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Sennheiser HD 558 - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams



  • Recommended by TR
Sennheiser HD 558


Our Score:


If you do decide to take the Sennheiser HD 558 out with you, passers-by will be able to hear what you're listening to as they're open-backed headphones. The perforated back grille of each cup leaks sound, and also means that they provide very little isolation from the noise of the outside world. They're next-to useless on public transport, unless your aim is to annoy your fellow passengers.

As an at-home pair though, they're utterly brilliant. With a detailed, smooth and balanced sound, they can take on all genres of music and delight the ear. They trade away some of the bass thickness of the cheaper HD 518 set, but in return provide superior separation and dynamics, and a more robust mid-range. Complicated musical arrangements remain coherent, and this stepping-away from a more low-end focused approach makes even better use of the airiness offered by an open-back design. The treble is detailed and refined, only the bass could do with a bit of a tightening-up.

Sennheiser HD 558 5

To get better sound within Sennheiser's HD range, you'll have to step up to the HD 600/650 - which cost at least twice the price. With them will come more musicality and greater dynamics, but that's not to suggest the HD 558 won't satisfy discerning ears.

These lower-end 5** models also use lower-impedance 50Ohm drivers, as opposed to the 300Ohm 6-series models, lessening the need for a dedicated headphone amplifier. A good amplifier can still improve the sound - our test valve amp added a little low-end power - but these cheaper headphones are a great choice if you want to keep your setup simple, and affordable.

Sennheiser HD 558

Clarity fiends may want to consider the AKG K271 MKII, and bassheads something like the Ultrasone HFI-680, but as an all-rounder that can accommodate virtually all tastes, the Sennheiser HD 558 are very tough to beat at the price. Their fairly neutral sound can skip between rock and classical tracks without a slip, and also makes them an excellent choice for sticking into a television or receiver for late-night TV or movie-watching.


The Sennheiser HD 558 are an excellent entry point into high-end audio. Detailed, refined and smooth-sounding, they never offend the ear and don't spend any time on surface level details like the HD 598. They skip between genres, and between music, movies and TV, with ease, and are supremely comfortable to wear.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Design & Features 8
  • Sound Quality 9
  • Value 9

Alex R

July 11, 2011, 10:47 pm

Good review, been looking at getting some of these. Question though, how do they compare to the older 595s?
Similarly priced now...


July 12, 2011, 3:26 am

A very good question. Sadly we didn't have a set to give a direct A/B comparison at review. The grille on the old 595s is nicer, but these do have a new "family" of drivers. I think I'd keep an eye out for a clearance bargain on the HD 595 - not that they pop up often, mind.

Both sets offer the great trademark Sennheiser sound signature, but the HD 595 have less of a sense of compromise about them (even though they are still obviously a rung or two below the HD580/600/650).

Richard Alpagot

January 3, 2012, 6:04 pm

The article mentions that the cables can be bought separately but I have been unable to find a 3.5mm -> 2.5mm that will a) fit and b) have the groves in the mould. Do you have a part number or anything? I tried the 091581 - 1 x HD 200 Cable 3m jack 2.5mm to 3.5mm jack but the jack won't even fit the hole on the headphones.


November 11, 2012, 8:46 pm

which model do you recommend between hd 558 and hd 598? I'm undecided and I can not try them. Thanks

Craig Pennington

January 3, 2013, 8:56 pm

Can't compare to any of the other models but I have owned these for over 12 months and the sound is incredible brought some old songs back to life. Also very comfortable which helps when it comes to ear fatigue.


December 14, 2013, 2:32 am

I've got some 558's coming in the mail right now. You can do a mod which consists of taking the drivers out and removing a piece of foam tape and the sound stage is supposed to be on par with the 598's. I know your post was over a year ago but if you've already went ahead and bought either pair let me know what you think of them. I'm waiting for mine atm so I'm excited. As it stands right now everywhere I've looked and read up on is saying the 558's are the go-to headphones for under $200 and then the foam mod pushes them up to 598 quality which is something I'm going to try out.


January 4, 2014, 10:18 am

i think it is the '555's that can have the foam taken out and supposedly would be the same as the 558's i would not do this to these as the drivers are different to the 598's from what i understand so u would be wasting your time.. anyway i don't think the 558's has the foam in the 555's had to have it as a dampener. these don't need that from what i gather,

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