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HiFiman HE-500 (HE as in High End) Proving to be an enjoyable experience in listening. . - Page 29

post #421 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by baka1969 View Post

Quote:Originally Posted by Windsor 


"Good as my word, the contents of this photo have been the focus of much of my past few days.

Some of my impressions on the LCD-2 are here (scroll down), and I'll post some HE-500 impressions soon. My main headphones until now have been the pictured Sennheiser models (the HD 600 and HD 650), and interestingly enough, I'm finding that the HE-500 and LCD-2 sound like scaled-up versions of the HD 600 and HD 650 respectively.More info. to follow."


That impression is a pretty good initial view but upon longer listening I think you'll see the HE500 and LCD2 are better and are different to the HD600 and HD650. Enough so that comparing them to the Senns is merely a peripheral description.


I agree. The HE-500 and LCD-2 are in clearly in a different league in relation to Senns I listed, and I'll probably expound more when I collate my thoughts on the matter. :-)

 


Edited by Windsor - 7/3/11 at 6:34pm
post #422 of 18011

HiFiMAN HE-500 review by Windsor

It’s been an eventful week for me in which I’ve received three pairs of headphones in four days: a new Audio Technica ATH-M50s, a loaner Audez’e LCD-2, and a loaner HiFiMAN HE-500. I got quite intimate with music via the LCD-2 and was rather wowed by it (see here for more on that). I’ve also been sitting with the HE-500, and my first impressions are that it’s another great headphone that shines in many ways.

 

The following impressions are based on listening to music via 320 kbps and Apple Lossless audio format files played via iTunes and fed via an optical cable to a Lavry DA 10 DAC/Amp.

 

Overall, the HiFiMAN HE-500 is a neutral-sounding headphone that presents a high level of detail with a well-balanced sound.

 

Packaging, Looks, and Physical Feel

 

After removing the packaging of this loaner HE-500, the black leather-covered HiFiMAN box was revealed to me. It feels solid, robust, and refined, though not as opulent as the case which came with the LCD-2. A few weeks ago, I had some concerns that the HE-500 box may not be ideal for travelling with the HE-500, which some HE-500 owners may like to do, as it may get scuffed and detract from its attractiveness. Though the same could be said of a hardcase, I thought that a more travel-friendly option could be worthwhile, so I suggested that to Fang of HiFiMAN, and he informed me that a travel case for the HE-500 would be available in the near future. That is a great example of HiFiMAN’s continued willingness to improve and update their product line and their openness to customer feedback and suggestions. Well done.

 

The supplied Canare cable was fitted with at ¼” Neutrik connector, was more flexible than the stock LCD-2 cable, and less flexible than the stock Sennheiser HD 6x0 series cables. Connecting the Canare cable to the HE-500 requires screwing some small nuts at the end of the cable into the ear cups. Once the cable is connected it stays firmly in place, but I find connecting it to be a bit fiddly and take a little longer than installing a cable with mini-XLR connectors. It has occurred to me a few times that a tool to assist the cable screw-in process could be a worthy inclusion with the HE-500.

 

The HE-500 design reminds me slightly of the Stax SR-40, and the gunmetal grey colour of the HE-500 is attractive to me. I find the HE-500 comfortable to wear, but slightly less so than the lighter Sennheiser HD 6x0 series, which I am used to and often forget I’m wearing. Due to the clamping force of the HE-500 pads, I can be aware that I’m wearing it, but not always (I’m wearing it now and didn’t notice it was on my head until I wrote the last sentence). But overall, to me the HE-500 is a well-made headphone that feels nice to wear and handle.

 

Clarity, Timbre, and Sound Signature

 

The HE-500 clearly reveals all of the details of the recordings I feed it. Mids and treble are presented very well and there’s great qualitative bass extension, but more on that later.

 

There is great PRaT with the HE-500, and though I find that it seems to present the sound of recording upon me with slightly less force and immediacy than the darker-sounding LCD-2 does, I can easily get inside the music with the HE-500, and with it I seem to be in the position of detached observer mode by default, just like I am with the HD 600, to a lesser extent. But the sonic quality is much, much higher with the HE-500. 

 

I really enjoy the soundstage of he HE-500. It is wider than the soundstage of the LCD-2 and HD 600 and narrower than that of the HD 650. I find the HD 650 soundstage very immersive and wide, sometimes too much so for my preference, and for that reason I often prefer the narrower soundstage of the HD 600, which I find places me as if I am sitting further back in the audience or further away from the monitor speakers, situating me at what can sometimes be a more comfortable distance from the music. The openness of HE-500 soundstage is somewhere in between the two Sennheiser models I listed and is really enjoyable to me. I find that I am at enough of a distance from the music and able to immerse myself in it with ease. Though I compared the HE-500 soundstage to that of the HD 600, I just want to clarify that to me the HE-500 soundstage is far more detailed and of a much higher quality. Well done, Fang!

 

Perhaps one of the few caveats of the HE-500 to me is that it sounds a little bit thin or light at times in relation to what I would call natural i.e. what I would hear when observing a live performance, and that thinness is sometimes just enough so to remind me that I’m wearing headphones. But they are headphones, which is after all a different experience from going to a gig of listening to studio monitor playback. However, the HE-500 has a really excellent frequency balance that reveals all the details of the recording being played, and I often find myself enjoyably immersed in the music I'm listening to with HE-500.

 

Bass, Mids, and Treble

 

Since recently spending a few solid hours with the LCD-2, I am still in admiration of its bass reproduction, and the HE-500 also reproduces bass very well. With the HE-500, I find sudden bass punctuations e.g. when a drummer hits a floor tom, more noticeable to me than against the blacker background of a darker headphone such as the LCD-2, which is a definite plus for the HE-500. I find the bass impact of the LCD-2 more realistic for certain instruments e.g. drums, as it seems to produce a more pointed and weighty bass impact, possibly due to its darker sound, than that of the HE-500, which I find to have a softer than natural impact. But the bass reproduction of the HE-500 is very detailed, extends low, and I find it enjoyable.

 

The mids and treble performance of the HE-500 is excellent and perhaps its best sonic feature. Mids and treble are very clear and vocals are well-represented. A few hours ago, I discovered many new nuances in Frank Sinatra’s ‘Songs For Swingin’ Lovers!,’ and am currently enjoying Michael Jackson ‘rockin’ the night away,’ in ‘Rock With You.’ Though, to my ears, the HE-500 treble has much extension to the point of sounding slightly more forward (or brighter, depending on how you describe it) than natural, I’ve never found it to make recordings harsh or fatiguing, just detailed and revealing in a very musical way.

 

With the Lavry DA 10, I find the HE-500 to audibly shine when listening to much of the music I feed it, and have noticed it to be particularly well-suited to acoustic-based jazz and vocal playback. Whilst some may prefer a bassier headphone with more sonic slam for genres/styles such as Rock and Electronic, the HE-500 will accurately represent what’s on the recordings you play through it in a way that’s true to its nature.  

 

In Closing

 

I find the HiFiMAN HE-500 to be an excellent quality headphone, slightly reminiscent of the Sennheiser HD 600; its neutral and slightly warm yet forward sound make recordings come alive in a revealing way that is very enjoyable. Well done, Fang, and all at HiFiMAN. smile.gif


Edited by Windsor - 7/4/11 at 11:30am
post #423 of 18011

Nice review. 

post #424 of 18011

I sold my last pair of HD600 a while back and replaced with an HD580 w/ an HD650 cable. I truly could not hear a difference between the two. anyway I find the HE-500 to be leaps and bounds above the HD580. Mostly because I find the Senn sound to be way too "polite" although un-involving may be a better description of the Senn overall sound presentation. I know many here will disagree with my take on the Senn sound but that is what I hear and may help explain why I prefer the Grado presentation over the Senn.

 

Anyway back to the HE-500 and its very musical and involving presentation. It has surpassed my beloved RS-1 and it is a can I gravitate too quite often, only the K1000 offer more involvement. Cheer.s

post #425 of 18011


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post

I sold my last pair of HD600 a while back and replaced with an HD580 w/ an HD650 cable. I truly could not hear a difference between the two. anyway I find the HE-500 to be leaps and bounds above the HD580. Mostly because I find the Senn sound to be way too "polite" although un-involving may be a better description of the Senn overall sound presentation. I know many here will disagree with my take on the Senn sound but that is what I hear and may help explain why I prefer the Grado presentation over the Senn.

 

Anyway back to the HE-500 and its very musical and involving presentation. It has surpassed my beloved RS-1 and it is a can I gravitate too quite often, only the K1000 offer more involvement. Cheer.s



Miguel ia agree the 500 was and is better than the Senn HD600 which I finally had and sent them back. I also found the Beyer 880 600 better than the Sennheiser. In the end I bought anothetr t1 which for me is my preferred flagship with my Decware amps.

post #426 of 18011

Great review Windsor! I agree with most of it.

post #427 of 18011

Thanks guys, :-)

 

Shahrose, is there any way where you see the HE-500 to how I've described it?

 

I'm really enjoying both the HE-500 and LCD-2 and at the moment am veering more towards the LCD-2 because of the HE-500's slightly brighter sound, which reminds me that I'm wearing headphones more than the LCD-2. But the longer I listen with the HE-500, the more I seem to enjoy it.   

post #428 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Windsor View Post

Thanks guys, :-)

 

Shahrose, is there any way where you see the HE-500 to how I've described it?

 

I'm really enjoying both the HE-500 and LCD-2 and at the moment am veering more towards the LCD-2 because of the HE-500's slightly brighter sound, which reminds me that I'm wearing headphones more than the LCD-2. But the longer I listen with the HE-500, the more I seem to enjoy it.   



Your descriptions are in line with what I heard save for a few subtle differences which (I feel) are from the variation in our audio chains. For me, the HE500 is not thin at all and sounds very smooth. I have yet to hear sibilance from any recording out of these.

Like you, I found them to have a prominent midbass but one that isn't as sharp or defined as on the LCD-2.

post #429 of 18011

     Quote:

Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post

Your descriptions are in line with what I heard save for a few subtle differences which (I feel) are from the variation in our audio chains. For me, the HE500 is not thin at all and sounds very smooth. I have yet to hear sibilance from any recording out of these.

Like you, I found them to have a prominent midbass but one that isn't as sharp or defined as on the LCD-2.

 

How we hear the signature of the HE-500 could indeed be influenced by to our audio chain differences, and I definitely agree that the HE-500 sounds very smooth. When I said it sounded thin, I meant it relation to what my ear would perceive at a live concert or listening to studio monitor playback. But after all, the HE-500 is a pair of headphones, not the listening situations I just listed. That said, I find the LCD-2 to have a more 'realistic' timbre e.g. when listening to a recording of a shaker with the LCD-2 (non-updated driver), it just like someone playing a shaker as if they were in the same room as me. With the HE-500, it sounds like a shaker reproduced very well, but it seems more obvious that I'm wearing headphones, perhaps due to the slightly brighter sound of the HE-500. However, with the LCD-2 I have, there is an excess boominess to the sound that the HE-500 doesn't have. All-in, they're subtle difference, and still I find both headphones very enjoyable. smile_phones.gif

 

...and I remind myself now that the music is the important thing. smile.gif

 

post #430 of 18011

I too am very, very impressed by the timbre capabilities of the LCD-2.  It's spot on accurate.  Nice review, by the way.

 

One thing I like about phones that have good treble presence is the sense of air they impart.  IMO, this actually sounds more like you're not wearing headphones.  That sense of air fools you into perceiving space that isn't actually there.  Problems arise when you perceive the extra space and air but can't reconcile it with the conscious knowledge that you're wearing headphones.  But I tend to get lost in the music to a degree where if I don't have that sense of air or space, then I'll be ever conscious of the fact that I'm wearing headphones.


Edited by sphinxvc - 7/4/11 at 1:45pm
post #431 of 18011

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post


Other:

 

-Overall tone is more natural than any other can I've heard...not perfect, nor neutral, but very natural.


Thanks so much for your very informative review! But could you explain this part? I think natural and neutral should be one and the same.

 

post #432 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by wind016 View Post

Quote:


Thanks so much for your very informative review! But could you explain this part? I think natural and neutral should be one and the same.

 


Hey Joe. You're right, it is ambiguous. I'll try to explain.

 

It's natural in the sense that its tone, timbre and decay have a smooth, full-bodied organic quality to them that is pleasing to the ear. There's nothing dissonant or harsh about its sound.

 

Neutral would be something like a pair of high-end studio monitors, which have a flatter frequency response, a sharper (more realistic) attack and somewhat shorter decay. (Neutral probably wouldn't be as pleasing to most). But, that's just my opinion...everyone's "neutral" will be a little different. The HD800s are actually a bit bright and lean to be completely neutral, but I think they're closer to it than the HE-500.

 

The HE-500 are not completely neutral because they're a bit syrupy and prominent in the midrange and too mid-bass-happy. I also feel they're slightly toned down in the upper treble to reduce sparkle (which can cause fatigue with bad recordings). 

 

As for "perfect", well that's a silly term to use I know. It could mean a number of things to any one person. For me, perfect means exactly how I hear instruments in real life in a studio, up-close etc.

 

post #433 of 18011

Glad that I'm not the only one who hears that "bloom" in the lower mid region which you refer as syrupy. It's pleasant sure but it's not present in the original recording.

 

That being said, I definitely favor the HE-500 over HE-6 but I still think that $899 is a bit overpriced for these.

post #434 of 18011
Quote:
Originally Posted by K3cT View Post

Glad that I'm not the only one who hears that "bloom" in the lower mid region which you refer as syrupy. It's pleasant sure but it's not present in the original recording.

 

That being said, I definitely favor the HE-500 over HE-6 but I still think that $899 is a bit overpriced for these.


"Bloom" is an apt term IMO. I hear it the same way.

post #435 of 18011

I took part the HE-500 EU loaner programme  but I have been a bit slow to post my thoughts while Windsor didn't seem to have lost any time wink.gif.  Thanks again to Jan from Sieveking Sound.

So much have been said about those cans and I agree that they deserve the attention they are getting. The first thing I noticed was the beautiful mid and how realistic voices sounded.

Compared to the HE-4, the sounds is thicker and the bass is greatly improved, reaching lower with more weigh but they don't have the extended and airy treble of the HE-4, which sounds beautiful with some tracks but was troubling me on others. They also don't have the transparent and effortless quality of the HE-4. But in the end  the HE-500 was more enjoyable.

While the HE-500 are easier to drive than the HE-4 they still require a reasonably powerful amp. I tried those with my Fiio E11(high current-high gain settings) and the sounds was pleasant but  was lacking in refinement compared to my Concerto.

Contrary to Windsor I didn't think the HE-500 was bright but that maybe because I got used to the HE-4. As a recovering basshead I found the bass very satisfying even it they are no match to the DX1000.

Overall, they sounded extremely  well balanced and seemed to handle every type of music beautifully. It is also the first time I listen to a headphone and thought I would be happy if I just had the HE-500. But now I am curious about the HE-6, even if they are only marginally better as I am planning to get a Little Dot MKVI+.

I would just add that was not too keen on the provided cable, too thick and rigid for my liking. I swapped it with the HE-4's one, which I prefer. 


Edited by zenpunk - 7/5/11 at 1:49pm
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