£ 90 / $ 100 for incredibly sounding open-back headphones.
Sennheiser’s HD 598 and 599 series of open-backed headphones are legendary for their neutral sound signature, comfortable velor ear cups and wide sound image. I’ve owned a pair of HD 598 SE headphones for six years and I still use them regularly – when I’m not required by my job to test a new set of music boxes!
So I was excited to see a set of HD 599 SEs emerge as an Amazon US lightning deal for $ 100 in the US, down from a list price of $ 200 – and even more excited to see these headphones also available with a 50 percent discount at Amazon UK. They are already 46 percent claimed on Amazon USA when I started this article, so let me quickly tell you why I really value these headphones.
So: open back headphones are brilliant for quiet spaces when you really want to feel like you hear the music all around you instead of from the inside of your skull. They do not block noise in or out of design, so you will get some leakage out – potentially annoying others – and in – potentially annoying you. That said, the immersive feel you get from these headphones makes it worthwhile to create a quiet space and time to enjoy them.
The wide sound image and good imaging also make it easier to locate the footprints of an opponent in Counter-Strike. These generally sound pretty neutral, so they are not quite as exciting as other headphones in some genres, but you can still pick up quite a few details without the sound getting too tiring.
As someone who wears glasses, I especially love the HD 598 and 599 because they use velor ear pads, which do not make as good a seal as leather, but deform more easily to accommodate the arms of your glasses. This makes them more comfortable in the long run than the vast majority of headsets I have tried, and especially the HD 598/599 I can wear for hours without discomfort, which is great.
Finally, these are the headsphones and not a headset. This means that there is no built-in microphone, so if you want something to talk to your friends, use an external USB or XLR microphone or attach a ModMic to HD 599s. Both of these options are easy and work well, but they require a bit of investment if you do not already have an external microphone. Personally, I think these headphones are good enough that I do not mind switching to an actual gaming headset when I want to chat with people, but I can well understand if people prefer an all-in-one solution, and these are not. Fortunately, the compatibility is at least wide, with simple 3.5mm that works for both console hold, PC, most smartphones and many other devices.
These headphones are not the obvious choice for gamers as they lack a microphone, but that is also what makes these headphones so good – every penny has gone to the sound adjustment, comfort, durability, the things that really matter and differentiate one pair of good headphones from a legendary pair. And at £ 91 / $ 100, this is the perfect time to see what the fuss is about.