Teak wood darkens over time regardless, though :D
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I would say the HE-560 take a step back from the lushness of the HE-500 and 400 and, consequently, are more akin to the HE-4 and HE-6.
The 4 and 6 were already similar in that they are clean and mostly linear (the 4s have a U-shaped response by comparison, though).
The 560 fall in the same category: clean and linear vs. lush and romantic (HE-x00).
Now, due to the U-shaped response, the HE-4 has somewhat recessed mid-range, a bit like the TH-600 (fuller still). The HE-560's mid-range is fuller and more in line with the rest of the spectrum, like the HE-6.
Let's say they fall between the HE-4 and HE-6 in most departments but are closer to the HE-6 in terms of overall technicalities - and even slightly superior to the later at imaging and treble evenness.
I, indeed, think it is the natural upgrade of the HE-4 (fast and detailed) with more refinement and a more neutral sound.
It sounds very good balanced. I can run balanced from the 901 or from the RSA, The Lightning.
It's not just the raw weight though, but also the perceived weight, which is much lighter with the new line of Hifimans because of the new suspension headband.
I use the cable for the HE-6 which I balanced and have a connector so I can use any end, one for the RSA amps, TRRS, or anything else. I do all my cable this way so I can go with any balanced amp or single ended.
I love the way the 560's do guitar, well everything but there is an exciting reality to the sound.
Just got back from Tokyo Headphone festival which took place on 5/11. The planar magnetic technology was the hottest topic this time. Fostex bought the cover commercial of the brochure and spread the image of their new planar TH-500RP to any places you can see; HiFiMAN had their show stands printed with the images of HE560 and HE-400i and attracted everyone's eyes; OPPO paired their PM-1 with their headphone amplifier/DAC and BD/SACD player, looked as fancy as you can imagine.
Now let's talk about the sound: In my opinion, the least impressive is OPPO PM-1, although the industry design is top notch. PM-1 has a "thick" sound signature. I feel that the mids is sometimes over saturated. the bass is full and bold but not well defined. The weakest part of PM-1 is in the highs. I picked a SACD "Die Fledermaus" conducted by Carlos Kleiber, and I was suprised that the sound is so muddy, the brilliance of the strings on the Wiener Phihlarmoniker totally disappeared. It's just like you are listening to an old LP instead of a well transferred SACD. After the end of the overture, I switched to another Japanese popular album. The female voice sounded smooth, but not well focused. Another drawback is the soundstage. It just feels like that PM-1 didn't catch any magic all other planar headphones are able to produce.
HE-560 of HiFiMAN on the other hand is the total opposite. The industry design is still no match with the top dogs, but the sound is simply terrific. I think this is the widest and deepest sound stage you can find on a planar headphone. The sound is very sophisticated just like the velvet. You can feel the air arounds every instruments and the singer, even the smallest noise made by the members of the orchestra when they touching the score can be revealed. The bass is not as deep as a properly-driven HE-6 (what is?). it sounds slightly softer, but still goes plenty deep, tons of details and never interfere the mids. The highs is very impressive, it's so airy and never let you feel uncomfortable. The most important is, the HE-560 is so life-like and musical, the illusion of a famous singer standing before you appears every time you wear the headphone and close your eyes. One STAX addicted guy sitting beside me told the staff on the booth that the sound of HE-560 surpasses 007 and only beaten by 009.
The Fostex TH-500RP sounds "pretty", that means it features a traditional Japanese sound. The highs is very transparent(but sometimes slightly brighter than i like), the mids is a little pale and the bass is quick. It's hard to say I like it or not, sometimes I think this is too artificial, but the beauty of the sound is still attractive. I've been told that the demo on the booth is the "final prototype", so maybe there will be some slight change on the official releasing.
i am tired of people saying hifiman cans are not well made. my he-6 and he-500 are tanks. and they are beautiful and they are very good sounding cans. in fact the competition is starting to tune their planar cans to sound more like hifiman, to have more clarity...
ultimately it is all about sound. and hifiman is all about sound. i hope fang will surprise us with an he-6 successor soon enough. i am still waiting for my he-560. my Canadian dealer in montreal has no news.
Should have gotten them direct :D. It cost about 40$ for shipping + duty and took 3 days to get them. I'm in Montreal too.