Sennheiser HD 558 Review

Well, I’m sitting here in absolute bliss, listening to my newest acquisition, a pair of Sennheiser HD558 headphones.

First the technical info.  These are “around the ear” headphones, which means that they rest on your scalp rather than your ears.  Coming from having suffered endless torture from having my ears smashed by wearing a pair of “on the ear” headphones, I can tell you this is “the berries.”  At last pain-free listening.

The second important characteristic is that these are open back headphones that allow much of the ambient noise surrounding you to come through (depending on the volume of the music you are listening to, you may hear very little from outside).  If you goal is absolute isolation or you listen in a high noise area, then these are not the headphones for you, but if, like me, you like to be able to hear what is going on around you–within reason–then you would have to look far and wide to find a better pair of headphones.

From the Sennheiser webpage:

Technical Data:

  • Transducer principle–Dynamic, open
  • Ear coupling — Circumaural
  • Frequency response — 15 – 28000 Hz
  • THD — <0.2% (1 khz/100 dB SPL)
  • Sound pressure level — 112 db
  • Impedence — 50 ohms
  • Cable length — 3 m
  • Jack plug — 6.3 mm (3.5 mm adapter)
  • Weight — 260 g

There is plenty of bass here and tremendous clarity all up and down the range, however if you are looking for headphones appropriate for hip-hop, or headbanger music, then perhaps again, these aren’t the headphones for you.

I tend to be very eclectic in my choice of music from Thelonius Monk, Herbie Hancock, and Dave Brubeck, to Ravel and Beethoven; from Jimi to Crosby, Stills & Nash to Ozzy or Steely Dan, about the only music that gets short shrift from me is Country and Western.  I have never felt much attraction for the whanging and whining that usually constitutes country music–with some notable exception like Hoyt Axton or Don Williams–or Willy and Waylon.

So right now, I’m listening to Sting’s “Brand New Day” SACD and the detail is amazing, the musicality as very much there.  Depth without booming in the bottom, detail with no harshness in the high range. The impacts of the drumsticks on cymbals and drum heads is distinct–everything is as it should be.

Switch to Bob Marley & The Wailers MFSL Catch a Fire, plenty of bass to capture this classic of Reggae.  Very musical bass, again great overall definition and musicality.  Cowboy Junkies–Black Eyed Man, Cream–Wheels of Fire (just F’n awesome).  Coltrane’s LIke Someone in Love from the 1957 classic Lush Life–simply amazing.

All across the board, these headphones fulfill their promise.

Now mind, I’m no audiophile or headphone expert, but I do know what I like and I love these headphones.  For a C-note and a half (~$150), you simply can’t go wrong with these phones (another caveat, these are not really suitable for portable players, strictly intended for relaxed listening at home.

And now that I have written this review, that is precisely what I intend to do.