Originally published 10/12/18.
- 4/8/22. Article revisit.
- 5/20/22. Article cleanup.
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Sennheiser HD 598 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Table of Contents
My Video Review
I’ve been a fan of Sennheiser for a while now.
Before purchasing their venerable HD600, I did an exhaustive, obsessive, and over-the-top amount of research.
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 had owned the 598’s little brother (the 558) for a while but had never actually listened to the 598.
Back when I first started frequenting my local Audio Advice, I met a guy named Luke and we eventually became friends after chatting about headphones and attending the Music Matters shows.
He was nice enough to lend me his 598s for demo and comparison to my 558s.
Many people claim that if you take the foam/rubber strips out of the 558, it sounds identical to a 598.
Does it though?
Sennheiser HD 598
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
- Type: Open Back. Open Back vs. Closed Back Headphones.
- Fit: Circumaural (Over-Ear)
- Impedance: 50 ohms. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 112dB. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Frequency response: 12 – 38500 Hz
- Material: high-gloss burl wood detail complementing premium metal mesh, velour earpads, leatherette headband.
- Color: Ivory and Maroon or Special edition black!
- Weight: 247 grams (without cable).
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, solid, and less flimsy. It seems 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 all things considered.
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.
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 558s. 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 its 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 is 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, you’re probably not going to want to listen with them around people; they leak a lot of sound.
BUILD SCORE: A/A+
All in all, the 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!
Comfort is absolutely phenomenal with these, which, if you’re familiar with Sennheiser products, is no surprise.
The velour padding and headband padding are perfect, and the clamping force is just right.
Given that I owned the 558 for quite a while, 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 the 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.
COMFORT SCORE: A+
The 598s are definitely laid back and mellow sounding.
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, especially as it attempts to dig really deep.
You’ll start to hear some “fuzz” and it’s subtle but definitely noticeable. It does come across as a bit 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 I suppose you may not really buy a headphone like this for that purpose.
The mid-bass definitely rises up around the 100-200Hz area, and at times it seems a bit forced which is something that’s always bothered me to some degree. It’s not that it sounds bloated like a 40x, but perhaps just a bit “off”, if that makes sense.
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 a 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 its thing. If there were ever a headphone that could claim balanced, the 598 would be it.
Moving into the treble there’s a nice sense of crispness and shimmer, but no sibilance. What does Sibilant mean?
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 is a bit accentuated in the treble, but by no means as bright as your average treble response. To me, it strikes a pretty nice balance.
There is a rise around that area, but it’s done tastefully. These headphones will almost never sound overly bright to you, but they’re certainly not “dark” by any stretch of the imagination.
Soundstage is also on point, but we’ll talk about that a bit later.
Foam Strip Mod
As mentioned in the open, people used to say this mod actually makes the headphones sound identical and I would have to agree.
After taking apart my HD558 and removing the strips, they sounded punchier and brighter than the 558 which I happened to prefer over the laid-back mellow vibe of the 558.
Both sound good, but I definitely preferred the 598’s sound.
SOUND SCORE: A-
Definitely do not like 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.
My Video Review
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Click to see the HD 598!
Imaging and Soundstage, along with the mid-range are both the best qualities of the 598.
You may be familiar with the HD600. It has a somewhat narrow image and is 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 pan instruments hard left and right, and with the HD600, it can sound a bit unnatural and weird.
The 598s 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.
IMAGING SCORE: A+
Yes, but I wouldn’t go too overboard with it.
The 598 is very efficient at around 112dB/mW, so it doesn’t require much power from an amp to get going.
It will resist power more than your average headphone at 50 Ohms Impedance, but all in all, these are pretty easy to drive.
Here are some of my best options:
FiiO E10K or K3
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 come with coaxial out, line out, and USB input, but the K3 also sports an Optical output and overall is a better value.
Check this out before you decide!
Audioquest Dragonfly Red.
- Check Price on Amazon!
This small Tic-tac-sized wonder will power the 598s 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 HD800s 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?!
Solid State Amp Recommendation
JDS Labs ATOM
It’s a great product that provides a clean, neutral backdrop for your headphones and won’t break the bank either.
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, the ATOM will 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 they will power any headphone and do it well. The 598 is no exception.
Of course, Jazz as we discussed. Learn more: The Best Headphones for Jazz!
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.
These are jack of all trades headphones, and masters 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 and 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 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 overpowers 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 gunfights.
The 598 handled everything with ease, and overall the sound just feels closer to you and 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.
I would still like some more time with these for Gaming, but my overall impressions are extremely solid.
All in all?
GAMING SCORE: A+
In revisiting this article, my original score was an A but I think A-/B+ is more realistic.
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.
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.
As much as I enjoyed these back in 2018, I do think Sennheiser improved upon the issues present in the 598 – namely the bass fuzz and overall sense of refinement.
Their HD560S feels and sounds more like a premium product and fixes the lack of sub-bass as well as that overall sense that the 598, oftentimes, struggled to keep up.
One listen to the 560S and you can tell; it snaps harder, sounds a bit smoother, and overall is tuned almost impeccably.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD 598 Review.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Do you have any experience with the HD 598? What do you think about the 560S? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..
All the best and God bless,