Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee

Rating:
5/5,
  1. WilliamLeonhart
    The HD6 for Everyone
    Written by WilliamLeonhart
    Published Jul 7, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - - Retains much of the natural, high end signature HD6 sound. - More lively than previous models, so could be used for livelier genres. - Costs just $150. - Can be driven from laptops/phones without ruining the sound.
    Cons - - Too plasticky on the outside.
    Disclaimer: This review was written after just a couple of hours listening from my laptop and my phone - I'm away from home. It is not the ideal testing environment and obviously doesn't speak for many people here. However, I was greatly impressed by the HD58x, especially how good it sounds while being driven from such "normie" devices. The other reason for the quick review is IMO the HD58x isn't night-and-day different from other HD6 series models I've owned/tried. Both traits make the HD58x a true HD6 series for the everyday man - but still I'd look forward to seeing how it scales with better equipment. Will update the review when I come home.

    It was in April and the reason I joined the HD58X’s drop was the HD6xx. Long story short, the HD6xx’s build quality wasn’t as crappy as I had feared – on the contrary it was quite good. So with the thought that Massdrop won’t ruin what I’ve come to love from Sennheiser, I blind-ordered the HD58x. There was no chance to audition the pair at the time, and sure there was this whole “we will re-tune based on your feedback” thing going on. But it was, as I proclaimed in the HD58x thread:

    It’s a $150 Sennheiser. What can go wrong?

    Design and Build Quality

    IMG_4491.jpg
    If this doesn't say "cost saving", I don't know what does.

    Here’s the thing with the HD6xx when I first got it on my hands: it’s way more plastic than I had thought. It’s so prevalently plastic, so obviously plastic that I felt a bit disappointed. But then, when that somewhat irrational feeling has passed, I was more happy than ever. The $200 HD6xx was a true HD650.

    So I had to tell this story because if you have had a chance to try an Sennheiser HD58/HD6 series before, be prepared for that tiny bit of disappointment. The finish on the headband (and the yodels) look even cheaper than the $5 toys I bought for my son back in Vietnam. The cable doesn’t impress, either. Heck,I can even go so far as to compare the Hd58x unfavorably to the HD598 and HD558 (which I owned for ~ 1 year each) in terms of materials and finish.

    Yet, to be frank, I don’t mind it a bit, because I’d fallen in love with the HD6xx before. Plastic is as plastic does.

    IMG_4488.jpg
    Don't expect the HD800 or the HD660s' build quality, but still, it really doesn't matter.

    All that being said, I still quite like the HD58x’s design – all because of the grill alone. While it’s nowhere near the original HD580’s level of refinement (look at those waves!), the grey-painted grill surely gives the HD58x a “new”, weirdly retro and distinct look, one that stands out from its more recent siblings. Yes, I like the way the HD600, 650/6xx and 660s show off their drivers housing, but this is way more refreshing.

    Comfortable Enough

    I'm an Asian. For me the HD58x is comfortable enough - I've been listening to it for 3 hours now. However, it does seem like the clamp force could hurt bigger heads. The headband is the same as the HD6xx so I don't have any problem with it either. The pads are on the stiffer side but will definitely soften with time.

    IMG_4489.jpg

    The more friendly Sennheiser

    Before I get into detailing my experiences with the HD58x, I must first point out that there’re already many detailed reviews on the webz and well-written impressions in the HD58x thread. I’m also in a bit of an un-normal situation: I’m 14 timezones away from home; the only things I can use to drive the HD58x are my HP laptop and my iPhone 6s.

    As you can see, Sennheiser and Massdrop’s words hold true. I was quite skeptical when I heard the 150-ohm HD58x can be driven by a mobile source, but here it is, sounding great from my iPhone at ~85% volume.

    IMG_4485.jpg

    Is the sound "great"? Oh yeah, the sound is the reason that I dared to write this review despite spending so little time (and with such embarassing equipment) on the HD58x: if you’d experienced the HD580, HD600, HD650/HD6xx or HD660s before, you will feel right at home with the Hd58x - even on non-ideal sources as mine. It still features the “no wow” sound that I had described about the HD6xx (in my review of the Burson Play): no harsh, edgy mids, no nostrils-rumbling bass, no honey-sweet mids and no artificial soundstage.

    Instead, it’s got “natural” painted all over the place. Lovers of the Sennheiser HD6 series know this warm-ish and smooth-ish sound (the HD600 maybe not so much, but still). Lovers of the HD6 series know the full mids, the extending bass and the forgiving, lovely highs. I love the clarity and details here, as yeah, like they said in soooo many headphones reviews, I can hear instruments that my IEMs cannot reproduce. Do remember though, I’m not playing from my top-notch DAC/amp, I’m playing from my phone.

    Unfortunately, my phone is way too far from a perfect source, and I’m seeing traces of an under-powered headphones. I think the bass could tighten up for the better. And, in certain passages, I’m still hearing “splintered” highs – guitar or cymbal “tick” that sound as if it consists of two different sounds. Speaking from my experiences of using the Audio Technica R70x (which surprisingly shares a lot in common with the HD600), I think these are symptoms of headphones being under-powered. The Realtek dac chip in my laptop or whatever it is in the iPhone 6s don’t help, and arguably my HD58x could still be going through burning-in. I’m not a firm believer of the burn-in concept, though.

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    Regardless, I tried the HD58x with all my favorite music. It is truly versatile. On acoustic Vocals tracks, the high-ranges opens up the soundstage and mixes very nicely with the tender-feeling of the songs. But moving onto Metal, the drum kicks will fill up soundscape, resulting in a surprisingly lively experiences which I’ve never expected from the HD6 series.

    My top favorite genres to try with the HD58x would be more or less cross-over ones, like (Symphonic) Gothic Metal, Fusion Jazz or Post Rock. It’s always nice to see your headphones moving effortlessly from one type of music to the next, rendering all kinds of different instruments without ever ruining anything.

    Conclusion

    Speaking of the HD58x, it is perhaps best to reference Grado. No, the HD58x doesn’t have the Grado sound, but Grado fans would know that, through out Grado’s history, all of their Reference Series models more or less share the same sound sig – the only difference lies in the level of refinement or a small re-tuning of low or high frequencies. Same words can be said about the HD58x and its lineage: the HD58x fits right into the HD58/HD6 family. There are audible differences, but, in the imaginary scenario that a lover of HD650 or the original HD580 is forced to live with the HD58x, they will just survive happily.

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    Yet the HD58x has 2 important traits that makes it much more interesting than all of its siblings: it doesn't sound bad from your phone/laptop, and at $150 it still carry the signature Sennheiser HD6 sounds. I do feel that, at $150, the HD58x has a lot more in common with the HD600/HD650 than any products Sennheiser have sold at the price range.

    And even when driven from my laptop, the HD58x definitely beats all the low-impedance sub-$300 headphones that I have ever tried. There can be nothing wrong with a Sennheiser bona-fide HD6 that is this easy to drive, sounds this great and costs this little. As such, I will happily bestow all of my 5 stars onto the HD58x, the first "HD6 for everyone".
      scolfax, Megazine, SolaVirtus and 2 others like this.
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    2. WilliamLeonhart
      @caenlenfromOCN If you like impressive soundstage, I think it'll be hard to find in the Sennheiser HD6 family. A HD800 or an AKG K/Q7 will serve you perfectly.
      WilliamLeonhart, Jul 10, 2018
    3. WilliamLeonhart
      @smallcaps I think you'd find a nice-enough difference here. The HD580 and HD58x both share some familiarity but the HD58x should be much more "fun" than the HD580. I haven't tried the HD580 Jubilee though.
      WilliamLeonhart, Jul 10, 2018
      smallcaps likes this.
    4. meringo
      Yeah... the hype is real for this one. I sold my 6xx and am in love with the 58x. With a little exterior refinement, these could sell comfortably for $300.
      meringo, Jul 11, 2018