There are only a few things which can unite people more than music. People who enjoy the same tastes in music tend to get along better, or simply enjoy sharing their favorite bands to each other. In any case, great music is good to have, but you also have to give it justice by playing it through great hardware. Forget about those cheap $10 earbuds, you’ll need to invest in some quality headgear to hear your music the way it was meant to be heard. Therefore, a good start would be listening through some audiophile-quality headphones, such as the $250 Sennheiser HD 598. And, if luck would have it, you may be able to win one at the end of this review!
What Are “Audiophile” Headphones?
Audiophile headphones aren’t your ordinary headphones — they’re built with high quality parts in order to satisfy the pickiest audio listeners. Some of these listeners take their music so seriously, that everything needs to be perfect — a quiet room, lossless music, and great headphones are just a few of the necessary pieces to a great audio experience. Because audiophiles go so far to enjoy their music appropriately, this allows for some typically unconventional designs, such as open headphones rather than closed, where sound leaks freely for the sake of a more natural sound. The highs, mids, and lows need to be spot-on as well, so the heavy bass that a lot of people enjoy is a big no-no.
Sennheiser HD 598 Specifications
To get started, here are some of the specifications of the HD 598 from Sennheiser directly before I go into explaining them:
- High-end open circumaural headphones
- E.A.R. Technology
- Neodymium ferrous magnets
- Frequency response: 12 – 38,500 Hz
- 50 ohms impedance
- 112 dB sound pressure level (SPL)
- A total harmonic distortion of less than 0.1% (1 kHz/100 dB SPL)
- 6.3 mm jack plug with a 3.5 mm adapter
- 270 g in weight
The HD 598 headphones are extremely similar to the HD 558 when it comes to the specifications and general design — the only major difference is the European luxury sedan design spin that adds a lot of browns and tans that remind you of the leather seats.
The packaging in which the HD 598 headphones come in is rather simple. You’re first greeted with a very informative, multilingual outer box with a flap that includes some additional information. Take the headphones out of the box, and you’re left with a plastic shell that holds all the components in place. You’ll also find the 3.5 mm adapter in the middle of all the packaging. There aren’t any additional leaflets that come with it, which I find disappointing as it could have offered some suggested uses or tips to take full advantage of these headphones. I know these headphones are meant for people who are serious about their audio, but it’d be nice to let less-knowledgeable people get these and still know how to use them correctly. Additionally, I would have liked some sort of pouch or protective case to come along with such nice headphones. My Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones came with a soft pouch, which I find a lot better than nothing at all. Even if it doesn’t protect much from brutal forces, it’ll at least keep the dust off.
The Sennheiser HD 598 headphones are built solidly. The headband bends as you might expect, and the actual cans extend or retract nicely to form a solid fit. The cans rotate just a tiny bit to accommodate different head shapes, and tilt very little, which is something I’d have to get used to as my ATH-M50 headphones are extremely mobile. However, you don’t need to do much with them anyways except comfortably place them on your head, unlike the studio/DJ ATH-M50 headphones which are meant to be twisted and turned for all sorts of listening experiences.
The parts you can touch are all made out of plastic, even the wood accents, but they are of high quality and should last long. I do want to note that, although I haven’t seen any signs of this, some people have had issues with the plastic cracking. I think that this shouldn’t happen as long as you take very good care of them.
I very much like the design of the headphones. There is plenty of cushion along the bottom of the headband to give you ample comfort to keep them on your head for multiple hours of listening. The cushions on the cans are on the very edge of the cans, so that your ears remain untouched — the cushion lands around your ears, on your head (hence the term “circumaural”). I find this fantastic because any discomfort I usually feel with headphones is right on the ears, and I’ll then have to start moving them around to move around the pressure. This problem doesn’t exist with the HD 598. All of the cushions also don’t cause any sweating, which is another major problem with some headphones. The plush that covers your ears is breathable, and the headphones aren’t too heavy to cause the padding along the bottom of the headrest to induce sweating either. The color scheme is also very nice to look at, and is a good representation of a European luxury sedan.
Even the cushion along the bottom of the headrest releases air when compressed with the same sound as when you sit in a nice, leather car seat. It adds a great sense of luxury and makes you feel like you’re spoiling yourself a bit. The cord is also detachable, which may be beneficial for some people, especially in regards to portability or cable replacement if somehow necessary.
The sound is fantastic with these headphones. I definitely enjoy the fact that the open design allows for more natural sound. The highs are very crisp, accurate, and have great detail. They’re also not overpowering, but feel just right. The mids are also balanced right, although they do sound just a tad bit warm. They are, however, still very natural sounding. The bass is surprisingly well refined. They are definitely present in music where there is a lot of bass, but they aren’t overpowering at all. Metaphorically speaking, it does its part in the entire piece as it should, and doesn’t steal off of the attention. I don’t feel quite as much bass with the HD 598 as I do with my ATH-M50, but that’s because the ATH-M50 headphones still add a little emphasis to the bass. Therefore, if natural, true sound is what you’re after, the HD 598 should definitely be of interest to you.
These headphones aren’t meant to be used just anywhere. They are also very loud, so turning them up to maximum volume might cause some significant hearing damage. The open design allows you to hear people just fine whenever music isn’t playing, but it’ll be very hard to understand them once you have some tunes going. The sound definitely leaks, but that’s supposed to happen.
Because it comes with a 3.5 mm adapter, you can use the headphones on any consumer device. An amp is recommended but not necessarily needed — I used them just fine without one. Do note that the jack on the adapter is quite large so I wasn’t able to plug it into my phone with the case still on, even though my case is quite generous with the space around my headphone port. Also, make sure that you’re listening to from a high quality audio source, preferably lossless files, in order to get the best results with these headphones. If the source is bad, the headphones won’t make it any better.
Should you buy these Sennheiser HD 598 headphones?
Overall, I absolutely love these headphones. They produce absolutely fantastic sound that is sure to make everyone else jealous. Not only is the sound great, but the design also shows sophistication and class, replicating the status symbols of European luxury sedans. Sennheiser is a company known for churning out great audio products, and this is no exception. While it isn’t their top of the line offering (which would be the HD 800 at a whopping $1,000), it is most certain a high-quality product that I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in hearing music the way it was meant to be heard and is capable of dropping around $250 on them.
How do I win the Sennheiser HD 598 headphones?
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