I just watched his video. I enjoy Metal571’s reviews, but I can’t say that I entirely agree with his conclusions.
I currently only own the HD58X, have previously owned the HD598 and HD600, but have never heard the HD650 or HD660S. Also, audio memory is known to be highly fallible, so my impressions of the HD598 and HD600 should carry less weight than his.
For reference, when I refer to distortion I’m using figures from https://diyaudioheaven.wordpress.com for the HD58X, HD660S and HD599 (successor to the HD598).
What I think Metal571 Gets Right:
- The HD598, HD58X and HD600 all have noticeable treble grain. In so far as the grain is a manifestation of distortion, we do see that in the midrange and treble, the HD650 and especially HD660S outperform the others in the distortion department, especially in the supposedly unpleasant 3rd harmonic distortion. In so far as this matters, recommending the only slightly more expensive HD6XX makes some sense.
- If for no other reason than being tuned significantly differently in the bass, the HD58X can’t just be considered a drop-in replacement for the HD660S. Also, again based on the distortion figures, we see that it’s at least behaving differently than the HD660S, which has really low distortion in the midrange and treble.
What I think Metal571 gets wrong:
- The bass on the HD58X sounds surprisingly clean to me. It won’t rival the LCD2C for example, but it sounds better than I remember the HD600 and much better than the HD598. Bass distortion, especially third harmonic, also measures really well. In fact, it measures better than the HD650 and HD660S, despite having relatively elevated bass (which seems pretty impressive to me). In light of this, recommending the HD598 over the HD58X seems baffling, especially if you have to resort to comparing the price of a used HD598 to a new HD58X.
- Because the HD58X, HD650 and HD660S have different bass tuning, it seems like it would be difficult to compare “detail” in absolute terms, since the more abundant bass on the HD58X will tend to mask the higher frequencies that contribute to perceived detail.
I think people tend to get caught up in narratives like “these cheap headphones are giant slayers” or “don’t believe the hype”, when the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. This review was clearly a response to Zeos’ hyperbolic praise of the HD58X, and I think Metal571 may have gone too far in the other direction.
I’ve not heard nearly as many headphones as Metal571, but I’ve heard a fair number, and in my humble opinion the HD58X is a heck of a value at $150 new. Is it “better” than the HD660S? I couldn’t say, but I will say that it’s tuned differently and that tuning may or may not be to some people’s liking. Is the HD6XX a “better” choice given the similar price? Again, I couldn’t say, but again it’s tuned differently and so it will partially depend on listener preference.