Sennheiser HD 558 Review
A great option for mid-range open-backed headphones
Meet the HD 558, Sennheiser’s successor to its successful HD 555 open-backed headphones. While it doesn’t appear at first glance that Sennheiser changed much in the HD 558, it does provide a decent performance bump from the older headphones, and users who liked the older cans will definitely like the new ones.
Comfort Design & Features
Very comfortable cans that have a removable cable for easy maintenance
Sennheiser tried to emulate the design of their older headphones with their HD 558 aesthetically, and they actually did a pretty good job updating the look. The all-black look is well executed, and very clean-looking, and while the band material isn’t the most durable thing in the world (heavy plastic), the Sennheiser HD 558s do offer good protection from the ills of a broken cable by making the whole thing removable in the event of breakage. Cables on headphones are the most likely point of failure if there are no additional solder points, but these can be swapped out without hassle.
While to many people the Sennheiser HD 558s are very comfortable with their soft ear pads, those with larger heads reported a pinching sensation at the top of the ear cups after listening for about an hour. Over the length of a 6-hour listening session, the fit doesn’t change too much, so it gets similar marks here.
Open-backed cans are called so because the back of their casings are open, allowing a huge range of driver movement for more accurate sound. Unfortunately, this also means that not only does sound leak out like crazy, but sound from the outside world comes in. Granted, even though your music will drown out some of the noise coming in, you’ll probably want to limit the noise in the environment you’re listening in.
Even frequency response makes for accurate sound.
By reproducing sound at an even level across the spectrum of audible frequencies, these headphones may not be the best bet for bass-lovers, but will do fantastically well for most everyone else. That being said, it does do a somewhat poor job of maintaining a constant sound pressure level in the high end.
In our other measures, there isn't much else to note that there is a rather error-free performance: these headphones don’t have much in the way of distortion, but there is a little bit at the low end. Similarly, the Sennheiser HD 558s maintain a nice, smooth tracking response, with only a minor hiccup towards the 7kHz mark. Even at that, you shouldn’t be able to hear a 3dB shift unless you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Unsurprisingly, these cans leak a fair bit of sound, again due to the nature of open-backed headphones. If you’re going to be listening in a highly-populated room, be sure to keep the volume at a minimum. These are not recommended for the office if you like to blast your music.
The HD 558s impress for the price.
For the price you’d pay, the Sennheiser HD 558s offer a good level of sound quality, comfort, and aesthetic appeal, and are the worthy successors to the HD 555s. The Sennheiser HD 558s are damned impressive mid-range headphones.
While they don’t light the world on fire with their performance, when you buy the Sennheiser HD 558s, you’re getting a set of headphones that give you a remarkably flat frequency response for the price. Be wary though, as bass lovers will probably not like the dropoff in emphasis at the 90Hz mark.
Should the cable break, you can always replace it with another Sennheiser cable, which is a huge plus in terms of prevented frustration, wasted money, and time lost. While open-backed cans aren’t typically the most durable headphones in the world, the Sennheiser HD 558s offer the right features to make sure that they’ll stick around for quite a while should you take them home.
If you’re looking for a set of solid performers for a mid-range budget, the Sennheiser HD 558s are a good bet if you’re okay with a little lacking bass. With features built in to protect your investment, the HD 558s are a good buy if you liked the HD 555s.
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