Originally Posted by MattTCG
I don't think many people know just how good these are yet. Incredibly versatile. The planar tech does so many genres well. The sound stage has to be heard to really be appreciated. And it's not that the sound stage is large, it is. But the separation and accuracy of the instruments is "next level." If they are able to get this sound signature in a hp that is 100 grams lighter and $100 cheaper something very special will have happened.
You're right, they're still pretty new and until your thread here and the one other there hasn't been too much discussion about them in general. On top of that there's been so much focus on HE-500 for so long, and HE-4 was sort of a half-ortho so the HE-400 name isn't selling them all that fast, it'll take a little for momentum to swing around. Also, at least until HE-500's successor comes out with the new lower price-point on the new assembly, the fixed perception that HE-500 is the real ortho and HE-400 is the budget cut down ortho probably won't go away. Heck the $50 price difference between HD600 & HD650 still has people warring over how superior HD650 is and not recognizing they're just two simply different cans at the same tier. Here we have a $300 difference.
I agree about sound stage, it's simply phenomenal. The classic, abused, audio-critic phrase "presence" comes to mind. These have amazing presence. The instruments are right in position, are outside your head entirely, and have so much substantial depth and realism about them. Most argue the HE-500 has better soundstage, however headfonia also argued that HD650 also had, in actuality, more soundstage than K702 which I overwhelmingly disagree with. There's just "something" about them that feels so tangible on most instruments.
The separation amazes me as does the accuracy. With the discussion of them being dark and the HE-500 being so much more accurate, it's easy to expect this to be inaccurate. In fact they're as detailed and accurate, at least, as K702, and IMO with most instruments, much more so (in some places K702 wins just due to the completely flat FR that hides nothing at any range.) But the separation of instruments is astounding. The best I've heard. It is "next level", definitely.
My problem with "laid back" speakers is that they generally sound like speakers. It's a sound that, while cool, doesn't exist in the real world. A saxophone will never sound "laid back" unless you're hearing it from a distance, with a lot of objects in the way (like on the other end of a bar, or down a street, or over a balcony, etc.) where a lot of HF gets attenuated. I think it depends a lot on how a listener listens to music, even when live. Some people (folks that prefer laid back cans) probably like taking on the whole instrumentation as a whole, the band as a single unit and sitting back and absorbing it, and thus critics will talk about the "integration as a whole" in reviews. I personally look individually at each musician and pay attention to what each is doing, each part of the whole, even live, so great separation is of importance to me, as is a "presence" and energetic sound. Wide separation speakers correlate to how I see live music. I also think folks who listen mostly to vocals have a strong leaning toward laid back, boosted mids speakers, while those who listen mostly to instrumental may like a more energetic and forward (but not harsh) speaker. Those preferences play a role as well.
Not that I don't like laid back cans, they're fun and relaxing, but for my planars, laid back won't do Classical has that cavernous hall feel, jazz sounds as it should if you were at a nice round table with a candle on it somewhere in the middle of the room, live rock sounds like you're out mid-way through the crowd....positioning is fantastic. It makes many things sound like a binaural recording even when it's not.
I still like K702 when I want a dry, airy, front-row sound though. And no planar so far is known for a front-row sound.
Originally Posted by jerg
Give HiFiMAN and Audeze a few more years and magic will happen. Heck it's only been 3 or 4 years since either of the companies started revisiting this technology, and they've already come such a long way, turning orthos from an outdated technology with some strengths but many very severe flaws, into top contenders in the summit-Fi field.
I agree, the strides are amazing. When I bought my HD650's it was pretty much the crowned king short of Stax, and ortho was a word not present in audio vocabulary. My how things changed. Getting the weight down without sacrificing response (thinks of HE-4) is the only remaining challenge. And reducing the weight of multiple neodymium mags is a hefty challenge indeed. But just look at HE-400, they got the famous power hungry orthos, the tech the 6W Lyr was built for, down from 2W to the ability to run on a PMP (sort of...) That's huge.
IMO, HE-400 should still be on that summit-fi radar, but at it's price, it won't be. But I agree. Summit has worked down from Stax and other $10k friends down to include planars, and the crazy new techs (Sennheiser's ring dynamic, which is more like planar than dynamic, and Beyer's Tesla coils.) The one I don't get is HD-700. The initial reports said they have a lot of the HD800 sound for 30% less money. But $1000 for a plain old dynamic that sounds almost as good as their flagship new tech, while it's running in step at the LCD-2's price and over the price of everything HiFiMan except HE-6 is just bewildering. HD650 running at $500, where it was 6 years ago is also bewildering. I think Sennheiser is going to bury themselves in downright disastrous pricing models. It's a creative management decision to say "Hmm, lots of new tech has emerged to rival our market dominance and some of it is cheaper than our old tech. I know, lets double our prices! That'll show 'em!" I love HD650, but I couldn't honestly recommend someone spend $500 on HD650 when they could get HE-400 for $400. Unless they were plugging it inot a Darkstar....that may make a difference. For $350, like it was a few months ago, HD650 is a steal.
Originally Posted by wje
No, in my response, I was strictly referring to the HE-5LE and not the HE-500 or the HE-6. Though, I've read of the silver cable and the questionable lifespan of that cable provided by HifiMAN. Also, in my case with the HE-5LE, having the Neutrik connectors (especially the balanced 4-pin connector) was a very nice feature to have, since I was able to get the appropriate remaining compatible parts quite easily to build out some speaker taps. I've also read of some HE-400 users getting that silver cable packaged with their 'phones, too.
I saw a picture of an earlier HE-5LE that was for sale. It appears HifiMAN had some nice looking black sleeves on the cable at the time. I don't see that anymore - I guess either cutting production time or costs has led to the simplified cable processes. Also, the HE-500s are selling for $200 less per pair ($699) than their original launch price of $899.
Eek, I'm glad my 400's have the Canare. Why the silver would be bundled with them I can't imagine. Not only is the build quality questionable, but allegedly silver's a poor match. And it no doubt costs them more.
I can see your point on speaker taps and the like, ok, but the HE-5LE really benefited from that kind of amplification. HE-400's point is to not need it. I don't think that would be a good idea on these! They sell a balanced cable for them, and I'm not sure what's running in that Canare, but I doubt it's difficult to splice your own speaker taps from it. The thing's basically a pair of CATV cables in a jacket for crying out loud! Or so I assume that the cables after the split are still Canare (he jacketing of the split side has no writing.)
It's kind of cool they're trying to branch out and include things like silver for us geeks, but if it's not going to be made right, keep the silver and stick with reliable copper please! Including a huge name brand high grade cable in the box is honestly a huge thrill alone. Getting into poorly soldered semi-precious metals isn't needed. Cool idea, but poor execution. Maybe on a dark amp the silver is helpful, though.