Back in October, we watched with anticipation as the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs made its debut, and now we’ve finally acquired one of our own for review purposes. Built on the already-stellar reputation of the open back 598 models, this closed variant retails for a low $149. But does this new Sennheiser headphone pull its weight? And how does it stack up to its open-back predecessors?
Sennheiser HD 598 Cs Review
The 598 Cs comes packaged with two removable cables – one 4 ft (1.2 m) 3.5mm stereo cable with an in-line mic and remote, and one 10 ft (3 m) 1/4” stereo cable for home or studio use. Aside from these two accessories, this headphone forgoes any other additional accessories.
Deep and soft velour earpads go a long way in terms of comfort, while thick pleather padding on the headband takes the comfort even further. The earcups perfectly ensconce my large-ish ears, remaining comfortable for hours on end.
The headband is entirely plastic, with plastic extenders. Like the other 598 models, this leads to a lightweight yet sturdy feel.
Frequency Range: 10-28,000 Hz
Impedance: 23 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 115 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.2%
Behold those specs! The frequency range is just a tad bit wider than standard, with more low end and little more high end, too. A low impedance of just 23 ohms is ideal for use with mobile devices. Volume is decent, while distortion seems remarkably low. While previous 598 models have had a reputation for clarity, I’ve always heard a shade of distortion in those models, so I’m keenly interested in finding out if the 598 Cs truly offers such a clear sound.
In the low end, there is a sense of detail – not overflowing, but still present. Bass is lively, but a poor sense of control leads to bleeding in some tracks. Some compression also seems to be at play – not marring the sound completely, but leading to pinched and squeezed notes.
The mids are a definite improvement over the low end. Here, you get a sense of more detail, though compression again rears its head, albeit to a much smaller degree. While the mids aren’t fantastic by any stretch of the imagination, they’re still decent – especially for the price.
Strong detail belies the overall bright character of the high end. However, the sound never verges on piercing or uncomfortable, and vocals and instrumentation sound equally amazing. While the low end and midrange had me feeling somewhat disappointed, the highs are truly impressive.
Before my listening session, I was willing to bet that soundstage would suffer on these closed-back headphones – especially when compared to the soundstage of the open-back 598 models. However, quite astoundingly, the soundstage has ample depth and excellent placement. While it might never sound as open as other 598 models, it’s still close enough to fool my ears.
This sense of soundstage particularly compliments the luscious high end – for lovers of classical music or female chanteuses, this headphone offers clear benefit.
Even after an hour or so, these headphones are still comfortable. The velour padding is an especially nice touch.
Isolation is also great – the phone could be ringing off the hook, and the office burning down, and I’d still be over here rocking out to the Pixies.
While the high end is an immediate gem, the low end is steadily growing on me. The lack of control doesn’t seem as apparent with most tracks, though bass-centric tracks with low-frequency male vocals are still going to suffer.
Landing at the very competitive price of $149, the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs is going up against staple models like Audio Technica’s M50x and the AKG K271 Mk II. For those who require a greater sense of bass, the M50x is an obvious alternative, while the K271 Mk II is a more balanced and even-keeled model – perfect for an audio purist, but lacking the poignant high end of the 598 Cs.
While both the M50x and K271 Mk II are closed-back models retailing for $169 and $149, respectively, it should be noted that neither offer an in-line mic and remote. Nor do they offer the same level of soundstage.
Compared to the earlier, open-back 598 headphones, I have to say that I much prefer the closed variant. Soundstage is just as good, it seems. And that stellar high-end detail is just something else.
Excelling at the high end of its frequency range, while simultaneously offering a tactile sense of soundstage, the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs is a welcome addition to the manufacturer’s catalog. And with a low price of just $149, it’s a clear contender with entrenched stalwarts from the likes of Audio Technica, AKG, and others. Need more detail in your high end? Audition the 598 Cs and fall in love.
You can get the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs Closed Back Headphone at the lowest price on Amazon.