I think it’s safe to say that anyone with some interest in gaming and a habit of watching gaming related channels on YouTube knows who Markiplier is. If you don’t, here is a quick summary: Mark Edward Fischbach (AKA Markiplier) is a gamer, streamer and widely known youtuber (one of the most successful at that, dare I say), with over 1.5 million views in each video and over 25 million subscribers. His career as an entertainer took flight with a single gameplay/reaction of the horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent and he has been loyal to the terror genre ever since. With all this being said, it’s pretty obvious that he made a huge profit from his great fan base, millions of views and ad revenue.
We also know that the sky’s the limit when it comes to investing in high end gaming gear in order to enhance your in-game experience. What truly interests us in this article is his choice in headphones.
We will be talking about the Sennheiser HD 599.
These headphones have a particular feature in their design: they are “Open Back” headphones. Open Back headphones, as stated in their name, have an open cup which leaves the back of the driver (or speaker if you will) covered only by a plastic grill and not fully closed by plastic or other materials. This design gives a very special type of sound, with a much wider soundstage and clearer stereo image, allowing us to recognize the virtual point of origin of each sound we are hearing.
While the main goal of regular closed-cup headphones is to provide the best isolation possible from ambient noises, Open Backs allow that same ambient noise of the room we are sitting in blend with the sound from the drivers, tricking us into believing that the sound is coming from our surroundings and not from a speaker taped to the sides of our hat rack. It goes without saying that these pairs of headphones target a more critical listener, who enjoys their music in a quiet spot and is looking forward to discovering subtle nuances in every session. They are preferred by both audiophiles and professional mixing engineers (myself included) for giving similar experience to listening in high fidelity studio monitors without the problem of filling your room with very high volume audio (80 dB SPL minimum).
If you have some experience with headphones, you know that comfort is key, and the HD599 are as comfortable as they come. The ear pads are covered in velour coated with a microfiber material, the plastic build makes them very light so they don’t weigh on the top of your head, which is also protected by a high quality band padding. The comfort is definitely on the same level as the headphones used by Ninja
The temperature accumulation inside the ear cup is another well-known issue of the gaming headset users you can kiss goodbye with this model. Any heat produced by your body or the driver is released by the back of the cup instead of getting trapped inside of it. This way you can have very long gaming sessions without the need to take them out to ventilate your ears or rest from the ear fatigue product of subpar padding. This makes the headphones suitable for gaming in the long-term, and they are a reliable pick for serious gamers. It is no suprise that Markiplier puts his trust in them.
The HD599 also provide very good frequency accuracy all along the spectrum, offering controlled lows, natural sounding nuances in the midrange and crisp yet not too sharp trebles. Adding this to the low total harmonic distortion (0.1% tested with a 1000hz tone) these headphones truly give us high fidelity audio at a reasonable price. In general, this type of audio quality is usually reserved for more expensive models. You get fantastic value for money when purchasing these headphones which means you don’t need to break the bank for excellent audio.
As you probably already guessed at this point, they are not recommended for listening in public environments like a bus or a crowded street, since the open back of the cups not only lets some of the external noise into your ears but also the sound that comes from the front of the drivers leaks out through the rear, letting everyone around you know exactly what you are listening to.
With all that in mind, the HD599 are an amazing pick if you are looking for the next level in listening both in professional audio or video games and buying the same pair of headphones as a guy like Markiplier is a guarantee that you will be getting a truly exceptional product.
TL; DR: Pros and Cons