Massdrop Sennheiser HD58X


Yeah for sure! If your in Seattle maybe we could coordinate an impromptu meet up with all the Seatlites in the area! Maybe convince @taronlissimore and @andrew to come down too :wink:


After letting the new 580s break-in a bit, I’ve been comparing the 580s and 650s. My setup has no dual balanced HP out so the direct “swap” comparison is done in SE mode.
For the sake of trying to be as accurate/fair as possible, I’ve been using the stock cables on both as they’re identical other than in length.

Ottmar Liebert - Up Close (Binaural) has been mentioned in this thread and is an album I’m familiar with and like a great deal. I’ve been using it, along with other music, in the comparison.
I really enjoy surround sound on my speaker set-up so am also a big fan of well done binaural recordings; Ottmar Liebert’s “Close Up” is very well done.

With headphones, I don’t see how the shape of your head, or even ears, would have much effect on your experience. I think HRTF is just to do with the physical properties (eg: distance, placement, shape etc.) and not the brain’s processing of the information. But I could always be wrong, so please feel free to educate me :wink:

I can see how some might be disconcerted by the “all around the head and beyond” audio experience with binaural recording. I remember the first few times I was listening to one; I kept taking the headphones off because the sound was way off to the left and behind me and so realistic that I was certain someone or something was happening in the room behind me. I was made “uncomfortable” once in awhile because I was alone in the apartment (startled is probably a better word/description)!
Once I stopped checking for ghosts I just couldn’t get enough. I’m still quite often transfixed while listening to binaural but now it’s a totally enjoyable experience.

A short comment on the comparison so far is that I would have a very difficult time deciding if I was forced to choose which to keep. That in itself is high praise for the Massdrop 580 as they’re about a third of the cost of the HD650s when new and even the 660s today.
It’s getting late so some not too technical impressions will come next post.

Thanks for all your your input on these guys. It’ll be fun to compare notes :wink:


check this track out…been really enjoying this groups eclectic approach… they have some ridiculous vids on Youtube too:

The brass and percussion sound really good with the 58X…


It’s not so much disconcerting as unnatural. It sounds as if I’m standing right at the edge of the stage, but facing away from the band. I never listen to music like that in real life.


It feels more like I’m sitting in a chair and the band is walking around me while playing and singing


Sounds more pleasant, but still weird. Are binaural mics typically placed in the middle of the bands I wonder?


I’ve seen a lot like this, or where it is placed in front of the band. Dr.Chesky does a lot with it.


I imagine perception has much to do with it. If you don’t listen to/enjoy a lot of surround music then it I suppose it would sound unnatural to some. It’s basically surround sound for headphones.

If you ever went to a Pink Floyd concert (or even an excellent tribute band playing Floyd) you’d have heard things very much like what you hear on a binaural recording.

I suppose people argue about what’s “natural” and what isn’t in many areas of life all the time but that’s not my intention here. If by unnatural you mean it doesn’t sound like a stereo recording, you’re absolutely right.

I wasn’t so much arguing over semantics as sharing my own experience with the format.

Every recording wouldn’t be suitable for the process and it is somewhat of a novelty but I find the Chesky selections really enjoyable.

In addition to a Pink Floyd concert, (if you’re looking for a “natural” place where this experience might occur) I imagine a spontaneous “around the campfire” music session, with the musicians sitting at various distances from the fire (while you’re located right next to it) would sound at least somewhat similar (especially if a bear let out a big “natural” roar from the woods behind you :wink:

Unexpected and/or startled works for me but to each his own.


I listened to the linked track and an “eclectic approach” is certainly one way of describing it! I don’t know if the subway portion was entirely staged or not but it was well done regardless… certainly talented and energetic musicians.

The recording is very entertaining, with the sax player appearing to be especially enjoying himself :man_dancing::saxophone:

I’ll have to listen to it without the video to determibe if the music alone is something I’d enjoy.


@pwjazz here is another binaural album that has a more natural recording sound, I especially like Strive, and it is one a lot of people put on their lists to test headphones with…Strive that is. Also it fits the bill for what we have determined where the 58X shines.
Edit: forgot to post the link to the album

Another trick when listening to Binaural that I’ve found is to remove one cup from your ear while listening so you can hear how the music from one side really sounds from the other, and vice verse. Because like in real life the side the music comes from is the loudest but, when you listen to the ear away from the sound you can pick up the subtle differences, part of why binaural is so cool.


Yeah I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to more Brass and percussion tracks… they speak to me right now…maybe it’s nostalgia for being a kid-teenager going to sessions with my Step-mom. Too many Zooz did a Ted talks type deal which is kind of cool, I think they just really get into the music.


When I saw your link to the Zooz first track I’d just been listening to this album
“Explorations in Space and Time” which is also from Chesky.

I suppose it’s somewhat experimental percussion but is certainly great for breaking in headphones. It’s also an excellent demo disc for binaural audio. I happen to enjoy percussion and these guys are outstanding.

Sorry I don’t have a link handy as I’m borrowing the CD from a friend before deciding if I want to buy it. I imagine it’s on Spotify or another streaming service but haven’t checked yet.



That is a great album!
This playlist is full of headphonefoolery :wink:

Edit: it might break your brain a lil bit though…always practice safe listening and have a person in the house to check on you every few minutes or so while listening…


This is actually the only binaural album I own, and it’s what I think of when I think “unnatural”. Strive is a cool song, but I hear nothing in the center. I hear cello way on the left and drums+fiddle on the right. It’s like the band is on a giant stage sitting as far as possible from each other. Is that what you hear, is that what’s intended?


Listening to this now. This is much better, there’s actually stuff going on in the center/in front.


I’m pretty sure that is exactly how they recorded that album lol, they were purposefully exaggerating the separation I think…but I could be wrong.


I think you’re right in that a certain amount of experimentation is involved with each recording.
It seems they sometimes try to push the limits of the format, especially when attempting to increase the sense of space.

The other aspects I seem to hear that push limits are the “advancing/departing” parts on some tracks.
The “walkuing around your head” sensation is pretty cool but I do think there can be a tendency to exaggerate the effect for the sake of “look what we can do with this”.
That will likely settle down a bit if the process becomes more popular and becomes a more integrated process within diffrrent genres.
It’s really hard to say how commercially viable it will become on a larger scale.


I’ve had this album a while and love it. It has great sound. I love her voice it’s a very relaxing sound. Good Mystery and Hold On are two particular favourites that many will have heard but look deeper and she’s got real depth.



The only thing I can complain about this outstanding phones are the pads. They are way too flat so the ears are touching the inside. That really could be better solved by Sennheiser. Its lacking just 3-4 mm depth to have more space for the ears. Changing pads is a bit dangerous for worsing the sound.


Your suggestion re the earpad opening size is near universal and a common complaint. I don’t know why Sennheiser hasn’t changed it over all these years. The HD800s have the right size so it’s not like they are unaware of the less than optimal ear cup size.
That’s their one unforgivable fault; so I deal with it.