I picked up the Sennheiser HD 598s about a month ago because I felt it was time to invest in a pair of headphones that could carry me through the next decade. The Sennheiser HD 598 headphones are certainly that pair of headphones, though there’s a caveat to that statement that I’ll get to in a bit. The Sennheiser HD 598s can regularly be picked up at retail for $150, and in gently scratched boxes from Amazon Warehouse for $100. That Amazon Warehouse price is what got me to finally pull the trigger!
Why new headphones?
I was frustrated with the bass response of my comfiest pair of headphones, also my cheapest pair of headphones, the Sennheiser HD 201 (on Amazon for around $20, no joke). The Sennheiser HD 201 is a great headphone for the money, don’t get me wrong. They are a huge upgrade over your cellphone-manufacturer-issued earbuds, but they don’t deliver what you’d call a rich cinematic experience.
I was also frustrated by my Sol Republic On-Ear headphones. I wear glasses and the on-ear headphones press my ear against the arm of my glasses and into my head. If I wear the headphones for over an hour they start hurting, which is a no-go for gaming sessions or airplane rides.
Why the Sennheiser HD 598?
The Sennheiser 598s are regularly suggested for their excellent soundstage at their original $250 price, much less at their reduced $150 retail. You can now imagine my glee when I found them for just $100 at Amazon Warehouse, which seems to be a regular thing now!
Sound stage: 5/5: Holy crap I can tell where the bad guys are coming from now when I’m playing an FPS! I always though everyone else was better at using their radar than me or something, always knowing that I was sneaking up behind them. Nope! Now I’m a psychic, too!
Sound: 3/5: Really excellent highs, mids, and lows compared to any other headphones I have. The sound on these headphones is more similar to that coming out of my (too expensive) home theater setup than what I’d expect from headphones. Why 3/5 then? Here’s the caveat: They’re open-back headphones. That means that I can hear everything going on around me. And if I want to drown out that sound by turning up my volume? I have to let everyone else hear what I’m listening to loud and clear. My wife will laugh at the YouTube videos I’m watching at an unreasonable volume when she’s across the room, which is no-bueno for trying to rock-out in a work environment.
Design Quality: 5/5: There’s a weight and an attention to small details that makes these feel like quality headphones. They feel very fancy compared to my Sennheiser HD 201s, which now feel like cheap plastic (they were only $20 after all).
Comfort: 5/5: The Senn 598s are far comfier than my Sol Republic on-ear headphones. They’re also comfier than the Sennheiser HD 201s. The cloth padding cover instead of the pleather makes a big difference when I’m working/gaming/flying for more than 8 hours and don’t want to take my heaphones off.
Value: 5/5: I’d pick these up again for $150, and I’m pleased-as-punch that I got them for just $100. Great bang for the buck!
Bonus: The Sennheiser HD 598’s cable is replaceable via one end that locks into the earpiece. It comes with 2 cables, one 3 meter cable and one 1.2 meter cable. That means that I can leave my 6 foot cable plugged into my desktop at home (and have it properly routed so that it’s out of the way for gaming), and take the 3+ foot cable on the train to work. It’s easy, and the locking mechanism feels very high quality. I was impressed!
The Sennheiser HD 598s are the best headphones I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. While the open-back design results in significant sound leakage, it just means I have to be careful with my volume on public transport and at work with my volume levels. My mom would be proud that I’m keeping my music quiet now. I do have these headphones at work, so even the open back isn’t hampering my usage of the headphones.
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