Today, for Amazon's Early Spring Sale, one of the best open-back headphones ever, Sennheiser's HD 599 SE, are available for just £70 on Amazon - a 30 percent reduction from their UK RRP. This is comparable to the best price we've ever seen on this pair of headphones, which have earned a strong DF recommendation.
So before we talk about the HD 599 - what does open-back actually mean? It's pretty straightforward - it means that the back of the earcups are left open, so sound from the environment is let in and sound from the headphones is let out. This provides a clearer, more natural sound and a wider sound stage, which makes this sort of headphones ideal for listening to music or playing games in quiet places - but less ideal for noisy areas.
The HD 599 in particular are legendary headphones thanks to their neutral sound profile, which means no specific part of the mix should be too overbearing, or have too much prominence over other frequencies. This balanced sound profile means you're listening to music as the creator intended, with a bit of added warmth to ensure that the music isn't too fatiguing.
The wide sound stage, combined with excellent imaging, means that these headphones are also great for gaming. In games like Counter-Strike or Warzone, they're great for precisely locating your enemies by the sounds of their footsteps. These are ideal for long gaming or listening sessions too, with the velour ear pads providing significantly better long-term comfort than the average gaming headset, especially for glasses-wearers.
This kind of open-back design really shines in quiet spaces, where you can focus on the music that feels like it's coming from all around you, rather than from inside your head as you get from in-ear and closed-back over-ear headphones. The only disadvantage is that they will leak noise, which means people sitting next to you may potentially hear your bangin' tunes.
It's important to stress that the HD 599 are headphones, rather than a headset, so you don't get an integrated microphone. Thankfully, if you already have a dedicated USB or XLR microphone this will provide much better audio quality than the average headset mic, and if not you can also add a microphone like the AntLion Audio ModMic. Likewise, these are wired headphones with a (detachable) 3.5mm cable, but thankfully with a 50 ohm impedeance you can drive them easily even with your motherboard or laptop's integrated audio - although a DAC/AMP provides an even better listening experience.
The HD 599 SE are a great set of headphones that outperform some of the best gaming headsets money can buy in terms of comfort and audio quality, and they're an absolute steal at this reduced price of £70. I'm quite tempted to pick up a pair myself...\
And, of course, if you're hungry for a wide range of deals on a wide range of gaming hardware, then be sure to check out our Amazon Spring Sale deals guide where you can find even more excellent discounts.