Massdrop Sennheiser HD58X


#183

Yes that’s a great way of putting it. They tick lots of boxes for me without being outstanding in any one aspect. They are more than the sum of their parts so to speak. It’s the price for which they’ve done it in that makes it even better. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these to any budding audiophile.

One thing I have noticed is the grain that you’ve mentioned. It’s only slight and you’ve got to be looking for it. I can’t for the life in me decide whether or not it’s just picking up something from the recording or whether it’s the headphones. It doesn’t present itself on all tracks and sometimes I can’t hear it for ages. Still deciding. Thing is I don’t think I hear it on my HD800. But I will look into this and test side by side and track for track.

I listened to my HD650’s and HD800 today in order to get a feel for the true difference’s between them. I only hear the so called Sennheiser veil on the HD650’s but that is IMO down to their darker nature (if that’s the right expression). The Mids on the 650’s are sweeter and overall much smother and tonally more accurate. The Timbre as has been discussed previously is spot on with the 650’s too. Definitely the Mids are the 650’s best feature. It does pick up good detail too.

The HD800 is king amongst these headphones which goes without saying but I would still take the Mids from the 650. I love the 800 but it’s not something I want to sit down with all day. It’s something for critical listening and for when I really have a hankering for it, which is quite often. I though would sit down with my HD58X all day for an extended listening session. It’s a very enjoyable headphone.

-Paul-


The Miracle of EQ, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my LCD2C Again"
#184

Yeah, it’s interesting for sure. I’ve EQ’d my LCD2C to a point where the frequency response is very similar to the HD58X (though with a bit more bass) and I don’t hear anything like this grain on the LCD2C. My current best guess is that it’s distortion from the bass and low mids, emphasis being on guess.


#185

Personally I think my problem may lie in some badly mastered downloads (maybe) from Spotify. I don’t think it’s an inherent problem with the HD58X. It’s anybody’s guess but perhaps after picking something up on one track I am now looking for it and thinking I hear it when it isn’t there. Tomorrow’s another day I will pick up on it tomorrow.

-Paul-


#186

Missed this but just wanted to say, now that I’ve seen your comment I couldn’t agree more. Especially with the HD650s I’ve found that the better the amplification (ie cleaner, more powerful etc.) the better they sound.

I’ve found that even after plenty of hours of break in the HD58X doesn’t scale as well as the 650s but still sounds better with better amplification, if you don’t push it past it’s optimum volume level.
I don’t listen loud for too long but if/when I want to for a short time, I prefer the HD650s. They play cleaner when pushed to higher volume levels.

Each headphone has enough of it’s own particular strengths to warrant owning both and I prefer the 580s for portable playback. Maybe a >$500 portable amp would change that but I wouldn’t choose to spend that on portable amplification.


#187

Yes I do agree. I really like the Both the HD58x and the HD650’s. I use them for different purposes though. Acoustic music sounds really great through the HD58x. @pwjazz has plenty of experience with them and has thoughts on their scalability. Amplification wise so much of what you can get for below $500 is fairly portable. It is quite a chunk of change though to pay out for one. To be honest I don’t use over ear headphones on anything less than my desktop amp. I use my portable stuff for Iem’s exclusively. I think I get a better experience through the desktop amp for the full sized stuff.

-Paul-


#188

Love me some Lana!


#189

Comparison to LCD2C

I’ve revisited my EQ settings for the LCD2C and have been using the HD58X as a baseline in terms of natural tonality. As a result of this, I’ve collected a fair number of impressions comparing these two headphones and I figured I’d share them here.


The HD58X sounds incredibly realistic. With some mild EQ to fill in the bass and smooth out the low and mid treble, it sounds a lot like my JBL LSR305 monitors with elevated bass and more treble clarity at a similar overall treble level. It’s punchy and clear enough to reward listening at lower volumes. At higher volumes, it can become a bit stuffy. It images very well within a somewhat intimate soundstage (which is adequately large for me). Although I couldn’t give you an intelligent description of what influences macro-dynamics and why they would vary between two sufficiently driven headphones, I can tell you that the HD58X really makes volume contrasts pop, both those that build gradually and those that happen suddenly, which makes for a very engaging sound. The LCD2C by comparison sounds very flat when it comes to volume dynamics. It becomes somewhat more dynamic at higher listening levels, but so does the HD58X. The HD58X’s bass performance in level, extension and detail is pretty good for a small dynamic driver open-back, and better than the HD600, but it’s not the star of the show.

The LCD2C sounds unrealistic in comparison to the HD58X. It improves somewhat with careful EQ, so that instruments and voices sound quite tonally accurate, but even after tonal correction they fall short of the HD58X’s realism. A great example of this is the German voice at the beginning of First We Take Manhattan on Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat. On the HD58X, one can clearly tell that the voice sounds like it’s coming over a somewhat imperfect analog radio transmission. On the LCD2C this is much less apparent and you almost have to know to expect it to have any chance of hearing it. It’s possible that this is just due to some missing frequencies and that I haven’t gone far enough with my EQ, but to my ear it sounds more like the LCD2C lacks the micro-dynamics to properly render the subtle amplitude modulation in the simulated radio transmission. Perhaps these lacking micro-dynamics also account for the inferior imaging, which does a convincing job of separating and layering sounds but leaves them hard to place precisely within the soundstage.

So the HD58X is a better headphone, right? Well, that’s where things get frustrating. The LCD2C has some redeeming qualities that keep drawing me back to it for certain genres. The most significant is its big and low distortion bass. By big, I don’t necessarily mean elevated in level, it just has this sort of force that’s more visceral, and it feels more like it surrounds you than comes at you from a little pinpoint driver like on the HD58X. The low distortion allows the LCD2C to present a lot more texture in the bass region and, while the HD58X generally sounds more realistic, the LCD2C sounds more realistic in the low registers. The LCD2C’s other redeeming quality is a smoothness and black background that give it a feeling of spaciousness and size. Listening with the LCD2C is a little like standing at the edge of an ocean, the sound just washes over you, with an irresistible grandeur that pulls you in and a power that threatens to submerge you in its vastness. These qualities serve it well one some specific genres that I hit in my test:

  1. Electronic, heavily processed or beats-driven music like Big Smoke on Tash Sultana’s Flow State. This song actually has real guitars and voice, not just synthesizers, but it’s pretty heavy on the effects and relies on a strong bass line with an almost dub-step kind of sound. The HD58X’s realism is wasted here because that’s not what this song is about. The LCD2C’s powerful bass and clean background work really well with this song, and it’s timbre is good enough not to make me question the accuracy of Tash’s voice. The less precise imaging doesn’t really bother me here because there’s so much electronic instrumentation and I can’t really imagine what this music would sound like live anyway.

  2. Choral music like Kommt, ihr Töchter, helft mir klagen on Bach’s Matthäus Passion. It’s big and atmospheric and often performed in highly reverberant spaces like cathedrals in which individual voices become almost impossible to place and the sound just kind of washes over you. The LCD2C excels in conveying that big, reverberant sound.

  3. Bass-centric small ensemble stuff like Abraham’s New Gift on Phronesis’ Alive. So much of the most interesting sonic content is in the bass register, and the LCD2C is just so much clearer and powerful there that this trumps the HD58X’s advantages, though truth be told the HD58X is not bad here, the LCD2C is just excellent.

Overall the HD58X comes across as very well rounded whereas the LCD2C comes off as a bit of a specialist that can really rise to the occasion given the right task, but is difficult for me to just leave on for long listening sessions because I invariably encounter something that doesn’t sound right (not to mention it’s heavy and sweaty!).


#190

I’m not sure if I mentioned this as one of my test tracks in another thread or just intended to; but it was one of the first tracks (and albums) I listened to when I received the HD58Xs and what convinced me immediately I was listening to an exceptional set of cans.
Another great album to show off their capability with vocals and mid/bass impact is Levon Helm’s original “Dirt Farmer”. The snare hit within the first 30 seconds on the first track “False Hearted Lover Blues” was another revelation as to how much fun these cans can be to listen through.


#191

I have a very good portable Arrow DAC/AMP that will drive the 650s fine. I think it’s just that I’m used to hearing them balanced from a desktop amp with an aftermarket balanced cable. When I use anything less I feel a bit disappointed.

It’s almost the other way around with the 58Xs as they don’t seem to improve as much when run balanced but do a better job at reasonable levels with less robust/costly amplification.
It’s also possible that the balanced solid silver cable I have/use is better suited to complimenting the 650s treble while the 580X doesn’t need the treble boost.
Experimenting has been fun regardless; and more fun than I anticipated with cans I thought were going to be more similar than they turned out to be. Again, it’s great to have both for different occasions/recordings.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten better value for $150 on any new audio gear, and I’ve purchased a fair bit of it over the years. I’ve matched or beat the 58X’s value buying used but you don’t get the security of a warranty on inexpensive used gear.
It’s also not available for others to buy/compare when you get a one-off great deal on used gear.


#192

I totally agree. The HD58x is exceptional value and a really good deal. I agree that It doesn’t scale up as well as the higher impedance HD650. I have found as have others that I like to give the HD58x plenty of volume without having to necessarily pump them with power. So they do fine with portable amps. I don’t drive any overear headphones via a phone although it could probably be driven by one.

-Paul-


#193

Yup, you’re how I learned about this album. Thanks again!


#194

You guys should also check out the HE4XX massdrop, a great value for planar magnetic headphones, both equate to my jump in point recommendation for new audiophiles.


#195

I’ve never listened to the HE4XX, but I briefly owned the HE400i which as I understand it is almost identical sound-wise. It was my first planar magnetic headphone, and though it wasn’t without its problems, it was remarkably clear and had very articulate (albeit surprisingly wimpy) bass.

If I had to recommend just one, I’d definitely point towards the HD58X. The HE400i had a somewhat uneven frequency response and a treble spike that led it to sound a bit unnatural and overly sharp. Granted, my EQ-foo was weak at the time and I do wonder how much one could do with these and some good EQ, as they are quite low distortion drivers. Also, there’s the question of Hifiman reliability, whereas Sennheiser’s reputation is sterling.


#196

My latest EQ for the HD58X (using Harman as the target):

While I wouldn’t call myself a bass-head, I’ve been spending more quality time with the LCD2C and when switching to the HD58X I really miss the bass extension. Somewhat surprisingly, the HD58X takes the extra +8dB of sub-bass quite happily. I’m able to get the rumble and still hear good detail in the bass, all without distortion muddying up the lower mids. While I had the patient open, I went ahead and dialed in a little more clarity around 2.3 kHz and evened out the mid treble.

These settings work really nicely directly out of my LG V20, even with the -8dB of preamp needed to avoid clipping. The overall clarity and realism is still there, but the bottom end has some more guts. I might be crazy, but it sounds like with these EQ settings the grain that’s bothered me on the HD58X is … gone. One sure way of bringing out the grain used to be turning up the volume on the V20. With these EQ settings I can turn up the volume to nearly painful levels and I don’t hear the grain.

My only hypothesis at this point is that the peak at around 4600 Hz (or the overall unevenness in that area) was bringing out what I heard as “grain” and that by flattening that area out I fixed it.

I’m curious how these settings work for you other HD58X users, @Hellenback, @DarthPool and @prfallon69?


#197

Fair, I think it’s a apple to oranges discussion. The Senns have a better reputation. But I think specifically the 4xx is a tank, comparatively to other hifimans. I haven’t heard the 400i so don’t want to compare them. Both sets are still my defacto jump into audiophile headphone recommendations, you can have both for the price of one of the individual siblings. Plus you can run both relatively easy out of a phone…saving a new audiophile money, that could potentially be used later on a better DAC/amp. Both have unique sound profiles allowing for someone to get a better understanding of what their preference is.

Now to dive into comparison between the two…I’ll have to bust them out to a/b. … That might have to wait until this week though. Fun experiment though


#198

I’ll try and play with this in the upcoming days…time is becoming very precious these days lol


#199

Yes, especially considering that any bonafide headphone addict needs at least one set of planar magnetics, the HE4XX seems like a logical starting point and I think on pair of that plus the HD58X, with maybe a refurbished LG V20 or something as a source, would make a kick-ass collection.


#200

I hear you. Enjoy that daughter of yours, they’re not young forever!


#201

Yeah, if only I had just become an audiophile enthusiast, I could have saved some cash…eh who am I kidding, I love new toys too much.

Yeah, the weeks have been flying by recently, just can’t find my rythm, moment of peace to sit down and get thoughts together. Most free time goes to my daughter, because I want to have as much quality time with her as possible :smile: I’m sure once I settle into a good battle rythm I’ll be better able to contribute more quality posts. I would like to do more forum back and forth like what we did with the 58X … kind of like a book club review/discussion but with headphones and how they interact with sources and music.


#202

Thanks Percy tihs is a quality post as always. I will certainly try these settings out on my HD58x and let you know my thoughts. I really need to get into the Eq side a lot more. I would like to understand it better first though instead of blindly flailing about with the various dials and sliders as I am apt to do. I guess a little reading is in order. Though I am sure even I can input the said Eq data in without buggering it up.:grin:.

-Paul-