Here at MajorHifi, we often receive requests for comparison reviews. However, as of late we’ve been hearing more and more clamor to compare the newer Sennheiser HD 569 to the old HD 598. Both headphones are currently priced at $179 (the HD 598 used to carry a heavier price tag, but that price was driven down by the release of the newer HD 599 late last year). So without any more delay, we’ll stack these babies up against one another and give you the skinny on which one you should consider.
Sennheiser HD 569 vs HD 598 Comparison Review
Build and construction on both the HD 569 and HD 598 are remarkably similar. Both headphones utilize a good amount of plastic in their construction, resulting in less heft and more comfort. Deep velour earpads and pleather headband padding further minimize any fatigue you would feel in a normal listening session.
Perhaps the biggest difference in design, the HD 569 is a closed-back model, while the HD 598 is open-back. Due to this difference, these headphones may offer fairly different sounds that appeal to different types of listeners.
HD 569 Specs
Frequency Range: 10-28,000 Hz
Impedance: 23 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 115 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.2%
HD 598 Specs
Frequency Range: 12-38,500 Hz
Impedance: 50 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 112 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.1%
As we can see from the specifications, the HD 598 boasts a wider frequency range and higher impedance. While both headphones would work with low-output devices, the HD 569 is optimized for such a setup. The 598, in comparison, would benefit more from an amplifier. Volume will be decent on both, and distortion remains fairly equal across both models. In my own listening sessions, I actually found the 598 to sound just a tad bit more distorted.
Where low end is concerned, both the 569 and the 598 offer a decent amount of detail. While the 569 might sound a bit cleaner here, the 598 delivers more bass, leading to a somewhat livelier low end. The 569 seems more clinical.
Where the midrange is concerned, both of these headphones pull their weight. The older HD 598 offers some clarity and contrast, though the HD 569 offers just as much. The biggest difference here is a slightly cleaner sound in the 569 – something I’d chalk up to a slight amount of distortion in the 598.
While the 569 has a decent amount of high-end detail, the 598 offers a richer listening experience in this part of the frequency range. Strings and female vocals immediately distinguish themselves as being more articulate on the older 598, helped along by some impressive soundstage.
This is the true defining test of these two headphones. While the 569 offers some depth and minimal placement, the deep and immersive sound is still no match for the grand soundstage you’ll hear in the HD 598. Even with its older technology, the 598 still offers an almost tangible listening experience.
Both are equally comfortable, but the lower impedance and closed-back design of the 569 allow me to carry it everywhere.
In contrast, the open-back 598 is a better choice for at home listening. Even paired with my inexpensive AKG HP4E amp, the sound is richer and more immersive.
The basic design differences – closed-back versus open-back – easily separate these headphones for most prospective buyers. Those preferring mobility would do well to audition the HD 569. However, critical listeners with a home setup would probably gravitate more towards the HD 598 for its immense soundstage.
Personally, I found the HD 569 to be a bit cleaner in terms of distortion. The sound of this headphone is clear and even, without too much emphasis on the lows or highs. As such, it’s easy for casual listeners to pick up on more mid-range detail in the 569, leading to the impression of a more analytical sound.
But to be fair, where the HD 569 falters, the 598 excels. With deep lows, resplendent highs, and an immersive sense of soundstage, the HD 598 is a clearer choice for those seeking a more dynamic and emotive sound.
Thanks to fairly even price tags, the Sennheiser HD 569 and HD 598 both provide economical purchases for beginning audiophiles. However, due to the overall clinical nature and portable capabilities of the HD 569, our money is on this newcomer. The older HD 598 offers a more specialized listening experience that may interest some headphone junkies, but in such cases the newer HD 599 is liable to be a better investment.