on 10 February 2012
I Bought these a couple of months back, and now, having had time to fully test them, will present this review.
Just want to say first off that I have a musical background myself, in listening, composing recording and production, and recently just finished a degree in popular music. And BOY, do I wish these headphones had been around when I was doing my sound work in my course!!!! Ill do some pros/cons to get things going:
- For a start, VERY comfortable headphones. I CANNOT stress enough just how pleasant they are to wear. I often wear them all night with no pain or discomfort from wearing, which I could not say of any other headphones I have used in the past. This is due mainly to the "over ear" design, as opposed to "on ear" headphones, which can exert pressure on the cartilage of your ears. Ear pads and headband pad are very soft,it almost feels like you are not even wearing headphones at all.
- Extremely clear, and balanced sound. The 598's produce low, mid and high frequencies extremely well with great detail. They bring new life and detail to everything I listen to on them. The high end is beautiful, shimmering and very glassy, without being shrill or harsh. The mid-range is very comfortable, it will bring out guitar from a band mix very well, while not being too mid-heavy. The bass ranges from very subtle to surprisingly punchy powerful bass. The bass is very tight, and responsive... not rumble-ey or flappy in any way. The best thing I can say about the bass response, is that when listening to bass heavy music, the high frequencies are not compromised at all, the sound remains well balanced. (not sure of how else to put that really.)
Note, these are NOT designed to enhance bass in any way. If you are looking for headphones that do, you should try the Beats by Dre made by Monster.
- Surprisingly.. Versatile! I was surprised at just how many different kinds of music I can enjoy on the 598's. From solo piano music, all the way to electronic like trance, dubstep and everything in between. The 598's are very adaptable, they can sound warm and mellow for piano music, and loud and powerful for electronic music too. Film scores and classical music also are reproduced with remarkable accuracy. In other words, top notch stuff.
- Long cable, good to see. Most cans have cables that are faaaaaarrr to short. Even comes with a 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter which is a nice touch.
- They look lovely too, nice when you take them off after a good listen sesh, and think "aww yeahh, they look goooood"
- Replaceable cable, even though it has odd choice of connection. (see cons for more info).
- Construction is VERY solid. At first glance I expected the part where the neckband meets the speaker housing to be very fragile, but I was completely mistaken. The headband is flexible, but very well made. The cups even rotate up and down, and left to right slightly for an even better fit.
-Short "burn in" time. When I first began listening, the 598's sounded slightly unclear, with a lot of mid-range presence, however after about 4-5 hours of listening the sound improved dramatically.
- No carry case included, minor niggle, but these are not really intended to be travel headphones anyway. Still, a carry bag is a feature found with lower end 'phones from sennheiser. (such as HD215)
- Proprietary cable connection. The cable IS replaceable, but the end which attaches to the phones themselves plugs into a VERY recessed (jack socket is far inside the actual casing) jack socket via 2.5mm cable, so a standard headphone replacement cable will not fit. The cable is held in place by a notch, which fits into a groove on the plug, which you twist to hold it in position.
- They spill a LOT of noise. These are not 'phones to use around others, or for travel. However, I believe this should not affect the review score, as the 598's were not designed to be travel 'phones. If you were buying them to use for travel, please do not be put off by this. You would discover first hand (or ear... :P) that they do not cancel external noise, so are not suitable for listening in a high noise environment.
As you can see, the "cons" of this review are not major issues, and do not detract from the quality of the headphones as a product at all.
HOWEVER (this bit is important)...
These headphones sound great when they are playing back high quality audio sources. By high quality I mean music from a boxed CD, or music ripped in WAV, AIFF, FLAC or any other lossless formats.
The artifacts and issues with compressed music sources are very noticeable with these headphones. Sometimes almost to the point where songs below 256 or 192Kbps become un-listenable. MP3's/M4a's at 256-320kbps sound good, but this is dependent upon the style of the music, and what was used to encode it. You may find that low quality mp3's encoded with older versions of LAME are full of glitches and do not sound good at all.
Strangely, this is not a negative thing. It is simply the nature of high end audio products. They work best with high quality audio sources. Some low quality music sounds perfectly decent on the 598's, it all depends on the genre and quality setting used.
I hope this review has been helpful and provided some insight into the quality and performance of the HD598 headphones.
on 28 November 2015
Holy cow. These are incredible. Just incredible. I'll give you a bit of my headphone background before I start the review. I have always loved Sennheiser. I started out with the HD 201s, and they served me well (I even bought a second pair when my first pair broke). I then upgraded to the HD 449s (which I am keeping). They were hands down the best set of headphones I had ever owned, gaming was amazing, music felt more intimate than ever and films were far more realistic sound quality wise. Now I move onto the HD 598s, and I can safely say these are the best headphones I have ever heard.
The packaging of the HD 598s is nothing special, however it is functional and feels strong. Inside the box you get the main event, the HD 598SE. You also get two cables, the first being a 3 metre cable with a 3.5mm adapter for MP3 players and computers. The second is a 1.2 metre cable with a 3.5mm jack, this would be preferable for those using the headphones with a portable player, or at a computer. Both the cables are high quality and far thicker than the one which my HD 449s used. They have a twist lock mechanism to connect them to the headphone securely and this is easy to use.
Simply put the HD 598s are gorgeous. The leather headband is both great looking and extremely comfortable. The velour earpads feel premium and are again very comfortable. The black aesthetic is both classy and stylish. Everything about the design screams quality, from the metal ring around the headphone jack insert, to the mesh around the earcups. I love the look of this headphone and they far outclass the HD 449s in both looks and build quality (as they should).
I presume the main reason you are buying these headphones is for the sound quality, if so, you are in for a treat. These are fantastic sounding headphones. Before I start I must state that I have always been a huge fan of the neutral sound signature of Sennheiser headphones and if you are looking for a bass heavy headphone take a look at the ATH M50X. However having said that bass is still strong on the HD 598s. It is tight and controlled, without being overbearing. Mids are the main event of these headphones. Female vocals such as those found on Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig in the Sky" sound phenomenal. Acoustic tracks also shine on these headphones, with Biffy Clyro's "Machines" sounding closer to being in the studio that ever before. Highs are also handled well, with clear instruments and smooth vocals. The only thing I could criticise about the sound of the HD 598s is that the bass could be slightly stronger, however this is not an issue I have with the headphone as I don't like too much bass within music, though this could be brought up as a point against the HD 598s.
Gaming is great with these headphones, in Battlefield 3 the soundstaging on the headphones gave me a soundscape unlike anything I experienced with the HD 449s. Explosions were punchy, gunfire was piercing and vehicles sounded even closer to reality than before.
Overall these are fantastic headphones. Sound quality is phenomenal and the headphones handle all genres very well. They are extremely comfortable and they provide a great listening experience for music, games and films. The only thing which may be an issue is the open backed nature of these headphones. They do leak quite a lot of sound and also let sound in from the outside world. Because of this they are unsuitable for public transport and outdoor use. However that was never what these headphones were designed for, if you are looking for portable, outdoor-friendly headphones I would suggest the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 over ear.
on 16 December 2012
Like most people my preferred listening is through good quality speakers. However, there are times ... late at night for instance ... when you may want to blow your own mind without having a similar effect on other household members or, worse still, the neighbours. For this we must seek the very best alternative available within our price range and, for me, the Sennheiser HD598s provide exactly that. It is only fair to point out that I have been very much a Sennheiser man for many, many years but, when considering new headphones on this occasion, I opened my mind and ears to to the ... often very worthy ... competition. For some time I have been using a pair of Sennheiser HD380PRO but was anxious to return to open back phones. I read dozens and dozens of reviews on the 598s, many of which were cautionary if not downright condemnatory. Significantly, however, the vast majority of unfavourable reviews were by people listening to rock and pop or computer games. Their requirements are very different to my own. That is not to say they are less worthy of consideration but it is important to recognise that difference.
For classical music I find the HD598s quite marvelous. Helped by the fact that they are open backed the sound stage is broad: instrumental groups and soloists can be accurately located and clearly heard within the greater orchestral landscape. Sound quality is excellent (I am not looking for exaggerated base or wild sound effects: my interest is music, not aural pyrotechnics) and these headphones certainly provide that. When an orchestra blasts forth at full volum,the HD598s handle it with panache and, if that same orchestra whispers softly they handle it with equal panache. These headphones are nothing it not versatile ... at least in the world of classical music where they are dealing with natural sound and not sound which has already been electronically enhanced. With the HD598s I can be in a large concert hall listening to a symphony by Beethoven or Mahler or a more intimate hall listening to a Schubert string quartet or a Chopin piano recital. When I put these wonderfully light and comfortable headphones on they guide me to the best seat in the hall and deliver the appropriate sound. All I need in additions to the headphones is a good recording of the work in question. And all hi fi equipment is dependant upon that!
on 22 December 2015
I’d always wanted a pair of HD650s or HD800s but at the time couldn’t swing it financially. I opted instead for these - the HD598s - which, on paper at least, looked like a very viable alternative at a fraction of the price. I’m a musician and an audiophile; sound quality is very important to me, and I have an exceptional audio system which will bring out the best and the worst in both music and audio gear (such as these headphones).
The headphones are very well packed. In the box you get a couple of cables and a screw-on quarter inch adapter. Build quality is exceptional as you would expect from sennheiser; and they’re certainly very comfortable, with plenty of soft plush padding.
The problems start, however, when you plug them in. I left mine running in for a week, playing constantly via the headphone out of my preamp. Consequently they were run in for a period of roughly 168 hours, using various pieces of musical material including test tones of various frequencies, burn-in discs and many genres of music.
Right off the bat, I noticed a very forward, harsh mid range, coupled with a bright tremble and a distinct gap between the low end and the lower registers of the mid range. The 598s can do low end, but with the mids being so overpowering it’s something you rarely get to appreciate. They sound tinny and boxy, with a hint of the openness inherent with them being an open back design.
I couldn’t listen to them for long periods of time, and certainly didn’t enjoy listening to an album through them. Contrary to their advertising I did not feel like I had a front row seat at a concert; rather like i was listening to a cheap hi-fi system with a woollen hat covering my ears.
Fortunately, another week past before mine developed a dodgy connection in one of the cans and i was able to return them. 2 stars because they’re well made and come with a detachable cable and because, for the most part, I like the sennheiser brand. But these headphones were a major disappointment.
on 18 February 2011
Like many music lovers, the arrival of children means that headphones are a must for me. Generally I'm not so keen, preferring the soundstage and impact of a really good set of speakers. I have worked as a semi-professional sound engineer in the past, so I like an analytical sound, but not so clinical that it detracts from the pace and excitement of the music.
I auditioned the HD598 against BeyerDynamic DT880s, AKG K701s and Grado SR125s - with a budget of around 200 pounds. Comparative auditioning was conducted mainly using the headphone output of my Cyrus Pre, with extended listening impressions for the HD598s using the headphone amplifier output of a Xonar Essence ST audio card in my media PC (with losslessly encoded CD rips as source).
For my personal taste I found the AKGs to be extremely analytical, but slightly 'thin' and lacking excitement. They are known to be difficult to drive, and I suspect that my Cyrus headphone output was not really up to getting the best from them. I suspect they would be astonishing for mainly Jazz listening with a dedicated headphone amp, but that's out of budget, and Jazz only forms about 10% of my listening. I would also add that they made poor mixes (I'm looking at you, Oasis) almost unlistenable.
The Grados were almost the polar opposite: a sound which immediately grabs you by the scruff of the neck, and sounded great with edgier material (Arctic Monkeys, White Stripes). I felt that they were rather coloured - they made a bit of a meal of Beethoven Piano in G Major, for example. Easy to drive, they make great rock headphones, and I nearly purchased them. I should note that I personally found them the least comfortable of the four pairs, and probably the least well constructed.
The DT880s were extremely comfortable and appeared very well put together. I liked the sound on more acoustic material such as 10,000 Maniacs 'In My Tribe', but lacking a bit of punch compared to the HD598s on the Arctic Monkeys 'Whatever people say, that's what I'm not'. I personally found the DT880s to be less analytical than the Sennheisers.
So to the HD598s themselves. First impressions are very good - I like the slightly 'retro' looks and colour. They are immediately very comfortable, and I have subsequently found that listening sessions of several hours are no problem at all.
Starting with Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue', the HD598s showed a very open soundstage - not quite what I get from my ProAc speakers, but outstanding for a pair of headphones (for me, the best of all of the auditioned 'phones), and without any sense of being 'artificial'. Moving to more acoustic material (10,000 Maniacs again), every element of the mix (which is a technically and musically outstanding piece of work) was revealed in detail, yet without this detracting from a wonderful 'foot tapping' sound. The Arctic Monkeys and White Stripes material showed plenty of attack and aggression - perhaps not to the same extent as the Grados, but there was more detail here as compensation.
I've had the Sennheisers for a month or so now, and have yet to find anything they don't cope with very well. I find them particularly well suited to rock, but (as I'd expect at this price) they are very comfortable with Jazz, acoustic and orchestral work as well.
One final point worth considering: compared to many phones at this price point, they are pretty easy to drive - they are quite acceptable with my iPod at lower volumes, for example.
In short, I am extremely pleased with my purchase, and would recommend them to anyone.
on 15 April 2013
These headphones are near the top of the Sennheiser range and the build quality is evident everywhere. They provide a good hifi quality audio experience without the exaggerated base favoured by some rival makes and encompass the ears rather than press on them, thus providing long term listening comfort.
on 11 November 2013
I'm very pleased with the HD 598's. I primarily listen to music from the PC and have them connected to a FIIO E7 USB DAC/headphone amp.
I bought them because they're said to be comfortable. I can indeed wear them for hours without sweaty or sore ears. My only complaint in terms of wear is that when I recline back in a chair to listen, they want to slide off the back of my head and I have to compensate by pushing the headband forwards so they can hang in place. I suspect that this is simply a factor of their size and weight, and I'd rather have it this way if the alternative is to have them clamp on with uncomfortable force.
By contrast I have some HD238 on-ear headphones which sound OK but become painful and hot after a while, to the extent it put me off headphones and I had switched to a pair of JBL control 5 studio monitor speakers for a year or 2 (E7's line-out to sonos amp). Also where the HD238's cable was short and thin, and I managed to snag and tear the rubber down to the wire, the HD 598 cable is long, thick and feels robust. I also have peace of mind that it can be detatched and replaced. The cable is actually over-long for my current needs, but I bound the spare length up with a cable tie and the bundle rests on my desk doing no harm.
Despite the HD598's higher listed impedance I find I'm setting the E7's volume lower than I tended to with the HD238's (12 instead of 16), and it still sounds plenty loud. It also feels like I can listen to them for a long time and still be attracted to and enjoy a particular track some time later, without getting fatigued and losing interest.
The JBL's do sound great, particularly after setting the amp's gain to a sweet spot for the E7's line-out. Tracks can sound hauntingly beautiful on them, while the same track might sound average through tv speakers, or just terrible through a car stereo. However I've grown to prefer the 598's because they seem less fatiguing over a long period, better at excluding background noise (without having to raise the volume and shut the door), and also they simply offer a fresh interpretation playing back my music.
I would feel silly walking around town with them on. I also wouldn't use them in an open office environment or on a train due to the sound leakage from open backed design.
on 26 August 2013
honest (if a bit critical) review!!!
At first glance, these are odd looking headphones and certainly not something you'd go walking down the street with these on your head. Leave those to the 'Beats by Dr Dre'. But what these are really designed for is sitting down and 'listening' to your favourite music.
These have a fantastic 'open wide' feel that i cannot really describe other than to say, most headphones sound like they are coming too close to your ears to hear everything properly. The HD598's come across as being a little further away giving a huge difference in clarity of sound.. you can actually hear the music around you. I listen to all types of music, Electronic, indie, Rock and classical, these give a lovely response, not harsh and with the cushioned ear cups, can listen for quite along time without your ears starting to heat up. very comfy velour pads. Of course the only way you get this open airy feel is by making them 'open back', which means when you decide to turn the volume up, the people around can hear it too. Many times i've had the words mouthed.... 'turn it down'..... :)
But... they do lack a smidge of bottom end. I'm not talking masses of boom like some headphones, but a little oomph to some tracks i've heard seem toned down on the 598's. Even my small Sennheiser px100's (which are fantastic) give slightly more bottom end... But that's me... adding a little EQ. helps, It's ok on todays music produced, which is compressed with lots of deep frequencies. But you will notice on mid 90's music.... just an observation.
Another issue is the lead... How long? i understand some people (back in the 80's & 90's) had huge HI-FI in one corner of the room and having a huge length of cable would be fine. The other flaw on Sennheiser's part, especially with todays technology, it comes with a 6.3mm jack as standard and you have to put on a bulky jack adapter to make it into 3.5mm... Even my Denon HI-FI and my parents Arcam Solo (over £1000) only comes with the 3.5mm input.. Sennheiser are not even making a replacement cable option, so why it doesn't come with the easier 3.5mm jack as the main connector and the usual gold plated 6.5mm adapter is beyond me.. it puts a bit of strain on the input jack of my HIFI, ipod and imac. Also, no carry/protection pouch..
So in short...
Lovely headphones for the 'indoors' people looking for a nice, smooth sound with lots of detail,
Sennheiser have missed a trick with these...
they are mid-market headphones without the benefit for mid-market technology.. people wanting high-end headphones will go for the HD600/650's
on 22 June 2014
I thought of buying a pair of these HD 598 cans three years ago but got scared off by the high price. However Amazon did one of those one-off 'Today's Deal' with them and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the huge discount on offer. As a result, I bought a pair and am listening to the soundtrack music to Lawrence Oliver's 'Henry V' on them as I type this.
Music that I have listened to for forty years suddenly sounds entirely fresh and new. I can precisely hear all the individual ingredients of a track: the lead vocalist, the backing singers and the session musicians as if I was in the room with them. The reviewer who said these cans are 'greedy for detail' nailed it. Instead of a blob of noise or a wall of sound, I find myself in the recording studio listening to the music makers.
These headphones catch everything: coughs, belches, sniffs, whimpers, whispers, you name it. I highly recommend them.
Sennheiser make a £500 pair of head phones. I cannot imagine they would be that much better than these are. To my mind these HD 598 cans are just about perfect.
You lose some subtlety with some noisier tracks, but I suspect that might be down to the quality of the recordings as opposed to the head phones.
on 21 January 2015
I've had Senn 518's, 559's, 600's and 650's. Enjoyed all of them, but these 598's give me what I was looking for in "that sound" The 518's were good for medium bass and so were the 559's. The 650's gave me a mellow sound with good soundstage, but were as everyone seems to agree, somewhat veiled. I gave the 598's a small burn in of about 5 hours. Then I chose some of my favourite tunes - deep house, Jazz, electronic, rock and I was suddenly emersed in every intricate detail these baby's could throw at me. Without a doubt, these are far more interesting to listen with than even the 650's. The bass is more than adequate, freq going down to 12 gives a good clear sub and is blissfully firm. The mids are thrown at you from every angle in a 3d kind of way. Might not suit everyone, but I find it so addictive. The vocals and highs are as clear as anything I've ever heard. No siblance or shrill to make you want to grit your teeth. Percussion and piano just leap out into a space around your head. The 598's are also far more comfortable to wear than even the 650's that gripped my head like a vice. These are so light and very, very comfortable you can wear them for hours. For the record, I'm using a Lehmann amp to power them along..... a perfect marriage! I wish I'd bought the 598's before, but then again, I wouldn't have been able to make a comparison. Worth every penny. Drive them without a reasonable amp, and you will fall into the small group of reviewers who haven't seen the light.