Disclaimer: The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee was sent to us a sample in exchange for our honest opinion and does not have to be returned. We thank Massdrop for this opportunity.
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A few weeks ago, I got my ears around the Massdrop HD58x Jubilee and have been in a conundrum of my own ever since.
I have owned every Sennheiser model in the HD over ears series and enjoyed pretty much all of them, save for a few.
This was a real treat to finally have something of a direct competitor with me at the same time as the famed HD650 remade into the Massdrop HD6xx. Sign me up for testing, of course!
Not much to write home about with the Massdrop box presentations. It is quite standard, just a cardboard box, some paperwork, and a ¼ adapter are included along with a short, portable length detachable cable for the HD58x.
For $150USD, I don’t expect much in the way of presentation anyway.
The entire construction is made of plastic and along with stiff cushion pads, the old HD series discomfort issues play a role in my life yet again. These are not comfortable when you first buy them or use them new. It takes some time for the pads to soften up and the headband to stop clamping. It needs usage.
Upon first use on my head, the clamping pressure is too much for me to handle. It was the same with the HD650, my HD600, my HD580 and even my older favorite the HD485. Time is your friend, let it breathe and stretch on some books or a headphone stand that is wide.
The set creaks a little too much for comfort, but that was again an issue on my Massdrop HD6xx that stopped almost entirely after a few hundred hours of usage. The same will happen with this HD58x.
An all plastic housing and headphone headband is not something I want to see. I want to see some metal and better materials used, even if it is a remake, they should have remade it with better construction. We don’t need a step back to the 90s and early 2000’s when plastic was okay. We needed a real upgrade here with the drivers set in a similar frame that was made of something better than plastic. I am really not okay with a rehash or only a driver update. I want the entire headphone overhauled and upgraded.
I feel the HD58x and the HD660s are blood brothers that share almost the same sound traits overall. There is a trick of the ear happening though, at least, in my opinion.
I feel like the HD58x houses a smidgen more bass quantity than the HD6xx/HD650. However, the HD6xx/650 have a thicker appeal in tonality, which makes them sound heftier, more weighted. And for that reason, I think sometimes my ear is tricked into thinking there is more quantity occurring than in the HD58x.
The HD58x is more pure feeling, but thinner and harsher on physical strike impact level. The HD65x is wooly and much, much softer in dynamic kick and impact. It is far easier to listen to for extended periods of time than the HD58x.
In the way of raw fidelity, the HD6xx scales so much with superior gear that it makes it the better overall value for audiophiles. The HD58x is the better value for casual listeners who don’t have an expensive rig.
This becomes extremely apparent on my Heron 5 Solid State from Airist Audio and when I compare these two headphones directly. The Heron 5 is warm and perfectly meshes with the HD6xx. Both are softer than usual on kick factor, they are a bit boosted and thick feeling in tone presentation and both have a nice sparkle to the treble.
The Heron 5 is also wider than tall and not extremely forward. So, when referencing the HD58x with this amplifier, the experience feels wildly different in a physical sense. However, again, the HD6xx is the scaling champion in the mid-tier world. If you have a very nice middle tier or lower end or Summit level amplifier and DAC already, then the HD6xx churns itself into a more clean and clear feeling experience. But you NEED that for the HD6xx.
On lower end gear, the gap between quality overall in bass between these two is not significant at all and sometimes feels too close to call which is objectively cleaner. The HD58x Jubilee has very low to end of moderate levels of bass quantity and doesn’t respond very well to bass boosting. If you are a basshead, grab a set of JVC SZ2000’s, haha!
If you enjoy a pure and forward midrange, this is a great option for you. The HD580/HD600/HD660s and variants are all forward in the midrange by comparison to the relaxed positioning of the HD6xx and HD650. This lends a very nice experience with Jazz singers and Rock overall.
However, the biggest weakness lay in the Classical and wider feeling recordings, which don’t mesh with a very forward midrange headphone. The HD58x Jubilee is not what I would call a polite sounding headphone. It feels more authoritative and snappy. Fast. Quick on the draw and has a noticeably faster decay than the HD6xx in the midrange.
Quality, again, depends on the rig and amp to scale up. If you are using a lower end system, my HD58x Jubilee sounds subjectively a little cleaner than the HD6xx. However, that changes when I use an expensive amplifier and DAC, where the HD6xx moves out ahead in quality. The HD6xx sounds polite, hyper smooth and of a more dense tonality in terms of physical weight carried.
For the price, I think my older DT880 from Beyerdynamic is the best competition for sound type, along with the HD660s, to compare to the HD58x Jubilee’s midrange purity and tonality factor. By that, I mean the HD58x sounds a well into the neutral tier and is dry overall. It is not very colored and also feels less dense than the HD6xx. With that in mind, it also sounds dynamically more engaging than the HD6xx, more interesting, more detailed sometimes and also better suited for vocalist tracks.
This HD58x Jubilee has very little sparkle factor. That means the upper end is, again, in the neutral tier. To my ear, it is overly dry and unappealing. It lacks engaging texture but has plentiful clarity. Side by side with my older AKG Tiesto K267, which has lovely sparkle, probably the best sparkle treble in a mid-tier headphone, the HD58x sounds and feels bone dry in a desert on the hottest day on record.
That isn’t a bad thing. A lot of people love that neutrality. Thankfully, it isn’t at all painful bright or sharp! Usually, headphones in this price (sub $200USD) tend to sound painful, wince-worthy and gack ugly up top. Massdrop’s HD58x Jubilee sounds great up there in quality and never gives off a gross vibe to me. But, it is hyper boring and refuses to change and scale up with better sources.
The treble feels identical when using my Shanling M5s DAP by itself and then using the same DAP as a source through my Heron 5. The same test with the HD6xx yields a superior sound quality everywhere when paired with a great amplifier. So if you don’t have a great amp, the HD58x is probably the better choice for you.
In terms of literal fidelity and purity, the HD58x Jubilee fairs extremely well. In fact, for the price, maybe two or three other headphones exist on the market that are just as nice or can be with sufficient amplifier and DAC quality.
The value and price to performance on this headphone are beyond absurdly great. One quality I did notice was that the HD58x Jubilee at 150ohm fairs much better at low listening levels than the HD6xx at 300ohm, which obviously requires more power to get a nicer experience from. The latter is very soft, so lower listening levels mutes the top end a bit too much, whereas the HD58x still retains good treble quantity at lower listening volumes.
Sadly, the HD58x lacks a good sense of width and feels rather closed in. The HD6xx is wider by a significant margin, but the HD58x has better depth of field and realism in stage forwardness. Airiness is also less than stellar but again, for this new $149.99 price? Oh goodness, it changes a lot in value because the original version cost a lot more than this, and this is just a step behind the HD660s, in my opinion.
With the HD580x, you get a sense of height that is noticeably more prominent than the width factor, which hurts separation of instruments and makes it more of a vocalist’s ideal headphone and not one suited for wide sounding recordings.
The HD series was never really known for exceptional staging outside of the HD800. The HD650/600/580 were just good at imaging overall, depending on your needs and desires, purchase accordingly. The HD58x is good for some tracks, the HD6xx is good for the rest.
Who Should Buy This?
The HD58x is a bit dry in tonality and lacks sparkle in the treble and a thick, broad sense of bass response of the HD650/HD6xx. If you are someone who likes a thicker heft to the entire sound signature, then this is not for you. If your ears are like mine and always pick up on the heftiness and sparkle factor overall, then you should drop the extra money on the HD6xx.
On an objective level, the headphone that has superior audio fidelity and quality, for the most part on the low end, is the HD58x Jubilee by a narrow margin. It feels purer. The treble also feels cleaner and there is no “veil” that is present in the HD650/HD6xx.
I personally like a more wool-like appeal with a soft impact from top to bottom though. I also enjoy bass boost and more of a sense of control and depth. However, the one factor I dislike about the HD6xx is that recessive quality the midrange pushes. It is significantly more forward, objectively, on the HD58x. The HD6xx is just more relaxed sounding and less dynamically interesting than the HD58x.
The HD58x houses a superior imaging system inside of the sound void with regard to stage forward realism. That damned HD650 veil is still there and it is bested, again, objectively, by the HD58x on the low end. The HD660s and this HD58x are the closest to sharing a similar presentation. So, if you liked the HD660s and need or want to save some cash, the HD58x Jubilee would provide a better price to performance ratio for you. To my ear, I think the Jubilee is the superior sounding headphone over the HD6xx in raw fidelity across the board, despite being a whole $50usd cheaper.
The HD58x Jubilee is one of the best ‘price to performance’ headphones in the HiFi world to date. For $149.99, you cannot go wrong. It is forward in the mids and has a good bass response. It is well into the neutral tier in tonality and at 150 ohms you can still drive it well on solid portable music players without the need for an amplifier.
It hardly, if at all, scales up with expensive gear so this is the best stepping stone open back and over-ear headphone on the market at the moment. If you want someone you care about to get into better audio, this is what you should be gifting them.
Massdrop continues to re-release great sets that we all in this hobby know to be excellent products. The HD58x Jubilee is probably the best overall open back option in this price bracket, no doubt about it.
- Open-back construction
- Glossy black headband
- Gray metal grilles
- ⅛ in (3.5 mm) gold-plated stereo jack plug
- Detachable 6 ft (1.8 m) OFC cable
- Weight without cable: Approx. 9.2 oz (260 g)
- Individually Serialized
- Made in Ireland
- Dynamic drivers
- Impedance: 150 ohms
- Frequency response: 12–38,500 Hz (-10 dB)
- THD + N: < 0.1% at 1 kHz, 100 dB
- Sound pressure level: 104 dB at 1V, 1 kHz
- ¼ in (6.35 mm) adapter
- Manufacturer’s 2-year warranty