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HifiMAN HE-5LE v. HE-500 - Page 3

post #31 of 127
Thread Starter 

Skipped the little KMF head amp for the time being.  Running directly through the speaker taps with the 4-pin XLR headphone cable that came with the HE-5LE into a "pigtail" that cantsleep built (Neutrik gold plated 4-pin female plug and Cardas Smurf Blue cable).  The wire ends are connected to the Linn using banana adapters (the Linn only accepts banana plugs).  Volume is at 9:00, dialed up 60 degrees from the lowest setting at 7:00.

 

It's been several weeks since I ran the 5LE out of the speaker taps.  In my estimation, both the 500 and the 5LE are now just barely turning the corner on 200 hours. The last time I used the Linn Intek, the 5LE sounded a little over stressed, brittle in the treble, sharp in the upper mids, a bit fuzzy and reticent in the bottom end.  But my experience last night was much different, the 5LE seem to have opened up significantly over the last 50 or so hours since the last time I ran them in this mode.  

 

Compared to their performance over the past couple of days on the 1W Bada PH-12 (which was, don't get me wrong, very good), the HE-5LE sound like a different headphone--improved with respect to every category--with the 50 WPC Linn Intek.  Everything sounds tight, buttoned down, positively fastidious.  Much faster.  Dynamics can be explosive and unnerving [cf. "Rio Funk" from Lee Ritenour, Collection, GRP, 1991].  Tones sound snapped into focus with even more vibrant hues and more complete, coherent textures.  The background is much quieter, with individual elements honed in precise space, anchored with great stability.  The bass is much tighter and more responsive, deep, expressive and under iron-clad control.  Compared to the 500's bass when using the Bada, the 5LE's bass when using the Linn is appreciably better in every respect.  

 

The overall presentation is compact and efficient; nothing is wasted.  Everything, from top to bottom, simply sounds prompt and "spot-on".  Nothing of the 5LE's native capacities for vocal intimacy, even spectral, tonal and dynamic balance, overall coherency and transparency are lost; in fact a quantum step forward in each of these departments has been realized (and is easily recognizable).

 

The Linn, being all solid state, does not deliver the tube richness of the Bada, but what I do hear sounds clear, honest and involving.  The 5LE lets me hear everything this fine integrated has to offer. 

 

All of a sudden I'm thinking: "Next step: the HifiMAN HE-6 with the Kora Titan monoblocks".  : )

 

The 500s have been running from the Denon AVR-1905 headphone output for most of the day.  God willing, I'll give them a listen tonight running from the Linn Intek's speaker taps.


Edited by pataburd - 7/18/12 at 7:57pm
post #32 of 127
Thread Starter 

The 5LE will be running overnight from the Linn.  The 500 are still hooked up to the Denon.  God willing, tomorrow I can a/b them from the speaker taps off the Linn.

post #33 of 127
Thread Starter 

Have finally a/b-ed these two using the 5LE 4-pin XLR cable running from the speaker outputs of the Linn Intek integrated through cantsleep's Cardas adapter.

 

As fine a listen as the HE-500 are, I ultimately prefer the 5LE.  The 500 sound slightly closed in by comparison because they lack the treble extension--and I also think the low frequency extension, as well--of the 5LE.  The 500's comparative treble roll-off (let's call a "spade" a "spade") often incurs an unwelcome, hardened edge to massed vocals, as well as serve to diminish/prematurely quell ambient information from cymbal strikes and vibrating strings.  The 500 also have a midbass emphasis that I felt imposed upon, versus naturally rendered, the presentation, and for me became more of a distraction than an enhancement.

 

To my ears, the 5LE are the better balanced, more open, more extended, more transparent and more coherent headphones of the two; and to me, as the bottom line, the more honest and involving of the two.  In addition, they definitely sounded their best after 200 hours of break-in, and when finally pushed with ample power.  As much as I esteem and enjoy the Bada--into which I've sunk a significant amount of money on upgrades/improvements--it just did not deliver enough watts to extract what was possible from the 5LE.  Even when under-powered they sounded excellent; but with sufficient power, the 5LE sounded fabulous, more than exceeding any expectations I previously had.   

 

I will now say without equivocation that the HifiMAN HE-5LE are the best-sounding headphones I have ever had the privilege to own and hear since I joined Head-Fi.

 

To reiterate, the next step for me looks like the HE-6 and a pair of Kora Titan monoblock amps (if I can find them). 

 

The 500 are now officially for sale.  


Edited by pataburd - 7/19/12 at 9:58am
post #34 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by pataburd View Post

Have finally a/b-ed these two using the 5LE 4-pin XLR cable running from the speaker outputs of the Linn Intek integrated through cantsleep's Cardas adapter.

 

As fine a listen as the HE-500 are, I ultimately prefer the 5LE.  The 500 sound slightly closed in by comparison, lack the treble extension--and I also think the low frequency extension--of the 5LE and have a midbass emphasis that I felt imposed upon, as opposed to naturally rendered, the presentation .  

 

To my ears, the 5LE are the better balanced, more open, more transparent and more coherent headphones of the two; to me, the more honest and involving of the two.  It's a bit of a sticky wicket, admittedly, because I think the 5LE fared better with the Linn,  the 500 perhaps better with the Bada PH-12.  But even here, I would choose the 5LE/Linn combination over the 500/Bada.

 

The 500 are now officially for sale.  

 

 

Where is the sale link?

post #35 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

 

 

Where is the sale link?

 

Here you go: http://www.head-fi.org/t/617325/for-sale-hifiman-he-500

post #36 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by pataburd View Post

The 500 are now officially for sale.  

 

 

The above statement was made a little over a hour ago.  That for sale link was posted over a week ago..

 

What gives?

post #37 of 127
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

 

 

The above statement was made a little over a hour ago.  That for sale link was posted over a week ago..

 

What gives?

The original ad--posted as an Interest Check, stipulated that the a/b was first planned.  Now that the a/b is done, the ad has been changed to For Sale.

post #38 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by pataburd View Post

The original ad--posted as an Interest Check, stipulated that the a/b was first planned.  Now that the a/b is done, the ad has been changed to For Sale.

 

 

O I C

post #39 of 127

i had an amazing time with the he5....wow this post is getting me excited with the he5LE, better than the he500 huh...gs1000.gif

post #40 of 127
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorspeaker View Post

i had an amazing time with the he5....wow this post is getting me excited with the he5LE, better than the he500 huh...gs1000.gif

For my ears, with my associated equipment, I preferred the 5LE.  Keep in mind that I used the 5LE's 4-pin XLR for both the 5LE and the 500, which probably over-emphasized, to the 500's detriment, their already bass tilted/comparatively "warm" signature.  With a silver 4-pin XLR--using the 500's stock wire, the contest may have been closer, but for me would not have concluded any differently, at least I conjecture. 

 

Other food for thought might be that the 500 were not optimally amped.  I am tempted to give them another go on the Bada PH-12 with which, in some respects [e.g. midbass definition], they bettered the 5LE.  The 500 offer a sweet and alluring midrange tonality and liquidity, together with nice bass weight without bass bulge.  But to me, they "added" their own flavor.  Again--I've probably said this four or five times already, I feel that the 5LE reproduce the music truer to the source, and just positively nail all the critical areas that are important to me when I listen to headphones.

 

Rounding out the evening's listening with George Benson, Tenderly, Warner Brothers, 1989: "At the Mambo Inn".


Edited by pataburd - 11/14/12 at 3:37pm
post #41 of 127
Thread Starter 

On a lark, and for another excuse to a/b the HE-5LE and the HE-500, I hooked up the little KMF headphone amplifier.  I had foregone this option earlier, expecting even less from the little KMF--"less", that is, compared to the likes of the suped up Bada PH-12 and the Linn Intek which had gone before.  Well, the KMF pleasantly surprised me.  More accurately, the little KMF bowled me over!

 

The KMF is connected to the RAM-modded Samsung HD-841 via the Soundsilver Trilogy interconnects.  A 1/4" headphone doubler/adapter goes into the headphone socket, with the EVS Ground Enhancer in one socket and the DakiOm F273 Feedback Stabilizer in the other, and into the latter the headphone of choice is enjoined.

 

With the 5LE (volume at 3:15 w/minimum at 7:00) I am getting excellent bass heft and drive, perhaps not the last word in tightness compared to the Linn, but noteworthy nonetheless.  I am also getting better ambient/spatial queues, better leading edge transients and the best, most realistic rendering of cymbals I have ever heard from the 5LE so far.  Wow!  Who would've guessed this outcome?  Very nice output, and the KMF isn't even breaking a sweat!

 

The HE-500 (volume at 2:30)--now fitted with their stock silver cable--also sound very very good over the KMF.  Their rounded and sweet midrange is amply showcased, and their bass definition--particularly in the mid-to-lower-mid bass--I would say sounds more complete than the 5LE's (bass).  Low bass also seems to have achieved better reach and definition.  The improved rendering of ambient queues from the KMF is lending an improved sense of openness and airiness to the 500's treble, giving them a more balanced sound overall.  

 

Stereo Review* Chesky Records GOLD Stereo and Surround Sound Set-up Disc, Chesky Records, 1996.

"Under the Table" (Track 6), Rebecca Pidgeon.  The 5LE give better definition and dynamic texture to the snare, as well as integrating it in a more balanced fashion with the rest of the composition.  Vocals are clearer and purer with the 5LE, though perhaps not as sweet and liquidy as with the 500.  Ambient information/spatial queues are also better served with the 5LE; no surprises here.  The 5LE, I will say, concede to the 500 with respect to overall bass response when driven by the KMF.

"Gadamaylin", (Track 47) I Ching.  Better bass drive with the 500, though maybe sounding a little superfluous/intrusive in the lower mid bass.  Tonal hues on flute and bowed string are more pronounced/vivid with the 500, giving the 500 honorable mention.  Overall, for me though, the 5LE capture the essence of this composition: straight ahead, well-balanced and transparent.

"Psalm 24" by Lili Boulanger, performed by the Westminster Choir.  Resolution of massed male voices project better (much better) with the 5LE, just more open and well sorted out.  Organ pedal goes deep as well.  The closing crescendo (full choir and organ) is handled with an ease by the 5LE, while sounding just a tad "tucked in" over the 500.

"The Clap Test" (Track 29).  More meaty and fleshy sound rendered by the 500, but better sense of space (of the clap being "out there" away from the headphones) with the 5LE.

 

Generally, I think the HE-500 are slightly better matched to the KMF than they were to the either the Bada or the Linn, maybe even better matched to the KMF than the HE-5LE.  There is also enough here to show where differences reside between the 5LE and the 500, perhaps with better discrimination offered by the KMF than either the Bada or the Linn.  My previous statements. citing my preferences for the 5LE and my reasons for these preferences still stand.  Again, the things that the HE-500 do well, were done even better with the KMF, but my nod for a more holistic, organic and "right" rendering of the audio signal still goes to the 5LE.  The HE-5LE do a better job of drawing the listener's attention to the music, as opposed to drawing attention to themselves (which the 500 seem to do, if only to a slight degree by comparison).

 

My vote still goes to the HE-5LE, HifiMAN's currently under-rated over-achiever . . .and to the visually unassuming but audibly arresting KMF headphone amplifier!  : )

 

Concluding this segment with JVC World Class Music Sampler, Victor Musical Industries Inc., 1988.  "Our Sunday Morning", by Yoshio Suzuki, over the undaunted HE-5LE.


Edited by pataburd - 7/19/12 at 9:13am
post #42 of 127
Thread Starter 

The HE-500 are now sold.  The HE-5LE remain.


Edited by pataburd - 7/24/12 at 6:25am
post #43 of 127
Thread Starter 

Listeners in search of the (ephemeral) "Wow!" factor will probably prefer the HE-500.  Those who simply want to hear, unexpurgated, what's there will prefer the HE-5LE.


Edited by pataburd - 7/24/12 at 12:45pm
post #44 of 127
Quote:
Originally Posted by pataburd View Post

Listeners in search of the (ephemeral) "Wow!" factor will probably prefer the HE-500.  Those who simply want to hear, unexpurgated, what's there will prefer the HE-5LE.

 

Sounds like the Senn HD650 vs HD600 sibling rivalry.

post #45 of 127
Thread Starter 

     That was exactly the analogy I also had in mind.  I also thought about the DT880 Premium/2005 vs. the DT880 Pro/2003, where the newer version was more mid-centric with rounder tones and roll-off at the extremes.  (Although the 2003 version was not really what I would call spectrally "balanced".)

     However, with the right amp, the HD-650 will--IMHO--better the HD-600.  I'm not sure the same can be said for the HE-500 vs. the HE-5LE.  With some system changes, the HE-500 can more nearly approach the 5LE in terms of treble presence and coherency.  But the HE-500 will never--IMHO--equal the 5LE in overall spectral balance, frequency extension or--and this may be where the disparity between the two is greatest--coherency.  

     But who knows?

     My next step, Deo volente, will be the HE-6.  I'd like to a/b them with the 5LE, then kick back and really enjoy the music!


Edited by pataburd - 7/24/12 at 12:54pm
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