~$500 Upgrade from HD598?

Hi all, have used a pair of HD598s for many years but looking to finally see what the audio world has to offer outside of these old things :slight_smile:

What suggestions would you have for a comfortable all around audio setup totaling around 500 dollars? This could potentially be upped by a bit if the benefit is extremely great. I don’t currently have an amp or any other specialty audio equipment.


Open Box Sundara, xDuoo MT-602 and… A $100 DAC.

I think more questions are in order about where you want to use them and what you want to listen to. And what you think about your 598 and what you’d change about them.

What do you play them through now, etc, etc. Otherwise it’s just addition and strangers preferences.

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HD598 was my first Hi-Fi headphone, and it ended up being my permanent gaming headphone. They are an amazing set of cans, outstanding build quality, great comfort, pretty good sound for the price (especially for what they go for today)

What sound signature are you looking for? Anything specific you want from a headphone? Open-back? Closed-back?

I think many will recommend the Sundara’s. You could go with Sundara and also have enough money for a decent AMP/DAC combo.

I’ve gone through a bunch of headphones, ranging from 80 bucks, all the way up to $3000. By far, the single headphone that felt like the most noticeable upgrade was the iBasso SR2. Don’t get me wrong, the set of $3000 cans blows you away with tonality, detail, soundstage, etc., but for me the experience as a whole was the best with the SR2. For me the SR2 is a perfect headphone for its price — it will put up a good fight as one of the best cans under 1k.

They retail for $550, but if you look for them and ask people, you might be able to get a good deal on them. Also, they don’t require a specifically fancy source, they will perform just fine with a entry-level AMP/DAC combo. Unlike the Sundara’s, which demand an amp that can pump enough juice to make them shine.

I’m one of the few people who swears by the SR2. However, if you take some time and read the Head-Fi thread, you will find that almost everyone who owns them heavily enjoys them. Some owners are also owners of more expensive heaphones (>1k) and prefer the SR2 over them.

If you have a chance to listen to either the Sundara’s or the SR2’s, do so.

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ahh the ibasso pusher looking for his next victim XD

ok now going to the topic are you looking for mobile or use on a desk ? Do you want a solution you can easily expand later or are you looking for a one and done puchase so you dont succumb to the temptation of the audio bug like many here before :wink:

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I definitely agree with this recommendation I’d consider the XDUOO TA-10R though if you’re able to stretch that budget.

I recommend it for the form factor and the tube rolling long term of those 12AU7’s being able to squeeze in E80CC tubes which sound SO good. This would be worth the stretch as @RRKA111 mentioned.

Looking for a setup to use at my desk, and moreso looking for a one and done purchase. I mostly listen to bright noisy pop but enjoy most types of music

sundara’s are heavy compared to hd598’s. they are also bright. if you listen to bright, plus bright hp…

what do you like/dislike about the sound of the 598’s that makes you want to upgrade?

edit: if your happy with sound, but want better of it, maybe hd6xx +m602 + dac(depending on what sound your going for)

Not sure if you consider it so much as a one-and-done setup, but Zen DAC v2 + Sennheiser HD650 is in the $500 range depending on new or 2nd hand. It’s about $50-60 above budget if you buy brand new.

If you really like the Sennheiser sound, then that would be a very solid option. The Zen DAC v2 is also a pretty decent amp along with a good DAC that gives you headroom for any potential upgrades down the line. It’s also a nice amp for IEM’s with the power matching feature.

The combo could also help round off the sharpness and boost the bass if you ever feel like that. Not sure how high you want to go on the bright and noisy scale though, but it’s something worth considering.

Yes, sir! These headphones are way too good not to be recommended, and there’s way too little talk about them.

Once again, @RRKA111 have the SR2 as a strong consideration because you do not need special amping like you need for the Sundara or the HD600 series.

I overall love the feel of my 598s, I can wear them for forever and not notice them and the sound is very pretty but definitely feel like I miss out on some bass sometimes

thanks for the responses but the posts feel a bit like a sales pitch to me rather than advice for some reason

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Take it as you want. I don’t know what benefits would I have from expressing my honest opinion and experience. Read my review on Head-Fi… there is no sane amount of money that could pay me to write such an article.

I still use and praise HD598 to this day, never received a dime from Sennheiser. So what’s wrong with praising or recommending a recently released headphone that had me the most impressed and satisfied out of any other headphone I’ve listened to? I’m just trying to help you out, that’s all. Otherwise I wouldn’t have taken time out of my day to reply to this thread, I’m always trying to help people with my current experience.

Regardless, you can just play it safe and go for a Sundara or a HD600, since that’s what everyone recommends these days anyways — not throwing shade on either of these headphones. In fact, I do own the HD6XX.

If your good with buying used maybe a used aeon RT with a magni modi 3 stack for a comfy all day HP with a slight Bass boost or a used sundara with the same stack for a neutral HP with good details
Or try to get a nighthawk if you need to feel the bass :stuck_out_tongue:

i would suggest an ifi zen dac. and not a new pair of headphones as your start. the bass boost has got you covered. if you still feel the need to talk after that, the 6xx or 600/650 is the upgrade for the same sound signature. if you want to try a new sound signature, let us know. we can do that too!

edit: i should explain why lol. with its dac, you will notice a difference with you current headphones. with its amp, you will notice a difference with your current headphones. with bass boost, you get low end on the senn’s

I mean, aren’t you literally asking for purchase advice? It’s not like people are pushing affiliate links on you. To whom and on what you decide to part with your money is your choice and your choice alone in the end.

To reiterate from my previous post, if you like the stock Sennheiser sound I would suggest keep going in the same direction. I’ve used Sennheiser headphones for a good 20+ years and I still haven’t found anything that has beaten them in all-round comfort. I love their soundstage too above nearly every other headphone I’ve tried (speaking of the HD700 here).

The cheapest and probably most sane option would be to do as @joshua_g suggested and just get a Zen DAC v2. It could give your HD598 that little bit of extra oompfh. That way you won’t feel like you’re throwing money away on something you’re not confident on either, in terms of headphones at least.

From that point I’d suggest doing more research or borrowing headphones to try out on the dac/amp and see what you like, if it’s worth upgrading at all. There’s no reason to spend money if you’re content with what you have after all.

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That’s why I felt kind of disrespected in a way. You’re here trying to honestly help someone out and then get the stab in the back “sales pitch”. Kind of makes your effort feel worthless.

My 2 cents. Getting the Zen DAC v2 will definitely make the HD598’s come to life, but perhaps OP wants to refresh his ears, he might be better off with getting a new headphone. I know that I definitely appreciated experienced other headphones, while I have no plans to replace the HD598’s as my gaming set of cans (they’re too cozy to be replaced!).

If I were at OP’s place, using HD598 for several years, I know that I would definitely want to get something new that will make me more excited.

@RRKA111 I don’t think you’ll receive a better set of advice than to go out and listen to some of our recommendations. If you do decide to follow this advice, make sure that what you are listening in the store is the same setup that you’ll be listening at home. You do not want a salesman to give you a more expensive setup (amp/dac) than what you have at home.