Sennheiser HD 598

Average User Rating:
4.36301/5,
  1. Joong
    5.0/5,
    "Unsung hero"
    Pros - excellent Sound stage, excellent extension to both direction of frequency
    Cons - Price misleading
    This wonderful headphone is simply underestimated due to the myterious belief system of audiophiles.
    Price simply biases the listener, and human brain is simple an automata that is influenced by every factor especially the cost he or she paid.
    MarcadoStalker7 likes this.
  2. AgentCOPP1
    4.5/5,
    "Sennheiser HD598 Review"
    Pros - Light, EXTREMELY comfy, great mids & highs,
    Cons - Bass lacks impact, annoying cable, no carrying pouch
     
    Hello everyone. I'm going to review Sennheiser's HD598 audiophile headphones, and give you an overview of my personal opinions on it. These seem to be one of Sennheiser's most esteemed set of cans, so if you really want to know what all the jazz is about, well here you go. Feel free to agree or disagree however you find suitable, however I warn you, if you disagree with me, you are provoking the wrath of the almighty audio gods, so I would be wary if I were you.
     
    ***Disclaimer: This is all opinion-based, but I'm pretty sure my opinions are true. Otherwise I would be an insecure jack wagon***
     ​
    I got these headphones about two months ago and have been giving them lots of good critical listenings through a variety of different situations. Overall, my impression of them is extremely favorable and going back and forth between these and different sets, I always seem to crawl back to these. I'm just going to break down each aspect of these step by step just for you. That's right. I love all of you... well, not really.
     
    Source: Droid Razr Maxx @ 320Kbit/sec MP3. 10 channel EQ'd to my personal preference. 
    Amp: FiiO E09K
     
    20 hours of burn-in (if there even is such a thing)
     
    Accessories
    The HD598s don't really come with much, and this might be a little disappointing to some people. The only accessory that it comes with is a 1/4 inch (6.3mm) female to a 1/8 inch (3.5mm) male adapter. It's my opinion that Sennheiser should have at least given some sort of complimentary box, given that you shell out a little over $200 for these (which some ignorant people might find to be excessive). But to no avail, nothing else is provided with them.
     
    Cable
    The cable is nice and sturdy. It is removable from the headphones, and only goes into one earpiece, which is nice since now you don't have to worry about jerking your headphones off of your head. However, the fact that it terminates in a 6.3mm plug is sure to cause a lot of frustration with some people. These headphones definitely do NOT need an amp to run proficiently, and the fact that if you want to plug them into your phone or iPod, the plug coupled with the adapter effectively becomes as big as a pencil. Now, while the fact that these cans were never meant to be mobile is quite obvious, it still is annoying that you can't really replace the proprietary cable with anything else. What would have been better is if they made the cable terminate in a 3.5mm plug, and if you want to plug them into an amp, just get an adapter for it. Really, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter is not that big or intrusive at all. Minus one for intelligence.
     
    Build
    This is really where the 598s begin to hit the high note (no pun intended). The creamy, somewhat antique look to them is sure to please a lot of people, but it is also sure to repulse others. To me, I think it looks absolutely gorgeous. Everything on this is plastic, but don't fret yet (hey that rhymes!) because this is a very, very high quality plastic (I know it sounds cheesy). I don't really know what to compare it to, but I assure you that the plastic feels very good, and it doesn't feel cheap at all. The headband is cushioned with almost an inch of padding, and when you put these on, it's almost like you forget they're even there. Another plus is the ear pads. The brown velvet is extremely comfortable, and if you've ever had those really soft pajamas that you feel like you just want to cuddle up into, that is what it feels like. Very nice. Sometimes I will find myself just petting the ear pads like a dog because I feel this incessant need to give them love.
     
    Let me reiterate, the overall weight is so little, that when you put these on, they almost literally disappear. They just become another part of your body.
     
    Sound
    Now for the good stuff.
     
    Lows
     ​
    This has been the centerpiece for a lot of controversy in the audiophile world. In no ways is the bass on these powerful, and it is most certainly not the main attention that these headphones give. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are bad, just a tad bit recessed compared to other headphones in the same price range. Sub bass is slightly underpowered, and mid to upper bass are both more present, but seemingly lacking just a tad bit (however this is totally subject to opinion). Now don't let this get you down, because you can still hear the beat of the drums, the pluck of the bass guitar, and everything else that the audio masters want you to hear, but don't expect to be wowed by them. To some people, this is actually a good thing and they feel like it provides a perfect tonal balance. Others feel that it could be given a bit of a boost. Opinion: Even though I am a little disappointed with the bass, that doesn't drive me away completely from them (for reasons later mentioned). Even with excessive equalizing, these still have trouble accurately representing bass-heavy tracks. For instance, take Another One Bites the Dust by Queen for example. If you don't know this song, get out right now. I want nothing to do with you. Anyway, I'm actually listening to this song right now, so here's what I'm hearing: While there is still a bit of punch that you can feel from the drums, the main bass line lacks impact. Yes, I can hear it perfectly, but it just seems to me like there's just something missing. My friend's tube amp actually corrects this problem, but unfortunately I don't have one of my own. If you try to play dubstep on these headphones, you might be better off trying to convince Nancy Pelosi that capitalism actually works better than communism. Just won't work.
     
    Again, this is completely up for opinion as if you like this aspect of it or not, so if you're not sure, try to find someone that has the 598s and see for yourself.
     
    Edit: After about 40 hours of burn-in, I have actually noticed that the bass has become more pronounced and punchy, however still a little recessed. Nonetheless, I actually like the bass better now as it seems to have more umph to it. Even though I stated before that I'm pretty critical of burn-in, I can't deny that either my ear or the headphones have changed to make the bass a whole lot better. Whatever it is, it is a lot better. However my rating still stands as I believe it can still be just a little bit more punchy. But it still is very nice now!
     
    Mids
     ​
    If I could sum up the characteristic of the mids on this set, it would be "tasty". Yes, tasty. Hold on a second, let me switch the song. Okay, now I'm listening to Still Got the Blues by Gary Moore. The guitar solo that Mr. Moore shreds out around 3:45 is EXTREMELY well presented by these headphones. When he switches down to the bridge pickups on his guitar, it literally makes my spine tingle with how well the mids on these things do. It is just so intensely crunchy and powerful. Almost makes me want to cry. Besides that part, vocals are very very easy to hear above the instruments. It does not strain you at all to understand what the singer is saying. If you care to look at my review I did on the Sony XB-1000s here on this website, you will find that they did an absolutely horrid job of presenting vocals. That's to major contrast with the HD598s. It's just absolutely fantastic. I don't really know what else to say about it because it's just so freaking perfect. Smooth as silk.
     
    Highs
     ​
    A lot of problems that headphones have is with sibilance. Sibilance is that cringe-inducing sound produced by the crash of a symbol or by the iteration of the "ssssssss" sound. With the 598s, I can say with utmost confidence that sibilance is completely non-existent. The symbols on drums are heard very clearly, yet they don't make you cringe at all. Squeals on the guitar make your spine tingle. Everything about the highs is buttery smooth and not fatiguing in the slightest. When playing games such as Battlefield 3 (CoD sucks by the way), gun shots are head rattling and whenever a sniper bullet whizzes past your head, it makes your heart jump. It's intensely powerful yet staying reserved enough that it doesn't rustle your jimmies. It's like these are balanced just oh-so perfectly, and really I wouldn't like the mids or highs to be any other way.
     
    ***Note about burn-in***
    The only time I've really noticed any change in the sound signature in these headphones is around 3-4 hours. After that, I haven't noticed any other changes. However, I am extremely critical of burn-in, so I'm assuming that it may just be my ear getting accustomed to the headphones.
     
    Soundstage
     ​
    WOW!!! That's all I've got to say about that! Instruments are spaced out extraordinarily well, and sometimes you are left wondering if what you are hearing is coming from your headphones or the world around you. Like other reviews have done well to describe, it's like you are in the actual studio (or stage) where the band is playing. This is especially good for gaming because it allows you to hear precisely where other players are. I can't tell you how many times I've been able to get the upper hand simply because I could hear someone coming my way before I could even see them. I can't impress upon you enough how well the spacial distancing is on these cans. I can literally tell exactly where someone is coming from and about how far away they are solely due to the fact that the soundstage is so amazing. This characteristic can be mainly attributed to the open-back design of the speakers. Note that this actually might be a problem for some people because they block virtually no sound. People around you can also hear everything that you are listening to as broad as daylight.
     
    Clarity
    These are also some of the most clear headphones I've ever heard. Every beat, every pluck of the pick, every breath of the singer can all be heard with the minutest of detail. I was also shocked to realize that in certain songs, I could actually hear the metronome in the background, which is something that most headphones would fail to present. Beats fanboys would say "hurr durr why would you want to hear a metronome." Well, that's not the point. The point is that the headphones produce such great clarity that it just so happens that you can hear the metronome. My goal in life is not to purchase headphones that play the metronome. It's just BECAUSE they are so clear, that you can hear it.
     
    It is just absolutely astounding the resolution and clarity that these provide. Now don't get me wrong, I agree 100% that there are clearer phones out there, but for the price range, there is almost nothing that beats it.
     
    Overall Impression
    The wow factor on these headphones is truly something to behold. While the bass to some might lack impact and force, the mids and highs make up for it by presenting a crunchy and very satisfying tone. The cable is a little annoying and I wish that Sennheiser would have included a 3.5mm terminated plug since these headphones most certainly do not need an amp to be driven sufficiently, but I can see the reasoning behind it. These were never meant to be taken out of the house. Sound leakage is a problem, but that is certainly to be expected with all open-back headphones. If you are looking for an excellent entrance into the higher-quality headphone community, this has got to be on your list of consideration. It really is a great set.
     
    Price range rating: 9/10
    Would give 10/10 if Sennheiser would include a 3.5mm terminated cable and if the bass had a little bit more impact.
    pg1111 likes this.
  3. Z3disD3ad
    5.0/5,
    "Blow me away Sennheiser HD-598 "
    Pros - Sound, style, design, comfort
    Cons - home hifi, maybe another cable with 3.5mm jack only
    For the price, these headphones have incredible sound quality. Compared to other headphones like the HD 650, this is by no means an 'inferior' headphone just different. Superb soundstage and bass and treble capabilities. out of the box the highs mids and lows are well balanced. 
     
    Comfort is 5 stars, light and comfy. The headband is pleather, don't know if it will discolour/rot off over time. Some reports that the wood is real but I doubt it. Absolutely love the retro premium style to bits, needs to win an award for one of the best looking headphones. I took off half a star for design because of cracking for early batches and Sennheiser public commitment to replace defective units within 2 years (nothing special, just honoring warranty nothing more). Also you need to be careful with the the metal grill, it will bend and dent very very easily so you need to baby these headphones. Buy a case/pouch/bag for it and put it away after use.
     
    For the price I have no negative points to pick other than perhaps the cable could be ended with a 3.5mm because with the adaptor it might stress your audio port. To address this I bought a gold plated extension cable.
     
    Many people talk about amping this headphone but I see absolutely no need for it. Without additional amping the sounds are great no distortion at all. I tried with a 100ohm Amp with no significant improvement. I will try with a 300ohm amp since the frequency charts tells us the bass improves with that level.
     
    Overall, I'm very happy with these headphones and they compliment the closed-back portable Sennheiser Momentum very well. 
  4. willowbrook
    4.5/5,
    "."
    .
  5. SennHI808
    5.0/5,
    "HD598 "
    Pros - Looks, sound quality, soundstage, comfort, everything
    Cons - I love these cans
    I have gone through many different cans from Grados to Beyers, all kinds of IEMs and still yet I have never been able to part ways with the 598s. I have listened to many high-end headphones and while they are better they are 5 times the price!! I think these are the best all around headphones money can buy, they are my favorite gaming headphone and will be for a very long time. These were my first audiophile can and was my gateway into the vast world of hi-fi, now I have the D7000 to compliment these with and could not be happier. Did I mention the looks of these cans, I think they are amongst the best looking cans out there. The comfort is fantastic and can easily wear them for hours and hours. I just really love these cans and would never be able to get rid of them. These are an open can, and will leak and let in pretty much everything. If you are looking for the best all around headphone for the price, and a bad-ass gaming can, look no further, SERIOUSLY!!
    pg1111 likes this.
  6. webhappy
    5.0/5,
    "Almost perfect"
    Pros - Can listen to forever, no reason for me to want to upgrade
    Cons - The 1/4" jack makes this even less portable
    I previously had a Pioneer SE-A1000, which was my first pair of open headphones that was meant to be used as a home theater replacement (I've owned lots of IEM's such as Shure e2c, SCL4, UE600vi, HF3). The SE-A1000 was awesome to listen to for movies with a massive soundstage, but it was exhausting to listen to for hours on end because of the V-shaped sound signature. When I first got the HD598, I didn't think that the music was drastically better than my SE-A1000, but the key thing I appreciate now is how I can listen to the hd598 forever. The comfort is perfect, and I can wear my glasses under my headphones all day. For music, movies, or gaming, the sound just seems perfect. The soundstage is just right for gaming and movies.
     
    My only complaint is the plug. Since I didn't want to have to fiddle with un-plugging it to switch to speakers or headphone out from my computer, I ended up buying the Fiio e10. The E10 helps the bass a bit, but the main feature is that I can quickly change the audio output from my OS without having to unplug anything. The one time I tried walking with the HD598 connected to my iPhone, I realized how awkward it was with the giant adapter to convert from 1/4" to 1/8". At this price point, I don't think anyone's using the HD598 with a setup that offers 1/4" audio out. Most DAC/AMPs I saw at ~$100 were 1/8" output.
  7. Arkyle
    4.5/5,
    "Flat response. No, really, FLAT."
    Pros - The sound, comfortable, detachable cable, everything is replaceable, nice design, awesome price, forgiving with lower quality sources, low impedance
    Cons - Hanger not included, not even a pouch, the 6.35 jack can be a problem
    These are just insane. It has such a flat response, but they are not by any means boring. Every single frequency shines since the instrument separation is great. There is simply no distortion, even at really high volumes, which they can achieve very easily since they have a meager 50 Ohm impedance and very high sensitivity. If that wasn't enough, their best quality IMHO is their HUGE soundstage. Even while being so open, the bass in punchy and unlikely tight! 
     
    Everything is serviceable too, from the cable to the headband padding. The ear pads are big, cushy and don't get your ears too hot thanks to the open design of the cups themselves and the velour-type material. They are so soft you can almost forget you're wearing them. The headband is heavily padded with memory foam covered in white leatherette, as well as the headband itself. On that note, I think the design is great. Sober colors make it stand out of any other Sennheiser model out there. 
     
    They are forgiving with lower quality sources, although they tend to show off excessively EQ'd signals. Bass can be boosted but only to a certain degree, but I love the bass the way it is out of the box. After burn-in they become even more lush but retain the tight bass. 
     
    The ony issue is that cable that ends in a 6.35 mm headphone jack. Sennheiser includes an adaptor which adds a lot of bulk to the connector. I just use an adaptor and then a neutral extension so it doesn't stick out when using them with mobile sources, although their place is at home. I seriously can't recommend these enough.
  8. National
    4.5/5,
    "Beautiful."
    Pros - Wide soundstage, forward mids
    Cons - 6.3mm jack at end is like, wtf man?
    Sennheiser's HD-598 delivers an amazing sound. Highs and mids are deliciously engaging, although the bass is a bit light. Nevertheless, it's still present, and it's tight. 
     
    The 6.3mm jack is a bit weird. You'll need to carry an adapter, which make these cans less portable and bulkier to carry around outdoors. These are generally meant to stay at home.
     
    I've had these headphones for about 7 months now, and they sound fantabulous, even without being driven by an amp. It was definitely worth the price.
  9. maxpain12
    5.0/5,
    "A good set of cans."
    Pros - Comfortable, bright sound signature, wide sound stage, trebles crisp, mids smooth and bass adequate.
    Cons - They could have used a 3.5MM plug for use with portable DAC's like the E10. Plug adapter gives unnecessary bulk.
     
    These phones are worth the retail price of $249. They have a wide sound stage which gives dimension to music. Clarity is strong enough to notice poorly encoded sound files. These don't require an additional headphone amp weighing in with an impedance of 50 Ohms. While they do sound good without one an AMP/DAC will definitely add depth to the music. On the negative I personally think the 6.3MM jack terminating at the end was highly unnecessary. Instead Sennheiser could have had an screw on jack where the 3.5MM jack can be coverted to a 6.3MM one with a simple screw on adapter as found with the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro.  
  10. TK277
    4.5/5,
    "HD-598"
    Pros - Soundstage, forward and addicting mids, very comfortable
    Cons - Bass lacks physical impact

     
    OPENING THOUGHTS
     
    If we were able to sit in the center of music, it might sound something like Sennheiser’s HD-598. For most people, $250 is a lot of money to spend on headphones because their MP3 players come bundled with earphones that, “sound fine,” to the typical user. We walk through stores past the headphone aisle and never think twice if we even happen to notice in the first place. When I look around a store the only headphones I see are Dr. Dre Beats, but only because of the mass marketing…so why would a pair of Sennheiser 598s be worth the cash? Comfort and sound quality have been beautifully combined in such a way that exposes those $15 iBuds, $50 headsets, and especially those $400 Beats so that you will never think they “sound fine” again. Buyer, beware! Your transformation into an audiophile starts here.
     

     
    COMFORT
     
    For hours on end, the comfort level remains high. Compared to the six or so other headphones I’ve owned, the 598s outclass them through their lightweight design and clamp-free force. A type of leather lines the top band in a comfy and cushy nature to complement the fuzzy material lining each ear cup to prevent sweat and fatigue. The Sennheiser 598s were, no doubt, made for the long-time listener.
     

     
    SOUND QUALITY
     
    Since the comfort level allows us to listen for as long as we want, it would be unfortunate if the sound quality didn’t deliver, yet the 598s fulfill such a high demand. Sennheiser offers a “mid-centric” or vocal-forward presentation coupled with a wide soundstage to put listeners in the middle of the music, starting from the center out. Treble is present, but in line with the bass. Combined with the strong mids, the overall signature is warm and laid back, especially in comparison to Grado models. The 598s are both engaging and relaxing, depending on what the recording calls for. This makes the 598s an excellent all-rounder at the $250 price point.
     
    Some listeners criticize the bass as being light, but the only fault I can issue is that it lacks a physical rumble in most scenarios. The bass is clear and punchy. I’ve heard all the way down to 20hz with ease. For what it lacks in visceral bass, it makes up for in range, accuracy, instrument separation, and high resolution or detail. Visceral bass can be boosted with a tube amp and some military grade (5654, etc) tubes.
     

     
    CLOSING THOUGHTS
     
    For nearly 7 months as of this review edit (July 27, 2012) I’ve been using the Sennheiser HD-598s almost daily. As an at-home listener, I have found the near ideal sound at a cost that doesn’t feel like too crazy of an investment. At a desk with an amp or around the home with an iPod, the 598s deliver everything I expect. With tube amps a handful of extra details can be heard and the bass can kick harder, but, for the economical user, after 50–70 hours of burn-in the 598s should sound sweet no matter what you drive them with.
     

     
    FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
     
    I recommend the Sennheiser HD-598s for anybody who spends most of their time listening at home, for those looking for an upgrade over bundled earphones or sub-$150 headphones, or for those who want to give the Sennheiser brand a try without investing too significantly.
     
    pg1111 and iansouth like this.