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Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones Review


As an individual who has owned the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones for a considerable period, I am excited to share my experience with this product. The transition from mainstream headphones like Bose and Beats to the HD 598s has been a game-changer. This review presents an honest, neutral perspective on the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones, including their strengths and weaknesses.

Sound Quality

One of the primary reasons I opted for the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones was the promise of impeccable sound quality. Indeed, the headphones deliver on this front. The bass on the HD 598s is smooth and tight, contrary to some reviews that suggest it lacks depth. Although the bass isn’t overpowering or thumping, as you might find in Beats by Dr. Dre models, it’s incredibly detailed and enriching. Tracks like “Better Together” by Jack Johnson illustrate this beautifully, allowing you to hear subtle bass lines without overwhelming the overall sound.

The magic of the open-back design is evident the moment you start listening. It creates a soundstage that feels expansive and authentic, almost like standing in the middle of a five-speaker surround sound system. This design lets you pinpoint the locations of individual instruments and vocals. When listening to “In the Twilight” by Phaeleh, you can sense the vocalist’s position relative to the music—a truly captivating experience.

The mids and highs are also impeccably balanced. Unlike my previous modded HD 555 and HD 595, which tended towards screeching tones, the HD 598s are refined and more textured. Whether it’s alternative, trance, or jazz, the headphones excel. They especially shine with acoustic and singer-songwriter genres, revealing layers of music I never knew existed.

Build Quality

When discussing the build quality of the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones, it’s important to note the evolution in materials used. Initially, there were reports of small cosmetic cracks on the sides of the headphones. Thankfully, this issue has been addressed. The build feels both sturdy and lightweight, achieving a delicate balance between substantial durability and comfort.

Compared to other headphones like the Bose AE2, which felt somewhat flimsy, the HD 598s are more reassuring in their construction. Nevertheless, they retain some plastic feel similar to the HD 555/595 models. This might not scream “premium” to everyone, but it doesn’t detract significantly from the overall experience.

Appearance and Comfort

The Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones are not just about performance; they also boast an aesthetically pleasing design. They exude a sense of luxury that has garnered numerous compliments from friends. Whether you’re an audiophile or not, it’s hard to ignore their premium look.

These are by far the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. They sit lightly on the head without clamping too tightly. This is a significant upgrade from my previous headphones—both mainstream options like Beats and modified HD 555s. The HD 598s can be worn for extended periods without causing discomfort, thanks to their plush ear pads and well-distributed weight. They are ideal for long listening sessions, casual enjoyment, or deep study.

Sennheiser HD 598 Open-Back Headphones

Ease of Use and Compatibility

An essential point to note when considering the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones is their compatibility with various devices. They perform admirably without an amplifier, which is not the case with higher-end Sennheiser models. These headphones work well with smartphones, tablets, and computers. Using them with a device that has a higher-quality sound card, like a computer, can further enhance the experience.

However, because of their open-back design, they leak sound and aren’t suitable for traveling or noisy environments. But this trade-off is worth it for their unparalleled soundstage and clarity. If you keep the volume down, they might work in an office setting, but they are best enjoyed in a quiet, personal space where sound leaking won’t be an issue.

Comparisons with Other Headphones

Comparing the Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones with other models offers more context for their exceptional performance. For instance, those considering the HD 558 should beware of claims that removing foam pieces can bring them on par with the HD 598s. I tried this modification on a friend’s pair, and they still sounded relatively muddy. The HD 598s have a more precise sound profile and better overall fidelity.

When placed against the Bose AE2 and Beats by Dr. Dre, the HD 598s emerge as the clear winner in sound quality, although Bose offers better portability and build quality. The Beats might appeal to bass enthusiasts, but the HD 598s provide a more balanced and enjoyable listening experience over extended periods.

In my experience, the V-Moda Crossfade LP is the closest competitor to the HD 598. While the V-Modas offer decent sound isolation and robust build quality, they lack the open, expansive soundstage of the HD 598s. If sound isolation is not a priority, the HD 598s are undoubtedly the better choice.

Unique Features and Final Thoughts

The Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones stand out primarily due to their open-back design, excellent soundstage, and refined sound profile. Compared to other products in the category, they offer an outstanding balance of performance and comfort, making them an excellent choice for audiophiles and casual listeners.

The headphones also benefit from better ear pads and a refined driver design, which elevates them above the older HD 555/595 models. They are more comfortable and less prone to falling off, making them suitable for various activities, including studying and long listening sessions.

The plastic construction remains a slight downside, but it doesn’t significantly impact the overall experience. In terms of sound quality, build, comfort, and aesthetics, the Sennheiser HD 598 Headphones offer an exceptional, well-rounded package.

Pros and Cons


    • Excellent sound quality, balanced bass, and clear mids/highs
    • Expansive and detailed soundstage
    • Comfortable for extended wear
    • Works well without an amplifier
    • Attractive and premium appearance


    • Sound leakage due to open-back design
    • It has a bit of a plastic feel
    • Not suitable for noisy environments or travel

In Conclusion

The Sennheiser HD 598 Over-Ear Headphones are a well-balanced, comfortable, and aesthetically appealing choice for audiophiles and casual listeners. They excel in sound quality, offering a detailed and expansive soundstage. However, some sound leakage and a slightly plastic feel are minor downsides. They are highly recommended for those seeking a rich, immersive listening experience.

Bass Response
These headphones provide a smooth and tight bass response. It's not overly punchy or bloated, offering a refined and controlled low-end that's perfectly balanced for most genres. However, they might not satisfy bass heads looking for overwhelming bass impact.
Treble Detail
The treble detail is crisp without being overbearing. High frequencies are handled with precision, enhancing the overall clarity without causing fatigue. Sibilance is well managed, maintaining a pleasant and engaging listening experience.
Midrange Clarity
The HD 598 excels in midrange clarity, delivering vocals and instruments with natural and authentic tonality. It’s particularly effective at presenting the nuances in vocals and midrange instruments, making it perfect for vocal-heavy genres.
Sound Quality
The Sennheiser HD 598 offers a breathtaking sound experience with superb clarity and detail. Listeners can expect to hear a level of detail across various music genres that might reveal elements in favorite tracks previously unnoticed. While the sound quality is top-notch, some audiophiles still argue that there are even finer options at higher price points.
Comfort & Fit
Comfort is one of the standout features of the HD 598. They are extremely comfortable for extended listening sessions, with soft padding and a design that doesn’t clamp too tightly. The lightweight design makes them feel almost non-existent on the head.
Build Quality & Durability
The build quality is generally solid and should ensure longevity. However, earlier models had issues with material that caused minor cosmetic cracks, but this appears to be resolved in newer versions. Nonetheless, they don’t feel as premium as some might expect at this price point.
Soundstage Imaging
Soundstage and imaging are remarkable, giving a sensation akin to being surrounded by multiple speakers. The spatial awareness and instrument separation are outstanding, making listeners feel immersed in their music as if they are in a live performance.
Noise Isolation
As open-back headphones, the HD 598 is not designed for noise isolation. They leak sound significantly and do not block external noise well. Hence, they are not suitable for noisy environments or travel but excel in quieter, controlled settings.
Value for Money
Considering their performance, especially in sound quality and comfort, the HD 598 offers good value for money. However, some might find it hard to justify the price given the plastic build quality and lack of accessories.
Total Score
Rating Summary
The Sennheiser HD 598 is a fantastic choice for those seeking high-quality open-back headphones. Their sound quality is exceptional, with great clarity, refined bass, clear midrange, and precise treble detail. The comfort and fit are second to none, making them perfect for long listening sessions. While the build quality has improved over time, it might still leave some wanting a more premium feel. The standout feature is the immersive soundstage and imaging that these headphones provide. However, they are not great for noise isolation, making them unsuitable for noisy environments. Overall, they offer excellent value for money for any music lover looking for a high-quality listening experience at a reasonable price.