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= HiFiMAN HE-560 Impressions & Discussion Thread = - Page 123

post #1831 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post
 

Here it is, un-editorialized off-my-head thoughts from the private meet today. I'll also quote it in first post because it's probably gonna be helpful info in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had both a ss (PWDmk2 -> Burson conductor) and a tube (PWDmk2 -> Eddie Current 2A3mk4) setup going.

 

The bulk of my comparisons were with HE560 vs HD800; so I’ll briefly go over how the other two (LCD3 and Code-X) felt in comparison first.

 

 

LCD3

 

LCD3 is extremely detailed and smooth (as much overall detail as HD800 despite a 10 dB difference in upper mids ~ all of treble), but the bass is slow and lacks impact (instead, it is enveloping), the tonal balance also bothers me a bit, the upper end is de-emphasized enough to for everything to feel distant and faded-off.

 

I felt HE560 was as detailed though a tad more raw in the treble, with a significantly more engaging balance, and IMO superior bass (the impact is substantially more solid, and everything is faster/tighter with the bass, texture/articulation are on par).

 

There was also a weird soundstage phenomenon with LCD3, where the suction of the earpads create a sort of bubbled-in effect, which is not with HE560 (soundstage is utterly open and projective outward without boundaries).

 

 

Code-X

 

I didn’t listen to Code-X as much, because I couldn’t get a comfortable fit with the earpads, it still sealed well though so the sonic impressions should be accurate. These stood out to me as having incredibly black background and very fast transients (as fast if not faster than HE560!), and the tonal balance is really neutral, so much so that I couldn’t even detect a describable sound signature.

 

I found HE560 to be more immediate and engaging to listen to though, some musical cues felt a bit distanced with Code-X (which may or may not be what one prefers, just I value musical engagement a lot). I need more time to listen to Code-X next time as this may only be a case of not becoming accustomed to a foreign sound signature. These Code-X's are by far the most speaker-like sounding thing of the bunch though.

 

 

HD800

 

HD800 vs HE560 was a highly interesting comparison, and we had some fun arguments regarding it when we compared the two. Upon critical listening, I found HD800 to still have the greatest amount of treble microdetail extraction (better than anything else), meaning things like the texture of the strings in a violin piece, or rasp of a voice in a vocal piece, but HE560s are surprisingly close in this regard.

 

Midrange-wise I actually prefer the HE560 to the HD800, as the latter felt comparatively a bit too diffused and lacking in cohesiveness/solidarity, which is again very apparent with good violin/vocal tracks I tested with; both had excellent midrange transparency and were not fuzzy at all.

 

With regards to the bass, IMO HE560 is better, in two regards: 1) the impact/kick is much more physical and visceral, and 2) for my preferences, the "bass : everything else" balance is better with HE560.

 

Elaborating on point 1), the test track was ‘Percussion Imaging Test’ from the album Open Your Ears, and while the HD800 rendered the various percussion and drum impacts with authority and plenty of transient detail, with HE560 the impacts felt REAL, like my ears felt the sudden changes in sound pressure with the instruments being played in real life beside me.

 

On point 2), the test track was ‘Flight’ from the album Man of Steel Soundtrack, and near the final quarter of the track there is a ramp-up in the music from complete quietness leading to a crescendo with tons of drum / brass / other orchestral instruments going off at once, and it was here that I felt HD800’s genre limitations, as I tried to get the volume where the drum impacts were decent, but as a consequence the treble at the peak of the cescendo almost wrecked my ears, meanwhile HE560’s balance handled that bit to perfection, where nothing overshadows anything and everything (from the drums to the brass) was at the boundary of pain threshold at the crescendo, without crossing that boundary. I think that’s a true test of balance and versatility, and HE560 shined in this regard.

 

Soundstage-wise HD800 is a head and shoulder ahead of all the orthos, not much to say there. In terms of 3D imaging / pinpoint precision, I thought Code-X was on par with HD800, with HE560 following close, then followed by LCD3 and then HE500.

 

The owner of the HD800 (who hosted the meet) much preferred the HD800 still, I think partly because his genre tastes are more specific and as such the relative strengths of the HD800 outweighed the relative strengths of the HE560 for him. I listen to everything though, and especially for epic soundtrack music as well as synthetic genres with bass, HE560 is a no-brainer.

 

 

Misc and loose thoughts

 

Funnily enough, my uber-modded HE500 was thought as the most emotionally engaging headphone there, despite its relative lack of technical finesse. It synergized fantastically with the 2A3mk4 and presented this beautiful albeit ever-so-slightly-coloured sound signature.

 

Overall it was a very insightful experience, being able to compare these cans without constraints in time or background noise, on these great setups. I felt that HE560 is powerful enough in technical performance to trade blows with the other flagships, yet the tonal balance is IMO the most versatile, by far. It’s not easy to have both balance versatility and mastery in technicalities, modding HE500 came close, but not quite. Code-X got it down to a tee, with even better technical performance than HE560, though the presentation is different. 

 

Edit:

 

Forgot to mention, in terms of comfort? I expected HD800 to be much better than HE560 but no, I actually find the new Hifiman to be more comfortable than HD800 slightly! (HD800’s conventional headband is still less weight-distributing than the HE560 suspension headband, and HD800’s earpads were a bit too thin and I felt a bit of localized pressure along my cheeks, while HE560 earpads just sort of melt around my ears without any localized pressure). Other headphones were so-so in comfort, except LCD3 which was unfortunately very unpleasant to wear, with a massive blistering hotspot on the tip of the headband, and the earpads create this suction effect that is off-putting, to say the least.


How do vocals compare on these phones.  I listen a lot to folk and Broadway -- and some opera.

post #1832 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxx134 View Post

Although you may not have any experience with other gear.

Your observation remains valid.

It is a key trait to look for in evaluating on any gear..

Lower volume needed for listening satisfaction,

is always a sign of superiority in the item.

This. 
Well, gear being good for lower volume listening might carry bad traits when turning up the volume, mainly by being fatiguing because the treble (and bass) will seem increased at higher volumes relative to the mid-range. I'm not saying it's the case here.
post #1833 of 17297

After about two days of listening to these, here are my impressions/mini-review!

 

Do note that:

  • This is my first ever audio equipment review after years of reading these forums.
  • These are the highest-end headphones I have owned to date. Headphones I have owned or currently own include the Sony MDR-V6, (woodied) Grado SR60i, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80 ohms, Sennheiser HD598, and the HiFiMAN HE-400 (with jergpads).
  • These headphones have not seen more than 48 hours of use, so the full extent of burn-in effects (if you believe they exist) might not have set in yet.

 

Now, onto my humble impressions/review!

 

Hardware used

PC (foobar2k) => Aune T1 DAC/AMP w/ Amperex 7308 White Label Tube => HE-560

 

Packaging

The HE-560 came nicely packaged in an awesome wooden box. The cover of the box slides apart to the side, and is covered with a nice shiny metal plate with the HiFiMAN logo and model number on it. The headphone itself was nested comfortably inside in a foam mould. I was very impressed with the packaging, though I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with the box since my headphones will always be sitting on my headphone stand!

 

 

 

The travel case that came with the pre-order is nice, but the foam mould inside was designed for older HE models and does not fit the HE-560 perfectly. The HE-560 will still fit, but the top of the case will be pressing against the headband/suspension band. I wrote into HiFiMAN about this and they confirmed that the travel case was indeed meant for older HE models and a new one specifically for the new HE models might be released at a later date.

 

 

 

Build

The HE-560 is built very nicely, and is a marked improvement from the HE-400 that I previously owned. The headband design is the first and most obvious improvement. The suspended headband fits very nicely on my head, and distributes the weight of the headphone perfectly. The headband adjustment mechanism, while plasticy in appearance, feels very sturdy and snaps very assuringly onto one of the 7-8 notches. I like this a lot more than the smooth sliding mechanism on Grado and previous HiFiMAN HE models and it prevents any accidental adjustment to the headband while wearing them. The gimbals are now made of smooth, matte plastic instead of metal. They look and feel nice and match nicely with the overall aesthetic of the headphone. The headphone cups can also be rotated smoothly to fit the contour of your head, making it even easier to find a perfect fit on these.

 

 

 

The teak wood cups look great and add a touch of understated class to these headphones. I actually think they look a lot better in real life than in pictures. The headphone cable connectors are now slightly angled forward, which means that the cables will hang nicely in front of your shoulders when worn and will fit better on some headphone stands. I noticed some minor flaws in my wood cups after closely inspecting the sides and inner portions of the cups (see pictures). I wrote into HiFiMAN about these, and they responded promptly (on the weekend!) offering to do a full exchange for these small cosmetic flaws. What more, they offered to ship me a replacement first before having me return my current pair so that I wouldn't be left hanging without headphones for a few days. That's what I call customer service! Apart from these minor cosmetic flaws, I have am very pleased with the wood cups.

 

 

The included cable rubber coated and terminates to a 6.5mm Neutrik connector. I really appreciate the sensible length of this cable--it is the perfect length for my desktop PC audio setup. I also really appreciate the sturdy Y splitter which looks and feels like it is built to last. My only reservation with the build of the cable is the rubber coating. If these are anything like my HE-400 cable, I might expect the rubber coating to split open at some point in the future. I am hoping that the angle connector design will make this less likely since the base of the wire no longer presses that hard against the base of my headphone stand.

 

 

The new HiFiMAN pads are made of a soft pleather and topped with a layer of velour. The pads are also very slightly angled, which allows them to conform more naturally to the contour of your head. I find the pads very comfortable and snug. Note that the two pads you get are identical (a HiFiMAN rep confirmed this), so the cross-stitch line on them will not line up when you put them on in the proper orientation on both cups. My only qualm about these is that the stitching does not seem particularly consistent or polished--the stitch line goes off the circular shape of the pads at one part of my pads. This slight imprecision in stitching probably explains why some areas along the circumference of the velour "top" look very slightly frayed. However, these issues are entirely cosmetic and do not affect the function of the pads at all.

 

 

Comfort

I find these headphones extremely comfortable to wear. The headband distributes weight very well, and I do not detect any "hotspots" forming after hours of wearing them. The velour pads feel good against the side of my head, even though they might be slightly unpleasant to wear in hot weather or after physical activity because they trap heat. The clamping force is just right--you get a good seal without feeling much pressure on the sides of your head. I have what many consider a larger head, so I expect these headphones to be equally, if not more comfortable for the average person. My ears are quite large  and very slightly touch the edge of the headphone pad opening. This causes me very mild irritation after awhile if I don't precisely center my ears in the pads, but I do not find this to be a big issue. As jerg noted, these openings are the same size as the previous HiFiMAN pads, and are actually deeper. If you have no problems with the previous HiFiMAN pads, you will most probably not have any problems with these.

 

Sound Quality

I would describe the sound from the HE-560 as neutral but engaging. I've actually never owned a pair of "neutral" headphones before, and based on my experiences auditioning other headphones labelled "neutral" (e.g. HD800, Alpha Dogs), I was prepared not to like these. However, I was pleasantly surprised after putting these and playing the live version of Hotel California on the Eagle's Hell Freezes Over album. Treble was rendered beautifully with just enough sparkle, vocals were smooth and not recessed, and the bass was tight and impactful. Indeed, the HE-560 didn't play up any frequency range more than it should, yet it did not sound boring. On the contrary, it was exciting and engaging, and everything sounded "just right". 

 

I was actually very surprised by the bass performance of the HE-560--it is extremely controlled and textured, and punches hard when it needs to. I primarily listen to Classic/Instrumental Rock, Hip-hop, and very bassy electronic music (e.g. Trap and Dubstep), and the HE-560's bass performance excels in each of these genres. When playing rock, the bass is present, controlled, and textured, but never overwhelming or muddy. On some tracks like Hotel California and Cliffs of Dover, the bass is rendered with such control and texture that I can actually imagine the drumsticks hitting the membrane of the drums themselves. Switch over to some Trap like Ookay's Oorah (Cosenza Remix) and get a tight, deeply extended, prominent bass with great visceral impact. I even tried EQ-ing up the bass for electronic music, and the result was even more bass quantity, but slightly less control and texture. Definitely very satisfying solution if you're looking for an LCD-2-like rumble on electronic music. The texture of the HE-560's bass reminds me of that on the Alpha Dog, only that the HE-560's bass has way more quantity and impact. If I remember correctly, the HE-560's outputs just as much if not very slightly less bass than my HE-400, but outclasses it in texture and control. Overall, I expect the bass of the HE-560 (without EQ) will satisfy both bassheads and clarity freaks alike.

 

I'm actually not sure how to describe the treble and mid-range performance of these headphones other than that they are "just nice" and "good". Treble is definitely present, well-extended and sparkly, and vocals are strings are smooth and coherent. A part of me wishes for a slightly more intimate, forward mid-range presentation (like with the HE-500) to make vocals even more engaging, but I am certainly pleased with the tonal balance of these headphones. Based on my experiences auditioning the LCD-2 and LCD-3, the HE-560 is definitely brighter, and have more detailed, extended, and exciting treble performance (which suits my preferences way more).

 

These headphones are also very detailed and transparent. I am definitely picking out small details in tracks I've heard many times that I have not heard before with the HE-560. Moreover, differences in my source and amplification chain are way more noticeable with these headphones than they have ever been before. With my previous cans, tube rolling on my Aune T1 only made a minor difference. With the HE-560, I could immediately pick up the differences between the tubes (Russian 6N23P-EB, Voskhod Rocket Logo, and Amperex 7308) I had on hand. I imagine these will scale up well to higher end amplification and source components.

 

The imaging on the HE-560 is great. Compared to the woodied Grado SR60i that I have been living with for the past month or so, these are leagues ahead. Instruments are very clearly and precisely placed. The soundstage on these is good--it is wider than it is deep, and is large enough to immerse me in the music. However, I am not particularly impressed by the size of soundstage of the HE-560 compared to other headphones I have tried before. This might just be a result of me expecting too much or the limitations of my humble Aune T1, and I imagine that my impressions might change when I have a chance to try these side-by-side with other headphones and with higher end amplification and source components.

 

Conclusion

Overall, the HE-560 is an amazing headphone that I am very glad to have purchased. It is comfortable, well-built, beautiful, and sounds great. It performs well at any genre of music (that I listen to) that I throw at it, and manages to present a balanced, neutral sound signature that is still exciting and engaging. I could put these on and listen to them all day. Big ups to HiFiMAN for delivering another quality product and for the excellent, responsive customer service!

 


Edited by stjj89 - 5/4/14 at 6:47am
post #1834 of 17297
Quote:

My only quip about these is that the stitching does not seem particularly consistent or polished--the stitch line goes off the circular shape of the pads at one part of my pads. This slight imprecision in stitching probably explains why some areas along the circumference of the velour "top" look very slightly frayed. However, these issues are entirely cosmetic and do not affect the function of the pads at all.

 

This is what i was talking about :). The non circular stitching :). Thanks for the great impression you got there


Edited by Ultracer - 5/4/14 at 2:15am
post #1835 of 17297
^Thank you, great review!
post #1836 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by stjj89 View Post
 

 

 

Is the velour stitched over pleather at the ear contact rim or is it just sponge under the velour ear trim ?

post #1837 of 17297

Thanks stjj89...nice review. 

post #1838 of 17297

Ouch, I was about to upgrade and buy a LCD-2 really soon, but the first few things I'm hearing from you guys are making me question my choice. Looking at the few mini-reviews/comparisons I'm reading in this thread all af you seem to prefer the HE560 to the LCD-2. Am I mistaken?

 

For the lucky few that tried both the LCD2 and the HE560, in your opinion which one has the "best" bass (ie which one do you prefer). Yes, I really care about bass :)

 

I own a pair of HE400 (with Jergpads :)) that I really enjoy (mostly listening to EDM) and I was supposed to upgrade to a LCD-2 in the next few days, but you're starting to make me question my choice...

 

I do know that it's mostly a matter of opinion but I'd still be interested to have yours.

 

Thanks and congrats for those first reviews, some really interesting stuff!

post #1839 of 17297

HE-400 to LCD2 won't be too much of an upgrade to bass.

post #1840 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post
 

HE-400 to LCD2 won't be too much of an upgrade to bass.

 

 

Well I don't care only about bass. All around LCD-2 are still supposed to be miles ahead of the HE-400. It's just that I really like tight, impactful bass considering the main type of music I listen to.

 

Also every review I've ever read insisted on the fact that the LCD-2 where the undisputed bass "masters".


Edited by LunarBear - 5/4/14 at 6:45am
post #1841 of 17297

They're only miles ahead of the HE-400 if you like a more linear type of sound signature.  They will have far more present upper midrange, and a more in-line treble, although it's still a little recessed.  

 

Irregardless of signature, they're only a marginal upgrade from the HE-400.  Diminishing returns really kick in.

post #1842 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post
 

They're only miles ahead of the HE-400 if you like a more linear type of sound signature.  They will have far more present upper midrange, and a more in-line treble, although it's still a little recessed.  

 

Irregardless of signature, they're only a marginal upgrade from the HE-400.  Diminishing returns really kick in.

 

Are they? I absolutely respect your opinion -especially since I've never tried the LCD-2 (I know it's a shame but I can't where I live)- but that's not really the feeling I've had reading and digesting many reviews/opinions on the HE400/HE500 and the Audeze. I'm also pretty suprised that diminishing returns already kick in, I thought they would on higher-end headphones, but HE-400 are still pretty low/mid tier compared to the LCD-2 which are often compared to the Stax and other ultra high end cans. 

 

Still, it's not really the matter at hand, I'm more interested in a LCD-2 / HE-560 comparison right now :)


Edited by LunarBear - 5/4/14 at 6:56am
post #1843 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by LunarBear View Post
 

Ouch, I was about to upgrade and buy a LCD-2 really soon, but the first few things I'm hearing from you guys are making me question my choice. Looking at the few mini-reviews/comparisons I'm reading in this thread all af you seem to prefer the HE560 to the LCD-2. Am I mistaken?

 

For the lucky few that tried both the LCD2 and the HE560, in your opinion which one has the "best" bass (ie which one do you prefer). Yes, I really care about bass :)

 

I own a pair of HE400 (with Jergpads :)) that I really enjoy (mostly listening to EDM) and I was supposed to upgrade to a LCD-2 in the next few days, but you're starting to make me question my choice...

 

I do know that it's mostly a matter of opinion but I'd still be interested to have yours.

 

Thanks and congrats for those first reviews, some really interesting stuff!

 

I have auditioned the LCD-2 a few times, and my impression is that the LCD-2 has more bass quantity than the HE-400 and HE-560, though the bass is not as tight and controlled. On the setup that I tried the LCD-2 on, its bass has a lot of rumble and presence, but was somewhat loose and did not have the texture or visceral impact that I was expecting from a headphone so renown for its bass performance. Also, the LCD-2 had a noticeable treble roll-off that really took away from the clarity and sparkle of some instruments (e.g. cymbals) in rock music. I really like a brighter treble presentation for the types of music I listen to as it makes the music sound more exciting to me, so I definitely found the dark LCD-2 to be lacking in that regard.

 

Do not that these observations might have to do with the sources and amplification I used during my auditions; I am not sure how different the LCD-2 would sound on a different setup. Hope these impressions help you in making your decision! I myself upgraded to the HE-560 from the HE-400, and was also considering the LCD-2, so I totally understand the situation you are in. I think you might be able to find some other LCD comparisons on this thread if you search through it too (e.g. jerg's very recent comparison to the LCD-3).

post #1844 of 17297
People. Don't quote an entire long post. Just reference the post in your comment, or edit the quote itself so it doesn't take forever to scroll through.

Moving on, this is the first time I've heard of the code x. I don't know how that happened. And now they may be pretty hard to acquire. Love to hear one.
post #1845 of 17297
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lohb View Post
 

Is the velour stitched over pleather at the ear contact rim or is it just sponge under the velour ear trim ?

 

I really can't say for sure without dissecting the pads myself!

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