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4.6 out of 5 stars127
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 July 2015
I'd like to start off this review by asking you to please read the single one star review and the five two star reviews (correct as of 05/0715). You'll see one person complains there is too much bass and another saying the bass is too weak (also one of them actually uses "base"). Other gripes in the two star reviews are about sound leaking out, lack of noise cancellation and not good for commuting.

These are open backed headphones and are are designed to allow sound to escape which helps prevent distortion and gives them and great clarity. Other signs they're not great for commuting are the fact they come with a 3meter cable with a 1/4 inch jack. Ideal for use with a hifi system as no need to get a 1/4 adapter and long cable means you free to move and not chained to your system but not for commuting. The cable, the jack and openess are clearly mentioned so to complain they and then review them as two stars because they leak sound and/or are not commuter frindley is like buying a big v8 muscle car and then complaining it's fuel efficiency is terrible.

Also I found the one star review "unusual" to say the least. Here's somebody who has spent £8,000 on an audio set up and the proceeded to use headphones that cost £15. Not £1,500 not £150 but £15. Really? Would be like wearing a tailor made Armani suit then using lynx aftershave. The mind boggles

Anyhow, after using Sennheiser CX150 a couple of years I was aware of how good Sennheiser headphones could be. Even though the CX150 were around £15-20 at the time (often a tenner in HMV) I noticed they were much better than other in ear headphones I'd used (JVC gummy, Apples ipod headphones). And not only was the sound better but they were much more durable. I would be out in all weather running, using them in the gym and walking home after swimming and with my ears still wet from the shower I'd whack my headphones on. Most lasted for a few months. I was gutted when I noticed one side the sound was now muffled and they'd started to fail. It was only then I'd noticed I'd been using then for over a year and half. I know it's a two year garuntee and they failed around 6 month short but they had seen very heavy use and often whilst wet. Bought some skull candy in ear buds and was diassapointed with them, decent enough but on heavier bass often clouded the higher parts. Typically one side had become quiet after few months. Back off to HMV I went, much to my delight they had CX150 in stock and the love affair continued with the humble CX150 providing me with musical delights even when the rain was sideways. One day couldn't find them so bought a third immediately, typically found the missing pair around a week later.

Was around then I became interested in getting some really good quality headphones for home use. Did my research, reading up various headphones and their characteristics. Remember the HD558 on dispaly in HMV and naturally read up on them. Found many raving reviews and generally any negatives where minor such as "no carry bag included" which isn't a negative point against the actual headphones themselves.

After some hmmmming and ahhhhhing I took the plunge. Worth every penny. The sound was so crisp and clear. Still had good punchy bass but not at the expense of the rest of the range. If it's filling shaking bass you're after these aren't the cans for you. The cymbals and high hats will have writing sonnets about just how good they sound. Then you'll start noticing instruments, harmonies, backing vocals, layering etc you never knew were there. The sound stage is sublime you can build a picture in your mind of the band as if they're jamming in the rehearsal room with you in the middle?

The headphones are a triumph of function over style. So yes they don't keep sound out so if someone's watching tv in the same room you'll hear it. They don't keep your sound in so other people will hear everything leak out (although no where near as described in the two star review). However the openness of the cans sets up that wonderful sound stage.

The headband and cups are plastic but are padded in sculpted velour. The plastic provides great strength whilst still being light so HD558 sits lightly on your noggin rather than a vice like some others. The lightness and then velour padding makes you feel like you're in the gentle embrace of an angel. You can happily sit with them on for hours on end with out the blood in your ears being brought to the boil.

The cable is really robust, quite thick and made of rubber rather than thin plastic. It's easily replaceable with a simple twist lock at the base of the left cup. So should your pet hamster or othe rodent chew through the cable it's not an expensive replacement of the entire set. The 1/4 inch jack is little impractical but not enough to make me reduce the 5 stars to 4. You have to remember it's a pair of headphones aimed at hifi use not portable audio sources. Like Einstein said "if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree...." These headphones have already failed for use on the go they're not meant for that. So like a fish climbing a tree these headphones shouldn't be judged on being able to be used on the train.but you can easily remedy the 1/4 inch jack by swapping out the cable with 3.5mm jack just make sure it's 2.5mm at the other end so it fits the cup will also need to have the grove that lock it in place or it may detach.

Also worth taking the time upgrading all your music files to lossless and using an external DAC as you'll not see the headphones true potential without them.

So if you're after affordable audiophile grade headphones then these are great set to start out with. They were £160 when I got them so just under £120 now is a cracking price.
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is my first time reviewing an item here on amazon, but having read millions of reviews and opinions about many headphones in this price category I thought I would try and synthesize everything I have come across in the hope it may make the choice easier for prospective buyers. Okay here goes then the Hd 558 generally received no less than 4 stars with many professional reviewers from audiophile websites giving them 5 stars. Recurrent advantages that people cite are that they have an excellent soundstage, comfort and design as well as very detailed and tight bass. In my own experience of them there are many things that particularly made an impact on me, but the soundstage is what really hit me. Though this is a bit of a generalization, these headphones I think are best suited to acoustic instruments and it is with music such as jazz and classical that they really shine. Instruments are very clearly defined and all seem to have their own distinct space in the soundstage. This makes listening to your music a much more immersive experience in which you can truly lose yourself. Another advantage is that when watching films you can enjoy a 5.1 surround sound experience for comparatively little. If you are in doubt as I was because of the price, just think, it's not only an investment in your music but also in your films. In comparison with other headphones such as the ATH AD 700 which from what I've read have an equally good soundstage, don't have sufficient bass to give music and films sufficient punch and impact. I'm no bass head but sometimes you can't pretend to be so superior and claim you don't need some bass in your music. Fortunately I think the HD 558s strike the balance perfectly between not overwhelming the music or leaving it lacking. In comparison to the model above it, the HD598 I have heard that the main differences are that the 598s have a brighter sound signature as opposed to the darker presentation of the 558s (this however I don't think is necessarily better, just a matter of personal preference) and a wider soundstage. However it is worth noting that the 558s can be modified into a pair of 598s as they are virtually the same set of headphones (with the same drivers) the only difference being a strip of tape on the insides muffling the soundstage and bass. I cannot comment on it as I have not yet tried it but from what I have heard the soundstage does indeed improve and the mids get brighter, however one reviewer at headphonia[...] says that the bass gets boomier and less tight as a result. Now as for amplification, I would not say that you absolutely need an amp but it does help with rock and pop, I personally use a battered old hi-fi amp from the 80s and that does the job just fine. Right now I'm listening to them on my computer with the volume turned up ¾ and the volume is perfectly adequate for my taste. Interestingly though when I listen to them on my iphone they just don't sound as good with sound stage somehow greatly reduced, but when I listen to them on an old ipod they sound as good as they do on my computer. I have listened to some other higher end headphones from sennheiser such as HD 65o and while its definitely a better set of headphones, these are really not very far off at all and considering the 650s cost nearly 200 quid more I think you get absolutely excellent value for money with these headphones, especially given that you have the option to mod them into the model above it ( which isn't very different by all accounts). So if you are considering buying these I would heartedly recommend them but I think you should also consider what sort of music you're going to listen to. I can confidently say that there are very few genres which wouldn't sound great through these cans, but Jazz and classical as well as some rock and pop are really where they shine (Bob Dylan sounds really great, just make sure if you're listening to the older recordings that you have a good bit rate track) . They have the capacity both in terms of bass and musical presentation to please almost all listeners (unless you are a millionaire audiophile in which case you probably wouldn't be reading this review). Sorry if this has dragged on a bit! But thank you for reading and I hope that which ever set of headphones you choose to buy, they will give you many years of listening pleasure and contentment.
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on 3 January 2012
Like a few of the other reviewers, I bought these as an upgrade to my HD 485's, and I am not disappointed. They are better in pretty much every single way, from comfort to sound quality. The Headphones are very light, and after even 10 minutes or so become largely ignored. Despite this, they are sturdy, and on top of things look fantastic.

The Sound quality is great, and although the bass is not as powerful as some other contenders, there is a good balance, and overall the quality is superb, whether you're listening to music or watching a movie. The 10 foot cable should ensure you can comfortably watch a film or play games without straining the cable.

The fact that the 3.5mm jack comes as an adapter means that overall the jack will be about 2 inches in length, making it a bit obtrusive when using it with an iPod, but that's a small issue. The open back and E.A.R technology, as well as the comfort of it, makes it seem like the sound is coming from around you as opposed to next to your ears. Overall, these are a great pair of headphones, and I would highly recommend them.
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on 28 October 2011
To confirm in case you didn't already imagine, these headphones are absolutely impractical for any kind of use outdoors. The 6. jack with the 3.5 adaptor makes the connector pretty chunky and as I've found connecting to some phones in cases it may not plug in correctly. The cable is long as well, so you'd have alot of slack.

They leak alot of noise, so if anyone else is around they will hear what is blitzing through these things, and they are loud.

However put these things in your computer at home or any portable player as well and they absolutely stunning. My music (Alot of rock / metal with occasional electronic / drum and bass) has never sounded so clear, so crunchy and impactful.

Whack the volume up to the most that your ears can handle, these things don't care. You'll get no crackling or distortion and whatever you're playing will still have amazing clarity.

These are expensive headphones no doubt, but I've never wanted to listen to so much music in my home since getting them. Everything sounds new again!
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on 19 March 2012
The HD 558 headphones are much better than my older HD 500 headphones. However the sound is much improved by implementing the modification that is listed in various places on the internet (a simple removal of tape from the inside of the outer case). This modification makes the sound more spaceous. The headphones also improve after 20 hours of use. I am very happy with these headphones.
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on 12 December 2013
I use a pair of Bose QC3 headphones for travelling, and they are very good in blocking outside sound as well as being comfortable to wear. However, I needed a pair of headphones for listening to music, TV and playing games in the evening at home. On looking at reviews, I ordered a pair of ATH-M50s, but quickly realized I had made a mistake after the first two minutes of listening with them. The sound quality was excellent, exactly what I was looking for, but it felt as though my head was caught in a vice, and no amount of adjustment would improve the fit. I knew I couldn't wear those headphones for more than a few minutes at a time and I could feel my ears beginning to overheat already. Not only that, but you couldn't hear anything in the local environment, the cups sealed so tightly that all sounds were blocked out (which is great on a plane, but not so good if you are at home and want to be able to hear doorbells, telephones etc).
So I had to reconsider, and looked at several different makes and styles of headphones before settling on the Sennheiser 558.
The first thing I should say is that these are not the headphones for travelling, Sennheiser don't even supply a bag with these phones. They leak sound both in and out, and anyone near you will know exactly what you are listening to. They are not ideal for iPods and iPads either (although I use them with both). Although Sennheiser supply a 3.5mm jack socket converter, the converted plug is enormous and would definitely strain an iPod or iPads headphone socket. You will almost certainly have to buy either a 6.35 mm socket to 3.5mm converter cable, a replacement shorter cable (try Ebay and search on hd558 ) or a small headphone amplifier (I have a Fiio E06).
These are old-school headphones, with Sennheiser's pedigree in high quality sound shining through with no compromises, the sound is tight and well-controlled with an airy well-defined stereo sound-stage that let's you hear every instrument and detail distinctively. No booming bass or muddy mids for these phones.
Used for game-playing and plugged into my computer, loud transients such as explosions are handled well and the whole experience lends itself to an immersive atmosphere, especially as these headphones are easy to wear.
Comfort is excellent, the size is almost perfect for me, and the cups rest lightly on my ears without any sweatiness or hot-ear syndrome.
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on 8 September 2013
When buying these headphones it's important to bear in mind that you will be using them mostly indoors. They are open-back so they don't block out any (or barely) any noise and those around you will likely hear what you're listening to. You may wonder why you'd buy these headphones compared to closed-back models; let me explain why.

These headphones have such an incredibly wide sound stage that any films, games or music you feed through them sound great. I bought them primarily for games and film, in combination with a 5.1 to stereo decoder made by Astro. I had briefly used in ear headphones with the Astro unit but couldn't really tell much difference over stereo channels, thankfully as soon as I plugged these in I could tell exactly which direction and how far away things were happening - truly a revelation and I have to remind myself how good they are now since I've had them for nearly two years.

I'm now listening to most music at home with these too, when I don't feel like using speakers. You can run the headphones off an iPod too, with the volume in a quiet house never having to exceed 2/3rds. The headphones suit acoustic music excellently and sound decent with bass heavy music like hiphop, just don't expect them to shake your ear drums as much as a closed back pair of phones. Some tracks from Angus & Julia Stone's album "Down the Way" sound so alive that you feel like you are sitting in the recording studio with them. They really are that good.
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on 2 October 2012
My daughter-in-law listened to a recording of her husband playing the guitar moments after the recording had been made. She exclaimed "It's just the same as the original!". I listen to a lot of classical music and can now almost dispense with using my hi-fi speakers, so keeping the decibels down in the house. Superb and at an affordable price. They are comfortable to wear for several hours. Thoroughly recommended unless you have loads of money to buy top of the range. I cannot comment on them re gaming as I don't play games.
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on 7 October 2011
Had my HD555's for 5 years and love them. TBH they are still great I just fancied some shiny new ones and I've never been 100% happy with the sound of them. Comfort on them is amazing though.

So I've sat tight waiting for a refresh from Senn and grabbed these recently.

The sound is exactly what I would have wanted the 555 to be like. I game and they offer a cleaner tighter bass, better clarity and wider sound stage. For me a perfect headphone. And better in every department that the 555's lacked in.

Cant really go in to sound detail specifics from a tech stand point but I know what I like and I like these a lot.
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on 21 November 2012
I owned a pair of Sennheiser 555 headphones previously which gave up the ghost after the cable pulled away from the headset. I was sorry to see them go because the quality was excellent and I had been using them for the best part of 8 years.

The new headphones are just as good straight out of the box (i.e. without running in time). The fact that the cable can be disconnected and replaced if damaged is a massive plus.

I've turned the bass up very slightly on my soundcard, but had done so on the 555's, it's a personal preference rather than a criticism of the headphones.
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