HD600 and HD598 Comparison

A short article on the Sennheiser HD598 & HD600 since a few people have been asking for it. With a difference of two integers in the model number, what can you expect from both headphones? Indeed they are a fairly close competitor, and while the HD600 ultimately still belong to the higher class of the “6”-series, the HD598 manages to land a few hits on the bigger brother’s sound signature.

Here is how the two differ:

  • Build quality. Not many people like the faux-marble finish of the HD600, but it’s undoubtedly better in the overall build quality. The HD598 feels more plastic, though the tan and wood finish does seem more attractive than the HD600’s faux marble.
  • HD600 has a bigger housing size than the HD598, which is evident not only from the photo but also when you wear it, there is more space for your ears in the HD600.
  • Also visible in the photograph is how much more open the grills on the HD600 are. This results in a more “open” sound in the HD600 than in the HD598.
  • Difference in the level of refinement. The HD598’s sound have some grain in the sound that is not present in the HD600. Better quality housing/frame also leads to a better timbre on the HD600 and less reverb and vibrations on the housing. All of these contributes to an overall higher sense of refinement on the HD600.
  • Soundstage performance. Surprisingly, soundstage is much more alive on the HD598. Where the HD600 has very minimal soundstage, the HD598’s soundstage is more spacious with far more depth, and a far clearer soundstage image.
  • Amplifier requirement. The HD598 upscales very well, but it’s also far lighter on the amplifier requirement than what’s needed to properly drive the HD600.
  • Midrange. The HD600 has quite a forward midrange, but the HD598 is even more forward in the upper midrange section. This makes the HD598 easier to like and more engaging than the darker HD600 sound.
  • Bass. The HD600’s bass is still more potent than the HD598, carrying more weight and impact than the HD598.

Mostly I’ve been listening to both the HD600 and HD598 on the Zana Deux amp. A $2000 amp for a $200 headphone may seem overkill, but I just happen to enjoy pairing anything with the Zana, from the ATH M-50 to the TMA-1 to the HD800. My point is that both headphones scale up very well, even up to the Zana Deux level. The HD598’s amplifier requirement is actually very modest, where a $300 amplifier like the M-Stage would do fine to drive the HD598, or even portable ones like the Ibasso PB1. The HD600, on the other hand, requires at the minimum something like the Burson HA-160, a $600 amplifier, to really sing.

I think the more forward upper mid of the HD598 makes more difference than it may seem on the list. This makes the HD598 more lighter in overall tune, and is able to play a wider range of genre than the HD600. Though lacking the refinement of the HD600, I still prefer the HD598 for a lot of music, mainly due to its midrange and better soundstage performance. I think an updated HD600-class headphone with something closer to the HD598’s frequency balance would be a welcome addition to Sennheiser’s line up.

Thanks to Jay for the HD600.

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116 Comments

  • Reply October 26, 2010

    Kelvin

    Thanks for the article, Mike!

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Professor00179

    Thanks Mike. This is exactly what I wanted to find out.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    outlet

    One thing for sure, Sennheiser hired very good designers. 🙂 Denon should learn from Sennheiser. I love the look of 598, 448 and wonder if future brings us 608 and 658.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Professor00179

    I am afraid Sennheiser is not going to update their HD600. HD650 was supposed to be the 'newer' HD600 though it didn't directly replace HD580/600 because of quite huge sonic differences.

    Mike – if you had to choose either HD600 or HD598 as a sole headphone for a system with +$600 headphone AMP, which one would you pick?

    • Reply October 27, 2010

      Mike

      It's difficult to choose one between the two. I really like the HD598's soundstage and frequency balance, but whenever I listen to it, I miss the refinement of the HD600. This is why I hope Senn would introduce a HD608 or some sort.

      • Reply October 28, 2010

        Kelvin

        Mike, do you reckon that those in the market looking for a one-headphone setup (like myself and maybe professor00179) should wait a bit for this "608" model to come along or should we just bite the bullet?

        • Reply October 28, 2010

          Mike

          Kel, I have no idea if Senn will ever release a "608" model. How can you be content with a one-headphone set-up anyway? The next thing you know, a new model come up and you want to upgrade. That's human nature man. 🙂

          • Reply October 28, 2010

            Kelvin

            *facepalm*

          • Reply October 28, 2010

            Kelvin

            Now you've really confused me, Mike.

            Cos I've heard the 598 but not the 600. Loved the SS performance of the 598 to bits (can never have too much depth, really) as well as its slightly more engaging mids.

            Does the HD600 kinda gives off a feel that is similar to say the 595's then (in terms of these two aspects: SS and mids)? I recall 595's have a Grado-ish sound (spot-lit stagecentre but pretty "hazy" background and shallow sounding SS and mids) when vs the 598…

            • Reply October 28, 2010

              Mike

              I haven't listened to the 595 in ages, but here is the deal: I think ultimately the HD600, which retails for close to $400 brand new, is still the better headphone.

            • Reply October 28, 2010

              Mike

              It's like in cars. The 3-series BMW is more nimble in corners, but ultimately the 5-series is the better car.

              • Reply December 6, 2010

                LPM

                Actually, as BMW tech…that is highly inaccurate, lol. Stick to headphones, bud.

  • Reply October 29, 2010

    Professor00179

    Just from interest – was this a pair of updated HD600 or the older model?

    • Reply October 29, 2010

      Mike

      Older model with black screen driver, Professor.

  • Reply October 31, 2010

    Professor00179

    As for gaming – Sennheiser HD5x5 line was very good for gaming more so than HD600. I could imagine that HD598 is good for gaming either. What makes these sennheisers good for gaming is that they have drivers put at an angle. This considerably helps in gaming. Other popular recommendation for gaming is ATH-AD700 though I have never heard it so can’t comment on that.

    • Reply November 1, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks for chiming in, Professor.

  • Reply October 31, 2010

    x400

    Hi there

    Thanks for your comparison

    Now im wondering if you can offer some help to me 🙂 Im looking at purchasing either the 598s or ??? as a gaming headset (i know a lot of people use the 550/595 for gaming but since the new models are out)

    but would you suggest the 600s over the 598s when considering game play that is or do you think the bass is sufficient in the 598s for gaming?

    (shopping around online the price of the 598s are equivalent to 600s)

    • Reply October 31, 2010

      Mike

      Frankly I don't have much experience using headphones for gaming. The last time I was into games was around 10 years ago.

      Having said that, in my limited knowledge about games, I don't think that either Sennheisers would make a good gaming headphone. Their sound is tuned for music, and that entails quite a different set of sound properties. Perhaps a closed headphone like the AKG 181DJ or the Shure SRH-750DJ with their tight and punchy bass would be better for gaming. The ATH-M50 is also a good allrounder for music and perhaps also games, but its bass isn't as punchy as the AKG or the Shure.

      • Reply October 31, 2010

        x400

        ah I see thank you very much 🙂 ill check those out

    • Reply October 31, 2010

      Kelvin

      For gaming headsets, you might want to check out the “proper” gaming headsets that come with a mic and other schizzle that would be good for games (your usual suspects of Razer, Logitech, Creative, Roccat, Saitek, etc.).

      As Mike has mentioned, music/audiophile headphones are meant for mainly music listening (haven’t tried them for movies yet). So the emphasis on certain areas in the audible frequencies are different.

      I can say for sure that the 598 will definitely be insufficient if you’re not using it with a proper source and amplification if your area of usage is in games or movies. It is not that they don’t work when plugged directly into a laptop/computer’s headphone socket. But the sound is very thin, lean and wispy to say the least. Certainly not the sonic signature you’re after (even with aggressive EQ).

      The 558 might be a closer bet for you (if you really don’t want to use a “proper” gaming headset). But if it were up to me, I really would rather be getting a gaming headset. The “music” one stays “untainted”. LOL

      • Reply November 1, 2010

        Mike

        Thanks, Kelvin.

        • Reply February 15, 2011

          RedCloud

          I know this is a few months late, but I wanted to correct this. Actually “proper” gaming headphones are like Skullcandy and Monster, they are made form over function, for a good gaming phone you need good treble and soundstage, that is why Audio-Technica is a top choice for gamers.

          • Reply February 16, 2011

            Anonymous

            Okay, thanks. So Skullcandy, Monster, and Audio-Technica are good gaming
            headphones?

      • Reply November 12, 2010

        Alan

        Actually gaming brand headphones are to be avoided at all costs. They're famously terrible even for gaming purposes.

        AT-AD700s are the way to go excellent soundstage for footsteps. Their only issue is leakage like with all open cans. AD700s and clip on mic and you're set though.

        • Reply November 12, 2010

          Mike

          Thanks for sharing, Alan. I am clueless about gaming headphones.

      • Reply February 24, 2011

        Guest

        What would you consider a “proper source” for the 598? I wold use the 598 for music listening. Is a standard Hi-Fi Amplifier (EUR 200 / $275) enough to drive the 598 properly or would you suggest an extra headphone amplifier?

  • Reply January 21, 2011

    J.G.

    Mike,

    Thank you very much for the article. One question–which would you prefer if you were limited to no amp, or a very cheap one at that? Would the 598 definitely take the cake then?

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi J.G.
      Sorry for missing your comment. Yes, if I don’t have a potent amp, I would get the 598.

  • Reply February 24, 2011

    Fera

    Hi there!

    I’m really new here. 🙂
    What I’d really like to know, that, according to the part about driving the 600 is much harder, if I choose an HD598 would my Marantz SR1010’s headphone out be sufficient for it? Or simply not? : Thanks!

    • Reply February 24, 2011

      Fera

      As I see, I’m not the only one with this question 🙂

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Donunus

      The senn 5xx series are very easy to drive. They are almost as efficient as px100s so yah I guess whatever you have will drive it fine. The problem you might get just like with any other revealing headphone is with matching/synergy

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Fera,
      I just googled Marantz SR1010, and wow what a nice vintage receiver! I don’t have an experience with that particular Marantz model, but receivers would *typically* have enough power to drive a HD600. I would go for the HD600.

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Donunus

        If its a receiver, I agree to go with hd600s instead too. My HD580s and 600s sound great out of my audiolab integrated 8000A. With some receivers like the 90s model onkyo and pioneer receivers that I have, the 5xx series gets bumped up in the upper bass where the impedance curve of the 5xx cans rise. The result is pretty bad like the headphones sound like they are going through a muddy bass booster circuit or something. I’ve had no such problem with the hd580 or the hd600 even out of both the same onkyo and pioneer amps. They sounded even better on my audiolab.

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Just yesterday I was at this audio shop, listening and bargaining to a piece of vintage Marantz integrated amp. Sounds REALLY good (slow, mellow, SWEET mids), but the physical condition wasn’t that good and so I didn’t took it.

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Fera

        Hi there!
        Thanks, I really in love with it :]
        Recently waiting for two lamps arriving, the only fault in had was that 2 of 3 lamps were out. But working on it 🙂
        About its sound, well, it’s really like honey, it flows slowly through, very good for classic 70s,80s rock and classic, all I’m afraid whether if I’ll get full of honey, or not. If you get what I mean 🙂

        Oh and looks like recently, that maybe I’d rather buy loudspeakers, instead of headphones, sorry for that :O

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          The Marantz stuff are really good.. I think the word “honey” fits it pretty well. Slow and smooth. Good for classics as you said.

          Loudspeakers are AWESOME. But I just happen to manage a headphone website. 🙂

          Cheers.

          • Reply February 25, 2011

            Fera

            Yeah, that’s true. And I totally accept it.:)

            I just recently figured out that I don’t like that kind-of “schizophrenic” feeling I get by putting on a headphone. Everything happens in my head, not before me.
            Quite disturbing : )

            • Reply February 25, 2011

              Anonymous

              For the right moments, headphones have this ability to put you “inside” the music, more than speakers. 🙂

    • Reply February 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Fera,
      I just googled Marantz SR1010, and wow what a nice vintage receiver! I
      don’t have an experience with that particular Marantz model, but
      receivers would *typically* have enough power to drive a HD600. I would
      go for the HD600.

    • Reply February 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Just yesterday I was at this audio shop, listening and bargaining to a
      piece of vintage Marantz integrated amp. Sounds REALLY good (slow,
      mellow, SWEET mids), but the physical condition wasn’t that good and so
      I didn’t took it.

  • Reply April 13, 2011

    Bill75

    The HD598 is at a disadvantage compared to the HD600 on the tube amp Zana Deux due to its much lower impedance. A more universal amp in terms of voltage swing / current swing like the AMB Beta 22 would have been a better choice.

    • Reply April 13, 2011

      Anonymous

      Bill,
      I have tried it on all sortd of amps, from cmoys to the beta22.

  • Reply April 14, 2011

    cool

    Hi Mike, I am looking for a good headphone to use with Macbook Pro. Is ‘audiophile’ HD598 or HD600 too much for laptops? Should I get dedicated PC headphones?

    • Reply April 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      The HD600 is too much, but the HD598 should be okay.

      If you have extra budget, getting an external DAC/Amp like the Audinst is recommended:
      http://headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

      • Reply April 25, 2011

        eagle1776

        Hey Mike,
        Got a couple question! So I’ve got the HD600 and the E9. I picked up the HD25-1ii for portable and it does some things really well. Now, it’s definitely not the perfect all rounder. I prefer an open ear for most of my listening and its not great for classical… But it’s really engaging, more so than the HD600…but maybe that’s because of my source 320mp3/lossless from a classic? I keep hearing that the HD600 needs more to make it shine. It feels pretty laid back to me, but that again could be source/amp. Not that the hHD600/E9 is bad!
        But I’m kind of thinking about making a sidestep to the 598. Would it be a little more “engaging”? How does it do for classical? I haven’t read many any thing about it with classical… That would allow me to afford a portable amp, like the PB1 that I could use with the HD25, too. (I’d be selling/returning the HD600/E9 in that case…)
        I’m kind of wondering if while I’m tethered to an ipod for cost/convenience, I wouldn’t be be better trying for a A+ mid-fi, than a B- hi-fi, only doing so-so as far as source, dac, because of cost and time.
        In addition to insight on the HD598/600 question, are there other open-ear phones in that 100-300$ range that would be be fairly neutral, but still engaging and good for classical? I’m also open to getting a couple cheaper open-ear phones w/ descent amping, (instead of just one for all genres), if you think they can surpass doing a so-so job w/ the HD600?

        • Reply April 26, 2011

          Anonymous

          If you feel the HD600 is less engaging, it’s because youre listening to it next to the HD25-1. And yes the HD25-1 is great, but not so much with classical. I dont think your impressions with the HD600 is caused by underamping or file quality, etc.

          You can look for an amplifier that has a more forward character, but the HD600 will still be less engaging than the HD25-1.

          The HD598 is more engaging than the 600, but weaker in bass impact, which is important in symphonies. So I dont think you should go there.

          I personally think you should spend more time wih the 600 (I got the impression that you just acquired it recently) and see how the sound is after more listening time. Try getting a more forward/agressive amp too, and see how it is. The Yulong U100 is reasonably cheap at $200 and should make a good pairing with the HD600.

          I can recommend you other full size open cans, but most of them is not going to have the low end impact of the HD600 (I am thinking ATH AD series). And so I think you should try to give the HD600 more time.

          • Reply April 26, 2011

            eagle1776

            Thanks for all the really useful feedback! I’m operating in a bit of a head-fi vacuum so sometimes I knew jerk or over think things. I was really worried about file quality/underamping. So many people make such strong statements, you start second guessing your ears and making too much out of things. I like the idea of spending more time with the HD600. I did just aquire it… Thanks for the great and balanced advice!

            • Reply April 27, 2011

              Anonymous

              I think the comments about how hard it is to properly drive a HD600/650 is mostly a thing of the past now. Entry level offerings these days have enough power to drive any of the 300/600 ohm headphones. Of course they scale up with better amps, but for starters something like the Yulong is adequate.

              Cheers

  • Sorry in advance for such an ignorant question, but I thought amps were only necessary on headphones with greater impedance. And the 598s have a 50 ohm impedance so I’m confused. Will I be missing out if I run these direct?

  • Sorry in advance for such an ignorant question, but I thought amps were only necessary on headphones with greater impedance. And the 598s have a 50 ohm impedance so I’m confused. Will I be missing out if I run these direct?

    • Reply May 7, 2011

      Anonymous

      Oliver,

      Sometimes headphones and amplifiers are like our taste buds and gourmet food. We’ll do fine eating mashed potatoes and carrots, but it would be nice to eat pasta or sushi instead.

      I don’t think you should worry about it too much, if you’re enjoying your current set up. If you’re curious, you can get a nice entry level DAC/Amp box like the Audinst to see if it makes a difference.

      http://headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

  • Reply May 14, 2011

    CK

    Glad i found your site.  I currently have a pair of audio technica ad700’s and i really like the sound from them and the price was great.  However I personally dont like the fit of them.  I guess its my fault for having a narrow head 🙂 they just feel loose and the 3d wing design doesnt seem to hold them up to well.  So they tend to slide down some and only pressure seems to be below my ears.  Just not for me.  So i have a friend who tried them out and loves them hes interested in having them himself and i am looking for another set.  So i started looking ath the hd558 and hd598.  They will primarily be used for games on xbox live and the occassion music.  Being primary use on games the big 3d sound stage is important.  they will be used with astros mix amp not sure if this can really be called an “amp” in terms for what you guys would be using for it.  my concern of course is comfort of thesesennheisers. as well as soundstage and clarity performance.  So could you give me some input on these vs the ad700 

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi CK,
      I personally am not into gaming. But recent discussions on similar
      subjects pointed out that either the HD558 or the AD700 are good choices
      for gaming. Both are good with soundstage, though for music I find the
      HD558’s soundstage image to be more accurate, though smaller and less
      spacious than the AD700.

      • Reply May 14, 2011

        CK

         Thanks for your input!  I know this stuff is very opinion based but i always like to hear what others think about it.  Especially when somebody has had a lot of time with them.  Strange how people do hear things so different.  I would swear i read after posting on here another guy saying that the hd598 had a huge soundstage even compared to the ad700.  Also had seen the soundstage between the hd558 and hd598 are very similar.  is this correct? if so i think i would have a hard time upgrading to the 598 if the hd558 is right there with it

        • Reply May 16, 2011

          Anonymous

          Responding to your comments about the AD700 and HD558 soundstage (I’m
          actually writing about this in the coming AD-series article), I think
          what happens is the confusion about the term soundstage. The AD700 is
          very open and spacious sounding — and for some, that means a big
          soundstage. But when we play a good live recording, actually the size of
          the soundstage imaging (which is what soundstage is all about) is quite
          small compared to the HD558/598.

          The HD558 and 598 has about the same soundstage, but the 598 seems to be
          better in displaying it because of the less boomy bass section. I think
          the HD558 is the better headphone for gaming, compared to the HD598.

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      As for the comfort of the HD558, it’s hard to predict if it will suit
      your head well, but it’s among the best in terms of comfort, and a big
      step up from the predecessor, the HD555.

      I understand how the AD700 seem to be loose on the fitting on some
      people’s heads. It’s quite comfortable, but it doesn’t really sit well
      in your head.

      • Reply May 14, 2011

        CK

        thats probably the best way to say it.  The ad700 is not uncomfortable it just doesnt sit well on me.  Now if they had those wires/cables or whatever they are on top of  it as interchangable for different heads shapes that thing would be perfect 🙂 

  • Reply May 15, 2011

    Anonymous

    Hi, I’ve been using an HD555 connected to a laptop for almost 2 years now. And just recently I bought a headphone DAC/AMP, the Nuforce Icon HDP.
     
    I heard some very light hissing on some of my tracks, mainly from accoustical tracks, and from researching, from your really cool site and others :P, I figured it could be because of the low impedance for the headphones. (The hissing was way way worse in my laptop, and I don’t how I was able to ignore it for this long too.)

    I’m looking to upgrade my headphones and have been considering between these two. (But I’m open to others.) I was wondering which is the more worthwhile upgrade?

    • Reply May 16, 2011

      Anonymous

      If the light hiss comes only from acoustic tracks, then those may be
      inherent in the recordings, not the fault of the amp or the headphones.
      If you can hear it on pop/rock studio recorded music, then it’s due to
      the headphone/amp. Some acoustic recordings are done in a live setting,
      and the sound of the air from the surroundings often gets in to the
      music. The newer digital recordings manages to eliminate this sound, but
      I find the hiss-free sound to be more artificial sounding.

      • Reply May 16, 2011

        Anonymous

        Ah, I see. Well, the only other way I am able to hear a very very very very light hiss on the headphones if nothing
        was playing and if I turn the knob on the Dac/amp -and- the volume on my
        laptop to the max and not when playing actual tracks.

        So, I think your explanation nails it.

        Thanks very much Mike.

        • Reply May 16, 2011

          Anonymous

          Awesome.

          Time to enjoy the music now.

  • Reply June 10, 2011

    Aravind

    good review….your remarks about how good a hd 608 would be is interesting….can you  suggest any other headphones that would provide such a sound signature and quality in sub 600$ price range..

    • Reply June 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      Perhaps nothing identical like the HD600… but in a sense the Hifiman
      orthos can also be considered as they are fairly well balanced (the
      HE5LE falls to that budget, though not the HE6 or the HE500).

      I honestly don’t think you can get another headphone like the HD600
      regardless of the price range. Not saying it’s better than anything more
      expensive than it, but more in the sense that the sound signature is
      unique. An alternative is the cheaper HD580 which uses identical drivers
      as the HD600.

      http://headfonia.com/the-sennheiser-trio-hd580-hd600-hd650/
      http://headfonia.com/new-old-stock-hd580/

      • Reply June 11, 2011

        Aravind

        will the hd600 soundstage improve comparable to hd598 with adequate? amping? because that seems to be the main advantage of the 598 over the 600…
        On a side note, have you listened to shure 940..its got rave reviews over at headfi…some say its very refined and has  a better soundstage than the hd 6xx though they are closed headphones..quite surprised…since the 940,  598 and 600 fall in the same price range, it would be a good comparison…

        • Reply June 11, 2011

          Anonymous

          Soundstage, yes the HD598 is very good with that, though not so wide but
          very good depth. The HD600 is more open sounding, but I don’t think the
          actual soundstage is better than the HD598.

          The Shure SRH940 is bound to be very good. I haven’t listened to it.

  • Reply June 28, 2011

    balachandar

    Mike, I have a matrix M-stage (headfonia recommendation) connected to a Fubar 2 and I listen to them on the Superlux 668B (headfonia recommendation). Now I’m looking to upgrade, I’ve set my sight on the HD598.But recently a nice pair of HD600 has also come on sale(80 bucks off)..!! I am completely torn between them…what would your suggestion be?

    • Reply June 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Balachandar,
      Go for the HD600 man.  😉

      • Reply June 29, 2011

        balachandar

        Thanks Mike. I’ll stick to your recommendation as usual 🙂

        • Reply June 30, 2011

          Anonymous

          Let me know how you like it. 🙂 

  • Reply November 28, 2011

    Destroysall

    How would the HD598 do with rock and metal?  Would it be good?  I listen to everything, but I enjoy my metal the most.

    • Reply November 28, 2011

      Rūdolfs Putniņš

      Hmm… Id rather go for a HD25-II, more bass quantity due to the closed design. To me HD598 seems too tame for rock. It’s not bad, of course.

      • Reply November 28, 2011

        Mike

        X2 on what Rudolfs said. 

        • Reply November 28, 2011

          Rūdolfs Putniņš

          Have you ever tried closed Denons, Mike? I’ve heard that D2000 might be good for this kind of music.

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Mike

            The D2000 and the D5000. Don’t like them. 😉 Even the ones that have the so-called MDR R10 beating mods. (what was the name? markl?)

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Mike

            Oh yeah,
            People are saying that the closed Denons are good for Rock and Metal. I think the bass is good. But the pace is a bit slow on the whole and also for the bass. And I don’t think the sound has enough attack to it.

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Rūdolfs Putniņš

            Yup, Markl mods, JMoney Pads and whatnot. I might to pick up a T50Rp to try out some silliness of that sort. Too bad that they aren’t that cheap in EU- 120GBP. Also that would mean that I should get some decent means of amping as well.

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Mike

            The T50RP is very easy to drive you know?

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Rūdolfs Putniņš

            Really? I’m looking at Tyll’s measurements and they need 0.118V/0.29mW to get to 90dB. Compare that to my HD25-II that need 0.051V/0.03mW for 90dB. That’s roughly 2X the voltage swing and 10X the power. When looking at modded specimens things get even hungrier- 0.26V/1.17mW for a DIY modded (blutak and wool) which is 5X the swing and 39X the power compared to HD25-II.

            And I’m still looking for that girl! Heck, It might be even easier to get them for nude modelling than headphones. I always look like a very special kind of pervert.

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Mike

            I haven’t checked the measurements, but believe me, the T50RP is easy to drive.

          • Reply November 28, 2011

            Mike

            The older T50s may be harder to drive due to the more inefficient drivers.

  • Reply January 23, 2012

    Greg440

    Hi Mike,
    I was thinking of getting either the HD558, HD598 or the HD600. I was planning on using the Schiit Asgard amp, I live in the UK if there is one here that is just as good if not better for about £250 ( price of amp after customs vat and tax) that you can think of. I would be using the headphones for movies, games and music – acoustic, indie, classical and rock. I was wondering which headphone would sound better out of the Schiit Asgard because I don’t plan on upgrading the amp and I know the HD600 will only sound at their best out of a $600+ amp.

    • Reply January 23, 2012

      Mike

      Greg, 
      The Asgard sounds perfect, and don’t worry about that $600+ amp, the Asgard is really good. 

  • Reply January 23, 2012

    Greg440

    HD600 it is then. Thanks for the help Mike.

  • If I enjoyed the HD598, but am looking for more soundstage and bass, where would you direct me? Maxxxx budget of $350

    • Reply April 12, 2012

      Mike

      You can get more bass with the HD600 but not more soundstage. 

  • Reply June 22, 2012

    Vishnu Sreekumar

    I’m considering buying the HD 598. However, I’m still in doubt. I listen mainly to classical music (I’m an amateur pianist, so I listen to a lot of piano solo stuff, some orchestral stuff like piano concertos and symphonies and occasionally jazz and classic rock). I read what you said to one of the posters below about the lack of bass on the HD 598 and how that might not be great for symphonies. The other headphones I was looking at was the Denon AHD2000. However, being new to the audiophile world, I really want to try open cans and experience larger soundstage. Could you please guide me in the right direction? My budget is around $300 for the headphones right now. I will come up with $200 more in the next few months, so an amp will have to wait a couple of months. Thanks!

    • Reply June 22, 2012

      Mike

      Vishnu,
      I think the piano tone on the HD598 is nice, but it doesn’t have the low end impact for when the piano goes to the low notes.

      I still consider the HD600 to be the best for my piano listening.

      • Reply October 27, 2012

        Atriya

        (For piano) Better than the HD650? Also, better than the HE-400?

        • Reply October 29, 2012

          Mike

          You mean compared to the HD598?

          Piano perhaps is still best on the HD650.

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    DB

    Hey, I was looking to upgrade my 598’s to something more neutral, with a solid jump in detail. Do you think that the HD 600 would fit the bill when paired with my MSII and Schiit Asgard? I’ve heard that they may not deliver the detail I’m seeking, but I’ve also head they make an excellent pair with the Asgard.

  • Reply November 4, 2013

    Mr.Tingalingling

    Hello, I am considering 600, 650, and 598 for in-home mixing and recording on pop and classical with mostly vocal, piano, and guitar, which one do you recommend? thanks.

  • Reply February 3, 2014

    Jake

    Hey Mike. I listen to a fair amount of orchestral tracks, piano tracks and other instrumental stuff. However recently I’ve been listening to a lot of J-pop songs as well, usually with female singers. Should I still go for the HD600 or will the HD598 be a safer bet for my choice of music? I’ll be running them out of a Schiit Vali amp so amping isn’t a problem.

  • Reply June 22, 2015

    Cmahesh

    Dear Mike, what is the best choice for classical music (specially violin concertos) out of Sennheiser HD 598, HD 600 and AKG 612 Pro?

    • Reply June 22, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I’d say the HD650 but you would need a good amp

    • Reply June 22, 2015

      dalethorn

      The HD600 will be the most accurate sound.

    • Reply June 23, 2015

      Cmahesh

      Thank you for replys. If we consider only HD598 and AKG 612Pro then what has got a better sound signature for classical music?

      Thank you

  • Reply December 17, 2015

    Eugen

    Let it be said that the author of this article was drunk.

    • Reply December 17, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Or you are?

      • Reply December 17, 2015

        Eugen

        Yes, I just ate a grapefruit. I must be!

        On topic, eventual reader – don’t be a sucker – just get the HD600. The HD598 is only worth getting in the non-brown SE version for 66% off like it was this black friday. You’ll never see that kind of discount on the HD600 because if there ever was a headphone that’s worth the list price, the HD600 is it.

        • Reply December 17, 2015

          dalethorn

          I really liked the HD600, but it’s 15 year old technology. Sure, some of the newer stuff isn’t as good, but some of it is better.

          • Reply December 17, 2015

            Eugen

            I have hopes in the HD800S being the first headphone I’ve heard that I prefer to the HD600.

            The 15 year old technology line is a fallacy. Dynamic drivers are an old technology, ring radiators are about the only new thing in the last 15 years but the HD800 was just a good first try – a headphone is much more than a driver.

            For a headphone to be good it first needs to do no harm, then we can discuss about what it does better.

            • Reply December 18, 2015

              dalethorn

              I think it’s much simpler than that. A good EQ will take care of the minor faults of a quality headphone like the HD800, but there is no EQ that will bring the HD800’s incredible resolution and sparkle to a lesser headphone.

              In an analogy my dad used to quote “An elephant can have fleas, but a flea can’t have elephants”.

              • Reply December 22, 2015

                Eugen

                I would add to that quote the corollary: a 1000€+ elephant can’t have fleas.

  • Reply December 17, 2015

    Ryan Rahman

    I found the HD598 grainy compared to the HD600. The HD600 driver is one of the besto ut there today. I think the HD650 is an improved driver when it comes to resolution, dynamics and vocal presentation. I think the HD598 is below the HD600 by quite a bit when properly amped.

  • Reply December 9, 2017

    Eduardo

    “DALETHORN
    I really liked the HD600, but it’s 15 year old technology. Sure, some of the newer stuff isn’t as good, but some of it is better.”

    in relation to the new technologies to do justice to the headphones of 1997 (HD600) and of 2003/2007 (HD650), I am undecided among the 650, which has always been improved since 2003 and the new 660S, that until now for what I read seems be a major upgrade of the HD600 that completes its 20 years. I ask you, if it is better to buy the 650 with its legendary bass or buy the 660s with its clearest bass. The difference between them is a lot like the differences between the HD600 for the HD650? I did not want to go to the HD660s and be disappointed with the bass, since they said they did not have the same HD650 bass, help me!

    Note: If the HD660s is a major update of the 20 years of the 600, imagine the 20 years of the 650 ?!

    • Reply December 12, 2017

      dale thorn

      Well, the quality of the drivers make a big difference, and the acoustic treatments in the earcups are the other big difference. HD650’s actually manufactured in the past year** should have as good of drivers as the HD660, so I think where you’ll hear the biggest difference is in the overall balance of the sound. Note that where you have a strong bass in almost any headphone, just reducing that bass with a good tone control will seem to add more clarity, since the mids and highs will now sound stronger.

      **It might not be easy to make sure of the manufacture date, but you can find that information (list of serial number ranges) if you try.

      Another big factor in choosing which headphone is your music. If I were going for a more neutral bass, it would probably be for jazz, classical, acoustic etc. But for rock and EDM, I’d probably be looking at the HD650.

  • Reply December 12, 2017

    Eduardo

    Even if the HD650 was released in 2003, with the updates it has been received, would their drives be upgraded already with the latest technologies applied to the latest sennheiser?
    That’s why I asked about the sound level of the two, because if the 660s has more medium and high the bass would be less noticed, since the high and low frequencies would stand out.

    • Reply December 12, 2017

      dale thorn

      I would not expect a “new technology” driver to be applied to the HD650 if it would substantially change the sound, but, the mass manufacturing of driver and headphone parts are made to specification in large batches, then are randomly tested at the final assembly point to make sure (depending on the headphone price) the headphone sounds pretty much the same as last year’s.

      So while the HD650 technology will ostensibly remain as designed, the quality of the parts should keep up with newer designs. If you look at the literature that comes with the headphones, there’s always the notice that the design and manufacturing details are subject to ongoing change.

      Think about a $500 Sennheiser headphone. How much do you think the manufacturer pays for a raw driver? Very little. The HD800 drivers won’t be cheap even for Sennheiser, but the HD600 series drivers are.

      Then again, they may use a different raw driver for the 660. But that doesn’t mean it will be a better driver. Sometimes they switch drivers because they find a way to make them much cheaper.

  • Reply December 13, 2017

    Eduardo

    Regarding the power required for HD6x0 line, not to get into differences of brands of amplifiers. On average would you have any number (in mw and Vrms) that would be ideal for 650 for example 2.0 Vrms? 150mw to 300ohms?

    • Reply December 13, 2017

      dale thorn

      I don’t trust the volts specs to tell me anything useful. Most headphones have an impedance curve, and with the Sennheisers you can see the worst case impedance usually in the bass, 100 hz or thereabout. So if the sensitivity of the headphone is x number of decibels at 1 khz per mw of power, then you need to know the power output (in mw) of the amp when driving x number of ohms. And you need to consider the impedance spike also, because the power demand there will be 2 to 3 times greater.

      Lastly, you need a good bit of overhead for hi-fi sound, so while 85 db might seem like a good listening level, you could need lots more for clean short-term transients.

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