• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Sennheiser HD 598 SE* Review (headphone)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,336
Likes
135,204
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of a Sennheiser HD 598 SE with replacement "leather" pads. It was sent to me by the owner with a funny note:

"Hello amirm. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD598s that I inherited. I hate them. I hate them the same way that one might hate a dog barking at 2 AM, or a romantic rival who stole one's lover. Please let me send them to you so you can justify my deep hatred. Then you can fire them into the sun."

The 598SE seems to be discontinued but it sold for $249.

I must say, I like the replacement pads as they felt quite nice to wear:

Sennheiser HD 598SE review open back Headphone.jpg


Helping with the comfort is the ultra low weight of these headphones:

lighest open back headphone.png


I am not going to give you the cup dimensions since they are not the originals.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitting these headphones on the fixture was super easy with matching of the two cups and levels at two different frequencies.

As is my usual practice, I look around for other reviews and measurements before finalizing mine. It was very difficult to find measurements of the SE version. Claim on the internet is that only the color is different. I saw no proof of this with measurements of both side by side. As you see below, my measurements markedly differ from 598 series posted online. I have no explanation for the discrepancy but stand beyond mine being correct for this sample.

Sennheiser HD598 SE* Measurements
As usual we start with our frequency response:

Sennheiser HD 598SE Frequency Response Measurements Headphone.png


I line up my measurements around 425 Hz. Here you could shift that point and get slightly different visual representation but the story will be the same: there is a massive bass to mid-range boost from 70 Hz up to 500 Hz. This part correlates with measurements of 598 in the wild (although maybe not peaking as much). I then show a huge shortfall between 500 and 3000 Hz. This would indeed be a horribly sounding headphone if correct:
Sennheiser HD 598SE Relative Frequency Response Measurements Headphone.png


Distortion is high in upper bass and at elevated volume but fortunately we have excess output there so EQ will be in our favor:

Sennheiser HD 598SE distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Headphone.png


Mid to high frequency distortion is extremely low:
Sennheiser HD 598SE THD vs Frequency Response Measurements Headphone.png


Group delay indicates issues in sub-bass which may just be due to very low output in that region:

Sennheiser HD 598SE group delay  Measurements Headphone.png


This is sensitive headphone that is easy to drive:

Most sensitive headphone.png


Impedance is middle of the road so you don't need a ton of voltage to drive it:

Sennheiser HD 598SE Impedance Measurements Headphone.png


Sennheiser HD 598 SE Listening Tests and Equalization
It took playing just a few seconds of my first standard test clip to realize this is one horrible sounding headphone! Boomy bass swamps the mid-frequency detail and was distorted to boot (at higher volumes). There was zero spatial qualities which is indicative of hole in response between 1 and 5 kHz which measurements tell us we have.

Fortunately the shortfalls are broad in nature so was quick to bring them into compliance with just four filters:

Sennheiser HD 598SE equalization eq open back Headphone.png


The transformation was incredible. Sub-bass was now clean and powerful, able to play as loud as you ever wanted. I could literally get my ear lobes to resonate and tingle for the second or two I pushed it! What a great sensation if hearing loss was not to follow after extended listening. :)

The sound become very open with female vocals and sharper instruments coming to the forefront with zero harshness. Spatial qualities went from grade F to B+. Combined with the comfort of the headphone, I could and did listen for a long time.

As a confirmation, I had my oldest adult son do an AB test with and without EQ. He thought on some tracks the difference was subtle but on others, he liked that it took away the boominess and made the instruments so separate. Note that I had not shown him any measurements or what the EQ was doing.

Conclusions
The measurements and subjective results by no less than three humans agree that out of box tuning of this headphone is horrible. This doesn't jive with any review I read on the 598 or 598 SE. I tend to think that there is more to this SE version than just color back. Anyway, I am not going to generalize the response to all 598 SEs. The walk-away point though is that objective measurements proved their worth strongly in confirming subjective listening tests and showing the path to equalization.

For this specific Sennheiser HD598SE, I cannot recommend it without EQ. It simply is horrid. With EQ however, it becomes a keeper. I understand you can pick these up used for $100 or so at times. If so, and they all measure/EQ like this, they would be a good choic.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Sennheiser HD 598SE Frequency Response Measurements.zip
    25.2 KB · Views: 56

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,166
Likes
5,259
Location
BC, Canada
To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -7.1 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 50 Hz Gain 6.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 200 Hz Gain -5.5 dB Q 2.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 630 Hz Gain 6.0 dB Q 4.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 1520 Hz Gain 7.0 dB Q 2.0
To import into your favorite PEQ app, enter it manually.
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead.

Preamp: -5.6db
32 5.4
64 0.4
125 -1.8
250 -5.2
500 2.4
1000 2.1
2000 3.4
4000 -1.5
8000 -0.7
16000 -1.1
Preamp: -7.0db
20 3.7
25 4.9
32 3.5
40 2.2
50 1.4
63 0.6
80 -0.1
100 -0.5
125 -1.0
160 -2.6
200 -5.8
250 -2.5
315 -1.1
400 -0.7
500 -0.3
630 5.6
800 0.1
1000 0.1
1250 3.0
1600 6.1
2000 1.2
2500 0.1
3150 -0.3
4000 -0.4
5000 -0.5
6300 -0.6
8000 -0.7
10000 -0.7
12500 -0.9
16000 -1.2
20000 -1.4
If you want to import into "Wavelet" (Android App):
GraphicEQ: 20 -1.3; 21 -1.3; 22 -1.4; 23 -1.4; 24 -1.5; 26 -1.6; 27 -1.7; 29 -1.8; 30 -1.9; 32 -2.1; 34 -2.3; 36 -2.5; 38 -2.7; 40 -3.0; 43 -3.3; 45 -3.6; 48 -3.9; 50 -4.1; 53 -4.4; 56 -4.7; 59 -5.0; 63 -5.3; 66 -5.5; 70 -5.8; 74 -6.0; 78 -6.2; 83 -6.5; 87 -6.6; 92 -6.8; 97 -7.0; 103 -7.2; 109 -7.4; 115 -7.5; 121 -7.8; 128 -8.0; 136 -8.4; 143 -8.7; 151 -9.2; 160 -9.9; 169 -10.6; 178 -11.3; 188 -12.0; 199 -12.4; 210 -12.2; 222 -11.5; 235 -10.7; 248 -10.0; 262 -9.4; 277 -8.8; 292 -8.5; 309 -8.1; 326 -7.8; 345 -7.6; 364 -7.4; 385 -7.2; 406 -7.0; 429 -6.7; 453 -6.5; 479 -6.1; 506 -5.6; 534 -4.8; 565 -3.6; 596 -1.9; 630 -0.8; 665 -1.6; 703 -3.1; 743 -4.2; 784 -4.8; 829 -5.1; 875 -5.2; 924 -5.1; 977 -5.0; 1032 -4.7; 1090 -4.3; 1151 -3.8; 1216 -3.1; 1284 -2.2; 1357 -1.2; 1433 -0.4; 1514 -0.2; 1599 -0.3; 1689 -1.1; 1784 -2.1; 1885 -3.0; 1991 -3.8; 2103 -4.4; 2221 -4.9; 2347 -5.3; 2479 -5.6; 2618 -5.8; 2766 -6.0; 2921 -6.2; 3086 -6.3; 3260 -6.4; 3443 -6.5; 3637 -6.6; 3842 -6.6; 4058 -6.7; 4287 -6.7; 4528 -6.8; 4783 -6.8; 5052 -6.8; 5337 -6.8; 5637 -6.9; 5955 -6.9; 6290 -6.9; 6644 -6.9; 7018 -6.9; 7414 -6.9; 7831 -7.0; 8272 -7.0; 8738 -7.0; 9230 -7.0; 9749 -7.0; 10298 -7.0; 10878 -7.0; 11490 -7.0; 12137 -7.0; 12821 -7.0; 13543 -7.0; 14305 -7.0; 15110 -7.0; 15961 -7.0; 16860 -7.0; 17809 -7.0; 18812 -7.0; 19871 -7.0
Otherwise, see my GEQ guide.
 
Last edited:

3125b

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
816
Likes
1,208
Location
Germany
That's terrible, but I'm sure some of the fault with the FR is down to the replacement pads.
 

GWolfman

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 3, 2020
Messages
383
Likes
447
Thanks.

Wondering how much the different pads changed the sound, but it's no longer manufactured so not worth much consideration...
 

thewas

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 15, 2020
Messages
3,366
Likes
7,083
Are at least the replacement pads defined which exactly model they are? I generally don't see why someone would waste ASRs precious testing time with a combination/modification that almost nobody will use, but even worse if this is not clearly defined.
 

o7_brother

Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
99
Likes
224
Location
Portugal
What is the point of measuring a discontinued headphone with unidentified knock-off pads?

This awful FR is clearly down to the replacement pads... they make a huge difference for many headphones in general, but for the Sennheiser HD5xx series specifically. I made the mistake of buying cheap replacement pads that looked somewhat like the originals for my HD598, but I instantly realized my mistake when the sound turned into absolute garbage.

Here is the regular HD598 (not SE but close enough), as measured by oratory1990 on an industry-standard rig:

EDIT: as other users have pointed out, the 598 and 598SE are the same headphones in different color. Oratory has measured both 598 and 598SE and they are identical. The graph below is a HD598SE with stock pads.

HD598.JPG
 
Last edited:
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,336
Likes
135,204
Location
Seattle Area
Here is the regular HD598 (not SE but close enough), as measured by oratory1990 on an industry-standard rig:
What do you mean "close enough?" That is the puzzle we are trying to solve. I explained at the outset that people are saying these are the same headphones but no objective data is provided. If you don't have an SE version to present, then there is nothing relevant here.
 

ezra_s

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2020
Messages
271
Likes
296
Location
Spain
please someone send this man a Sennheiser GSP 500! Im curious.:cool:

Thanks for the review as always!
 

Aperiodic

Active Member
Joined
May 2, 2019
Messages
150
Likes
178
What is the point of measuring a discontinued headphone with unidentified knock-off pads?
With all due respect, I was wondering the same thing. Seems like testing gear someone is more likely to buy is a better use of time. All I really took from this was that the owner thought his headphones sucked and he was right.

Re Sennheiser generally, there are changes afoot.. First, the 5** line has been around for quite awhile (I owned 555's years ago) so they have had plenty of time to 'get it right'. The evidence that they haven't doesn't speak well for Sennheiser. It seems that they are joining the industry trend of producing equipment that is 'engineered' to look good, not sound good (Amir panned another recently reviewed model). This may have something to do with Senn's consumer division reportedly being sold off. Almost without exception (I can't name one), the first thing that the acquiring entity is focused on is cost-cutting. AKG already did this when they shut down all production in Austria and moved it to cheap-labor locations. Sennheiser will go down the same road, if they haven't already. The new owners don't care; its only 'product' as far as they are concerned. Among the 'old school' Euro headphone makers, only Beyer is still standing. How long can they keep going...
 
Last edited:

YSC

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 31, 2019
Messages
1,476
Likes
1,017
This is a review and detailed measurements of a Sennheiser HD 598 SE with replacement "leather" pads. It was sent to me by the owner with a funny note:

"Hello amirm. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD598s that I inherited. I hate them. I hate them the same way that one might hate a dog barking at 2 AM, or a romantic rival who stole one's lover. Please let me send them to you so you can justify my deep hatred. Then you can fire them into the sun."

The 598SE seems to be discontinued but it sold for $249.

I must say, I like the replacement pads felt quite nice to wear:

View attachment 137977

Helping with the comfort is the ultra low weight of these headphones:

View attachment 137978

I am not going to give you the cup dimensions since they are not the originals.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitting these headphones on the fixture was super easy with matching of the two cups and levels at two different frequencies.

As is my usual practice, I look around for other reviews and measurements before finalizing mine. It was very difficult to find measurements of the SE version. Claim on the internet is that only the color is different. I saw no proof of this with measurements of both side by side. As you see below, my measurements markedly differ from 598 series posted online. I have no explanation for the discrepancy but stand beyond mine being correct for this sample.

Sennheiser HD598 SE* Measurements
As usual we start with our frequency response:

View attachment 137979

I line up my measurements around 425 Hz. Here you could shift that point and get slightly different visual representation but the story will be the same: there is a massive bass to mid-range boost from 70 Hz up to 500 Hz. This part correlates with measurements of 598 in the wild (although maybe not peaking as much). I then show a huge shortfall between 500 and 3000 Hz. This would indeed be a horribly sounding headphone if correct:
View attachment 137980

Distortion is high in upper bass and at elevated volume but fortunately we have excess output there so EQ will be in our favor:

View attachment 137981

Mid to high frequency distortion is extremely low:
View attachment 137982

Group delay indicates issues in sub-bass which may just be due to very low output in that region:

View attachment 137983

This is sensitive headphone that is easy to drive:

View attachment 137984

Impedance is middle of the road so you don't need a ton of voltage to drive it:

View attachment 137985

Sennheiser HD 598 SE Listening Tests and Equalization
It took playing just a few seconds of my first standard test clip to realize this is one horrible sounding headphone! Boomy bass swamps the mid-frequency detail and was distorted to boot (at higher volumes). There was zero spatial qualities which is indicative of hole in response between 1 and 5 kHz which measurements tell us we have.

Fortunately the shortfalls are broad in nature so was quick to bring them into compliance with just four filters:

View attachment 137987

The transformation was incredible. Sub-bass was now clean and powerful, able to play as loud as you ever wanted. I could literally get my ear lobes to resonate and tingle for the second or two I pushed it! What a great sensation if hearing loss was not to follow after extended listening. :)

The sound become very open with female vocals and sharper instruments coming to the forefront with zero harshness. Spatial qualities went from grade F to B+. Combined with the comfort of the headphone, I could and did listen for a long time.

As a confirmation, I had my oldest adult son do an AB test with and without EQ. He thought on some tracks the difference was subtle but on others, he liked that it took away the boominess and made the instruments so separate. Note that I had not shown him any measurements or what the EQ was doing.

Conclusions
The measurements and subjective results by no less than three humans agree that out of box tuning of this headphone is horrible. This doesn't jive with any review I read on the 598 or 598 SE. I tend to think that there is more to this SE version than just color back. Anyway, I am not going to generalize the response to all 598 SEs. The walk-away point though is that objective measurements proved their worth strongly in confirming subjective listening tests and showing the path to equalization.

For this specific Sennheiser HD598SE, I cannot recommend it without EQ. It simply is horrid. With EQ however, it becomes a keeper. I understand you can pick these up used for $100 or so at times. If so, and they all measure/EQ like this, they would be a good choic.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Just wonders will it be the pads affecting it much? Can’t imagine the sennheiser line which are generally considered similar to HD 600 deviated so much
 

ShiZo

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 7, 2018
Messages
731
Likes
486
Would this even be good for gaming?
 

Helicopter

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 13, 2020
Messages
2,491
Likes
3,465
Location
Michigan
please someone send this man a Sennheiser GSP 500! Im curious.:cool:

Thanks for the review as always!
I have one Amir is welcome to test once he is done with the headphone my wife keeps nagging me about. :) Haven't offered the GSP500 because it didn't seem especially important to me. I can think of 10 other headphones I would rather see reviewed. If Amir and others think GSP500 is worthwhile, I am happy to lend it.
 

Robin L

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Messages
3,308
Likes
4,415
Location
1 mile east of Sleater Kinney Rd
I've got the HD 599 'phones. The sound description you have of the 598 se corresponds to the 599s, thick in the midbass/lower midrange, fuzzy/blurry on top. Similar reaction to the 579 [also have]. I don't understand how a company that came up with the 650 'phones would come up with such nasty sounding headphones.
 

richard12511

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
4,231
Likes
6,203
What is the point of measuring a discontinued headphone with unidentified knock-off pads?

This awful FR is clearly down to the replacement pads... they make a huge difference for many headphones in general, but for the Sennheiser HD5xx series specifically. I made the mistake of buying cheap replacement pads that looked somewhat like the originals for my HD598, but I instantly realized my mistake when the sound turned into absolute garbage.

Here is the regular HD598 (not SE but close enough), as measured by oratory1990 on an industry-standard rig:

View attachment 138000

That looks better, but still has that terrible midbass bloat. Still looks pretty bad tbh.
 
Top Bottom