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= HiFiMAN HE-560 Impressions & Discussion Thread =

post #1 of 5785
Thread Starter 

HiFiMAN HE-560 Impressions & Discussion











Initial Impressions & Reviews (Links; chronological)


Test Prototype HE560:

HE-560 review (Edwood)

HE-560 review & comparison with HE-500/400 (Jerg)

HE-560 initial impressions / full review (HeadphoneAddict)

6moons.com early review

HE-560 vs HD800, & vs LCD3 / Code-X to a lesser degree (Jerg)


Preorder HE560:

HE-560 Impressions/Mini-review (stjj89)

headfonia.com first impressions

HE-560 impressions (tinyman392)

HE-560 impressions (JustinBieber)

HE-560 impressions (krumme)

HE-560 vs Oppo PM1 vs Fostex TH500RP show impressions (blankdisc)

HE-560 vs Oppo PM1 impressions / comparisons (smellyfungus)

HE-560 impressions (TMRaven)

Techpowerup.com review




Production HE560:

HE-560 vs Audeze LCD-X vs Oppo PM1 (TMRaven)

HE-500 review (JustinBieber)

HE-560 Impressions (MattTCG)

HE-560 impressions (buffer)

HE-500 Impressions (DVass13)

6moons.com appended review








HE560, Focus-A (older) hybrid earpads


Frequency response + Harmonic Distortion

Cumulative Spectral Decay (Waterfall plot)



HE560, Focus (newer) hybrid earpads


Frequency response + Harmonic Distortion

Cumulative Spectral Decay (Waterfall plot)







Production HE560 review




Test prototype review

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)




Much thanks to Hifiman & Dr. Fang Bian for giving a few of us this opportunity to check out the HE-560 early.


Being an avid modder, this is definitely one of the most welcoming new headphone line revamps I’ve seen in recent years with regards to ergonomics and design. Just as important is of course the sound.


Build & Ergonomics


Wooden cups:

The (Teak) wood is cut and milled quite precisely, and the surface seems to be minimally treated (no glossy lacquer / varnish or anything) and well-polished. It feels like a very durable wood in hand. Visually it is a relatively subdued look as far as wooden headphone cups go, I like it. I’m not sure if in the long term I need to maintain this with wood care products; AFAIK teak wood is a very rugged wood even without care/maintenance.




I am very impressed with how these new earpads turned out. There are two main implementations which draw parallel to my Jergpad mod, that being 1. Velour top-covers, and 2. Proper internal damping.


The velour top-cover element is a substantial boost to comfort; it appears to be a softer / finer velour fabric than the past Hifiman velour pads too. Also it is natively implemented, which means that it is foam rather than a layer of pleather underneath it. As for internal damping, a highly permeable meshy fabric is used for the undersides of the earpads, which is functionally equivalent/better relative to my mod where a series of holes were cut into the vinyl material on the undersides of the older earpads.


The foam used inside is incredibly soft, much softer than the foams in the older pleather/velour earpads.


The geometry of these new earpads is also well thought-out. It is medium in thickness with a slight (~10 degree) angling. The thicker back parts are ~2.5cm thick, while the thinner front section is ~1.6cm thick. This slight angling allows the earpads to form more naturally to the sides of the face. I will note though that these are substantially thicker than the older pleather earpads, and from my experience thicker earpads tend to sound less intimate yet more open compared to thinner earpads, as such these present a different earpad tonality.


Overall the comfort level (as a combination of the soft internal foam, the velour top, and the slight angling) of these earpads is as good as I’ve experienced with any headphone earpads. It’s almost “disappears on the head” level, but not quite (I don’t think any earpads could achieve that with conventional materials).




Feels and looks well-assembled and very utilitarian. I can see that a massive amount of weight is shaved off with this new headband compared to the old. The fragile joints of the old HFM headbands at the logo areas are no longer present here. I will say though, that it is a bit squeaky, and the plastics used aren’t as hardy as I’d like.


In terms of comfort though, the new headband nails it. The headphone sort of disappears on my head after about 5 minutes of wearing it; properly-implemented suspension strap IS, indeed, the way to go for ultimate headphone ergonomics.




The cable connectors (still SMC type) are moved about 20 degrees forward, and this helps immensely with getting the cables away from the shoulders, which is a subtle but much-appreciated ergonomic improvement. The cables themselves are “A premium cable ... comprised of Crystalline metal with Oxygen-free copper and silver”, to quote the official press release notes from Hifiman; I will stand politically correct and not comment on how the cable sounds for now.





Sound Quality & Characteristics



PC –(USB)-> Audio-GD NFB-11.32 DAC/preamp –(RCA)-> Hifiman EF-6 amp –(6.5mm stereo out / XLR unbalanced out)-> Headphone



Summary of characteristics:

Extremely neutral overall tonal balance.


(updated Apr. 10, 2014) Bass is extremely tight and extended, with excellent physicality and tactility to it. One of the few headphones that give me physical sensation of bass without being "one-note-y". 


Bass/lower mids is fast-sounding, without too much reverberant/lushness qualities to it; not dry either (after some burn-in***)


Bass->mids transition is completely smooth and boundary-less.


Upper midrange is very coherent and full especially apparent in vocal music, not forward or laid-back, though there seems to be a slight up-tilt followed by dip at the upper mids / lower treble boundary region (~5kHz), it isn't very apparent in music though.


(updated Apr. 10, 2014) Treble is smooth and well-extended, with a slight up-tilt going from mid toward upper treble, and extension only starts dropping off around 15000 Hz – attributes to a very airy treble. May be a tad fatiguing to people who favour the darker sound signatures (like HE500 or Audezes), but neutral-favouring users will like this. It is a VERY fast treble, which translates to a ton of micro-detail in music (i.e. the subtle cues of things touching / smacking of lips / physical nature of instruments being played are apparent).


3D imaging is exceptional, due to the level of airiness as well as good instrument separation; audio cues in music can be easily located and placed. Best of all, the "away from the head" placement of sounds is very convincing.


Dynamics are powerful, almost too powerful for my taste (I like more laid-back sound signatures); certain orchestral or acoustic instrument solo soundtracks that start off quiet and get insanely loud in a few minutes, which is not something I'm used to from using my HE500s. I won't lie, it could also partially be a consequence of the neutrality and more energy in the presence region of the midrange. But it is definitely also a consequence of the fast transients (next point).


Tactility/transients are fast; I don't know if it's a consequence of the single-ended magnetic array design or diaphragm tension, but these are very agile and articulate right out of the box, complex passages of music are handled exceptionally. And it's not just bass or treble either, midrange is also clear and very "quick".


The background is quite black, about on par with HE500s which are known for that quality.


Soundstage is quite wide, but not as deep (forward/backward projection). It is still satisfactory in gaming though mostly due to the high precision of its 3D imaging and layering.



***Notes on burn-in:

I've always found burn-in to do different things (or nothing) to different headphones, my belief is that it depends on the specifics of the drivers and how much the diaphragm may or may not need settling after they are freshly assembled. In this particular instance, out of the box the demo unit HE560 didn't have as much oomph below 200 Hz as I'd have liked, but after a while (oh about 50 hrs of use + burn-in time, and climbing) the bass in particular definitely fleshes out more. On the other hand things like midrange or treble don't seem to change at all, nor do other traits and attributes I described above.

And this is a separate improvement to what I did to the baffles, when I did that it did not change anything except nudge out a little more extension below 30 Hz. The burn-in didn't improve sub-bass extension, but instead on the overall bass range dynamics and impact.


Subjective frequency response:




Comparisons with HE-500 & HE-400:

(updated Apr. 10, 2014) HE560's bass is as extended as HE500, as punchy/impactful as HE400, and is tighter and more articulate than both the predecessors.




Caveats & strengths:








Interesting Observations & Photos


HE-560 drivers

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)







- Work in progress - 

Edited by jerg - 7/20/14 at 12:29am
post #2 of 5785
Thread Starter 

Thought that I might as well make a thread for this headphone, now that a few of us are getting test sample units very very soon (within the next 2~3 days).

post #3 of 5785

ohh this should be good :popcorn:

post #4 of 5785

Yey! Let the official awesomness begin!


Here is how professionals eat popcorn


post #5 of 5785



Honest. Objective. That's the goal here. :wink_face:

post #6 of 5785


post #7 of 5785
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Nimzerz View Post



Honest. Objective. That's the goal here. :wink_face:

Kind of why I included a "Caveats and strengths" section in the SQ part of the first post. I don't anticipate this as being somehow a landslide win in terms of performance compared to past HFMs.

post #8 of 5785
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

Kind of why I included a "Caveats and strengths" section in the SQ part of the first post. I don't anticipate this as being somehow a landslide win in terms of performance compared to past HFMs.

Glad to hear that. Keep up the good work Jerg :)

post #9 of 5785

Subbed :popcorn:



Also, please discuss the cable (strength, flexibility, durability, sound, prone to tangle, connector style). This is actually a big deal to me this time around with Hifiman. Don't want to have to be forced into buying an upgrade cable right off the bat.

post #10 of 5785

Alright, a fresh thread! WHOOO :L3000: 

Edit 3/27/14:

Originally Posted by jerg View Post


I took an earpad off though, looks to be a fair bit of changes to the mounting ring as well as the driver baffle ring, and the driver is indeed single-ended with the magnets on the outer face (much like HE4).



Originally Posted by jerg View Post

I think I'm gonna take a driver out of the cup from the earpad side, since I can't take the grills off. Photo in abit...





So 8 bars of magnets on a single side, the grid pattern looks the same as what's used on HE500/6. The screws are not screwed into wood but into a hidden metal ring.

There's definitely more surface area on the diaphragm compared to the HE4. More magnet arrays as well. As light as the HE4 now, I wonder how much weight the headband would shave. Possibly get the HE4 down to 310-320 grams?


Edited by Soundsgoodtome - 3/27/14 at 9:47pm
post #11 of 5785
Wonder how the wood will hold up, hope its solid unlike some lcd2s and earlier hifimans.
post #12 of 5785

Looking forward to reading as the impressions start to come in.

post #13 of 5785
Can't wait for the early impressions.
post #14 of 5785
Also waiting for a comparison with HE6.
post #15 of 5785

Subbed.. this should be even more exciting than Apple or Samsung next release.

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