In 1960 Sennheiser presented the MD421 to the world and it put the Sennheiser name on the map. Sennheiser created their first headphone -the HD414 after 4 years. Sennheiser produced it for 15 years and sold over 10 million units which is extremely impressive. They patented the open ear design for 25 years. Sennheiser employs 1300 people in Germany (of which 400 are in production) and 2800 people worldwide.
Sennheiser decided it was time to update the existing 5XX product line after having launched the HD800S and the new HE-1 headphone, of which the iconic HD598 is part of. The new HD598 is called the HD599 and that means it’s closer to the HD600, in more ways than you can think.
The HD599 – according to Sennheiser – lets the listener enjoy their choice of home entertainment with exceptional wearing comfort assured, thanks to the large ear cups and soft, replaceable ear pads. Created with Sennheiser’s “Ergonomic acoustic refinement” (E.A.R.) technology, the headphones have been designed to more effectively channel the audio signal directly into the ears of the listener for a more satisfying listening experience. Offering a step into the world of audiophile sound, the HD599 is a premium headphone for those seeking sophisticated sound, design and build quality. The top-of-the-range model impresses with a natural spatial performance.
When you look at the HD599’s press material you immediately notice this headphone is branded as a top of the line “do-it-all” headphone for watching movies and for listening to music and basically anything that can be done with a headphone. The HD6XX and all the higher end models are marketed as pure audiophile headphones for music listening.
The HD599 has an Impedance of 50 Ω, and not the iconic 300Ohm of the audiophile level units. Its frequency response is 12- 38,500 Hz, the sound pressure level (SPL) is 106dBSPL (1kHz/1Vrms) and THD, total harmonic distortion is <0.1% (1kHz, 100dBSPL).
Looks & Feel
Sennheiser’s Marketing Dpt says the following: “The new HD 500 range has been refreshed with Sennheiser’s elegant contemporary design language, which discretely communicates refinement, purpose and exceptional build quality. The HD 599 features subtle premium design cues that reveal their superior performance at a glance. The HD 599 combines a timeless ivory color scheme with a headband finished with brown stitching which, with the matte metallic detailing on the ear cups and headband, create an immediate impression of substance and quality”.
I’ve always like the way the HD598 looks and it’s no different with the new model. If you’re not a fan of the timeless ivory color scheme than that’s an issue as there only is one version. The build quality is good – it’s made in China – and it feels pretty solid. The open-backed HD599 of course is an over-ear headphone and it has soft & replaceable velour ear pads making it a very comfortable headphone to wear. The brown leather headband looks nice and it spreads the (light) weight evenly over your head. The clamping force of the pads and ear cups is as good as perfect for my head. At the same time the HD599 has a very light and plastic feel to it and the headphone band does bend in a lot of ways. It’s a lot more flexible than any of the higher end models and I’m not sure how much of a beating it can take. That’s the only concern I have with it, though I’m pretty sure Sennheiser tested everything before producing it.
The HD599’s cable is removable and it is terminated at the ear cup’s end in a single 2.5mm plug that enters the left ear cup and that twists to lock. The HD599 comes with two stock cables. One three meter cable terminated with a 6.3mm plug for home use and one 1.2m cable terminated with a 3.5mm plug for use on the go. The unit comes with one 6.3 to 3.5mm adaptor and one Velcro cable tie. Because of the locking mechanism it might be harder to find a proper aftermarket cable for it.
The HD599’s official price in Sennheiser’s shop is €249, VAT included (free shipping) and that seems to be the price on Amazon as well right now. It’s a great price for a really nice looking and sounding headphone but at the same time the HD600 is only 50€ more on Amazon. More about that in the End Words.
According to Sennheiser the HD 599 is your first step into the world of audiophile sound and I couldn’t agree more. It’s smooth, easy to like and listen to but you also get good detail and depth resulting in a musical and natural sound.
“You may have listened to headphones that are quite good. The HD 599 will show you what lies beyond that. Be warned: there is no turning back”
Marketing people always find interesting statements, don’t they? I do see what they mean though and for a whole lot of people who never experienced decent sound this most likely will be the case. The keywords that come in to mind when listening to the HD599 are smooth, engaging and musical and all that in a very possible way. The HD599 simply sounds smooth and is easy to listen to and it to a lot of ears will sound natural with a lovely warmness. Sennheiser achieved to make the HD599 smooth and detailed at the same time and because of that it will please both the new listener as well as the more experienced one. The H599 is a headphone you can perfectly use for watching movies and for listening to music to, it’s a great all-rounder.
Driveability & Sources
The Sennheiser HD599 is easy to drive and it doesn’t really need an amplifier but when using one, it definitely impacts the sounds immediately. The ALO CV5 and HD599 combination is magical, the light tube smoothness of the Continental V5 perfectly matches the HD599’s characteristics resulting in a smooth and engaging sound signature with great bass, sublimely rich mids and sexy voices. On the desktop sized Erzetich Perfidus you get a very musical sound but bass body is too exaggerated for me. Straight out of the Cayin i5 (USB DAC is now activated) the HD599 sounds powerful with great left/right balance, and again very rich mids. Sound isn’t as refined as with the ALO CV5 but it’s still incredibly good. Basically the same goes for the AK70, it’s just a shame we can’t test the HD599 with the balanced output of the sublime AK70. Straight out of my non-exploding Samsung S4 smartphone, the HD599 also performs brilliantly: good bass (yet a little less tight), gorgeous mids and energetic treble. Sound stage width isn’t the best but it’s a 4 year old phone as well. I could perfectly listen to the HD599 using the S4 as a source though.
It’s safe to say that the HD599 performs great with all sources and amplifiers, it simply is an easy to drive headphone that always sounds good (unlike its big brothers that all need good amps to shine)
What a great headphone. The new HD599 has moved a little closer to the HD600 but it’s kept its warm and smooth relaxing vibe. The HD599 is easy to enjoy no matter how you’re using it and what you’re using it for. It isn’t the clearest or most neutral headphone so if that’s what you look for in a headphone, this one isn’t for you. I’m pretty sure though the vast majority of people will absolutely love its tuning, whether you’re a complete newbie or experienced listener.