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Sennheiser HD 598, Overview
The Sennheiser HD 598 Over Ear headphones are the successor of the well-known HD 595 and they’re full-size open Hifi headphones intended for use at home.
Released in 2012, it features Sennheiser’s E.A.R. (Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology which should provide for better sonic accuracy and clarity. This technology can also be found in Sennheiser’s flagship, the HD 800. Furthermore, the HD 598 is equipped with lightweight aluminium voice coils, strong neodymium drivers and duofol diaphragms for minimal distortion.
Design & Feel
I was quite surprised when I first got these headphones a few months ago. They look a lot better in real life than they do on pictures. I really like the beige color in combination with the high-gloss wood accents on the headband and also on the outer parts of the ear cups.
The brown velour ear pads match very nice and the headband is nice and thick with a pleather cushion. The HD 598 is mostly made out of plastic and I did have the feeling that it felt a bit flimsy. But the plastic is high quality and the HD 598 is in no way fragile.
The HD 598 features a 10ft long cable terminated by a 6.3mm jack. It’s a detachable cable, so you can use 3rd party cables if you want to.
However, the part going into the headphone is locked in so the cable cannot accidently get ripped out of the headphone. Personally I’m NOT a fan of this, although most other reviewers find it a plus…
The problem with a locked-in cable is that you run the risk of pulling the whole headphone of your head. Imagine someone tripping over the cable OR you forget you’re having the headphone on and you stand up. Get the picture? You really want that cable to come loose!
Comfort wise the HD 598 has to be one of the most comfortable headphones out there. Weighting 270gr, I literally forgot that I had these on my head. There is no clamping pressure. The velour ear cushions are super comfortable. In my opinion better than the HD 650. The pleather padding feels very good.
Good to know
I’ve tested the HD 598 with the AudioQuest Dragonfly v1.2 and the JDS Labs Objective 2 Amp. I also used the standard 3.5mm headphone jack of my laptop. Although this is not really a headphone for portable use, I also tested it with my smartphones, the One Plus One and the Nexus 4.
So how does it sound? Overall the sound is extremely clear and the soundstage is very wide. Maybe even wider than the Sennheiser HD 650, although not always realistic. Sometimes the placement of the instruments sounded a bit awkward. The HD 598 is a very neutral and balanced headphone, with maybe a little bit forwarded mids.
I did tend to listen to music on low to medium volumes since I got the impression that on higher volumes the HD 598 ran out of steam on some songs. The sound felt kinda restrained from time to time, whereas the HD 650 had plenty of gas left in the tank. Okay, it’s not really a fair comparison. Just see it as a compliment to the qualities of the HD 598!
Having an impedance of 50 Ohm I expected an improvement in using the Dragonfly and O2 amp over my laptop 3.5mm jack. There was some improvement. It sounded a bit more clear with a tiny bit more detail, but just a tiny bit. Even on the One Plus One and Nexus 4 the HD 598 sounded great. Although the volume on the Nexus 4 was less than on the One Plus One.
Opinions are a bit divided on the HD 598 when it comes to its lows. Some say the HD 598 has no bass, but it all depends on what you’re used to and what you’re expectations are. People are used to a lot of bass. They hear it everywhere (movie theaters, clubs, home theater systems,…). The fact is that most of the time bass is elevated because frankly people like this.
The lows on the HD 598 are NOT elevated. They sit nicely just below 0 dB. This does not give them the biggest and baddest bass, so the HD 598 may not be the best headphone for music genres that really emphasize heavy bass, like EDM, Hip Hop and R&B.
However, the bass is there! It’s very detailed and you can really feel it in music that uses real instruments, like movie soundtracks and live performances.
The mids, the mids, the mids… This is where the HD 598 really impresses! For this price, the mids are unbelievable. Female and male vocals sound crystal clear and as natural they can get. Especially with acoustic or slow pop rock music. It’s like you’re in the same room as the performer!
The HD 598 is not a dark sounding headphone. I think it’s one of Sennheiser’s brightest sounding headphones out there. Treble is well extended without being overly bright. Good to know is that the HD 598 has absolutely no sibilance, so there are no harsh “s” sounds.
Field Of Expertise
This headphone absolutely shines with acoustic songs like no other. Sometimes I just start up some random acoustic playlist on Spotify and get amazed every time! Oh and I don’t particularly like acoustic stuff… If you are an acoustic lover, you should definitely try the HD 598 out! I like it better than my HD 650 for that genre. Bam! I’ve said it!
The Sennheiser HD 598 is an amazing headphone. And it’s even more amazing you can get these brand new for under $150. The looks will not please everyone, but personally, I found it refreshing compared to the duller looking grey Sennheiser’s. The comfort of these cans is great and I forgot on multiple occasions that I had these on my head.
Although they are marketed for home use they sound remarkable good on portable devices. But I wouldn’t recommend them for this, because of the 6.3mm jack. You can use the 3.5mm converter, but it looks really awkward plugged into your smartphone… It’s not very convenient. If you really wish to use the HD 598 with portable devices, there’s still the possibility to order a 1.2m cable with a 3.5mm straight jack plug.
Being an open headphone, you inevitably have sound leakage into an out of the headphone. So the HD 598 is best used for private listening sessions since you’re gonna disturb other people near you.
The HD 598 is extremely well balanced for its purpose of being a hi-fi headphone and everything sounds very natural. Although not the best choice for EDM, Hip Hop & R&B, so if those are your genres, you maybe should look elsewhere.
Does it require an amp? Although there is an improvement, I don’t think it is required to make them sound good.
The fact that most of the parts are replaceable makes this a headphone you can enjoy for many years to come!
So do I think this is the best hi-fi headphone under $150? Yes, I do!
I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about the Sennheiser HD 598 or want to leave your own personal review, leave a comment below.
The Sennheiser HD 598 are hard to beat if you’re looking for an affordable hi-fi headphone!