My babies sleeping... (400s, 500s, 4s)
Had a 3 hours session with the new HE-4 (on the right) on Friday night + a short shoot-out between the 3 during the weekend.
So far, with the Metrum Quad and the SA-31, my favourite is... the HE-4! Who would have expected that? Not me!
In a technical standpoint, they clearly fall short to the other 2.
- The instrument separation is inferior (they all have the new velours).
- Detail retrieval is hard to tell since the 4s have a treble emphasis (more so than the 400s on this setup) and a much more airy presentation that is hard to compare.
On complex passages, the 4s cannot compete with the 400s and 500s. Yet, they're still very good and much better than any dynamic headphones I owned/heard (which includes the K-701).
What I really (I mean REALLY) like about the 4s is their clean presentation and their V-shaped signature (probably more U-shaped) which makes them extremely fun to listen with fast paced music (e.g. Hard rock and Metal).
The bass emphasis starts below 50hz and stops quickly, hence the "U-shaped" response. By comparison, the 400s have a V-shaped response that emphasis the upper bass / lower mids region too.
As a result, the 4s have tighter bass when compared to the 400s, yet not as prominent (which has a good effect on overall clarity). This plus the treble emphasis make them extremely well suited for drums.
I never enjoyed AC/DC that much with the HE-500 because the mid emphasis is not suited to this particular music (it exhibits all the recording flaws). The 4s on the other hand, are simply excellent. The 400s are definitely closer to the 500s, being fuller sounding than the 4s.
I never expected I would like them more than my favourite of all time (the 500s) but I noticed some strange things that might be a result of my mood of the day or simply my ears not fully opened (I have a cold): the 500s sounded muffled. I always found the treble quantity more than adequate (rather would I say: ideal), on my setup. I don't know if listening to the 4s before the 500s biased my preferences but they clearly lacked treble.
I remember when I last tried my old 4s on the very same setup (difference RCA cables but I'm no cable believer...) I didn't quite like their treble quantity anymore... It seems like my ear changed in the meantime (overnight).
Anyway, I'm happy with the 4s and if my cold is responsible for that change in treble perception, then I'm glad I have 2 pairs for the next time I have a cold :p
I forgot the bottom line: mix the 4s sound signature with the 400s technicalities and you get the best headphones for Metal / Hard-rock :p (No, I never heard grados, but they never heard orthos, so... :p)
While I agree with most of your impressions and I do understand this is your opinion. I guess I just have a sort of different one. So to speak.
"In a technical standpoint, they clearly fall short to the other 2."
I would say this is the total opposite. IMO The 4s are a more technical better headphone then the 400s and (500s ??)
Yes the 400s and 50ss are a fuller sounding headphone and yes the 4s has more air. But the 4's does not not have the treble spikes the 400s has but has more of a treble energy. Because of the bright airy sound.
The 500s don't lack treble. It's just compared to the 4s as you said they don't have the same treble energy. This is a result of the 4s being airy and the 500s being on the warm side. IMO
"On complex passages, the 4s cannot compete with the 400s and 500s."
uumm. I find the 4s one of the fastest headphones out and can keep up with just about any genre. They just eat complex passages alive. IMO..