By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
Here is a pair of comfortable headphones. But is that music to our ears?
THE Sennheiser HD598 has very striking aesthetics. The cream and brown colour scheme is a welcome change from the usual grey and black design. It also has a glossy wood veneer that gives it a premium look and feel.
It's largely made up of plastic but a nice foam and leather cushion at the top and padded fleece ear cups make the HD598 comfortable to wear.
Similar to the Beats Audio Pros that we reviewed, the HD598's audio cable can be removed. A 2.5mm jack plugs into the headphone with a twist-and-lock mechanism that ensures the wire doesn't fall out by accident. This also makes it easier to stow the cable away when not in use.
The other end of the cable ends with a large 6.3mm jack and Sennheiser has included a 3.5mm adaptor for using it with most devices like the iPod, PC and laptops.
The headphones are made of very lightweight material that makes it comfortable to wear over long periods. Plus, it has a very flexible design - great for popping out one ear cup to listen to surrounding sound. This is usually handy for disc jockeys.
The HD598 has an open-back design. The speakers are covered by metal grilles that let in ambient noise which make the music sound more natural and "spacious" than as if it's coming from within your head.
The obvious downside is that the ambient sound may distract you from enjoying your music fully as it is present even when the volume is turned up quite high.
Of course, it also "broadcasts" the music you are listening to others.
In terms of audio performance, we were quite impressed with the HD598 as it produced audio that sounded clean and natural.
However, it doesn't have the same level of booming bass as the Beat Audio headphones but makes up for it with excellent treble and vocal clarity.
Third Eye Blind's Semi Charmed Life proves the versatility of the HD598 as the headphones nimbly balanced between the thumping low-beat of the drums and the vocals nicely.
The headphones also sounded great with a variety of different music genres that we tried such as rock, alternative, electronica and even instrumental.
The HD598 is also decent for enjoying both movies and games as it was still able to deliver meaty bass. The main difference between the Beats headphones and the Sennheiser is that the music sounds like its coming from outside the headphones on the HD598 instead of from within the listener's head. The headphones give off suitably detailed sound, especially on higher scale notes without sacrificing lower beats in the process.
The Sennheiser HD598 may not be for you if you are looking for a pair of all-purpose headphones to carry around with you.
Its long audio cable makes it unwieldy and the open-back design doesn't isolate your music from external noise.
On the other hand, if you are just planning to use it at home to listen to music and watching movies, then the HD598 will serve your purpose nicely.
Also, the build quality is excellent and the headphones are so light that they can be used for an entire day comfortably.
All in all, the Sennheiser HD598 performs like a premium pair of headphones, delivers natural quality sounds and is great for listening to vocals.
It is a little on the expensive side but you do get what you pay for.
Pros: Lightweight and comfortable to use; balances treble and bass well; tunes sound natural.
Cons: Long, unwieldy audio cable; poor sound isolation; pricey.
Frequency Response: 12Hz-38,500Hz
Accessories: 3.5mm adaptor, 3m audio cable
Review unit courtesy of MyPantrade (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, (03) 7958-2148