Home Headphone Comparisons Sennheiser HD 518 vs. HD 558 | CLEAR WINNER!

Sennheiser HD 518 vs. HD 558 | CLEAR WINNER!

by Stuart Charles Black

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Hi friend and Welcome!

Today I will be charging at you like the Incredible Hulk and delivering a sweet comparison review! This time I’ll be dissecting the Sennheiser HD 518 vs. HD 558.

By the end of this article, you will have a clear idea of which model is better!

So sit back, relax, and grab a bowl of popcorn..

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review

Of each headphone:

  1. Specifications
  2. A Summary
  3. Pros and Cons
  4. Video Review
  5. AMP/DAC requirements
  6. Who these headphones benefit?
  7. Consensus/Conclusion
  8. Similarities & Differences
  9. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sennheiser HD 518



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.

Check out the review!


  • Great for movies and video games.
  • The 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 the studio, or just chillaxin’ at home in front of the TV.


  • The clamping force is 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 default 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.

1.5m NEW Replacement Audio upgrade Cable For Sennheiser HD518 Headphones Note: This will also work with the HD558’s and 598’s

  • As for the stock cable? This makes everything more difficult with the 518’s. You will be able to plug them into your mobile devices, but it will prove cumbersome.

Amp/DAC requirements

These headphones don’t require an amp, but do benefit from one, especially in the bass department. A good option would be:

Who these headphones benefit?

  • Gamers and movie watchers.
  • Jazz and Classical listeners.
  • 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.


Sennheiser HD 558


  1. price: check amazon! | check eBay!
  2. type: open back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
  3. fit: circumaural (over ear)
  4. impedance: 50 ohms
  5. frequency response: 15 – 28,000 Hz
  6. material: Plastic
  7. color: Black


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 its place.

They really start to open up after the initial burn-in period and take on a warmer, more lush sound. 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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  • The 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).
  • Earpads 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 the sound heard. Nice clarity. The music is portrayed as it was meant to be heard.
  • The 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 backward. Usually, it’s a 1/8″ (3.5 mm) to 1/4″ adapter. The same remedy for the 518 applies here as well. A new chord.

Amp/DAC requirements

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 an impedance level of 50.
  • Both excel in movies, gaming, as well as more laid-back genres like classical and jazz, where the 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 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 boomier 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.

Final Word

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?


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed my Sennheiser HD 518 vs. HD 558 comparison review, and came away with a better idea of which headphone suits your needs.

Speaking of,

Which of these would you rather have? Is that even a question? 😀

Speaking of questions,

If you have any that you would like me to answer, or want to leave a comment, drop it in the box below or Contact me! I very much look forward to speaking with you.

All the best and God bless,





Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!


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Ricki November 10, 2018 - 2:16 pm

Personally, I prefer the HD 558 to the HD 598. The HD 598 is a great set of cans but I prefer the traditional dark signature that is Sennheiser sound. Something the HD 598 is not. Accurate reviews of the HD 518 & 558 comparison. I think you are spot on. My hunch is the new HD 559 is a rebaged HD 518. The specs are identical. Sennheiser finally realized the $65 asking price on Amazon was a steal for the HD 518. A 518,558 & 598 owner and fan.

Stuart Charles Black November 10, 2018 - 3:13 pm

Nice! Yeah a guy called Markolav who I talk to a lot about headphones pointed out to my on my 598 video review that he disagreed with my assessment of the darker sounding treble on the 598. I still think it’s darker than average, but you all may be onto something. It makes sense when you consider that the 558 sounds identical to a 598 without those rubber strips in place. The 558 is definitely darker sounding with the strips there. I would have to go back and listen again to the 598. I was just demoing it from a friend over at Audio Advice. Owner of the 558 here. I’m going to be doing a bunch of giveaways in the near future so stay tuned! Also would mean a lot if you subbed my YT and commented on the video I linked. Maybe get a dialogue going.

Thanks for stopping by man!


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