The Sennheiser HD 518 are a good, low-budget pair of critical listening headphones. They deliver a decently balanced and open sound quality. They're comfortable and somewhat sturdy but are a bit bulky and tight on the head. However, they're not casual headphones and are only meant to be used in quiet, isolated environments.
- Good and open audio reproduction.
- Comfortable fit.
- Sensitive to ambient noise.
- High leakage can be distracting to others.
- Slightly bulky and cumbersome design.
The HD 518 have a similar design to the HD 598 but look less high-end and also feel tighter on the head. They're well padded, decently comfortable headphones, and the additional tension in the headband also makes them a bit more stable. However, they do not feel as comfortable as the HD 598. Also, like many of other open back headphones, they're not intended for use outdoors and are too bulky and cumbersome, to comfortably carry around on your person.
The HD 518 are not the most eye-catching or stylish open over-ear headphones. They have a similar aesthetic to the HD 598 but lack a few of the premium touches that the more expensive models of Sennheiser HD series provide. This makes them look a bit cheap at a glance, especially with the thick and plastic ear cup grills. On the other hand, the headband and ear cup padding do look and feel high-end for their price.
The HD 518 like the HD 598 are well padded comfortable headphones. The large oval ear cups fully encompass the ears and the cushioned fabric is soft and feels good on the skin. Unfortunately, they're a bit tight on the head. It's not as noticeable as some other over-ear headphones but it does make them a bit less comfortable than the HD 598.
The HD 518 are decently stable headphones. However, they're not designed to be used while doing any physical activities. They will sway and quickly fall off your head but do maintain a stable and comfortable fit during casual listening sessions. Unfortunately, the cable is not detachable and will yank the headphones of your head if it gets hooked on something.
The HD 518 are on the larger side for over-ear headphones. They're not designed to be very portable. They're bulky, and the ear cups do not lay flat to take less space. They also don't fold into a more compact format. They will fit into a backpack and some larger bags but are too cumbersome to carry around on your person. Sadly, they don't come with a case or pouch either.
Decent build quality. The HD 518 feel sturdy enough to withstand a few falls without damage. The ear cups are comparatively dense, and the headband has a thin metal frame that gives a bit more durability to the design. However, like the HD 598 the metal frame connects to the ear cups by a relatively thin swivel hinge that seems susceptible to heavy physical stress.
The HD 518 deliver a good sound quality and an immersive soundstage that's suitable for critical listening. They have a decent and punchy bass, and the high frequencies do not sound as sharp, as some other open over-ear models. However, they slightly overemphasize the mids, which coupled with the dips in the treble range makes instruments and vocals sound forward yet lacking in detail and clarity compared to the HD 598 and HD 600.
Average Bass Range performance. Low-bass, which is responsible for low-end thump and rumble is lacking by about 5dB. Conversely, bass and high-bass are overemphasized by a maximum of 5dB, which could add excess punch and boominess to the sound.
Decent Mid Range performance. Low-mid and mid are elevated by about 3dB. This tends to overemphasize the lower harmonics of vocals/leads, and the upper harmonics of bass instruments resulting in a subtle boxy quality.
Very good Treble Range performance. Low-treble is quite flat and consistent. Treble has a 5dB dip around 6KHz which has a small negative effect on the presence and brightness of vocals/leads. High-treble is also consistent and well-produced.
- 100% Avg. Std. Deviation
Very good Soundstage. These headphones sound quite open, activate the pinna fairly well, and are also able to excite their acoustic environment with relative ease. On the downside, we detected a very small amount of out-of-phase crosstalk with these headphones, but the amount is too small to be significant.
Decent Imaging. The amount of phase shift is relatively high, both in Bass and Treble Ranges. However, our test unit showed only small amounts of mismatch between the two drivers, the biggest mismatch being of phase in high-treble.
Good harmonic distortion performance. The amount of harmonic distortion present in Bass and lower Mid Range is elevated. Although harmonic distortion at lower frequencies is less audible. In the Treble Range, there is very little harmonic distortion produced, regardless of the loudness, which is excellent.
These headphones like all open-back models are not meant to isolate the listener from ambient noise. They're designed specifically to leak and have an open sound that immerses you in your environment. Therefore, they won't be usable in loud settings or if you want to keep what you're listening to private.
Poor isolation. These headphones have an open back and therefore don't isolate any sound below 2KHz. Above 2KHz, they perform poorly, achieving only 13dB of overall attenuation in the Treble Range.
Poor leakage. Due to their open-back design, the HD 518 leak a lot of sound throughout a broad range of frequencies. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 300Hz and 20KHz which makes the leaked sound quite audible to the people around you.
No active features.
No compatible app.
In the box
- Sennheiser HD 518 Headphones
- 1/4" to 1/8" Adapter
- Audio cable