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Sennheiser HD 598 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by Headstar, Feb 22, 2011.
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  1. avens
    The 598's are practically the same headphone as the 555's. They won't be an upgrade to you. I bought mine because of that nostalgic reason actually. For example the HD598 share the same lack of bass, which makes them not that good for watching movies, and of course they can't really be used as portable headphones as they are 'open' (all external noises are heard).
    With the perspective I now have, it has to be said the 598's can't be considered to be neither 'mid-fi' nor 'hi-fi' headphones. For example the HD600's are considered to be in that mid-fi class and they destroy the 598's in every aspect that isn't soundstage, which in any case is grossly exaggerated in the 598's. If you are curious, I'm in this thread because I'll be again using the 598's, but that's because my Oppo PM-3's are reported to straight up cause hearing damage and I already have the 598's sitting at home.
    As for your questions,
    1.- The by far best way to step up with headphones is to get better headphones. Sounds obvious, but there's many people that commit the mistake of getting DAC/amps to improve the sound of their 598's, when what they should have done is getting a better headphone instead.
    2.- Amps start to matter once you get into better headphones, because those usually require more power to be driven. The 598's in particular improve a bit with an external amp, but not by much. On the other hand, the HD600 do sound much nicer with nice amplification. Personally I think it'd be a bit of a waste to use the HD600's with a Realtek soundcard, but I wouldn't mind using the HD598 with that.
    Also, DACs themselves matter less than the headphones and the amplification, but have to mention them because usually they come bundled with amps and in the end it's always a nice thing to have.
    3.- The HD800's won't show their potential with your soundcard, at all. They are very picky when it comes to amplification, requiring way more power than the HD600's, plus that amplification has to be very clean. Also they vastly improve by performing a mod to them (the Anax mod), and so on and so forth. End game stuff gets complicated.
    I'd rather spend that 598+Amp money (which is the usual recommendation here) into getting better headphones instead, picking one in particular that doesn't require external amplification so that you could use them them with your soundcard extracting 80%-90% of how they could sound like with a nice DAC/Amp.
    My first recommendation is the recently released HE-400S from Hifiman, as I tried them the other day and they tick all the boxes, in sound, comfort and so on. They are considered to be on par with the HD600's, but without really requiring an external amp. The only thing to be aware of with them is that as a company Hifiman is known for its failure rates.
    For a second recommendation, you could get a high end headphone, plus a nice DAC and a nice Amp. I know it's much more expensive, but what usually happens here is that over the years people end up buying 10 cheap-ish headphones and 3 cheap-ish dac/amps, when financially the better decision would have been to get 1 very good one.
    And if you still want to get the 598's, as I did for gaming in mind, then it's not really necessary to get a DAC or an amp.
  2. avens
    I'm looking forward to perform the mod that enables regular 2.5mm cables to be used with the 598's, specifically to use the 3.5mm Boompro cable when playing on consoles. Which adapter is known to fit, with a link if possible?

    Also, which short (1.2m-1.5m) 2.5mm or 3.5mm cable should be a good pairing with the 598's? While I'd like them to have more bass, the focus is getting better voice clarity. Of course, both would be quite nice :p. For some reason, with the Oppo PM-3's over Teamspeak I hear voices much clearer than with the 598, and the PM-3's have a really recessed treble. Thanks.
  3. mayhemTR
    Do you recommend hd598s for movies ? 
  4. avens
    Nope, as they really, really lack bass.
    Also people around you will hear everything you do, since they are 'open' headphones. That could be an issue if you sleep along someone. If you don't mind that, then be aware that in the same price bracket 'open' headphones do sound notoriously better than 'closed' headphones.
    mayhemTR likes this.
  5. mayhemTR
    so what do you suggest for movies ? what about ha-sz1000 ?
  6. avens
    Frankly, I have no idea about specific headphones for movies. I'm only into music and gaming. Sorry :p
    In any case, when taking into account the factors I previously mentioned you'll be able to discard specific headphones for what you want. I googled those Ha-sz1000 headphones and it says they are closed-back and with a heavy bass-focused sound signature; the opposite of the HD598's. Still, from that description it's easy to tell those are not good either, if you appreciate your good hearing that is.
    Think about it. That heavy bass will make explosions hurt your ear drums, a sensation which is accentuated with closed headphones as the sound doesn't escape from the other side. Not only that, with bass-focused signatures what happens is that the treble is recessed (99% of the time), or in other words it sounds lower than what it should, so in order to better listen to the dialogue (treble) you'll end up turning the volume up, which will make the explosions (bass) sound even louder.
    So, if you can pick an open headphone, go for it. Also, for movies don't go for something with too much bass, as these days movies themselves have too much of it already, but the HD598 won't cut it because it has none at all, zero.
    edit: And one last factor to consider. It'd be great if the headphones you choose come with a volume slider in the cable, which the HD598 lacks. That way you won't depend on the TV, console or whatever else having that option, which surprisingly is lacking in many of them (my Sega Genesis does have it, my PS3 doesn't).
    edit2: Welp, one more. Check that the particular headphone doesn't require external amplification. That way you'll be able to enjoy the headphone performing at its best without needing to purchase another thing. For example the Fidelio X2 doesn't require that (great!), but the HD800 does (add another $1000 to the bill).
    mayhemTR likes this.
  7. ContinualSoiree
    I'm on a really strict budget, too many Christmas gifts to buy. And i won't ask for anything, but i need some good 'cans' for movies, music, games, audiobooks... I've been stuck between the Audio Technica 50x and these... I know they differ drastically, with the 50s being closed therefore lacking the sound stage, and having a bit more bass and less mids. But i can get them for $99 new on ebay tomorrow 
    I thought 598s were exactly what i was looking for, after watching endless videos on how they're the best all around for the money...  but i've also keep heard about their lack of bass, and how that will not really work with movies. And by games, i don't mean FPS, so i don't need to hear where footsteps or whatever are coming from, I'm more into Uncharted and stuff you could probably compare to a movie watching experience. Just overall enjoyment.
    I'm sorry for the excessive backstory, just letting you know where i'm coming from. I've taken a crash course in headphones for the last week and a half.. and am starting to dream about it, honestly haha. Just like to make sure i know what i'm getting into, and then spending my (very little) hard earned money on. I was planning on grabbing the 598s through Amazon's Black Friday sale, where i thought they'd be closer to $100.. since i've read that's what they were last year... and which i thought would last all week. But i think i may have missed it, unfortunately. They're back to $160.. i think they're normal price. So now i'm looking at either the 558s or buying the 598s used, but i'd really rather not. Hopefully they'll go back down Friday.
    I've also just thought about getting the Status Audio HD ones for $40 (not sure how you guys feel about those), and waiting until sometime next year for a nicer pair, but these sales are what really tempted me to just get what i actually want. But seeing how people really love the 50x and the 598.. i'm not sure what to do. And now hearing about that lack of bass kind of worries me. I am no bass head whatsoever, i actually get a lot of headaches, so i'm not wanting any harsh lows or highs. Status Audio also just released their HD twos for $99, but can't really find anything on them.
    I do however have a nice, but older, Sony Surround Stereo setup in my room, so if i were to just plug them into it, and adjust the bass.. would that make much of a difference? Would it replace the need of an amp or DAC(no idea what that is).. Because i can't afford those anyway.
    So... TLDR... around $120 budget. Will these be good for Movies, Games, Music, Audio Books? If not will the 50x be a good overall instead? I don't plan on using them outside of the house either. No amp, but have a stereo.
    I hope that was somewhat comprehensible. Thank you. Really appreciate it. Wasn't going to sign up and bother people with it, but you guys seem to know what you're talking about. Just try not to recommend stuff i can't afford like i've seen happen haha.. it just depresses me :wink:
  8. painted klown
    IMO, the HD-598 are great sounding 'phones, but they lack in bass and are a bit bright for my taste. Having said that, they by FAR get the most head time of all my current 'phones (see profile for full list). Due to the lack of deep and pronounced bass, they aren't the best for movie watching. For that, I like to turn to my Audio Technica ATH-M50X (my 2nd fave pair of the ones I own). I also like the M50X for bass heavy music (dubstep, rap, electronic, metal, etc).   
    As far as what would be considered good for gaming, I honestly have no clue as I am not a gamer, sorry...I cannot offer any advice there. [​IMG]                        
  9. Arniesb
    Strange how perception of sound is different for everyone... For me HD598 highs was more in quantity than my HDD650, but lacked sharpness and highs was too soft, it was too smooth for me and lacked impact.
  10. painted klown

    Interesting. I have an HD-650 on the way (should be here Saturday) so I will be doing some comparisons for sure. I have read that the 650 is pretty resolving, do you think your perceived lack of high frequency information on the 598 could be due (in part, anyway) to the lack of resolution you are accustomed to on the 650?
    Just making conversation and guessing here...not trying to tell you what you hear. [​IMG] 
  11. Arniesb
    Yup, HD650 have quite a bit better resolution in mids and highs. Also Mids are more natural, but bass is only very very little better. Only big difference in bass was quantity. Also on SOME tube amps HD650 was starting to lack highs very significantly! And resolution was gone... IF i go with tubes, i pick neutral tube amp or the one with good prat. I heard Crack with Speedball have good atack and prat??? I also heard Walhalla 2 have very good resolution and not lack naturalness in mids. Both i guess should be very good pairings with HD650
    painted klown likes this.
  12. fiddler
    HD650 has a pretty astonishingly good treble resolution, but I haven't heard any Stax. :p
  13. painted klown
    Thanks for responding/answering my question. I LOVE conversations like this, I feel like I learn vicariously through other peoples' ears while I wait for mine to arrive. [​IMG]
    No worries, IMO nobody needs to hear Stax to know what they hear from their own gear. Comparisons are useful (and nice to have), but having never heard any summit-fi gear myself, they are pretty useless for me anyway. LOL!
  14. Arniesb
    +1 On Fiio e12 and ifi micro SS treble resolution is as good as on DT990 Premium just not same in quantity. Well atleast for my ears.
  15. Arniesb
    No problem my friend. I learn many things from Youth and few other good guys. Also you learn many things with your hearing.
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