While Sennheiser might not be a household name, they are well renowned within the enthusiast and professional space for making high performance, high quality audio equipment. Their most popular products include over the ear headphones and studio microphones. While they do also sell some more consumer focused gear, their best products are targeted towards the “audiophile” crowd and consist of the headphones in the HD series. The archetypal HD 580 solidified Sennheiser’s name in delivering (mostly) neutral yet highly enjoyable sound from headphones with generally large dynamic drivers. This series evolved into the HD 600, 650, and 660S. These headphones have generally been priced in the $399+ range, making them out of reach to most of the consumer market. That was until the group buy website Massdrop.com (now Drop.com) decided to partner up with Sennheiser to create the HD 58X Jubilee, a 150 ohm open back headphone that has a sound signature very close to the 600 series thanks to a very similar driver construction.
I’ve spent about a week with the HD 58X and they are by far the best set of headphones I have ever listened to. I also use a pair of Bose QC25s that are great for ANC but not the best for detail retrival, which the HD 58X seems to excel at. They deliver tight and controlled bass, a smooth mid range, and clear treble. This combination allows for vocals to really shine through while still retaining enough detail in instrumentals. Now, I am by no means an audiophile but I can definitely hear more resolution in music from both high bitrate FLAC and 320 kbps Ogg Vorbis streamed from Spotify on the very high preset. Although you could drive the HD 58X from onboard or even a mobile phone, I chose to also pick up a Schiit Audio Fulla 3, a $99 DAC/Amp combo that has plenty of power for these headphones. The Fulla 3 delivers nice, clean output without breaking the bank. From what I’ve heard, the HD 58X doesn’t scale particularly well with higher end amps so you probably don’t need to spend a ton more to get better sound out of these headphones.
Overall, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better sounding combo for just under $300. It’s probably not an “endgame” pairing but it is a massive upgrade over the Bose QC 25’s and awful Realtek onboard audio I was coming from. The only complaint I have with the Fulla 3 is the volume knob – it feels incredibly cheap and is a bit squeaky when turning, but the potentiometer itself seems fine. Considering it was only $99 I can give it a pass. The HD 58X themselves are pretty great, the construction is mostly plastic but super light so it is very comfortable. The stock velour pads are a bit scratchy at first but get super comfy after breaking them in, as is with the clamp force which softens up after a week of use. I found myself using these headphones way more often compared to using my desktop speakers because I just love how they sound. If you are looking for an entry point into higher end audio, this is a great starting point while still being value minded.