The Sennheiser HD range is home to some legendary headphones - the HD 650 and HD 800 are two of the most praised sets in the world, and now they have a new-born brother. The HD 558 is a mid-range model, retailing for around £130. Let's find out if they deserve to hang around with the big boys.
The Sennheiser HD 558 look a lot like the rest of Sennheiser's new-breed headphones, the HD 518 and HD 598. Sitting between the middle of the two, they're not crafted completely out of luxury materials, but they offer the most important elements - comfort and sound quality.
Each ear pad is lined with soft, very comfortable velour, as is the headband. The leather and wood trimmings of the HD 598 are absent, but the two are comparable in terms of comfort. You can wear these headphones all day long without even the slightest hint of discomfort. They clamp onto your head fairly securely, to avoid slipping when moving, or dancing around, and at 260g they're very light for a full-size pair.
The large cups surround your ears, so unless you have particularly large lobes, the HD 558 should only end up touching your head, not your ears. Like Sennheiser's other over-the-ears models, the headband is manually-adjustable, clicking into place at defined increments. It doesn't manually adjust to your head size.
Aesthetically, the stand-out feature of the Sennheiser HD 558 is the outer covering of each cup. This oval speaker grille is covered in translucent black mesh material, surrounded by a silver plastic trim. It's less likely to offend than the slatted look of the HD 518 headphones' backs, but also looks a lot cheaper than the full metal grille of the HD 598. This defines the HD 558's gameplan - the substance of the higher model, without all of the styling tweaks.
The back grille here does flex a little under pressure, but otherwise build quality is top-notch. Aside from the padding, all the visible surfaces are plastic, but the headphones are tough and largely creak-free.
The cable pipes-out from the bottom of the left cup, and is removable. The 2.5mm jack is kept in place with a locking mechanism built into the rubber-coated jack, making it simple to replace the cable should you run over it with an office chair one too many times. Cables are currently available for under £15.
The 3m cable ends in a full-size 6.3mm jack, but a 3.5mm converter is bundled as part of the package. With this tacked-on, the jack housing is huge though, reinforcing that this is an at-home set, not one to be worn out and about.