Headphoneus Supremus
HiFiMan HE6SE v HiFIMan Arya Organic - does the HE6 still have a place in the modern World?
Pros: Sound - legendary status - improvements over previous design - an absolute bargain compared to paunch RRP
Cons: Heavy & difficult to drive


In which I thank my suppliers and give a casual introduction and generally set the tone for the musings which will follow​

I got married in 2019. Typically of me it was a laid back experience where things just seemed to fall into place. That is, until HiFIMan came along. The esteemed company started really upping their game. There were headphones, Dacs, Amps coming out of that factory faster than the reviewers could keep up with. I have had a close relationship with HiFiMan for many years, but 2019 was when it got serious. I can remember the date it got real. It was 20th April 2019, 7 days before I was due to get married. The Jade II system arrived. The HE6SE arrived. Both big launches and both building from a huge cult following of previous designs. The items had been in the subjective review offices for a week and I recieved an email requesting their prompt return. Despite working full time and preparing for a wedding the following week, the business on these 2 items was done, they were returned, and, since that time, I have not had a single chance to return to the HE6SE. Now, we are back together again. I have the time to relaunch the relaunch, as it were.

HiFiMan had their arm twisted gently round their back and have very kindly sent me another review sample. Typically, the review samples from them are no different than that which you would get, should you order them. The SE part of the HE6 stands for special edition – it’s important not to confuse that for Stealth Edition. Special Edition, in this case, means the old HE6 has had a facelift. Based on feedback and research from the great brains that work behind the scenes to bring you these endless improvements, the HE6 looks quite different from it’s elder brother. A new headband, new connectors and a shiny new set of cups gives me the distinct impression that this looks like the Massdrop version of the legend.

Why is the old HE6 a legend? Because there is great love for it. Huge numbers of posts have been submitted regarding every aspect of this phone, how good it is, what is needed to bring out it’s best, who has what version, which pads are the best, how and what to mod, nothing has been left untouched. When the HE6 went out of production, to make way for new models such as the HE1000, there was a deep sigh of anguish which could be heard echoing through the valleys of the portable audio clan. How could they discard such a headphone? There were reasons, of course. The HE6 was heavy. The planar drivers were notoriously difficult to drive. Not only that; it was expensive aswell.

The HE6SE now​

The relaunch of the HE6 was a greatly anticipated affair. A new look, a more comfortable headand, a universal connector and a highly polished aluminium styling brought an old design a new flair. What hadn’t been changed were those planar drivers that so many people held in reverence. What remained of the old design was the weight and the inefficiency. Despite a new headband and an adapter to hook these up to a speaker amp, those 2 factors appear to have been stumbling blocks. It’s fair to say that the SE version of the HE6 has not sold as well as HiFiMan had hoped. The HE6SE are now becoming scarce. There are less SE’s around than there are 6’s. When you can find them, such as on the HiFiMan website this week, as per the introductory picture shown, they are on sale for a fraction of the RRP on launch, as illustrated below:

The UK bit of Amazon seems to be the only stockist around at present, although I’m sure HiFiMan would do what they could to source an SE for those of you outside of the UK. Do Not despair! Ok, so we have talked about buying them and how to find one, but are they actually worth purchasing, when there are 100s of other choices out there? That, my friends, is down to you. I can guide you as to what I think, but you really need to give them a listen first. When they’re so scarce that’s going to be difficult. Until now….

The HE6SE in action​

The opportunity to listen to the HE6SE and to compare it to another top class headphone as in the power of your fingertips. This is because I have the ability to bring you the actual sound of a set of full size headphones, as if you were wearing them yourself. All you need is an open mind, plenty of time, and some half decent headphones or earphones. I’ll do the rest. How though? Easy! I have a set of binaural in ear mics – the Sennheiser Ambeo, which I have connected to an ipad. I put these in my ears, set the volume correctly, put the headphones on over the in ears, put the music on and press record. The mics pick up what is going on inside the cups. I record in lossless, 44.1 quality and upload the results into the cloud, and provide a short sample on the YouTube video, as below:

You are closer to the truth now. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly that measurements for a headphone are interesting and important, especially in the design and quality control stages of their construction. But we don’t cannot listen to a measurement, we can only imagine what a headphone can sound like by studying it’s relative performance. Such analysis I will leave to the likes of those that have invested the time and money into doing them, at least for now. The only way you can truly know what a headphone sounds like is to listen to it over time, with different genres of music, different sources of hardware, in different moods. Of course, even I can’t provide you with all of this. My samples are at least a start, a part, of that journey. My observations are drawn over time, and with the different genres and sources, so bear with while I demystify the HE6SE/Arya debate, that is, hoping that you have had a chance to have a listen yourself by now. If not, please head back and equip yourself witha listen or 10. Then you’ll be able to draw your own conclusions.

HE6SE v Arya Organic​

This match is a legend v pedigree setup. The Arya is part of the new styling that stems from that 1st glimpse of the large teardrop design that was introduced for the HE1000 series. The headband for the 6SE is usually seen on the HiFiMan base models, the planar driver wouldn’t fit into the teardrop shape either. The overall aestetic impression is therefore that the HE6SE looks cheaper. I mean, it is now, but it certainly didn’t start out that way. The Arya Organic doesn’t need anything like the amount of power the HE6SE craves, it is happy with a fairly standard DacAmp. The Organic will respond to a bit more juice, as one would expect from a headphone of this class. I make no excuses for putting these 2 headphones into a very special headphone amplifier indeed. Fang Bian, the CEO and founder of HiFiMan has stated that the SE needs 2W at 50 Ohms to make it sing. I can provide 20W of Pure Class A mode with the kit I have used. How does that sound?!

Yes; that should do it. The EF1000 amplifier. A £13 000 slab of valve/transistor amplification that has no compromises. That is certainly a fitting place to plug in a couple of headphones for our little demo, don’t you think?
The results are in. The HE6SE was a punchy, detailed, lively affair, which could arguably be described as a little forward, or hot, or peaky, in the mid to high frequencies. The bass was faster, and leaner, than the Arya, the mids had more clarity, as did the highs, than it’s counterpart. It had to be turned up an awful lot higher than the Arya Organic. The Arya had an effortless, smooth, balanced sound to it, a fuller, richer bass and mid response, that hid some of the detail that was present in the HE6SE. The highs were rolled off somewhat compared to the SE, but tastefully so.


So,which was best? For detail and clarity – the HE6SE. For richness and tonality – the Arya Organic. For shortish periods of listening to music – the HE6SE. For longer sessions, using lots of different genres of music – the Arya Organic. These are my opinions, I respect if you feel differently, and maybe the measurements will asist you with that. I hope to see more reviews of theHE6SE in years to come. In fact, I shall take a look at the differences between this and the original, and see if there is anything sonically different. I suspect I may be part of a dying breed, but I sincerely hope that I’m not


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Hifiman HE6se
Pros: Great price for a flagship-level performance
Insanely fast, high-resolution sound
Never loses control
Fantastic for well-mastered, busy music
High-contrast, fun, and snappy type of sound
Very good tonality
Highly musical
The legend lives on
Cons: Very hard to drive (But you can get a quite cheap EF400 and you're set)
Not the most premium feeling
bland looking


HE6 was one of the big boi planars. They debuted in 2010 as one of the first models in HiFiMan’s offer and one of the first headphones of the revolution. Gandalf, I was there… 3000 years ago… At least, it feels like that.
A broke-ass kid, just touching the world of headphones. When I was buying my first good pair of cans, I tried the HE400, the OG one. It was something else. Shopkeepers wouldn’t even let me touch the HE6 at that time. It was uncomprehensive for headphones to cost that much. Stax and the Orpheus were basically unknown to people. The HE6 was listed in Forbes as one of the most expensive headphones at the time. It was dark times before planars were so easily accessible. And before $1000+, headphones were considered normal.

The HE6 was a big success for HiFiMan. So big that it became a product that was ordered and serviced for years to come. Even after the newer series came to life, some people still swear by the venerable HE6. A true classic, a young timer, actually. We can safely say that this is a mark of incredible quality in a world of change. HiFiMan often asked about repairs, and spare drivers were still continuing to manufacture them, so an idea popped up to refresh the HE6 into more modern, more comfortable headphones. This is how the HE6SE came to life. It uses the same drivers as the OG HE6, but a lighter and more comfortable frame. So, if you want a piece of the legend, you can have it. But isn’t it just some reheated dinner? After all, HiFiMan moved on with technology for a reason. Is there anything special about the HE6SE that the HE1000se can’t do?

Packaging and Comfort​


The HE6SE comes in an exquisite box covered in artificial leather. It looks like an oversized jewelry box. Inside, you will find the cans, a stock XLR cable with a 6,3mm adapter, and a few leaflets. It is basic, but frankly, what else do you need?

The cans share the suspension and headband system from the Sundara. This is a practical solution from HiFiMan, as it is much nicer than the original system that was implemented in HE6. It is also proven, and spare parts are available. The only thing missing is pivoting the cups, but during my testing, it was not an issue. Nothing worse than overcomplicated headphone that is hard to repair. No, thank you.

But when unboxing, it felt a little weird that the $400 cans have the same system as the $1800 ones. But, since it works… The comfort is there. It’s not as comfy as Meze Liric, but it is absolutely fine to use them for hours. At 470 grams, the weight is on the heavier side but still acceptable. It’s around 40 grams heavier than my Sundara Closed back.

Build Quality and Tech​


The headphone is well made. HiFiMan used metal and high-quality plastic. The headband’s support is made out of artificial leather. The perforated cups hold approx. 60mm planar magnetic driver. The diaphragm is gold-plated. It looks absolutely sick. You can be ballin’ on everybody on your nearest audio meet. The gold plating on the foil creates an inductor, which moves it in a strong magnetic field, creating sound. The HE6SE, just like the original HE6 has a very low sensitivity. You will need POWAH to make them sing. I’m talking 2W+, and I mean the real Watts. 83,5dB is no joke.

A balanced drive is recommended, as always with planars. You know me. The impedance is 50 Ohms, but many measurements show 64 Ohm impedance. While not crazy high, together with low sensitivity it can be a problem for amplifiers that don’t offer large output voltages. The low sensitivity is not all bad, though. The noise will be below the hearing threshold, even with tube gear. Most of the times.

The connections to the cups are made with a 3,5mm jack, unlike in the OG HE6, and I see it as a great quality of life improvement. Some people mod their HE6SE by removing the grille covering the drivers, but I have not tried it, and it is not a part of the review. I’m just letting you know there is an option if you are interested.



So, what does the HE6SE sound like? Absolutely fantastic. It is my favorite planar headphone now. If I had to use one word to describe it, it would be the resolution. It gives you 10/10 insight into the music. While it is slightly less detailed than HE1000se, it has better control. If you drive them properly, the HE6SE will never skip a beat.
Metalheads, EDM-lovers, this one is for you. For others too. It’s a very universal headphone, and its slightly darker, slightly musical tuning will appease many. The tonal balance is neutral, with a solid bass (especially for open-back headphones). It is a darker presentation than the newer series of headphones. It has its own style of sound. And it is not worse. It’s different. Dark neutrality. Perfect speed and control, with a fantastic insight into the textures. Luckily it wasn’t done by diminishing musicality. I’m using the HE6SE with HiFiMan’s EF400, and I believe it’s one of the best possible combinations, especially without spending unreasonable amounts of money. It does everything at least very well and many things exceptionally.


For an open back, the subject of this review checks all of the boxes. The speed, volume, textures, foot driving, impact it’s all in there. Let me tell you that listening to Halo by Machine Head was a ride. One of the most technically advanced songs by Californians, this song will keep you on your toes. The wall of sound, the crazy bass lines by Adam Duce, and the absolutely insane drums played by Dave McClain. It’s an all-out assault, a release of emotions musicians hold inside. Yet the HE6SE can reproduce that with no own input. In all that insanity, there is a calm professional who works to deliver you the best possible experience. I can’t describe the bass as anything less than perfection in open-back headphones.



I absolutely adore the Tenacious D. Below the funny lyrics and showmanship of JB and KG you will find great craftsmanship that might get overshadowed by these. It is also music focused on guitar and vocals. Which is perfect for this paragraph, isn’t it? Add to it, that the mastering of the Pick Of The Destiny is really good. The funniest benchmark ever is here. For my tests, I have selected The Classico. It really shows off Jack’s singing skills. The scale, the vibratos, the explosive dynamics. The HE6SE delivers his performance with absolute resolution. There is an endless amount of tone in his voice, and it shows. Another big pro of the cans is the fact that the sound is extremely smooth. It’s not smoothened. It’s smooth. It means that the distortion is really low. Somebody smart once said sometimes it’s not about what is in the sound. Sometimes it’s about what isn’t there. HE6SE gives you all you need and nothing besides that.


Treble is very good too. Listening to The Nearness Of You by Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio is a pure pleasure. The song is rich with cymbals from start to end. What I really like, and I imagine many of you will appreciate too, is that the highs are soft, yet they retain their detail. It’s not as detailed as on many other headphones in this class, but it provides more than enough information. What is lovely is that it never lets the sound get out of its grip. Even in more intensive passages, the sounds stay coherent and separated. The high tones of a piano are silky smooth, while at the same time, the cymbals are brassy and metallic. I feel the top end might be slightly lower in volume compared to the Harman tuning, but it’s the way I like it.


The HE6SE delivers a solid performance in the sound staging, but it is not as amazing as the other characteristics of the sound. It is certainly good enough, but it’s pretty far from the HD800. The stage is pretty close to the listener but not inside the head. There is good reach to the sides, but they could use some more depth. I tried the Muddy Waters song My Home Is In The Delta, and the mentioned happened, but there was an interesting thing. The whole album is full of big volume jumps, it’s very dynamic. And that is something that HE6SE excels at. Those leaps in volume really enhance and enlarge the perceived soundstage. But, and it’s a big but – you need a powerful amp to do that with the HE6SE.


HiFiMAN HE1000se


Brother against brother, the civil war. They are very different indeed. Their common point is the fact that both are very detailed and have great resolution. The HE1000se is brighter than the HE6SE, providing more detail, a nicer, and more interesting treble. The sound staging is also better on the newer model. There is much more space between the sound and the listener, which I appreciate very much.
On the other hand, the HE6SE is more pleasant sounding and excels at the control of the sound. The HE1000se is also more comfortable and easier to drive. Both are absolutely amazing headphones, and the final decision will come down to your preference. If you like hard and heavy music, the HE6SE will be a better choice, that’s for sure.

Audeze LCD-X 2021


The Audeze LCD-X 2021 was praised by us for its bass, but it has to take a knee before the HE6SE. While the American cans have more muscle, the quality is on HiFiMan’s side. It’s more agile, controlled, and refined without losing the fun aspect. The LCD-X has a thicker and richer midrange, which might be an advantage if that is something that you seek. It loses in insight and resolution, which was to be expected in this case. Treble is a close tie. HE6SE was smoother but sometimes more boring. The Audeze is more interesting but could go into too much in some cases. The soundstage of the two is on par also. This is probably the closest comparison in this review. A testimony of two amazing pairs of headphones.



The HEDD is darker in tonality but doesn’t provide as much in terms of bass, both amount-, and quality-wise. It has a completely different style of providing sound. More lively, more colorful. The sound also is leaner and faster than the HE6SE. The midrange of the HE6SE is more neutral and cleaner, but in some cases feels more boring. The treble of the HEDDphone is legendary, and the HE6SE can’t compete with it. It’s smoother and more detailed at the same time. Sharper in the good meaning. And it creates no fatigue, unlike the headphones themselves. The HEDDphone is well known for not being the most comfortable cans on the market.



A reasonable flagship for those unreasonable times. The HE6SE is one of the best planar headphones on the market. It shines in terms of resolution and control while delivering a slightly musical, intensive sound.

Its neutrality makes it easy to shape the sound with your chosen amplifier. Take your time choosing it. With its low sensitivity and 50/64Ohms impedance, the HE6SE is not easy to drive. The safe option is the EF400, and together they form the (probably) cheapest end-game setup on the market.

The comfort is not top-tier, and the materials used could have been nicer, but all of those objections vanish when you listen to it and compare the sound to the asked price. If you are shopping for cans in this price range, it’s an absolute must for an audition. The king lives on.

Highly Recommended.

Big thanks to HiFiMan for providing us with the HE6se for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion. HiFiMan hasn’t seen this review before publishing it.

About Author​

Michał Sommerfeld

I can really say “been there, done that” in regard to audio. Designing, building, fixing, reviewing, selling. All of that for big boy stereo. Headphones are something new and fresh for me. We all need something exciting now and then, so join me in my quest of discovering this cool world. We will listen to, drink and WE WILL bring the balance to the force. Oh, I like beer.
Just picked up a new pair, looking for the holy (open) grail as my other closed backs gotta go. I truly hope this is the one I have been looking for. Your review gives me much hope, and I'm thoroughly excited also. Thank you!


Reviewer at Sound Perfection Reviews
Formerly affiliated with HiFi Headphones
Pros: Bass impact, controlled and balanced sound, comfort
Cons: Hard to drive (not necessarily a con), weight
Firstly I would like to thank HiFiMAN for sending me this sample to review.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings

Gear Used:
Yulong DA10 > HE6SE
Keces S3 > HE6SE
Keces S3 > Keces E40 > HE6SE


Tech Specs:

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The HE6SE come in a big card box, inside this you will find the HE6SE box which is styled like the old HiFiMAN packaging except now better finished and more premium. With a hard box covered in black faux leather with a clasp on the front to close it. Inside you will find the headphones well secured in a cutout that is covered with silk like material. It is a luxurious unboxing, and one that you would expect for the price; you will find the cables in a little cutout in the middle, along with a manual styled like a book which is a nice touch.

Build quality is overall very good, the headband is metal with a leather comfort strap, the cups feel sturdy and HiFiMAN have now started using dual 3.5mm jacks on their headphones which is excellent for changing out cables. The earpads are their newer Palipads which seem fairly durable, and are easy to swap out. The cable is odd, with loose cores within a rubbery jacket, I have a feeling the inner materials are good but the cable just doesn’t feel all that special. I have no issues with the build quality, they feel solid and built to last.

Accessory wise you are supposed to get the HE-Adapter but mine didn’t (not an issue for me), you also get a pair of the standard Velour earpads, manual, cable and a 4-pin XLR to 6.3mm adapter. Overall a really good set of accessories and the HE-Adapter will help you hook them up to a speaker amplifier easier.


One of my gripes with the original HE series was always the comfort, these are still not a lightweight headphone but the headband is designed to distribute the weight a lot more effectively which means I can now wear these for extended periods of time with no discomfort. The new Palipads are soft and just about deep enough for me. The one downside to the headband, like with the Sundara, is the lack of swivel to adjust the front/back angle. When using angled pads like the stock ones this is not an issue but a swivel mechanism like the Ananda BT would have been nice.

Well the HE6SE are based on the legendary HE6, and they are well known to be one of the hardest to drive headphones on the market. With a sensitivity of only 83.5dB they need some serious amplification to sound their best, with HiFiMAN recommending at least 2wpc @50Ohms to do them justice. Headphone amps have evolved a little since the original HE6 came out, and there are some on the market that will drive the HE6SE pretty well; but most owners will recommend using them with an integrated speaker amplifier or a power amplifier in the range of 50-150wpc into 8Ohms. You shouldn’t need the HE-Adapter with amps ranging for around 50-100wpc but it might be safer to use it if you don’t want to risk damaging your headphones.

The Yulong DA10 does a respectable job powering the HE6SE but it comes across a little lifeless when you have tried the HE6SE out of a speaker amp. The Yulong is a very impressive DAC/Amp and brings out volume and detail, with good punch but it doesn’t match the dynamics of a more powerful amp.

For most of my listening I used a 4mm banana plug to 4-pin female XLR adapter that I made a while back using Van Damme starquad cable, out of the Keces E40 (50wpc @ 8Ohm) using the Keces S3 as a pure DAC into it. The E40 has a very black background with no hiss and usable volume being above the imbalance point of the pot.


Lows: The HE6SE are not a bass monster but what they have on their side is speed, agility and detail. When powered properly the HE6SE have excellent impact down low, hitting hard with authority but always in a controlled and precise manner. The transient response of the drivers means they never become bloated or congested even with the fastest of metal tracks. Sub-bass rumble is not very strong but they still extend well down into that region when called for, it just isn’t elevated. Not matter how strong the bass is in the mix, they never become muddy or bass heavy. This more neutral and controlled yet very dynamic approach to the lows means the HE6SE are happy to play along with all genres.

Midrange: The midrange is clean and clear, and always perfectly centered in the mix, with excellent layering. Vocals come across with natural tonality and each track is well isolated. Guitars have power, yet intricate acoustic tracks have plenty of nuance. The HE6SE have a way of rendering the tracks as they should be, with great accuracy yet honest and real timbre. Perfectly bridging the gap between the lows and highs, the midrange is never lost in the mix, neither is it too forward or attention grabbing. The natural way these present vocals can be haunting at times, the emotion rendered really is impressive.

Highs: The treble on these is perfect in my books, with the right balance when it comes to presence, falling perfectly in line with lows and midrange. Unashamedly clean and resolving without being bright, the overall linearity from lows to highs is highly enjoyable. The highs come across natural, with effortless extension and shimmer. They are not fatiguing up top yet they are always present and never take a back seat. The transparency up top does mean they do prefer well recorded music, and subtleties that are normally lost up top are on show with the HE6SE.

The soundstage is not huge but it has about equal width as it does height which is good. The HD800s and the Meze Empyrean still have a wider soundstage, but everything is well placed within the stage on the HE6SE. Imaging is one thing the HE6SE excel at, with pinpoint accuracy when it comes to placing instruments.

Comparisons: I can’t really think of anything that comes close to the engaging yet well balance nature of the HE6SE. The Mr Speakers Ether 2 have a more airy and slightly lean sound to them that just doesn’t match the energy of the HE6SE, the HD800s is wider in terms of soundstaging but are no way near as fun or musical. The LCD-4 and Final D8000 are probably the only main comparisons, with the D8000 extracting a little more fine detail with greater punch but they do not sound as neutral and well balanced as the HE6se. The LCD-4 has, again, got better detail retrieval but with lower energy and punch they sound a little reserved and almost boring in comparison, whilst being a superb headphone in their own right.


Well as you can see, and also probably know, I am a huge fan of the HE6, and the HE6SE. Providing you have an amp that is capable of driving them, the HE6SE are still one of the best headphones around if you enjoy a detailed, well balanced yet engaging listen. There is a fluidity to the HE6SE that is enticing, they have excellent coherency and the overall sound just works. Yes some headphones have better micro-detail, and others have better soundstaging, but when it comes to pure enjoyment and energy there are few that can match what these deliver. I know the price has gone up since the HE6 came out, but if you take into account inflation along with current flagship prices, the HE6SE actually stands its ground and can easily go hand in hand with today’s offerings that often cost more.

Sound Perfection Rating: 9.5/10 (amping is key to getting the most out of this legend reborn
I am a big confused you said they are not a bass monster and sub bass rumble is not strong, but that LCD4 has less punch and sound more reserved? Which headphone has more low end quantity?
@smodtactical The HE6SE hit harder than the LCD-4, but it doesn't make them a bass monster. LCD-4 are more reserved and perhaps neutral, but the HE6SE has more impact.

Dobrescu George

Reviewer: AudiophileHeaven
Pros: + Build Quality
+ Details, analytic sound
+ Dynamics
+ Textures
+ Revealing sound
Cons: - A bit cold sounding
- Design is a bit bland
HIFIMAN HE6SE Planar Magnetic Headphones Review - The Star Is Here

One of the most expected and eagerly awaited reviews at Audiophile-Heaven, the article on HE6Se is live now! This is a high-end flagship that really deserves more than just one article, so it has been covered during multiple videos, and other articles. There's more to hear about it, and how it compares with HIFIMAN Arya, Kennerton Thror, Audeze LCD-MX4, as well as something much more expensive line Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One. Pairings with Mytek Brookyln DAC+, Audio-Gd Master 19, and Xtenik xDuoo TA-10, will also prove that regardless how much you invest in the source, you can surely drive HE6Se and have an excellent time with it.


A lot of people have been wondering about HIFIMAN, and their current customer relations, build quality, as well as other information about their latest products. To be honest, I feel like I'm repeating myself sometimes, but it looks like there are as many impressions as there are people, and it will always be like this. I think HIFIMAN is doing really well. Their build quality is quite good nowadays, and although they still don't include a lot of metal in most of their headphones, they do in HE6SE. Furthermore, most HIFIMAN Headphones are fairly comfortable, with headphones like Arya making competition for HD800S in terms of comfort, and with Sundara being both light and wear-able in pretty rough conditions. Warranty and customer interaction is quite lovely nowadays, and HIFIMAN has an entire team dedicated to keeping their customers happy, not to mention everyone who had a problem in the past year having it solved and with very little to no cost.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in HIFIMAN HE6SE find their next music companion.

About me



First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:

With HIFIMAN HE6SE, you get a proper flagship package from HIFIMAN, with a large wooden box covered in a leathery material. You can find the headphones, the long, high quality cable, along with something unique, an adapter inside the package.

The adapter is actually a surprise for most headphone users, since it does something unique. HIFIMAN HE6SE is really hard to drive, so HIFIMAN designed an adapter that lets you power HE6SE directly from a power or integrated amplifier, in other words, using a speaker amplifier to power HE6SE.

Overall, the package is limited in terms of accessories, and there is no practical carrying case included, but you can always grab one that is made for Ananda / Ananda Bluetooth, and have a solution to carry HE6SE. Since the original cable allows for usage with both XLR and 6.3mm sources, you don't really miss anything on cables, unless you wanted a shorter / more comfortable cable.

What to look in when purchasing a high-end Planar Magnetic Headphone


Technical Specifications

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

HIFIMAN really revised their build quality with the latest models like Arya, and HE6SE makes no exception. I remember people complaining that HIFIMAN headphones were frail so when i first reviewed their Sunadara headphones i did my best to put them to a lot of torture. To my amazement they survived being worn in rain, dust, full sunlight and being thrown in a backpack. Now with HE6SE all those tests won't really be necessary, as they are a headphone made to be worn inside. This being said, I couldn't stop myself but also put the flagship through some tests. Since they have pretty much the same build quality as Sundara I can confirm that they survived the same tests. This being said they are much harder to drive so you are much less likely to use them outdoors, or put them to any kind of serious damage. Considering the most likely usage scenario, they should survive for years to come.

The headband and support mechanism are exactly the same as seen on Sundara which may feel a bit underwhelming, considering it's 1800 USD price point. Even the earpads are pretty much the same, but the weight is actually higher on HE6SE. The metalic cover on the driver is also different from the mesh used on Sundara making me feel confident that even less debris will ever touch the driver.

In practice the comfort is not the best, the headphone being considerably tighter and heavier than Arya or Sundara, or Sennheiser HD800 the most direct competitor considering the tuning and signature of HE6SE. This being said, HE6SE is not the worst in terms of comfort, it just isn't great. You should stick until the Sound Quality part of the review though, because even though HE6Se ain't so comfy, it still managed to get a ton of head time for me.

The overall design is bland and not overly interesting, but I always said this, even when reviewing Verum One, which was not that much of a looker, once you have a headphone on your head, especially once you have one that you'll be wearing mostly indoors, you won't really care how good it looks.

One important aspect about HE6SE you need to know, when it comes to their build quality, is that it has detachable cables, based on the 3.5mm Connectors, so any HIFIMAN cables should work, and you should also be able to use them with some Beyerdynamic Cables, as well as some Meze Cables. Furthermore, you should be able to easily order budget cables, if the default is too long or too thick, or not flexible enough for your liking.

And since HE6SE comes with a really long cable, that may feel a bit uncomfortable for some, I expect that questions about where to get replacement cables exist, which is why I'm happy HIFIMAN went with such a popular socket format.

The last aspect, although the most important, I wanted to talk about, is how hard they are to drive. We're talking about headphones which may require the power amplifier designed for a speaker here, they eat a few WATTS for power, and if that ain't a lot, I don't know what is. Not even this, but they come with an adapter for large speakers amplifiers, rather than anyone recommending exactly what to use with them, but so far I can recommend officially a few that will surely work, have enough power, deliver good punch and comfort. And if you know any of my previous reviews, you know I love to listen loud, in fact so loud, that something like Ananda Bluetooth is one of the very few BT headphones that gets close to my needs in terms of loudness when it comes to Bluetooth headphones. Of course, that was a bad comparison, to put it differently, when I was using DX220 with AMP7, which was the highest power module, together with Sundara, I would mostly crank the volume at the maximum possible, and still have a great time, so you get the point.

In the end, HE6SE is made well, eats lots of power, is not the most comfortable out there, but will last a long time. Even if you abuse it. It may even get up to ask for more.

Sound Quality

With so much complaining about the comfort and even about the build being bland, when it comes to a flagship, even one designed by HIFIMAN, a company I generally liked so far, would I say the sound is good enough for their 1800 USD price mark?

Well, yes.

So much so, that I consider the fact HIFIMAN made such a simple, yet good sounding headphone, a miracle, at least for those who wanted flagship sound quality, without investing in fancy designs and such, like Thror, which has both an interesting sound, but a good part of the price also goes in the design.

Now, with HE6SE, you have to keep in mind that I reviewed Arya, Kennerton Thror, Crosszone CZ-1, ROSSON RAD-0, and many other flagships, so I have pretty high expectations, and know quite well what kind of detail and clarity a headphone should have to be worth a certain price. With He6SE, it is the kind of headphone, where you know that you have to have it, the first time you hear it. The incredible amount of detail, clarity, precision and how correct / crisp the sound is really makes you want it.

To put it in better words, He6SE is a very analytic, slightly cold and slightly bright headphone, with a fairly linear bass, a clean, slightly recessed, detailed, revealing midrange, and with a slightly thin, sparkly, well extended and detailed treble. You may notice that I never called them sibiland or harsh, and this is because they really aren't either. They can be a bit cold, especially if you're looking for more bass, but otherwise, I think the signature and the tonal balance is pretty good.

The bass iswhat I usually call quick, revealing and crisp. There is good impact, and depth, and when the bass is called for, it really hits, but it is not overly present, so you probably will want something more bassy, if you listen to a lot of hip-hop, or if you like a lot of bass with your music. Even if you prefer a warmer, more romantic midrange, something like Arya would be an excellent choice, but if you want the honest truth, HE6SE will really reach your heart.

Now, I am a man who listens to a lot of quick music, a lot of metal, rock, and I love having the best clarity possible, and this is where HE6SE comes in. Even when compared to electrostatic setups, like HIFIMAN's own Jade II, or like Sonoma Model One I just reviewed, HE6SE manages to hold its ground (HE6SE being a planar magnetic headphone), so you won't be left behind in terms of detail, micro detail and clarity. This all comes at the cost of the headphone sounding a tad bright and cold, but this works really well for rock and metal, and you never feel like your music lacks presence. Rather, you hear every little bit of texture, every single intricacy, and even nuance, He6SE is really good at revealing all of those to you. It also reveals the source a lot, so an amplifier to match, and an amplifier that is as revealing is necessary for He6SE to be fully enjoyed.

The next thing you will be wondering about is the treble, and well, that is as sparkly, well extended and clear, as the midrange is detailed and revealing. HE6SE never strikes as harsh nor sibilant, and doesn't feel stressful, the treble having a slightly thin and soft presentation, which works really well, especially if you listen loud, love to have some presence of cymbals in your music, and if you don't want the treble to have a serious texture. HE6SE sounds very natural in this aspect, and actually, this is what made me go for it so many times, night after night, of pure bliss. They simply sound natural. I too enjoy having a more fun presentation sometimes, and even I love Arya's romantic serenades, but with HE6SE, I know that they sound natural, they sound live, they sound alive. They sound just like when I was playing the guitar with my friends, every instrument comes alive. They reveal exactly what you feed them, and this makes me love music once again with the same passion I did when I was 16 and played music with my friends.

The soundstage is what I would call normal and natural, it doesn't extend much more than what you'd expect it to normally do, and if you ever worked in a studio, He6SE has a studio type of stage, where it is large, but only what you would expect from a studio. It won't extend so well for orchestral, but the instrument separation is another strong characteristic of HE6SE, and overall instrument placing is also spot-on.

This doesn't mean they will hit the sweet spot for absolutely everyone, but if you want this kind of presentation, they should really hit the spot. The dynamics are also excellent, especially with the right amplifier, like Audio-gd master 19, or like Mytek Brooklyn DAC+. The textures are really clear and crisp, as you'd expect out of a revealing headphone, and everything about HE6SE sounds natural. For 1800 USD, they captured what impressed me when I tried Sennheiser's Orpheus system a few years ago, and this alone made me yearn for HE6SE so often.

Portable / Desktop Usage

Of course, this is a trick name for a part of my review, HE6SE is not portable by any means. I mean, the headphone itself would be pretty portable, despite the slightly increased weight when compared to Sundara, you could simply strap a Sundara cable to HE6SE and take it with you, if you found anything that would be capable of driving them properly.

The closest portable source I found that came close to driving HE6SE was iBasso DX220 while running AMP 7, but even then, the volume was a bit lower than what I typically give them.

The desktop usage though, is pretty much excellent. The earpads, although a bit small, are very comfortable, they are cushioned with a textile material, rather than pure leather or pleather on the inside. This makes the pads resist better to usage when compared to all-leather designs.

Coming with a cable that's long enough to run from your amplifier, even if it was a desktop amplifier, HE6SE really makes itself at home, when you're using it at home. A pretty big minus for portability, even for transporting them, is that they come with no carrying case, and unless you order any carrying case, like a Beyerdynamic Amiron Carrying case, or a HIFIMAN Ananda BT carrying case, you won't have how to carry them around.

This being said, for their 1800 USD price point, a 30 USD carrying case is not that large of an investment, and the presentation when unboxing them is really worth the money.


I promised the comparisons part of this review to be spicy and to put HE6SE to the test, so I chose HIFIMAN's own Arya, Kennerton Thror, and Audeze LCD-MX4 as the main competitors and contenders for HE6SE's role in this world.

HIFIMAN He6SE vs HIFIMAN Arya - When it comes to comparing HE6SE to Arya, you know it is going to be a hard one. There are no hard feelings, but HE6SE rubs me a bit better sonically, while I prefer the overall construction and design of Arya quite a bit more. Both are minimalistic headphones that come with little extras, and HE6SE may come in a fancier package, when compared to Arya which is really the definition of a barebone headphone. This being said, the design of Arya is different, and follows the design of Ananda, which is more oval, has much larger drivers and earcups, with more space for your ears to sit in. Arya also offers a slightly different headband, although for the longest time I didn't even notice they were different. Overall, Arya is larger and more comfortable. In terms of sound, Arya is firstly, easier to drive, so you won't have to bother with heavyweight amplifiers, like you have with He6SE, but you still have to have a pretty solid source for Arya as well. The sound of Arya is sweeter, lighter, more dynamic, but less punchy. HE6SE feels more focused, and although the soundstage is smaller, and I generally enjoy a larger soundstage, HE6SE's detail revealing abilities are better, with more macro and micro details. There's more nuance with Arya, but there's more refinement with He6SE. There's more treble sparkle with HE6SE, and Arya is warmer, easier to listen to, more tuned for fun and musicality, where He6Se is almost precisely tuned, like a swiss clock, for detail and precision. Out of those two, your choice will clearly be made based on which you will prefer sonically, as Arya and He6Se share many construction characteristics, like the same 3.5mm plugs for the earcups and such.

HIFIMAN He6SE vs Kennerton Thror Palisander - And how different they actually are, compared to what people may be thinking if reading the individual review of each. The trick here is that both are fairly neutral, but Thror is not necessarily an analytic headphone, it is much more of a neutral, yet musical headphone. By comparison, HE6SE is much more analytic, with more textures and detail. Some may argue that Thror has a smoother treble, which results in a smoother overall sound, and well, that may be true, if you are looking for something that's easier to listen to, Thror surely is impressive, but if you're looking for something that has the ultimate resolution, clarity and detail, HE6SE delivers int hat area better. Thror is not as cold, and He6SE is quite a bit colder, so the midrange of Thror ends up being a touch sweeter, than the ever so detailed works of HE6SE. The comfort is also different, with thror being more configurable, but also a bit tighter and heavier, so despite the more options to customize the comfort of Thror, you end up with better overall comfort from He6SE. The build quality is quite great on both, but Thror uses real wood, real metal, and ends up looking and feeling quite a bit more resilient, and like it could take a much harder beating than He6SE. If you're one who loves a headphone that looks great, Thror also looks better, with the palisander wood color making a much better looking headphone, than He6SE, which in my honest opinion is pretty bland in terms of aesthetics. Now, there's another thing to consider, which is the driving factor. Thror could be driven, and I'm not saying you will, but it could be driven from half of smartphones on the market at the moment of writing this review. By contrast, He6SE remains really quiet, and requires much more power, needing either a pretty strong amplifier, or a dedicated integrated amplifier that would be connected to HIFIMAN's Impedance Magic Box. Of course, to get the most out of Thror, you will need at least a midrange DAP like FiiO M11, but even then, HE6SE can't really be driven portably, making Thror the better option if you don't want to stress about power.

HIFIMAN He6SE vs Audeze LCD-MX4 - When you compare the definition of a "studio" headphone from two different companies, you get a really good idea of what each was aiming for. Both designed a headphone, which in my opinion, reproduces that type of studio sound, or rather that type of soundstage and instrument separation. This being said, the end product and the final result is largely different, and the headphone you get from each couldn't be more different. Starting with the build, LCD-MX4 is much more comfortable, at first, but it is also heavier than He6SE, and quite a bit so, so you're more likely to get good comfort from HE6SE than LCD-MX4, after you adjust to their personal fit and style. The cups and earpads of LCD-MX4 are much thicker, and if you like leather touching your ears, then MX4 feels better, but after having used each for hundred of hours, I can say for sure that I prefer HE6SE for the most part. On the other hand, LCD-MX4 feels better built, and looks a bit better, although both are pretty minimalistic headphones. In terms of how easy to drive they are, HE6SE is harder to drive than LCD-MX4, and you can fully enjoy an MX4 to the maximum with a Chord Mojo, iBasso DX227, iBasso DX160, FiiO Q5S, and most portables, while for HE6SE, you need more power. In terms of sonics, it looks like, once again, using the same technology, which is planar magnetic drivers, Audeze designed a much warmer, bassier, thicker, and more forward sounding headphone, than He6SE, which is nowhere near as forward or as warm. He6SE is neutral for the most part, where LCD-MX4 has a forward bass, a forward midrange, with a studio kind of soundstage, excellent instrument separation, and excellent detail, but with more dynamics at the price of revealing less textures than He6SE which is a detail monster. I understand the fact that some people really prefer a leaner, more smooth experience, and that if you're in the studio, you want to do your job for hours in a row, so He6SE, with their ultra revealing overall sound, and sparkly treble may not be a better studio headphone, than the smoother LDC-MX4, but then again, HIFIMAN never market He6SE as a studio headphone, that is more of a personal note, that it would work quite well as one.

HIFIMAN HE6SE vs Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One - You may start to wonder why the hecc did I add a comparison between a headphone that costs 1800 USD, or about 3000 USD as a package, with a setup that costs over 5800 USD. Sonoma model one may be almost twice the price of HE6SE, as a setup, compared to a stronger setup including HE6SE, but at the end of the day, both are headphones, and people have been asking for a long while for more comparisons with the Model One inside. Now, here's the fun part, Sonoma Model One is actually considerably lighter than HE6SE, being an electrostatic headphone. For this kind of headphone, the driver is extremely light, both the membrane, and the magnets, and relies on high voltages running through it, rather than a lot of power over a very large driver, like with He6SE, which has a very light and thin membrane, but larger magnets, or better said larger array of magnets producing the sound. The final result is that Model One sounds lighter, snapper, more fluid, but HE6SE manages to have pretty much the same detail level and clarity, with similar amounts of resolution. Model One was not designed as a studio headphone, and it has a larger soundstage that feels more holographic, with a sweeter midrange, and a more musical sound, especially after the setup warms up, which can take a few hours, but HE6SE still holds the key if you're looking for a sparkly and analytic sound. The bass on Model One is slightly lower in amount compared to He6SE, which doesn't have a lot of bass by itself. Now, you may be wondering if it is worth investing in Sonoma Model One, but well, HIFIMAN alsop has a Jade II electrostatic system, which was pretty similar, and which I will be comparing directly to model one soon, but if you ever heard a Stax setup and fell in love with the electrostatic kind of sound, then Model One is worth the asking price, otherwise, HE6SE and its long-tested planar magnetic tech may reach your soul better, with the deeper impact, more analytic sound, and more textures it reveals to you, as a listener.

Recommended Pairings

Since I mentioned a few times that HE6SE is a full desktop headphone, I went ahead and included mostly desktop amplifiers for the pairing part of this review, the chosen ones being Audio-GD Master 19, Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, and xDuoo TA-10, all of them pretty interesting choices. The last one is only included so that you get the hope that you can drive He6SE while on a slightly more restricted budget.

HIFIMAN HE6SE + Audio-GD Master 19 - Starting with the strongest pairing, or rather, what I consider to be a really strong pairing. Audio-GD Master 19 is the amplifier part of a great setup, and you may require a DAC to run it, so even the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ could be a part of this setup, but if not, I think that a DAC like the M2Tech Young MKIII DAC would still be pretty awesome DAC to power Audio-GD Master 19. Now, this is one of the more recent setups I've heard, but my face was like, WOW, this setup is made in heaven. In terms of driving power, Master 19 is one of the strongest Amplifiers out there, that can also act as a Pre for a larger system, if you wanted one. The sound is very neutral, with an uncolored signature, Master-19 acting mostly as a transparent window to your music, rather than an opaque coloring frame, like some other amplifiers do. The sound is extremely detailed, clear, crisp, punchy and dynamic, and brings out the best in HE6SE, and their alive signature. This setup won't work well if you dislike a colder setup, or something that tends to be a bit bright, but then, there's Mytek Brooklyn DAC+.

HIFIMAN HE6SE + Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ - This one's for you, if you heard He6Se, and wanted to make the midrange a bit warmer and sweeter, and the entire sound a bit more romantic. For all fairness, DAC+ manages to do exactly that, and although Mytek are better known for providing some of the most interesting DACs on the market, when they set out to implement a headphone output in one of their DACs, they managed to impress everyone with the large amounts of driving power, excellent control, punch and dynamics. In fact, it is pretty much as good as a dedicated amplifier like Master 19, but DAC+ has a different tonality, warmer, more romantic, more mellow and the detail, while it is there, feels less like it is being pushed onto you. I would say that both sources have a similarly large soundstage, and if you're looking for a large stage both offer that, but then, if you wanted to focus the stage of He6SE, I found the pairing below, with TA-10 to do that.

HIFIMAN HE6SE + xDuoo TA-10 - Then, there's xDuoo TA-10, which has a very warm, thick and smooth signature, and if you wanted to have the detail and revealing abilities of HE6SE, paired with a smooth, warm, thick, and bassy DAC / Amplifier, then TA-10 will deliver exactly that. Not only it is warm and smooth, it also colors He6SE, constricting their soundstage a bit, and delivering a more focused and intimate sound, which, if you wanted it, sounds really close to your heart. This won't work so well with metal, rock and orchestral music, but it will work well with room music, Jazz and other relaxed styles. The other definitory feature of TA-10 is the fact that it has some of that Tube magic inside, and if you ever heard any Woo Audio amplifier and wanted to get a similar signature, but for a lower price, TA-10 should be exactly that.

Value and Conclusion

The price of HE6SE is not quite that pocket-friendly, when you consider the fact that it is a barebone headphone, with not much extra coming at this price. But, you should keep in mind that it is a barebone flagship, not a barebone budget headphone, so you get a proper high-end headphone for 1800 USD. An extra carrying case will be 30 to 50 USD, and a good aftermarket cable may run for 100 USD, so you could get the headphone of your dreams for less than 2000 USD, and have an end-game headphone for that money. Of course, you'll need to complete the setup with an additional DAC and Amplifier, and something capable of driving HE6SE at that, but there are a few options out there.

The build quality of HE6SE is pretty much great, and although there isn't much invested in the looks of this one headphone, you can still enjoy it greatly. Not only that, but with less fluff to worry about, you just have to enjoy the music, and leave alone the headphone, which isn't meant to be more than a window to your music, and He6SE is pretty great at doing that.

As I noted in the sonic part of this review, the sonic performance of HE6SE is pretty much, like listening to live music. This comes with all of music's ugly and beauty, but if you were into playing an instrument, you will love HE6SE, and it may rekindle your love for music. If you're stuck at home, you will have a great time taking up playing an instrument, or just enjoying the music, or even reminiscing about the times when you used to stay outside, as a teenager. I know HE6SE is helping me greatly with those feelings, and since I started playing the guitar again, with a passion rekindled by it, I can say that if you like a revealing, analytic headphone, with a kick for textures, and clarity, you will love HE6SE.

Before the end of this review, I have to add He6SE to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame, because I feel it provides something no one else does at this moment, a headphone with excellent clarity, excellent detail, and a barebone construction, with everything in its price going to sound, so you can get your own carrying case and cables afterwards. Of course, it is made for those who don't mind their headphone looking like, well, a headphone.

Also, before the end of this review, I want to ask for your kind support, as I started a Patreon Page, and if you want to pledge even one USD / EUR to helping me keep Audiophile-Heaven running, I would really appreciate your support. Also, when watching Audiophile-Heaven Youtube Videos, leaving the ads to play may help my work and if it isn't too much trouble, all your help is greatly appreciated!

I hope you have enjoyed this video, and at the end of this review, if you are looking for an analytic headphone, if you don't mind simplistic design, and a practical approach, HIFIMAN HE6SE is one heck of a headphone to look at, and it won't disappoint. Instead, it is going to make your sonic experience one you won't forget any time soon, and will enjoy for a long time to come.

Full Playlist used for this review

While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

Youtube Playlist

Tidal Playlist


Song List

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine
Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet
I hope my review is helpful to you!


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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: good, solid sound quality
Cons: on 2019's headphone market $1000-1200 would reflect their value better
needs a powerful amplifier
not the best build for the money
HiFiMan have decided to send a good number of their headphones on a global review tour. I am lucky enough to have the HE6SE with me for two weeks in exchange of my honest opinion. I really appreciate when a manufacturer takes the risk and asks for opinions by sending out their products for free. In the long term this is beneficial for everyone, even if not all the reviews are purely positive. Thank you for this opportunity HiFiMan!

The original HE6 was launched in 2010 and it was quite a big hit back then. The last nine years however the headphone market has exploded and the competition has never been tougher. Each year we can spend our money on better sounding headphones delivering the same performance at more affordable prices.


The HE6SE (second edition) has the exact same transducers as the original HE6, but some things like the headband have changed. The HE6SE retails for $1799.
Just a few other prices to compare: Focal Clear $1499, Sennheiser HD800S $1699, Audeze LCD2 $995 HiFiMan Arya $1599.

I was very much looking forward to hearing the HE6SE, it is quite a legend after all. We all know how hard it is to drive them, even the manufacturer does not make a secret of it.


I run them out of my Auralic Taurus MKII amplifier which has an output power of 4.5Watts on 120 ohms in balanced mode. HiFiMan officially suggests 2-6W for the HE6SE, emphasizing how much synergy matters. They also claim: the more power the better, mentioning their own amp they made for the Susvara with an output power of 20W. When I sent a doubtful message to HiFiMan whether my Taurus is enough for the HE6SE, they said it should do a ‘decent job’. Therefore I am judging these cans doing a decent job, but it doesn’t mean they can’t scale any higher. They probably can, however I am sure I got a good enough taste of them to decide whether I would want to buy them or not.

A bit of myself:

I am definitely a planar guy, I need that well-extended, clean, clear and impactful bass only planars can offer. I listen to a lot of electronica and ambient but I am looking for an all-rounder headphone to cover other genres too. In this review I will mostly compare the HE6SE to the Audeze LCD2C and the HiFiMan Edition X V2.

Presentation, build quality:


The HE6SE comes in the exact same box as HiFiMan’s other headphones between $500-2000. It is a nice box but nothing exceptional.

HifiMan has become somewhat infamous about build-quality issues but I know they are listening and make extra effort to fix these problems. I can confirm, they are definitely on the right track but also not quite there yet, at least not with the HE6SE.


While the HE6SE has no big faults in build quality or design, it doesn’t feel like $1799 in your hands. In fact, the LCD2C has a more quality feel and cost only $799 which is a fraction of the HE6SE price. I could also mention Focal or Beyerdynamic headphones too around $1000 which convey a more premium feel than the HE6SE.

Apart from the strong metal yoke and the suspension style headband which I like, I struggle to find anything else I particularly like in the build of these headphones. The cable is not handy at all; it feels like some medical equipment which other reviewers have also mentioned. The cable does not bend nicely; instead it is jumping around when it moves. The HEXV2 has the same rather unfortunate cables.


Between the metal yokes and metal headband you find a plastic adjusting system. This system is stiff to begin with and very hard to find the right strength to adjust it to your liking. As you increase the force you are most likely to over-slide it.
Also, the higher setting you want to reach the more force you will need.
This is just not a quality feel. On the top of this, just like on the HEXV2, the paint in the middle of the metal will come off after just a few slides. I don’t find this acceptable if you spend this much on a headphone, especially when the competition has more elegant solutions.


The earpads and the covering grills also don’t enhance the feel of quality. The grills can slightly move around and the earpads feel cheap.


The earpads are swappable, but it is not an easy task. The plastic rings and the pads themselves feel fragile. I only tried to swap them twice as I was afraid I am going to destroy the little plastic hooks on the ring.


When a brand new DIY manufacturer like the Ukrainian Verum can manage to use a fantastically easy magnetic system to change their earcups, why can’t the big brands like HiFiMan or Audeze come up with something more user friendly?


I wouldn’t say the HE6SE is uncomfortable, but it is also not particularly comfortable. To me the weight is alright, although it is relatively heavy with its 480g. It is slightly lighter than Audeze headphones and slightly heavier than Focal headphones or HiFiMan’s own new line like the Ananda/Arya/HEXV2/HE1000.


I would say the earpads are mid-sized. Definitely less spacious than Audeze’s huge leather pads, but they also do not feel claustrophobic like Mr Speaker’s Aeon headphone pads. The fabric is not the most skin-friendly; I was never able to forget that I am wearing headphones. The LCD2C’s full pleather pads offer a much better feel.

Looking at HiFiMan’s new line of headphones and the competition between $800-2000 to me it is a real mystery which customers the HE6SE is aimed at.
Let’s try to find it out in the sound section.



While it is hard to find real faults in the HE6SE’s sound, it is also difficult to highlight any strengths. It does many things right, without being exceptional in anything. Most headphones above $1000 will sound good but customers will be looking for something specific in their sound presentation.
Are you after details and clarity? Go for Focal. Laid back treble and good bass? Audeze. Classic Hi-Fi sound? HD800S.
I could not put the HE6SE into any categories. It is ‘just’ a good sounding headphone. $1799 good? No, I do not think so, but definitely a strong competitor around $1000-1200 even after 9 years of ‘hard-to-drive’ history behind its back.


Using one word to describe the overall sound presentation I would say it is ‘solid’. It has a solid, firm sound, very confident and competent. It is definitely a neutral sounding headphone with a hint of warmth in the low-end, and interestingly with a relatively bright treble: quite an unusual combination.

The soundstage, airiness, instrument separation, details and resolution all bring what one would expect for the price. None of these qualities are exceptional, but they are definitely on par with other headphones around $800-1500.

The sound is nicely balanced, however it is not the midrange that takes the show. Between the solid and confident low-end and the slightly bright and detailed treble, vocal presentation somehow takes the second row.



As I have just mentioned, the bass is solid. It is firm, well extended and linear. It is also never, ever overpowering and never bleeds. I prefer the HE6SE bass presentation to the HEXV2. While the HEXV2 sounds much more spacious and softer, the HE6SE is more focused and has more bass impact. This is the sort of bass I am looking for in a planar. That said, the bass body and impact is still a little bit behind of Audeze headphones but to me it is a relatively close second with the HEXV2 being third. Dynamic driver headphones can’t touch the ball in this game.


I do not think midrange is the strength of the HE6SE. While again it does a decent job, it is not difficult to find headphones with better midrange for this money. Vocals are slightly recessed on the HE6SE, even on my LCD2C I have got fuller, sweeter and slightly more lifelike vocals. If you are into vocal centric music you can do better than this. ZMF comes to my mind or even HiFiMan’s other offerings like the HEXV2. The HEXV2 has a much more spacious and much more lifelike midrange.


Treble is where the HE6SE beats the LCD2, at least for the average listener. HE6SE treble is clear and airy, definitely much brighter than any Audeze. I never found it harsh or piercing, but have to admit I heard some sibilance every now and then with female vocals. Audeze offers a darker and smoother treble with less detail. In HE6SE treble there is definitely more space to breathe. I would however recommend HiFiMan’s other headphones instead, like the HEXV2.
HEXV2 treble is even more airy and more natural and I imagine Ananda and Arya would be the same, both for considerably less money than the HE6SE.


In my opinion HiFiMan with their new line (HEX, HE1000, Ananda, Arya) has jumped a sound quality level. What once was their TOTL headphone, after nine years struggles to keep up with their present mid-range offerings, as well as keeping up with the competition from other manufacturers. That said, the HE6SE is still a good headphone, but not for the current retail price, more so around $1000-1200. I simply couldn’t recommend the HE6SE versus the HEXV2 or Arya or any of the new line.



I have already touched on these, so this section will be brief. I had the HEXV2 and the LCD2C around with the HE6SE, so I can only compare to these headphones with confidence.
While the volume on my Taurus MKII is enough around 9 o’clock for both the HEXV2 and LCD2C, the HE6SE needed it at 12 o’clock for the same loudness.



The HEXV2 sounds very spacious, very natural and lifelike: almost like speakers. The HE6SE has a more focused sound with a much smaller head stage. The HEXV2 can sound too smooth sometimes, almost diffuse. This is great for the airy midrange, treble and lifelike vocals but not that great for bass when it comes to electronic music. I prefer the bass on the HE6SE because it is more focused and has better impact offering a more solid feel. That said in my opinion the HEXV2 is a better headphone in everything else.



It is not a secret, I like Audeze sound a lot. I prefer a more laid back treble with the perfect bass. The HE6SE is technically a little bit better. It is definitely more neutral with a brighter treble. The HE6SE brings out slightly more details.

While the HE6SE bass is very good, to my ears the LCD2C bass is even better. Slightly more in quantity and has even more impact. Mids on the 2C are sweeter, fuller and more lifelike to my ears.

Treble is objectively better on the HE6SE. It is brighter, airier, more detailed. The LCD2C sounds dark and warm in comparison and loosing details on top. That said I did find the HE6SE treble slightly sibilant at times. Still, I think treble is a win for HiFiMan.



Back to our original question; who is the HE6SE for in 2019 when HiFiMan has an entirely new line up and the competition has also moved forward a lot?

If I am honest, the more I think about it the less sure I am. The HE6SE is definitely a strong and competitive neutral headphone around $1000 even on today’s market. I can see two problems though. One; the HE6SE is not $1000, it is $1799. Two; I can’t see where the HE6SE stands out from the ever increasing crowd: maybe in history or heritage? That is true for sure, but who buys headphones for those reasons?


In my opinion there are better sounding headphones even in HiFiMan’s own stable for less money. The current price/performance ratio leaves me a bit puzzled and in a difficult situation to recommend these headphones to anyone. Sure, if you need a solid, neutral planar all-rounder near $1000, by all means look around for a HE6SE on the second-hand market. I can assure you, you won’t be disappointed as long as you have a beefy amplifier at hand.

However if you are after HiFiMan headphones, I would encourage you to audition any of their new(er) offerings like the Edition XV2, HE1000 variants, Arya or Ananda. In my opinion they all sound more advanced than the HE6 and won’t need a powerhouse to run.
Keep 'em coming, Betula :)
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Jade II or Arya will be next. :)
You can also find links to my previous reviews on my profile page. :wink:


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Fantastic imaging & transparency, strong bass, comfortable, detachable cable
Cons: Upper-mid dip followed by lower-treble spike can make listening at times rather rough, no side-side adjustments, requires a ton of power to bring out best performance.
To start off with a disclaim, I have never been able to hold or see in person the original HE-6 so I am unable to provide any comparisons to the original and updated version both in terms of construction and sound.

It’s not often that you come across a headphone that openly advertises how absurdly difficult it is to drive. Traditionally, headphones strive to me easier and easier to power, and in some cases, can be driven quite efficiently through a cellular device. But that is certainly not the case with the Hifiman HE-6 and it’s newest revision, the HE-6se which is what I’ll be talking about today. This speaker wearing, headphone disguise only has 50 ohm’s of resistance but this headphone is a perfect example as to why only looking at that number is a bad thing. The HE-6se’s sensitivity is only 83dB and Hifiman themselves even state “The HE6se is hungry for power, so it’s important to pair it with an amplifier that feeds it substantial output, 2 watts per channel or more.”

God certainly smiles fortune on me because I was lucky enough to fall first in the tour which happened at the same time as our local Carolina CanFest 7 audio meet in which Schiit was kind enough to send me their Ragnarok/Yggdrasil and Mjolnir 2/Gungnir MB to showcase, so I was able to provide the HE-6se with all the fuel it desired. So after 2 weeks and over easily 40+ hours of listening, I’d like to finally share my thoughts and impressions on this legendary headphone’s successor.

A little about me

I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.

I'm a firefighter for both the civilian and military sector and the cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.

I enjoy fishing and relaxing to audio products and then reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.

Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.

My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

Equipment used at least some point during the review

-Mjolnir 2
-Various other amps and setups at the audio meet

-Mjolnir MB

-LG V20/HP Pavilion
-Playing Pandora, YouTube, and various format personal music


I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.

The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

The Opening Experience

Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience

Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.

As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’

This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?


Hifiman, from my experience with their products, has always taken care to ensure that the owners of their products are made aware that they’ve just purchased a premium product and the HE-6se is of no exception. Hifiman presents you with a beautifully simplified cardboard showcase that, on the front, only shows an outline of the headphone as its centerpiece, the company name and logo, and the product name. As you rotate to the back, Hifiman continues this with only showcasing the base specifications that the HE-6se has so the user can understand what’s required for it to perform it’s best.

As you slip off the cardboard slip you’re presented with a very luxurious faux leather box that opens up on a hinge with only the product and company name printed on the front in a soft, cloth like, material. Upon opening the lid, you’re greeted with that very distinct new leather headphone smell and the warranty and instruction manual laid on top of a foam protector (on a side, THIS is what I love seeing. Let the product speak for itself, if a box is bogged down with “lookatme’s”, to me, that says that the company needs to boast instead of letting its actions [sonic performance] speak for itself. So very well done putting everything inside a pamphlet that I can inspect if I so choose.) and then under that is the HE6-se comfortably placed inside a form fitting, silk covered, cut out. In the middle of the HE-6se is where Hifiman placed the medium length, balanced, cable and a balanced-¼” jack adaptor.

A great many of people truthfully couldn’t care less about how a product is packaged and presented to them; so long as the headphone sounds great, it’s all good. But I for one appreciate it when a company takes the time and effort to put some pride in their appearance, and IMO, Hifiman is dressed to impress.



The build quality of the Hifiman HE-6se is certainly something to be impressed with. They definitely took the effort to source premium materials throughout it’s build and it not only looks the part of an $1,800 headphone but it feels it as well. The frame/headband of the HE-6se is an aluminum or metal material and is very lightweight while providing, IMO, a goldilox level of clamping force. The adjustments for size I will say is VERY stiff. I’ll leave that as a neutral opinion because if you’re the only one using the headphone then once you find the adjustment that works for you I doubt you’ll want it moving any more, which it will NOT, but on the other hand you’re gonna need to give it a, surprising, amount of force to start adjusting it.

Moving down, the open back cans themselves are made of what I believe to be a very premium plastic material and the cups are a hybrid between leather and cloth, which is a personal favorite of mine, and a 3.5mm termination on each cup. The cable itself is an interesting tubular style that I’m personally indifferent about (but personally prefer a cloth shielded look).

As I conclude this section I want to take a specific look at the framework and cups lack of side-side adjustment. Though, to my honest surprise, this didn’t affect comfort, it did make it impossible to get a complete seal on the pads, there was always a small cap right at the front of each ear. Though the overall construction of the HE-6se I believe to be very top notch, and each user's experience may very, but I do wish I was able to have it touch my entire ear, so a side-side adjustment would’ve been an appreciated addition.




As I said above in the construction section, I was quite surprised to find that the lack of side-side adjustment for the cans didn’t affect the comfort of the HE-6se’s whatsoever. I believe the longest session I had with these headphones was a little over 6 hours, with an average of 3-4 at a time, and not once did I ever need to readjust these at all. Not once did my ears become fatigued. Not once did my head become uncomfortable. Despite the size of these, the HE-6se, from my experience, kinda just disappears on your head when you’re really listening to and enjoying your music.

The hybrid leather/cloth pads provide a super nice experience that keeps the pads firm yet just enough give while allowing them to breath. The leather head strap, even though it doesn’t have any padding, never bothered my, fairly short, hair. Heck, even my big ole ears can fit nicely inside the pads without any issue and during the CanFest 7 meet, I didn’t hear anyone complain about the comfort either.

So to conclude, I find that Hifiman did a great job at the design of their new HE-6se headphone in terms of comfort. Though I still wish there was some side-side adjustment available, for the vast majority, these are super comfortable without any crippling complaints.


Before I start this section. It should go without saying but though I link YouTube videos when I’m giving examples, this is for convenience only. If applicable, I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to the music I’m referencing on as high a quality as possible to experience the fullest sound possible.


*Graph credit: Butterworth B. (2019), HiFiMan HE6se Headphones, soundstagenetwork.com*

From an objective standpoint, the Hifiman HE-6se is definitely a headphone that I can see why so many people rave so much about it. WHEN PROPERLY POWERED the level of detail, imaging, soundstage positioning, dynamics, and impact is amazing. Nandemonaiya (Kimi No Na Wa/Your Name) by RADWIMPS and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, shows transparency and explicit imaging and background detail that I’ve rarely heard on other headphones (sadly, I’ve only found this version on YouTube for you Tidal, etc… users). If there’s one takeaway I want to emphasize with the HE-6se to you is that the transparency and imaging of these will all but force you to close your eyes and experience whatever you’re listening to as if you’re there personally. The control and impact the HE-6se possesses over its bass make these terrific to listen to metal and hard rock tracks but also large orchestral music as well, Sanctuary - Anime Mix AMV does a fine job at showcasing the HE-6se’s ability to control rapid change in dynamics while never losing the slight subtle details present in a track. I know it’s not orchestral but you get the idea.

With all the above being said, I must say that the HE-6se does have a weakness that, at least for me, made me not too impressed with them for my personal tastes in music, and it’s the reason I attached a frequency graph at the top (which is something I rarely do). The HE-6se had a steep and notable dip in the upper mid range then an immediate spike in the lower treble. When I listen to these, especially with female artists such as Utada Hikaru and Adele, the vocals sound very distant from the rest of the track and then if the vocals are paired with highed toned instruments or beats then that leaves for a rough sounding transition that quite often catches you off guard. But allow me to talk about the individual aspects of the sound so that hopefully I can better describe what I’m referencing.


Believe it or not, many of Five Finger Death Punch’s music showcases the upper mid dip into lower treble spike I was referencing above quite well take “My Nemesis” for example. I know this is counterintuitive for what I just said about the HE-6se being wonderful for metal and hard rock music but with this band in particular, they just don’t mesh well. Listen to the powerful music video When the Seasons Change and I think you’ll get what I mean. It’s just not a smooth transition for the instruments. Also, Believer- RMX by Imagine Dragons/ PSY-TRANCE is another great example of this.

Now, when you’re actually into the mid-treble and higher, the HE-6se sound so darned beautiful and detailed. The piece A Moon Filled Sky by Tenmon, as I’m sure those of you who keep up with my reviews know, is one of my all time favorite treble pieces because it is just so emotional to listen to (and watching the anime sure doesn’t help). The violin especially is a key instrument I pay attention to because it, like the cello, has a special resonance to it that really puts my hair on end and when listening through the HE-6se, every fibre was at full attention. There’s a certain sparkle when listening to this headphone that is really something to experience. There’s no sharpness (again from the mid-highs up) and no painful peak. Though Hifiman claims the HE-6se can extend to 65kHz, there is absolutely no harshness, just complete mastery and pieces like Elements by Lindsey Stirling or “Until The Last Moment” by Yanni was so completely filled with energy and and excitement that I was mesmerized.

Despite having a lower treble sharpness (made worse by coming off an upper mid dip) the Hifiman HE-6se bestows some of the most beautiful and detail filled treble of any headphone I’ve heard.


The area that I pay the closest attention to. The mids are where the singers emotions are portrayed and we as a listener get a glimpse into what the song/piece is about. If you’ve any doubt, listen to the song by the late Chris Jones “Roadhouses and Automobiles” or “No Sanctuary Here.” Both tracks you can very easily and almost physically feel Jones’ breath on your skin as he sings. This level of body in the music is extremely rare, even rivaling my beloved Oppo PM-1’s, and really gives “texture” to the music, brings it alive. So long as you’re listening to the mid-mids and lower, the HE-6se is one amazing experience to behold. It tethers on that line between being a musical headphone and an analytical one. Now, as I’ve said above, the HE-6se is an unprecedented experience so long as you’re listening from the mid-mids and lower. If you listen to primarily female vocals, I fear you may not get the full enjoyment of the HE-6se because there’s a very notable dip in the upper mid range. Listen to Sanctuary (Opening) by Utada Hikaru is a great song to showcase what I’m talking about when I mention the upper mid dip. Utada is one of my personal favorite female artists but through the HE-6se the magic of her voice can’t be showcased like I know it can. Another great example of this is Love In The Dark by Adele.

To sum my thoughts on the Hifiman HE-6se’s mid range. There’s so much body that, so long as you’re listening to music in the mid-mid and lower range, you can almost physically feel the artists breath. The headphones just disappear into your music and all you’re left with is an experience. However, if you listen to female vocals or music that plays around a lot in the upper-mid and into the lower-treble, think you’ll find the HE-6se’s rather unimpressive.


Though I wouldn’t recommend the HE-6se to bass heads, they most certainly have a level of bass quality that is hard to match. There’s a very impressive level of speed and control with almost no decay and the track “Oracle” by Timmy Trumpet, is not only SUPER fun to listen to but shows the levels of speed and depth that the HE-6se has. For those of you metal heads the song “Jekyll and Hyde” by Five Finger Death Punch (FFDP I know what I said earlier but you’ve a few songs that work with this headphone [and I really love their work]). I can list several more EDM, trap etc… music but the bottom line is that the HE-6se has both quality and depth in the bass that not once, regardless of the music I was listening to or the mood I was in, did I wish for deeper bass. No, I’m no bass head and actually get turned off by bass that’s too deep but I’m quite confident that the vast majority of listeners will be quite satisfied with the rumblies that the HE-6se provides.



My final thoughts on the Hifiman HE-6se is that it’s, overall, an outstanding headphone that is one impressive experience. You MUST be aware that you NEED to have a LOT of power to bring out my results I’ve experienced because the difference in sub 2-3W amps is quite substantial, so please be aware of this if you intend to buy one please ensure you’ve the correct power. Additionally, even if you do have the power, the large dip in the upper mids followed by a steep spike in the lower treble can really catch you off guard and make certain tracks quite enjoyable and rough sounding. But, other than those 2 setbacks, the Hifiman HE-6se is a headphone that gives the listener an experience that justifies its legendary status for all these years and likely many more years to come.

Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.


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Mad Lust Envy
Mad Lust Envy
Fantastic review from a fantastic guy. I've always to try one of the hard to drive planars. Well, I mean, I did have the HE-4 which was the baby HE-6 back in the early days and was hard to drive but not on this level. I would've loved to compare with the flagship back then.
You say it slams hard, but wouldn't recommend them to bassheads. They are pretty flat into the 15 Hz range. OTOH, they do not slam like the the original HE-6. They also have a wicked rise centered at 3.8 kHz - which is far different then the HE-6 that has a much smaller rise in the 8-10 kHz area. The 3.8 kHz mountain is 15 db above 1.5 kHz and 11 db above 500 Hz. This spike absolutely alters female vocals negatively IMO.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great sound
Can be found used for great price
Slams hard!
Cons: Super hard to power
Build quality relative to other models
Hi All,

I have also published this review on my website, which I have linked below.


Thanks for checking it out if you get the chance!

Today we are talking about a very interesting piece of gear. The Hifiman HE6se!


Paired with my favourite DAC, the Chord DAVE!

This is Hifimans refreshed take on their venerable old classic headphone, the HE6. The HE6 was an incredible sounding headphone, riddled with flaws, but incredible sounding nonetheless. The original HE6 was incredibly hard to drive, needed modding to bring out their true potential, and lacked severely in terms of build quality. Hifiman has improved on the build quality with the HE6se, but they do remain incredibly hard to drive, and supposedly do need modding to reach their full potential. With that being said, I did not modify my pair whatsoever for this review. I don’t think it is fair to review the HE6se modified, as everyones modifications will sound a bit different. Going forward, everything I say about the HE6se is referring to a completely stock, unmodified pair. Right, with that out the way…

The build quality of the HE6se has been improved significantly. They sport the latest style of Hifiman headband, the same used on the Sundara. Whilst this headband doesn’t have gimbals to allow the ear cups to rotate and fit to your head, they do bend enough for the vast majority of users to obtain a comfortable fit. Some will struggle to, so as with every headphone, best to try before you buy! The headband is an improvement over the original Hifiman headband, and due to the suspension mechanism, is much more comfortable. The next change that Hifiman has brought to the HE6se vs. The original is the inclusion of 3.5mm connectors instead of the original SMC screw on type. The SMC connectors were notorious for signal drop outs, and were just fiddly in general. Although there are a pair of Velour ear pads included with the HE6se, they come out the box with a pair of Hifimans “Pali Pads” installed. These are the same pads that come with the Sundara. I really enjoyed these pads in terms of comfort and breathability. They also sound better than the velour pads, to my ears. You may differ, so if you purchase a pair of these headphones, give both a try. The headphones are very comfortable, but are a bit on the heavy side. The weight is well distributed, but the Susvara is definitely a more comfortable headphone than the HE6se.


Whats in the box!!!???

The other piece of kit that is included with HE6se is the Hifiman HE-Adapter. This little piece of gear, shown below, is designed to allow you to run the HE6se from a speaker amplifier. This shows that even the manufacturer understands that these headphones are epically hard to drive. They are perhaps a smidgen easier to drive than the original HE6, but they remain the hardest to drive headphones I have ever tried. There are other harder to drive headphones out there, but they are very rare. If you don’t supply the HE6se with ample power, you will notice the bass become weaker, and flabby sounding. The highs will be brittle and overbearing. If you supply them with lots of power, these issues fade away. The treble can still be a little bit overbearing, but the HE6se is a fairly bright headphone, and you would need to get into serious hardware modifications to change that. Many people report that the HE Adapter from Hifiman degrades sound quality, due to adding the resistors and other things into the signal path. I decided, due to these reports, that I would try driving the HE6se directly from the speaker taps of the amplifier I was using. As long as your speaker amplifier is solid state, this is completely safe to do, you just have to be careful with the volume control! You can buy adapters to do this fairly easily, from any custom cable maker, or on eBay.


The HE Adapter


Functional, and simple packaging.

So with all that being said, lets get into the sound of the HE6se

These sound absolutely great.


The bass is punchy and slams hard. Not as hard as the Abyss AB-1266, but closer than anything else I have personally heard, including the Susvara. It is similar to the Susvara in terms of quantity - not too much, but far from too little. I really enjoy the HE6se’s bass. It works especially well with electronica, and music with a lot of information in the bass line. It is not a “one note” bass experience, and is superbly dynamic.


The mid range on the HE6se is a bit less present than the Susvara, and reminds me more of the Abyss AB-1266 in terms of mids, rather than the Audeze LCD-2 or similar. I wouldn’t call the mid range lush, or romantic. It certainly isn’t overbearing in terms of quantity. The lower mids are a bit pulled back, and the upper mids are a bit more present to my ears. I wouldn’t say these are a V shaped sounding headphone, but they are closer to that than a headphone with a lot of mid range presence.


Bright. There is no way to get around this without getting into special hardware modifications. There is a lot of treble in terms of quantity. However, it doesn’t have any hardcore spikes that drill into your ears. I noticed a bit sibilance at times with female vocals, but apart from that it was alright. The treble doesn’t have the detail levels of the Susvara, but for the price these headphones are available at, it is impressive.


Looks great!

Overall the HE6se is an exceptionally pleasing headphone to listen to. If you enjoy the music I tend to listen to, electronica, jazz, metal, and rock, these headphones make and argument for being the best choice I have heard for the price. I definitely prefer the HE6se to the Audeze LCD-3 I used to own, and they cost less! I just had a look at the used market, and these seem to be going for just over $1000USD. If you are in the market for a pair of headphones in that price range, please give these consideration. Yes, there are cons. They are hard to drive (very hard actually) and can be a bit bright. Apart from that, they are just a superb headphone.



The Hifiman Sundara

Hifiman Sundara:
The Hifiman Sundara is currently available for $350USD, on sale from Hifiman directly. Again, these make an argument for being the best I have heard for the price. However, they don’t have the detail retrieval, dynamics capability, and enveloping sound that the HE6se possess. If you happen to be a Sundara owner, and are thinking to yourself “I’d sure like to upgrade, but not spend Susvara levels of money” then you should definitely consider the HE6se. It is like a Sundara on steroids. The bass on the Sundara is a bit of a one note experience, but there is none of that with the HE6se.


The Hifiman Susvara

Hifiman Susvara:
The Susvara does improve on the HE6se in terms of treble response, detail retrieval, and smoothness. However, the HE6se does slam harder. The HE6se is the brighter headphone of the two, and has a much more forward nature. The fact I can recommend the HE6se as an alternative to the $6000USD Susvara speaks volumes to how capable it is, especially for the price. If you like a very forward sound signature, that is bright, go for the HE6se. If you can’t afford the Susvara, consider the HE6se.


All in all, the HE6se has a few flaws. It is overly hard to drive, and requires careful consideration with regards to choosing source equipment. It is a bit bright at times, and does display some sibilance, especially with female vocals. It does however improve on the original in terms of materials and build quality, and it provides the best sound for your money that I have heard yet. It looks great, sound great, and is a real “all or nothing” headphone. If you can get your ears on a pair of HE6se, don’t miss your chance. I think that if people consider that a decent speaker amp for driving the HE6se can be had for much cheaper than many underpowered headphone amps, and can get over that mental hurdle, the HE6se quickly becomes one of the best “bargain” options on the market.

HE6se? =Lots of sound for your money. Highly recommended listen!
Thanks but it doesn't help. We pay 2-4X more by the time we get anything shipped here and after ransoming it from customs. If it's not already in the EU we simply cannot afford to buy expensive items.
Adorama once did offer me a pair for USD699, but too bad, the offer was late for 2 days, I already placed an order for USD1000 during Double 11 promotion in Taobao.
It's my best headphone. I disagree on some details in the review. The palipads are quite miserable sonically. The power cord is maybe worse. Also the bass doesn't have the impact of the 4 or 6 screw. Taking off the rear screens helps with brightness. I did the fuzzor mod to them but it was marginal in effect. There is a big dip at 1.7k. And a rise in the 3's. EQ them away and it's another step up. The headstage is the weak point. The Ananda, HEX v2, and He-500 w pad and screen mods have a much wider and correct headstage than the 6se. The 6se is great at pulling out details and does keep instruments apart but the stage - just not right much as the hd-600.