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Over-Ear item created by nightmancometh, Oct 5, 2010
Pros - Comfort, Soundstage are unique
Cons - Can Irritate Certain People
When looking at a headphone, you almost always forget that the more pretty, or whatever in may be that wins you over in this case, that headphone, it has a sibling.
This is the brother of a widely loved, and chosen as best for $200 bang for buck headphone, the Sennheiser HD598.
If we look around the headphone, there's really no difference when they sit side by side, maybe one has a bigger logo on the opening, and you also notice a huge contrast.
I'd argue that an idiot who looked at both of these would choose the 598 just because of its smooth color, and someone who didn't mind price would grab the 558, do research, and still appreciate his purchase.
The differences are fairly large in the grand scheme, but if you wanted gorgeous quality, and a fancy pair of cans you'd choose either of the two, let's be real. These two both look better than the Momentum.
Sennheiser HD558 vs. Sennheiser HD598
First up, Sennheiser HD598
So, in my original review I wasn't very considerate of these, and that's not the case fully.
The 598 is a lovely can for someone who can appreciate a wide open soundstage at $150-200, and they do it best in this range. I feel in this price range, when going for a can you wanna use often, you should often go for something more close, especially if it's your first pair of headphones.
My argument? Not everyone's ears are going to understand the point of an Open Ear/Back Headphone. But it's your money, you decide.
The 598 is honorably a great listening piece, and warm like both cans in discussion. Though the emphasis is very different, the details to mids in the 598 is pretty forward, the mids are nearly close to fully bodied with detailed tones on most acoustic tracks. The mids aren't aggressive in most cases, but I heavily recommend an amp, and slight tuning. Working the mids around with the EQ without an amp can pump up the mids, and definitely begin to show highlights when you listen to the Slow Post-Rock/Trip Hop of Massive Attack, and Bowery Electric, or you can EQ them properly and pull some really gentle, crisp, and almost whisper sounding mids.
I really recommend giving them an EQ if you wanna use them for portable house listening and not have to worry about amping them. My ending statement, they're beautiful, warm, and can be tuned to come off clean and crisp.
Vocals don't come off too bright, they properly lay in the middle of everything without becoming overpowering.
Let's discuss Lows with these.
Lows aren't a huge strong point for these by default. And it makes me wish we all used the same players, because I've got great tuning for these.
So these headphones aren't genre specific by any means, but! I don't recommend these if you're a Hip-Hophead who wants to blare his favorite bangers at top notch volumes, I'd promptly ask you to stop reading and look at the M50, SRH840, or MDR-7506, you're not gonna enjoy these cans as much.
So I said they aren't for Hip-Hop fans, correct! It's listenable, but I feel these headphones cater a lot to different genres.
Genres with more vocal coverage work awesomely with these! The headphone takes a lot of focus and buries it around a mellow, but warming bass, and not strong by any means, maybe a bit slim, but they are detail headphones.
Without an amp the Lows are great if you can find that tune, they'll pop a bit more without an amp, and may come off a bit more slim as I said, but it's what they do best! Jazz, Classical, Orchestral, & maybe even Blues come off with a detailed pace, heavy instrument focus, and no stress on any elements.
Personally I feel the HD598 has a huge emphasis on the true acoustic measurement of a studio recorded songs tracking.
With all the elements in a song creeping up on you, you never really know what you're going t get out of a song with each full listen.
Cymbals are prominent, and very detailed, I'd arguably call them relaxed, which I think is good for beginners.
To myself, they don't have a whole ton of Splash, but you do get it in a Clean measure, definitely makes the Cymbals that come from the M50(my last headphone) swallow their tongue.
Detailed beginner can, and relaxing, very clean, not too forward. I feel these provide something new with every listen, they are a bit of a unique character when it comes being a detailed pair of cans.
Warmth is very prominent in these at immediate listen, vocals are delicate, but very different from what AudioTechnica does with female vocals.
I hope that if you decide you want one of these, and you come to this site this really helps you get an idea.
If you get the HD598, here are some recommended Albums, & Test Tracks(My Taste):
[track]Angel Olsen - Windows[Jangle Pop]
[track]Wolf People - Morning Born[Woodsy Indie Rock]
Pros - Good soundstage, delivery and open sound
Cons - Only can be used at home
Sennheiser has recently refreshed its audiophile range of with the HD518, 558 & 598 and the fabulous HD600 is almost out leaving just the HD650. This review takes a look at the mid-tier Sennheiser HD 558, which actually turned out to be the best value headphone in the current line-up.
The Sennheiser HD558 maintains the classic headphone look with good styling. I specially mention the “classic headphone” look because with the HD 598 Sennheiser has tried a new look/color which seems to have many complaining. Personally, the HD598 is a refreshing redesign and I have no complaints. Incase you are not the consumer who goes for the European sports car look (of the HD598) then its just one more reason to pickup the HD558. The new audiophile line also sports detachable cables, a welcome feature – as more often than not the cables are more susceptible to usage.The clean curves and bold looks and reasonably good plastic housing makes it worth the price. You can always look up the feature list on on the HD 558 product page, so let’s get on with things that matter more… (in my opinion).
The classic comfort that one expects from Sennheiser headphones is prominent the HD 558 and one feels it the moment the phones go on the head. The most obvious characteristic that you’ll notice with the 558 is the large soundstage and airy presentation (within this price category). Ofcourse one expects such a presentation from open-headphones in general, however I think that the 558s provide a good dimensional presentation for an entry-level audiophile headphone. I haven’t heard the Grados and Audio Technicas so I can’t compare them but I have heard the Sennheiser HD600 and AKG K550 and know a good presentation when I hear one! I tried out the 558s on both a Matrix Mstage followed by a Burson HA160 and the headphones stepped up their act with better resolution and dynamics.
The highs were initially a bit shiny for my tastes but with time they did settle down. In general the highs are crisp and clean (probably my Cambridge DAC Magic rubbed off some of its upper end shine).The mids are lovely and smooth, right there along with both highs and lows. If you enjoy jazz and vocals you’ll appreciate the tone of the mids greatly. It definitely stands up in comparison to my previous Sennheiser HD448 (and it should considering the price difference, and it definitely would be the recommended upgrade from the 448s). Bass is in sufficient quantity for non-bass heads, though it does get slightly boomy when extending further down, all-in-all quite good for the price and I did notice slight betterment with burn-in (I recommend atleast 50 hrs of burn-in). I have been recently listening to a HiFiman HE500 and a Sennheiser HD650, so its very much likely that I have been “spoiled” with regard to the quality of bass that I expect . That said, I would definitely rate the treble performance of the 558’s higher than its bass.The HD558 retains most of the laid-back style house sound of Sennheiser which goes very well with a lot of listeners but if you are a serious rock and electronica nut these may not provide that pace or “zing” that adds a great feeling to such tracks. Though I cannot exactly pin down the flavor in the HD558, I see it as a more “popular” deviation from the previous HD6xx line. The HD558 is not as laid back as the previous generation of Senns, and I don’t see that as a disadvantage – it probably reflects the fact that Sennheiser is updating it’s house style with a bit of popular music listening styles. Overall the HD558 can be described as a very pleasant and slightly colored listening experience. The coloring keeps the 558 from getting cold and yet not too warm. This nature keeps the HD558 suitable for most music genres though hip-hop listeners may notice the lack of strong bass.
Sennheiser mentions that the 558 plays well with most mp3 players and portable media players owing to its higher sensitivity. I found this to be the case as the everything from my iPod Classic, iPhone to the Sandisk Clip could drive the 558 easily to loud volumes, that said the 558 ships with a quarter-inch headphone pin and using the provided 3.5mm adapter is quite “dorky”! Though Sennheiser says the sensitive 50 ohm HD558 is compatible with most portable audio sources, frankly driving it from mp3 players and laptop audio output sources is not a great idea. These headphones are meant to be driven atleast from a home audio receiver but one can also opt for a much more wallet friendly and portable headphone amp like the Fiio E10 and enjoy better sound from the headphones.
Sennheiser HD558 headphones
The general pricing difference between the 3 models (HD518, 558 & 598) are roughly 30 bucks (HD518-100, HD558-130 & HD598-160).Remember that there is the HD518 which sits below the 558 coming in just at or under 100 bucks, my advice is to skip it! The price difference between the 518s & 558s is almost negligible…just hunt for good offers on the 558 (online) and you will definitely be coming away with a great value purchase for your money. The next step-up model HD598 is relatively pricier than the 558 in the real world, it goes without saying that if you are getting a good price on the 598s, don’t think twice!
Pros - Comfortable, light, non fatiguing, sub bass
Cons - bright, not for a basshead, long cable
Comfort and build
These headphones are extremely comfortable, I have worn them for upwards of 8 hours, with out my ears hurting. The ear pads do collect a lot of "stuff" like lint and animal hair very easily. The HD558s are build very well, holding up to abuse I put them through. Even though they are made completely of plastic, it feels of top quality.
I love the sound signature of these headphones. The Sub-bass is satisfying enough for most music, but if you are really into Hardstyle and other bass eccentric EDM genres, these will not suffice. I found these headphones the most enjoyable whilst listen to classical style music, such as works from Hans Zimmer's, and soft house music. The only thing that would make the 558s better would be a larger, more gratifying, extension into the bass.
Pros - Nice Soundstage, Deep Bass, Euphoric, Mids, Forgiving
Cons - None, just maybe a little bit too warm at times.
This was my first open headphone and I fell in love with it the moment I heard it. I would say it's a rather dark -sounding headphone with a really pretty midsection. It has a tight, well defined bass that tends to do quite well with low quality recordings (but does not extend really deep). It does exceptionally well with trip-hop artists such as Massive Attack (In my opinion).
This is the best budget for under 200$. It will work with a phone, and even though sennhieser recommends this, It sounds the best when plugged into a slightly better sound source like my MacBook Pro.
It does benefit slightly from a DAC or AMP, but not by much.
Also, people say this sounds better than the HD600 when un-amped. However, That is really not true in my opinion. BUT it's still is a great headphone nonetheless.
Pros - Comfort, sound quality, removable cable feature, replaceable earpads, soundstage.
Cons - The 3.5 mm converter/adapter is huge, cannot use with phones/media players that have cases, all plastic build.
So, these were purchased on September 17[sup]th[/sup] of this year from best buy online for $179.99, and I was overcome with joy the very second I submitted the order. I actually have never owned a pair of these before, so, I knew this was going to be a new experience for me.
I waited day in and day out patiently hoping that they would arrive soon, and guess what? My patience paid off. About 2 days after I had placed the order, they had arrived at my doorstep. Once I opened the box, I was actually surprised at how simple the packaging was. Nothing fancy. You get the headphones and the detachable cable. That is it, and I was ok with that. When I plugged them into my FiiO E17, I started to smile inside. I was very surprised at how balanced these were. As I started to listen to these more and more, the openness of the sound and the clarity in the midrange and treble became more and more noticeable.
Lows/Bass: Well refined, but not overdone or bloated in any way. I don’t listen to dubstep or bass oriented music, so bass was not a priority for me. It blends into the midrange very well, and it never gets to that point where I want to take these off or where my ears are fatigued.
Midrange/Vocals: Clear, easily heard, and never boring to listen to. With enough detail to satisfy even the pickiest people, i think these have the potential to be one of the best vocal performing headphones that i have heard.
Highs/Treble: The treble is easily heard, but it takes a back seat to the midrange, but just a bit. I think that was done on purpose by Sennheiser so that people will be able to listen to these for a longer period of time.
Soundstage: This portion is really great! The HD518, 558, 598, and other open back headphones from Sennheiser really succeed in this region. It is very 3D like. I am able to hear individual instruments clearly. Part of the music was in the back of the room, and the other was in the front. Like that basically. Everything was very enjoyable.
Conclusion: To wrap up this review, I highly recommend these at the $179-$200 price point. I got these for $179.99, like I said before, and I think, at that price, it is a steal. Overall, these headphones are really great! I cannot stress that enough.
Pros - Smooth, Euphoric, Naturall, Soundstage, Looks, Long Cable,
Cons - May be too slow for you, Lacking a bit of treble,
I Like It. I can't tell you I don't.
Pros - Smooth mids, non-fatiguing but interesting highs and overall comfort
Cons - May be bass light which may feel a little muddy, ungodly plug and clamping force
First review but here goes
The Sennheiser HD 558 comes with a 3m detachable cable, a 6.5mm to 3.5mm converter and the headphones themselves.
Comfort and Build: Although the headphones themselves are made entirely of plastic it doesn’t feel like the cheap plastic. In fact the build seems solid enough to take light abuse but I really wouldn’t recommend anyone stress test these to any high extent. They do however feel like a well-constructed pair of headphones. In the comfort department it feels light on the head with heavy padding on the headband and thick padding on the ear cups. Both quite soft but the cloth material is a dust magnet. Even within a day of use you can sort of already see the dust being picked up by the pads. I guess it might just be my room that’s extremely dusty but just thought I’d give a heads up. Also right out of the box the clamping force is quite high although they aren’t horrendously tight (they are in fact extremely comfortable) they don’t feel like the clamping feeling around your ears are going to disappear anytime soon. Because of this my ears do get quite warm over a period of time. However that being said it does mean that when adjusted correctly there is almost no feeling on the top of the head. The cable isn’t all that special, it’s pretty thick but isn’t overly stiff terminating at a thick and chunky jack. Strain relief on both ends of the cable are more than adequate.
Bass: I wouldn’t consider myself a basshead but having a bass presence and that low rumble or pounding always helps in finding the beat of a piece. In this case you can hear the bass of a song with some bass presence but the thump really isn’t all that impressive. It’s there but it isn’t going to knock you out if that’s what you’re into. There is some rumbling when there isn’t much else in the track otherwise it just gets trampled over but mids and highs and you really have to concentrate to notice the full effects and rumbling of the bass. There just seems to be a slight lack of overall tightness in the bass, in some passages it just feels a little muddy with some bleeding into the lower mids when there is just a stampede of sound with . All in all I find the bass somewhat sufficient for me, but I would prefer to have slightly more tightness in this area for cleaner sound.
Mids: Ahhhh the mids, so smooth and relaxed. They never feel harsh or obtrusive, taking a more relaxed tone that is sweet and lilting. Lower strings and guitar are clear and feel extremely laid back with a light airy sound. Cellos feel just as how I feel a cello should sound for more calming pieces with viscosity and a slight warmth to them that just give you the feels inside. Male vocals are a tin bit veiled and lacking in weight and power, it seems as if they are TOO polite. This is absolutely fine for slower and more relaxing songs but when they need it for that powerful tenor sound I find a generally lacking. Female vocals are so wonderful to listen with that silky smooth flow of voices. Again however the voices are almost too polite for some songs. It’s just too rounded and relaxed it lacks the bite or attack in their voices. This is not dissimilar to the headphone in general, there just doesn’t feel like there is any bite to the sound whether it be strings or voices. This is perfect for lyrically emphasized songs and jazz that require a warm velvet sound that just allows you to relax and have a good lie down.
Highs: The smoothness of the mids carry over into the high range allowing for longer listening periods that have a ton of high frequency sounds. There is plenty of treble sparkle without a lack of thickness. I wouldn’t say that the highs are thick like the mids but rather there is a good balance between the two. Neither is really fighting to overcome each other and I find a good balance of the two ranges. That being said the upper registers of violins and voice are again smoothed over. There is also a sense of clarity and breathiness which make the highs all the more enjoyable. The airiness and smoothness reduces the harsh sibilance allowing in longer listening periods. It isn’t totally smoothed however and you’ll be glad to know that there remains a slight edge to the sharpness of the highs. Giving back the bite to strings which sometimes is just so crucial to make the sound much more intense than if it was totally smoothed over.
Clarity/Soundstage: The soundstage feels large but you will never feel that you are sitting in a concert hall. It feels more like you are sitting in a largish room. It’s certainly big enough but I don’t feel that I’m really suitable commenting too much as I’ve been pretty much using IEMs only so these are a vast improvement. Due to the larger soundstage, open feeling and breathing room between the instruments and vocals it takes a large step up in the clarity and also transparency. I can hear the subtle snapping of fingers or the light thud of a piano pedal in the recording in comparison to my IEMs which masked these tiny details.
For the price I paid (around $160US) I find these headphones a nice deal. It’s generally pretty comfortable (although clamping is pretty damn high >.>) and delivers a warmer, pleasing sound to slow relaxing songs like jazz and vocals but because of this it just doesn’t really have the power or bite that sometimes just makes you go WOW at the performer. The light airy sound help with relieving congestion overall, but it just really isn’t suited for intricate bass pieces as it just becomes slightly muddy even though there isn’t that much thump or rumbling. Furthermore the bass department just doesn’t have the emphasis to satisfy some users. If bass is the sole thing you are looking for in a pair of headphones maybe try to avoid these? But in my opinion this isn’t too much of a problem to me, what is the problem however is how Sennheiser decided it would be an absolutely marvelous idea to terminate the cable in a 6.5mm plug. This makes the plug freakishly long and it is a good 9cm in length when you add the converter t-.-t (like why?!). Luckily you can buy replaceable cables online so just a temporary setback although I would really have just preferred a 3.5mm jack and a converter. Another thing you should consider when buy these is the level of isolation or sound leakage. Due to the open design it doesn’t block out a noisy environment particularly well and if you raise the volume too loud be prepared to share your music with the outside world.
Pros - Forward, engaging mids. Overall euphonic, non-fatiguing, super comfortable, etc.
Cons - Lacking deep bass extension
At the time of this writing, these headphones cost less than $100 on Amazon. At that price point, they are an incredible value. For some reason, these headphones seem to be damned with faint praise in many reviews on the web.
What the 558 offer:
-Beautiful, natural, relatively neutral sound overall
-Forward, engaging mids (what I like best about these)
-Rich bass with good bass impact but not exagerrated bass (look elsewhere for "bass monsters")
-One-sided, replaceable cable
-Easy to drive (50 ohm impedance means you can drive these easily with iPod, phone, etc)
-Supremely comfortable on my fat head
What they don't offer (and neither did the HD600):
-Great sub-bass extension
Other points to consider
-As an open design, these do not offer noise blocking or prevent leakage (this is not a con, per se)
-They come with a 10ft (really long) straight cord terminating in a 6.35 mm stereo plug. The 3.5mm adapter is a bit unwieldy for use with phones, etc. However, Sennheiser offers a separately sold inexpensive 4.5ft replacement cable with a 3.5mm termination, perfect for such uses
If you are not using a dedicated amp and are looking to plug headphones directly into your phone/MP3 player/laptop/computer, don't need closed headphones to keep sound out/in, then IMO these are the best Sennheisers available and one of the best choices of any brand at any price point.
The only limitation I find is that the bass extension is not adequate for 2% of my rap and electronic music. Eg, ODB's "Harlem World" or MF Doom's "Hey". Otherwise they sound fantastic with all genres (including rock, jazz, pop, and 98% of my rap/electronic).
Pros - Rich sound, very comfortable earpads, great mids, punchy bass, great soundstaging
Cons - bad 3.5mm adapter (way too large)
The sound produced by the HD558 is rich, a bit light, and isn't bloated with bass which is a good thing. It has a crisp treble and punchy bass, very great soundstage(expected from an open headphone) but sometimes the bass lacks. The great thing is this headphone will play any genre of music well, even from rock to classical(they play very well with classical).
The HD558 is very great for listening to music for hours. The velour pads very soft and comfortable, when you put it on, your head will still feel very light, and the pads are well shaped and pads are also great at managing sweat.
The design isn't very interesting/eye
Pros - Mostly neutral tonality, quality timber meets or exceeds expectations for the price, good presence across the spectrum, great all-rounders
Cons - Sennheiser veil, bass can bleed a little and doesn't go all the way down, mids not always as forward as I would like ideally
My chain: Lossless -> Foobar 2k -> HifimeDIY Sabre DAC -> E11
The HD558 are doing it for me right now. I was not blown away, but they really don't do anything wrong. The bass is not boomy but does bleed a tad, not ideal for classical but it's not hugely problematic.
The mids are nice. Never overly resonant, just enough bite to give realism but not intrusive. Imaging is very nice, but transients are a little weak.
Having started my hifi game at IEMs and gone far enough to see the kind of soundstage they are capable of (TF10, SM3), and opting for my first real can to be closed yet with a good stage (DT770), I feel like I can really discern the elements of sound presentation that are unique to open headphones, and they are well-present in the 558s. The sound is not necessarily much "bigger" than my DT770 in terms of the size of the stage or how far away certain sounds are; the DT770 actually wins out on this in some cases, especially with certain types of electronic music (psytrance in particular). However the benefit of the open sound is literally the dimensionality of the sound: the individual "sounds" themselves actually have distinct dimensionality and spacial presence of their own, rather than simply being placed at relative distances to each other. It improves the actual realism of the sound and makes it sound more speaker-like or even "live" sounding.
Timbre and decay are both superior to any phones I have owned; the warmth is obvious, and I can hear the "Sennheiser veil," but it doesn't really interfere with detail or realism when you listen closely. It is more noticeable with some music than others; it makes violins and pianos sound a bit veiled, meaning these are not the BEST cans for classical, but they are VERY far from the worst; again better than anything else I own.
These guys really show their strengths with music that combines synthesized and analog sounds, like Lindsey Sterling and Massive Attack. They give a very pleasant fullness to instruments and never let synthesized bass drown out real instruments, isolating everything neatly without giving that slightly artificial separation that some multi-BA earphones can showcase.
I will say that I personally I wish I had thrown in the extra $80 and gone with the HD598; I would like a little more upper midrange presence out of these guys, and the bass could be tighter. However that doesn't detract from the fact that these are definitely quality cans, they make a great compliment to my DT770 for when I want a more laid-back listen. Overall the sound is laid back yet involving, almost seductive; it doesn't have tons of punch in the bass, so some electronic like Justice or other dubsteppy-like stuff is underwhelming (my DT770s are better suited there) but more intricate, atmospheric stuff like psychill, Lindsey Sterling, later Simon Posford stuff (Shpongle, Younger Brother) is very involving. Even deeper house like Deadmau5 and Jackbeats is good. It can't quite keep up with some of the faster, super-intricate Shpongle tracks (I found the album Nothing Lasts...but Nothing is Lost more problematic than the rest), but then the only thing I've yet heard that can is the SM3, which handled anything I ever threw at it.
Overall I am happy with my purchase, these make a great compliment to my LEs; now to complete my mid-fi conquest I am going after something fast and aggressive with tight, extended bass, maybe a Grado? Perhaps HD25-i-II...any recommendations? ^_^