Drop is an interesting concept. It’s a company that designs and markets its products differently. Using data and insights from a passionate group of enthusiasts, it applies that knowledge to a specially curated collection of products and exclusive designs that are likely to catch the attention of anyone looking for a pair of headphones or a mechanical keyboard. It’s my kind of organization since I love nothing more than a pair of headphones and a mechanical keyboard.
Drop is a bit like having a personal tech shopper. It scours the market for great products which it then tests and rates before offering them to the public. You can think of it as a personal vetting service that draws up a shortlist of the best items for you to consider.
Founded in 2012, Drop participates in product development with third-party manufacturers of headphones and keyboards. It currently has a community of seven million members who rely on Drop to recommend the very best products for sale.
The company was founded by Steve El-Hage and Nelson Wu. The enterprise is backed by August Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Mayfield, KPCB and First Round. It’s a unique concept and, on paper, it sounds rather eclectic, but the company seems to be able to shift large amounts of premium products because its customers trust it to select the best of what’s on offer.
To try out the Drop concept, I ordered a pair of Massdrop x Sennheiser HD58X Jubilee headphones. Some of the products that Drop sells are co-branded, retaining the name and model of the original manufacturer, but with the Drop imprimatur added to indicate it’s been tested, selected and recommended.
The Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee headphones were designed by the legendary audio engineer Axel Grell, who joined Sennheiser in 1991 and was responsible for designing the HD 580 Precision. This was the model that launched a much-loved series of headphones that dominated Sennheiser’s audiophile range for more than 25 years.
Four years after the launch of the HD 580 Precision, Sennheiser later celebrated its 50th anniversary with the release of the HD 580 Jubilee headphones, which would later become the HD 600 and lead to the HD 650. In the spirit of the HD 580, using current technology and incorporating the optimizations learned throughout the development of the series, Drop announced the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee.
These headphones have been tuned by Axel Grell and Massdrop based the design on feedback from the audiophile community The new 150Ω drivers of these open-backed headphones and their look are inspired by the original HD 580 Precision, the iconic model that started the whole series.
The HD 58X Jubilee headphones require less amplification than the drivers that were used in previous models, but they have the same strength of magnets and driver size as their predecessors. This change in driver makes the new HD 58X Jubilee easier to power using a wide range of audio sources, whether that be a smartphone, a digital audio player or a proper hi-fi system.
The sound of the HD 58X Jubilee is wonderfully warm and open, with a natural and flat response that enables the music to shine through. The sound is similar to Sennheiser’s HD 600 but with a closer soundstage that’s not too wide. The bass is clean and extended but never ventures into being overblown. The upper midrange is perfectly clean thanks to the close-matched drivers and the result is a focused and smooth treble response. I loved the level of detail that these headphones can extract from the music. They’re incredibly relaxing to listen to with a superbly fresh and open feel.
In homage to the HD 580 Precision headphones, the HD 58X Jubilee feature a glossy black headband and gray metal grilles while the ear cups have an elliptical shape that covers the whole ear. The headband is padded and the earpads are upholstered in soft velour and are easily replaced by the user. The 6ft cable is detachable and made from oxygen-free copper with a para-aramid sheath that creates very few microphonics.
Because the HD 58X Jubilee are an open-back design, there’s not a claustrophobic and sweaty feel that many closed-back headphones create. On the downside, an open design does enable ambient sounds to reach the listener’s ears and it also means that the music leaks out from the headphones and which could irritate fellow passengers on a train or a plane. These are headphones best suited for serious listening sessions in a quiet music room. I love the open-back design but it’s fair to say that they are not ideal for listening to music on the go.
Many of the HD 58X Jubilee’s parts are interchangeable with others in the series, plus there’s a thriving aftermarket of modifications and accessories available, along with some excellent long-term support from Sennheiser. As already mentioned, the cables of the HD 58X Jubilee are detachable and it’s possible to replace the balanced cable with a balanced cable with a 2.5mm jack plug. Designed specifically for Drop’s Sennheiser HD 6XX and HD 58X headphones, these balanced cables enable the headphones to be plugged into the 2.5mm balanced output of a digital audio player or a portable headphone amplifier.
Although the supplied velour earpads supplied come with the HD 58X Jubilee headphones feel superbly comfortable, it’s possible to swap them out for something a little different. Drop sells compatible earpads in a range of four styles, providing a breathable, cushioned feel for longer listening sessions. The velour pads feature soft, tight-knit velour pad, stitched at the seams for security and a good seal. Supple sheepskin pads are also sold by Drop and they produce a tight soundstage and truer sound due to the increased absorption of more early reflections before sound enters the listener’s ears. Drop’s fenestrated sheepskin pads are similar to the sheepskin pads, but with perforations for a more breathable design. Finally, the fourth Drop earpads are a hybrid velour design that combines a sheepskin outer ring with velour on the face for the best of both worlds.
Verdict: The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee headphones have a beautifully relaxed sound thanks to the open-backed design and the genius of the original design of Axell Grell. The fit is comfortable and not too loose. The standard velour earpads are cool and comfortable, although I can imagine the sheepskin pads would bring a whole new dimension to these impressive headphones. The sound produced by the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee is superb with a tone that sounds far more expensive than the very reasonable price tag would suggest. For audiophiles wanting to listen at home to a hi-fi or a digital audio player, the HD 58X Jubilee headphones are near perfect. Add in the three-year warranty, with accidental coverage and “no questions” return policy, and it makes sense to buy these superb headphones directly from Drop.
Pricing & Availability: The Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee headphones are available now and cost $190 plus shipping.
More info: drop.com
- Make: Massdrop x Sennheiser
- Appearance: Glossy black headband with gray metal grilles
- Ear coupling: Over-ear (circumaural)
- Drivers: Open and dynamic
- Impedance: 150Ω
- Frequency response: 12 – 38,500Hz (-10 dB)
- THD + N: < 0.1% at 1kHz, 100dB
- Sound pressure level: 104dB at 1V, 1kHz
- Connector: ⅛ in (3.5 mm) gold-plated stereo jack plug
- Cable: 6 ft (1.8 m) OFC, detachable
- Weight without cable: Approx. 9.2 oz (260 g)
- Individually serialized
- Made in Romania