Amps that can drive the HiFiMan HE-6 planar headphones

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by milosz, Dec 23, 2010.
  1. jerick70
    I ended up purchasing a Freya to give it a try. I see what you mean by the veiled sound. I put in a pair of Shuguang Treasure Cv181-zs in the gain sockets and the sound is much more resolving.

    One thing I noticed is the overall sound of the Freya is very noisy on tube gain mode. It picks up rf noise, cable noise, various noises from other components. It has to be the worst for interference of any component I've had in my chain. This contributes a lot to the veiled sound. I've tried a few things to eliminate the noise. I lifted the tubes off of the sockets with socket savers to distance them from the PCB. Also I've isolated the Freya from all other components in my audio chain. And then used the CV-181s in the gain sockets. This has made a huge difference in the fidelity of my Freya. Overall not a bad pre with the tweaks. I just need to decide if I like the sound signature. I'm eyeing a VAC Renaissance pre now that I've tried the Freya. I just need to find a dealer that will let me demo one.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  2. musicbuff
    ossidian, let us know how the HE-6 pairs up with the Mc and congratulations on acquiring the HE-6 NOS!
  3. ossidian
    Thank you Musicbuff and Merry Christmas! I can't wait for the adapter to arrive to tryout the cans.
  4. LarsHP
    Merry Christmas to you too. I should add that my answer is based on this:
    If you don't know for sure that the autoformers will adapt all the way up to 50 Ohm (which is considerably higher than any speaker I know of), then you should to put resistors between the taps. You will probably get away with 20 Ohm resistors instead of the normally recommended 10 Ohm power resistors and for this reason deliver relatively more power to the headphones.

    The HiFiMan adapter is made to protect either the amplifier (tube amps with output transformers) or headphones like HE-6 (from getting way too much power). The adapter also has resistors in series. This is to limit max output power. However, several people at this site have reported that the HiFiMan adapter reduces sound quality slightly - allegedly because the resistors used aren't the best. So you might want to buy to quality power resistors and switch the stock ones with those.

    An amplifier expert also told me that if we don't impedance match HE-6 when using a tube amp with output transformers, we will get rolled off sub bass.
  5. Shazb0t
    Anyone tried the HE-6 with the Schiit Vidar?
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  6. ossidian
    Well the HE-adapter arrived today. Taking LarsHP advise I went down to my local electronics store and replaced the inexpensive resistors inside the adapter unit with far superior parts.
    Listening to the HE-6 with the Big Mac is simply glorious. Plenty of power. Imaging, soundstage and depth is very large. Bass is fast and carnivorous lol.
    Midrange is what the Big Mac excels at and the HE-6 do not disappoint. Treble is lively with huge decay, meaning a symbol crash seems to just float in air with a sweeping shimmer.
    Vocals are sweet and inviting with lots of air. Large classical orchestras are no problem and never run out of steam on the Mac. Instrument separation is clearly defined.
    The highs are great and very detailed but I feel even the best solid state amps might tend to shine a light on the upper frequencies of these cans. Mods are available I see to address if one finds it an issue.
    I am fairly new to headphones but have 30 years in the HiFi hobby. My McIntosh MHA100 is very good but it is easily outclassed by the MC-2000. A have a pair of the MC-2000s running my living room system.
    I am so pleased with the sound I will seek out a 3rd MC-2000 to just pair with the HE-6, my holy grail bedroom headphone system. To me the HE-6 sound like HiFi speakers more than just cans, if that makes any sense lol.

    Note: The HE-Adapter quality is very inexpensive (though effective) so I decided in the future to build my own. I found superior parts and a much larger, heavier and well built chassis online.
    For twice the price of the stock adapter one can build a far superior adapter. Resistors and binding posts being the let down.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2017
  7. musicbuff
    ossidian, looks like you might be in for more... Don't know if you believe in burn-in, but since the HE-adapter and HE-6's are both new, you might find after a couple or few hundred hours, the sound quality improves even more. With the description you gave (of what things sound like right now) I know it's hard to believe it could get any better. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Either way, sounds like you're in for years of sumptuous listening pleasure. Enjoy!!! :o2smile: Thanks for the update.
  8. ossidian
    I am learning a lot here. I agree with burn-in. I just ordered some leather pads (Audeze LCD-2) that I want to to try out. This place is great but dangerous to ones pocket book lol.
    cskippy likes this.
  9. Oregonian
    Just curious - did you try the setup withOUT using the HFM adapter? I much preferred the sound straight from the speaker taps compared to using the adapter............and though you "improved" the adapter with the resistor changes I'd be interested in your thoughts without using it.
  10. ossidian
    It was understanding from others on this forum that it was not advised to run a tube amp with the HE-6 without a resistive load. Are you referring to running the amp with a set of resistors on the taps? Or running the HE-6 straight to the taps?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  11. cskippy
    According to LarsHP, he needs resisters in parallel to keep the amp operating safely. It's not like a SS amp.
    ossidian likes this.
  12. Oregonian
    My bad - I didn't remember it was a tube amp you are running. My experience was SS amps - specifically the Pioneer Spec 1 preamp/Spec 2 amp @ 250wpc.
  13. ossidian

    The 135 pound beast will put out 176 watts per channel 8 ohms, 205 into 4 ohms, 2 ohms, 107 into 1 ohm and 10.35 amps. The direct connect (which I first tried) was very nice and more open but even with a preamp with .5db increments (C200) the volume had to be careful controlled.
    Yes, the direct connect to the taps sounded superior but the safety was too much of a concern after discussing with Head-Fi members. The loss in quality is very negligible but it is noticeable. I will try running the cans off the speaker taps with a set of resistors on the taps.
    Note I run a pair of these as monoblocks by using a custom cable for the living room system. As mono blocks they put out over 350 into 8 ohms and over 200 into a 1 ohm load with over 20 amps.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
    cskippy likes this.
  14. cskippy
    God that is gorgeous!
  15. ossidian
    Running shotgun cable to the HE adapter is a real chore. The adapter is soo light and the speaker cables are soo heavy.
    Thanks. cskippy would you know how to run resistors off the taps so I can just use the speaker taps adapter directly to amp and bypass the adapter box? Does one run resistors off the Positive 8 ohm tap and the ground?

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