Pros: Great Bass, Slightly Sparkly Highs, Good Design, Fair Price
Cons: Can be slightly uncomfortable, no removable cord, mids recessed
So it’s been a couple of weeks now since I picked up the HFi-580s and I thought it time to give my impressions. For reference the cans have been tested on the following:
Apple iPad 1st Generation 16GB Wifi Model
Samsung Epic 4G Android Phone
Creative Fatal1ty Professional PCI-e Entertainment Profile, no FX, through Behringer Xenyx 1202FX Mixer through Foobar 2000 ASIO Playback
My comparison is going to be against my previous cans, Shure SRH440s w/ 840 pads. I will not be drawing comparison to the Monoprice cans, as I haven’t used them enough to draw an educated opinion. So let’s begin.
Packaging: The package for the HFi-580s is straight forward cardboard. In the box is the included S-Logic test CD, the cans themselves, warranty information paperwork and a screw on 1/4th adapter. This adapter also fits the 440s screw on tip which is nice. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the headphones to you in one piece.
Comfort: The HFi-580s are a relatively comfortable set of headphones. The pleather on the cans as well as the headband is rather stiff on initial unboxing. After use the pads do soften up a bit and become more comfortable however neither the pads, nor the head band pad are as soft as the 840 pads on my Shure’s. They aren’t an uncomfortable set of headphones, but the clamping force as has been mentioned in other reviews can be somewhat fatiguing. Over all I’ve been able to listen to these headphones for several hours with only short breaks to relieve the pressure the clamping for creates. Overall I still prefer the comfort of the 440s, but the memory foam pads do add to that.
Sound Quality: For reference I used the following CDs to test these headphones critically, though other casual listening will be taken into account –
Daft Punk – Alive 2007 320kbps MP3
Radiohead – OK Computer 320kbps MP3
Eric Claption – Unplugged – 1000kbps FLAC
Metallica – Ride the Lightning – 320kbps MP3
Deadmau5 – 4x4=12 320kbps MP3
The most critical of these was Alive 2007 as I feel it plays to these headphones strengths the most.
Bass & Lows: In a word, fantastic. They have an ability to produce bass I’ve not experienced in a headphone before. I’m not even sure what the proper term to describe the response these headphones give in the bass department. Bass signatures I’d never noticed before made themselves startlingly apparent. Parts of Alive 2007 I didn’t even know existed shone through with a lovely, vibrating resonance. Bass lines from Ride the Lightning that sometimes get hidden beneath the guitar sections present themselves in full force. If you want a pair of cans that have an authoritative punch these will likely suit you. However this color to the sound does have a tendency to detract from….
Mids: The mids in the HFi-580 are recessed. This is typical in closed cans to begin with, but the bass can occasionally overpower the mids in tracks. If you happen to have a CD that is poorly mastered to begin with (Brandon Boyd – The Wild Trapeze, which is already blown out from a bass perspective) it is completely unlistenable with these headphones. These are phones that you could certainly lose something on mid centric music. Eric Clapton – Unplugged certainly loses a step when compared to my Shures. I can’t imagine how many steps these would lost to something like a set of Grados (Though hopefully soon I’ll get to find out) The bass doesn’t completely wash out the mids for standard rock music, but I still prefer my 440s for genres more mid & high focused. Speaking of Highs..
Highs: The highs on the 580 are solid. They extend well, and there’s a hint of sparkle. OK Computer was a great CD to listen to through these as there is such diversity in how the songs are composed. The mids are still recessed of course, but the highs shine through and are complimented well with the ample bass. In my comparison the 440s extend a little further than the 580s, but not by much.
Burn In: Some swear by burn in, some don’t. I would say these phones definitely benefit from it. I mostly burned in while listening because I wanted to see how the sound changed. The mids definitely picked up more as I listened more but as mentioned several time still take a back seat to the bass & highs. The bass also extended further as I listened more. They certainly benefit from some burn in, and from the other reviews I’ve read it’s likely mine will continue to change through more use as I would estimate I am only at 100 hours so far.
Overall: The 580s are a joy to listen to if you’re looking for something with a nice bass focus that still delivers a good high end response. They fared best for me with Electronic/Dub/Hip Hop albums but have a nice presence for rock as well. If you’re looking for a set to listen to classical music or something acoustic or very vocal driven I’d probably recommend something else. I debated a long time before I ended up with these, but they’ve proven a lovely compliment to my 440s. If you want thundering bass at a good entry price I can’t recommend the HFi-580s enough.