The Sennheiser HD 518’s are a great set of open back, warm sounding headphones. They have a great sound-stage, and really give the songs a lush, non-fatiguing, natural sound, complete with lots of detail and clarity in the mids and highs.
Patrick Bateman says “It really gives the songs a big boost.” Lol.
They are great for long listening sessions due to their comfort factor, and are a solid choice for jazz, classical, movies & gaming. They have a nice sound-stage that really immerses you in the music and enables you to hear a lot of subtle nuances that you would otherwise miss in closed back headphones.
The downside is that they will leak a lot of sound, and aren’t for bass-heads. Everyone will be able to hear what you’re listening to. They are also too soft and laid back for genres such as pop, rock, dub-step and rap. If you crave that heavy bass, you will want to look elsewhere.
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Great for movies and video games.
Cable is detachable.
Very comfortable, great for long listening sessions.
Great sound-stage. A lot of subtle nuances in music, movies, and video games are heard and felt.
Gives off a warm, natural sound.
Pairing with a portable amp will give the bass a nice boost.
Great in studio, or just chillaxin’ at home in front of the TV.
Clamp force very strong. You will need to stretch these a bit before they really get comfortable.
The chord is defaulted as a 1/4″, with a 1/8″ adapter. 99% of the time, this is reversed. Usually the headphone will be defaulted as 1/8″ (3.5 mm) with a 1/4″ adapter.
Note: you can opt to purchase the aftermarket cable with these, which comes as your standard 3.5mm to 1/4″ adapter.
People who want a relaxing and beautiful experience rather than an aggressive and adrenaline fueled one.
The 518’s are a great beginner audiophile enthusiast set of cans. They do well with more laid back genres of music, but also really excel with movies and gaming. The chord is a bit of a hassle, but can be replaced.
This set of cans is very similar to the HD 518’s, and to be honest they are really just a better all around pair of headphones. They have a lot of the same qualities and do better with less aggressive, less dense tunes. The bass is tight, but knows it’s place.
They really start to open up after the initial burn in period, and take on a warmer, more lush sound. They they have an airy, open sound, and are very comfortable, maybe more-so than the 518’s.
The sound is designed to be beautiful and relaxing, conducive to jazz and classical music, as well as video games and movies.
My Video Review!
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Large adjustment band, feels good and solid.
Accommodates big beach ball heads. 🙂
The 3 bumps on the left side near the ear cup are very convenient at night when you can’t see which cup goes on which ear.
Adjusts a bit for added flexibility.
Velour padding on ear cups and headband.
Detachable cable (with the option to purchase a longer or shorter one).
Ear pads can be washed or replaced.
Neutral and well balanced sound.
Remarkable sound-stage, very 3-d.
Great for movies and gaming.
Well refined bass. It’s definitely present but not over emphasized.
Subtle nuances and details in sound heard. Nice clarity. The music is portrayed as it was meant to be heard.
Clarity in the vocals is much improved over factory grade cans. You will be able to make out what the artist is saying better. May hear words in songs that you previously had not.
Big and bulky cable, may bend over time at the end due to the awkward adapter situation.
The 1/4″ to 1/8″ adapter is awkward at best, and also backwards. Usually it’s 1/8″ (3.5 mm) to 1/4″ adapter. The same remedy for the 518 applies here as well. A new chord.
They don’t require an amp, but if you want more bass but don’t want to purchase a separate set of headphones, an amp is the way to go. It does bring out the bass in these a little bit more. How to choose a headphone amp!
A good option for this set would also be the Fiio E10k.
Keep in mind, the amp will most likely give you marginal differences in sound. It will improve it a bit, but just know that it isn’t mandatory. You can always upgrade headphones or add an amp later!
Who these headphones benefit?
Jazz and classical listeners.
Producers who need a flat response for mixing.
Gamers and movie watchers. Aka watchers of movies. 🙂 Netflix and chill? 😉
People who are looking for a beautiful relaxing sound. Not too in your face or aggressive.
A beautiful sounding set of headphones that excels with movies, gaming, and more laid back music. The chord is a pain but can be replaced.
Similarities and Differences
Both are open back headphones, and have a very similar sound signature and impedance level of 50.
Both excel in movies, gaming, as well as more laid back genres like classical and jazz, where bass is not as emphasized.
Both have the cable issue, but both can be replaced with the standard 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter.
Both are very comfortable, and great for long listening sessions
The HD 518’s have a soft cloth padding, while the HD 558’s have that luxurious velour that we all love. The velour is also present in the headband on the 558’s. Overall, the 558’s feel nicer on your melon. So don’t get all “melon choly” on me 😀
The HD 518 has a more pronounced bass. Some do call it more boomy and a little over-exaggerated, others say it’s actually lacking. It was very hard to review this aspect of these because of the disparities.
The HD 558 has a better sound-stage and packs more clarity and detail than the 518.
The HD 558 feels a bit more durable and solid than the 518, which has a very plastic feel to it.
As you can see, both are very similar sounding headphones, and function in many of the same ways. The HD 558 edges out the 518 in some respects, so it does get my recommendation. However, being that the 598’s are basically the upgraded version of the 595’s, and are better in all regards (especially with clarity and treble/high end), they become the go to option, and my recommendation. Just don’t expect to be blown away by the bass with either purchase.
If you’re looking for an open back headphone that won’t break the bank, the HD558 is the solution for you. The HD598 is a little better overall, but there’s a trick that you can employ to make the 558’s sound really open up. It’s the foam mod, and it’s very simple. So if you don’t want to pay the price for the 598, but want roughly the same sound, go with the 558. Interested in learning all about them + the foam mod?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.