Originally Posted by AgentXXL
OK, they're here!
After my initial 20 minutes of listening (I know, far less than the recommended 150 hrs of burn-in, but hey!), here are my initial impressions:
- overall construction and fit/finish are very nice - my wood veneers match in color and I can't find any defects so far
- definitely reminiscent of my listening sessions with the HE-500, but certainly a more open soundstage (width)
- bass is well defined and certainly seems to have fantastic impact, but need to listen balanced to truly compare with the HD800s
- overall, very comfortable to wear - the lighter weight is certainly a big bonus - my neck would fatigue after 2 hours with the HE-500, but I can tell these will go MUCH longer
- love the cable that it ships with - very light and flexible
- the pads seal around my ears much tighter than my HD800s and as such I notice sweating quite quickly - this may change after the pads wear-in
- although the cable is well built, I find it too short for my liking - I'm working on a replacement balanced cable right now, so we'll see how they sound with my OCC cable once done
- definitely not the prettiest to look at when wearing... thankfully the visual esthetics are the least important - sonic qualities are what count!
That's enough for now and obviously are only my initial impressions. So far though, things bode well and I'm pretty pleased with the addition of the 560s to my collection. We'll see how I feel once my balanced cable is put into use and they've had significantly more burn-in time.
I'm quoting myself as I've now had about 12 hours of additional listening on the HE-560s, and about 10 of those hours using a balanced cable. While my comments above indicated I was initially pleased with them, all I can say now is WOW!!
With the balanced cable I'm really having a great time listening to them! I've tried doing some more comparison with my HD800s (using the same source, DAC and balanced amp) but the lure of the extra bass on the HE-560s has me spending more time with them. Obviously part of that is the 'new toy syndrome', but I'm really enjoying them immensely. I've always enjoyed listening to the extra bass on the older HE-500 when at meets or when using a friend's pair, but something about the fact that these are MINE make me enjoy it even more! I guess it's because I can now pull them out and listen to music that benefits from the extra bass ANYTIME I want. I still prefer my HD800s for classical, instrumental and jazz. I've now spent a lot of time listening to vocalists and the HE-560 is easily as enjoyable as my HD800s. I will admit that my HD800s could benefit from some better amplification (I really enjoy them with the Bryston BHA-1), but the HE-560s are really well driven from my Cypher Labs Algorythm Solo -dB DAC and the Ray Samuels Audio Intruder. I'm using Amarra on my Macbook Pro to feed the DAC, and the balanced output of the DAC to feed the Intruder. I've enjoyed this combination with my HD800s for the last year but I know that the HD800s sound better (and offer more bass) when driven by better amplification like the BHA-1.
Thankfully the higher sensitivity of the HE-560s makes them easily driven by the CLAS -dB/Intruder combo. I'm not noticing anything in the mid-treble range that bothers me, so I guess my hearing isn't bothered by the apparent 4KHz bump that's shown in the measurements. I'm not really noticing any change in the way the HE-560 sounds, but I'm nowhere near the recommended 150 hrs of burn-in (more likely brain-burn as I get accustomed to the signature). I've never really been much of a believer in burn-in but I do believe your brain and hearing can/will adapt over time and let you hear things that you originally didn't. Yes, it's possible that mechanical movement can/will change the signature, but with the solid feel of the HE-560 build, I doubt that 150 hrs of use will alter anything mechanically. It's more likely that after 150 hrs of use, and especially now that I'm driving them balanced, my hearing will adjust and let me notice the nuances of the HE-560s.
Too bad we just had a local Head-Fi meet last weekend - I would have loved to try the HE-560s on a Bryston BHA-1 (which was at the meet) and see if they change in sound like my HD800s do. I may just have to go by the local Bryston dealer and spend some time in the showroom with my Macbook, DAC and then alternate between my Intruder and the BHA-1. I'm also going to have to look into something like the Fiio headphone switcher (no longer sold) so that I can more quickly do an A/B comparison between the HE-560 and HD800. It takes me under a minute to switch headsets and cables, but a nice switch that is neutral would make the task much easier. That said, I'm very convinced that I'll be keeping the HE-560s for a LONG time, as will I with my HD800s.
One thing I will say to users debating between the HE-560 and the HD800 is that you can't go wrong starting off with the HE-560. Then if you find them not to your liking, you'll be able to easily resell them and use the funds towards an HD800 (or other) purchase. Even with my limited time evaluating the HE-560s, I'm certain they are a fantastic value at the $899 MSRP, especially compared to the $1599 MSRP of the HD800s.Give them 6 months or so and the street price might drop lower, but they're worth the MSRP in my mind.
More comments to come after more time with them...