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Ultrasone HFI-580 vs. Sony XB500 [Comparison Review]

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I've presented this review to a fellow head-fier and completely forgot to post a thread on it.

These impressions were done out of an iPhone w/ a flat EQ, as I was in Best Buy when comparing both headphones. Shouldn't really be an issue as both are very easy to drive.

 

qrme5z.png Important Note: These are both colored headphones, this review will promote the prominent fun/energetic sound & warm coloration. What is a priority in this review is the balance of a strong bass presence, as it is catered to Sony XB owners.

 

RPGWiZaRD was kind enough to give me a set of songs to test for bass quantity & punch, as well as the articulation of other areas of the sound spectrum; I very much enjoyed his taste in music. These songs include:

 

 

Circ - Love Electric
Gostosa - Sutra
Wildstylez - Push the feeling
Trustcompany - Falling apart
Utada Hikaru - Passion (Kingdom Orchestra Instrumental version)
DJ Toy - It's a Dream
Topmodelz - When You're Looking like That (Backslash vs Mikkas Remix)
30 Seconds to Mars - Hurricane (ft. Kanye West)
Circ - Somewhere
Within Temptation - Memories
Circ - Revolution Song (Tonight, Tonight)
Koop Arponen - Before It Ends
Dito - Sky (Club Mix)
B.o.B - Airplanes (ft. Eminem & Haley Williams)
 
 

I was going to write down comments per song, but as I was going through them, I felt the same opinions repeating over multiple times, so I'll just make one cumilative review.

Everything mentioned about the headphones in this review is in comparison to the other set. For example, when I do a #/10, it is as opposed to the rival set being 10/10.

 

Comparison:

 

XB500


24ce9us.jpg

 

Pros:

  • Heavy bass presence
  • Very engaging sound / Forward signature

 

Cons:

  • Rest of the spectrum was very muddy
  • Small soundstage
  • Weak sound separation

 

In comparison to HFI-580

  • Fuller bass
  • 7/10 of the clarity/definition
  • 6/10 Soundstage
  • 6/10 Sound Seperation

 

Thoughts: The XB500 definitely makes a song more engaging, I believe the bass would be to thank for that. The vibrations were quite present as opposed to the HFI-580, though the rest of the spectrum was quite muddy in comparison. The bass presence & impact made the headphones feel quite theatrical, it was thrilling; though the less refined mids/highs and almost non-existent soundstage took away more than the bass gave.

 

Notable mention: The drumming at 2:22 of Trustcompany - Falling Apart impressed me with the XB500's, it had much more volume than when compared to the HFI-580's. The bass on all songs seemed much more full, had more body.

 

 

HFI-580

 

1jrgj9.jpg

 

Pros:

  • Refined mids/highs
  • Engaging sound / forward signature
  • Fantastic positional queue's
  • Articulated Bass

 

 

Cons:

  • Bass not as prominent as XB users might want
  • Soundstage could be slightly larger

 

In comparison to XB500

  • Tighter/Cleaner bass
  • 7/10 of the bass impact
  • 8/10 of the deep bass
  • Better Clarity/Detail
  • Better Soundstage/Seperation

 

Thoughts: The HFI-580 did seem more analytical, it brings out all the details of a song and separates the instruments very well, though I feel this leads to a slightly less engaging sound; it is plenty engaging, don't get me wrong, just not as much as the XB500's. The soundstage walls are much harder to detect than the XB500's on some songs. The bass is quite punchy with these, though it does somewhat seem anemic when a/b compared directly to the XB500's, I really believe it might be due to the XB500's pads/build orientation, which definitely help with the vibration/bass flow. 

 

The XB500 were lot more muddy when compared to the HFI-580, the 580's brought so many details, but didn't quite have the bass presence the XB500's did. The HFI-580's do go quite low on the bass spectrum though, and they do seriously pound with songs like Alone With You - Deadmou5 (wasn't on the list).

 

Notable Mention: The 580's kicked ass when listening to Dito's Sky (Club Mix). While the XB500's had more bass presence, it couldn't touch the other aspects of the sound spectrum of the 580's.

 

graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=1973&graphID[]=1153

 

Final Thoughts: Do I think XB500 owners should move to the HFI-580? Nope. There could definitely be some disappointment with the HFI-580's in terms of bass. Sure they have plenty, but as I said previously, it's anemic when compared to the XB500's volume/fullness of bass. I do believe though that the HFI-580's can EQ near the XB500 levels in terms of bass (as I have done myself), and the XB500 can EQ near the HFI-580 levels in terms mid/highs.


Edited by Scytus - 3/5/11 at 4:44am
post #2 of 25

Nice review, kudos to you.

 

I really hope the 100$ for XB500 is worth it, is it ?

post #3 of 25

WTF, XB500 is $50...

post #4 of 25

I know, i know :(

 

They're not available in my country nor any other brand except sennheisers and denon which retail for near mrp here, so i was left with no choice to import the xb500 from the states :| over 16000 km :|

post #5 of 25

Though I like them well enough with EQ, I wouldn't have spent $100 for them. =(

post #6 of 25

I would have spent up to $200 for the XB500 if I had to after hearing how it sounds like after burn-in and the optimally tweaked EQ settings, I can't think of anything I'd really want to change, sounds near perfect for my taste but then again I prefer a very warm and forward sound and that's what XB500 is all about. As a bonus despite the very forward sound the soundstage isn't horrible, depth is a bit better than width but both are very acceptable comparing to fully closed headphones and comfort is extremely good.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 3/5/11 at 6:33am
post #7 of 25

Calling it warm is just an excuse for how veiled and muddy the XB500 is, IMHO. It's so muddy, it's no wonder they use monster truck tires for pads to get around in all that mud.

 

With the amount of EQ this thing needs, ANY craptastic headphone can sound decent. Having heard so many headphones this past year, I know for sure that they got the pricing right on the XB500. Asking for anything close to $100 would be a rip off. The XB500 is a one trick pony. Bass, bass, bass. EQ-ing makes it better, but EQ-ing any headphone will make it better.

 

If it weren't for the awesome comfort, I'd have gone with something else and just ramp up the bass to make it sound like the XB500.

post #8 of 25

Not all headphones respond as well to EQing and XB500 so far has responded best to it, I EQ all my headphones optimally, D1100, ATH-M50 or DT770 Pro aren't nearly as great sounding for me unEQ'd or optimally EQ'd. It'll depend a lot on the source/EQ you use as well, I use some of the best working EQs I know about. But it'll also depend a lot on how you want it to sound like, XB500 is close to my preferred sound signature, how much a headphone is worth will vary for all people, if I'd put a pricetag how much XB500, XB700, DT770 Pro, ATH-M50, D1100 would be worth to me for example then it would be something like this:

 

XB500: $200

XB700: $150 (a bit more recessed mids, slight lack of bass punch)

DT770: $100 (too boomy bass vs lack of punch, too recessed mids, too shrill highs, overall too laid-back sounding)

M50:    $135 (slight lack of bass quantity, slightly harsh highs at times)

D1100: $100 (too recessed mids and lack of deep bass output and sharp/edgy sounding upper highs, slightly too laid-back sounding for my liking)

 

A headphone worth $50 to some people can be worth $200 or vice versa for another person because their taste of how it should sound like varies.

 

Also it's worth pointing out XB500 sounds muddy cuz of the unbalance, the excessive bass boost especially around 200~400Hz, the bass curve should start dipping a bit sooner to not color the mids and also the highs that are slightly veiled. Bad quality sounds muddy/undetailed even when perfectly balanced because sound quality is so poor, on XB500 it's pretty good for the price which can be heard with optimal EQ settings.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 3/5/11 at 7:38am
post #9 of 25

I did not mean to stir anything :|

 

Since i've got it, well it's on the way, I'll PM you RPG for EQ settings and any EQ's, can't use the one you use because i don't have a audigy 2 ZS card.

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

It's so muddy, it's no wonder they use monster truck tires for pads to get around in all that mud.

 

Heh, good one!

 

(Your new avatar threw me off...) tongue.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

Not all headphones respond as well to EQing and XB500 so far has responded best to it...

 

I'll agree with that. Out of all headphones I've EQ'ed, the XB500 does respond the best. But that is perhaps because it needs it the most.

post #11 of 25

For $50, if you EQ properly to your own tastes, I'd say they're the best $50 you can spend on a headphone. There's plenty there to work with.

 

Katun, I thought people would be used to my constant avatar changes by now. ;)

 

Though I do like throwing people off. =D

post #12 of 25
One thing to mention. Yes, the HFI 580's bass CAN be EQed to XB500 levels but XB500 cannot be EQed to have the HFI 580 sound fidelity
post #13 of 25

Nice review! I had the chance to get the 580s for something like $70. I should have gone for it. There is always another time. I think I would like them much more than the XB500s.

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

One thing to mention. Yes, the HFI 580's bass CAN be EQed to XB500 levels but XB500 cannot be EQed to have the HFI 580 sound fidelity


 

Oh alright, my apologizes.

 

I haven't tried to EQ the XB500's, I was just under the impression from some reading that you could bring out a lot more of the sound detail through a proper EQ. I was actually unsure how close it would be to the HFI-580.

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scytus View Post

Oh alright, my apologizes.

 

I haven't tried to EQ the XB500's, I was just under the impression from some reading that you could bring out a lot more of the sound detail through a proper EQ. I was actually unsure how close it would be to the HFI-580.


Well I doubt wind016 has ever owned XB500 even and he's been a huge HFI-580 fanboy in the past too so, he probably tried EQing it at the store out of his mp3 player quickly and hasn't given it a proper time. I'm willing to bet the difference wouldn't be huge at all if you'd really EQ it properly. (if you don't like how it sounds like out of box you often don't even bother giving it proper time and see what it can do with tweaking the settings etc)

 

Certain things you can't change with EQ though and that's soundstage for example and to some extent instrument separation where I probably believe the Ultrasones should do better.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 3/5/11 at 5:09pm
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