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Sennheiser HD590s: First Impressions

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Ok, yall. I know a couple people wanted to hear my thoughts on my new HD590s that came in this afternoon. Also, everyone likes a good headphone review, right?

Anyway, here is the test system I'm using for my first impressions. Nothing fancy!

A SlimX mp3/cd player, using both regular CDs and high bitrate (256k) mp3s.

A DIY cmoy amp with a linkwitz modified crossfeed.

Albums I'm listening to:
Amon Tobin -- Live on the Breezeblock
Jazzy loungy, with a healthy dose of the hip-hop flava.

Shpongle -- Are you Shpongled?? and Tales of the Inexpressible.
Electronic psychedelia/psytrance with Raja Ram on flute, and assorted female vocalists. (wide frequency range!)

Funky Porcini -- misc songs
Mushroom Jazz!

Dead Can Dance -- Spiritchaser
Male and female vocals, 'ethnic drums' (whatever that means).

Anyway, lets get into the phones! I can see why some other people may have called these a bit bright for their tastes. But what they may describe as bright, I describe as fresh and crisp! I like to hear the SNAP from a snare, the sharp edges of a woman's voice. If you aren't down with bright, then these might bother you a bit.

Also, I'm struck by how OPEN they are! I mean, I knew they were open-aire headphones, and I've got other open-aire phones, but boy, these are really really open. Its as loud on the outside as it is on the inside. Its not really a problem, these are pretty much for home use, but that openness scratches any potential portability I had in mind (jebus, I may have to go buy a pair of those Ety 4S's now!).

The bass is a bit loose at the moment, but that is something that people have said improves after some break in time. So I'll reserve judgement on the bass for now.

Despite the boasts that these could be driven by a portable player, my SlimX (even with a 'not to shabby' 12mW per channel @ 16 ohms output stage) has no chance. They barely get to a regular listening level with the SlimX cranked to the top. But even with the cmoy amp (gain of 11, powered by a single 9V) turned all the way up, the level is loud, but not what I would call insanely loud. Its definately listenable at max volume, just not for a very long time.

I'm working on a Hansen amp right now, any suggestions on gain/voltage to drive these 120 ohm phones with a little more authority?

General features of the headphones are very good. They are mostly plastic, except for the metal grill over the drivers. However, the build quality feels good. I treat the things I own with respect, but I'm also not prone to babying things. No specially made drawers with a velvet pillow placed inside for my phones! But I don't kick them around. Know what I mean? Anyway, I think these will stay together for a good long time.

The single sided cord is nice. I really don't like having two 'drawstring' cables coming down the sides of my face.

These phones are also incredibly comfortable. The 'bionetic' design means they conform quite well to my head. These phones are currently the most comfortable headgear I own (with my Arrow motorcycle helmet a close second). The velvety earcups are a very nice feature. I'm not a huge fan of the 'pleather' stuff that many headphones have.

The phones look nice too. I know that sound comes first, but its also nice to have something that looks nice too. The design is rather contemporary, but isn't so wild that it would turn off a more classically minded person.

Ok, back to the sound! After a few hours of listening, the bass is already starting to tighten up a bit. Nice. The midrange is good. The strong highs don't make the midrange feel empty or hollow. They do a good job of complementing the mids.

These are more revealing than phones I've had before. There is a Funky Porcini song that was recorded off of old vinyl that was almost hard to listen to because of the revealing scratches and pops in the record! The truth will set you free, He said, with a poor recording, ignorance might be better! But the revealing factor is good for the most part, I like hearing the click of fingers on a guitar string.

The soundstage is very wide. The difference between crossfeed in, and crossfeed bypass is very slight, not nearly as abrupt a change as in my 497s. This is a good thing, as I like a nice wide staging effect.

Anyway, in overview, the 590s still feel like they could benefit from a good burn-in, but I'm quite pleased with them. They are comfortable, with a wide stage. They have crisp fresh highs without sounding overly bright, but they don't skimp on the mids and bass. I'm going to look into building a better amp for them, with more voltage swing, but I'm happy with the way they sound through my cmoy. Powering them straight from the portable player would be right out. I feel they were a good value for the price, and a very good headphone!

"I'm going to hang up the phone.. And why not?!? Its so easy!"

post #2 of 3
Hey Phid---

Nice post! I agree with all your points, especially the unflinching reproduction of even poorly recorded material. You can hear things with the 590s that cannot be picked up by many other phones. On the other hand, having another lower fidelity pair of phones is essential, in case one of your favorite CDs has recording flaws.

In terms of power, my JMT CHA 47 does a fine job of driving the 590s to high levels. Check out the instructions over in the Headwize projects library and you can see what makes it tick. A standard receiver jack also gives my 590s lots of oomph, but with more coloration than an amp would.

Keep us posted as to how you like the phones after burn-in! And enjoy listening to 'em...

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your comments, delenda est sony! Its good to be reassured that my opinions aren't full of crap

After 12 hours of burn-in the headphones are filling out nicely. The bass has tightened up even more!

In fact, I sat down to listen to them this morning before work after letting them burn in overnight, and was so impressed, I was late to work! I just sat there and listened.. Eventually I had to tear them off my head and force myself to set them down so I could actually make it out the door... but its ok, me and the 590s have a date to do some serious listenin' this afternoon.

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