I would be very happy to take ASR's spot
- 21,521 Posts. Joined 4/2005
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I would be very happy to take ASR's spot
Great news 南开米饭！Thanks for the concern. Will adjust my system and wait for the He6.
Sad to see that Canada doesn't seem to be represented in this program. A fellow Head-fier friend of mine has the HE-5s (which I find very good) along with many other headphones and a decent selection of amps.
I'm sure we could have come up with some great impressions/reviews if given the opportunity.
Oh well, it seems to be too late now.... let me know if not and there is any interest in Canadian participation.
I'm trying to put 150 hours on the HE-6 by Monday night, where I can do more serious listening. With 80 hours on them, so far I have to say the HE-6 via SAC KH1000 amp in my bedroom is more enjoyable than my HE60 via the stock HEV70 amp. But the HEV70 is not that great of a Stat amp, so even the HE-5 LE on the Woo WA6 sound better than the HE-60/HEV70. I have all three rigs running at the same time with the same source (CD5001 > Apogee mini-DAC), and all 3 rigs are using ALO SXC interconnects. (XLR into SAC, mini-RCA into HEV70, loop out with RCA into WA6).
Note - the HE-5 LE sound really good with the Woo WA6 which drives them better than the original HE-5, but the WA6 is not powerful enough for the HE-6. Even though with most other NON-ortho phones the WA6 is a noticeably better amp than the SAC, the HE-5 LE on the WA6 is still not quite as good as the HE-6 on the SAC amp. The SAC amp just has the power and drive with hard to drive orthodynamic phones that the WA6 with it's superior balance and refinement can't match.
I still prefer the HE-6 on the SAC amp despite having to crank up the volume an extra hour or two on the volume knob vs the HE-5 LE. Where I might listen to the HE-5 LE with the SAC amp volume knob at 9:30 - 10 o'clock, the HE-6 require me to turn it to 11:30 - 12 o'clock. The HE-5 LE on the WA6 sound good with the volume at one o'clock, while I have to crank the WA6 to max 5 o'clock with the HE-6 and still not reach loud enough levels to match the HE-5 LE levels playing at one o'clock.
The HE-6 are detailed, fast and transparent, but with a slightly smaller soundstage than HE-60/HEV70. The HE-6 are more grounded sounding with better bass impact and presence, while the HE-6 are a little more etherial sounding and less grounded in the real world. The HE-6 bass is better than with my HD800, but the HD800 soundstage is still as massive as ever. I'm really not finding anything to complain about with the HE-6 on a sub-$1K SS amp so far, except that the SAC amp is holding back the level of transparency possible, and soon I need to move up to my best amp to see if the HE-6 transparency can match the HD800/HE60 on a good amp.
So, I plan to be spending more time with the HE-6 on my ZDT amp Saturday and Sunday night, after I have 100 hours on the phones. I've been running them 24/7 since I got them. At the same time I'll be comparing to the HE-60 on my Woo WES amp, which gives them much better bass, soundstage and transparency. So that should be an interesting comparison when moving both phones up to my best amps. At that point I can also compare them to the O2 Mk1, Jade, HD800 and LA7000.
In response to a question above - I have never heard an LCD-2, and likely wont have one in my hands until after the 19th or 20th of July. Unless I can keep the HE-6 an extra week, that will be a week after the HE-6 have already been shipped to the next person. Sorry. I can still compare the HE-6 to several of my phones now and note the differences, and compare the LCD-2 to those same phones, but I wont be able to compare them directly.
This weekend I spent a lot of time listening to the HE-6 with ZDT amp via the PS Audio Perfectwave DAC (transport being Macbook, Samsung DVD and Airport Express 802.11n). I compared the HE-6 to my recabled HD800 and my Sennheiser HE-60 on the balanced WES.
POWER: The ZDT has less power than the SAC KH1000 amp when driving these phones, but a little more than the Nuforce HDP. It sounded the same whether I used the 8-watt speaker terminals or the 4-pin XLR, which is not surprising since they come off the same transformer tap.
Normal listening was conducted with the ZDT volume knob at 2-3 o'clock, although I could go louder to 5 o'clock (max) without distortion. This was fairly loud but not up to uncomfortable levels like with the SAC amp, although the ZDT at max volume is already higher than I normally listen. I'm thinking you might need to double the power of the ZDT in order to replicate the impact and volume of live concerts, which the SAC amp does seem to offer with the HE-6. However, I don't very often listen at those levels, and I think that the ZDT's refinement and balance outweigh the additional volume I can get from the SAC amp.
In comparison, the Nuforce HDP was about as loud at 3 o'clock as the ZDT was, but I could not get the HDP to play any louder than that without introducing distortion. So, I'm guessing that the ZDT amp had about 3dB more headroom than the HDP. In contrast, the volume knob on the WES with HE-60 was set for 9:30 - 10 o'clock for the same volume levels as the HE-6 with ZDT or HDP at 3 o'clock. The HE-60 could play loud enough on the WES to be uncomfortable before I'd reach 12 o'clock. I'm guessing the SAC amp with HE-6 can match those volume levels, but it's in a different rig so I didn't compare them. The ZDT only needed to go to 10-11 o'clock with the HD800, and 9-10 o'clock with the LA7000, to match the HE-6 at 3 o'clock.
The 5-watt Travagans Red with OPA627 opamps starts to distort at 2 o'clock, at a volume level that is slightly louder than the ZDT amp, which is surprising. However, it didn't sound nearly as good as the ZDT. I suspect the SS output maybe has a little extra current reserves than the transformer coupled tube amp at these impedances. I have an 8-watt Qinpu tube hybrid that I still need to try out, and a Nuforce Icon that is rated 12 watts into 4 ohms I can try.
SOUND: The HE-6 with a world class amp play on a world class level to me. In fact, at louder volumes the HE-6 remain better composed and less fatiguing than the HE-60 or HD800, similar to my O2 Mk1, Jade, LA7000, K1000 or HE-5 LE. The problem is that my best sounding amp is not my most powerful amp, and these need a lot of power to really shine. But we knew that going into this.
The HE-6/ZDT soundstage is a little smaller than the HE-60/WES, which is a little smaller than the HD800/ZDT's. The HE-6 was focused and precise like the HE-5 LE, yet more open and spacious than those with live recordings. Imaging is fairly precise and not too forward or too distant, but the stage is not as deep as the O2 Mk1 nor as wide and voluminous as the HD800 or HE-60. The HE-6 is not quite as forward sounding as my HF-2 (bowls), nor my old RS-1 with flats as I recall. The transparency of the HD800 and HE-60 is still a little better, but the HE-6 offered a nice and more intimate view of the performance (e.g. passes the squeeze the singer's butt test). They still sound a little more open/transparent than my LA7000 or HE-5 LE, and the HF-2 or HD600 cannot keep up nearly as well. The original HE-5 sounded open and airy, but imaging was imprecise and blurred vs these others, and you start to get the sense that the bass and highs are slightly tipped up above the mids. The HE-5 LE and HE-6 improve on this.
The HE-6 bass was stronger than that of the HD800 or HE-60, which are not lacking with these amps. They all had good bass detail and speed, but I preferred the HE-6 bass impact over the other two. In comparing the HE-6 bass to the O2 Mk1, I'd say the O2 almost sound a little bloated and not as tight in comparison, although the O2 impact is just right for older classic rock. Spritzer will tell you this is the fault of the WES amp. The HE-6 bass quantity vs the rest of the frequencies comes close to my LA7000, beating out the HE-5 LE by a small margin. However, the ZDT cannot drive the HE-6 to hit as hard as the more efficient LA7000 because the LA7000 can play significantly louder with less power.
The HE-6 mids are rich and vibrant, and as enjoyable as the others, with a nice sparkle and detail to the treble. It was only that final degree of air, ambience and out-of-head soundstage that was missing with the HE-6 in comparison to the HD-60 and HD800. But I have not heard any other headphone except the K1000 or Sigma/404 that could match their sense of openness either, and the K1000 didn't have very good bass while the Sigma/404 didn't have very good air and detail.
Basically I would say that the HE-6 are a step up in the bass and treble over the HE-5 LE, with similarly excellent mids. The original HE-5 have good bass impact in comparison, but it's highs are set a little above the level of the mids, and the original HE-5 mids don't have the presence and weight that I find with the HE-5 LE and HE-6. While I preferred the original HE-5 above my re-cabled RS-1, and preferred the HE-5 LE over the original, I think the HE-6 does the best of everything that the original HE-5 and the LE did, but all in one package.
I'm not going to rank these headphones my other flagship phones, but I would say that they all belong in the top tier of headphones. When paired with the right amp any of them can shine (or fail with the wrong amp). If the HE-6 were mine, I would probably continue my search for the best amp to match them, and I'm thinking we need someone with a balanced Beta 22 to try these out since that was the best amp I've heard with the K1000. I think that the EHHA was also more powerful than my ZDT, based on trying one for a couple of weeks with my K1000 before. A nicer speaker amp is probably a good idea as well, and I'll see if I can get to the speaker terminals on my 55 watt Yamaha receiver.
Now that is interesting. I really got to like the forwardness of the HE-5, and I also like what I have read about the bass capabilities of the LE. I can't wait to hear the HE-6 for myself!
Great review BTW, thanks!
Thanks Larry, good read!! I'm looking forward to correlating your impressions with my own listening to the HE-6!