Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Start of an audiophile adventure!
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.