The Sennheiser HD 599 SE has been one of my favourite pairs of headphones for a long time, with its open-back design, neutral sound signature and comfy velour earpads combining into one of the best affordable headsets for critical listening and gaming in my book. These headphones normally hover around £100 to £180, but today they’ve dropped to a near-all-time-low: £87 at Amazon UK.
Amazingly I’ve not yet written about these headphones for RPS, although I’ve covered them a few times for RPS sister site Eurogamer and I’ve owned and used a pair of (near-identical) HD 598 SE cans for the past seven years. The reason I keep coming back to these headphones is that their open back design is ideal for my work.
My home office is relatively quiet during the day, but I need to be able to listen out for delivery folks, so having a set of open back headphones is perfect – I get a lovely wide sound stage and good imaging that suits competitive gaming and critical listening, but I also can hear a knock on my door in time to not miss a package. If you also tend to work or game in a quiet space, you ought to give open back headphones a go – the feeling of hearing music from around you rather from inside your skull as you get from most other headsets is quite extraordinary.
Another area these headphones excel is their comfort. As someone that wears glasses, a lot of headphones can make my ears sore after only an hour or so, and that’s not ideal if I’d like to listen to music or play games for longer periods. The velour pads on these headphones seem a bit more malleable than the leatherette used on most other gaming headsets, so the arms of the glasses can find a groove and comfort, for me at least, is much-improved.
While I do really love these headphones, there is one very important thing to keep in mind – technically speaking they are headphones and not a headset. That means no mic is included, so if you rely on one for Zoom calls or match comms then you’ll need to rely on an external USB or XLR mic (or an add-on solution like a ModMic) for your voice to be heard. That’s not an issue for me, as I have a Blue Yeti X set up above my monitor, but it’s worth thinking about if you intend these to be your only headphones.
Beyond this though, the HD 599 SE are a lovely set of headphones and well worth trying if you’ve not had the pleasure before. At £87, they’re a great post-Christmas pickup and I’d love to hear your feedback if you do grab them!