A few days ago we reviewed the new Sennheiser HD 599, and today we’re taking a look at it’s less-expensive home-audio entry-level counterpart, the HD 559. Costing a competitive $149, how does it stack up to the competition at this particular price point?
Sennheiser HD 559 Review
The 559 comes in a standard Sennheiser box. Inside, you’ll find the headphones, a detachable headphone cable, and a warranty booklet.
Build-wise, this headphone is decent, featuring a lightweight if slightly-less reassuring composition of plastic, with comfortable velour padding on the headband and earpads. The 10 ft (3 m) headphone cable is thick and durable, but the connection is a 1/4’’ stereo plug – and there is no adapter to be found in the box.
Frequency Range: 14-26,000 Hz
Impedance: 50 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 108 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): < 0.2%
From the specs above, we can gather that this headphone sports a standard frequency range and offers a decent amount of detail. The standard impedance lends these headphones to portable players and computers, though they may also benefit from some amplification. Sound pressure is low compared to closed-back models, but on-par with other open-headphones, and the harmonic distortion is decent.
In the low end, the sound of the HD 559 is characterized by relatively strong detail, as well as a deep and resounding bass. Despite the emphasized bass, the control is not lacking, and bleed is kept to a minimum.
Suffering from the slight compression in the upper mids (a recurring theme we’re seeing with a lot of the new Sennheiser models), the HD 559 may not do some vocals justice, but the rest of the midrange remains largely intact, with adequate detail and good clarity.
Not necessarily bright or relaxed, the 559 skimps on the highest high notes while retaining plenty of detail and contrast in the rest of the high end. The sound is sharp and articulate, but without being piercing or unpleasant.
Depth and placement are okay here, delivering a sense of soundstage that is present, but far from arresting. This is about what I expected from the entry-level model, though the overall dynamic sound probably lends some improvement to this modest impression.
The Sennheiser HD 559 is a decent headphone at a competitive price. While somewhat lacking in the high mids and high highs, the overall impression is one of general quality. One thing that continues to stick in my craw, however, is the lack of a 1/4’’ to 3.5 mm stereo adapter. If I am already shelling out $149 for a pair of “home audio” headphones, the least Sennheiser could do is toss an adapter in the box. It’s just common courtesy.
If you prefer a rich, dynamic sound that offers a strong low end while keeping the high end in line, this headphone may be for you. Surely, it excels when it comes to rock and hip hop, but may skimp on classical or some more intricate instrumental tracks.
For those seeking a more analytical sound, or a brighter sound, I would recommend the AKG K612 ($199) or the Grado SR125i ($150), respectively.
In truth, the Sennheiser HD 559 seems poised to compete with the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, and to replace completely Sennheiser’s own older HD 558. While the 558 is effectively obsolete, the closed back design of the M50x still gives the HD 559 a solid edge when it comes to audio fidelity in the home.
With some slight hiccups to the sound, but an overall decent listening experience, this headphone is only truly hindered by the lack of a 3.5mm stereo adapter plug that comes standard on almost every other Sennheiser headphone.
If you’re looking to give the Sennheiser 559 a whirl, get it at the lowest price when you use discount code “majorhifi” during checkout at Audio 46. It’s also available at a competitive price from authorized retailers on Amazon.