Sennheiser HD 518

  1. atarim
    Sennheiser HD 518 Impressions (EDIT 2014-03-04 fiio e10 impressions)
    Written by atarim
    Published Feb 11, 2013
    Pros - Bass, soundstage, comfy, great all-arounders
    Cons - Vocals in music (fixed with eq)
    I would like to share my impressions of my first a bit more decent headphones - Sennheiser HD-518. I'm no audiophile, so this review will be more for a "normal" people, who want to use it not just for music, but for games and movies too.
    Build quality and design
      Headphones is all plastic, so no suprises where. It have strange grills that could look a bit silly, but hey, you will not go out with them outside. You could and I did it few times, but cable is just too long, you end up in wire mess + headphones are open, so no isolation from outside noise, you just don't enjoy your music with these outside.
      Pads are made just for me. They just perfect, they are a bit stiff, but this is what i like, you can wear them for hours and just forgot you have headphones on your head. I usually listening for music while I'm laying in bed, no problem with these being on your head ( I fall a sleep few times with headphones still on my head, glad didn't brake them [​IMG]). They fall few times from a table, still in one peace. They are ready for some brutal force.
      Cable. Cable is long, 3m to be exact. I can walk around in my room with no problems at all, and I live in not that small of a room. I can see having a problem using a laptop, but these are perfect for a stationary pc use.
    Audio Quality
      I must say, then I first heard hd 518, I thougt I just wasted my money. They sounded dirty and kinda bad. I was disappointed. But I read about burn in thing, so I said I give them a chance. And my God they sound wonderful now. I had quite a journey these headphones, so read on if you wanna know that a life changing journey I had. I will talk about music, games and movies.
      Music. As they advertise, sennheisers have deep bass. And yes, yes they have. The bass is thigt and pretty bad ass. If you looking just for a bass, look elsewhere, at closed headphones, because the bass is there it should and is not overwhelming. After going to sens from closed headphones it was strange at first, but i'm loving it now, it is big then should be, like in electromusic, but then listening to AC/DC for example, it doesn't overwhelm other instruments. Lets say bass knows its place [​IMG]. The soundstage is big and wide, if you wanna know that people talking about, then they talking about soundstage, listen for these headphones [​IMG]. But it took headphones(or me to get use to the soundstage) to open up, because just recently I started to enjoy my music in all different way. It was quite an exiting journey too, to rediscover all the music for the third time. As good as these headphones sound in a music department, then we talking about instruments, but they have one big flaw for me, and it is vocals. To describe how vocals sound in hd 518, it will be if the band is all in one room with you and singer is behind the wall singing. It sounds a bit distant, a bit too quite, sometimes hard to understand. I guess you can fix it with a EQ, but I had no luck. Everything else changed in these headphones dramatically from a day I bough it, but vocals stayed the same way, distant, and a bit hard to listen to. I read few other reviews saying the same, so it is not just me.
      Games. Games sound wondifirus. You can hear everything around you. In skyrim I never got attacked from a back. With these your oponents don't have a chance to attack you from behind. Explosions in company of hereos sounds powerful(deep) and i will never getting tired to listen to machine guns shooting at enemies. So for games, I say YES to HD 518. But keep in my mind it is not a gaming headset, if you looking just for it, look at gaming companies like razor or such. Games sound good and open design helps a lot, but I imagine on dedicated headphones it will sound even better.
      Movies. Strangly enough, I don't have any problems with actors sounding bad, as singers sound in music. You can hear everything. I mean I watched scott pilgrim vs the world for the 5th time with these. I can say it was like I watching it for the first time. So many things I missed just because I watched it with cheap headphones. You can hear everything clearly, every little sound Edgar Wright placed in where. And now, with new XBMC Frodo realese and new audio-engine, that reproduce 5.1 surround in a way it should sound and opened soundstage of sens, I can hear everything so clearly it makes me cry [​IMG].  While watching transformes I could pin point from that side every explosion coming from and it really makes you appreciate sound in movies. For movies these headphones gets a HELL YES from me.
    It was a great jorney with sennheisers and now, then they reached the point of a maximum performance(if not, edit is coming), they are just amazingly amazing. Yes, these are my first mid-fi headphones, not even high-fi, but I'm guessing I will not change my headphones for a long long time. So if you are like me, want a great quality and don't wanna cancel your christmas, get these and don't look back. For a closer, I will say a quote that made me buy these: " If you wanna buy high-fi headphones just because they are high-fi and you really don't know that are you going to do with them, don't waste your money and just buy sennheiser hd 518". Quote might not me that accurate [​IMG]
    EDIT 2013-07-20
    So I ended up the university and now I can delete my windows partition and use linux all time ( damn you ms office). So I had a time to play with sound of my sennheiser in linux and pulse audio is a bitch. But then you get it right, YOU GET IT RIGHT. And guest what? They sound even better than they sounded on windows. MUCH better. In  a bass department they now have a real "oouf" in their sound, you can feel it. It is pretty nice. While watching Dark knight rises I felt like in a cinema. For a moment I was afraid drivers might explode. As for my biggest complain with singers voices, it is finally fixed. Voices of singers doesn't sound behind and distant, they feel closer more intimate and smoother sounding it just flows now.. Finally i can enjoy my favorite female singers voices from metric to the cardigans. So i guess the conclusion is it wasn't headphone fault, but windows fault [​IMG]. And other conclusion would be, that these headphones is very sensetive to source and equalizing. You need to really play with them do get the best out of it. I'm planing on upgrading my creative card to asus ST, so another edit might be coming in maybe three-four month, depending on how my budget will be :)
    EDIT 2014-03-04
    So instead of asus ST I get  a fiio e10. First impressions - not a big difference from creative sound card. BUT when I think to myself, that I equalized my creative sound card to "perfection", so I should do the same for my fiio 10. So I did. Soundstage opened up and got even wider, vocals got a bit foward and sounds very clean, bass tightened up ( I use bass boost on fiio e10). Without mentioned changes, sound itself that e10 reproduce is very clean, probably because it is far from computer hardware which created a small hiz when listening to my creative card. Also, it is now powered properly.  Sound card really struggled to power 518, I had almost always to set volume to max. Now it is around 5 on e10 and 50 proc. on my volume in OS and it is very noticeable. It is hard to explain, but it gives a life to headphones and also to music. It sound more lively. If you feel your sound card struggles to power sens 518, you have your volume in windows, mac or linux set up high, I will recommend you to upgrade to e10. If not, well if you expect to be blown away by an dedicated amp vs your sound card, it is not going to happen. It will sound a bit better, but not "OMG AMAZING" better [​IMG] 
      anthonycarbajal likes this.
  2. TerminalDeath6
    Great Headphones for a great price
    Written by TerminalDeath6
    Published Jan 16, 2013
    Pros - Comfy, Good for long listening sessions, Great sound
    Cons - long cord
    First off id like to say i am not an audiophile and this is the second time on this forum that ive wrote a review.
    Now with that said these headphones are really great and well worth the money i paid for em.
    The sound i bright and the highs and mids are clear and crisp and the bass is not at all overpowering which i personally love about them. They are quite an improvement from the HD 202s that i have.
    When i first got these i put them on and at first it didnt seem all that different from my 202s till i went and put my 202s on and realized that i was very wrong. The highs and mids seemed to muddled due to the bass. So i put the 518s on and i could just hear how different they were then. They are amazing. Again though im not an audiophile.
    Id recommend these to anyone looking for good entry level headphones.
    Sorry if this review isnt all that helpful to anyone.
  3. AlMargheim
    Everything I Hoped It Would Be Now That I've Replaced the Cable
    Written by AlMargheim
    Published Jan 12, 2013
    Pros - Sounds great, comfortable, plenty of volume with my HTC Rezound
    Cons - Factory cable not optimum for portable music players
    I bought my HD-518 after Christmas to use with my HTC Rezound Android phone at work. I spent hours researching headphones and finally concluded that the HD-518s were a good bet to meet my requirements for good sound, good comfort, good build quality, and reasonable cost.
    The only thing I didn't like about the HD-518 was the 6.3mm (1/4") plug and long cable. Fortunately, Sennheiser is now selling a shorter replacement cable with a 3.5mm plug.

    I have to say that the HD-518 and short cable work well together and sound great to my ears. I've spent lots of hours listening to a wide variety of music at work (mostly on Spotify), but some from ripped WMAs from my own CD collection.  The HD-518s have met my expectations so far.
    For those who might be interested in the replacement cable, the Sennheiser item number is 5X8SHORTCABLE. See this head-fi article for more info on the cable.

  4. HolyCheese
    Absolutely wonderfull
    Written by HolyCheese
    Published Jan 12, 2013
    Pros - Soundstage/seperation!!, Covers all music styles, Great value.
    Cons - Only minor ones, see review.
    I will post a longer review when I have time but I just wanted to give some attention to these great headphones.
    I really love them, these headphones have a HUGE enjoying factor. These are my first headphones and I really fell in love with music and headphones. I have heard ALOT of other headphones but there were very few that had the enjoyment factor of these. Cross off all the closed cans (lack of soundstage) and bright cans and there are very few headphones left.
    -They sound like the hd650. Not quality like ofcourse, but if you like the hd650 you will like these. 
    -They are easy to drive. They sound good out of a high end motherboard (sabertooth 990fx) but a cheaper motherboard or laptop won't work. (confirmed with one the newest apple laptops)
    - If you like a warm sound and love soundstage these are the ultimate beginner headphones. The FiiO E10 is a great pair!
  5. MarcosRV
    People need to discover this gem.
    Written by MarcosRV
    Published Dec 22, 2012
    Pros - Embraces all music genres, super comfortable, not so expensive.
    Cons - After 6 months of use, still haven't found any.
    First of all, I still didn't have the opportunity of using an HD 598, which is the 500 series flagship. So I can only compare what I know about the 518 with what people talk about the 598.
    Many reviewers say the HD 598 has a great soundstage with beautifully fluid highs and mids, but lacks punch in bass. A lot of users say these same things about it, so I assume these characteristics are true. The 598 was my first option, but sincerely I think those body colors are ugly, and they still cost too much for my possibilities. So, when I saw the 518, with the same appearance but nice design/colors and promise of almost same sound quality without spending too much, I didn't think twice.
    It's hard to explain how awesome these headphones are. It's hard to believe how well he behaves with ALL music styles (I'm a music lover, I listen to almost every genre), and boy, he really delivers the bass, opposing what people talk about the 598. I saw in another website that his sound signature was kind of "tuned" for bass, that makes him different from the 558 and 598. Probably lost a bit of soundstage in exchange of it.
    Hip-hop and electronica? The beats will punch your face. Classical? Aerial soundstage, flawless separation of instruments. Rock/heavy metal? High volumes, no distortion. You can listen to the bass lines even in the most chaotic death metal. Jazz? I'll just say this: if you get the 518, listen to Dave Brubeck's "Take Five". You'll understand. And all this with default EQ settings and no amp. Make some EQ fine-tuning plugged in an headphone amplifier and these headphones will definitely blow your mind.
    Extremely comfortable, thick wires that can be easily replaced, beautiful grilled design. All this for less than $150. This is really precious, Sennheiser impresses me more at each day. These headphones are the ultimate definition of "bang-for-the-buck".
      peacock, trellus and Biggez like this.
    1. maxpain12
      I think you are right on the money here. Having sampled the HD 598 and HD 518 I would say that it is fairly accurate to say that in the higher model you sacrifice some low end for a wider sound stage. While I say sacrifice, the low end on the HD 598 is by no means lacking unless you are a bass head. The lows are tight and controlled on the 598. The 518 performs wonderfully from my opinion when listening to a wide selection of genres as you have mentioned albeit the reduction in sound stage which is not a deal breaker for the price. I picked up my HD 518 for $67 from Amazon in mid 2016. For this price its an amazing value.  
      maxpain12, Apr 5, 2017
  6. akshayshah12
    Best entry level Audiophile headphones!
    Written by akshayshah12
    Published Nov 29, 2012
    Pros - Very comfortable, Rich and Laid back bass, industrial looks
    Cons - None so far
    I was initially confused between HD 558 and HD 518 at the time of buying, but then some articles and forums on Head-fi helped me to decide for HD 518 as these were best bang for the buck and HD 558 did not justify their cost premium over these in terms of quality.

    Design : Cord is detachable. Body is made up of plastic, so they are very light when you compare them with their looks. Plastic used for these is good quality plastic. Head band gives a little scare but It's not delicate, just not as strong as it should be. The grilled design is unique and looks good to me.

    Comfort: Head Band cushion and ear pads are very soft and you won't feel sweaty or uncomfortable for listening sessions even more than 3-4 hours. So pretty much comfortable.

    Audio Quality: 10/10 for the price. Sounds overall a tad bass heavy for audiophile standards but not much.

    Value: 10/10 again without a doubt. Currently at 60 USD. so no brainer.
    1. XxDobermanxX
      Good review, good choice for a buddy audiophile looking for an all-round can
      XxDobermanxX, Dec 3, 2012
    2. xuxoemc2
      i have one of these, i'm very happy with them
      xuxoemc2, Mar 11, 2013
  7. DannyRox23
    Agree with PKPnytheta47
    Written by DannyRox23
    Published May 8, 2012
    Pros - Sound Quality, Design, and Non-Cheap Material
    Cons - Cord Length, Audio Jack, and Sound Leakage
    Great pair of headphones. Agree with PKPnytheta47 about everything she has said. I would like to give some input as well.
    Do they equalize?
    Yes - they equalize perfectly. You want more bass, you get more bass by tweaking with the graphic equalizer bass which is the left bar (The two left bars.)
    How's the bass?
    Perfectly rich and yet laid back.
    Does not feel like anything that was made from China. Sturdy plastic, but feel a little scared when someone is trying these out in school. I'm afraid their ignorance will snap the headband, so... yeah.
    Worth every penny. Sounds 100x better than the Dre Beats in my opinion. Sorry, I'm an audiophile.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. DannyRox23
      Uh oh. Hope I don't get this problem. Never had any mud problems yet. They sound the same ever since I bought them new. The best is the HD 800. Had them replaced because I was outside in the rain with them on one of the days of me showing them off at school. Still the students still believe Dre Beats are better than the HD 800. What ignorant fools, though they are my friends. Oh well... I love Sennheiser.
      DannyRox23, May 15, 2012
    3. Sh3ljohn
      Thanks for your review! I'm about to buy my first pair of "real" headphones, and even though I was advised to look at the Gemini HSR1000, I kept looking around and found the Shure SRH440 and the Sennheiser HD518 matched better what I was looking for. I wanted to ask about the sound leakage and isolation; I understood those are open cans, but how bad is it? Is it absolutely not usable without annoying people in the train for instance?
      Sh3ljohn, Dec 18, 2012
    4. DannyRox23
      Yeah; they leak a lot. Sounds like an iPod's speaker (Turned up) to others when wearing them. Their pretty loud if you max the HD518. If you are not a fan of open air, then I recommend the HD380's because the HD380's are closed designed headphones. I also personally think the HD380's are better than the HD518. Compare them both, and you realize that the THD is less than 1% in the HD380's, while the HD518 is less than 2%. The less total harmonic distortion, the less distortion you hear in your music. Don't get me wrong; because the HD518 is open air, the sound does not sound all compressed/muffled. Open air is best for stationary, but closed is more for travel (Somewhat.) If you are going stationary, have a good sound card, and want classical; go for the HD518's. If you want to travel, DJ, and whatnot; go for the HD380's. The 380's are fun to play with :)
      DannyRox23, Jan 16, 2013
  8. PKPnytheta47
    HD 518 impressions
    Written by PKPnytheta47
    Published Jul 22, 2011
    Pros - Big step up from HD 515, Mids and Highs are clear and vivid, Bass is more pronounced but still laid back, Comfortable for long listening sessions.
    Cons - Plastic material (still feels and looks good though)
    Design - The louvered design is something people will either like or hate. I personally like it since it gives it a very engineered look, just like a German car. The color combination is stylish and gives it a high end feel, very nice use of graphite and black with some silver highlights. I personally prefer these colors versus the 598.
    Comfort - The velour pads have an edge in the inside but are still very comfortable, but the 558 pads are still a little bit better, they're rounded on the inside edges and are not as 'springy'. I can still listen to these cans for hours on end though. I also wanted to add that one of the reasons (I assume, aside from making it more affordable) Sennheiser chose to use plastic versus metal, is because it has less weight and therefore has less stress to the head and neck resulting in hours of listening pleasure.
    Audio Quality - The mids and highs are clear, the sound stage is excellent! You can actually hear the little nuances in the different instruments being played (Have a listen to the Cure's - A Forest, the acoustic version or something similar) and where they are positioned. In terms of bass these cans actually have good bass, albeit more on the laid back side (also one of the reasons these headphones are not tiring to the ears when listening for hours) when played without an amp. Speaking of amps, when used with one it starts to really shine. I used my fiio E11 and the overall sound becomes warmer and tighter, the bass becomes fuller and deeper. Remember this still has the Sennheiser signature 'veiled' sound but with more presence.
    Value -  For it's current price of $120 I think it's a winner, though if you could get these for somewhere around the $100 mark you're golden! It sounds fantastic and with the sound quality you won't feel like you over paid (unless you're a bass head that just wants deafening lows). Another plus with these cans is it can be powered by a portable amp with no issues like the Fiio E11. Once paired, you can't go wrong! Remember though, even without one as long as you setup your EQ properly it still sounds excellent (not for bass heads though)!
    EDIT (Jan 6, 2013 update): After 100+ Hours of burning in these headphones, they have definitely improved in the low frequency area making the the bass sound tighter. This applies to people who use no amps at all with these headphones.
    For people who use amps, please note that there can be a difference how the low end is delivered. My example would come from my experience with the Fiio E11 versus the ZO2. I personally prefer the ZO2 with these headphones since the bass is definitely tighter and it helps the headphones literally cover all music genres I listen to (alternative, rock, classic rock, rap, hip-hop, r&b, punk, dub step, electronica, classical, some pop artists). For the comparison between amplifiers it's broken down into the two below:
    Fiio E11:
    fiio-e11-portable-headphone-amplifier-top.jpg fiio-e11-portable-headphone-amplifier.jpg
    Overall sound
    Darker and warm overall while giving the HD-518 oomph in the lower frequencies
    When listening to these types of music: Jazz, Pop, and Classical it is perfect and no muddling happens. The bass presented is tight and responds well. It has a tendency to be muddled when listening to R&B (Mary J. Blige), Rap (Dr. Dre and Snoop) and Linkin Park.
    Still presented very well and retains the HD-518 personality here, which is mid forward.
    Still presented very well but slightly recessed and retains the HD-518 personality.
    Overall the sound stage is retained with very little loss in placement.
    It helps retain the overall Sennheiser signature while givng it some low end oomph. Awesome for Classical, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock, Metal, Vocals and some Alternative music.
    It muddles the bass when listening to R&B, Rap and some Linkin Park and the likes.
    digiziod_1_1.jpg digiziod_4_1.jpg
    Overall sound
    Warmer and fun overall making the HD518 shine in all types of music
    No muddling of Bass happens here, the issue I had with the E11 when listening to Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre , Snoop and even Linkin Park disappeared with this amp!
    Bass response was quicker so the Linkin Park songs sounded nicer when the lower frequencies were presented. Bass oomph I wanted when listening to R&B and Rap were tighter and faster with no muddling, making Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre and Snoop music when low frequencies were presented sound outstanding!
    Still presented very well and retains the mid forward Sennhesier signature.
    Still presented well and slightly recessed.
    Overall the sound stage is still there but not as open compared to the Fiio E11.
    It makes the HD-518 a perfect all rounder. With this combination I can definitely listen to any type of music genre and be happy with how the High, Mid and Low sound. Bass is tighter and no muddling happens! Makes the HD-518 fun cans to listen to!
    It slightly changes the sound of the HD-518 reducing the veil sound signature of the Sennheiser. Not powerful enough (volume is limited when using LOD) to drive HD-518 and higher impedance cans when using LOD. You need to use the headphone output to drive to make the headphone and the amp shine.
    NOTE: These cans (as with most 500/600 series HP) tend to highlight poorly recorded or low bit rate recordings. You will hear the imperfections in the track if you don't use flac.
    Overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars
      RavenPH and trellus like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. reticon
      So do these off any sound isolation at all? These would just be for my laptop at home. The only noise I have to deal with is my HVAC which is an ambient noise (new system, big vents) that my HD 380 Pro's and DT-1350's block out nicely. I don't listen to music very loud as you may have suspected. It isn't a deal breaker, I'm just curious if they'll at least isolate a little bit?
      reticon, May 1, 2012
    3. Digital-Pride
      Reticon, the HD518 will offer very little sound isolation. Unfortunately, most ambient noise will still be heard by the listener.
      Digital-Pride, May 9, 2012
    4. PKPnytheta47
      @reticon - Digital_Pride is correct in saying that this won't offer the sound isolation you're looking for considering it's an open back type head phone. They still offer decent isolation since I also use an AC and once listening to music (setting volume 3 with my fiio e11 - which is pretty low) the AC is the last thing I hear.
      PKPnytheta47, Jan 5, 2013