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**Hifiman HE-400 Impressions and Discussion Thread** - Page 175

post #2611 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalFreak View Post


It has nothing to do with power and everything to do with implementation. You can have oodles of power and a top tier chip but if the circuit design is crud the headphone will sound like crud. Something else to note, you can have a top tier pricey amp and one headphone can sound terrible while another will sound fantastic. It's called synergy, don't ask me why it happens it just does. If you're looking for a good mobile sized amp Leckerton and ALO have nice offerings. I own both of Leckertons amps as well as the ALO RX MK II and I'm quite happy with them. JDSLabs is another dealer you can look into. The O2 amp gets lots of praise on here.

It happens because the amps are s***. Seriously though, just like a good DAC can be ruined by implementation, a good OpAmp stage can also be ruined by design. That doesn't really say much, however. With low impedance phones you want to look for amps with output impedance less than 2-3 Ohms, and even that is pushing it. The rule of 8 is important because if you combine high output impedance with low input impedance you can screw up the dampening factor, and get that "sloppy" or anemic bass. On that same amp,a headphone working @ 150 Ohms may sound fine - even great!

The same goes for ruthlessly efficient IEM - which not only can get by with practically no power, but then can dampen outside noise by as much as 20 dB. The unusual isolation will make static, pops, and hisses a lot more apparent. Also, the low-impedance drive might reveal problems with channel balance or even distortion present with less volume on the dial (or more likely, distortion with lots of volume on the dial!).

In my opinion, as a consumer of higher-end head audio, the whole industry is frustrating and weird. In car audio, generally speaking, all speakers and Amps are designed to work between 2-4 Ohms. Only a few manufacturers are designing 3 Ohm speakers which actually risk damage if you have the wrong amp, and only subwoofer setups sometimes drop into the 1 Ohm range. In Home Audio, 8 Ohms is relatively standard (6 Ohms for Bose), and 4 is pretty rare except at the high end. So, designing a good amp with the right amount of power is probably pretty well understood, since resistance is generally either going to double, or be cut in half. Headphone amps are conceivably going to drive headphones from 16-600 Ohms, which is a dramatic resistance range. Also, they have to do it with inaudible distortion, and enough power to cover all volume needs.

Given the various factors that matter when it comes to headphone amps, the biggest problem isn't that amps aren't out there. The biggest problem is that they don't give you jack for information to even begin wondering if you've found a good match for your cans (in terms of power / impedance - I assume everyone wants low distortion). I would never by a car audio amp that says it supplies "50 watts between 1-1,000 Ohms" - right, so, 50 watts somewhere in that range. I used to want a Creek Headphone amp, but got tired of the "10mW between 32-300 Ohms".

I knew I wanted about a half a watt of power @50 ohms for the HEs. I knew if I could get that I'd easily drive other headphones also. So I went with an O2. It had published specs that made sense, and it was a lot cheaper than alternatives. Piece of Pie.
post #2612 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMateoHead View Post


What amp did you use to drive your HD650? Over at Innerfidelity, they claim the HD650 needs only 0.13mW to reach 90 dB.
The HE-400 need 0.33mW to reach 90 dB. So, mW to mW, you need about 2.5 times the power to drive the HE-400's to an equivalent level as the HD 650. You should reach 100 dB with about 10x the power, and this is very very loud. That is about 1.3 mWs if you are using the Senns, and 3.3 mWs with the HE-400. So you can see that the main reason you need more power, or less, is about efficiency of the phones.
I don't subscribe to the idea that a "bass watt" is more difficult than a "1khz" watt. What is relevant is the resistance of the speakers and the power delivery of the amp. If an amp is "weak", it shouldn't affect bass delivery, only loudness. If the bass delivery did suck, it is more likely that the frequency response of the amp is poor, rolling off bass frequencies that you can actually hear. A lot of people probably think bass "always" needs more power, because of car and home audio. Its not that bass NEEDS more power so much as subwoofers tend to be less efficient than other drivers in a speaker system.
If you are driving a 300 ohm load with the HUD-MX1, that's about 10x the resistance occurring at 32 ohms. You would still have 2-3 mWs however - enough to drive the HD 650s, in theory, over 100 dB. @32-50 Ohms, with 26 mWs available, you might hit 108 dB with the HE-400. A bit less with 17 mWs. But the source can affect loudness to a degree, and so can amp gain and other factors. Plus, if the amp can't put out its max power without distortion, you won't make it far before the sound degrades.
The only way to know if its going to work for you is to try it. If the amp section can deliver its max power without audible distortion, or rolling off frequencies, it would seem that, in theory, it can drive the headphones quite decently. My laptop drives my HE-400s quite well, but certainly not as loud as my amp can. But they sounded about the same since the source is the same.

Well I used the Fiio E9 to power it, but I tried my old traktor audio 2 dac, which could drive it very loud. But it would sound like absolute crap :) It was as if I could hear all the peaks in the music, but everything else was either inaudible(so very little detail) and the bass was very loose sounding. 

 

I don't know why I thought bass needs more power than other octaves. I thought I saw some graph somewhere that implicated that. I must have misunderstood.

 

I never knew the HE-400 actually needs more power than the HD650, I always thought the HE-400s were quite easy to drive. Apparantly they are only easy to drive relative to other planar magnetics?

 

Anyway The E9 will provide enough power to drive them. But I still don't understand why there is so much information lost even when the spl is loud enough. This must have something to do with the amount of volt/ampere the amp delivers. It must! Let's ask Tyll.

 

Thanks for your wise words :)

post #2613 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigitalFreak View Post


It has nothing to do with power and everything to do with implementation. You can have oodles of power and a top tier chip but if the circuit design is crud the headphone will sound like crud. Something else to note, you can have a top tier pricey amp and one headphone can sound terrible while another will sound fantastic. It's called synergy, don't ask me why it happens it just does. If you're looking for a good mobile sized amp Leckerton and ALO have nice offerings. I own both of Leckertons amps as well as the ALO RX MK II and I'm quite happy with them. JDSLabs is another dealer you can look into. The O2 amp gets lots of praise on here.

I'll definitely look into the O2, it's pretty cheap:)

 

Would the HUD-MX1 & O2 sound significantly better with the HE-400 than HUD-MX1 & E9?

I've read many times that the HE-400 is not picky when it comes to amps.

post #2614 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marleybob217 View Post

I'll definitely look into the O2, it's pretty cheap:)

 

Would the HUD-MX1 & O2 sound significantly better with the HE-400 than HUD-MX1 & E9?

I've read many times that the HE-400 is not picky when it comes to amps.

 

It's not picky, but IMO it does work better with amps that are warmer and a bit more rolled off, which could take a bit of the treble edge off of it. Then again if you enjoy the sparkly treble then that might be counter-intuitive and a more neutral amp would work better.

post #2615 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

 

It's not picky, but IMO it does work better with amps that are warmer and a bit more rolled off, which could take a bit of the treble edge off of it. Then again if you enjoy the sparkly treble then that might be counter-intuitive and a more neutral amp would work better.

There are lot's of other options to soften/smooth out the highs. 

 

Equalizers or filters like (thin(as in see through) paper work fantastic.

 

I'm poor, I'm not going to buy anything expensive when the end result, or 90% of it, can be achieved in the ghetto manner!

post #2616 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marleybob217 View Post

There are lot's of other options to soften/smooth out the highs. 

 

Equalizers or filters like (thin(as in see through) paper work fantastic.

 

I'm poor, I'm not going to buy anything expensive when the end result, or 90% of it, can be achieved in the ghetto manner!

 

Yeah equalizers are always a good option, but hardware/modding solutions are always preferred because the purist parts of us want ubiquitous solutions to issues with our gear.

 

As for the filter paper suggestion, I've seen that pop up a few times by different people so far with regards to taming treble; would it be applied to the front of the driver or the back? The one worry I have is that it would impact the openness of the sound. That is an undervalued trait of HE400 that I have not heard any other headphone come close to achieving.

post #2617 of 17747

Two questions for everyone. I finally have the money together to grab these. Where is the best place to get these right now? I know Moon Audio had a coupon a little while back? It's between there or Justin from Head-Amp. Also, if I buy from a place like one of those, will Hifiman still deal with any issues that arise? I just want to be sure before I buy a pair.

post #2618 of 17747

I think a few people mentioned that Moon Audio will offer a discount if you call. The coupon doesn't work on their site.

post #2619 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

 

Yeah equalizers are always a good option, but hardware/modding solutions are always preferred because the purist parts of us want ubiquitous solutions to issues with our gear.

 

As for the filter paper suggestion, I've seen that pop up a few times by different people so far with regards to taming treble; would it be applied to the front of the driver or the back? The one worry I have is that it would impact the openness of the sound. That is an undervalued trait of HE400 that I have not heard any other headphone come close to achieving.

Place the paper in front of the driver :) so in between your ears, and the driver.

 

I used this for my gmp 8.35D headphones, it smoothens out the sound big time, and it does not reduce the openness of the sound at all.

 

Then again the gmp 8.35D is a closed headphone, so I'm not sure how it would affect open headphones. Try it? 

post #2620 of 17747

Can anyone suggest a fix or improvement for the wonky vocals on the HE400?

No Eq suggestions.....i have already tried endlessly EQing these. Bumping the vocal range makes them even worse. 

I really like these headphones but their vocal response it really off. It sounds thin, hollow, bodyless, dark depending on the track. 

Other than vocals they are absolutely brilliant for the price. The bass in particular & the omnipresent soundstage are really addictive. 


Edited by oyster - 11/26/12 at 2:42pm
post #2621 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

What are you currently amping the hd650 with? You may be listening to them underpowered. The 650 will win the comfort battle easily. It also features mid bass while the he400 features sub bass. For acoustic strings and female vocals I'd pick the 650. For the theatrical scores and dubstep, the he400 will win out. You might want to consider something closed if an open hp is an issue and you need isolation for privacy. (ie Maddogs) 

The he400 is a wonderful listen and will do well with much of the music that you mention. It has good heft to it and is really meant for home listening and not to be carried around as a portable. 

First of all I appreciate everyone's feedback, no wonder I love this place (and why my wallet keeps going empty)!

I actually haven't had a chance to listen to the HD650s yet. They're on their way from Sennheiser, but I'm going to pass them on to my friend who missed out on the deal. If I were to amp the HD650s, I would do it by building another Crack, although I don't know how that combo would sound for electronic music, but I imagine it would be great for female vocals and such.

Open headphones aren't really a problem, but it'd be a bonus if they were closed so I don't annoy my roommate.
post #2622 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharkz View Post

Two questions for everyone. I finally have the money together to grab these. Where is the best place to get these right now? I know Moon Audio had a coupon a little while back? It's between there or Justin from Head-Amp. Also, if I buy from a place like one of those, will Hifiman still deal with any issues that arise? I just want to be sure before I buy a pair.

 

Ahh ... The "Blue Hawaii" amps.  They sure are purdy ... and a bit pricey for my tastes.  tongue.gif

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/439657/headamp-blue-hawaii-special-edition#post_5927331

 

post #2623 of 17747

Also, don't forget about the "B Stock" section at Head Room.  Often, they will sell a pair of returned HE-400 headphones for approximately $339.  Nothing is wrong with the headphones, but a buyer may have just purchased them and didn't necessarily like the headphones for their use.

 

http://www.headphone.com/support/b-stock-outlet.php

post #2624 of 17747
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

 

Yeah equalizers are always a good option, but hardware/modding solutions are always preferred because the purist parts of us want ubiquitous solutions to issues with our gear.

 

As for the filter paper suggestion, I've seen that pop up a few times by different people so far with regards to taming treble; would it be applied to the front of the driver or the back? The one worry I have is that it would impact the openness of the sound. That is an undervalued trait of HE400 that I have not heard any other headphone come close to achieving.

 

I  would put them on the front, facing the grill. Works for me!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by oyster View Post

Can anyone suggest a fix or improvement for the wonky vocals on the HE400?

No Eq suggestions.....i have already tried endlessly EQing these. Bumping the vocal range makes them even worse. 

I really like these headphones but their vocal response it really off. It sounds thin, hollow, bodyless, dark depending on the track. 

Other than vocals they are absolutely brilliant for the price. The bass in particular & the omnipresent soundstage are really addictive. 

 

Velours, grill mod, etc. If nothing works, maybe the mids just don't cut it for you. 

 

Where are you bumping them with EQ though?

post #2625 of 17747

Thanks Wayne. Justin is out of them and I talked to Drew at Moon and they had free shipping and threw in velours free. Hopefully these guys will be in my hands by the weekend (along with my new 47" 3D  TV). Should be a fun weekend!

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