Music's pretty great, isn't it? You'd be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like listening to the stuff -- and yet so many people are content to hear it through tinny laptop speakers or janky little earbuds they 'liberated' from the seat-pouch of the last aeroplane they took a trip on. "Enough!" we say -- it's time to leave that world of low-quality sound behind, and step into the welcoming light of high-end 'phones. Here to hold your hand is Sennheiser, with its HD 595 headphones -- high-end cans that at £120 are definitely in the shallow end of the high-end pool.
The HD 595's practically scream 'high end', in that they look like air-traffic control equipment. Two massive earcups shelter your fragile lugs, and a soft velvety coating keep these massive cans comfy atop your discerning bonce. We like the metal grille pattern that covers the recognisable Sennheiser logo, but we're less keen on the dirty-green paint job.
Forget style though -- chances are that if you're reading this you're not too concerned with how the HD 595s look, you're more interested in how they sound. We're pleased to report sound quality is every bit as good as we've come to expect from Sennheiser. Rocking out with NOFX's Punk in Drublic album, we were impressed with the HD 595's ability to distinguish clearer tones such as hi-hats and vocal melodies from the grungy, overdriven guitar sounds. Thanks to those super-large earcups, the clear, directional sound from the HD 595s is very spacious.
Mellowing out slightly with Close to the Edge by Yes, we're impressed with the HD 595's ability to deliver bass notes with a decent punch, without overwhelming the mid and high frequencies. All in all, we have zero complaints with the sound quality. If you're willing to spend a few more hundred pounds you will find better sound, but for most people this will be more than satisfactory.
The HD 595's have one potentially ruinous flaw -- they're unbelievably leaky, thanks to their open-back design. This essentially means sound can escape, and is intended to help achieve a wider soundstage and avoid the problem of sound bouncing around inside the earcup. Music at any reasonable volume, however, will undoubtedly be overheard by your colleagues, family or fellow commuters, who may not be so appreciative of your musical taste (the heathens).
Likewise, you'll still be able to hear virtually everything going on around you since sound can also leak in through that open back -- not so great on noisy trains.