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Help Me Pick a Headphone - maybe a HiFiman?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hello Fellow Head-Fiers,

 

Been a while since I posted in the forums but I'm still very much into headphones and enjoying music almost daily.

 

For the past year or so I've been very much in love with my current setup which is as follows:

 

DAC: Anedio D1 with the saber chip - love this one for it's amazing clarity, resolution, texture and detail.

AMP: Burson HA-160 - adds PRAT and warmth to the Anedio, I think it's a wonderful match.

Headphone: HD650 - I love this one as a detailed, forgiving allrounder. I'm a big HD650 fan and prefer it over the HD800 or anything from ultrasone or AKG.

 

I've had other headphones along the way but usually over the course of 6 months or so I stop listening to the "new" headphone and go back to the HD650 without even thinking about it.

 

I do however realize that the HD650 - although great - isn't unbeatable. I did audition a pair of Hifiman and was very impressed with it since I liked the soundstage openess, detail, and "fun-factor" they provided. I've also tried the LCD2/LCD3 and they are amazing but they didn't really stir my emotions, they were "impressive" more than fun. I personnally thought that the Hifiman had more PRAT and "fun-factor".

 

So - I'm looking to add maybe a pair of Hifiman headphones to my small collection, but I'm at a loss as to what model to pick. Do you think you could help me pick a Hifiman model or maybe suggest some other headphone that you think I would like?

post #2 of 27

I did a ton of testing with the HE-300, HE-400, HE-500, LCD-2, and LCD-3.  I enjoyed and respected the HE-500 and if I were to purchase another headphone that would be it.  I will say that the HE-500 had to be lifted up about an inch to rest properly around my ears.  The soundstage was almost non-existent without doing this.  The HE-300 sounded fun, but had obvious issues with FR and distortion.  The HE-400 was a terrible compromise between the HE-300 and HE-500 making it have both the problems from the HE-300 and some new ones.  The LCD-2 Rev 1 is another great headphone, but they really did not wow me.  The build quality was pretty awesome and the fact they are made in the USA is a huge plus in my view, but I could not warrant spending that much on a headphone I really could not listen to more than 10 tracks with.

 

The HE-500 is just an amazing headphone.  Sure it is not made in the USA and is plastic, but it will not have the cracked wood issues the LCD products suffer from.  They sound a tad more open than the LCD products I have used and are a bit lighter making them more bearable for long listening sessions.

 

You may want to check with Burson to make sure the HA-160 can easily drive the HE-500.  Planar headphones can be a tad tricky to drive and I do not want you ending up with an inferior sounding product due to your amp.

 

You can read a review here:

http://www.head-fi.org/products/burson-ha-160/reviews

 

The reviewer did his testing with an HD-800 which is equally as hard to drive as the HE-500.

post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

I did a ton of testing with the HE-300, HE-400, HE-500, LCD-2, and LCD-3.  I enjoyed and respected the HE-500 and if I were to purchase another headphone that would be it.  I will say that the HE-500 had to be lifted up about an inch to rest properly around my ears.  The soundstage was almost non-existent without doing this.  The HE-300 sounded fun, but had obvious issues with FR and distortion.  The HE-400 was a terrible compromise between the HE-300 and HE-500 making it have both the problems from the HE-300 and some new ones.  The LCD-2 Rev 1 is another great headphone, but they really did not wow me.  The build quality was pretty awesome and the fact they are made in the USA is a huge plus in my view, but I could not warrant spending that much on a headphone I really could not listen to more than 10 tracks with.

The HE-500 is just an amazing headphone.  Sure it is not made in the USA and is plastic, but it will not have the cracked wood issues the LCD products suffer from.  They sound a tad more open than the LCD products I have used and are a bit lighter making them more bearable for long listening sessions.

You may want to check with Burson to make sure the HA-160 can easily drive the HE-500.  Planar headphones can be a tad tricky to drive and I do not want you ending up with an inferior sounding product due to your amp.

You can read a review here:
http://www.head-fi.org/products/burson-ha-160/reviews

The reviewer did his testing with an HD-800 which is equally as hard to drive as the HE-500.




You sure they are equally hard to drive?
post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post


You sure they are equally hard to drive?

 

I really doubt it. The HD800s might have high sensitivity, but their impedance varies quite a bit with frequency, making their transducers far more difficult to control than it might seem. Even despite that, based on experience, it takes an AMAZING amp to drive them properly.


Edited by Moostrkraaft - 7/17/12 at 8:42pm
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moostrkraaft View Post

I really doubt it. The HD800s might have very low sensitivity, but their impedance varies quite a bit with frequency, making their transducers far more difficult to control than it might seem. Even despite that, based on experience, it takes an AMAZING amp to drive them properly.


Or I should ask it the other way around. The he500 is as hard to drive as the hd800?
post #6 of 27

Because I haven't heard the HE-500, I can't make definitive statements about them.

 

If the answer isn't clear, please research further. Everything I've read leads me to believe the HE-500 are much easier to drive than the HD-800. They have a flat impedance curve (as all planars do) and a relatively low sensitivity, but a MUCH higher sensitivity than the HE-6. If the amp meets a certain minimum of current/power specs (which shouldn't be hard if the amp is near the cost range of the HE-500), I'm fairly confident it will sound great.

 

Again, please take this with a grain of salt as I haven't listened to the HE-500.

post #7 of 27

The real difficulty with driving the HD-800, which most amps have trouble with, is the hot treble. Without that hot treble, the HD-800 comes within reach of perfection IMO.

post #8 of 27

Since you're not into the Audeze line, I'd recommend going with the T1. Yes, it's a brighter can, but no, it's not a HD800.

It's fairly balanced, and IMO, overall beats out something like the HE-500. It's got that fun factor sound that you're looking for.

But might be out of your price range. With that said the HE-500 is great all around, its strong points are its mids, but even those aren't special,

they're good overall, very balanced as said before. However, it just doesn't have that wow factor. 

The HE-400 is also a great headphone, it hits a really nice price point, is very fun with any kind of electronic music. I had them stock

but heard they vastly improve with velour pads.

 

Other options are the Mad Dog modified T50RP and Paradox modified T50RP. 

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

Since you're not into the Audeze line, I'd recommend going with the T1. Yes, it's a brighter can, but no, it's not a HD800.
It's fairly balanced, and IMO, overall beats out something like the HE-500. It's got that fun factor sound that you're looking for.
But might be out of your price range. With that said the HE-500 is great all around, its strong points are its mids, but even those aren't special,
they're good overall, very balanced as said before. However, it just doesn't have that wow factor. 
The HE-400 is also a great headphone, it hits a really nice price point, is very fun with any kind of electronic music. I had them stock
but heard they vastly improve with velour pads.

Other options are the Mad Dog modified T50RP and Paradox modified T50RP. 



If he goes with the mad dog he would have 1000 bucks for dac/amplifiers...
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by reddragon View Post


If he goes with the mad dog he would have 1000 bucks for dac/amplifiers...

Ah, I didn't even see that he had a budget. 

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies smile.gif

 

Seems like the HE-500 or T1 might be something for me.

 

And I'm not saying I don't like the Audeze line - the LCD2/LCD3 was very impressive. I just felt that they lacked a little bit of "fun-factor" and PRAT. Is that an impression that anyone would mirror or do you think that the Audeze can play with fun and PRAT with the right amplification?

 

But I think I'll have to look into if my current HA-160 can drive a HE-500, it is a powerful amp but the HE-500 is also very demanding.

 

Anyways - thanks a lot for the feedback so far!

post #12 of 27

I like the HE-500 more than the T1.  The T1 is very similar to the HD-800 in that it has to be driven to very high volumes to see its full potential.  I think your setup will run the HE-500 just fine, but I want you to double check the numbers so you do not end up with buyers remorse.  I can almost guarantee you will love the HE-500 over the T1.

post #13 of 27

The HE 500 is a great headphone for sure, very smooth, typical Planar sound signature. For me the soundstage is lacking and the treble extension is a bit flat. Especially compared to the LCD-3 which is clearly superior in imaging and soundstage. As it should be in that price class.

They are power hungry though and I find I need to crank up the volume a bit more on my amp (V181) comared to the HD 800 or LCD-3.

post #14 of 27

I would really wish there was a simple answer - and a "the best ortho headphone" - but it does't. During a typical month of music playing, I rotate among all of my headphones and various amps. HE-500 is great. LCD-2 is great. LCD-3 is great. HE-6 is sometimes great. 

 

So - what gives? The difference is that different amps - and most important; what your ears fancy that particular day - makes a difference.

 

Moral of this story? Easy: Variance in headphone inventory is good. Because your ears vary. E.g. start with a pair of HE-500 and judge them after what YOU think. Take your actions from that point forward - but take no actions within a couple of weeks. Cf. your ears might prefer different sound signatures as time goes along. 


Edited by Loevhagen - 7/18/12 at 3:41pm
post #15 of 27
Hi guys I just brought a HE-500 and I like it very much. My goal was to build a under 1000 USD set up. I spend around $620 for a pair of new HE-500 and asked the shop to throw in the HE-6's balanced cable.( I live in Hong Kong so I don't know if that is consider a good deal in US). And after that i brought a used NFB-10se for $330. I personally enjoys this set up lot more than HD 650 and burson ha 160 ds combo.
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