Home Open Back Headphone Reviews Sennheiser HD 558 Review: Ancient Relic Of A Time Long Gone

Sennheiser HD 558 Review: Ancient Relic Of A Time Long Gone

by Stuart Charles Black
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…

Before we get into the Sennheiser HD558 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

Today we’ll take a trip down memory lane and talk about a headphone I owned back in 2017 or thereabouts. We’ll go over build, comfort, sound, amplification, genre, and how 500 series headphones like this sound in general. By the end you’ll know if it’s worth a purchase and if it isn’t, I’ll point you in the direction of something that is.

Deal?

Cool.

Let’s dive in.

Sennheiser HD558

Specifications

  1. Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
  2. Type: Open back.
  3. Fit: Circumaural (over-ear).
  4. Impedance: 50 ohms. What is Headphone Impedance?
  5. Frequency response: 15 – 28,000 Hz.
  6. Sensitivity: 112dB. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
  7. Material: Plastic, Velour.
  8. Color: Black.
  9. Weight: 9.17 oz.
  10. Cable Detachable: Yes.

Build & Comfort

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

The Sennheiser HD558 is an open-back, circumaural headphone that specializes in making you feel at ease.

If I had to use one word to describe this extremely comfortable set of cans, it would be non-threatening like one of Mitch Hedberg’s turtle necks.

First off, the headphones feel rather light in your hand and are made entirely of plastic.

That said, putting them on is like resting two mini pillows against your ears. The reviews don’t lie; they really are that comfortable.

While I think the HD600’s clamp force is rather tight at first, the HD558’s clamp is pretty comfortable right off the bat.

In fact, it’s near-perfect as the headphones basically “disappear” as the kids like to say nowadays.

While the overall build is pretty decent, they do feel a bit flimsy in your hand and are certainly cheaper than an HD 598.

Even so, comfort is probably the best aspect of these. This is a headphone that you will not have to adjust 99% of the time.

Sound

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

Overall, the 558 is a great headphone because the sound is extremely balanced and pleasant; working incredibly well for stuff like Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Folk, and more laid-back genres.

It can also work with stuff like Rock, Pop, and Hip-Hop, but won’t be your go-to headphone for harder genres.

The best way I can describe them is nonconfrontational and warm. They’re not the type of headphones that you’re going to rock out with really hard; nor should you.

They’re more for analyzing music, relaxing with it, and kind of observing sound. They enable you to take a step back and be a little introspective about it.

Bass

The bass here is very light and rolls off considerably below 50-60Hz, rises around 100-200, and overall sounds OK. I’m a huge proponent of cutting this region (known as the mud/bloat area) and at times, the 558 suffers from sounding too balloony/needly.

Overall? Not terrible, but could use some work.

However, the rest of the sound signature is fantastic, but a great trick to make the sound come alive is the rubber strip/foam mod.

More on that later.

Mid-Range & Treble

As with most Sennheiser models, the mid-range is what you’re purchasing these for.

It’s revealing but not too in your face, rendering vocals and instruments in an incredibly natural way. Timbre is also rather good for the price, and this is something we’ve come to expect out of Sennheiser.

The treble is on the darker side but still has a nice crisp character about it without being too overbearing or sibilant.

That said, it’s a bit too rolled off for how much the mid-bass stands out, and for that can sound a bit iffy at times. I’ve always had issues with 500 series headphones, and the 558 is no different.

So yes, they could use more sparkle in the highs and few people would argue with you on that.

Pros

  • Honest, straightforward, and balanced sound signature.
  • Very comfortable. You’re not going to have to adjust these very often.
  • Durable and lightweight.
  • Great Soundstage.
  • Detachable cable.
  • Detailed sound. You start to hear things in music that were previously lost or obscured by sounds that ran together and became muddy.

Cons

  • The 1/4″ to 3.5mm adapter is a bit of an annoyance. I got these with the NewFantasia Replacement Audio Upgrade Cable and it’s extremely solid. It’s a standard 3.5mm jack and comes with a 1/4″ adapter.
  • Somewhat muddy/bloated bass in certain instances. There are times when the bass just can’t keep up as well, especially after taking the strips off.

My Video Review

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Click to see the HD 558!

Sun bathing.
Sennheiser HD 558 Review
Dope.
Sennheiser.
HD 558.
I got lost in your dirty pillows.
Aftermarket special.
The Road Warrior.

Amp/DAC requirements

At 50 Ohms Impedance and 112dB/mW Sensitivity, you won’t need much to get these pumping as they’re very efficient and don’t require much power from an amp.

I’ve personally used them with the Schiit Magni/Modi combo and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, but it’s been quite a while since I owned a pair.

If you decide that a 500 series model is for you, I’d probably go with a FiiO K11 or BTR5 for something portable.

Who do these headphones benefit?

Endorsed for:

  • Jazz
  • Classical
  • Acoustic
  • Folk
  • Indie
  • Gaming

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

These headphones do best with more laid-back genres, but I still think they can be used with many types of music; as long as you accept the fact that they’re not going to blow you away or slam all that hard.

In addition, pumping the volume dial more and more will only lead to distortion and sadness since they don’t respond all that well at louder volumes.

In other words, transient response isn’t the greatest, and kind of exposes them as, well, a headphone in their general price bracket (i.e. not amazing).

If you buy these specifically for stuff like EDM, Rap/Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae, Dubstep, etc. you’re going to be disappointed. Just know that before purchasing.

They are meant for quiet days in the studio, really analyzing the sound and relaxing with it. I cannot stress this enough.

For instance, I’d probably take a bubble bath and listen to Jazz with these before I threw on some Rap and tried to jam out with my pants down.

In fact, I love these for Jazz specifically.

With most headphones, Jazz sounds OK, but the instruments tend to sound kind of distant with not much clarity.

With the HD558 it’s like the band was moved from 20 feet away to about 6 feet away. This is, in large part, due to their excellent Soundstage and exemplary mid-range.

I can hear everything going on, and not only that but it’s got this laser-like precision and detail, with resolution that punches quite a few ticks above its price point. Drums start to sound fantastic and to top it off, there’s no sibilance whatsoever.

What you’ll find is that the bass and kick drums are extremely textured and clear. It’s quality over quantity here, but the sound is very full, lively, and intricate.

The reason it works so well is because Jazz drums are typically a lot more relaxed than other genres, and, due to their revealing nature, you’re able to hear quite a bit going on with headphones like these. The drums may even take on a bit of a livelier character, to the point where they sound more realistic; almost as if they’re present with you in the room.

Sorta.

Just don’t blow your load thinking it’s going to be like a front-row seat at the Phish concert or anything. These are still headphones, my friend.

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

Thoughts from Stu’s Notepad

Cable

Many headphones terminate in a 3.5mm jack.

Of those, most audiophile headphones come with a 1/4″ adapter as well.

This enables you to plug them into various devices such as receivers, headphone amps, audio interfaces, etc. The 558s are a bit different in that they terminate in a 1/4″ jack and come with a 3.5mm adapter.

This can become a bit of an issue if your cell phone has a big case that blocks the plug from going in.

Such was the case (no pun intended) with my old Samsung Galaxy; I had to take off my Otter Box because the plug wouldn’t fit. A small inconvenience in my eyes, but for others, it may be more of a hassle.

The pair I used to own had an after-market NewFantasia LYSB00KAKBHKM-ELECTRNCS Replacement Audio Upgrade Cable for Sennheiser HD598/558/518 and I absolutely loved it.

I got the 1.2m which not only cuts down on cost but saves me a lot of headaches in terms of the cable tangling, getting caught on stuff, etc.

This cable feels very durable because, like the M50x and CB-1, has a protective spring at the end.

This made a world of difference in the overall build and I had no problems in my time owning it.

Jack Insert

One thing to keep in mind: If you’re not getting sound out of one ear, it may be because the headphone jack is not plugged in all the way.

It must be plugged in correctly and twisted to lock it into place.

I had this issue with the Audio Technica ATH M40x as well.

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

Sound Leak

Just so you know, these are open-back headphones and will leak sound.

Many of the negative reviews online were ignorant of this fact and left 1 star because they didn’t know better.

The headphones also don’t particularly emphasize any one specific frequency.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they’re incredibly flat and neutral, and a curse because, as mentioned in the 500 series article, they can sometimes sound dull.

This issue is only magnified the longer you own them, and I’ve had many a discussion with people about it over the years.

I would say they are mid-range oriented, so you get that nice clarity and instrument separation. These aren’t for bass-heads. It’s a balanced overall sound.

To sum it up, they are made for the studio and aren’t that portable (Though a girl I used to work with wore them and loved them).

Soundstage

In addition to the specialized sound (specifically for lighter genres), another huge draw of 500-series models is their Soundstage. It’s excellent. Not quite as wide as a K702, but some will appreciate that. Others, such as myself, enjoy the wider image.

Regardless, the 558 works incredibly well for gaming and you may keep it around because of just that. It renders the environment very well and sounds incredibly immersive and engaging.

Foam Mod

A secret to getting a bit of a punchier, more pronounced bass is modding them.

The ear pads on both sides can be taken apart and a small piece of foam can then be removed.

Some people say that doing this enables these headphones to sound identical to the HD 598, while others claim it does not at all.

It does however make a difference in sound regardless, so there’s that.

My Foam Mod Tutorial

Foam Mod Impressions

In actuality, the strip is actually made of a soft rubber type of material.

I found that without the strip, the sound is more aggressive, fuller, and also crisper. The mid-range in particular seems to come to life.

I did notice an increase in the bass response, but it tends to get more bloated overall and isn’t as tight without the strips.

In listening to Chon’s “Waterslide”, (without the strips) I was able to detect an even greater amount of detail that I had not heard with some other models, namely the SR80e, Focal Listen, Focal Spirit, etc.

Even though the bass isn’t as tight without the mod, other aspects of the frequency response seem to be more revealing with the mod.

I can hear more going on, and depending on who you ask, this may be good or bad. You tend to hear more strange artifacts from certain songs; a characteristic of revealing headphones that can either be an enjoyable experience or an irritating hassle.

For instance, in listening to John Coltrane’s Traneing In – Live” from Bye Bye Blackbird, and there’s some strange fuzz going on in the background.

It doesn’t make me want to change the song or take them off, but it’s present regardless.

This could simply be due to the source quality as well. I was listening to the song on Spotify, but regardless, you’re going to hear a lot more of what’s going on in most tracks you listen to.

Is the 558 a clone of the 598 without that rubber piece?

Not quite a clone, but close-ish. With the piece inserted, it sounds more laid back, relaxed, and somewhat veiled.

Without the piece, the sound comes alive and plays pretty similarly to a 598.

Consensus/Conclusion

The HD558 possesses a balanced overall sound with a great Soundstage, excellent mid-range fidelity, and a treble that could use some sparkle from time to time.

It’s durable and comfortable, and does better with more laid-back genres, but still remains something you can listen to with mostly anything so far as you understand it’s not meant to be blasted into oblivion.

It’s not for bass heads, and while the 1/4″ to 3.5mm adapter is strange, these are meant for the studio and aren’t that portable (in theory).

Closing Thoughts

Sennheiser HD 558 Review

I did enjoy my time with the Sennheiser HD 558, but it’s a bit outdated and has pretty much been discontinued.

In other words, the price of them will likely be sky-high from 3rd party sellers attempting to cash in. So I wouldn’t even bother unless you can get them for around $50-60.

Nowadays I’d look to the HD560S if you’re interested in all the updates Sennheiser has made.

Learn More:

 


Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Sennheiser HD558 Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

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Any experience with the HD 558? What are your thoughts on the 560S? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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!!

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Save

Sennheiser HD558

4.8

Build Quality

4.5/5

Sound Quality

4.7/5

Comfort

5.0/5

Soundstage

5.0/5

Pros

  • Good Soundstage
  • Great clarity and detail
  • Comfortable
  • Durable and reliable overall
  • Balanced sound overall

Cons

  • Bass isn't that well extended and rolls off

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2 comments

Chikie April 9, 2022 - 2:45 am

I’ve had my HD558’s since 2016. They were my first ever pair of over-ear headphones, and I spent weeks agonizing over which ones to get before finally settling on these. I love them to death. It makes me happy to see them get such a fond in depth review here; I agree with pretty much everything you described them as. I’ve fallen asleep wearing mine more times than I could count. Comfortable as sin and quality of sound is pure bliss! At this point my ears feel naked without them, ahaha. ^^

Reply
Stuart Charles Black April 9, 2022 - 10:16 pm

Hey Chikie!

That’s awesome! Thank you for the kind words. I loved my time with them and what was interesting to me is that they sounded identical to the 598 after taking out those strips LOL. Kind of deceptive in a way if you think about it, but hey, it is what it is.

I used to love falling asleep with headphones! Check out this video for some LOL.

Reply

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