Sennheiser HD 598

Average User Rating:
4.36486/5,
  1. norilink
    4.0/5,
    "my first hi fi headphone"
    Pros - very nice sound and comfortable
    Cons - lack of bass details
    i love it this pair it is good for music and games recommended for beginners
  2. Gilly87
    4.5/5,
    "Great all-rounder"
    Pros - Soundstage, excellent mids, tasteful bass, active but smooth treble, great on vocals, classic rock, less aggressive electronic music
    Cons - Not the fastest or most crisp sound, bass could be a smidge tighter; Sennheiser house sound isn't for everyone
    My chain: FLAC/320kbps MP3 -> Foobar 2k WASAPI Output-> HiFiMeDIY Sabre DAC -> E11 -> HD598
     
    My first taste of the Sennheiser house sound came in the form of the HD439, which I purchased while looking for a balanced all-rounder for casual listening on the go and in coffee shops while writing. I enjoyed the signature, so when it came time to look for an open headphone, the first place I looked was Sennheiser.
     
    I usually favor phones that have slightly elevated bass and are a bit darker, and after reading reviews saying that the HD5x8 series shared the same drivers, I decided that the HD558 was likely the best way to go, assuming it wouldn't sacrifice anything to the HD598 in terms of technical ability. While I enjoyed the HD558 (my review can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-558/reviews/8544), they didn't quite feel like a keeper; the bass felt a bit loose and tended to bleed into the mids, and I felt that the highs were lacking. I returned the 558s and found a good deal on the 598s, and here we are.
     
    For those deciding between the two models, my best advice would be to try them; failing that, it would mostly come down to preferred sound signature and choice of genres. While the 558s and 598s share the same drivers, they are obviously tuned with different listening styles in mind. Both maintain the Sennheiser house sound, and everything that goes with it: a well-layered but cohesive presentation, fantastic mids with a tasteful but not overdone lushness, slightly elevated bass, and smooth treble. They share a very similar midrange presentation and level of detail, but the HD598 has a slightly more open and euphoric sound given the added treble emphasis, whereas the HD558 is more seductive and enveloping. Personally I find the bass on both to lack some control, but noticeably moreso in the case of the HD558; the 598 isn't what I'd call tight either, but has less tonal emphasis while maintaining similar impact and extension. The HD558 is definitely what I would call a dark sounding can; the HD598 is brighter but not bright, still warm, and feels more balanced and natural to my ears. It essentially takes everything the HD558 does right, and refines it.
     
    But let's forget about the HD558. Right now I'm listening to The Rain Song and the intro sounds smooth and subdued, just like it should, with just enough crunch in the acoustic guitar to separate it from the rest of the music nicely. Vocals are top-notch; if I was a female I would be swooning, I feel like Robert Plant is wooing me right here in my living room...but seriously, acoustic guitars sound great here, I can't see how I might prefer them any other way  These probably wouldn't satisfy a metal head who needs real crunch and punchy bass for electrics and kick drums, but for me they do just fine.  Over the Hills and Far Away is another track that these really do well, the touch of warmth again makes acoustic guitars sound positively seductive, while keeping them appropriately separated. There could be a bit more pluck to them, but only some of the time; that would be my only complaint, if anything.
     
    Speaking of metal, moving on to Aerials by System of a Down. The intro is given sufficient drama; when the guitars drop, you really feel the sound come from all around you. Very impressive. Not as dynamic as it sounds on my D2k, but the vocals have even more emotion, less harshness, and are much more intimate. Guitars, as expected, don't sound as immediate and textured, likely due to the "Sennheiser veil" consisting of a dip in the upper midrange/lower treble. Moving on to Sugar, it becomes more obvious that drums aren't quite what they should be; they are there, but not with the realistic weight/pound of the D2k, or the punch the DT770 LE give them. They're there, just there. Not bad, but not great.
     
    Now for Infected Mushroom. The soundstage on the HD598s does wonders for these guys: they are world-class producers and all of the dynamic and spacial elements they've tweaked in there are very clearly audible. Listening to Sa'eed, and again the bass could use a little more punch to be realistic. It's not underwhelming, but not noteworthy either. The dynamics needed for this song are here, but the thickness in the lower midrange makes it feel not quite as lively as it does with some other phones, like the DT770 LEs, which are faster and have slightly tighter bass. Moving to Change the Formality, the bass feels better suited here. Also the synthesized textures and tiny nuances are really there and alive, the superior treble and resulting increase in the precision of imaging is noticeable here vs. what I remember with the HD558; still a bit thick at times, but noticeably more energetic. Vocals are great, of course. On to I Wish, again those little synthesized textures are really audible here. The vocals are a little closer than I would like with a euphoric and minimalistic track like this, I'd ideally like a slightly more open feel with slightly less chesty vocals and tighter bass. Still this is all nitpicking; overall the sound signature works well here, with the bass being appropriately tactile, the midrange doing full justice to vocals and synths, and the treble coming out just enough to give the appropriate euphony and compliment the warmth. This track doesn't need warmth, but it doesn't hurt either. Bust a Move sound great too, the acoustic at the beginning sounds just right to me ears, not too much crunch, not too warm, just right. Bass is tactile enough to be felt, just barely. The warmth of the HD598 does impede the dark energy of this track ever so slightly, but still, everything is there, it sounds good, just not amazing.
     
    As for Medeski Martin & Wood, well, this is where these cans shine brightest so far out of anything I've listened to. The slight warmth works with the jazz feel, and polite nature of the 598's bass keeps it out of the way on Anonymous Skulls, which has lower bass tones that can be a bit overbearing with my DT770s and, to a lesser extent, the D2000s. This is one of my favorite songs of all time, probably in the top 20, and the 598s do both instruments and synthesized tones full justice to my ear. On End of the World Party, I would like a little more subbass coming through on...whatever the hell that instrument is! It still sounds great, but just doesn't quite have that full throatiness my D2000s and DT770 can give them. I love MMW, they do stuff nobody else is doing, at least that I've heard; if you like them, these cans do them justice: they still sound jazzy and light, but don't miss out on the fullness that the electronic elements add.
     
    Ott is another band that the 598s are really doing full justice to. Queen of All Everything has this great laid back but euphoric sound, all of the natural textures come through with full realism and even a certain crispness. The bass feels just right here; if it was any tighter, it would actually distract from the soft nature of the track. This is a real pleasure to listen to. Rogue Bagel is coming through nicely too, everything is well-layered, bass isn't getting in the way of vocals or strings but still has a nice heft to it that is appropriate for the reggae-psydub sound. Everything sounds much more alive and 3-dimensional than either of my closed cans.
     
    Overall I have to say I really do recommend the HD598. I had a harder time saying as much about the 558s, just because they were too dark to be all-rounders and had sloppy upper bass that held it back from excelling with my more vocal-centric music. The HD598 is a definite step up, not necessarily in detail, but definitely in presentation and overall refinement, balance, and realism. If you are looking for a solid open can with a smooth sound sig, tasteful warmth, and a great soundstage, look no further.
     
     
    Music used for this review:
     
    Infected Mushroom:
    Poquito Mas
    Sa'eed
    Change the Formality
    Bust a Move
    I Wish
     
    Led Zeppelin:
    No Quarter
    The Rain Song
    Over the Hills and Far Away
     
    System of a Down:
    Aerials
    Sugar
     
    Medeski Martin & Wood:
    Anonymous Skulls
    End of the World Party
     
    Ott:
    The Queen of All Everything
    Rogue Bagel
    XxDobermanxX likes this.
  3. Arsis
    5.0/5,
    "I've had these for about 6 months. I find them to be outstanding. I love them!"
    Pros - Natural, airy, unhyped and detailed
    Cons - None...except they'll make you realize just how bad MP3s really suck. But is that really a con?
    I've had these for about 6 months and I find them to be outstanding.  I think you'd pay double to get anything better.  Natural, unhyped response. Nice full soundstage. VERY, VERY COMFORTABLE. I use them with a Fiio E10 as well as a Focusrite TwinTrak Pro. I have quite a bit 24/96 and vinyl. For reference I also own  AKG K240M (600 OHM), Sennheiser HD439, Superlux HD681 and AKG K55.  The 598s are by far my favorite, no contest.
  4. Yelverton9
    4.5/5,
    "Audiophile for starters"
    Pros - Great Sound stages, Clear, Natural Sound, Really Comfortable, reasonable price
    Cons - PLASTIC!, not for basshead
    This Is a nice headphone. I don't really like the design but this is in my price range, I like to use it at public places(It's weird, I know). Sound leakage is impossible to hide. Soundtage is good but not so well on the more behind sound. High sometimes is too high, mid is good, and the low is perfect. Build quality is not good, almost all of it's frame are plastic, but there's the iron part on the back of the earcup, however. Nice headphone for starters, even for someone who's trying on a cheap(reasonable) audiophile.
    buldome and b3roldan like this.
  5. BK201
    2.5/5,
    "An improvement to the HD595"
    Pros - never harsh sounding, no sibilance, easy to listen to, wide soundstage
    Cons - bass rolls off, not very detailed, a bit muddy, dark sounding, overpriced
    Firstly, this headphone is the prime example of something I'd love to hate.

    I did like the HD595 as a non fatiguing headphone... and yeah the HD598 is better. But that ugly design and MAP restriction left a sour taste.

    I'm still saddened they didn't switch to a 1/8 inch connector as most devices use that nowadays. Another problem is the impedance varies among the frequency greatly, especially in the mid-bass. Don't plug these into some receivers, they will get really muddy.

    It sounds like the HD595 with better clarity, and more treble. But again much better can be found for the money.

    Supposedly Sennheiser fixed the build quality issues, but we'll see...
    buldome and MrTechAgent like this.
  6. RietSuiker
    4.5/5,
    "I'll be using these for a long time"
    Pros - Soundstage, comfort, very nice looking imo...
    Cons - Lacks a little punch in the low bass.
    I'll start of by saying I'm new to the hifi headphone world and I'm using these un-amped out of the headphone out of a focusrite usb interface. Wow I never expected a headphone to sound so full, It's almost speaker like. They have plenty of bass but they do lack a little oomph and this becomes very apparent at low volume levels or bad sources, they don't sound quite as well on an ipod as on my pc's soundcard.
     
    It is a very open design, you will hear your surroundings clearly and at medium listening levels or above people in the proximity will definitely be able to play air guitar over whatever it is that you're listening to. If that doesn't bother you this headphone is still imo not suitable for transit, the headphone is big and very comfy but the plastic is still kinda flimsy, suffice to say it doesn't like being sit on or tossed around.
     
    By the way, I can't stress enough how comfortable this thing is. It's relatively lightweight and the velour earpads are just, nice. the padding on the inside of the headband is I believe fake leather. Although it's not sturdy as a military assault rifle, overall it really feels like a quality product.
     
    As for the bass, maybe I haven't given it enough time to burn in as I've only gotten it a few days ago, I think this headphone does benefit from a stronger source. Maybe not as much as some of the higher end sennheisers. Do I recommend this? Well I'm happy with it considering what I payed for it. If you're a real bass centric person and you listen to dubstep or hiphop you might want to look at some of the closed back alternatives out there. Maybe some people will call ******** on this, for every person there's an opinion.
    buldome likes this.
  7. barneypooch
    3.5/5,
    "Exactly as good as the price suggests"
    Pros - Very comfortable; gorgeous looking, IMO
    Cons - They're fine, but nothing special.
    Most of my at-home listening is done via speakers, but if I'm in bed and not wanting to disturb the rest of the house, I have Shure SE 530s, via the laptop or a Sansa Clip. However, I've never been particularly in love with the Shures, which have spent most of their life in their case. I'd pretty much stopped listening to music on headphones.
     
    I thought I'd try these. I don't know why I expected $250 'phones to sound better than $500 ones, and they certainly did not.  They sound exactly like what they are: mid-range, mid-price.
     
    That's not to say they're bad - they certainly aren't; they're just middle of the road. They're lovely and airy, and the sound stage gives a fair illusion of being out of the head. The bass is very nicely controlled (and there's plenty enough extension for this classical music afficionado). The highs are clear without being tiring. The mids... Ah, this is where I noticed where I (hadn't) spent the money. "Transparency" is probably one of the most abused words in audio, but once you've heard it (truly heard it) you're never happy without it.
     
    Although I've never spent crazy money on hi-fi I've some decent kit over the years, transducer-wise. I've had Quad ESL 57s, 63s and 998s; Spendor BC1 and SP1 and currently B&W 802. HPs have included Stax Lambda Pro (which I sold because they were just so bloody hot and uncomfortable!). All these transducers have what I think is true transparency - and none more so, IMO, than the positively ancient ESL 57, which I have never ever heard bettered in that department. They didn't have deep bass, and they weren't much use for a party, but I miss them to this day (thirty years after I had to sell them. Sob).
     
    I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I was stupid to think the 598 would somehow defy the price/performance equation. I should probably simply have got the Visa card out and bought the HD 800s, but I wanted something easy to drive. And that brings me to...
     
    The Fiio E17! I bought this little miracle at the same time. Oh, my. Suddenly, I realised just how good the SE 530s can be. I've always shied away from external DACs and amps for 'phones. Too much trouble and bulk for what's supposed to be a neat/portable alternative to my main system. I took a chance (at that price, why not?) on the E17 and to say I'm thrilled is an understatement. In combination with the Shures (and my laptop or Nexus 7) we're definitely in touch with the high-end. I've never been a great believer in the post-1980s philosophy of "spend most of your budget on the front end", but the E17 has made me realise that proper hi-fi does demand a little more than a Sansa Clip (amazing as that little device is), or the headphone output of a Samsung laptop.
     
    However, though I'm very happy to discover just how good the 530s can be, I'm afraid the 598s (although improved by the E17) still remain firmly earth-bound, and nowhere near as fine as the Shures.
     
    I'm not familiar with all the 598's competitors at their price point, so I can't say if they're a standout in their market segment. What I think I can say is that they're neither a bargain nor a rip-off. If someone put them on my head, blind, and asked me to guess the price I'd say $250 (or £164, in our money).
     
    Before I go, I can't stress enough that the 598s are very good - but if you're fussy and spoiled, these won't do it for you. I'm tempted to keep them, though, because I really like the design. They go so well with my few treasured pieces of Art Deco furniture!
     
    PS:I'm not sure if the rating system on Head-Fi is absolute or relative, so I've given them three stars for audio quality. If that's wrong maybe a mod could change it to four or five (though I'm not sure how logical that would be).
     
     
     
     
    buldome likes this.
  8. chimmycham
    5.0/5,
    "Brilliant!"
    Pros - Clarity, Comfort, Soundstage
    Cons - Could be a bit tighter fitting. (I do have a narrow head though)
    These are just wonderful.
    I had no idea what I was missing.
    I've always listened to lossless music, but had no idea it could sound like this.
    I run my music directly out of my 2011 Macbook Pro, and into these, using Audirvana Plus (iTunes integrated mode).
     
    I also use these with my PS3.
    I plug the PS3's optical audio out in to my surround sound system (Yamaha Amp), and turn the settings to 'straight'
    and plug the headphones into the Amp's 1/4in headphone output jack.
     
    Call of Duty is about 10x as addicting now.
    The soundstage allows me to hear almost precisely where others are.
     
    If they broke, I would just buy another pair of these same headphones.
    deaglecat and buldome like this.
  9. Tristan944
    5.0/5,
    "Excellent all-around headphones"
    Pros - Great sound, Comfortable, Well Made
    Cons - None
    Ive listened to the Ultrasone HFI-780, Sony MDR-V6 (MDR-7506), Grado SR80i, and the Sennheiser HD598. The HD598 wins.

    The Ultrasone HFI-780 has absolutely terrible sibilance/sibilant. This is a common complaint with these cans. The 780 has better bass than the HD598, but the sibilance ruins these cans.

    The Sony MDR-V6 (aka MDR-7506) are phenomenal cans, but rather boring. These are some of the most popular headphones ever made, for good reason. They do sound incredible, and they are inexpensive. Every sound is fantastic. However, its boring. People in the audio industry refer to them as flat, and flat is the perfect way to describe them. And some people love this sound, however I do not like flat headphones for overall music listening. The MDR-V6 are studio monitors, which mean they are primarily made to be used in a studio or with other professional applications where you can monitor how loud a particular sound is. These cans heavily emphasize the mids, and thats not necessarily a bad thing. Those who love acoustic music or love hearing vocals will prefer these over the HD598. Some treble and some "hissing" can be heard on occasion, but overall these are amazing headphones if you like flat sound.

    The Grado SR80i are another great set of headphones, but they are uncomfortable and dont appear to be made as well as the other headphones on this list. Overall they sound great. The bass is almost non-existent, like the HD598. The overall sound signature was not as clean as the MDR-V6. The MDR-V6 is just so clean and precise, very hard to beat. But the SR80i are still great headphones and I would probably prefer to listen to music and game with them more than the Sony's. The Grado's sound like what you are used to, which is not studio monitor headphones.

    Now the Sennheiser HD598. I have the least experience with these, but they are so good I dont need extensive experience.

    Pros

    1. They are extremely comfortable. Even more comfortable than the MDR-V6 which is known for being comfortable. I find myself forgetting they are on. Some might say, "Well if you cant tell they are on, then maybe they are on too loose and will fall off." Not true. They are designed so well that they fit on snugly and have no pressure points.

    2. They are open air which is a pro and a con, depending on what you want. You can hear most sounds in the environment with these on. The HFI-780 and MDR-V6 do a great job of blocking out noise. However, the open air nature of the HD598 gives better soundstage (you can hear where instruments are; in gaming you can hear where the bullets and the enemy are coming from; it sounds 3D) and better air venting. Your ears are the least likely to sweat with these on compared to all the other headphones listed.

    3. They sound phenomenal. Of course there are better headphones out there, but for the $200-$300 price range, these are the headphones to beat. A respected audiophile says these are the best cans under $400-$500. The best way I can describe the sound is "smooth and creamy". One of the best ways to understand this is listening to a song where tons of instruments and vocals are going on. One example that I've used while comparing headphones is Mumford & Sons- Sigh No More. Skip to 2:23 and it starts getting complicated and intense. Many headphones cave under this stress, but the HD598 runs right through it with no resistance. It sounds awesome. In comparing the microscopic definition and exacting reproduction of sounds between the HD598 and the MDR-V6, the MDR-V6 takes the edge. But again, I still prefer the HD598 because it sounds better. With the HD598 you can still here the strings being strung, the reverberations of the instruments being used, etc. Although the MDR-V6 reproduces it more accurately, it also reproduces it more flat boring. Again, this is a fundamental difference between studio headphones (MDR-V6) and regular, fun headphones (HD598).

    Cons

    1. The bass is lacking. I'm not the listener who loves bass and eagerly tries to blow his eardrums at every possible occasion, but I do enjoy some thump. Bass is an essential part of music, without it, sound would be boring. I would say the HD598 gives you just enough bass to satisfy you. Using an equalizer or bass boost does help and does make a big difference. Open air headphones are notorious for their minimal bass reproduction. The bass that is produced sounds great though.

    2. The cord, the cord!!! Although detachable, which is a pro, the con is that it terminates into the larger 1/4 plug (which can be a pro for others). I use the 3.5mm plug 99% of the time. The HD598 comes with a 3.5mm adapter turning the terminal end of the cord into a 5 inch plug section. When plugged into a Zune, iPod, etc, it looks ridiculous. Laughably ridiculous actually. I emailed Sennheiser about this and they said that will not make a cord that terminates into a 3.5mm plug for this headphone. Really unfortunate.

    So when all things are said and done, after comparing the HD598 against several other well known and popular headphones, the HD598 are my favorite. They are not perfect. The bass is too soft, the sonic clarity is not quite as defined as the MDR-V6 (HD598 just slightly less, you can still hear ALL the detail), and the cord is ridiculous. But these cons are very very minor. The excellent sound and extreme comfort of these headphones, all things considered, are better than anything I've listened to.
  10. Gonor3a
    5.0/5,
    "Amazing Sound"
    Pros - Superb sound, Great build, Super comfortable
    Cons - Cable is long, 6.5mm adapter, Massive sound leakage
    Amazing sound and even better when using an AMP.
     
    The 6.5mm standard adaptor is a bit Meh. But a 3.5mm is included. Cable is crazy long, definitely designed to be hooked up to a stereo unit at home. Still sounds great throught the ipad / iphone

    Sound leakage is huge and loud and will piss everyone off in the room. These cans are "at home" only use and not for office or when on public transport. My wife complained "what is the point of headphones if everyone can hear what you are listening to!!"
     
    If you want aural candy, for the price (got mine on amazon.com) these things are diamond.
     
     
    buldome likes this.