Drop X Sennheiser HD58X Review

Review written by @Chrono

Introduction

The HD58X is the result of a collaboration between DROP (formerly Massdrop) and Sennheiser. It features the all too familiar Sennheiser 600-series chassis, with a visual design that pays homage to Sennheiser’s original HD 580 Jubilee. These retail for $170 on DROP’s website, which puts them in close competition with Sennheiser’s own HD6XX, the Beyerdynamic DT 990, and the HiFiMan HE4XX; let’s see how the 58X stack up!

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

The Amplifier/DAC used in this review was the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used a variety of music that featured genres like Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and Latin, as well as others. These were played from either my own FLAC library, or from Tidal (HiFi/Master Quality).

Power Requirements

The HD 58X comes in an impedance of 150 ohms and a sensitivity of 104dB, and I was able to get both an appropriate level of volume and good sound quality straight out of my MacBook, iPad, and Nintendo Switch. I will not list a discrete amplifier as a requirement for these, most sources will be able to drive these comfortably.

Though the build here consists nearly entirely of plastic, I still believe that these are some of the best-built headphones available. The plastic used here is very durable and should cause no issues down the line. I have used several other headphones with this design in the past, and not once have I had any of them fall apart or show signs of wear–even after extensive use. My only complaint is the durability of the pads. The pads on these headphones wear out extremely fast. You will probably have to replace these yearly, and I strongly suggest you only buy original Sennheiser pads, as different pads will really deteriorate the sound.

The comfort of these headphones also stands out. The velour pads used here are very soft, and the lightweight build makes them comfortable to wear pretty much indefinitely.The only problem here is that the clamp force when you first get these out of the box is extremely high. However, this can quickly be alleviated by extending the headband out all the way and gently flexing the part that extends so that it relieves some of the clamp.

Sound

In the past, I have really enjoyed the sound signature of Sennheiser headphones, and that remains true for the HD 58X. I really like the way these sound right out of the box, but like all other headphones, the HD 58X is not without its flaws. I must also mention that I was pleasantly surprised at how well these react to EQ, as I think they see serious improvement from it. I would also like to note that I tested these both with and without the foam inserts on the back of the driver, but since I personally did not hear a significant difference, I kept them on for this review.

Bass

Sennheiser’s 600-series headphones are not particularly well-known for their bass, and unfortunately, the HD 58X follows suit. The bass here rolls off early in a very steep fashion beginning at around 80hz, which makes the bass come across as shallow. Additionally, there is an elevation at around 150hz which makes the bass sound a little bloated and undefined. Despite those issues, I still find the bass enjoyable, and they have a pretty decent slam quality.

With EQ, you can mostly resolve the issues in the bass. The 150hz bump just requires a small peak/dip adjustment, which noticeably cleans up the bass. The extension is not something you can significantly improve on these, as adding an aggressive bass shelf can easily start distorting the bass; still, it does alleviate some of that roll-off.

Mids

I have always thought there is something special about Sennheiser’s mids, and that is still the case here in the HD 58X. In terms of resolution, the HD 58X is fairly grainy, and it gets outperformed by the DT 990 Pro, the HE4XX, and the HD6XX. However, their tonality and timbre is simply spot-on. There is really nothing in the mids that I think needs adjustment.

The only adjustment I make in the mids is a very small reduction at 3.5k, and I only do that because I am personally a little sensitive to that region of the FR. I don’t even think that most people will need to make this adjustment, as it is most likely one of my upper midrange nitpicks.

Highs

The highs are, to me, the most interesting part of the HD 58X’s FR. The first thing that stood out to me was this very large peak at 5.5k that added a considerable amount of glare. This peak is very significant because it actually makes both the mids and highs sound grainier than they actually are. I mentioned a similar effect being present in the Audeze LCD-2 as a result of a 6k peak. Yet, it seems like this “resolution-diminishing” effect was greater in the HD 58X’s case. The other thing that stood out to me was that these did not extend that well into the highs at all. Everything above 8k rolls off pretty hard, and it gives the HD 58X a slightly congested timbre in the highs.

I had a really fun time using EQ on the HD 58X’s highs, as they improved the headphones in more ways than one. By reducing the peak at 5.5k, a lot of the grain in the headphone went away. Mind you, they still lagged behind the other headphones I previously mentioned in resolution, but the gap narrowed considerably. By adding a peak filter at 9k the overtones of various instruments began to sound a lot more natural. It might sound like a stretch, but I really mean it when I say that adding these peak/dip adjustments, in combination with a high shelf at 11k cleaned up the soundstage a little bit; it did not sound wider, but all the different tracks sounded slightly better separated. In general, applying EQ to the highs really improved the sound, as it became more natural, and a little more open-sounding.

Soundstage and Imaging

Soundstage and imaging is really where the HD 58X and other similar Sennheiser headphones suffer. The soundstage on these is very narrow. It really pales in comparison to what close competitors like the DT 990 Pro, K7XX, and the HE4XX can achieve in terms of width. Even some closed-back headphones near its price point–like the DT 770–are wider than the HD 58X. Unfortunately, the imaging is also very poor. Whilst they do have a good left, right, and center image, there is a noticeable gap at front-right and front-left. I know that these get recommended a lot for gaming, but I highly advise against it. For gaming there are significantly better options out there at the same (or even lower) price point.

One positive in the imaging, though, is that the instrument separation and layering is actually really good. Distinguishing the different components that make up complex musical passages was much easier on the HD 58X than on most headphones in a similar price range.

Dynamics

The dynamics on the HD 58X are actually pretty good. To me these sound punchier in the lows than the HD6XX, though not as much as the DT 990 Pro. A similar thing can be said for their microdynamics; they are there, you can feel the weight behind instruments, though not as much as on the DT 990 Pro. Overall, I still think that the HD 58X are pretty good in the dynamics department, as they do a much better job at it than most headphones in its price range, and even some above it.

EQ

I have discussed EQ a fair bit throughout this review, but once again I think this a headphone that really improves with EQ. With the exception of the 5.5k peak, I really did not make massive adjustments to the HD 58X, but I did make them in areas that greatly changed the sound. There is a very noticeable increase in the clarity of the HD 58X when EQ is applied, but they still retain that warm and delightful Sennheiser sound signature. Here are the settings I used, and you can apply them via your EQ software of choice:

  • Low Shelf at 80hz, +2dB Q of 0.7
  • Peak at 150hz, -3.5dB Q of 1.41
  • Peak at 3500hz, -1.5dB Q of 3
  • Peak at 5500hz, -7dB Q of 5
  • Peak at 9000hz, +3dB Q of 4
  • High Shelf at 11000hz, +2dB Q of 0.7

Conclusion

BlogReviews

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published