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::Mad Dog VS A900 - The Next Chapter?:: - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 

I still haven't been able to test the HD600/650. Even though I love the snug pads/clamp/fit, I am not risking more time wasted ordering/testing/returning those, when HE-500 has already taken my heart 100%.


It did seem rather strange, how bass-less the HE-500 was... That is my preferred signature, but I'd like to do another comparison with HE-6, LCD's, and that other headphone I keep forgetting to ask to test, the Abyss! But I probably won't any time soon, and will do my next demo when a new HiFiMan model is out or something competitively fresh. Maybe velour pads will boost the bass, or some kind of sealing mod thing.


HE's work best with solid state amps, right?

post #17 of 32

The he500 has level bass, like a proper neutral headphone should have. It's not bass light like most "neutral" cans out there.


check out their frequency response graph on the top left corners on each of these pages:






The planars have beautiful frequency responses. Flat overall and no crazy treble spikes. The w1000x in comparison looks "v-shaped" and has a terrible subbass roll off.


The abyss has had mixed feedback. I'd personally just get a stax headphone even though it needs a special amp.


As for amplifiers, it doesn't matter what type of amplifier you use as long as it provides ample current. It's usually recommended that the amp can provide more than 1 watt of current at ~50 ohms for planars. So something like the schiit magni at the very least, will work. Also, i've heard nothing but good things about the lyr + any orthos. Which was designed with orthos in mind and provides 4 watts of current into 50 ohms.

post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 

I had looked a lot at frequency charts, trying to see what it was I liked about A900, and match that to my new headphone, but now that I see the W1000x chart, it looks terrible :( Although I've heard flat responses before in dynamic headphones, and didn't like them due to sounding boring/stale, it was the driver type was the missing key!


I didn't notice any real difference, listening to my W1000x from my basic home amp or with the Cavalli Liquid Gold amp at the store, but I think that is due to the headphone's limitations/capabilities.


Do you actually like/prefer that heavy feel/fit of the LCD's over the HE's? I absolutely couldn't stand it, nor on the Mad Dogs. I love how the HE's are so barebone, and just work.

Edited by CT007 - 3/28/14 at 10:20am
post #19 of 32

I've no input on audio technicas and amps for them unfortunately. But you're probably right about the headphone's limitation. V shaped headphones don't really require expensive amps.


The lcd2 are indeed heavy. Not to mention the angled pads makes the headband tilt upwards so that it doesn't completely lay flat on the head. Fortunately, my skull has been conditioned/trained by the q701's completely disastrous headband , so i'm fine with it. As for the clamp and weight, those has never bothered me. Of course i prefer more comfy phones, but since i can stand uncomfortable phones, sound quality has my priority. That said, the hifimans are definitely more comfortable than audezes.

post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 

I got them today, after 2 hours of driving, the last one, the demo model that I heard last time. :normal_smile :


I couldn't stick around to test today, but things I would like to know:

- Stock HE-300/500("silver coated copper") VS HE-6("OCC")? I heard them in the store with HE-6 cable.

- If my stock cable is OK, maybe my amp isn't? What is the minimum amp I need, you think? (Emotiva mini-X?)


I'm really feeling like my amp has become a/the big weak link here... I hear the body of the HE-500 here at home, but its soul is still at the store, it seems(in that Liquid Gold amp, probably). I notice a small-but-significant difference going from the Xonar STX amp to the Bravo V2 w/GT tube amp, but it feels like a sizeable chunk of the mids are missing. :(


There is a fine, bright sibilance/treble spike that seems to appear in "live" recordings/songs where there is some room ambiance/vocal reverb, and where instruments & vocals are mixing together...not in purely electronic music or simple bands. Of course, these are nowhere near burnt-in yet, so that could be why. I don't suspect my Xonar STX DAC being the problem, either...


The bass seems the same, and details are still incredible... Hard to put these things down, like seriously. These things seem to repress the hunger response quite well. =p No looking back on those other headphones!

Edited by CT007 - 4/4/14 at 12:08pm
post #21 of 32

Grats on the he500! Once you go planar, you'll never go back! Only audeze (or stax :veryevil:) can possibly satisfy any future upgraditis.


For planars, something with a decent chunk of current is ideal. The schiit magni can output 1.2w at 32 ohms, so it's a good match. The vali has lower power, but it shouldn't make too much of a difference since it's still quite powerful. It's also a tube amp, so it should add a bit of musical quality.


If you want a warm sounding solid state, i've only heard good things about the matrix mstage, though it's not usually an amp that people look for when powering orthos.


As for the most popular amp pairing for the he500... it's probably the schiit lyr, which has can output 6 watts at 32 ohms. Roll some warm tubes in there (mullard, amperex) and you're good to go. Not that the stock tubes are bad (theyre pretty good), but those other tubes will be much warmer and more musical.


Don't take it from me though, you should go to the he500 impressions thread instead. It's one of the biggest threads in the fullsize forums. You can't miss it, but here's the link anyways. There are more experienced he500 owners there that can definitely help you out more than i can.


Also, don't worry about the cables, if there is even a difference, it's going to be extremely small. Cables are easily the worst upgrade in terms of value. There are numerous debates about placebo/double-blind testing because that's just how small the difference in sound is. 

post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 

Alright, thanks, that sounds good. 


I was recently recommended the NFB-15.32 DAC+amp ($235) as a "minimum" match for it, and also not to mess with upgrading the cable. :normal_smile : That's likely what I'll buy, as soon as my bank account has enough time to regenerate funds. Supposedly 2W output. EF-5 is probably quite nice, but also double the cost, and no DAC! BUT, getting a better amp(Lyr) would be more impactful than an equally capable DAC, right?


Doing pink noise burn-in now, since I read that the treble spike goes away after about 10-20 hours of burn-in....hopefully!

Edited by CT007 - 4/5/14 at 5:22pm
post #23 of 32
Hope it goes well. I went for the lcd2 since it has a completely smooth treble. The mastering quality of most modern music sucks. They're too bright for headphones and too dynamically compressed. The lcd2 makes up for it nicely though.

The only reason I still have my hd800 is because of games and movies.
post #24 of 32
Thread Starter 

HE-500 = ultimately too uncomfortable, I've decided. And I can't return it for a refund, after having it for ~3 days lol...bugger. When I listened to it in the store, I was sitting forward in a chair, with my head tilted downward, and the headphone felt alright...but I sit upright, or slightly leaning back, at home, and they are a real pain after a short while now.


I'm gonna have to go for the HD600 now, because I *know* the comfort is the polar opposite of HE-500, and the frequency response looks very appealing, actually, likely overall more accurate-sounding than HE-500. I am intrigued, especially for only ~$350, but still need to find a new amp/DAC for it, and figure out a good way to sell/trade these 500's.

post #25 of 32

that's a shame! Another option is to wait for the new hifimans that are going to replace the he400 and he500. They are supposed to be much lighter and the headband got an upgrade. They will be released soon. Theyre the he560 and he400i. There's some impressions of them around

Edited by b0000 - 4/7/14 at 12:25pm
post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 

HD600, right out of the box with my Xonar STX & Bravo V2:


STX RCA(non-amp'd) -- Great overall sound! Flat, unimpactful, as expected.

STX amp -- Brighter/sharper, overall somewhat harsh as expected; I can definitely tell/'realize' the weaknesses of this amp/opamp with this phone.

STX RCA into Bravo V2 -- Smoother, more impactful sound as expected; very nice across the board sound.


There was definitely a span of treble brightness from 1-4KHz, but a short burn-in has cured it. This phone is pretty smooth overall; it sounds good! Accurate & smooth. I feel quite "connected" with the music, with these, I'd say. Even without quality equipment, the HE-500 had that liquidy & electric/'alive' sound, but that clearly wasn't enough. I'm planning to snag a TubeDAC-11 soon, and see if that can't put the magic into these phones. Maybe a budget SS amp to add to the TubeDAC output later on, too, if things seem to be leaning for it. (Still just using Winamp with basic DirectSound output, so I'm sure there's a lot to be gained here)


Yeah, these sound smooth. Certainly not goofy like the Audio-Technica's, or spikey with female vocals like HE-500(or as dark). Bad recordings sound pretty good! Low quality MP3s, no problem here! Quite smooth & forgiving. I love the presentation. They don't have that magic 'sparkle' or bass like the planars, but they have everything else, I'd say, in a 'standard' sounding phone. A great-sounding 'standard' phone, with no detected special attributes otherwise, that seems to do everything well. Deeper bass in electronic music is certainly lacking VS HE-500, so I wonder if HD650 would sound better overall. With how things sound now, I'm pumped to hear the TubeDAC! These seem to respond very well to equipment differences and EQ changes. I'm sure I can just EQ that bass up...ah, there we go! I feel more 'connected' to the music, than with the AT's or HE's, I'd say. This phone only lacks qualities; what it has, it does well, with the possible sole exception of drums.


The headband clamp is a lot stronger than expected, but I still feel like I can go a long while with it. So far, I think I'd rate the sound a solid 6-7 out of a perfect 10. Even if I can only get to ~8/10 with the TubeDAC, that's still awesome for the price($281 phones new, $389 DAC+amp new). An especially good headphone, for being like 30 years old. =p There's nothing 'modern' to the sound, and that's OK, because you're not over-paying for 'modern'. With HiFiMAN seeming to follow the LCD design, I'd rather try an HD800 next, and stick with stuff that's actually comfortable... But I hope HiFiMAN's future designs proves me wrong, and makes the choice that easy.

Edited by CT007 - 4/19/14 at 3:54pm
post #27 of 32

grats! The hd600 is definitely one of the best headphones around. And yes, the hd800 is extremely comfy. Never felt pain with them, and sometimes i forget they're on my head.


As for the hifimans, the he560 is up for preorders, but at $899, i'd rather get the Audeze's especially since the impressions say that the he560 is a bit brighter (but also more detailed and technically better) than the he500. Brighter = no for me, but ofc it's all up to you. They also weigh considerably less. From 502 grams (he500) to 380 grams plus a new headband! The hd800 is 330 grams in comparison.

Impresions threads.


post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 

Do you think the HD800(or any other dynamic phone) has any of that "magic" sound that these HE's have? Not caring so much for premium speakers, it's probably best to go for electrostatic as my next phone, and get it all over with lol. Though, they are also rather heavy, around 400g, it seems. :\ I certainly would not dump $2-8K into current planars.


I think the HD600 is about the safest, sub-high-end phone out there. I would certainly classify the sound as "safe", heh. Practically fatigue-free, I love it!

post #29 of 32

The hd800 is definitely not fatigue free for modern popular music unless you have some really good tube amps + rolled tubes. It's also horrible for most metal since its mastered brightly. It's also not too satisfying for bass driven electronic music since the pronounced treble tend to makes the bass sound weak. But if your main genre is instrumental/classical, the hd800 is one of best you can get.


Also, no dynamics come to mind if you're talking about  the super extended bass + magic mids that planars tend to have. At least none that i've heard. Other people may have more input though. 


If you're interested in electrostatics, I've heard nothing but good things about the koss esp950 (except for its looks and plastic construction).

post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 

Wow, an electrostatic with amp for $999... The amp seems to be holding it back significantly, but just how much compared to HE-500/HD600 with budget equipment, I wonder. The phone looks alright, as long as the padding is not the awful, flaking pleather kind that a lot of low-end headphones have. Maybe Koss will come out with an improved model, and make my upgrade decision for me, instead of HiFiMAN. :normal_smile : It's a good time to be alive for headphone advancements, it seems!

Edited by CT007 - 4/21/14 at 12:30am
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