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HE-5..initial musings - Page 90

post #1336 of 1668
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
After about 60 hours of pink-noise burn-in I haven't heard any changes in the sound. The first 20 hours produced a dramatic improvement in SQ (I'm usually hesitant to use such a strong descriptor but it applies here) after which the changes were quite subtle. Overall, I feel they are a pretty big step up from the HD650s, but not in every single category.

The treble is more natural, extended and forgiving. Yes that's right, more forgiving than the HD650. I had sibilance before burn-in and now it's completely gone, even on most of my badly recorded tracks that are a bit harsh and congested on the HD650+DHC Blackout Cable. This was probably the biggest surprise in my listening tests considering all that's been said about the tipped up treble of the HE-5 around here. I may just have gotten a smooth set, but they have the most realistic and unfatiguing treble I've heard. Quantitatively, there's definitely more of it than the HD650, but it's not sibilant or harsh.
The bass has better attack, is more textured, airy and resonant (in a positive sense) with a little less overall weight than the HD650s (most noticeably in the midbass). I do feel the HD650s are slightly better damped though. This was a very subtle finding. I have to listen very closely to hear this and have to investigate further whether it's the recording or if the HE-5's are extending the decay of the bass a bit, because the effect isn't reproducible in all tracks.

Edit: Upon further listening, I believe the HE-5 aren't extending the decay, or if they are, then it is very slight and troublesome only in certain recordings. I believe the main difference is the HD650's more prominent mid-bass masking the natural decay and adding a bit of punch of their own. However, I prefer this added punch over the HE-5's presentation. I feel the bass quality on the HE-5 is great overall and is quite textured and detailed. I would like a bit more punch, but that's just my preference. I should note that I listen at low volumes (usually around 80dB or less) and I feel this isn't an issue at higher volumes where the mid-bass seems to bloom a bit more.
If I may digress a bit from the bass, one thing I've found is that the HE-5's, unlike any other headphone I've heard, keep sounding better and more open and engaging as the volume is turned up. The soundstage keeps getting larger and larger, the sound more enveloping...this is in direct contrast to every other headphone I've heard which become fatiguing at higher volumes regardless of their sound signature.

Moving onto resolution, I can hear more low-level details on the HE-5 and a better sense of space because of their remarkable ability to render ambient cues in recordings. In many of my well-recorded tracks, the soundstage is tremendous, reaching far beyond the actual earcups without sounding distant or weak...definitely had me some "wow" moments coming from the HD650 here. Imaging is also a step up from the HD6x0 and is accurate and conveyed with startling resolution at times.
Dynamics are also noticeably better on the HE-5 with the same source/amp, and I think this is partly because of the HE-5's more forward nature and better attack/transients in the treble.
Now, the biggest strength of these cans has to be the midrange, as good as the other areas are. It's just life-like, instrument timbres are very natural and the aural image of them in space is huge (a lot of this will be recording dependent though). Often times, I genuinely felt the singer or instrumentalist was in the room with me, an effect that hasn't occurred very often with my other headphones, atleast not to this extent. I don't think much more needs to be said about the midrange other than the fact that it just sounds real. Compared to the HD650, the mids are recessed though, but once again not unnaturally so. I would say the HD650s aren't far behind here, although they emphasize the lower midrange more while the HE-5 show off the upper midrange more. They're both quite engaging in their own way, but for overall realism, the nod goes to the HE-5.

As for comfort, they are quite good, as the headband can be bent to match the shape of the listener's head. For me, the HE-5s are atleast as good as the other cans I've previously owned, and I've had some comfortable cans in the past (re Beyers/Senns etc). Comfort will ofcourse be subjective, and I guess I'm lucky in this regard that I can almost forget they're on my head. The only sensory stimulus I have of them being on my head comes from their weight (which BTW is very reasonable IMO).

Earlier in this thread, Skylab purported that complex passages seem to sound congested on the HE-5 and since a lot of my listening is done with complex orchestral pieces, I was concerned with his finding. Well, I'm glad to report that I tried hard to find any signs of congestion with the most demanding tracks I have (of all different genres BTW) and I never once felt the HE-5s were strained or confusing passages. In fact, I was a bit confused (delighted?) to find the opposite; one of the things that impressed me most was their ability to delineate complex parts and produce such a natural, visceral feeling of a live venue.

Now for a few negative points. I find these are more helpful sometimes than positive ramblings, so here they are.
1) Decent build quality, but the wood is fragile and is prone to cracking. Edit: Fang says as of January, this issue has been resolved, but time will tell for certain. 2) The bass doesn't extend as far as the HD650 (they're very close though), and 20hz is inaudible unless the volume is turned way up. The good thing though is the tone is clean and undistorted. Anyways, the HE-5s start to roll off near the 35hz mark, and at 25hz SPL decreases sharply. 3) They could use more punch in the bass (I think this is caused by a fairly flat frequency response from the bass to the lower midrange as I measured, some may prefer this actually). There is also the lack of damping to consider, and the resultant overhang of the decay I mentioned earlier. Ofcourse, I found this to be a very subtle effect, but it is noticeable at times, particularly with genres that rely heavily on quick pronounced bass beats such as progressive house. 4) Absolutely no isolation. This should go without saying but I think they leak as much sound out as they do in. 5) They take a bit more volume than I'm used to to sound their best.

Of the "cons" I feel the first 3 are most significant and should be considered before buying these headphones, especially point # 1 (One). The last 2 are really just nitpicking.

I haven't heard the HD800s or T1's so my impressions may not be worth much to those who want comparisons to headphones in the same weight class as the HE-5s. However, for anyone wondering, the HE-5s best the HD6x0, DT990, Pro750 and all the lesser cans I own or have tried.

Equipment Used: Foobar WASAPI > MisterX y2 DAC > Rockhopper M³ Amp + σ11 Power Supply > HiFiMAN HE-5 Orthodynamic

Edit: I found some frequency graphs that I believe go well with my findings: Google Translate
Awesome review Shahrose. My impression of the HE5 very closely matches yours, but you definitely describe them better than I did.
post #1337 of 1668
HE-5 have NEVER been congested for me with complex musical passages either. And I'm one of those that could hear it happen more in my ATH-A900 than in my Denon D2000, where the differences in the clarity was small but audible (both were recabled at the time, and A900 had felt dampening inside while D2000 didn't). In comparison, the HE-5 are crystal clear.
post #1338 of 1668
Thanks ting.mike
post #1339 of 1668
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Not only has Fang indicated it is 18V for the EF5 but if you look at the back of the amp by the plug you will see it states 18V. Pretty clear to me!
Didn't think of actually looking on the product itself...
post #1340 of 1668
Originally Posted by ting.mike View Post
Awesome review Shahrose. My impression of the HE5 very closely matches yours, but you definitely describe them better than I did.
I would have to agree on most points as well, great review
post #1341 of 1668
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post
Yes, I and a couple of others talked them down from $999 to $599 at RMAF, and they decided to give everyone that price.
I did say head-fi members. $599 is available to the masses
post #1342 of 1668
does anyone have a photo of the phone's internals? thank you
post #1343 of 1668
Originally Posted by jarthel View Post
does anyone have a photo of the phone's internals? thank you

post #1344 of 1668
Originally Posted by immtbiker View Post
Clear as a marshmallow
Tea anyone?
post #1345 of 1668
Those are freaking weird internals. How did the heavens create someone who would even thing of starting a design like this (magnets, strips, metal panels)...wow! All of that, and it makes things sound, well...musical
post #1346 of 1668
Heard these at the DFW meet today. Very capable headphones that eat up any music you throw at it without effort. In my setup with the Little Dot MKVI using 2x3pin XLR I found them to be excellent save for a bit of harshness in the treble that was present in any genre but classical. I then heard it unbalanced on Alex's (APureSound) rig and while it wasn't quite so effortless, the treble harshness was gone completely. The synergy with his setup made me understand the hype these cans are getting.

With the right setup these are killer for the money. They don't match my setup at all so I'll pass for now with a mental note to try them again if I do major changes in the future.
post #1347 of 1668
As one of the "masses" that plunked down $599 for a pair of these cans (actually $939 with shipping for the combo), I must say that overall I am very pleased, which is very good considering that I've never spent so much on a pair of headphones myself.

The treble sharpness is wearing off somewhat, to my great pleasure and relief. Never had a problem with sibilance, or build quality.

Until now, that is:

So one of my earpads is defective, which should be no big deal, right?

They want me to mail the headphones back to them for repair. For an earpad that looks to be user replaceable; does this make sense to anybody? Here's a copy of their reply:

"We apologize for such an early mishap, please use the following information below to get a replacement.
Our warranty policy is a 30 day refund and 3 year free replacement. If any modifications are done by the customer to the component, this will void the warranty. Please print your online receipt email or transaction page. Note that you need a replacement, and ship the earphone (or other product), and include the receipt in the box back to us.
Please make sure to note your address, since the address on the receipt is the only way for us to mail the product back to you.
Please do not ship the box and accessories to us.
(Please only ship the defective component to us.)
The cost to ship a defective product back to us for repair or replacement is the responsibility of the consumer. The cost to return the product to the consumer, is the responsibility of Head Direct. "

This is the part I hate. Do they mean to replace the headphones or the earpad?

Why would I risk them replacing the entire pair of headphones when there are variances and I like mine?

Why do I have to send the headphones back just to get a new earpad?

It seems that the above photo should have been evidence enough, but I replied thus-ly:

"So I have to mail the headphones to New Jersey to get a replacement earpad?

[At least it's not China, but] Can't you just send me another pad?

Can I remove and send just the defective pad to you?"

Please keep in mind that I sent them the above photo, and I still am within the 30 day refund window. I feel my best options are to either "live with it" or to exercise the refund option the HE-5/EF5 package before I am without the headphones for a month just because I need a new earpad. I would just glue it but that could construe a "modification", which when "done by the customer to the component, this will void the warranty".

Their response seems to defy logic, which would dictate a new pad be mailed to me with simple replacement instructions, even if I was just in the 3-year repair window, rather than the 30-day return window I am actually still in. I am also concerned by their wording that if I send them in, they might replace my pair with another entire pair of headphones rather than just replace the defective pad, which I would I would also like to avoid, as it's just an earpad.

Everyone please, wade on in !
post #1348 of 1668
Man. That DOES defy logic. What a disappointing solution to an apparently easy-to-fix problem.
post #1349 of 1668
Wait for their reply to your second email. I agree the best solution would be for them to send you a new set of pads and once received, for you to ship the defective ones back. Cheaper, faster, and easier.
post #1350 of 1668
All of the QC issues are what may just prevent me from pulling the trigger on the HE-5. I keep reading about the QC issues of Grado and the truth is, of all the Grados I've had, I haven't had one problem. The HE-5 seems to be plagued. And I really want to give them a go with what I've read thus far. I suppose I'll wait until they've ironed out all the problems before I commit.
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