I have been reading and reading, and I think my head is going to explode even sooner than my wallet if I don't find some direct comparisons soon. The HE-500 and obviously, the HE-6 are just too much for me to be thinking about right now. On the used market, I can get either HE-4 or 5LE right now, and I want to, but I don't know which to choose.
I am coming from Grado 325i which have since been modded with spacers I built after hearing a full conversion Grado kit. They're a lot of fun, they have a lot of bass, not sure it's the best bass, but there's a lot. The spacers widen the sound, but it's more like blowing up the existing (small) sound stage without adding any resolution to it, if that makes sense. They're pretty darn colored at this point, and have a weird EQ curve now too. I want less color, more accuracy and detail, a bigger and better sound stage, yet I still want as much "fun factor" as can fit into those parameters.
I heard the HE-5LE at a meet and I really liked it. I didn't spend a great deal of time with it obviously, less than 2 hours I'm sure. It was noisy as hell, but through it all they were clearly in a different league than my 325i and seemed to do really well with whatever I threw at them. I listened to Fleetwood Mac, ATB, Metallica, Duran Duran.. a wide range. I listen to a wide range of music, but especially a lot of pop and electronic. These seemed to have a lot of speed, detail, punch, lower bass extension, and a bigger, much better defined sound stage. And they were more comfortable. I was hooked!
The problem is, I've read through the whole HE-4 impressions thread, and followed the links to reviews and read other threads and so on. Everyone talks about every phone in the line other than the 5LE. It's always HE-4 vs. HE-500. Or 6. that makes sense to me, they're totally in the same market... Everyone seems to really like the HE-4, and while many say they're very similar to the HE-5LE, others seem to say the 5LE is the "darkest and the (slowest?)" of the HE range. Well, if that's true, I might like the HE-4 better, never mind the fact they're a lot cheaper. This review in particular, http://www.headfonia.com/hifiman-he-4-the-lightest-modern-orthodynamic-yet/ would suggest to my tastes, that I'm wasting my time and money with any of the 5 series and should stick with the 4 and maybe, MAYBE, shoot straight for the HE-6 in time, if this new job works out...
I feel like I've fallen straight into the classic trap, where a review might say phone A does Y better and phone B does X better, and I feel like there must be a pretty big difference, but there's not. Of course, that doesn't really help. It makes me want to get the HE-4, but it doesn't address the "what ifs" I'm going to have afterward. (Either one I get, really.)
UPDATE: I bought a pair of HE-5LE from another member. I'll be posting plenty when I get my hands on them, I'm sure.
Edited by DarkWolf - 10/7/11 at 8:01pm