HD598 Cs Review – Long Term

HD598 Cs
HD598 Cs

I’m a little late to the party with this review. However, as this headphone will soon be out of the door as I am selling it on, I figured I would give it a review on its way out. Perhaps this review will be useful for anyone looking to pick up a used pair of these headphones.

So we are looking at the Sennheiser HD598 Cs which is a closed back dynamic driver headphone with 23 Ohms impedance and a really efficient 115 dB sensitivity and they weigh 334g.

Touted as a closed-back version of the well-regarded HD 598 I had high expectations for this headphone. However, this seems to be an entirely different beast using a completely different driver. The open backed HD 598 used a 50 Ohm, 112 dB SPL dynamic driver which means the HD598 Cs must be using something completely different. The specs for the newer closed back HD569 list them as having a 23 ohm, 115dB SPL driver so it would appear that the HD569 and the HD598Cs share the same driver. This would not make the HD598 Cs a closed version of the HD598 but rather an upgraded version of the HD569 in the same way that the HD598 is an upgraded version of the HD558. However, the 569 sits in a newer refreshed product line and the 598Cs sits in the older product line. Confused yet?

What’s more, externally we have a design very similar to the HD598 however this uses a different headband style similar to the one found on the HD599 from the newer range. It certainly seems to be a bit of a mongrel design sharing aspects of the old and new product ranges.

Provided with the headphones is a 3m straight cable terminated in a ¼” TRS plug. This is a standard inclusion with the HD5** range. Also included is a 1.2m straight cable with inline remote/mic for phone calls, although this remote does not include any volume controls.

When I bought these, I was looking for an isolating headphone, my main headphone at the time was the HD558 and I was a big fan of those so the HD598Cs seemed like a good choice. Sennheiser are clearly pushing this as a portable headphone, with this they are also pushing the product as a ‘noise blocking’ headphone. Although actual isolation is merely ok, especially in a world of noise cancelling portable options.

Build is typically excellent as with all of the headphones in the HD5** range. They are almost entirely constructed from plastic except for the pleather headband. The back of the earcups is also covered in a suede like fabric. Headband padding is excellent, as are the deep and plush memory foam ear pads. The ear pads are covered in a soft and comfortable velvet like material. These are some of the most comfortable ear pads I have ever seen on any headphone. However, the velvet cover to these ear pads does break down over time and starts to flake off.

Aftermarket ear pads of the same style are hard to find. Sennheiser does not appear to openly sell replacement pads for this headphone, nor the HD569. I replaced the ones on mine using the Geekria Lamy Velvet ear pads. These have a very similar style and feel to the originals. Although they do unfortunately negatively affect the sound.

Headband adjustment has plenty of range for larger heads and uses a not too stiff ratchet adjustment with plastic sliders.

Clamping force is higher than some other HD5** headphones out of the box, however, just like the rest of the range, the incredibly flexible and durable plastic frame of this headphone does give over time leading to superb comfort for long listening sessions.

Moving on to sound, let’s start with soundstage and imaging. The HD5** range is well known for a decent amount of staging and imaging. However, the HD598 Cs does suffer a little from the closed back which means it isn’t up to the same standards of the rest of the range. With that said these do a decent job for a closed back.

The overall sound signature and timber is typically Sennheiser. However, this is not the most refined Sennheiser around and has a few quirks that are worth noting that may well be a deal breaker for many people.

Bass is really quite respectable with a decent extension. In fact, bass reproduction is probably the strong point of this headphone, to the point that it is almost a one-trick pony. That’s not to say the HD598 Cs is especially articulate, this isn’t a headphone with excellent clarity and resolution in its bass but it does an OK job. It does also have some decent authority and presence that makes it excellent for EDM and other bass-heavy music.

Mid-range performance is really quite weak for a Sennheiser headphone. A big dip around 300 Hz the mid-range climbs thereafter and is quite elevated between 450 Hz and 3-4k Hz. This leads to them being really quite shouty and bright in the upper mids. To the point, that vocals, female vocals especially are quite harsh. Snare hits are very punchy and present though. Distorted guitars are screeching, metallic and painful to listen to. I’m sorry metalheads.

During my listening tests and times with these headphones, I found that pretty much every, musical genre that I am personally in to, suffered on these headphones. Especially as I am into rock, metal, and post-hardcore in particular, these headphones are far too harsh and piercing for these genres.

Treble response is equally an oddity. Whilst it is overall fairly restrained it does have a rather nasty peak somewhere around 8-10kHz. And again this is a point of pain for any instrument in this region. Treble is not entirely lacking in detail but these are not especially resolving either.

The upshot of all of this is that the only genres I was able to really enjoy with these headphones was EDM. Anything with a deep and solid bassline and little to anything going on in the upper mids and these headphones were fine.

MiniDSP measurements for HD598Cs with HPN (Diffuse Field) compensation
MiniDSP measurements for HD598Cs with HEQ (Harman target) compensation

All in then this is a strange headphone to bear the name HD598. This is a long way from the open-backed HD598.

In summary, as with all of the HD5** range, this is a superbly built and supremely comfortable headphone. Other plus points are that they are incredibly easy to drive and do at least have a decent bass performance for those into EDM.

However, this headphone despite the name, is no HD598, it is merely standing on the shoulders of giants. The mids, particularly the upper mids are so shouty this rules them out for pretty much everything else but EDM or Hip-Hop, unless you’re some kind of masochist that loves that kind of thing.

So, if you spot a good deal on a used pair of these should you snap them up? Well assuming you understand the failings of the sound signature, that is really going to depend on the condition of the ear pads. Sadly, these earpads are not built to last and do eventually break down. Third-party replacements will negatively affect their sound. But assuming they could be replaced with originals for a reasonable price, then sure, why not.

Ok that’s going to be it then, I hope you found this review interesting.

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HD598 Cs
HD598 Cs Review – Long Term
Whilst this is a superbly built headphone, the long term durability of the earpad fabric is a let down, especially as Sennheiser do not readily provide replacements. Sound quality is not the most refined and suffers from a rather grainy treble performance and shouty mids. At their usual 'new' price they were not the best value. However, comfort is excellent.
Comfort
Build
Sound
Value
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
Very comfortable
Isolation is ok
Bass performance is quite decent
Cons
Earpads degrade quickly and replacements are not readily available
Treble is peaky and grainy
Upper mids are shouty
3.6
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