Before purchasing their venerable HD600, I did an exhaustive, obsessive, and mostly over the top amount of research. Learn more:Sennheiser HD600 Review!
I’ve always been like that.
I have this weird desire to scour the internet for every piece of information I can find before I just pass out of exhaustion or something. It’s kind of a problem.
I’ve been this way since way before I even started Home Studio Basics. That’s part of the reason I created the website in the first place. I wanted to share my knowledge with others regarding the small home studio. I also wanted to find a way to make money doing the things that I was passionate about. Music has always been one of those things.
What do I do here? I basically provide brunt of the research for you, as well as my own personal touch and hands on experience with various products.
I’ve owned the 598’s little brother (the 558) for awhile now, but have never actually heard the 598. Learn more:Sennheiser HD558 Review!
I made a friend called Luke at my local Audio Advice, and we’ve been chatting about headphones for awhile now whenever we see each other. He was nice enough to lend me his 598’s for demo and comparison to my 558’s.
Many people claim that if you take the foam/rubber strips out of the 558, that it sounds identical to a 598.
The build quality of the 598 is a bit better in my estimation than that of the 558.
I weighed both on my scale without any cables attached, and the 558 comes in at 227 grams vs. 247 grams for the 598.
In your hand, you can feel the difference even without weighing them. The 598 just feels more rugged and solid, and less flimsy. It feels like it could withstand more abuse than the 558.
That said, it’s still a light headphone. You’re not going to pick it up and go “Wow this thing feels durable!” While it might not feel that way, it’s a pretty well built headphone. While something like an AKG K240 does indeed feel like a toy you’d find in your local Walmart, the 598 is a step above that. Learn more:AKG K240 Review!
I kind of just enjoy holding the headphone. It’s got breathable headband padding, velour ear cups, and similar metal mesh to the HD600 and 650.
Some people didn’t like it, but I dig the maroon and ivory combination. It makes the headphone stand out quite considerably, but doesn’t feel overly flamboyant or anything.
The cable is detachable, and not proprietary. You can purchase after market cables for these and the 558’s. In fact I did just that with my 558, as the eBay seller did not ship any. Here’s the cable I bought for my 558.
I just did a test to make sure that it worked with the 598 and it does.
It’s a rugged piece and should last you a long time. What I noticed with the 558 is that you insert the cable, it clicks, and then you turn it a half step and it faintly clicks again.
With the 598, this isn’t the case at least with the particular model I’m demoing. You just slide it in and it clicks, but you don’t turn it.
Another thing to note is that the 598 terminates in a 1/4″ jack and requires a 3.5mm adapter, while the 558 terminates in a 3.5mm jack and requires a 1/4″ adapter.
The 558’s 3.5mm termination is fairly standard, while the 598’s is a bit less common especially regarding headphones in it’s price range. Most headphones need a 1/4″ adapter to plug into higher end Amps and DACs.
Something else to keep in mind is that you can purchase the HD598 Special Edition Black, which does come with an option of 2 cables: One terminating in a 3.5mm jack and the other in a 1/4″ jack. Seems as though Sennheiser realized their sort of semi-mistake (if you can call it that) and fixed it.
Ear Cups & Portability
The cups do not rotate much – only to get a good fit on your melon. They swivel in and out slightly. While I would say these are pretty portable given that they can be powered by most devices, but you’re probably not going to want to listen with them around people; they leak a lot of sound. Learn more:Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
BUILD SCORE: A/A+
All in all, build is above average to almost perfect. I would dock a point or two off because of their somewhat light feel, but I think Sennheiser did it for a reason: Comfort!
The velour padding and headband padding are perfect, and the clamp force is just right. Given that I’ve owned the 558 for some time now, I kind of got a sense of how the 598 might fit so it wasn’t a huge surprise.
I’m not finding myself having to adjust them hardly at all. With the HD600, clamp force is fairly tight at first. I’m not sure how clamp is on the 598 completely new, but I would say these are less clampy overall than the 600.
The ear-cups are a great size, and nicely contour to the natural shape of the ear. They are very vertical and have just the right amount of width to where your ear rests inside quite nicely.
There really isn’t much more to say than that. Unless you have Ross Perot sized ears you should be good. Lol.
The 598’s are definitely laid back and mellow sounding. This is the perfect Jazz headphone really. First we’ll discuss the bass.
The bass is rolled off quite a bit, and does struggle at times. I would say they still do pretty well with Indie Pop, Hip-Hop, and EDM, but you’ll notice the bass has a tough time keeping up with certain tracks, and especially as it digs really deep. You’ll start to hear some “fuzz” and it’s subtle but definitely noticeable. It does get kind of cheap sounding at times which is problematic for me as I do like some low end with my tracks. Sub bass on these is fairly paltry as well but you really don’t buy a headphone like this for that purpose.
This is most certainly their bread and butter. The mids on these are outstanding, as I sit here with John Coltrane’s The Blessing.
The saxophone sounds intimate and close up, but natural. I don’t get a sense that the music is trying to force itself onto me. The piano on Sweet Sapphire Blues feels natural and relaxed, but also has nice presence to it while the timbre of the drums rolls along towards the right. The bass also sounds very articulate, and does not get in the way of the mid-range doing it’s thing. If there were ever a headphone that could claim balanced, the 598 would be it.
This is a tough thing to get right in headphones as most companies tend to peak out some part of the treble (usually 10k or thereabouts). The 598’s are much darker in comparison to your average treble response, but it’s the right amount. There is a rise around that area, but it’s done tastefully. These headphones will almost never sound bright to you.
Soundstage is also on point, but we’ll talk about that a bit later.
SOUND SCORE: A-
Definitely not liking the bass at times, but the treble and mid-range are both done beautifully. The 598 provides a luscious soundscape with a succulent type of warmish sound. It’s very pleasant! Do be aware of that bass fuzz and the propensity for it to simply not keep up at times.
Imaging and Soundstage, a long with the mid-range are both the best qualities about the 598.
You may be familiar with the HD600. It has a somewhat narrow image, and much smaller than the more open 598.
The 598 does much better with Jazz because instruments are spaced out better and you can really get a feel for the dynamic of the band/quartet.
Jazz tends to hard left and right instruments, and with the HD600 to me it can sound a bit unnatural and weird. The 598’s handle Jazz almost perfectly, as the Soundstage has very nice width and spacing to it.
There’s also pretty nice depth to the image, as you can hear cymbals and high hats towards the back and down. It adds a nice sense of lushness to the sound.
Yes, but I wouldn’t go to overboard with it. The 598’s Sensitivity is fairly high at 112dB so it won’t need much current. It needs a bit more power than your average entry level at 50 Ohms, but still isn’t too demanding.
Here are some of my best options:
FiiO E10K or K3
Both the K3 and E10K may be the best overall value you’ll find, with their incredibly clean signal, bass boost, and gain switch.
It may be the only Amp/DAC you would ever need for the HD598. Both units have a good build, but the K3 feels a bit more substantial in your hand and looks very elegant.
Both comes with coaxial out, line out, and USB input, but the K3 also sports an Optical output and overall is a better value.
This small Tic-tac sized wonder will power the 598’s beautifully, and in fact the pairing sounds sublime. You may not ever want to upgrade down the road, as a fella even said it powered his HD800’s phenomenally well too! What I love most about this little buddy is how portable it truly is. If you’re on the go a lot like me, you’ll find it incredibly easy to throw into a laptop bag or even your pocket! Once you reach your destination, whip it out and stick it in the USB hole! It’s really that simple. If you desire to pair it with your phone, that’s cool too. You’ll simply need this adapter which is very cheap and gets glowing reviews. What more could we possibly ask for?!
The tried and true solid state amp from NwAvGuy, providing a clean, neutral, and transparent sound for the 598. Recommended the world over. I absolutely adore this amp paired with a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 100 with these RCA to 3.5mm cables. Those are fairly expensive though. Use these if you want to save some money, but the combo? It’s simply sublime. You could also opt for the 02 + ODAC here, or use a Schiit Modi. In my estimation, the 02 sounds a bit better with the DAC Magic than it does with the Modi, but the differences are fairly marginal and you may not even notice. That said, you’ll know where that extra $100 went if you purchase a DAC Magic. It’s extremely versatile like a D1. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of buying cables and a separate DAC though, just get the 02 + ODAC combo.
Behold, the power of Atom!
I wouldn’t really consider anything more than that. Any of those will work wonders for the 598 and if/when you upgrade down the road, they’ll still be of great service to higher end headphones like the HD600/650, etc. and pretty much anything else.
For example, the Objective 2 outputs 613mW of power at 33 Ohms and the Atom provides even more than that! Enough said. Amps like these are a great benchmark standard to have because it will power any headphone and do it well. The 598 is no exception.
They will also work well for Classical, Rock, Metal Indie, Pop, EDM, Hip-Hop, etc. Just don’t expect them to be the best pairing with the heavier bass type of stuff.
I would say they are a jack of all trades type of headphone, and a master of Jazz. I really don’t want to switch genres right now as I’m having a splendid time listening to Coltrane. 😛
I would say if you don’t have an issue with them not pumping out a ton of bass for these other genres, they will work fine. If you do need more bass, it’s just not enough. It’s much too rolled off. I personally enjoy them regardless because of how good the mid-range and treble perform. the bass isn’t anemic like the K240’s bass, but it definitely lacks slam.
That said, it’s still an extremely lush and detailed listen, and I find them to handle Indie Pop pretty well with all things considered.
For instance, Danelle Sandoval’s “Capacity” sounds fantastic with the 598, it’s just not as energetic as some may prefer. It’s more of a laid back precision like type of experience. I Want Your Attention by Moon Boots & Fiora is more of the same, but the bass actually digs deep when called for! I was pretty shocked by how well the 598 handled this type of hard hitting low end.
Still, there’s no part of the sound signature that over powers the other. Again, this is a balanced headphone and should be treated as such. 🙂
I also got a chance to try these with Gaming, and the results were exactly as I expected. Lush soundscape, lots of micro detail, and a great Soundstage that revealed a lot of little things going on in the environment.
It was a laid back but immensely enjoyable experience. I played strictly Fallout 4, which has a lot of stuff going on at all times, a variety of music to analyze, as well as some pretty intense gun fights.
The 598 handled everything with ease, and overall the sound just feels closer to you an more intimate. This is especially true with Fallout’s great selection of ambient music. I would imagine this is a perfect FPS shooter headphone too. I used to play a lot of COD4, and I really want to give these a whirl with the remastered game specifically that came out a year or two ago.
I would still like some more time with these for Gaming, but my overall impressions are extremely solid. Check out my article on The Best Headphones for Gaming!!
I can’t give them an A+, and I can’t give them an A-.
I think they toe the line of a solid A quite well. They aren’t perfect, but they do come pretty close. The bass can be a bit problematic at times, but for the most part works pretty well considering what this headphone is all about.
The mid-range and treble provide a near perfect timbre with regard to instruments/vocals and hats respectively. What is Timbre?
All in all, the 598 provides an almost impeccable sense of balance and musical accuracy, with a good build, fantastic comfort, and an overall sense of subtle detail, realism and intimacy that works well for a wide variety of genres.
If you’re interested in purchasing this headphone, I would first check out the newer 599 and look at price to determine which one is cheaper. The older HD 598 has been discontinued, but is still on Amazon. Do note the color differences as well. The model demoed above is the original colorway lent to me by my friend Luke.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.