Here is my revised review, one week after my first experience with my new Sennheiser HD58X:
I just got the HD58x and had one week period of listening sessions with my iPhone X and Audioquest Dragonfly Red (with its 2.1V max output rms). The setup,i’m using is the same as the setup I normally use with my HD6xx and HD600 in portable mode (when i’m not using my living room headphone amp).
So here are a few comments so far:
- Bass is firmer than with HD6xx. Bass is heavier than HD600.
- It’s also without the famous HD650 mid bass bump, the sound is less thick.
- the sound is dryer, yet more dynamic, imaging as good as HD6xx or HD600.
- the highs are similar in level, maybe a little different, but comparable, without any sibilance. The HD58X are a little brighter in the lower treble than either the HD600 or HD650/6XX. HD600 is also bright. HD650/6XX seems to have more harmonics and better high treble extension.
But the thing is the mids are not as good as either the HD650/6xx or HD600. For now, they lack emotion, they lack sweetness, they lack the air, the harmonics that the HD600 or HD650/6XX are capable and have been famous for. The HD650/6XX is a lot more euphonic than the HD58X to my ears.
I tried a few songs from jazzy/soul/pop Canadian singer Charlotte Cardin and some of the emotion in her beautiful soul/jazz voice is gone. The mids are not only pushed back (less forward), they are also slighty shouty in the high mids(1khz),
I felt the same listening to The Chain from Fleewood Mac on Rumours and listening to Dire Strait’s Private Investigations. These two songs are famous for their acoustic sound qualities. They give me goose bumps when I use the HD6XX and even with my closed back HD25-1II. None of this with the HD58X. The harmonics of the strings on the guitars are not spectacular as they are on the HD650. There is a loss in harmonics, in the mids and also in the highs. Less musicality with the HD58X, yet more sub bass presence. The voices of Stevie Nicks in The Chain are simply not as outstanding on the HD58X as they are on the HD650/6XX or HD600.
Don’t get me wrong: the mids on the HD58X sound a lot better than many of my other headphones I own (better than HD25/Amperior, better than HD4.40BT, better than ATH-50X, better than PX100i and probably at par but still sounding different with less emotion than Momentum 1 and Momentum Wireless), but they are definitely a step backwards to the HD600/650/6XX. I cannot compare with HD660S because I never had the chance to hear them.
I cannot complain for the price I Paid, at 149$ they are very good, just not as good as the HD650/6XX. Everything else apart from the mids and the harmonics is « very good », but the mids are only « good », maybe because they are slighty « cold/dry » and slightly « shouty » compared to its 600 series siblings. The problem is than most of the emotion in the music I listen to is in the mids. I guess that if you are into EDM or rock concert type music, the HD58x are up to expectations, but even EDM music and rock benefit from good mids when there are singing portions in the music (most rock songs have some singing).
I must state that on my first day of listening my opinion was even more drastic against the HD58X. Over time I recognize the relative sound quality provided by this 600 series open air high quality headphone. But to sum it up: they are good, I even recommend them for the price, they have very good tight extended bass, but they would never be a remplacement to my HD6XX’s with its fabulous musicality and mids.
Just Adding a comment: slightly raising the 400hz and slightly lowering the 1khz sliders on my music app (I use Spotify or Apple Music most of the time) does restore part of the naturalness of the mids. They are then smoother and less shouty. Maybe the lack of emotion I find on the HD58X is something like a slightly too shouty (1khz) sound, which seems to be in common with the HD660S according to Tyll. Maybe I’m biased by many hours passed with my HD600 and HD6xx to truly enjoy the HD58X mids at this time. But I nevertheless give it a 4 star rating because of the overall sound quality, good firm bass (reminds me a bit of the HD25-1II bass although less firm since it‘s an open headphone contrary to the HD25) and fantastic pricing. I cannot think of a better headphone at this price. It’s also better sounding to me than most 500 series Sennheiser headphones, just not as musical and euphonic as the other 600 series headphones to my ears.
One more word on the built quality. I do not agree with many comments that say the built quality is not at par with other 600 series Sennheiser headphones. In fact, they have the exact same build qualities. you may or may not like the colour choices of the the grills and headband, but I assure you that the construction, build quality is identical. The finishing and colour is a bit more basic, I agree, but they remind us of the original HD580 finish. There is no doubt in my mind that these headphones will last as long as a new pair of 600/650/6XX/660S.
I recognize that my review is not in line with many other positive reviews on this site or on other headphone forums, but they are my sincere opinion of them, for the better or the worse, and I was able to do a direct comparison with my other headphones I currently own in my living room, such as the HD600, HD6XX, HD598, HD25-1, etc.
Thanks for the detailed thoughts. I appreciate it because you address a number of things that intersect with my interest. I joined the drop nearly as it first opened knowing that the 6XX drop was open concurrently. It was a risk I took and your writeup speaks to that. I also have the Momentum 1's so that's another point you touched on that I'd like to take some time to consider. The hard part there, I think, will be volume matching. I expect that I'll have to adjust volume back and forth quite a bit which skew things.
My ace-in-the-hole is that I have a friend who has a pair of the 6XX. Time to schedule a mini-meet...
There are things the HD650 does better, no doubt, but unless you like that presentation...slightly veiled treble, weaker bass, and mid-centric sound... it's not necessarily a better headphone.
When we review headphones we have to make sure and look at it on a basis of neutrality because otherwise comparisons mean very little.
How does the 58X sound when EQ'd to match the HD650? I imagine the 650 is more resolving, but possibly less dynamic.
You have a fair point too. IMO, PeteMtl was clear enough that his preference for music favored the presentation of the 6XX over the 58X or rather that he favored the presentation of the 6XX of his music over the 58X. My belief is that neutrality becomes extremely difficult to quantify once the phones leave the test stand and hit a pair of human ears. I think that on some level, comparisons with appropriate disclaimers still provides value to the reader, er, listener. Good thoughts, and hoping to see the answer about EQing.
Hopefully my friend is willing to set up a comparison meeting... He's been into pool lately so I'll probably have to drag him away from his cue sticks to make him take responsibility for the fact that I'm now hundreds of dollars sunk into audio and it's his fault...