Massdrop X Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee Review
It's very good. Surprise, surprise. This might be the most-beloved family of headphones on the entire planet, and this entry-level $149 product is so phenomenal that other manufacturers should probably be very nervous about it.
Oh wait what's that? It's not always available?
The Massdrop X Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee is a $149 open-backed headphone with a detachable cable that's exclusive to Massdrop. Unlike some other "produced by Massdrop" products...this one is actually made by Sennheiser, in their factory in Ireland.
It features new 38mm drivers with a 150 ohm impedance, residing in more or less the same enclosure used in every other headphone in this family, but with some cosmetic differences. Axel Grell himself tuned this headphone to have a similar signature to the $499 HD 660 S, but with a little more fun and a little less neutrality.
It succeeds on nearly every level....except for these!
600 Series pads have a reputation for needing regular replacement, and boy, people weren't kidding about this. I've used them for the last week, and my very thin glasses have already wracked havoc on the velour and the foam underneath, leaving behind small grooves and ruffling the fabric.
Not even the soft velour pads on the DT770 or DT990 showed marks from my glasses this hilariously quickly. It's something I'm used to dealing with after months and months of use on other pairs, not a week.
Fortunately the pads are easy to take off and I knew this would probably happen. But it super happened.
I'll touch on this more in the build and design section, but I have some problems with the way these are built. The biggest one though is that the adjustment sliders are hilariously stiff. I feel like I'm going to break them every time I expand or collapse the headphones.
This has loosened up by maybe 10 percent over the course of use. I'm not sure if this is my pair or just a quirk of this build, but wow. I normally like a really stiff adjustment mechanism. The satisfying clickiness of the 500 series headband adjustments is about 20 percent of what I like about them.
But this is just a bit too much
I personally like how tightly these clamp on, but it's going to be an issue for probably 80 percent of people. Again, this is something that is widely known about these headphones, and it's quite true.
I think the pads do a decent job of mitigating the clamp, but most others will probably disagree and have to do a little bending.
FIT AND FINISH
The HD 58X Jubilee ships in a box that's from Sennheiser's new "minimal packaging" initiative. It's partly an effort to use recyclable materials, and partly an effort to lower the cost of certain headphones. Inside the plain cardboard box is a cardboard cutout that the headphones sit in, inside of a plastic bag.
But, the cutout seems like it's half finished. It doesn't conform to the headphones at all, and the headphones are just slapped in there.
The manual for my pair has a picture of the prototype design printed on it.
My cable's 3.5mm plug was inserted into the housing at a very slight angle. It's not broken, and it's more cosmetic than anything. But still kind of a bummer.
Massdrop is a limited availability group buying site. And they've signed an exclusive deal for this pair. And I get that this is a totally valid business strategy.
But it means that you can't always get these headphones. And when you can, they're only available in limited numbers. I was lucky enough to sneak into a drop just before it closed, but as of this writing these aren't currently on sale.
It's a huge bummer, because this pair is so good that it should just be around all the time. I'm sure that it won't be long before another drop opens, but in an ideal world you probably shouldn't have to keep refreshing Massdrop's site just to find these.
I guess that's the price you pay for an incredible deal?
The HD 58X Jubilee has a speaker-like, "realistic" sound to it. It's a bit like listening to a nicely balanced speaker system in a near-field setup in a studio.
Bass is surprisingly well-extended and satisfying for an open-backed headphone. It's solid and punchy and precise... and has zero bleed into the midrange. That's good, because the midrange is essentially perfect, with a natural timbre and tone that give tremendous realism to female vocals in particular. Highs are slightly laid back, but still just fast enough to bring great detail to quick percussion and guitars.
I understood within a few seconds of listening to these why people like the sound of this family of headphones...and I bought the "fun and cheap" one! The very slight bass emphasis makes games and movies very enjoyable, and they're still balanced enough that I'd happily do any sort of mixing work or critical listening on these.
Seriously, it's like listening to really nice near field speakers. That's the best analogy I can come up with.
If you're into imaging you'll love them and if you're into a wide soundstage...maybe get a 500 series headphone instead, or a DT990. The soundstage sits barely outside of your head, the same way that near field speakers would.
I know I keep belaboring my speaker metaphor, but that's the best way I can think of to describe the tonality here. There's a character and a presence to the sound that doesn't appear in 95 percent of the headphones I've listened to. It's like an HD 598 with a thin layer of muck scraped off, or like a DT990 but with non-insane treble and more accurate bass.
For $150, I don't think you can buy something that sounds better. If you can, I haven't heard it.
These are lighter and thinner than they look like they'll be. The frame is mostly plastic, with a metal strip inside the headband. The lightness helps with weight, so your only potential comfort issue is the clamping force, which is strong.
I like the black colorway that Massdrop went with here, but the paint job is wholly unremarkable. It's a random mix of glossy and matte that's totally fine. These don't stick out in any way.
It's pretty easy to disassemble these if you're into modding.
Unlike every other 600 series headphone, these have a piece of gray foam in the backs of the cups that blocks your view of the driver. It's because they've got some unpainted PCB materials in there, so they could save money. I don't mind that it's obscured, but it arguably makes these look less nice than they otherwise could.
The cable is detachable and uses Sennheiser's weird two tiny prongs on each side cable system. The included cable is 4.5m long, and made of a nice material. It's pretty easy to find third party cables with other types of plugs, and they've included a snap-on 6.3mm adapter.
When I first handled these they felt cheaper than I wanted them to, but I've since gotten used to them. Except for those comically stiff adjustment sliders.
I can wear these with the sliders extended about halfway, so like many other Sennheiser products, there's ample adjustment room here for large heads. The padding is soft and squishy, and even though it's not a traditional memory foam it still does a good job of comforming to my head after a few minutes. They never totally disappear thanks to the clamp, but they come surprisingly close.
The headband padding feels great, with a center cutout to avoid hotspots. The ear cup holes are quite vast, so your ears shouldn't touch inside. The bottoms of the cups are amply padded with a special foam piece, so if your ears do touch the insides you might not even notice.
WHO SHOULD BUY THIS?
Anyone who's interested in an open-backed headphone, a gaming headphone, a reference headphone, or a mixing headphone should have a very keen eye on this headphone or one of its cousins. It performs phenomenally well for the price, and competes aggressively with Beyerdynamic's DT series for speed and tonality.
Are you interested in hearing the tiny differences between different amplifiers? These will absolutely fit that bill. Their 150 ohm impedance and decent sensitivity mean that you don't need an amp, but they absolutely benefit and I can totally hear the difference running amped vs off of a laptop. It's one of only a handful I've heard that sits in that category.
I've tried this with all of my amps and it's a lot of fun to do. I should probably buy more amps wait oh no.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE?
This is my new favorite open-backed headphone. I'm not a huge fan of open backs because I do a lot of work in places where isolation is important. My previous favorite was the DT990, although it fell a bit short with a heightened tone and insane knife-in-the-ears treble at times. These are like the 990's, but with perfect treble and a much more natural, sometimes shockingly real tone.
These have one of the best dollar-to-sound quality value ratios out there, rivaling other budget greats like the 7506 and M40X. You're getting sound that's like a 15 percent more "fun" version of one of the most iconic reference families ever built, and for just $149 dollars.
If it weren't for my negatives up there, this entire review could just be me screaming BUY THESE OKAY and I'd feel fine with it. These will never leave my collection, and I kind of want to pick up the other HD 600 models just to obsess over all their little differences.
You have to jump through some annoying hurdles to get these, but they more than live up to their pedigree. I know that some people like to lob "but Sennheiser veil" at these, and I think that's honestly just people who subjectively prefer a very different sort of sound.
The HD 58X is the gold standard for an open-backed headphone at $149, and renders the entire 500 series beneath it redundant unless you need the widest soundstage possible. It looks too good to be true on paper but actually performs the way they say it will. It's trickle down R and D shown in the best light, benefitting from years of research and profits from other models in the family.
The hype is real!
Don't hesitate if you see it come on sale and you're interested!