Is the Sennheiser HD 560s an upgrade to the HD599?

I have recently started getting into high-level open-back headphones. After trying the Philips X2HR for a while, I switched to the Sennheiser HD599. Paired with the HD599 I use the FiiO e10k headphone DAC/AMP. I have been looking at the recently released HD560s as a possible upgrade from the HD599, but I wanted to ask your advice on if this is the case or not.

My situation and requirements are the following:

  • My price range is around 200 euro’s
  • I’m looking for open-back headphones
  • It needs to be purchaseable in the Netherlands. This in my experience eliminates shops like Drop.com because of import taxes and the like.
  • I will be using the headphones:
    • With my desktop PC in a home office
    • Primarily for gaming (Witcher 3, Battlefield 4, Apex Legends, Cyberpunk 2077, Wolfenstein series)
    • The secondary usage is listening to music. I like to listen to guitar music like Plini, Devin Townsend and John Mayer.
    • Tertiary usage is for online calls and such.
  • For now I do not want to upgrade my DAC/AMP, so my new headphones need to be able to be powered by the e10k. Ofcourse it would be ideal if the headphones would benefit from a better amp. I feel that my HD599 does not really benefit that strongly from having a dedicated DAC/AMP.
  • The new headphones should provide a meaningful upgrade to the HD599.
  • They do not need to have an attached boom-mic, I am running a separate USB microphone.

I have been looking at a few options, and have some thoughts off myself on them already.

Sennheiser HD560s

I see them being compared to the HD600 range of headphones, which I feel are an upgrade to my HD599. The soundstage is supposedly quite wide, which is nice for gaming. Also, the bass extension is better than the HD600 range, again nice for gaming. In this review, DMS is extremely positive about this headphones. Other reviewers have been somewhat less glowing, but still very positive. In this review DMS explicitly mentions they are good for gaming, but that the PC38x is way better for gaming. The HD560s would in contrast be a good one-stop-shop for both gaming and music.

Sennheiser PC38x

This seems to be universally seen as the best gaming oriented headset you can buy. Joshua Valour says in this review that the soundstage and sound siganture (little less treble, warmer mid range) of this headset compared to the HD560s is better suited for gaming. Although it seems that the performance is quite close. The biggest downside is that you can only buy it at drop.com, which is quite a hassle for me in Europe. Are there people who have experience with shipping drop.com to Europe, maybe even the Netherlands?

Hifiman Sundara

This headset is much more expensive than my budget, but I still wanted to include it as an option to save up for. I would then not buy a new headset yet, and continue to save up for this and a new amp (which I feel the sundara needs). I am curious how much of an upgrade this 350 euro headset would be over the HD560s/PC38x, for gaming and music. Would it make sense to stick to my HD599 a bit longer and get a more expensive headset like this? Are there other headsets you guys would recommend?

So what do you people think? How much of an improvement will the HD560s or PC38x offer over the HD599? Or should I hold out for something like the Sundara?

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I have a good feeling anything in the 500 line up for Sennheiser is going to be much more similar rather than better. Just keep saving for a worthy upgrade like the HD 650.

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Thanks for your reply @SleepyRhythms. In the DMS review he rates the HD 560s over the 6xx, which essentially is an HD650.

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That’s just his opinion. Most of us haven’t heard the 560 yet and can’t comment either way. Be aware that your taste may vary, or be completely different.

I demoed the 650 but bought the 600. At some point after I bought mine, Tyll Herstens of the now gone Innerfidelity website rated the 600 as better than the 650 and put the 600 on his wall of fame. My opinion matched Tyll’s, but many people prefer the warmer 650 profile.

Always try for yourself.

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I guess the lack of people with acces to the headset will limit the feedback I can get. Hopefully this will get better in time. A local shop will carry them, so I guess giving them a listen will be a key factor in deciding what to do.

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:point_up:Best advice ever, as much fun as it is for all of us to review gear and get others opinions nothing is more important than your own opinion and what you like.

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There have been a couple of comparisons of the HD560s to the HD6-- series and Sundara (among others) so far on Reddit (r/headphones), you could take a look at those.

I own both of the aforementioned and am still looking at the 560s, the soundstsge and treble extension over the HD600 sounds like a worthy upgrade for a relatively small amount - to me at least. And since I’m not impressed by the Sundaras build quality but Senn hasn’t let me down yet, I’d likely pick these up myself to try as another smooth enjoyable daily driver.

But yes, the best idea is to try when possible!

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@starmartyr Alex Grey Artwork as your profile pic???

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Yes sir! Love his artwork and own a couple of his books (and of course the Tool albums that heavily feature his art!)

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Big fan of his too! 20 Characters.

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I am happy with the 560s. It is an improvement over the 600 in some areas. It feels cheaper but is still up to Sennheiser standards. On first listen it is a little “busy” but I think most will be happy with it.
I have the Sundara as well. It is not as robust as the Sennheiser build-wise. It does have a very smooth brightish signature, but needs an amp to get the best out of it.

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@Greendriver thanks for your comment! The comparison you make between this and the 600 series would put this above the HD599. Do you have am opinion on this, or have you not listened to the HD599?

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One comparison I could find between 560s and 599 is here:

  • the 560s do not have the same overly warm midrange (link). Also from that article: *
    A good affordable alternative to HD600 with an even higher clarity and much wider stereo image.*. It also specifically recommends it for gaming because of the wide soundstage and good imaging.
  • Another reddit post specifically mentions hating the HD 599 (super muffled, bass/lower mids were way too loud) and loving the 560s (The HD 560S is the absolute opposite. Neutral, but punchy bass, that goes really low and an overall crystal clear sound.). This is the link.
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I haven’t heard the 599, sorry.

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Exactly what I’ve read as well from a few sources. I can’t speak to the 599 either though but those and the 598 have been said to have a bit of bass bloat, which the 560s seems to avoid so that is great.

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