Personally it took me more than 30 hours to get used to the sound. At first I kinda thought the headphones were pretty boring with not much to be had. Did you give them 30 hours of listen, or just burn them in for 30 and then listen to them a little bit? I don't think I would return any headphone until at least a decent chunk of listening time had been achieved, but I guess if you can't stand them then maybe there's not much else to listen for. If the HE-500 to you has a nasal sound, I just wonder what the 701 sounds like. It was never really an appealing phone to me, but I'm just curious how it sounds in comparison or rather, what qualities could make a headphone have a nasal sound in comparison cause at least to my ears, I do not get that sort of sense at all. I usually think of my HE-500 as smooth with a touch of warmth. Nasal makes me think of hollow and tin sounding. Is that what you're trying to say? If so... very interesting and I'm curious for any further explanation. It's nice to have a bit of perspective every once in a while.
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones) 3
Last edited: 11/28/16
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HiFiman HE-500 (HE as in High End) Proving to be an enjoyable experience in listening. . - Page 104
Gear mentioned in this thread:
After 30 hours burn in, I've decided that the HE500s are not for me, and I'm disappointed with the nasal sound. Luckily, I'll be able to return them for a full refund. I measured the impedance and it was 45.1ohms for right and 44.6ohms for left.
If the sound of my balanced 701s are 10, the HE500s in comparison are 7.5/10 at best
For my tastes, the 701 is much more refined throughout the frequency range, and with the EQ I've applied to them, there's more bass and less bright top end.
I never liked the Auzede headphones, and the similar sound of the HE500s shows that I'm not one for the Planarmagnetic sound.
I know I'm in the minority here, but my friend agreed that the HE500s were no match for my 701s running from my NFB-10SE.
I sincerely recommend that if you're interested in buying the HE500s, go to a high-end audio store near you and try to audition the Audeze LCD3s.. IMO, the HE500s are very similar in sound with the exception that they have more top end.
Sorry to potential buyers if my comments are off-putting... just trying to be honest with my experience :)
See this is the biggest mistake people make when they buy audio gear. They don't give it a chance. 30 hours isn't enough. I am not just talking about burn in, your ears and mind will adapt to the sound and possibly start to really enjoy it. Not sure what the return policy is but listen to them as long as possible. Some cars are stiff but you get used to it and enjoy it after time if not instantly.
I also made similar error of judgement when I started my journey by dismissing cans after listening to them for short period. If you are used to a particular headphone for quite a long time it can takes a while to warm to a different presentation. The K701 and HE-500 are so different, floorpug's reaction isn't surprising.
PS: I don't believe in burn-in but I know from experimenting that the ear/brain takes time to adjust to a new presentation.
When I refer to 'Nasal,' the sound was inhibited/tamed/restrained in the higher frequencies (which F.R. charts might suggest).. On a mild level, it kinda sounded like the >~2kHz was coming through a sort of 'tube.'
This 'Tube' effect I'm talking about can be replicated by cupping your hands around the back of your ears and face them forwards. Listen to how the sound changes when you have your hands there and when you take them away. HE500s sound like the hands are there and 701s do not.
Another example, when listening to 'Beset by Creatures of the Deep' from Pink Floyd's Live at Concertgebow bootleg album, the bass was mushed together and harsh, and the cymbals' harmonic overtones were indiscernible and sibilant.
Also, Richard Egarr conducting The Academy of Ancient Music performing Handel's Organ Concertos (2008); the string section at the beginning of track 01... sounded not at all like they should... the 'tube' effect was particularly noticeable with this.
When people say that burn-in improves sound quality, I think it has got more to do with their ears adjusting to the sonic signature than the sound improving drastically. If double blind testing was done, I'd be surprised if more than 50% of participants could choose correctly. I only say this because the 30 hours I put on them made a truly neglegable difference when I returned to hear them, and I passed this off as nothing if not placebo.
There was no where to audition the HE500s here in Aus. and I took a chance with these trusting what seemed like an overwhelming majority of headfiers that said that they were amazing. I am not one for their sound, and don't believe that I will ever be.
... floorpug, "nasal sound" is far away from any way I would describe the HE500 SQ. "organic, full-bodied, warm" etc come to mind. I got my HE-500 in 12/2011 and took an experimental and circuitous route to finally get them properly matched with an amp. Right now I am playing them via a vintage Pioneer SX-650 straight out of the speaker taps (no resistors) and the sound is simply out of this world. These HPs need sufficient power (5-10 watts in my historical view) and that is one thing I took fairly for-granted early on. The SX-650 is pumping 35 watts into the headphone so at 34.6 ohms (my set), the drivers are getting 8 watts - that's an ummph of power and the headphones are really telling it. Anyway, I feel you may have given up too early on the HE-500s. Before you let them go try taking the NFB-10SE out of the equation and try different amps with them (also if you haven't done so already try them balanced out of the NFB-10SE - I think you would get 6.5 watts into 38 ohms using the balanced out). My 0.02 .....
Pretty much as I suspected - I just didn't have enough power to drive them (i.e. clear their bass and lower mids up). The ones I had sounded like you were listening through water / liquid - just a very "thick" sound in the bass and lower mids.
Whatever the cause... I couldn't justify their price... even if they clear up with more powerful amps - once I saw reviews that suggested other phones sound just as good, or better, with less powerful amps. And... my other phones did sound better with the set ups I have. And... I wasn't willing to invest more and experiment with more powerful amps.
Same for me. They've sounded that way out of pretty much every amp I've tried with them.
It is also worth tossing into the equation here that the newer velour pads makes the HE-500 sound darker and a bit "veiled" than the original velour pads (thinner and less denser) some time ago. I tries the new pads, but mounted the original pads back. The HE-500 with the original pads are fantastic.
How do the pleather pads compare to the new/old velours?
Speaking of pads. Not sure that they will make a huge difference for someone with those kind of complaints regarding the HE-500. I've personally found no difference or a difference so small that there is no way I'd be able to tell the difference in a blind test between the 3 pads I've tried, so I pretty much consider that no difference because I don't really rigorously test anything.
If you find the HE-500 sibilant, whoa, you must be really sensitive. Isn't the 701 supposed to be sharper in the highs? I always thought of the HE-500 as pretty smooth up there. As far as thick sound in the bass, I can't really say. When I get home I shall listen and think about it. I agree that it takes a long time get get used to the sound of any phone. I would listen for a decent amount of time before deciding to return any high end headphone. The HE-500, when I first got it, really surprised me repeatedly over the course of maybe two to three months. I'd describe more but my lunch break is over. Back to work.
You just described the HE-500s, at least to my ears.
Glad to hear that you are thinking of getting a pair of HE-500s. I haven't heard them driven by the Woo amps, but the Lyr drives them amazingly well.
Purchased my HE-500 in February. Came with the stock silver cable. I prefer my a copper cable with the HE-500. I tried both aftermarket silver and copper cables.
38.1 ohms left, 37.4 ohms left
To my ears both channels sound balanced but I always wanted an excuse to buy a multimeter . What's next now? Bottlehead crack......wonder how that pairs with the HE-500. A good Summertime newbie project.
WNBC, the Crack isn't a good match for the HE-500's. Crack is meant for high impedance cans, so very nice with Senn HD-650's for Beyer DT-880/600's, but not good with Hifiman's. I have both and tried them together and it doesn't sound good.
I have the HE-500's and the Lyr as well. I was wondering what you like/dislike about the pairing.
Really, the only thing I dislike about the Lyr is the heat it produces. However, this winter I will love it...that's why I call the Lyr my "winter rig"
The synergy between the HE-500s and Lyr is outstanding, to my ears. Even better than my vintage Marantz, which was my original intended pairing ala Skylab's recommendation. The Lyr has plenty of power and the ability to fine tune the SQ via tube rolling is awesome.
With the Lyr, I find the HE-500 to have deep, tight bass and a silky midrange that's very, very smooth. Vocals are slightly forward, as I like them. I was concerned about the extended treble and opted to order the cans from Moon with a black dragon copper cable to tame the upper edge a bit. Happily, after 90 hours burn-in, I can report the highs are sweet, detailed, and not shrill at all.
- HiFiman HE-500 (HE as in High End) Proving to be an enjoyable experience in listening. .
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