Pros - Excellent integration--the mids are warm, clear and superb
Cons - If bass were a bit more pronounced, efficiency ~6 dB better from present and not so bulky, they would be more perfect.
Cannot add to what others have said vis a vis breaking down the sound.
Burson Soloist drives HE-560 nicely.The HE-560 can sound spectacular out of a tube amp, so long as the amp has good power (>10W/ch). Forget OTL amps, in my opinion.
All in all, If I had to pick one set and one set only, it would be HE-560. They just sound swell to my ear, especially for ~$550 new. A good value all in all.
HiFiman ought to be commended for being innovative and a value-leader. The owner seems to be a bit of a genius, and he has learned fast how to improve build. Frankly, the HE-500 were a joke compared to the German phones, but sounded nice. Too warm for me, though. With the new line, including HE-560, he is getting the hang of build that is a compromise between quality and value and not like a helmet, but more like headphones. Still, not quite like the Germans. Perhaps the next models will get closer to German build, yet remain affordable. My guess is the HE-1000V2 are a quantum leap up, but I will not spend that kind of dough on phones.
This is my first ever headphone review. I like the HE-560 that much.
Pros - TOTL sound for less. Comfortable for an Ortho. Bass accuracy and quality.
Cons - Gets hot after long listening sessions. Questionable long-term build quality. Makes you question owning more expensive headphones
I am not affiliated with HIFIMAN at all.
I did not receive anything from them to review, nor did they have any influence on my final impressions/review.
As opposed to some reviewers out there, I’m usually hesitant to endorse a product unless it fully impresses me in terms of performance vs. value.
Or it just sounds damned good.
I’m pretty brutally honest in regards to how I perceive a headphone’s strength and weaknesses. There’s no point in wasting your time, my time, or anyone’s time.
I think the reader should be learning something new with each review they read.
I’m not here to regurgitate information others have repeatedly said. I’ll try not use hearsay or affirmations from other reviewers. This means: I will neither confirm nor deny any opinions you might have read elsewhere regarding this headphone.
Now let’s get onto the good stuff!
Initial Impressions / Unboxing:
I’m not one of those people that like to spend a lot of time talking about how the headphone is crafted from exotic, purple wood that’s petrified and aged in Japanese lacquer (Looking at you Fostex TH900).
The headphones came in a nice wooden box with a metal faceplate. The box, unfortunately, looks prone to damage and probably shouldn’t be utilized as a carrying case.
I am told though that HIFIMAN offers a travel case that isn’t too expensive. A must, in my opinion, if you take them anywhere other than home.
Upon opening the lid, I’m greeted by the unmistakable design of HIFIMAN’s traditional orthodynamic headphones. I’d like to note that the HE-560 did have a very pleasant and earthy smell. Pretty important when you’re about to sample the headphone itself.
Build quality seems about average upon first contact. The headphones themselves are much lighter than their predecessors, built out of sturdy plastic and wood trim.
-The stitching on the headband did seem to be kind of rough, with a little bit of stitching inching out of the edges on the headband.
-The hinges that swivel are well-oiled so that the contact points don’t scratch off against each other--a problem that the HE-400S seems to exhibit.
-The Focus pads are amazing as ever, decently plush with plenty of room to fit even larger ears.
-Clamping force wasn’t too bad straight out of the box. Much better than its “400 series” siblings.
These HE-560s come with the screw-on copper/silver/crystalline hybrid cable. It does kink a bit, but can be persuaded to behave for the most part. Both ends screw on nicely, reminiscent of the HE-6. Cable length is ample.
Resonessence Concero HP
We can always talk about equipment synergy and amp/dac pairing for the HE-560 elsewhere. The important part is that I consider all three units relatively neutral and resolving to where I’m easily able to discern the HE-560’s character and specific attributes.
Sound Impressions / Comparisons:
The HE-560 is without a doubt a romantic headphone. Romantic in every sense. It is positively alluring in how smooth it’s able to present a landscape of music, without sounding dark in the process. If you could have a headphone sing ballads to you, this would be it.
Overall signature/tonal balance can be considered neutral. The treble does get splashy at times (bad recordings don’t help the case).
My first thought was to compare the HE-560s to the HD650s, one of my favorite reference headphones.
Boy, was I wrong. The HE-560s are nothing like the HD650s or say the Fostex TH-600s--headphones commonly known for being warm, bassy, and generally well-liked.
For one, I find the former to have much cleaner treble/mids/bass than the latter two.
It also simultaneously sounds more airy, has better layering, and possesses timbre/naturalness previously unheard of outside of TOTL headphones.
However, it did take the strengths of what the HD650 was known for. The ability to seamlessly integrate music as a collective entity. And to perform admirably for all genres of music. A headphone that can be both calming and engaging when called upon.
You can say I was pleasantly surprised. Just because the HE-560 is the midrange headphone in the HIFIMAN lineup, didn’t mean it was in the same class as similar offerings from Sennheiser, AKG, or Fostex.
As soon as I realized the caliber the HE-560s were punching at, I knew I had a serious contender.
Many people systematically state that they can differentiate between how orthodynamics sound from dynamic headphones. After listening to just about every planar on the market, I’m not sure I can tell you that there’s a particular trait all orthodynamics differ from their dynamic counterparts. If there is a orthodynamic “house” sound, however, I’m sure the HE-560 encapsulates all of its outstanding features.
This is a full-bodied headphone that’s fast, detailed, and moves enough air in the lower registers to where headphones like the HD800 or T1 can’t match it. Short of electrostats, you really can’t find better layering and texturing in the quality of the bass. And that’s saying a lot.
Of course, if you prefer the emphasis on quantity, best look towards Audeze’s line up.
The HE-560 isn’t a particularly bass-heavy headphone. It usually sounds just right
There are two things that the HE-560s does so well that I simply have to give it props.
Likewise, if we had to reward the HE-560 for two things, it would certainly be the vocals/mid-range presentation and naturalness of instruments (esp. piano).
Both of these stood out to me. I don’t think there are many headphones that can do both vocals and timbre of musical instruments right, without skewing towards a mid-centric signature with recessed treble.
So let’s talk about the vocals.
-Incredibly and painstakingly brilliant.
This is the headphone you put on when you want to hear someone sing.
Male and female vocals both possess clarity and are accurate to the recording.
Voices never sound artificial or processed at any point.
Remember when I said you needed that all-arounder headphone?
I wouldn’t mind living with just the HE-560 simply for this fact.
Note: If you like your vocals lush and “Audio Technica” -esque, this might not be your preference. The HE-560’s mid-range takes a step back in the recording and may sound lean at times.
Similarly, the tonality and presentation of musical instruments are just right.
In particular, piano and stringed instruments are hauntingly beautiful in the way they’re portrayed by the HE-560.
Delicate and soft, as if tragedy.
Emotional and stirring, as if destiny.
Is the HE-560 worth getting?
For the Black Friday price of $699, you get a brand new HE-560. Street prices are even lower.
The answer is a resounding YES.
You get a spacious and encompassing-sounding headphone that many people should be able to agree with for the rest of their lives.
Best of all, if you’ve never tried a TOTL headphone, the HE-560 will most likely give you that “WOW” moment for the first time you’ve experienced something above and beyond what you’ve been used to.
Hopefully you’ll be telling yourself, “Maybe I’m really not crazy for spending hundreds of dollars on this hobby.”
For me, I decided to keep the HE-560 over even the HE-6 for the improved comfort, driveability, and price-to-performance ratio. Which isn’t to say the HE-6 isn’t better in many aspects. It is. But the HE-560 is infinitely less fickle and easier to drive.
It’s safe to say the HE-560 is my standard for what a planar is capable of~
Efficiency: Fairly efficient, does need a dedicated amplifier. Not very source picky.
Overall Score: 8.5
As close as you can get to TOTL sound for less money.
This isn’t a bright headphone, nor is it a dark one. Somewhere in the middle with excellent extension both ways.
Soundstage depth is above average, while soundstage width is slightly smaller than expected.
Overall, a very enjoyable listen.
Pros - mosty neutral, detailed, angled pads, no discomfort after long listening sessions
Cons - everyone can hear your music in other rooms
This is a really nice headphone. It comes with a rigid and solid stock cable and packaged in a wooden box with a sliding wood and metal lid. The amount of foam prevents damage from shipping well.
It is quite smooth and actually quite forgiving of recording flaws, especially high frequency noise. You won't hear noise in the recording too audibly. Yet the detail and timbre for the music is excellent and loud. So there is great musicality.
Thus it has reproduces some of the most realistic woodwinds and brass I have heard.
The bass is clear, not muddy at all. Neutral headphone, that reaches high but rolls off a bit on the high end. Relatively smooth rolloff with only one hum on treble.
Some people say it's a bit analytic, but I find it a bit warm. So if you like a slightly warm sound but not too warm, with punchy base, this is for you.
While there is not a huge amount of bass (so you need to equalize it a bit to get more), since the bass is rather detailed, this doesn't hurt the sound at other frequencies.
Needs a reasonably good amplifier for maximum detail and volume. But also works well, 1/2 turn of the volume knob, from things like studio equipment (meant for recording and monitoring, not so much listening or running difficult to run headphones).
The design is solid and very comfortable, my ears don't touch the cushions. Seems to disappear when playing, very airy sound and wide soundstage.
Needs a bit of equalization for string concert music, but then works great. Works great right off for all other kinds of music.
The nice thing about this is that it is very easy on the ears. Long listening sessions won't produce discomfort. Which is quite important.
No cons at the price <900, although I like brighter headphones. With the HE560 I merely boost the volume and get the detail I demand but without fatigue. Maybe this is actually a better long run approach perhaps.