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Over-Ear item created by h-hatami, Apr 10, 2014
Pros - Sound quality, Build quality, Overall balanced sound
Cons - Weight, but can be mitigated with added pad on the head band
Source: all lossless AIFF Files through ITunes, connected to DAC via asynchro usb2
Gear used: Schiit Bifrost with Uber upgrade, Schiit Valhalla amp, and Ampsandsound Se-84
This is my 2nd pair of quality headphones. 1st being the Sennheiser HD-650, 2nd being The HiFi Man HE500 obviously (hereafter referred to as the 500),
Reading various threads around HeadFi started me thinking , about ortho's 2 in particular, the 500 and the Lcd2.2 my initial thoughts were to go with the Lcd2.2
They just seemed to have more praise mainly centered around the Bass presentation. My biggest concern besides paying for either was the weight there seems to be tons
of complaints about the weight
Up pops Underwood HiFi on a-gon selling the 500 and an email later they are at a price I cannot refuse. They ship the same day and 2 business days later they are in my hands,
Initial thoughts are packaged very well, In a nice box with accessories (I found the packaging MUCH better than the Sennheisers) Look and feel like a very well made product and
damn these things are heavy
On with the music, some of my favorite music is Acoustic with male vocals, Acoustic with female vocals, indie and classic rock, some jazz sprinkled in. Straight out of the box I am impressed
The bass on these monsters is outstanding and the treble extension just trounces the 650 much more open with great detail retrieval, and organic voice absolutely no grain.
First session is 3 hours on my head and no issues with thee weight I cannot help my self I am all over the place choosing random albums among 1500 album library. day 2 is basically a repeat of day 1 and still no issues with the weight. Enter day 3 and after about an hour i have a pain on top of my head, turns out the padding on the bar could be better. I took a 1/2" thick
piece of high density foam I had laying around and cut it out wrapped a piece of cloth around it to hold it in place pulled the cups out and now no bar, feels great. ( I believe my job requirement that I wear a hard hat 8 hours a day helped cope with the weight)
Visiting songs that I know to be sibilant proved the 500 can ease that pain, The 500 as also uncovered another layer of detail the senns could not. I will admit I am not a huge Jazz fan
I like some songs but on the whole I just don't enjoy the genre and typically a song or 2 is my limit. Enter the 500 and it is just so revealing and dynamic I find myself setting through
the whole album
I think the fact that I can set through an entire album is the highest praise I can throw at any headphone or speaker. If you want a headphone with super bass and great high end extension with an
overall balanced sound, that adds a level of realism to vocals. This may be your cup of tea. It certainly deserves and audition
Pros - The midrange!
Cons - heavy
I swapped the stock silver cable for a less microphonic and easier to manage OFC Zy-cable..
Pros - Excellent bass, easy listening/no fatigue, Large soundstage width, pricing, build quality
Cons - Timbre is lacking, heavy, ringing, detail
I am currently using a loaner pair of HE-500's and thought I'd give my thoughts on the headphones and how they compare to my current pair I was planning on upgrading (Sennhesier HD 600). Keep in mind these are all subjective thoughts, what may be a con for me can be a pro for you based on your preferences. I loaned a pair from The Cable Company, http://www.thecableco.com/Product/NEW-Headphone-Lending-Library.
Bass: The HE-500 has some of the best bass I have ever heard on any headphone and absolutely dominates the HD600. There is no mid-bass hump that I hear present in most headphones, the sub-bass has great extension and can really give you a nice rumble when the song calls for it. The bass is very dynamic and suits any genre. It is well controlled, fast, and textured when listening to rock and metal, precise and natural when listening to jazz and classical, and can deliver a nice amount of thump when listening to rap, trap, and dubstep.
Soundstage width: Contrary to another review I read, I found the HE-500 to have much better width than the HD600, the HD600 sounds narrow versus the HE-500, this was very evident when listening to Miles Davis. The drums and trumpets sound more outwards towards the left and right, but not so much so that I find myself losing excitement or so that the music seems distant.
Little Fatigue: Once I got used to the clamping force and heavy weight of the HE-500, I'm able to listen to them for hours without any fatigue. The laid back lower treble makes these very easy on the ears. The upper part of the treble has good extension, hi hats/cymbals/etc have a nice sparkle without sounding overdone and ear piercing, which was a big problem I had with the HE-400.
Ringing: For some reason, If a high frequency note is played for a continuous period of time, the HE-500 produces a strange ringing effect, even more so than the HD600. It's kind of annoying and hurts my ears. Listen to a opera singer holding a note for a long time, or a trumpet being held on a single high tone, you will see what I mean.
Timbre: I find that drums, trumpets, the piano, and guitar sound more true to life on the HD600. I originally thought this was because I wasn't used to the planar drivers on the HE-500, so I listened to them continuously for a extended period of time, then switched to the 600. I still found timbre to be much, much better when doing this and also during a/b testing.
Lacks detail: Due to the laid back lower treble and wide soundstage, I find the HE-500 produces less detail than the HD600. I can hear more subtle details, like recording errors, static noise, and reverberation of instruments. This is because of the brighter lower treble on the 600 and the more intimate presentation.
Smoothness: The HE-500 is a smooth headphone, but the HD600 is even better in this regard. I find less peaks in the HD600s frequency response, music sounds much more coherent and neutral without any extra glare/brightness being added. Everything sounds like it flows together naturally with the 600, while the 500 breaks the flow with ringing and a light glare
Song Tests (Done with pleather pads, Schiit Magni & Modi, FLAC/ 320kb MP3s)
Bitches Brew, Miles Davis, Jazz
500: Soundstage is much larger in width, drums extend more outwards towards the left and right. Timbre sounds less realistic on the drums and trumpets, however, the bass is more present in the song.
600: More intimate and exciting sound, drums don't extend outwards left/right as much as 500, however the drums and trumpet sound more true to life, timbre is much more accurate, the bass is lacking just slightly versus the 500.
Passed Me By, Andy Stott, Electronic
500: Bass extends all the way down and has a much stronger impact, ambiance of the song surrounds my head and sounds as if it's warping/surrounding around me.
600: The very low sub-bass is almost ignored, much less impact, ambiance of the song is more intimate and lacks the "surround sound" effect I felt with the HE-500.
Teardrop, Massive Attack, Trip Hop
500: Presentation is larger, drums have more of a "pop/snap" and the guitar sounds livelier vs the 600, but timbre is still stronger on the 600. Mid-bass is less excessive on the song.
600: Presentation of the song is more intimate (sounds more in my head), the guitar and drums have more accurate timbre, Vocals are smoother and have less sibilance and peaks.
Song Of Life (Nick Warren Remix), Leftfield, Techno/House
500: Bass is quicker and has more impact, drums/cymbals have more sparkle and shimmer. In general, this song sounds much more lively and energetic vs the 600.
600: Bass is less present and lacks the impact and speed of the 500. Drums/cymbals lack the sparkle/shimmer of the 500. In simple terms, this song sounds more smooth and is easier to listen to on the 600.
Warrior Concerto, Glitch Mob, Electronic
500: Clearer and more open vs the 600. Bass has a strong rumble (1:50-2:10), much better imaging and separation.
600: Sounds congested, all of the instrumentation/soundfx sounds too close without enough separation, bass is lacking impact (1:50-2:10 in the song)
Both are truly great headphones, but you may favor one over another based on your tastes. I think the HE-500 and HD600 compliment each other well. I often find myself grabbing the HD600 for jazz, classical, and instrumentals for the beautiful timbre and intimacy. Then I switch over to HE-500 for dubstep, trap, rap, and rock/metal because of the bass, more shimmery upper treble, and speed. Both are driven by my Schiit gear with ease, I find both headphones can be driven to ear damaging levels with the Magni & Modi. However, the HE-500 is more dependent on amping. The HD600 sounds good out of my Nexus 4/computer, but plugging in the HE-500 to a portable source leads to dull dynamic range with little bass impact.
That about sums up my thoughts, hope you enjoyed reading my review!
Pros - Excellent bass, great impact and body, surprisingly comfortable for large noggins.
Cons - Lack of treble resolution, a bit of ringing, some quality control issues, heavy, hot.
Disclaimer: My opinions are just my own. They do seem to be in contrast to some others' experiences, but we all have different preferences.
I heard great things about this headphone, and really wanted to like it. I can see why they are popular, and they indeed are fun. However, I'm a treble-head, and as one who was spoiled by the beyerdynamic DT880's, I hated them.
(TL;DR: I bought these new from Headroom. Compared to the beyerdynamic DT880's, the HiFiMan's have much, much better bass impact, a fuller body on all frequencies, and less sibilance. The DT880's crush the HE-500's when it comes to treble resolution, and a slight lead in mid and low frequency resolution.)
(Off topic: I have not the slightest clue why beyerdynamic insists on using all lowercase letters, but this isn't a typo.)
Before we start: my setup was a Benchmark DAC1, feeding into a Meier Corda Opera. Files were lossless, fed bit-perfect from iTunes to a M2Tech HiFace (with a regulated, linear power supply). Cables included double-shielded power cables, a triple-shielded USB cable, all interconnects used shielded Mogami wire and Neutrik terminations with matching impedances. Primary comparison was with a beyerdynamic DT880 (600 ohm, with a Blue Dragon cable, whose drivers were broken in with over 300 hours of pink noise- even before I began using them a year before). Power conditioning was with a medical-equipment/mission-critical-telecom grade double-conversion, fully online, UPS. (That's just how I do things!)
On to the listening tests:
I burned them in with pink noise for about 100 hours before giving them a serious listen. The first impressions was that there was fantastic bass impact. These are fun headphones! The mids had decent resolution with excellent body, and the bass was not flabby. Stock, everything was a bit veiled and the bass was a tiny bit muddy, but that was resolved by removing the foam damping sheet, as recommended by many owners. I'd highly recommend trying that modification to see if you like it.
Compared to the DT880's, if you like bass, then there is no contest- the HE-500's win by a mile. (Then again, that isn't exactly a hard thing to do.) Additionally, the HiFiMan's had more body to the mid and low frequencies, and there was less sibilance than the beyerdynamics have. Some people find the DT880's habit of brutally reproducing sibilance and recording flaws to be fatiguing, others don't. I am in the latter group. Note that the HE-500's resolution improved dramatically with all frequencies when I removed the internal foam damping sheet. I didn't notice the "tizzyness" some people complain about.
The ugly... coming from beyerdynamic DT880's and being a treble-head, I found the high frequencies seriously (in comparison to my fantastic treble-loving beyer's) lacking resolution. The HE-500's treble resolution was miles behind the beyerdynamic's, and the mids on the HE-500's were slightly less precise than the DT880's. Smooth and friendly treble, yes. Resolving- not all that much.
For example, with the beyerdynamic's and violin recordings, I can easily tell which way the bow is moving, and the slight "crunch" the bow hairs can make on impact with the strings during intense sections. . With vocals, I can hear when the performers take a breath. This all makes me feel more involved and intimate with the performers, especially as a violin player. The HiFiMan's had very little of that, and I missed the intimacy and detail.
There was also a slight "shouty-ness" with the HiFiMan's. Testing has shown that there is a bit of a ring in the 1kHz area, probably due to poorly designed housings. That bothered me a lot, but then again, take this with a grain of salt as I am very sensitive to it. (Fun fact: designing good housings is very difficult- just see how hard Sennheiser worked to reduce the resonance and ringing when they designed the HD800's, so it is understandable that HiFiMan, as a smaller company, might not be able to invest in exotic plastics and crazy geometric designs like Sennheiser did.)
In the end, just make sure you take my own preferences into account. These all could be good characteristics for some people who want something more forgiving or more impactful.
Initial impressions were that they seemed solidly built. There was no play/slackness in the pieces- fit adjustments were easy and crisp. I also really appreciated the inclusion of both a balanced and unbalanced cable, and a set of spare terminations for their RF-originated cable attachments (absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it is a bizarre design choice.) The spare part for DIY cables was a thoughtful touch which impressed me.
However, most of the unboxing experience was bad. Though the box was of nice quality, the headphones had a very strong smell of volatile organic vapours (AKA, cheap plastic smell) and a week of airing out later, the smell was still strong on the headband- which showed that the packing material was not to blame. (They really need to rethink that headband material.) Given others' experiences, I suspect they have since resolved that smell issue. In the end, though, this is just not acceptable for $700 headphones.
The 1/4" TRS cable was poorly made on my particular set- the 1/4 inch termination was already loose, and there were bits of plastic hanging off where the mould lines were. The XLR cable was of okay ("meh") quality. It was functional, and since it was, my tests were used the balanced cable and with a nice, not cheap, XLR to TRS adapter, given the compromised build quality on the TRS cable. This affair is not something I even see on most $30 headphones. It made me suspect that, at least on the day mine were made, there were some quality control issues with the cables. It's not a huge thing as most will probably just throw these out and use nicer aftermarket cables, but then again, this is an expensive piece of kit, and I can't forgive the lack of consideration.
And yes, these were purchased new from Headroom.
In the end, I didn't like them, and returned them (Headroom has fantastic customer support, by the way!) The sound wasn't bad, per say, but I couldn't take the lack of treble detail and the slight kHz level shout-y ringing/resonance problems (which were present with and without the damping foam). They wouldn't necessarily be bad as a second pair of headphones for me, and if someone gifted them to me, I'd keep them. If you want something quite fun and with a lot of very controlled kick (AKA, what my anthropomorphised beyer's would, with a haughty attitude, grumpily call "plebian" and then say "Bah, you're all Philistines!") while still having decent detail retrieval, they are fantastic.
Don't forget to try removing the foam damping sheet. You might like the difference.
I've auditioned these with DACmini for about a week. The overall sound is congested and seems to be missing something. Comparing to D5000, these have no fun factor at all. Add the fact that the comfort is much worse, the HE-500s had to go. As always, YMMV.
Pros - versatile
Cons - fit, long term sessions
These are a cool product and worthy of an audition. Good balance and plenty of detail. Technically darn good. Plenty of top end, perhaps a bit much for some, but I like my top end sparkle. Like other orthos, these have a very 'together' and solid sound that comes across as a bit too 'weighty' for my tastes but I prefer a lighter on it's feet type of dynamic sound ala dynamic driver grado. I much prefer the high resolution, flatter response of the he500 however. Sure wish grado would make such a phone but alas it's not to be. Regarding the he500, It's a solid value even though in my world, $500 is a lot of cash to lay out for a decent headphone, especially considering you will need to add another several hundred min on the right amp to power
Pros - The sound quality closely approaches the best Electrostatic Headphones
Cons - Hard to wear for more than 30 minutes, very poorly designed/assembled
Personally, they put in mind of the situation of Tantalus. I absolutely want the sound quality of these headphones, but I cannot stand to have them my head for more than a short period of time. So these are likely the most tantalising headphones out there and equally likely among the ones with the poorest comfort wearing them.
They are perfect for Audiophile Masochists and Fakirs seeking Nirvana in music. If you can detach your mind from your body so much that you do not feel the discomfort these bring with them, the music they play will take you to Nirvana. If you like Sound and Sadomasochism, you will positively lurv these headphones. If these headphones were a car, they would be an Alfa Romeo.
Read the complete review here:
Pros - Soundstage, warmth, velvet sound
Cons - Heavy, it moves on ur head while turning head
Am not a man of many words..but..i thought my he300 was good..but this one destoys everything in his path up until the 1000 Mark..they are that good..but pls..buy a powerfull amp..it will make u speechless of how it sounds..i am a believer now.concerning electro dynamics..ARE U?
Here are some amps i can advice that are under the 800 mark.
yulong sabre A18
Darkvoice 337 with the right tubes(i owe one now..see my pics/avatar)
Latest update: i have a comfort over headband thingie on his way..hope that will make the comfort better on my he500
Pros - Great sound, Built well, Preformance<Price, Comfort, accesories.
Cons - comfort for some, Needs a good set up.
The HiFiMan HE-500, practically perfect in every way.
The HE-500 were pretty new territory for me. I have always used Dynamic headphones and was content with them. Then These seductive sirens caught my eye and well....head-fi had it's way with my better judgment and wallet; and by god I'm glad it did! DR.Fang has stuck diamonds and gold with these headphones and has certainly showed me the ways of the Planar Magnetics mystical powers. First off I would like to start by saying that these headphones are the most expensive headphone I have invested in and the set up to along with them as well. My first encounter with these headphones was very eye opening; reading reviews about them I was expecting a very well rounded headphone and a neutral presentation. What I got was a very mid oriented headphone with a and I don't mind saying this PERFECT high end, The Lyr was just the bass icing on the HiFiMan cake. The HE-500 have a very particular sound, it's a very natural sound, I would not say neutral but natural. Vocals when amped properly are just gooey and ethereal at the same time; not one song I have throw at these from Jazz to electronic, Metal to classical, absolutely nothing has not sounded like I was actually in the recording studio with the band. I would not say these give you a theater sound stage as It's much more intimate than that, it's not closed by any means it's a very open and expansive sound stage; however all of the instruments, the vocals, and pretty much every piece of sound just sounds so tangible.
This may seem like a very quick jump but just listening to all of my headphones against this one these is really nothing they do better. This is not to say they them self's are not good but they just don't stack against the HE-500 by any means and I suppose that makes perfect sense for a headphone with a $700 price tag. Saying these headphones are anything but world class contenders I feel would be an insult; no I admit my experience with other world class headphones is not as extensive as I would like but listening to the LCD-2 and HD800 I was quite blown away, then listening to these I was just in awe that a headphone for hundreds less could be on the same level. These are I feel more geared to a music lover rather than the HD800 as I feel they were very analytical where as the HE-500 are as close to actually having the (insert musician/band here) sing or play for you. No the HE-500 will not point out every glaring flaw in your source but they do have incredible resolution and can easily review details in music you have never heard.
Treble extension is something I would like to talk a bit more about with these headphones. My goodness the treble is just mesmerizing, I thought Grado did treble very well and I still do; the HE-500 just do it so much better. Grado has a tendency to peak violently where as the HiFiman's just glide gracefully into it's peaks and back down again; Hearing an electric guitar was a religious experience for me with my RS-2 and on the HE-500 it was simply biblical. Every millimeter of guitar string vibrates in your ears as you hear the calloused skin of the players fingers grind onto the strings; It really sounded as if the guitarist was in your room playing for you trying to give you as much detail in his playing. Like I had said before the sound of these headphones is tangible, it's nearly beyond tangible to my ears. Listening to one of my favorite Joan Baez songs "with god on our side" her voice is just angelic, I can almost her swaying as she sings.
Bob Dylan...not my favorite artist but his voice is so complex I just had to give him a listen. My god, it's really like he's right here. I don't want to repeat my self so much but the natural sound stage and sound of these headphones just brings so much life to all of my music, a bit of warmth due to the slight bass emphasis really just brings a mystic smoke to Dylan's voice and smooth's his gruffness. Smooth that's another thing these headphone are. All frequency's really just seem to glide into each other; not bleed mind you but finding "edges" between the treble and the lower midrange something I really notice on the D2000 is just near impossible. The midrange has such a lush gooey sound and the high end has such a detailed and well rounded sound that neither really shows dominance but in a good way. The He-500 are a very well rounded headphone, killer bass response, nearly tangible and natural midrange, with a smooth and silky perfectly peaked high end is just something I have never really heard in any headphone.
Bass seems to be a Planar magnetic's trademark it would seem. The LCD-2's have great bass, the HE-6 have reportedly great bass, as well as the HE-400/4 and 5LE. The Texture and grain of the bass running through the Lyr is just mind boggling, a standing bass really feels like a standing bass and a Cello has such rumble to it. Kick drums are very punchy and have a nice trail as they decay. Bass guitar down right makes me salivate, following a bsssline and actually being able to feel it's gentle vibrations is something that has been lost to me and now I don't think I could ever go back. The HE-500 have a nice tight taut bass but that does not mean it does not extend well; the sub bass rumble and vibration could nearly put the XB700 to shame.....nearly. The Upper bass that feeds into the lower midrange is extremely accurate and never sluggish, the over all speed of the Planar magnetic sound is something that I love as I'm a Grado fan and Grado's are all about the speed. Just saying the bass is textured when it's recorded properly on these headphones I feel is an understatement I can truly feel the detail in the bass of a guitar and drums.
All in all I would say these headphones are going to be my headphones, I have said this about the RS-2 and for a little over a year they were, but the shrill treble and nearly flat sound stage are just never going to stand against these wondrous silken sectors. The HE-500 are truly a world class headphone and are easy enough to drive with minimal amping or if you want a fantastic Synergy I would suggest the Schiit Lyr as this set up is just wonderful...no perfect.
I have been in contact with another head-fi member that is graciously allowing me to barrow his HE-400 some time soon and do a little A/B write up on them!
The comfort of these headphones having put some real time into them is pretty great. I much prefer the Leather pads and as some one mentioned in this thread they are protein leather such as cars use but still of pretty great quality. The ear cups are nice and spacious and don't squeeze to hard in any one place I find. The head band has gotten some complaints in other reviews but so far I have noticed it pressing down on my head much and is by no means uncomfortable.
Well I was excited to have a real live box come with my expensive headphones FOR ONCE!!!!! how I was crushed.....The HE-500 now come with a hard shell clam case which you can see in my un boxing video, No not bad packaging but seriously no box? Not even a cardboard outer box to house them. It was shipped in a box, in a box with the case in it. Well I suppose...wait a minuet, I paid for this; yes I a tad rustled.Why is it hi-fi company's put little thought into the actual packaging nowadays? Yes I paid $700 for your headphones, a nice fancy box to make people jelly would be nice. This being said the Cable is a nice touch, how ever I cannot comment on the cable wars as this is the first silver cable I have ever had and I think the headphone sound pretty good being underpowered as they are. Extra pads like I mentioned is a nice step up from the one spare pad this package used to come with and the extra interconnect pieces to make your own cables is a nice extra as well.
Velour Versus Leather
I put a lot more time before work on the Velour's versus the Leathers pads and I'm still sticking with my Very minuscule sound change is any at all. The Highs seem just a molecule brighter with the velour but that could just be in my imagination.
The difference in amping
The difference was a pretty clear difference, Switching back and forth rapidly between the LDMKII and the Lyr not only was the bass significantly improved but the over all lushness of sound was. With the MKII I found my self hearing odd distortions in the upper frequency's I suspect mainly due to the fact that MKII had to be cranked to about 3 o'clock for a song I dub "quiet" louder songs I had no problem with at about Noon or even 11. Bass distortion is very prominent on the MKII in quiet songs, the bass is pretty lack luster but the fact that I can hear distortion on songs like 'Stained' at Noon on the amp is pretty shocking. What I take away from this is the less you have to push them amp to power the headphone the less distortion on the HE-500.
HE-500 for gaming?
HELL YES!!!! Playing all sorts of games from unreal tournament 3 to diablo 2 HELL YEA!. For shooters they have a very accurate sound stage and you can easily hear someone sneaking up on you. For RPG's of all sorts you get a great sense of depth in voices and battle. Hooking them into my PS3 Via Bifrost they sounded amazing for Uncharted 1 and 2, easily ONE of my favorite PS3 game's....in my top five. Online Shooters with these are really great as the bass is extremely explosive and really shakes your head. Also hearing gunshots from behind you and whipping around at light speed to pop some ones cap and have them scream over there headset is pretty satisfying. When I say shooting behind you, I mean it's as if they are standing behind you shooting; you can really get a pretty dead on feel of just where people are.
Pros - world class sound for less money
Cons - still a lot of money
the equal of the LCD-2 and better than the HD 800/T1
And its cheaper