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Review: Hifiman HE-6/EF-6: An Elite Headphone System, Under One Roof - Page 4

post #46 of 244

Excellent review. Glad to know about this combination!

post #47 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post


sure, electronic music is layered, well extended from top to bottom, etc... so you can tell how a systems power handling, punch, snap, PRaT, etc.. is when listening to electronic but when judging for a realistic timbre, you can't do that accurately with electronic music.

 


Yes, this is all that I meant. Of course electronic music sounds way better on the best equipment than it does on the lower end equipment, and there is plenty of nuance and detail in these genres, to be exposed when you have the gear that can do it proper justice. 

 

The issue I was trying to describe, I think, is that even in a live show of electronic music, you are listening to the venue's amplifiers and speakers, the system the DJ brought with him, etc. You can never hear "the real life original" like you can with a private concert of a violinist standing right in front of you holding her instrument. So you can reproduce the digitally-made waveform of a trance song, and reproduce it exceedingly well on audiophile gear, but it's not about sounding true to real life; it is about sounding true to the recording. You can't say, "These headphones make it sound like I am really at the Paul Oakenfold show," without seeming silly -- after all, the headphones you are using might very well be even better quality than the speakers at the venue of that live show. You're not comparing the headphone experience to the "real-deal," performed live in person; you are comparing it to the same digital track played through a different audio system. I think it's like when some people say, "This headphone lets you listen to the recording, but this other headphone is more natural and gives you the live performance." 

 

I'm probably not articulating this very well. I agree with what everyone is saying, so I think I am failing to put into words what is in my head. Sorry.    

  

 

Also, back on topic:  

  

I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the HE-6 through a vintage receiver playing "The Orb's Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld," and the details and presentation of stuff in the intro track, "Little Fluffy Clouds" was actually pretty mind-blowing. Alternatively, I only used the EF-6+HE-6 combination to listen to some symphonic recordings. These sounded excellent as well, but as I am not a person who has wide experience with live orchestra and symphony, I can not tell you for sure how true to life this setup was. I think that it must be a good substitute for the live performance. If any headphone setup can claim that, the EF-6 +HE-6 must be among them. It sounded fantastically clear.

post #48 of 244

 

I must say, that HE-6 with my AKG K1000 system is tremendous, and in terms of music fun, on the same level with Orpheus, Sony R10 or Stax SR-009. Really great headphones with unusual sound power and reality.

Particularly great on high sound levels. 

post #49 of 244

Great review. Thank you for sharing your impressions. 

post #50 of 244

Nice job Peter!  It's nice to hear from the old timers from a time when HF was a daily stop for me.  Congrats on the amp Fang!  

post #51 of 244

Peter, thanks for the great review!

 

HERE ARE MY INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE EF6 AMP PAIRED WITH THE HE-6:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

Thanks for the review.  Heard the EF-6 at RMAF.  I found it to be quite good, though others disagreed.

 

It's now even better.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by singh View Post

How does the EF6 compare against good Vintage receivers (and integrated/power amps ) for driving the HE6 ? My au-999 drives them with authority , will i experience improvements if i move to EF6 ?


It seems almost as powerful as my Marantz 2240 receiver via the speaker output (using the HiFiMan speaker adapter box), but with better micro-detail, ambience and space.  I'd guess the Marantz has an extra 2-3dB headroom, but that's at levels already loud enough to damage your hearing.  I might listen to the 2240 with the volume at 10-11 o'clock and the EF6 with the volume at 12 o'clock, while my ZDT amp is at 2 o'clock.  My Marantz has pretty scratchy sounding volume pot, which makes me want to use it less and less.  If I was in the market for an amp for my HE-6 I'd be strongly considering the EF6.  If I had my 2240 refurbished and recapped I'm sure it would move up a notch, although I haven't heard a refurb to know how much it would improve in sound quality.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post


This ^
I haven't heard the R10s, but the HE90 is the true pinnacle of headphone sound from what I've experienced. On the same source (different amp of course) I heard the LCD3 and HE-6 and both were excellent as well, but the HE90 was just the top shelf. Feel free to take cracks at Ray's amps all you like. Seems the popular thing to do these days. I walked up to his table with no expectations or bias and thought all of his gear sounded very good.
The EF6 + HE6 at the Hifiman booth was weak and boring. Had some kind of edge to it that I didn't care for either.

 

I too was not impressed with the EF6 at RMAF 2011 when driving HE-6, although with the HE-500 it was much better sounding.  I let Fang know my thoughts right then, and made several suggestions to him via Skype while I was listening to the rig at his table (he was in China but online).  Fang and the crew went back and made a few changes, and the current EF6 review sample that I have here in my house right now is hands down better than what I heard at RMAF.  

 

So, I've only gotten to listen to the EF6 for about 3 days, and only with my HE-6 and Grado HF-2 (I've got everything else up in my bedroom right now)  But I can say that it's now stronger, punchier, and more musical and exciting sounding than the earlier prototype at RMAF 2011.

 

With my HE-6 headphones this newest version of EF6 amp gives my $2500 Eddie Current ZDT a run for the money, with more power to boot.  I plan to try this amp soon with my HE-500, LCD-2, LA7000, and HD800 (all of which are re-cabled).  I'm just guessing now but I suspect my ZDT will still rule with the HD800, and the EF6 is likely to be better with my orthodynamics.  Even with the ZDT amp and Hyperion cable the HD800 can border on fatiguing, which pushes me to grab my HE-6 and HE-500 instead (or my SR-009).  So, I'm not expecting them to blossom with the EF6 either.  I do think the HF-2 were better with the ZDT, being smoother and less grainy than their usual, but with the HE-6 the EF6 amp comes into it's element and sounds fantastic. Plus, the HF-2 are a bit too efficient for the EF-6, with the volume knob at 9 o'clock for normal listening.

 

I initially set up the EF6 in my main rig with my Nuforce CDP-8 CD player, PS Audio Perfectwave DAC + Bridge and LaCie NAS as source, and fed the DAC's RCA out into the EF6.  At the same time I had the DAC's XLR output going into my Woo WES and looped the WES RCA-out into my ZDT (my WES is custom modded this way).  For some reason the EF6 didn't sound right when I was driving both amps at the same time this way, plus I was suddenly getting some strange noise out of my ZDT amp headphone jack.  I got this same noise when I changed out the EF6 for the 2240.  I swapped places on the interconnects with the ZDT and the EF6 and everything got better with both amps, which I can't explain.

 

I also put my KGSS in the loop which has XLR input and XLR buffer output which seems to boost the voltage and make the EF6 sound even stronger.  So, I'll have to do more experimenting with different sources to see how sensitive the amp is to different sources.  I'll try the RCA-out of the Nuforce CDP-8 which I think sounds better than my old Apogee Mini-DAC or my Stello DA100 Signature.  I'll also try the HM-801 like Peter did.

 

When I was switching the HE-6 back and forth between the EF6 and ZDT amps while listening, it seems that the ZDT sounds slightly more laid back and blacker between notes, while the EF6 sounds a little more lively and spacious in between notes.  The only amp I've heard in my rig that offered that over my ZDT was the Luxman P-1u that I tried out for a couple of weeks a while back.  However, the EF6 has a slightly more "raw" nature to the sound than the ZDT.  I wouldn't call it grainy or harsh, just that it doesn't have quite the liquid flow of the ZDT amp.  On the other hand, the ZDT is a little too laid back and relaxed with the HE-6, and they sound more alive and energetic with the EF6 without being bright or harsh.  The EF6 doesn't give the HE-6 a huge soundstage like the HD800/ZDT or SR-009/WES (or KGSS), but it does seem to extract more from the HE-6 than the other amps in my house, with a very respectable depth and width.  I am only using the original velour pads that came with my HE-6, although I can try the leather pads later when I'm in the mood.

 

In the past, I've used my HE-500 more often than HE-6 because they're easier to drive (and also more often than my HD800 due to less fatigue).  But with the EF6 in the house I think that the HE-6 are getting much closer to their potential.  It will play them louder than I should ever listen with the volume at 2-3 o'clock (max before distortion), and yet I find myself thinking that if it just had that last 2-3dB of headroom of the 40-watt Marantz or 55-watt Yamaha receivers then it would be perfect.  I don't know why I should think that, considering that my normal listening volumes are well below the EF6 max volume.  For what it's worth, the HE-6/EF6 combo is every bit as loud as my SR-009/WES (or KGSS) combo, and with more impact.  The Stax still has this beat in speed and transparency, but the HE-6/EF6 rig is no slouch in that arena at 1/3 the cost.

 

I plan to spend more time over the next week with the EF6 and my other headphones, and I'll report back here when I'm done (or as I go along).  Right now I'd have to put the EF6 at the top of list out of what I have on hand when it comes to driving the HE-6 (see my profile, the list is not short).

 

 

post #52 of 244
Sounds like it's an entirely different amp now then. Glad you were at RMAF and now have a current EF6. Both Iron Dreamer and myself are right, we just heard very different units.
post #53 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Sounds like it's an entirely different amp now then. Glad you were at RMAF and now have a current EF6. Both Iron Dreamer and myself are right, we just heard very different units.


Yep, and you are also right that the Dark Star sounded very good at RMAF.  It would be nice to compare the two amps now.

post #54 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Ryka View Post

Really great headphones with unusual sound power and reality.

Particularly great on high sound levels. 


yes, one thing has made itself quite clear about the he-6.  they sound better loud than at moderate levels.

not sure the reason for this.  even when driven by speaker amps or something as powerful as the dark star, they sound better when you push them.


 

 

post #55 of 244

Good impressions. Dark Star vs EF6 would be very interesting.popcorn.gif

post #56 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larryonfire View Post

Good impressions. Dark Star vs EF6 would be very interesting.popcorn.gif



been waiting for  someone to post their impressions of this lol

post #57 of 244
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadphoneAddict View Post


When I was switching the HE-6 back and forth between the EF6 and ZDT amps while listening, it seems that the ZDT sounds slightly more laid back and blacker between notes, while the EF6 sounds a little more lively and spacious in between notes.  The only amp I've heard in my rig that offered that over my ZDT was the Luxman P-1u that I tried out for a couple of weeks a while back.  However, the EF6 has a slightly more "raw" nature to the sound than the ZDT.  I wouldn't call it grainy or harsh, just that it doesn't have quite the liquid flow of the ZDT amp.  On the other hand, the ZDT is a little too laid back and relaxed with the HE-6, and they sound more alive and energetic with the EF6 without being bright or harsh.  The EF6 doesn't give the HE-6 a huge soundstage like the HD800/ZDT or SR-009/WES (or KGSS), but it does seem to extract more from the HE-6 than the other amps in my house, with a very respectable depth and width.  I am only using the original velour pads that came with my HE-6, although I can try the leather pads later when I'm in the mood.


Try switching the EF-6 to -10dB feedback mode.  The midrange becomes a bit less upfront, and smoother sounding, somewhat akin to what you are describing with the ZDT.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

Sounds like it's an entirely different amp now then. Glad you were at RMAF and now have a current EF6. Both Iron Dreamer and myself are right, we just heard very different units.


I heard the earlier version EF-6 as well (at the Headroom/LAOC meet last summer), and it did not sound nearly as good as this final version.

 

post #58 of 244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Iron_Dreamer View Post

I heard the earlier version EF-6 as well (at the Headroom/LAOC meet last summer), and it did not sound nearly as good as this final version.

Well, you could have said something tongue.gif

If you did I missed it, sorry.
post #59 of 244
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post


Well, you could have said something tongue.gif
If you did I missed it, sorry.


No, I just forgot to mention that.  I meant to in one of my earlier replies, but you comment got lost in the flood of others I was responding to.

 

post #60 of 244

how much does the amp cost?

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