HD58X Jubilee (Massdrop)

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

sound descriptions mine

 post separation
Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee (Massdrop)

HD 58X Jubilee

This is a pre-production model sent in for evaluation. The final product may differ slightly. It is only available through Massdrop.

specifications:

Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home, studio, transportable.
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable, velours
Collapsible: No
Headphone connector: Sennheiser 2 pin
Cable entry: dual sided, marked
Cable: 1,8m terminated in 3.5mm TRS jack.
Driver size: 38mm (36mm membrane)
Inner Pad dimensions: depth = 20mm, Width = 40mm, height = 62mm, oval shaped
Max. power rating: 0.5W (assumed similar rated as HD660S driver)
Max. voltage: 8.5Vrms (24Vpp)
Max. current: 55mA
Max. S.P.L.: 122dB
Impedance: 150 Ω
Efficiency: 96 dB/1mW (104dB/1V)
Weight: 309 g. (incl. cable)
Clamping force: high
Accessories: 6.3mm adapter

This headphone is an homage to Axel Grell’s first headphone, the HD580 Precision. In appearance it is closer to the HD580 Jubilee (1995) which had a metal grille rather than the original HD580 (1993) which had a plastic one. The HD58X Jubilee is glossy black and looks more like a HD660S, well aside from its grille and headband padding that is.
It comes with an 1.8m cable terminated in a 3.5mm TRS jack and a 6.3mm adapter. It won’t come in a fancy box like the rest of the Sennheiser HD 6** line which is a good thing as that keeps the price low !

The Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee is an open dynamic over-ear headphone intended to be driven directly from desktop and portable equipment.
It will be sold for around $ 150.- which is an interesting price for Sennheiser HD6** line fans.
There is a catch though. This headphone won’t be available through the normal Sennheiser distributors nor from Sennheiser directly and is only available in limited quantities through ‘Massdrop‘.
You get a modern looking, light-weight Sennheiser headphone with a new type of driver.
It is glossy black except for the cups, those are matte black.. and the grille which is a very dark gray.

The cable is an 1.8m replaceable cable with Sennheiser 2-pin connectors on one end andIMG_2215 a straight 3.5mm TRS jack on the other end, a 6.3mm TRS converter is included which suggests it is intended for both portable and desktop duty.
The cable is of HD 650 ‘thickness’ and low in microphonics

The headband is comfortable and adjustable over a wide range (60mm). It is thickly padded.
Out of the box the clamping force is quite high. How to lower the clamping force is described in THIS article.

There is no isolation from outside noises as this is an open headphone. While the 3.5mm TRS jack suggests it is intended for portable usage you won’t be able to quietly enjoy music in noisier environments.
Others around you can clearly hear what you are playing.

The ear-pads (cushions) are a bit on the stiff side. I would say they are similar to that of the HD660S and current HD650. The pads feel soft and firm.

The cups have enough room to swivel forwards and backwards as well as up and downwards. No creaky sounds when adjusting. This headphone will fit properly on most heads.

The driver is a new development and a spin-off from the HD700. It is not exactly the same driver as the HD660S nor that of the HD700. Of course they are from the same ‘family’ just like the HD600 and HD650 drivers are very similar but not exactly the same.
Below the front and the rear of the HD58X driver.

The damping behind the driver is something that definitely differs from that of the HD 660S. Underneath the foam you can see the ‘spider’ which is similar to that of the HD660S. Just without the metal mesh. The driver of the HD660S is slightly larger in diameter though so not the exact same for sure.

Fit and feel is exactly like the HD6** series so when one wants to try how they fit on the head simply try out a new HD600, HD650, HD6XX or HD660S in a shop somewhere.

A more elaborate description of the HD58X can be downloaded HERE in pdf format with lots more measurements and experiments on the HD58X.

Efficiency, or how loud it plays.

The efficiency of the (300Ω) HD580/HD600 and HD650 has always been an issue. You cannot drive those headphones to more than acceptable levels directly from a portable device. An amplifier or decent headphone out from desktop equipment is about the minimum requirement.

The lower impedance (150Ω) of the HD58X makes it a tiny bit easier to drive it from portable devices.
The 3.5mm TRS jack of the HD58X suggests this headphone is also intended for portable usage.
One would expect the HD58X to play at least 6dB louder than 300Ω headphones. The difference in SPL (at the exact same volume setting) is merely 4dB though. This means the HD58X plays marginally louder than its 300Ω cousins so don’t expect a MUCH louder headphone.
The efficiency is 96dB @ 1mW into 150Ω so it outputs 104dB when 1V is applied.
The HD58X Jubilee can play quite loud yet remains distortion free. At least when the source can supply enough voltage.
To reach decent volume levels with the HD58X about 2V is enough. Something decent portable players should have no trouble to provide.

Subjective sound description:

The HD58X has the least bass extension of Sennheiser’s HD6** series headphones.
The final production model is probably going to have a bit more bass extension as Sennheiser is currently working on that (lowering the resonance frequency).
That doesn’t mean there is no bass or ‘fullness’. Bass itself is present, ‘tight’ and ‘light’ but just a bit lacking in ‘body or ‘grunt’. No deep ‘rumbles’ in this headphone. Those (like me) who feel bass extension is equally important as the rest of the frequency range will be pleased to hear the HD58X reacts well to EQ.
It still won’t rattle your teeth nor appeal to bass-heads when EQ is applied.
Integration from bass into the mids is excellent. No ‘dis-attached’ or ‘fatty’ bass at all.
Bass-lines are easily followed and sound very natural.

Mids sound ‘open’ and have a good clarity/presence. It sounds quite close to the HD600 and HD650 when it concerns the mids.
Well.. perhaps it sounds a bit closer to the HD660S.
The mids sound dynamic and appear audibly ‘free of distortion’ as in clean and ‘natural’.
Mids sound quality is something the HD580/HD600 are highly regarded for.
To me the HD600 is slightly ‘brighter’, but also slightly more ‘boring’ than the HD58X.
The HD600/650, on the other hand, both are a bit ‘smoother’ in the upper mids/treble.
The HD58X (and HD660S) are a bit more ‘dynamic’ and ‘lively’, a bit ‘fresher’ sounding.
The differences are not very big though so don’t expect a totally different headphone.
Mids and treble are seamlessly integrated.

The treble is on a ‘neutral’ level i.e. not subdued, not elevated.

Fine nuances are more pleasantly and delicately reproduced by the HD600/HD650.
The HD58X does have good treble though. It is ‘fresher’ sounding without becoming splashy or sibilant. When you are sensitive to sibilance (like me) the HD600 and HD650 are perhaps are somewhat more pleasant (smoother) sounding.
There is a solution for this treble ‘issue’ but requires soldering skills.
Whether one prefers the (still sold new) HD600, HD650 (HD6XX) or the HD58X remains a personal thing. To one person the HD600 or HD650 will still be king, others may well prefer the HD58X Jubilee. Impossible to tell someone what they should prefer.

A short sound description would be:

Very ‘natural’ sounding but a bit lean on sub-bass and with a hint of ‘sharpness’ in the treble.

You might think the HD58X Jubilee as a ‘poor mans’ HD660S but without its bass extension and very slightly ‘sharper’ sounding.

Measurements:

A more elaborate report of this headphone can be downloaded HERE in pdf format with lots more measurements and experiments on the HD58X.

Below the frequency response of the HD58X Jubilee (Left, Right)

HD 58X FR
The channel matching is exemplary.
Bass rolls off gently below 60Hz. This shows the ‘lean’ character of the bass and the lack of sub-bass.
From 60Hz to 2kHz the response is excellent and within +/- 3dB. Aside from the small ‘dip’ around 2.5kHz the frequency response runs all the way up to 20kHz and even beyond.

The treble between 5kHz and 9kHz is elevated. This gives the HD58X a ‘detailed’ and ‘fresh’ character but also a hint of ‘sharpness’. Note that it merely has a ‘hint‘ of sharpness.
This headphone does not sound sharp, overly detailed or bright, the effect is minor, but present.
Grado and Beyerdynamic fans will likely find the HD58X treble to be ‘subdued’.
The treble quality is good, present and detailed not coarse sounding but also not ‘smooth’.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response can be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
Instead of showing impedance plots, which are hard to ‘read’ when it comes to assessing the effect in the real world, the HD58X is measured via a low resistance output (0.2Ω) and a high resistance output (120Ω).
On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz). This way the plots are overlaid and it is easier to see how the tonal balance changes.
Output resistances between these 2 resistance values will result in tonal changes between the green and red trace.
R 120

As can be seen the tonal balance changes when connected to a higher output resistance amplifier. You get about 2.5dB more mid-bass.
This can make the headphone sound a little more ‘muddy/fat’. Lower bass is not boosted.
This headphone should be driven from low output resistance amplifiers. Distortion in the bass also increases so an output resistance above 10Ω is not recommended.

For comparative reasons on the following page some direct comparisons of tonal balance. Below HD600 compared to the HD58X

HD600

The tonal balance of the HD58X is very slightly warmer than that of the HD600. the HD58X does have slightly less subbas. The area between 2kHz and 4kHz is about 2dB lower in the HD58X. Some current HD600 owners are likely to appreciate this as this is an area where some people feel the HD600 has an emphasis.

Below a comparison between the HD660S and the HD58X

HD660S

The family resemblance of the HD58X and HD660S is clearly visible in this plot. The emphasis in the 6kHz area is smaller in the HD660S. The HD660S has more bass extension and more linear bass response.

Below the HD58X compared to the current HD650 (2017)

HD650 (2017)

The HD58X has a similar ‘warmth’ as the current HD650 (2017) but with less bass and bass extension.
The frequency response of the current HD650 (and Massdrop HD6XX) is also a bit more ‘linear’ and ‘smoother’ in mids and the treble.
The HD58X is a bit more ‘dynamic’ and ‘fresher’.

Below the HD58X compared to the HD700HD 700
As the HD58X driver comes from the same ‘stable’ (not the exact same driver !) as the HD700 also a comparative plot of these two. While there is some resemblance above 5kHz the much deeper recession in the 3kHz area makes the HD700 sound different. While the comfort of the HD700 is higher I prefer the sound of the HD58X over the HD700 A personal preference though.

The HD800 is a bit more ‘laid back’ in the mids than the HD58X but is a LOT brighter. Also bass extension differs and is better in the (already bas-shy) HD800 headphones.
Below the HD800 compared to the HD58X

HD800

Pads (ear cushions) not only are there for comfort but their design also has a profound influence of the sound of a headphone.

orig pads vs HD650N pads

Above the HD58X with stock pads versus HD58X fitted with new HD650 pads.

Below the HD58X with stock pads versus HD58X fitted with old and worn HD650 pads.orig vs worn HD650 old

The old pads increase the lows by about 2dB as the ear to pad distance is smaller

The pads on the HD660S and HD58X look a lot like the pads I bought in 2015 and have similar velour cloth. When you compress the pads with your fingers and ‘feel’ the shape of the foam inside a small difference is noticeable. The HD660S and HD58X pads feel ‘less rounded’ and take a bit more force to compress. The differences are small though. Height and shape are similar.

Breaking the seal of a headphone usually results in less bass and sometimes even a ‘cuppy’ sound.
Because this headphone doesn’t have much subbass anyway the bass is not much affected when it is breached. (Right channel)

seal

Above the effect of a seal breach is shown.
Perfect seal, Seal broken with the arm of a pair of glasses, seal broken with a a 6.3mm TRS plug.
Not much to worry about, the tonal balance does not change much when the fit isn’t perfect.

Below the distortion measurements of the HD58X Jubilee (Right channel).

DIST R

The plot above shows the level differences between the signal (upper trace around 90dB SPL) and the harmonics. Most people prefer to see percentages instead of level differences so below the exact same plot except ‘normalised’ to the actual signal and level differences given in percentages.

DIST percent R

Distortion levels in the lower frequencies is quite high but as expected from smaller diameter drivers. Percentages above 1% are generally audible.
My old HD 650 has around 1% of 2nd harm. distortion at 40Hz, this new driver hits 2%.
The actual 2nd harmonic distortion above 200Hz may well be lower than 0.2% and above 2kHz even be lower than 1%. A shortcoming of my measurement rig.
Distortion levels of the higher harmonics remain below 0.1% in the bass area. Mids are quite clean above 200Hz. Around 1kHz (where most distortion figures are quoted) the distortion is even 0.006%.
All in all above average performance in the bass to excellent performance from the lower mids to the upper treble range. As distortion is primarily 2nd harmonic the bass does not sound ‘distorted’ as in ‘clipped’ or being of poor quality.
The left channel showed similar performance so is not shown.

Below the CSD (waterfall) plot of the HD58X Jubilee . (Left and Right are overlaid)CSD

This looks really nice. No big red flags here. What can be seen here is a small and short lived resonance at around 5kHz.
A different plot is the spectrum plot. This basically is a CSD (Waterfall) plot but viewed from above where the level differences are colour coded instead of being in the vertical axis. Also the frequency range of the spectrum plot is wider (from 100Hz instead of 500Hz). The time span is also bigger in the spectrum plots and expired time is shown from below to top where in the CSD the time is shown from rear to front.
Below the spectrum plot of the HD58X Jubilee (Right channel)

Spectr R

This plot shows a more than decent response. Some short lived and low level ‘lingering’ around 800Hz is visible but not on a worrying level nor time-frame. Bass is actually very fast in decay. No obvious ringing at higher frequencies.

 Step response, Square-wave and impulse response

Below the step response from the HD58X Jubilee. Only the left channel is shown which performs the same as the right channel.Step L

This plot shows the initial rise does not reach the 0dB line. The driver is very well damped though as there is very little ringing and what ringing there is also is short lived. The slightly higher ‘plateau’ after the initial rise is the 5-8kHz region which is slightly emphasized.
The bass roll-off is obvious as the trace drops off quite quickly and steep.
Below as a comparison the step response plots of the Superlux HD688 (modified), the HD660S and the HD58X Jubilee.
Step response plots can reveal sub-bass roll off better than frequency response plots do. The plot shows the sub-bass roll-off in a much more ‘dramatic’ way than it is audible.

Step comparison

Below the square-wave response at 40Hz and 440Hz as well as a 100μs pulse response.

SQR

The 40Hz square-wave also shows the sub-bass roll-off quite well. The actual signal does not follow the applied signal and the signal drops to the 0V line quite quickly.

The 440Hz square-wave shows a well damped signal that follows the stimulus exceptionally well and shows little to no ringing.
What is obvious here is that the initial rise doesn’t reach the target line indicating the highest frequencies are (slightly) too low in amplitude. Most headphones, however, show much more excessive ringing and often even overshoot. The HD58X response thus is excellent.

The 100μs impulse is not reaching the desired level but its waveform is fast rising and excellent in shape. Some short lived 5kHz ringing is visible (the small level sine-wave).
Aside from the 40Hz response the 440Hz and 100μs are quite good.

Passive filter

The 5-8kHz part sticks out a bit above the rest of the treble. This gives the headphone it’s ‘fresh’ character. To those that consider themselves particularly sensitive to treble peaks in that part of the frequency range and can spot a hint of ‘sibilance’ in the HD58X may want to build a very short extension cord with a few components soldered in that wire.
The only way to address the peak, but leave the rest of frequency response as it is, is to use a passive filter in the headphone line.

Below the effect of the filter is shown. Stock HD58X (Right channel) and with the passive filter in the headphone cable.

6kHz filter R

This filter thus ONLY addresses the treble peak and nothing else. It also does not lower the volume.
The ‘hint’ of sibilance is removed and the treble sounds ‘smoother’. Closer to that of the HD600/HD650. The peak is lowered by approximately 5dB.

HD58X filtered

Above the frequency response (Left, Right) of the HD58X Jubilee with the passive filter.
The effect is subtle but worth it to me. The filter consists of 2 components per channel.
A small inductor of 470μH (0.47mH) and a capacitor of 1.5μF in parallel to it.
This creates a ‘notch’ filter. The filter appears not to be damped but in reality it is damped by the HD58X driver itself (150Ω).

This notch filter must be connected in series with the signal line of the driver.
Due to the construction of the headphone itself it is not an option to tuck it away in the cup.
The simplest way to incorporate the filter is by making a short extension lead with the components in that lead.

Below the schematic diagram of the passive filter circuit.

FILTER HD58X.png

The filter consists of just 2 components per channel.

A small inductor of 470μH (0.47mH) and a capacitor of 1.5μF in parallel to it.
This creates a ‘notch’ filter. The filter appears not to be damped but in reality it is damped by the HD58X driver itself (150Ω).
This notch filter must be connected in series with the signal line of the driver.

Due to the construction of the headphone itself it is not an option to tuck the components in the headphone cups.
The simplest way to incorporate the filter is by making a short extension lead with the components in that lead.

Of course, the 6kHz emphasis peak of the HD660S can also be lowered successfully with the exact same filter but that one already has a lower output there anyway.
For the HD660S the inductor and capacitor must have a 100Ω resistor in parallel. This resistor can be rated between 0.3W and 0.6W and can be carbon- or metal-film.

The inductor can be small in size. Its minimum requirements are: 75mA DC current and its resistance must be lower than 5Ω. Any of the inductors listed below can be used:

Epcos B82144A2474J000 or B82145A1474J000 or B82144F2474J000 or B82145A1474J
Fastron HBCC-471J-02
Bourns JW Miller 5300-33-RC or 78F471J-RC or RL822-471K-RC
Murata 22R474C
Taiyo Yuden LHL08TB471K

The capacitor should be rated above 16V and should preferably a film type capacitor.
When all one can get is ceramic multilayer is should be rated at 50V and be X7R.
Any of the film capacitors listed below can be used:

Epcos B82144A2474J000 or B82145A1474J000 or B82144F2474J000 or B82145A1474J
Fastron HBCC-471J-02
Bourns JW Miller 5300-33-RC or 78F471J-RC or RL822-471K-RC
Murata 22R474C
Taiyo Yuden LHL08TB471K
Kemet R82DC4150Z360J or R82DC4150Z360K or R82DC4150AA60J
Epcos B32529C0155K000 or B32529C0155J189 or B32529C0155K189
Vishay BFC237011155
WIMA MKS2C041501H00KO00 or MKS2B041501E00KO00 or MKS2C041501H00KSSD

 

Kameleon

For the happy few Kameleon owners the HD58X Jubilee and measured though the Kameleon.

Kameleon

Lots more bass extension/body, The 6kHz treble energy is lowered and treble extension (‘air’) is a slightly higher as well. Below the HD58X through the Kameleon (Left, Right)

HD58X Kameleon FR

Of course this comes at a price, an increase in distortion in the bass. At 30Hz the boost is 10dB this thus also increases the harmonic distortion in the lows by almost the same amount. At 80Hz the 2nd harmonic ‘distortion’ already drops below 1%.
The 3rd harmonic distortion in the bass (which sounds ‘clipped’/’compressed’)  is below 0.2% at 30Hz so the bass still sounds ‘clean’ and undistorted.
DIST Kam R

Below the CSD of the HD58X when reproduced with the Kameleon amplifier with HD58X module fitted.

CSD Kam.png

Below the 40Hz squarewave response of the HD58X on the left and through the Kameleon on the right. The 440Hz and 100μs pulse did not change much.

The filter module for the Kameleon is already designed. It will take a while before I update the filter module pdf again. When that update is performed it will be included along with several other modules.

A more elaborate report of this headphone can be downloaded HERE in pdf format with lots more measurements and experiments on the HD58X.

Conclusion

Is the Massdrop HD58X Jubilee a re-issue of the old (1995) HD580 Jubilee?
No.. it is not… it is a different headphone with a different driver but
has a close resemblance and should rather be seen as a successor of the old HD580 and not as a direct replacement.
Those expecting to find a cheap HD600, just like the Massdrop HD6XX is actually a cheaper HD650 with a different paint job and cable, may be either pleasantly surprised
or disillusioned based on their preferences and references.
In some aspects it improves on the HD580/HD600 and in other areas it performs a bit less. How this pans out in each individual case thus will be hard to predict. I guess for $ 150.- you don’t loose that much when trying and selling on the HD58X or HD600.

It does not sound exactly like a HD580/HD600. It is slightly ‘fuller/warmer’ in the lows and mids.
The ‘dip’ around 2.5kHz makes it slightly more ‘laid back’ sounding.
The small emphasis around 5kHz gives it a ‘fresher/livelier’ character.
Bass is tight and mids sound dynamic. Drum hits, for instance, and electric guitars as well as other brass etc. sound slightly ‘faster / emphasised’. On the other hand recordings with sibilance in it will also sound a bit more sibilant on the HD58X compared to the HD600.
The treble of the HD58X is less ‘smooth’ but when using the described filter, which removes th
e small emphasis, the treble is a bit smoother yet still not reaching HD600/HD650 quality.

While the HD600 is slightly more ‘tonally correct’ as in ‘reference neutral’ it is considered by many to be too ‘lean’ and ‘bright’.
The slightly less ‘bright’ character of the HD58X Jubilee thus might appeal to people who find the HD600 slightly ‘boring’ and somewhat too ‘clear’ and ‘forward’.

The HD58X also isn’t just a cheaper HD660S. Even though the HD58X shares some qualities there are also audible differences. The HD660S has more ‘grunt’ and so deep rumbles are heard better, the HD660S is more ‘neutral’ and has less ’emphasis’ in the 6kHz area.
The HD660S is 2-3x more expensive though and to most people the HD660S will not sound 2 to 3x ‘better’. When you already own the HD660S there is no point in buying the HD58X unless you are a collector or horder.

Other than these 2 niggles, namely bass roll-off (which by the way is present in the entire HD** series as well) and the 6kHz emphasis (which can be reduced using the filter) the overall sound can be called ‘neutral’ and ‘dynamic’.

With a bit of EQ, tone control or bass-boost and a slight correction around 6kHz (the notch filter) this headphone does sound good, lively and dynamic and is worth owning.
When EQ’ed it is aso cheap alternative to the HD660 (without the
S in this case as there is no Symmetric cable supplied).
Of course when a Symmetric (a.k.a. balanced) aftermarket or Sennheiser balanced cable is connected it can also be used on balanced equipment.

When considering the price level the HD58X is an interesting headphone. For those outside of the USA shipping costs and import duties may increase the total price by quite a bit more.

One would be hard pressed to find a new headphone with a balanced tonal signature, excellent build quality and good overall sound quality in this price bracket.

Not recommended for:
Bass-heads
Portable usage where isolation is needed

An amplifier or portable equipment (DAPs) with a decent output voltage is still highly recommended to make the HD58X sing and reach realistic levels. A phone/tablet simply is not enough for this.

Recommended for:
Classical, Jazz, acoustic, choirs etc. basically all music without deep (sub)bass in it.
Of course this headphone performs quite nice with other genres as well but compared to some other headphones the HD58X may sound a bit ‘lean’ in the bass.

A more than decent and ‘neutral’ sounding headphone, certainly at this price point.

post separation

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