HD558 (stock) vs HD598 (stock)
- The HD558 is darker sounding in comparison to the HD598.
- The HD598 has less low frequency reverb, and while that may make the HD598 slightly thinner sounding on the bottom, the improved clarity and low end texture gives an overall better listening experience.
- The HD598 has tighter bass.
- The HD598 has better upper midrange presence, making it more engaging and livelier sounding than the HD558.
- The HD598 has a more linear frequency transition from bass to upper midrange, while the HD558 has a slight dip on the midrange area.
- Overall, the HD598 doesn’t really fall into a bright headphone category, but its slightly brighter presentation makes it a better all rounder than the HD558.
While the HD598 is certainly the star among this trio, I’m still waiting to see the actual street price before making the final verdict. It’s a shame that I don’t have a HD595 around to make a direct comparison. But, based on the HD555 & HD558 comparison, I think it’s safe to assume that the HD598 have the same soundstage advantage over the HD595 model.
I truly think that Sennheiser is moving in the right direction with the HD558/HD598. Come to think of it, some highly regarded headphones such as the Stax Omega2, the Audez’e LCD2, and the Hifiman HE5LE, have opted for a darker sound presentation instead of a bright one. Sennheiser has always been about a darker sound presentation, as it is easier on the ears for long term listening session. However, the older generation Sennheiser models, such as the HD650, tend to be too dark, and even with the HD555, the lack of airiness and open feeling is a turn off for many. With the HD558 and especially the HD598, the “Sennheiser” sound has evolved to be more enjoyable with a wider range of music. Compared to the favorite $100 open headphones like the Alessandro MS1 and the Audio Technica AD700, the HD558 arguably has a more “complete” frequency range (As far as I remember, the MS1 and the AD700’s bass is not as full as the HD558). We can probably go ahead with a HD558, MS1, and AD700 comparison,
but at the same time, I’m asking Sennheiser to create an update of the HD650 headphone.
Gears used for review:
Headphones: HD555, HD558, HD598
Amplifiers: Grace m902, Zana Deux
Source: Grace m902, Onkyo ND-S1