If you’re into gorgeous open-back headphones and affordable prices, you should try getting acquainted with Massdrop. The company allows groups of people to purchase an item in bulk, thus dropping the cost for each individual person. Sometimes though, Massdrop goes a bit further and partners with a large company to make a more affordable version of whatever it is that particular company makes. In this case, it’s Sennheiser with a pair of open-back headphones dubbed the HD 58X Jubilee. These headphones are based on the original HD 580 design, which eventually led to classic Sennheiser headphones like the HD 600 and HD 650. Going back to basics, Sennheiser updated the internals with modern parts but stayed true to the original design. So, how do they hold up?
Editor’s note: this review was updated on May 31, 2019 to correct terminology and information regarding availability.
Who are they for?
- Sennheiser fans. If you’re a fan of Sennheiser headphones, you’ll probably like these. Whether or not you should get these over another more expensive pair is up to you, but for $150 you won’t be disappointed.
- Anyone ready to make the jump from listening while commuting to listening for enjoyment. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy using a pair of Bose QC35 II or Sony MH-1000X M3 if I’m going to be commuting or traveling on airplanes, but that’s not the only kind of enjoyment there is. If you’re ready to take time out of your day to sit back, and really start listening to music instead of just having it be background music to your day, these have a great sound that many people can enjoy.
- Anyone on a budget. While $150 isn’t going to make our best cheap headphones list, it’s definitely more affordable compared to the $300-ish you’d have to dish out to get a pair of HD 600 or HD 650 headphones.
How are the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee headphones built?
Like a good logo, Sennheiser headphones have a look to them that lets you know you’re holding a pair of its headphones. The Sennheiser HD 58X is no exception with large oval-shaped ear cups and plush velour padding. Now, these are open-back headphones, so a metal grill protects the drivers on the outside of the ear cups. You can also adjust the ear cups slightly as they tilt back and forth to fit the head of the wearer, but don’t expect to toss these in your bag on your next trip.
They don’t have hinges for folding and the ear cups don’t rotate either, but this is one of those rare instances where that’s okay. These headphones weren’t made to go places. That’s emphasized even further by the all-plastic build. The only bits of metal are the grill and adjustable headband. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re leaving these on your desk you won’t have any issues, but I’d be nervous about chucking them in a backpack. That’s fine though because, as I said, you’re most likely just going to be using these at your desk anyway. In that case, the lightweight plastic combined with the plush padding makes for a truly comfortable pair of headphones.
That said, you will notice them. They don’t disappear on your head like something like the Bose QC35 do, but I enjoy that about them. Not to sound cheesy, but they feel solid, comfortably reminding you that you’re wearing them. I was able to listen to these for a full day during testing (that’s roughly six or seven hours straight) without issue.
How do they connect?
These come with a standard 3.5mm connector for plugging into your devices, though you might need a ¼” adapter if you plan on using these with any kind of external gear. Thankfully, they come with an adapter in the box, too. Then there’s the cable itself, which is a detachable oxygen-free cable (OFC). Whether you need an amp or not depends on your source device—but in this case it’s safe to say one wouldn’t hurt.
For example, while plugged into my Pixel 3 (with that stupid dongle) I was able to listen to music perfectly fine, but only when I maxed out the volume on my Pixel. This obviously isn’t ideal and means that my Pixel 3, in particular, isn’t the best device to drive the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee with. That won’t be the case if you have something like the LG V30/V40 with the built-in amp, but I don’t. Luckily, you won’t need to invest in anything too expensive or uncommon, and I was able to power these adequately even with something as simple as a Scarlett 2i2 interface. It doesn’t have the best headphone amp in the world: it just has to provide enough power.
The bad news is that because the cable terminations aren’t a common standard, you’ll need to purchase a replacement if it breaks as you can’t just grab any old audio cable you have lying around. Fortunately, the cable is pretty sturdy and I don’t see you having any issues unless you have a pretty spectacular accident. For everyday use at my desk, I was never worried.
What do they sound like?
The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee headphones don’t disappoint: sound quality is exactly as I’d expect from a pair of open-back cans by a company like Sennheiser. They sound fairly similar to the classic HD 650 headphones but were more than half the price for people who purchased from Massdrop. Of note, these also have a 150ohm impedance instead of the 300ohm on the HD 650, which as I said, makes it easier to use portable devices.
The low end is given a very slight bump that makes the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee very pleasing to listen to. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it almost perfectly bridges the gap between what audiophiles would enjoy and what the common person would enjoy. What I mean is: if you gave these to an audiophile, they’ll like the bass response. If you gave them to them a general consumer, they’ll probably also enjoy the bass response.
You can really hear how tightly controlled the bass is about 1:34 into the song Moon River by Frank Ocean where the heavy bass notes are plucked ever so slightly softer as they step downwards, reflecting nicely in the headphones.
Compared to the bass notes, I wasn’t as impressed with the notes in the mids. While vocals had sufficient detail it wasn’t as emphasized as I would have liked and Rihanna’s vocals in the song Consideration didn’t have the same effect I’m used to. That same effect, however, made strings and guitars in less pop-y music come through loud and clear. Safe to say it depends what you’re going to be listening to. Overall, the mids were solid but not amazing. That said, the high end had plenty of that airy reverb and decay from cymbals and hi-hats that I like, and it was only helped by the open-back nature of these headphones.
What you should know before buying
- These are exclusive to Massdrop. That means that you can’t just go to your local Best Buy and pick them up. You’ll have to wait for the next “drop”, which is basically the next batch that the website is going to sell. In fact, the only reason we got our hands on these at all is that the wonderful Joe Hindy from Android Authority was kind enough to send them over. Editor’s note: this has since changed. You can now just head to Massdrop directly.
- Open-back vs Closed-back. If you’re entirely new to the world of open-back headphones, you might want to read our full explainer on the pros and cons of each kind of headphone to determine which one is best for what you’re looking for. While $150 for these is a great price for these compared to other headphones, it might not be right for you and there are plenty of other options that might be better suited for your everyday life.
- You might need an external amp. To be clear, these were made to be adequately powered by most portable devices such as your smartphone and as I mentioned earlier, that’s true as long as you don’t mind keeping your device on max volume for a decent listening level. To figure out if you should also consider getting an amp make sure you read our explainer so you know exactly how to get the most out of these headphones.
These are without a doubt a pair of headphones I can easily get behind. The lightweight build, classic open-back Sennheiser design, and sound quality more than makes up for all of the nitpicks I have with these. In the same way that a dedicated pocket knife cuts better than a Swiss Army Knife, the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee are better for listening to music than other headphones that have a bunch of fancy features. The only problem is that you’ll need to keep an eye out for when they next become available. I know I will be.