Sennheiser is one of the world’s leading headphone brands. Their new HD 598 headphones offer a jazzed-up take on the HD 595 and while they are not cheap they do offer something a little different in both looks and sound quality.
* Detachable cable
* Leather-coated headband
* Beige and high-gloss burl wood finish
* Duofol diaphragm speakers
* Open-back design
Few Sennheiser headphones look as eye-catching as the HD 598s. With a cream and brown colour scheme, they stand out clearly from the hundreds of black and grey cans that the market’s stuffed full of – including the new, slightly cheaper HD 558. The materials used in these cans are much the same as its brothers though.
The high gloss of these showy headphones may be a little artificial, but they feel as high-end as the $399.95 RRP suggests. The headband is luxuriously padded, and the use of real leather rather than leather-effect “pleather” plastic helps these headphones to pull of their bold looks – it’s missing from most of Sennheiser’s cheaper models.
The cable’s 3m long – too long to take on the streets and not quite long enough for those with bigger lounges or bedrooms, so the removable cable feature is very welcome. Coated in rubbery plastic, it’s liable to tangle but this is much less of a problem with home headphones like the HD 598 than those likely to spend a good deal of time stashed in a bag or pocket.
The updated design of these headphones seemingly hasn’t added any flab, as they weigh the same as the original HD 595s – significantly lighter than the popular, more expensive Sennheiser HD 650s. They’re exceptionally comfortable, thanks to the team effort made by the padded leather headband, velour ear cups, lightweight construction and over-ear design. They do apply some slight pressure to the sides of your head, but they can be worn all day long, and all night too, without any discomfort.
These headphones have that open, airy sound but do not suffer from a lack of bass. The low-end has a lighter touch than the more expensive HD 650, but there’s easily enough to satisfy all but the most incorrigible basshead. Even when powered by a humble iPod Classic, they do justice to a bass-heavy dance track like Sleep Deprivation by Simian Mobile Disco. They are open, articulate and detailed – and seemingly effortlessly so.
The now-comparably-priced AKG 701s offer a more analytical sound, with better high-end detail, but are also more clinical and cold-sounding than these fun cans. With a sound signature that doesn’t have an obsessive infatuation with eking out every last sonic detail at the expense of bass and power, these headphones are extremely versatile.
Whether in the latest dumb action blockbuster or an Xbox 360 shooter, explosions sound like they should with these headphones, with a proper bass rumble in-tow. This effect is further improved by the use of a headphone amp, and surpasses some more expensive, more refined cans.
If you’re planning on using the Sennheiser HD 598s as your all-purpose set of headphones, it’s important to also consider the issues that come with an open-back set. They leak sound significantly, so people around you will be able to hear what you’re listening to almost as well as you can.
The $399.95 RRP of the Sennheiser HD 598s initially seems off-putting, when the HD 595s are now available for far cheaper, but they are already available for around $350 – making them an attractive alternative to the more expensive HD 600 and HD 650 sets.
Call us boring, but we’re not sure we prefer the bold colour scheme of the Sennheiser HD 598 to the standard black and grey, but any qualms blew away once we donned these headphones. The open, powerful sound is extremely versatile and they’re comfortable enough to wear from morning to night, every day.