The Sennheiser HD 598 sounds fine with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's live album, "4 Way Street." The liveness and clarity of the recording is well preserved by the headphones, but while the HD 598 can play loud with iPods, the drive may still fall a bit short for some listeners.
Still, we wouldn't recommend the HD 598 to buyers who only intend to use the headphone with an iPod or other portable music players. Bowers & Wilkins' similarly priced but smaller on-ear P5 headphone is more dynamic and transparent and has better bass definition used with an iPod, but we much preferred the HD 598's sound over the P5's at home plugged into a receiver or headphone amplifier.
Comparisons with Monster's Beats Pro full-size headphone easily demonstrate just how different two headphones can sound. The Beats Pro has a lot more bass punch and treble detail, which makes for a more "exciting" sound, but the HD 598 is a more accurate-sounding design. The Beats Pro contains the sound field within the listener's head, while the HD 598 allows the sound to appear from outside the earcups.
We compared the HD 598 with our 10-year-old Sennheiser HD 580 headphones, and the company's sound "signature" is apparent on both models. The two headphones share a satisfying sense of clarity and a smooth frequency response without any overemphasized bass or treble peaks. But the HD 598 has better resolution and detail with more dynamic life.