Comparison of Audeze LCD-X, Senn. HD-800 and Hifiman HE-500 using Hifiman EF-5 headphone amplifier
I have completed modifying my Hifiman EF-5 and details of my work can be found in my previous threads.
The performance of this modded EF-5 performs much better than the stock amplifier. To give you an idea of its performance I can say it performs neck to neck with my Yulong A18 headphone amplifier. As I love smooth and warm music I prefer using both of them marginally over my other Fidelity Audio HPA-200 SE which is an honest headphone amplifier with extremely good dynamics and no added coloration.
Now the modded Hifiman EF-5 has been run-in for about 80 hrs and I then compared its performance using my Audeze LCD-X (with Toxic cables Silver Widow); Senn. HD-800 (with Toxic Cables Scorpion) and Hifiman HE-500 (with Toxic Cables Black Widow). The source used is my heavily modded Marantz CD63 KI (using top of the range components costing me more than £1,000) which performs better than any CDP of more than £3,500 including my previously owned Leema Antila IIs Eco.
I ran 30 sec. of track in repeated mode on each of the following pieces of music and compared the music using each of the above mentioned headphones in a number of runs. To make the story short the following is my impression:
- “The more I see you” by Nat King Cole (basically vocals)
LCD-X: Nat King Cole’s voice is very real, clear and pleasant to hear. I can feel his emotion. The background is very clean.
HD-800: The pitch of Nat’s vocal has raised by a small amount and making it less natural than LCD-X . Don’t make me wrong the difference can only be identified in head to head comparison otherwise it is un-noticeable. HD-800 reveals more HFs but with lesser bass when compared with LCD-X.
HE-500: Bass is comparable to LCD-X but muddy. The overall presentation is a bit dark and the background is less clean. The soundstaging is much less than the other two CANs.
Verdict: I prefer using LCD-X for vocals and follow by HD-800.
- Cino De Abril (Tango music with lots of musical instruments, Latin America style music)
LCD-X: All musical instruments can be clearly heard, the guitars are clear and lively. Good soundstaging. The music overall is very natural and pleasant to my ears.
HD-800: Excellent soundstaging and excellent musical instrument separation. Music is very clear and dynamic. All minor details can be heard.
HE-500: The music is generally pleasant to listen but seems to be veiled and lacks clarity when compared with the other two CANs. Overall the music is less smooth.
Verdict: Here I prefer HD-800 and follow by LCD-X.
- The Great Gate at Kiew (Classical music with strong bass)
LCD-X: Bass has high impact, good soundstaging however musical instrument separation can be improved.
HD-800: Very good musical instrument separation; excellent soundstaging though with less bass impact than LCD-X.
HE-500: Bass has insufficient impact than LCD-X. Average musical instrument separation and lacks soundstaging. The overall presentation is dark, a bit veil and muddy. The background of the music is not clear.
Verdict: I love the music from HD-800 more and then follow by LCD-X.
- Sunshine in Taskkurgan (Performed using “Balakvoc Fredman” violin of 1730)
LCD-X: The music from the violin is very lively and is very real. I can feel the emotions and feelings of the musician. The sound from the violin is very sweet, smooth and is extremely pleasant to hear. The background is very clean.
HD-800: The violin is not as sweet as LCD-X though not far off due to a bit increase in overall pitch. If there is no head to head comparison with LCD-X I may not be able to spot the difference.
HE-500: The violin is not as lively and pleasant to hear. The presentation is a bit dull.
Verdict: I love the presentation of the 1730 “Balakvoc Fredman” violin from LCD-X but HE-800 is not far off.
The result of the above comparison is just my impression on the performance of three different CANs using Hifiman EF-5 as their amplifier bearing in mind that the frequency response of the ears of individual is not of the same. Different people will have their own impression and preferences on how a piece of music is being presented.
In conclusion it is hard to come to a very definite conclusion that LCD-X and HE-800 are better than HE-500 noting that the price tags of the three CANs are very different. They are of different leagues. From personal likings I will use LCD-X for jazz, blues and vocals while HD800 mostly on classical music in particular on orchestral music. Well the HE-500 will be for general leisure listening.