Reviews by .Sup


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: excellent, balanced sound, comfortable and light, price, build quality
Disclaimer: The headphones were sent to me by Hifiman as part of their loaner program.

I first listened to Hifiman headphones with the release of the HE-4 about 8 years ago, since then I've heard numerous of their headphones and earphones including Hifiman's flagship ShangriLa system. Personally, I own HE-4 and have owned HE-500 and HE-300 so I’ll base some of my review in comparison to the former two.

In the box you get the headphones itself, 1.5m cable terminated with 3.5mm angled jack along with a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor and a nice booklet containing Hifiman’s planar history, a message from the founder and setup and overview instructions.
When I first took the headphones out of the box I was impressed by the almost entirely all-metal design of the structure, only the mechanism that allows for headband height adjustment is made of plastic. I have encountered no squeaking of this part or any other for that matter. The headphones do not have a swivel option but for me the fit is perfect. I recommend, upon first receiving the headphones, to check if the screws connecting the yokes to the cups are tightened enough, mine were not equally tightened on both sides, I was able to almost fully remedy this using only my fingers. But this gives you an option to chose how stiff you want the cup’s tilt to be.

The cable is rather thick, or to be precise the tubing makes it thick. The tubing is oversized and you can feel the cable inside is thinner. It could be a way to protect the internal wires by allowing leeway when the cable is folded or twisted during use. It is pretty stiff but does not tangle, I would prefer a much softer, less stiff cable. Durability wise it should last long.

The pads have soft fabric on the inside and are very comfortable, I have sensitive skin and have not been irritated by it. The headband on minimal position fits my head perfectly, the gripping of the cups on my head is also perfect out of the box but as the headband is made of metal, adjustments can be made. When I look down, the headphone stays in place, unlike the HE-500 that allowed only for robotic movements if I didn’t want to damage the parquet. My head measures 37cm or 14.5” from the center of my left ear, across my head to the center of the right ear for those with smaller heads wondering if it will fit.

Onto the sound characteristics. It does not resemble any of the three headphones I have owned. It does not have the smoothness of HE-4, the mids and bass layering of HE-500 or the warmness of HE-300, no, its a headphone that has its own strengths. It has neutrality, airiness, and balance.
Nothing stands out and yet that is what I like about these headphones. Any genre of music I listen to with them sounds good, great. They are not warm, nor they are cold or clinical, they don’t sound congested and no tone is emphasized. They have the perfect amount of bass for me, a bit less than HE-500 and a bit more than HE-4. It is tight and punchy. No tone is overwhelming the other. They are also very fast and dynamic, unlike any planar I have heard so far. But planar’s “meatiness” is still here.
I have never put much emphasis on the soundstage, I either like the whole package of the headphone’s sound signature or I don’t but I will try to describe it to the best of my ability for those who do care.
The soundstage is average for an open headphone but spoiled by HD800 it is not fair to say they have a narrow soundstage, I’d say as much as they are neutral in sound signature, they are in the soundstage, not very wide but also not narrow. To put it in perspective; if an average closed-back studio monitoring headphones are 1 in soundstage and HD800 is a 10 then these are a 7.

I listened to Sundaras with most of the equipment in my signature but liked pairing with the Mojo the most. Volume on the Mojo is about the same as with the HD800; yellow-yellow or yellow-green. Not a very demanding headphone when it comes to power requirements, I even tried it with the last iPhone with a headphone jack, 6s Plus and the volume was around 90%, pretty good for a mobile phone.

Closing thoughts.
I was thinking about how I would convince myself to purchase the Sundaras. A while ago I said to myself I would limit my inventory to three headphones max, not including Bluetooth. If I didn’t own any headphone I would just buy these and not miss anything from other headphones that I own. After hearing hundreds of headphones I can confidently say these can compete with anything I have heard up to 1k€. But luckily Hifiman priced them very competitively. I just hope they last long and there are no issues so one can enjoy the pleasing sound without worrying.

Thank you to Hifiman for entrusting me with these, I encourage more manufacturers and sales reps to do this kind of loaner programs.
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Headphoneus Supremus
So finally some impressions from me heh
For the past two weeks I'm listening to HD800 exclusively, I needed a month to adapt to the different sound signature of 800s. At first I was very annoyed about the lack of bass they have compared to HD600 (and some people say HD600 don't have enough bass already) but now I don't miss it, there's plenty now, its tight but not as deep as HD600. I understand why Sennheiser would want to reduce bass, in my opinion because everything else is now more forward sounding, more open, vocals wouldn't be as realistic as they are with more bass impact. 
I have to repeat I don't miss any bass and I have tried them with variety of music. They work great even with bass heavy Trance and Electronica. R&B sound fantastic as well and my favourite Jazz is jaw dropping. 
Some say HD800 are bright headphones but I disagree, they are however very detailed and certainly not veiled in anyway like the HD600. I have to admit vocals were never so close to reality before and soundstage is just amazing with HD800. Its like music is floating in my cans. 
The first thing I noticed when I put them on my head is how much heavier they were compared to HD600 which are my reference cans. They aren't too heavy just heavier, noticeable. I used to say HD555s were the most comfy cans. Well I have a new reference when it comes to comfortability. These are huge and my ears don't even touch the cans. 
The pads don't seem to be velour and are of much high quality and more skin friendly-they don't itch. Build quality is decent but in time the build flaws become apparent. The cable is very nicely build, don't know how many strands it has but its twisted and I don't see myself buying a new one unless I go balanced someday but that doesn't seem to happen any time soon since I enjoy them a lot with my current setup.
My setup is as follows: ND-S1 dock (which is the most neutral transport I have ever heard besides my Yamaha S-1000 cd transport) then the setup continues in either DacMagic with RA PSU>Auditor or Audio GD Ref5>LD IV SE.
I mostly use the 1st setup as its much more musical but the Ref5 has the detail. Interesting how some components just don't have synergy. LD IV with DM is grainy while REf5 and Auditor are harsh with HD800.
HD800 need a nice stand as they are very fragile cans. What more can I say, people who listen to them are jaw-dropping and I, myself now enjoy these fully. Are they worth the money? No, hugely overpriced, HD600 offer much more value at 1/5 of its price (Europe) but I don't imagine my setup without them (HD800). :)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: adds instant audio to iPhone 7, enables remote controls for your favourite headphones/earphones, has a microphone
Cons: sometimes hard to connect or disconnect headphone jack to/from the i1 without pressing the buttons
Disclaimer: FiiO has sent me a free sample of the unit as part of a giweaway

First I want to thank Fiio for the unit and for the pleasant communication throughout.

The product comes in a neatly packaged black and red box made of carton and laid inside on a plastic layout (I urge FiiO to not use plastic in the future in boxes as paper is environment friendly and presentation on a paper layout could be just a pleasing). Inside you get the unit itself and a small crocodile clip. Quite handy as the cable is 80cm long. The length of the cable could be a con or a pro, depending on use thats why I haven't put it pros/cons. I imagine if you have your iDevice such as iPad in the backpack the longer cable length could be beneficial.

The i1 itself has a good built quality. The cable is made of soft rubber and the jacket is metal. I have to point out here that I would like to see the metal jacket to have some sort of texture as it sometimes makes it hard to connect or disconnect a headphone because the smooth surface can be slippery. Rubberised jacket would not only have a better grip but would also protect from scratches and accidental drops.
Lightning connector is about a 1/3 bigger than Apple's original and the contacts are very nicely done.
Best part of the unit have to be the controls. Buttons are absolutely a pleasure to use, they have the perfect firmness to them and feedback is excellent. Its actually one big piece with standard volume/play controls that you would normally get with Apple earphones.

Now onto the sound.
I did briefly try it with an iPhone 5 but the battery on that thing is so bad that I couldn't extensively test it. But it works right out of the box and maybe on one out of every five tries I have to unplug them and plug them back in to make the sound play out of i1 instead of an iDevice. But if there is one thing the iPhone 5 was useful is that I have not noticed the battery to drain faster with i1 than without it. Quite impressive. The volume on the i1 is lower though than listening straight out of an iDevice, for about 15%.
I used iPad Air 2 to extensively compare the sound. The Air2 has a more energetic and dynamic sound which is what I like however for those wanting a more laid-back sound without sharper (less energetic) heights the i1 provides with a smoother, less aggressive sound. If I had to do a rough and quick comparison I would say the Air2 sounds like HD800 and i1 sounds like an HD600. Not in terms of technicality but in terms of overall sound signature.
Can't say much more about sound for certain but these are tiny devices that are made primarily for practical uses rather than for serious sound upgrade. Which brings me to conclusion and for who is the i1 made for.

If you are unhappy with your iDevice' sound then the i1 might be to your liking as it has a very different character. I see it to have the biggest use for iPhone 7 users who don't have headphone output or for those needing volume/play controls and microphone. The i1 is a very small and light unit and so versatile.




Camera was sitting on the desk powered on and I liked the angle so I took a shot. It shows the testing equipment I've used to review the i1, the AudioQuest Nighthawk and iPad Air 2


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: very good mids, comfortable, perfect bass quantity
Cons: bass is not as tight
I have these for about two weeks now and I can hardly believe how these have changed during this time. Always when I get new headphones I listen with them and leave other headphones dusting. The only ones that didn't impress me when I got them were HD800. I know sounds odd but that's how it was. Anyway when I heard the HE-300 I said to myself these probably aren't for me as I got used to brighter sound signatures but I wanted something different, something closer to HD600 and from the past experiences I knew headphones need time to start working as they should and for my ears to get accustomed to their sound signature.
I tried different amps, DACs and settled on the sightly brighter Opus dac. I am using a speaker amp's headphone outputs. I know, you must be asking what am I doing with a speaker amp if there are dedicated headphone amps (which I also own btw) which are designed to headphone's specifications and theoretically should sound better. Well this speaker amp (Azur 350A) gives me a much fuller and overall more pleasing sound than my dedicated solid state headphone amplifier. HE-300 sound really nice with it.
The headphones when I got them and also the first 30 hours sounded really muffled, like some cheap headphones which sounds like they completely forgot about treble. Coming from HD800 and HE-4 the lack of treble was even more apparent.
I kept saying to myself I need to give them more time, if nothing changes they could replace HD555 which I use for gaming and movies as they are both very comfortable.
Bass actually reminded me of HD555, while everything else reminded me of HD600.
Bass is still not as tight as the HE-4 bass but treble has really opened noticeably and they are now much more appealing than HD600 were to me.
Everything is well balanced only, as I said before, bass is not tight and extended as I would like it to be but at least there are enough quantities of it so I'm not that bothered.
I must point out that I have never tried these with the stick cable which is still wrapped and stored inside the box that everything came with. I am using the HE-6 cable (V1) which is much lighter. The finish quality of the headphones is a bit below HE-4 finish, most noticeably is the area around connectors on the cups. Velour pads are much softer and better made than the ones on HE-4, now the are at least the same thickness all around. The plastic ring that is keeping velour pads in place is skewed and consequently there is a gap between the pad and ear cup.
I don't notice any affection to the sound regarding this matter.
Most welcome change is the clamping force thanks to a less stiff headband. At first I thought these might fall off my head because I am doing so many stuff while listening with headphones but they are not loose and I was worrying for nothing. In fact after HD555 and then HD800 these are now my most comfortable headphones due to perfect clamping force, soft velour cushions and light weight.
The price is exactly the same as the one I paid for HD600. I do not own HD600 any more but those really were my reference headphones. I cannot forget its sound signature.
Comparing the two quickly I prefer HD600's tighter bass and even more intimate sound signature. HE-300 has more bass quantity, more open treble and fantastic mids. If I had to chose one over the other I would choose HE-300.
When I was ordering this headphone I only hoped it would be different enough from HE-4, which I enjoy very much, so I could have two different sound signatures for different mods; HE-4 for aggressiveness, HE-300 for relaxation but at the same time I wanted an enjoying headphone, not something I would keep just I could say I have more headphones than the next guy. And now I can happily say I got what I wanted. Two very different headphones with two different sound presentations and approaches to music and both very enjoyable.
Thank you .Sup, I have these in my "want" list and the review was very helpful.
Thanks James. Soon I will also post my impressions on HE-500.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great sound for a Bluetooth headphone, very good battery life considering the fidelity, good build quality, remembers last connected device and automatically reconnects, comfort, surprisingly low weight considering all the onboard tech
Cons: Issues, when used wired, concerning volume and microphone, too bright LEDs that sometimes become distracting, short Bluetooth range when using a computer, steep price
Disclaimer: I have received Ananda BTs as part of Hifiman’s loaner tour

Package contents: Headphone, a very nice carrying case with pleasing smooth zippering zippers, a well detailed manual booklet, a small bag with a USB-A - USB-C cable and another USB-C - USB-C cable and a stereo microphone.
I find the 2m length of the two supplied cables perfect for most of the usage, they have the same braiding of the HE-4 but slightly thinner diameter and are not too stiff.
The stereo microphone comes in a convenient 10cm length. It has a foam windscreen and a flexible mini gooseneck that stays in position to up to 30 degrees.
I was only able to test the microphone in Bluetooth mode as for some reason both on a Windows 10 and OSX Catalina it was not working in wired mode. When both input and output are transmitted the codec is switched to low-quality SCO, a limitation of Bluetooth’s bandwidth and the quality of transmission or lack of thereof, in this case, is beyond recommended use.

The pairing process is very simple; you turn the headphone on and it starts flashing between blue and green until you press and hold the power button for another two seconds. You only have to do this once when using the same device. If you want to use another device you need to repeat the procedure. The headphone will automatically connect to the last device used provided the Bluetooth connection is enabled on that device.

The headphone has a power indicator level in terms of a red LED on the charging button and also has an audio warning when only a few % of power is left. On a mac, there is no knowing of how much battery is still left until you actually get a warning, on an iPhone however using the default Batteries widget you can see approximate %. It shows status in 10% increments (90%, 80%,…). When the battery is at 10% you get two warnings “Battery low“ within a few seconds apart.

Bluetooth range using a MacBook is around 5m (no obstacles such as walls or other structures), there were some cases when the signal was breaking up at 3m, using an iPhone however the range is much extended and comparable to the Sony WH1000XM3. In this case, I was able to go 12m away from the phone with a few walls in between.
On a windows machine using a Broadcom wifi/Bluetooth card with 2 pairs of antennas for each protocol the range was not sufficient to properly test the wireless operation, the distance I had to have the computer to receive the signal was so close that made the testing inconvenient. I didn’t have any other Bluetooth dongle available. However, I was able to determine that the response time was excellent and minimal when gaming, much better than Sonys.

Charging takes about two hours and the battery lasts around seven hours when using the MacBook as a source. Using the phone the battery lasts over 10 hours. The more detailed setup below when I start describing sound.

The button and USB-C port placement are well thought out. The microphone is not obstructed by the cable when both are connected and the USB-C port has a nice angle so the cable doesn’t rub one's shoulders. My only gripe is with the flashing LEDs. While intuitive and easy to remember they are too bright for my taste. When the room is badly lit the LEDs reflect from my glass tabletop, MacBook display and from my shoulder when I am lying on the couch. It is not too bad but sometimes it is noticeable. If this was my headphone I would use a permanent black marker to make the indicator less transparent.

The headphone’s build quality is of a high level. The important parts like the yokes and headband are made of metal, the rest is made of plastic which reduces weight and doesn’t obscure the wireless connection like metal does. There is absolutely no squeaking or any other noise coming from the headphone, the cups do swivel and the pads are soft and comfortable albeit a bit itchy. My head is too small for the lowest headband setting as there is a gap in the lower portion of the pad which sits in the neck area and not where my chin is. Adding some foam in the thickness of a thumb would make it alright. So these are perfect for those with large or better yet elongated heads due to the headband and ear-cup design and a bit less perfect for those with smaller heads. Physical balance of the headphone considering it has an onboard D/A, A/D, amplification and Bluetooth module is quite an achievement! Not for a moment did I feel one side is heavier than the other.
The weight is very well distributed. It is almost as heavy as the HE-500 spec-wise but in actual use its night and day difference. Not heavy, doesn’t put pressure on any specific points and the clamping force is ideal for me. When I look down, the headphone stays in place, especially important for a wireless headphone as one usually moves quite a bit more when not restricted by a cable.

Onto the sound. First, you need to know my specific use with the headphones. All the evaluation was done with music streaming Apple music and Tidal Master/Audirvana with exclusive access (Mac, iPhone). Codecs used were AAC and AptX via Bluetooth 4.2 and 5.0 protocol respectively. Because of the volume issues, this headphone has when using wired (see the official Ananda BT thread) I will only evaluate its sound using Bluetooth.
When I remember that this is a wireless Bluetooth headphone I am very impressed by its output but considering its price point I must evaluate it as such. Making direct comparisons and volume matching to other headphones doesn’t work due to its completely digital nature. The sound is well balanced, highs are well pronounced and are rarely too in your face, mids remind me of the sound I get from Mojo, just slightly warmish. On the lower end, the bass is there, in decent quantity and sufficiently tight. But if there is something I miss in this headphone it has to be that smooth sound and meaty bass.
The soundstage is decently wide, definitely, you will not perceive it as congested and the sound is very open, airy. It sounds like an almost perfect headphone except it doesn’t have anything special but I’ll stop here as this goes into subjective territory too much. I must add that it doesn’t indicate at any point of listening that this is a Bluetooth headphone but like a high end wired headphone. Except when you are too far from the source and it starts losing connection.

The final thoughts are as follows. The older I get, the more I strive towards convenience, simplicity and am willing to make compromises, going wireless is one of those compromises. When I first put on this headphone I felt (still do) I have been released from my shackles that are in the form of a cable. I like and hate cables at the same time. Some say that this is a niche headphone. I understand their perspective, some use full-size Bluetooth headphones for traveling or commuting. I do too actually but only for traveling and for that I have the Sony WH1000XM3s which have state-of-the-art noise-canceling for sleeping on the plane, closed-back design for no leakage in either direction and volume controls. And you know its battery status at any given time by pressing the power button for a second. But what they don’t have is the high-quality sound that Ananda BT has. But no, combining the two into one would not make it a perfect headphone. You can’t have a closed-back design and expect a wide soundstage. The Ananda is perfect for my everyday use when I move around my living room and kitchen and do everyday stuff. I have instinctively danced a few times because the sound was so good and there was no cable restraining me like a puppy on a leash. I sit behind the desk, then I go check if the water has boiled yet, then I go lay down on the couch, all that without me having to pick or do anything. It is liberating!

Finally the price. Does it sound like a 1k headphone? Possibly, not immediately apparent. I understand the cost involved in an all-in-one system. Looking from that perspective I believe it is worth its asking price. However, Sony WH1000XM3s is 350€. They have the features mentioned above and offer an analog connection. The Anandas do sound three times better but they also offer three times fewer features. At the end of the day it all comes to your specific needs and if you want the best wireless sound then get the Ananda BT, there is nothing like it on the market.

My suggestions to Hifiman’s engineers for improvements and changes:

  • First of all the volume issue when used with a wired connection needs to be resolved (I posted a video concerning the issue in the official Ananda BT thread). Volume in this mode is also lower than when using Bluetooth. The volume, in general, is lacking steps for its adjustment.
  • Needs battery status like the XM3s have. Pressing the power button tells you the status. When I first powered on the headphone it didn’t show that the battery was low and I was not able to connect to them using Bluetooth even though the headphone was available in the settings as an audio device.
  • LEDs are too bright.
  • Bluetooth signal is weak when connected to desktop PCs or laptops, that is why the battery doesn’t last as advertised because it's constantly trying to find the signal.
  • Rename BT-Ananda to Ananda BT USB and HIFIMAN-BT-ANANDA to Ananda BT because it's confusing what is what when connecting to either.
  • Another issue I had when using Bluetooth and then connecting the cable was the volume would shift to the left side and the volume balance slider would disappear (OSX Catalina). I then had to disconnect the cable so the balance slider would reappear, readjust the slider, turn Bluetooth off then and connect the cable.
  • The microphone did not work in wired mode, it was detected in Windows and OSX regardless of whether I actually had it plugged into the headphone or not but no input was received. In Bluetooth mode, the microphone is very bad, worse than the phone’s internal microphone (have tested it using a phone and on Teamspeak 3) but that is mostly due to Bluetooth’s own limitation previously mentioned.
  • I would love to have an option of different pad materials in this price range. Just like people have differently shaped heads their skin also reacts differently to certain material. For an additional cost of course.
  • USB-C port on the headphone is too shallow, I tried different cables but they all go in only 2/3 of the connector. The cable wobbles a bit and I am concerned this input will not last long. The connector should go in all the way and should have some sort of retention or strain relief on the connector side where it is going into the headphone cup.

Lastly, I would like to thank Hifiman for including me on this tour, I really enjoyed listening and interacting with this headphone and writing my impressions. I foresee a great future for Hifiman and its wireless venture and will monitor its progress closely.
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: well balanced, with perfect treble/mids
Cons: very uncomfortable and heavy with an inflexible cable
When I first heard the HE-500 I thought: »man these have the most natural sound I have ever heard.« And I still think so. These are also the first pair of headphones I didn't have to get used to the sound signature and liked them straight out of the box. Maybe because these are a loaner and were already burned in when I got them.
They are very well balanced when it comes to different tones. Treble is not bright, mids are there only the bass is kind of on the low side. I thought my HE-4 were the bassier headphones but when I did A/B comparrison between them I discovered they have the same amount of bass but the presentation is sligtly different. HE-500 is fuller or thicker while HE-4 bass is shalower and thinner but because HE-4 doesn't have as much mids, bass seems better defined and stronger. Because the lack of mids on HE-4 they also sound hollower between treble and bass, lots of full, unused air.
I compared these two headphones because I find them very similar actually. Most of the sonic differences I already mentioned above and of course HE-4 is the brighter headphone. HE-500 has a very relaxed smooth sound but the interesting thing is I could never fully relax when listening to them. And its not the fault of their sound signature but the comfort level. When I got these the headband was perfectly set for my head and the clamping wasn't too bad. HE-4 clamps harder while HE-300 is like air. I always thought the weight of 0.5kg would be a big problem but its not. It does bother me a bit because I am used to lighter headphones and I would certainly wish these were 150g lighter but I don't have any neck or back pains. I did however experinced some pain on top of my scul and my initial thought was that these need a headband like the Sony SA series so a wider one.
The real issue was the shallow space between my head and the capsule. My ears aren't Mickey mouse's ears but are rather small and are very close to my head. Still there wasn't enough space for them. I especially felt pain in my left ear as I have an ear ring in my upper part of the ear. I never imagined just touching the inner part of the capsule would hurt so much until I read these is a metal bar running across the capsule in the middle which I didn't noticed before. This is what is causing the pain. I have since got a bit acustomed to the disscomfort but still this puts me off enough to say I will never get these, unfortuneately as the sound signature is almost perfect. I would prefer slightly more bass but then I might be unable to hear mids so well. Something will suffer and I'm glad the mids and treble don't. I guess you can't have it all.
I will shortly touch the cable topic. I have the HE-6 v1 cable (heatshrink, thinner wires), HE-6 current cable, HE-4 cable+the HE-4 portable cable reterminated with unbalanced Neutrik connector, HE-300 speaker cable which I used to compare HE-4 directly with the HE-500 with the same speaker cable just terminated with a full ¼ jack. Interesting that when I first swapped HE-4 cable with the HE-6 cable I noticed the treble wen't down a bit. A very welcome change for bright headphones. Now its the other way around. One of my theories is the headphone was new and so was the stock cable while the HE-6 cable was used and therefore burned in. I didn't noticed any difference between HE-6 v1 or v2 cables except the newer one was slightly microphonic due to its thicker wire but the heatshink on the v1 was so long it was sometimes touching my shoulders. Sound signature is the same and in bass department comparable to HE-4 cable but brighter. So HE-4 cables is less bright, HE-6 is the bightest I have, Canare speaker cable that comes with HE-300/500 has increased the bass but the biggest surprise was the thin HE-4 portable cable which is of the thickness or RE earphones. Has just as much bass as the Canare speaker cable and tammed the treble a bit but it was slightly less detailed.
As much as I like the overall very good presentation of the Canare speaker cable with HE-500 and how it improves the bass quantity I have to say adding this cable in the package is »running from the problem rather than solving it«. The cable is way too heavy, thick and inflexible for a headphone. If the goal with it was increasing bass then the changes should be done to the driver rather than to cable choice. HE-6 cable is in many ways a very good cable and personally I could live with slightly less bass than with a significatly thicker and heavier cable.
Build quality is the same as the older and younger brother and sister (with the exception there are less visible marks around the connector on the HE-4 cup) the HE-4 and HE-300. The best thing I like on the Hifiman headphones is the sturdy build. When I hold HD800s in my hands I'm affraid they will break but these bring some confidence back. The pads on the loaner were alrady squashed a bit when I got them but they must be of the same thickness as the HE-300 as they also have the same level of softness while the HE-4 pads are several milimeters thicker and sturdier. The box HE-500s came in is the same as the HE-4 box covered with pleather with the exception of silver letters and lock opposed to golden colour on the HE-4 box.
My impressions are a bit different, I like to compare and since I know many members here have headphones of the lower Hifiman tier I decided I would use this opportunity to compare the models from Hifiman that I own. I have mentioned most of the differences above but I will summarize again and throw the HE-300 into the basket. HE-4 is the brightest headphone, it has a very well defined bass, in fact the best bass out of the three in my opinion. But it doesn't have much mids and there is where the HE-500 comes in. Reduce treble and add more mids. Perfect amount of everything, I would prefer slightly more bass but I am pushing it now. Mids are very liquid even from solid state amplifier. I first tried these from a speaker amp's headphone output which has more bass but it was poorly defined and I couldn't believe the bass is so poor. Then I tried it out of the Auditor which is a reference class SS amplifier. HE-500 has less bass out of it but its so much better defined. I also tried it with HM-602 and it was a very nice match. Not bright but very musical and involving and it didn't need much power, the volume was set at »2,5«. Overall HE-500 doesn't need that much power, on my Auditor the volume pot was set around 9 o'clock (more info on the photos). I must also add that the HE-4 sounded a bit more distant and so HE-500 were slightly more involving. HE-300 are the headphones with most mids. Exagerating with mids but after a while you get high with those mids. Bass is slightly more »bloaty« than the two more expensive headphones. No brightness at all and are the most comfortable headphones (even more than HD555 & HD800). If I compare these three with peaches the HE4 would be the sligtly green and harder peach, not quite matured but some like it that way, the HE-500 would be the perfect matured peach most people like, very sweet, and lastly the HE-300 would be the overmatured soft and mushy peach. All are likable, some prefer it this way, some the other way.
HE-500 has the almost perfect combo of everything but when you look from outside the box with the cable as thick and heavy as a power cable, less bass without the speaker cable, 0,5km weight on your head and the metal bar that causes quite the discomfort plus the high price tag you have to ask yourself if all that is worth it. Personally to me comfort is almost as import as the sound signature, I will always be looking for new headphone if the current one is causing me pain. Of course this is subjective and it may not bother everyone. Personally I'm very happy with HE-4 and HE-300 as they are completely different and bright some variety into my listening sesions. HE-500 is an upgrade to the HE-4 that I am certain of but the upgrade in sound signature is not as obvious as is the weight and discomfort difference. In the whole time of listening to HE-500 not for a moment I could fully relax, my ears just hurt too much. Maybe I am overly sensitive but I believe there is a lot of room for improvement for this headphone. Starting with reducing weight. That means one magnet on each side, consequently there will be no metal bar hurting ears and also the price will be lower. This of course is my opinion, opinion of someone who is not a headphone engineer just a man who likes to listen to music and enjoys it while doing it. At the end it came down to a single metal bar that decided that these headphones are not for me even though they had the most pleasing amount of everything I have heard so far.
Below is a link to some photos I have taken with, unfortunately, a poor quality camera lend to me by my best friend as I have lend my better camera to my sister who wen't to Barcelona.
A huge thanks for this opportunity to Hifiman/Head Direct and Mr. Sieveking for bringing this loaner out to the public and organizing it. I hope I am also considered for a similar program in the future as I am becoming quite a fan boy of Hifiman products (4 and counting) and would love to taste a bit of what is in the owen in the future.
Thanks again,
[size=11.0pt]kindest regards, Peter[/size]
Nice review, nice pictures. I have the hm602 to amp the he400s, I use to set volume around 7 ( (mine has 0-10 scale) on high gain. You said 2,5 for he500, is it ok?? I think it's to low for 400s at least.
have a nice day!
I have to add that I have since purchased the HE-500. Comfort has been improved by a huge margin with the new thick pads and I cannot feel the metal bar anymore. Phenomenal organic headphone that complements HD800 extremely well.
Nice review,.Sup. I have the same comfort issue with my he500s. What are these new thick pads you refer to? I'm gonna try the focus pads from the he560. I'd like to be able to do more than a couple hours cause i love the sound. I have the same issue with my lcd2.2 with my ears touching the fazor elements. I guess life is a series of trade-offs.