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HE-6 Loaner Program - Page 11

post #151 of 903

Summary of my findings placed in one post together:


Originally Posted 7/6/10 by HeadphoneAddict View Post



The HE-6 are here and I started burning them in about 60 minutes ago.  Out of the box I noticed that they have better treble presence than the HE-5 LE.  Bass impact was maybe slightly less than a stock HE=5 LE, but in just 45 minutes of play time the bass impact/quantity has increased very noticeably.  They seem to be quite a bit less efficient than the HE-5 LE, but a few of the "normal" amps that I've tried so far can drive them.  


I haven't had time to warm up any tube amps yet or head down to the basement to try the ZDT.  So I first went to the SAC-KH1000 amp which is always warmed up.  The SAC is made for 120 ohm 74dB K1000, and it's a class A amp that's idled up all the time and the on/off switch actually behaves more like a mute switch.  It's takes balanced XLR inputs and has a 4-pin XLR jack along with a 1/4" jack.  The SAC amp does have enough power to drive them at volume levels higher than I like to listen.  Normal listening levels for me would be with the volume at 11 o'clock, where 12 o'clock is pretty loud, and distortion begins at about 1 o'clock or higher (with Apogee mini-DAC set at max output).  The SAC amp can drive both the HE-6 and HE-5 LE at the same time, and the difference in volume levels between the two headphones is very noticeable. (similar to when I use the HE-5 LE and more efficient LA7000 at the same time)


The Nuforce HDP can drive them with the volume set at max (5o'clock) without distortion, at a level that's just a little higher volume than I would normally listen (so adequate power, but would be better if it had more).  However, it's pretty apparent that the HE-6 will need an amp that plugs into the wall to drive them properly.  I tried the HE-6 with my ALO amphora and balanced Protector, and I can get normal listening volumes but nothing that I would call loud, while the DACport plays them at fairly quiet listening levels and is totally inadequate.


I'll post more as I burn them in, but so far I think they are good sounding and can't wait to see how they develop with more hours.


Originally Posted 7/10/10 by HeadphoneAddict View Post

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-60 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.




Originally Posted 7/12/10 by HeadphoneAddict View Post



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.



7/13/10 - Final Impressions:


As I promised above, I had try the HE-6 with a powerful speaker amp.  HOLY COW!  I've been listening to the HE-6 plugged into the back of my Yamaha HTR5560 home theater receiver for an hour now, set for 2 channel stereo and flat EQ, and the sound is very good - dare I say fantastic!  


I'm using a DVD player for CD's via Coax digital, and an Apple TV with some lossless and 24/96 music, feeding the Yamaha which is driving the HE-6 and my Polk SDA CRS speakers (aka Stereo Dimensional Array Compact Reference System).  I'd have to say this combination beats using ALL the other amps in dynamics and impact, while still offering very good detail and ambience.  The ZDT is a little more refined sounding, but a bit softer sounding on the transients and noticeably less powerful.  If the ZDT was as powerful as the Yamaha I'd be in heaven, but as it is this combo still sounds quite good.


Out of curiosity I compared the HE-6 to my reference speaker system.  These Polk SDA CRS were the speakers that replaced my Quad electrostatics back in 1986, because I thought they were a little better sounding and easier to drive (before Polk went mass market).  Going back and forth between the HE-6 and my Polk SDA CRS speakers (about 12 feet away and 6 feet apart) the timbre and tone is very similar, but the HE-6 seem to play both higher and deeper (and I've measured the Polk to be about -3dB down at 32Hz and 18Khz before).  As I switch between them with the volume set at -30 dB, I find the HE-6 also play a little louder than the Polk at the same volume knob setting, unless I cut my distance to the speakers to about 5-6 feet.  Switching my Velodyne subwoofer on and off makes little difference in the quality of the music with the HE-6, while it makes a bigger improvement with my speakers.  I put on a movie with the subwoofer on and increased the sub volume, and it did improve the immersion in the experience through the HE-6; but I still prefer speakers for movies (unless I get the Smyth SVS for 5.1 headphone listening).


Now, there's a caveat.  The Polk speakers have noticeably better soundstage size, while the HE-6 sound more forward and intimate in comparison, which is expected when comparing headphones to speakers, especially to the SDA CRS.  The Polk soundstage, because of the "SDA" configuration, stretches from wall to wall and anywhere from the plane of the speakers to many feet back and forward.  Often with the Polk I even get a surround sound effect (must be using the SDA interconnect cable), and for a long time I didn't use rear speakers when listening to movies with them.  The HE-6 keeps the instrument placement of the speakers, but compresses it down to a smaller stage surrounding me from all directions, with some of the stage inside my head (like with other headphones).  With the HE-6 I am sitting among the instruments and musicians, while speakers offer a stage in front of me.  No surprise there.


Anyway, back to headphones - it seems to me that there really is something to driving these with a powerful speaker amplifier.  Since many people love driving the K1000 with a Firstwatt F1 and RWA 30.2, I suspect that those amps might be just the ticket for the HE-6.  As for me, I'd be happy just listening through my Yamaha for a while, and with the long pigtail speaker cable I can still sit in my favorite listening chair (which puts my head about 11 feet away from the front of the receiver).


AS A FINAL NOTE:   Before I resorted to the 55 wpc Yamaha Receiver, I also tried the HiFiMan EF5 which has a slightly more laid back sound than the SAC amp, and plays a little less loudly with the HE-6.  I'd say the EF5 can reach volume levels between that of the ZDT and those of the SAC amp, and it drives them a little louder than the HDP can.  It's not a bad match for the HE-6 at all, but with the slightly laid back sound it may seem a little less detailed with the EF5.


I also tried the Qinpu A-3 8-watt per channel tube hybrid speaker amp with the HE-6 and it drives them at least as well as the SAC amp, in the brief time I spent with it, and I think it did a better job than the EF5 by a small degree.


PS:  I have the stock RCA clear-top back in the EF5, and a set of GE 5670 tubes in the A-3 amp.  Both of these are a tube hybrid with SS output stages.


[EDIT 8/19/10 - fix a typo where I wrote HE-6 where it should have been HE-60]

Edited by HeadphoneAddict - 8/19/10 at 10:23pm
post #152 of 903

Nice impressions, Larry.  I will be using them with the HE-6 with the Leben when I get it, which is a speaker amp - looks like that will be the way to go...

post #153 of 903

Larry, interesting observation with the home amp. I will be using the Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 to drive them and if the sound I get out of my AKG K1000 and Stax Lambda Pro (via SRD7/Pro) is any indication then the HE-6 should sound great!

post #154 of 903

Thanks for all those observations Larry. I hope my NAD 316BEE will do the HE-6 justice.

post #155 of 903

I'm pretty sure I don't have the ummph to drive these speakers. I'm renouncing my place in line. Fang thank you, I'm sure there are many who have more deserving setups than mine.


post #156 of 903


ADDENDUM 10PM 7/13/10:  


I am really liking the HE-6 on the Yamaha receiver, a lot.  I am enjoying these as much as my best headphones on any of my headphone amps, despite the fact that the Yamaha is not really a high end amp at all.  I can't even begin to imagine how good these will sound with a proper speaker amp, out of my best source like my PS Audio PWD.  


The more I listen to them, the more I feel their sound signature is more natural than even my Polk speakers.  And, with all the extra power they are more dynamic and fun to listen to than they were with my typical headphone amps.  I can enjoy listening with the Yamaha volume as low as -40, but can crank it up to -15 and play louder than I can stand to listen, all with no distortion or any signs of distress at all.  The power on tap seems to be an important factor, and even though the SAC KH1000 amp or Qinpu A-3 are not top tier headphone amps, these amp's have extra power to drive these which makes up for the amps failings in refinement or detail, etc.  The SAC amp is a little more forward and aggressive, and the EF5 is a little more laid back, while the A-3 seems to fall in between the two. But like with Goldilocks and the three bears, the Yamaha is just right.  


In other words, I can still enjoy these HE-6 on lesser quality amps, as long as they have the power to drive the HE-6.  If the HE-6 were mine, I'd either find a way to move my Apogee mini-DAC over to my Yamaha speaker rig, to feed my CD5001 or Macbook Pro into the Yamaha amp, or I'd look at getting a strong speaker amp to connect to my PS Audio PWD in my main rig.  I think that a better quality speaker amp could drive these to their full potential, and I'm getting a taste of what that could be like now.  If I had maybe bought those Dared mono blocks from Blutarsky a while back I could have tried them with these, and if these were mine I'd maybe I'd try to talk mrarroyo out of his GFA 555 amp.


I should note that all my top tier headphones all sound a little different from each other, each with pluses and minuses - like the O2 Mk1 sounding a little dark and a little boomy with the WES but having great midrange and treble transparency, or the HE60 and re-cabled HD800 sounding a little fatiguing at high volumes but having the biggest soundstages, or the Jade having great bass/mids/highs but could use a deeper soundstage to match the width, or the LA7000 sounding less open than those listed above, or the HE-5 LE having the lovely mids of the HE-6 but needing just a tiny bit more weight in the bass or a little more treble sparkle, or the HF-2 having an upper mids/lower treble coloration and peak but great bass/mids presence and impact, and blah blah blah...  Once I had enough power to drive the HE-6, I can't think of anything I would change in the HE-6 sound signature, except for to have a more speaker-like soundstage which most headphones really aren't known for anyways.


And I'm not saying the soundstage is small, as it's as good as many other top-tier headphones that I've heard or own.  I'm just saying that the HD800 and HE60 tend to have a much larger soundstage than most other conventional headphones, only surpassed by the K1000 and Sigma/404.  I imagine that a powerful balanced amp like the Beta 22 or EHHA would be able to not only give them the power they need, but could also give them a bigger soundstage and bigger channel separation.  Just switching on the DSP on my Yamaha receiver opens up the soundstage considerably, but I prefer to listen to the music unaltered.


Now, if head-direct can create a new amp (let's call it the EF6) that is balanced and drives the HE-6 to their full potential, then I think they would have a great option for those who don't want to invest in a high end or bulky speaker amp.  In the meantime, one can still use an every-day headphone amp or AV receiver to drive these to great sound, knowing that they can be even more dynamic and impressive with a high end speaker amp.  Basically, I think that anything that can drive a K1000 should do a good job with the HE-6.

post #157 of 903

Great job Larry. I will driving them with an Outlaw 2150RR which puts out 190W into 4ohms continuous and 310W max. I use the Outlaw to drive my Maggie MMG. I will be using it in the same room and I have two sets of speaker outputs so I will be able to compare it with the maggie sound and see how well it does. The Outlaw can go very high in volume and it does not clip. The source will be both the Onkyo DX7555 which is outstanding redbook abnd a Sony 999 ES for sacd playback. But I am 8th on the  list and so far the number 2 guys are still waiting for the headphones. I look forward to the audition.

post #158 of 903

I have been away in upstate NY for work most of this week, but will be home tomorrow

night. The headphones have been running since last Wednesday night and after giving

them a final listen on Friday night/Saturday morning, I will be sending them on Saturday

to baka1969 and writing some more impressions.

They will have about 110 hours on them (I have had my wife turning off my Dareds for a couple of hours every so often to cool down).  

post #159 of 903

I have 200+ hours on these. Fang wanted me to compare them to an LCD-2 that should ship in a couple of days before I send them out.  He hasn't given me an address to ship to yet until I compare to the LCD-2.

post #160 of 903

Thanks Aaron. I look forward to listening to them.

post #161 of 903
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post

I have 200+ hours on these. Fang wanted me to compare them to an LCD-2 that should ship in a couple of days before I send them out.  He hasn't given me an address to ship to yet until I compare to the LCD-2.

Nice. Looking forward to it.

post #162 of 903

Eastern division headphones on their way to Philly!


That West Division is slowww! 

post #163 of 903
Originally Posted by immtbiker View Post

Eastern division headphones on their way to Philly!


That West Division is slowww! 

Aaron what did you think. Were they good or better than the LCD2

post #164 of 903

The HE-6 is in for a busy week. I'll probably get them Tuesday. So Tuesday and Wednesday will be me listening to them. Thursday I'll have the pleasure of having FrankI and El_Doug come over and we'll have time to listen to them in a relaxed and quiet enviroment. We'll get to compare the HE-6 with the T1 and HD800. Doug can give his thoughts on how they compare with a Stax system. Saturday I'll bring them to the NJ meet. It should be a good week. I'm looking forward to posting my impressions and some pictures.

Thanks Fang!

Edited by baka1969 - 7/17/10 at 10:06pm
post #165 of 903


Originally Posted by Frank I View Post

Aaron what did you think. Were they good or better than the LCD2


Right now, I have kwkarth's pair, and I think it's an earlier revision (I'll ask him). The LCD and the 6 both sound very nice,

but they sound totally different. Totally different beasts. I prefer the treble and bass on the HE-6, and the LCD-2

has an interesting portrayal of the mids and presentation. I could live with either headphone (I'm easy ), but

I love all of the headphones in my cache for different reasons, moods, types of music, etc.


Both have different strong points, but I truly find the LCD-2's overly heavy, unattractive, and clamping with a "less

than desirable" headband. I would definitely bend the headband if it was mine. That is something that owners would

get used to. If I was able to get used to how my previous HP-2's felt with flats, I guess we can convince ourselves

to become acclimated to a lot of things that aren't naturally heavenly.


The 6's sound is truly enjoyable. They make me happy, and fit on my head as nice as any headphone I've ever


In the LCD-2 thread, a lot of listeners said that they don't find the treble fatiguing, and yet, to me, Diana Krall's

"Girl In The Other Room", was so bright it hurt. But this makes me wonder if the LCD and my Luxman P-1 are

not a good match. I am going to try my Raptor and and my HR Desktop next.

Dave Weckl's "Head's Up" sounded better on the LCD-2's than Diana Krall which confused me, because it is a

typical early 90's GRP DDD CD, and that should sound really digital. Go figure.


I only had Friday night to compare them because I sent my HE-6's on it's way to Philly. I do still have the protos from

Canjam, but they sound slightly different from the loaner production pair.


I am very eager to spending many more hours with the Audeze's. To me, it's a totally different experience. I want

to check them out with rock, metal and classical, then, maybe some acoustic stuff like my spine tingling Hot Tuna

Stillwater CD. 

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