Sennheiser HD 598

Average User Rating:
  1. TK277
    Pros - Soundstage, forward and addicting mids, very comfortable
    Cons - Bass lacks physical impact

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.
  2. Kpimsakul
    "Awesome cans"
    Pros - comfortable, build quality, looks, sound quality
    Cons - standard 1/4" jack
    these are an awesome pair of cans, some dont like the look but i love it. also these are some of the most comfortable headphones ive ever had on my head, i should note i wear glasses and as anyone who wears glasses and likes over ear headphones will know that it can sometimes push the frame into your head making prolonged usage uncomfortable, these dont push against your glasses at all. i was amazed when i first put these on. i have quite a few different uses for this headphone and i do have to turn my ipod and ipad all the way up on almost all songs, but being plugged into my mixer is when they really start to shine. these headphones on there own are already pretty good headphones very balanced in sound and not too heavy bass, but with the addition of an amp wow... 
  3. revolutionized
    "Excellent Headphones!"
    Pros - Perfect Mids and highs
    Cons - Bass should be just a little bit more
    I'll be honest, I don't know much about headphones. But for my birthday I decided to look into a new pair of headphones as I previously had the Sony MDR-XD200's which are just terrible! When I saw these headphones I was mesmerised at how good they look! I did some reviews on this site and decided to also get the fiio e10.

    As soon as I got these headphones I was so amazed! The clarity, coupled with the fiio e10 was just amazing! I could hear things in my songs which I never even knew they were there!

    I mainly listen to Electronic / Dance with a little classical on the side. The e10 has a bass boost which really helps the hd598's. The bass is present but I wish it had more kick to it with my dance music. However the mid range and high range makes up for it for miles! The sound stage is setup so perfectly that every single sound is clearly and distinctly defined. I really didn't think headphones could ever do this!

    In conclusion, the Fiio e10 is a great dac/amp product with the hd598 and these headphones. These headphones are just amazing! I have had nearly 40 hours burn in now and the sound stage is just so clear and perfectly set up for all kinds of music. Great all round headset! 
  4. Tus-Chan
    Pros - Very attractive. Extremely comfortable. Responds to equalization very well. Good instrument separation. An jack of all trades in terms of genre.
    Cons - I have absolutely zero confidence in the construction. Cord is not replacable. Cord loves to ball up and tangle to itself.
    PROs: They respond very, very well to equalization and amping. With the right equalization, these can be literally anything you want them to be in terms of sound signature. For open headphones, these produce a large amount of mid-bass, though producing very little sub-bass.
    These headphones have great instrument separation, and an even better soundstage to utilize it. These headphones can easily be your god-mode secret weapon for competitive gaming. When I plugged these into my TV, and played me some Impossible Game on my 360, I quite nearly cried when I heard the soundtrack to "Heaven", as the bass was hard-hitting, and the highs were sparkly and pristine.
    As an added bonus, the HD598 is very, very attractive, and if for some reason you are sadistic enough to wear these out in public, you will get compliments. You'd have no problem wearing these all day, either. The headphone itself is light as a feather, and the velour pads are made of fluffy clouds and sunshine; your noggin will thank you for the experience. These literally fade away when worn.
    CONs: The cord of the HD598 is really bad. It loves to to tangle up on itself and will actually ball up and stick to itself proactively. Also, for the longest time, I thought that the headphone cord was jammed or something, because I couldn't figure out how to undo the locking mechanism for the input port.
    Also, the headphone, while exquisitely beautiful, just feels flimsy. The construction, as far as I can tell, is all light plastic. Don't drop these. You'll regret it.
    - - - - -
    Overall, this is an extremely good headphone choice, and a perfect stepping stone/gateway drug into the world of hi-fi. Definitely not a portable headphone by any means, though.
  5. dreamville
    Pros - design comfort and sound quality
    Cons - long cord, weak bass
    Great headphones
  6. ChayleyGrim
    "very impressed ! "
    Pros - extremely comfortable, great sound, wood acsents
    Cons - doesnt do Metal music justice, quite plasticly,
    let me start off by saying these are my first pair of audiophile headphones.
    when i bought these i had no idea what to expect. right out of the box they sounded okay so i gave them a week to burn in and they have sounded great ever since. it wasnt until i recieved them that i was told they were made for acoustic and classical music " =(, i listen to rock ". but they work great for alternative, progessive, experimental, ambiant, and hardcore rock. but not for metal. overall im very pleased.
    pg1111 likes this.
  7. JasonZ10
    "HD-598, One of the only headphones you'll ever need!"
    Pros - Great sound, Looks like a piece of art, Great soundstage
    Cons - Gives a weird/hot feeling after long periods of use
    My first pair of audiophile headphones. BEST starter headphones. I love them so much.
    buldome and MarcadoStalker7 like this.
  8. MansomeHan
    "Great mid-priced headphones! "
    Pros - Great sounding, comfortable, reasonable price
    Cons - Plastic frame, thin cord
    I just got these phones delivered a couple of days ago and have enjoyed burning them in and listening in intervals all weekend.  They seem to benefit quite a bit from burn in, as most headphones do. What length of burn in time optimizes them? I don't know, but hey have improved all weekend.  They didn't sound bad right out of the box, but the extension, clarity and sound stage across the spectrum have all gotten better with each hour of burn in and listening time. They are very accurate, open and transparent sounding to me. 
    Some reviews I've read about the 598's  have bemoaned the lack of bass response, but I find it to be just about right for my taste...tight and extended, without the overemphasis of some phones I've heard.  I listen to a broad range of music from blues to rock, alternative, metal, jazz, fusion, funk...and even a bit of country.  They perform well across the genres I listen to.
    The only cons I listed (Plastic frame, thin cord) actually also add value.  The cord could be a little thicker I suppose, but it is very soft and pliable, and detachable and user replaceable if damaged.  The plastic frame makes these extremely light and comfortable to wear for extended listening sessions. The color scheme is a bit over the top for my taste, and I wish they came in basic black too, but as I'm not looking at myself in the mirror at all times...especially when listen to music...this is a very minor detail.
    I also own a pair of Denon D2000's which sound good to me as well. Compared to the Sennheiser 598, they are heavier, hotter to wear (due to the thick pleather earpads), and are more bass emphasized.  They are both good entries in the mid-priced headphone market, with the Sennheiser's edging them out the Denon's for the money in my mind. I haven't decided which I really like better.
    I listen to vinyl, CD's, Apple Lossless, and iTunes Plus (256 kbs AAC).  In my mind, musicality and listening enjoyment decrease slightly with each format as listed, which only becomes apparent when you do a side-by-side listening test. 256 kbs files sound very good to me, although there are certainly deficiencies that become apparent when listening with better headphones, speakers and amps.  Over time and evolution, this has prompted me to re-rip my CD's  into Lossless format, and only buy CD's and rip them to Lossless moving forward (rather than buy downloads from iTunes).  However, even the iTunes downloads sound good as they can, given their limitation...with the 598's over lesser phones or earbuds.
    I have only had these headphones for a few days but already I would recommend them to anyone wanting a solid performer without breaking your bank account.  I look forward to many hours of enjoyment from these phones.
  9. MegaMushroom
    "Excellence in comfort and sound "
    Pros - Great all rounder, affordable, comfortable, has presence, color
    Cons - Some will find the bass a bit light, color can be a turn off
    This could be the perfect starter audiophile headphone for anyone looking to get into the game.  Quite possibly the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn.  Darn good highs, mids, and bass though some might find it a bit on the light side.  Overall a great purchase.  Biggest turn of for most will probably be the odd color scheme adopted for the 598, but personally I love it.  Another minor problem is that these headphones do not do metal justice.  Sure they might be great all-rounders, but if metal is the only thing you listen to it would do you good to look at other similarly priced headphones.  Granted these headphones ARE capable of keeping up with most metal bands out there. 
    EDIT:  To add a bit more to this review.  These headphones are very non-fatiguing.  I've listened to these for hours at a time with no ill effects.  The sound along with the amazingly comfortable ear pads conspire to make these permanently attached to your head for a long time indeed.  I did pay the full 240+ dollars, but with a bit of looking around you can probably buy them for far less.  Although an amp is not needed the HD598's do sound better with an amp.
    EDIT 2:  These headphones tend to play better with slower music.  Prog rock like Pink Floyd, S.B.B sound fantastic on these headphones, as well as King Crimson.  I've found that bands like the early Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple also sounds very nice.  I've found that dubstep tends to be a bit cold on these headphones, but the bass is there.  I can say that the headphones do sound better after a burn in.
    EDIT 3:  Nearly a year later, and I still have no issues with these cans.  They have in fact taken over as my go to cans for gaming, movie watching, and just chilling.  Although some creaking has shown it's ugly face this only happens when I adjust my headphones.  The dreaded cracking issues has not surfaced on my post recall production headphones.  I believe that Sennheiser has permanently fixed that issue.  Headphones remain clean, and the pads remain uncompacted.
    EDIT 4:  Still going at it.  The excellence just keeps coming from these babies.  I can comfortably say that they are now in fact fully burned in.  Soundstage is pretty damn impressive now that I've expanded my collection to more than just two headphones.  Just a few things to note that I haven't really answered before.  
    -Bass: Nice thump to it.  Not going to be the tooth filling rattling bass found in my HFI-580, but it does strike a nice balance for me. Give the bass guitar in some older music a nice notable presence.
    -Mids: All there and accounted for.  Rather mid-centric in this regard.  Does vocals very well as well as acoustic guitar.  Not too much else to say.  They simply make this can a good fit for most music.
    -Highs:  Not too fatiguing at all.  You catch the high bits well enough without feeling like someone just ran a dog whistle through an air compressor. Maybe not as prominent as the mids, but certainly there.
    Overall all the bits are there and accounted for.  This headphone from the few I've heard over the years strikes an excellent balance which leave me with the impression that it's current place in the head-ranking is well deserved. (10/28/12)
  10. JamestheRipper
    "Great Headphones"
    Pros - Fantastic all rounder, very affordable, great soundstage, very comfortable
    Cons - Not great with metal music, quite plasticy
    I bought the HD598 for 200 bucks. I had to have quick delivery because I was leaving America soon which accounts for the relatively high price.


    I don't regret the buy at all because I think they sound fantastic. People say they lack bass? I think this is quite a warm headphone, and low bass is punchy with great quantity - not too much and definitely not too little. However, I DO use a well adjusted Winamp equaliser which may compensate for the loss.


    I think these sound fantastic with all genres of music except metal, because they just can't attack the music well enough.


    Despite the big arguments over amped/unamped, I was using a FiiO E7, but sold it recently -  it's a cool gadget, but quite unnecessary. I really won't let anyone tell me otherwise now haha :wink: When I buy some higher impedance phones I'll invest in an amp, but these can be powered really easily, and sound fantastic straight from the laptop.


    For films and TV they are fantastic because of the great soundstage.


    These phones really are the full package (except metal), perform VERY WELL and are extremely affordable.


    Plus you need to look at the next headphone up in the Sennheiser range - the HD600/HD650, and then you have to start investing in a good amp and probably a better source as well. So it really is a bargain because you can buy the headphones alone. 


    If you have 165 dollars, and want an affordable solution which performs very well in all categories, I think you would be foolish to not consider these headphones. However, it does come down to personal taste, and I'm not the most experienced audiophile so I can't compare a lot hehe, but clearly I'm very satisfied.