreciable benefits in sound quality using a dedicated amp such as the Asgard 2 over my vintage Marantz integrated amp?  I do notice just a touch of roughness on the top end on some material so far with the 1060.  Does the Asgard 2 sound smoother or in any other way different than my 1060?  I have not really considered a tube amp or a hybrid at this point.      

 

I love the compact size of the Schiit, and the apparent high quality for the price.  I could return within 15 days per their policy, but thought I would ask input of others first.

 

Thanks for the great advice, all.

post #13 of 16
Congrats on the new headphones. You definitely got the killer deal smily_headphones1.gif

It's certainly possible that your Marantz is driving them quite well. If that's the case, I wouldn't count on some significant improvement in SQ from a different headphone amp. Hard to know for sure, though. I'd say if you are happy, why worry about it? See if you can find a head-fi meetup in your area in the next year, and maybe take your phones and do a little listening with other setups.
post #14 of 16
My advice is to get out now, while you still can. Enjoy the HD600 on your Marantz and never visit this forum again!! Go now - hurry!! tongue.gif
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by drjdrum View Post
 

My source is the Onkyo C7030 CD player - very nice for < $200.  I did headphone comparisons using the Onkyo CD player and my 41 year old Marantz 1060 integrated amp, using it's headphone output stage.   

This leads to another set of questions - I have budgeted $250 for a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp. But, I am finding my old Marantz through it's headphone jack sounding quite nice in driving the 300 ohm HD600s.  The 1060 is all original, with no new parts.  All still works as it should (for now) and sounds very nice.  I am not at all familiar with the design of dedicated headphone amps, and how they differ from more traditional amp designs. 

Would there be appreciable benefits in sound quality using a dedicated amp such as the Asgard 2 over my vintage Marantz integrated amp?  I do notice just a touch of roughness on the top end on some material so far with the 1060.  Does the Asgard 2 sound smoother or in any other way different than my 1060?  I have not really considered a tube amp or a hybrid at this point.      

My Yamaha receiver does a nice job of driving my 250-Ohm and 600-Ohm headphones.

So if you think the Marantz does a nice job of driving the 300-Ohm HD600, then maybe buying a separate headphone amplifier is not necessary (or at least first priority).

 

I'm thinking it might be better to get an external DAC, hooked up between the Onkyo CD player and the Marantz amplifier.

(I believe the Onkyo 7030 comes with a Wolfson WM8718 DAC chip, 111 SNR).

So an external DAC with a S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) DAC could be connected between the CD player and the receiver.

Maybe a used Schiit Bifrost, off eBay?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/291431002927?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

http://www.ebay.com/itm/221743060808?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

Or if your really wanting a DAC/amp.

Audio-GD NFB-15, around $315 (including shipping).

Dual WM8741 DAC chips :)

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

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