Headphones for metal music - ultimate solution
Jul 31, 2015 at 2:00 PM Post #1,816 of 12,271
  Guys,
I'm going to Capital Audio Fest at the end of August. Taking my DAC/Pre/HP amp (Nuprime DAC 10H which I use as the brain/nerve center for my speaker system
http://www.nuprimeaudio.com/index.php/pages/the-team/home-audio-dacs/dac-10h.html).
 
I'm hoping to audition some of the big players with the DAC 10H. So, looking for that one set of good cans for my mains.
 
You guys have me intrigued by the HE-6 which previously wasn't even a thought for me. But a lot of you love it for metal. I found the following review on Inner Fidelity which is pretty critical I would say:
 
 
 
HiFiMAN HE-6 ($1199)
Description - These are full size, open, planar magnetic headphones at the top of the HiFiMAN line.

Pink Noise - Very even through bass and mids; slightly uneven and overall slightly accentuated treble with a moderate low to mid-treble peak (think: "shhh").
Bass Texture/Extension - Very good in both texture and extension with slight bloom to sound.
Bass Slam - Planar magnetic cans typically have the best bass as a class of all headphone types. I found the HE-6 to do quite well in bass slam, but the slight bloom and strong treble to somewhat hinder their ability to hit the low notes hard.
Midrange - I found it a bit difficult to focus on the mids with these cans because of the mildly accentuated treble. The mids are very good, but I couldn't quite get interested with the distraction.
Treble - I find the treble here not only a bit too emphasized, but also having a bit too much "tizz," which obscures the natural sound of cymbals and brushwork.
Dynamics - These are very punchy sounding cans, as planar magnetics tend to be, but unfortunately it seems to me that too much impact is coming from excess treble energy.
Imaging - These deliver a strong sense of space and depth, but image specificity (the ability to separate instruments in space) is not so good. The zazzy highs are simply preventing it.

In defense of the HE-6 would anyone be willing to offer a counter to the claims of accentuated tizzy mid-treble peak that hinder low end slam?
 
I'm guessing the treble translates well to a lot of extreme metal. But, I need cans that can do genres besides metal.
 
Thoughts?
 
Apprec
Mark

 
I disagree with his findings. I really can't speak to his test gear as far as the pairing goes. Though I have a hard time believing that the $10,000 Apex Pinnacle is at fault, his comments seem to align with some remarks I have read about the headphone when it is under powered. I did have some issues with mid-treble tizz on the HE-500 when I first got it, but Jerg's very clever Fuzzor mod cleans that up very nicely. Not sure if that's what he was hearing. (However, I will say, the HE-6 I tried was totally stock, and I didn't notice the same issue.) 
 
Tyll likes his "Warm and yummy" sounding headphones, and that's okay, but I really can't agree with him on the "tizz and zazz" issue with the HE-6. Honestly, I think the HE-6 is the best headphone I've heard, top to bottom. The mids are probably the most elegant and romantic I've ever heard. The lows punch harder than just about anything (and somehow, miraculously don't invade on the other frequencies). And the treble is, to my ears, perfectly neutral and detailed in every way. The combination of clarity and emotion is quite unique. 
 
Keep in mind, I only tried the HE-6 through the DNA Stratus (in the balanced K1K input). This headphone is extremely sensitive to amp pairing, so YMMV, big time. I have no idea how your NuPrime will fare with it. It seems to be a little short on overall power (2.6w/ch... 5w/ch is recommended), but without a good understanding of the actual topology, it's hard to say if (or how much) that will hinder it. It's really more about swinging large amounts of current than anything, which is why so many people prefer pairing the HE-6 with class-A designs.
 
On your very last point, I also tested the HE-6 with an array of non-metal stuff (at least Deadmau5, Pearl Jam and Rush... maybe some other stuff I don't remember), and it totally rocked with everything.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 2:31 PM Post #1,817 of 12,271
In defense of the HE-6 would anyone be willing to offer a counter to the claims of accentuated tizzy mid-treble peak that hinder low end slam?  
I'm guessing the treble translates well to a lot of extreme metal. But, I need cans that can do genres besides metal.

 
Read this for a better idea about the HE-6:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared#user_HE6
 
Although I didn't get to hear it much, I thought it was only slightly bright, and it sounded good with everything. (But I want to emphasize that I like electrostats a lot more, with all music too.)
 
So you've only got sixteen pages to go until you've collected them all! :wink:

 
I see you've accepted my invitation to join this little club of ours.
cool.gif

 
Jul 31, 2015 at 2:49 PM Post #1,818 of 12,271
   
I disagree with his findings. I really can't speak to his test gear as far as the pairing goes. Though I have a hard time believing that the $10,000 Apex Pinnacle is at fault, his comments seem to align with some remarks I have read about the headphone when it is under powered. I did have some issues with mid-treble tizz on the HE-500 when I first got it, but Jerg's very clever Fuzzor mod cleans that up very nicely. Not sure if that's what he was hearing. (However, I will say, the HE-6 I tried was totally stock, and I didn't notice the same issue.) 
 
Tyll likes his "Warm and yummy" sounding headphones, and that's okay, but I really can't agree with him on the "tizz and zazz" issue with the HE-6. Honestly, I think the HE-6 is the best headphone I've heard, top to bottom. The mids are probably the most elegant and romantic I've ever heard. The lows punch harder than just about anything (and somehow, miraculously don't invade on the other frequencies). And the treble is, to my ears, perfectly neutral and detailed in every way. The combination of clarity and emotion is quite unique. 
 
Keep in mind, I only tried the HE-6 through the DNA Stratus (in the balanced K1K input). This headphone is extremely sensitive to amp pairing, so YMMV, big time. I have no idea how your NuPrime will fare with it. It seems to be a little short on overall power (2.6w/ch... 5w/ch is recommended), but without a good understanding of the actual topology, it's hard to say if (or how much) that will hinder it. It's really more about swinging large amounts of current than anything, which is why so many people prefer pairing the HE-6 with class-A designs.
 
On your very last point, I also tested the HE-6 with an array of non-metal stuff (at least Deadmau5, Pearl Jam and Rush... maybe some other stuff I don't remember), and it totally rocked with everything.


Cool, thanks for taking the time to share your thorough analysis. I'm going to give it a fair shot for sure. I'll probably also try to hear the 560, LCD stuff (though I don't really want to spend much in excess of 1K) and the Dharma.
 
The DAC-1OH was recently reviewed in the Absolute Sound and Inner Fidelity. I'll share the link if anyone's interested. Inner fidelity really liked it and he tried it with the HE-6 with no issues. I'll post the link if anyone might be interested in his review.
 
http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/nuprime-dac-10h-digital-analog-converter-headphone-amp#gPWe6ukss4uG6tQS.97
 
I fit the demographic that he writes about in his review: someone who bought the DAC primarily for a speaker system but was interested in having the HP amp capability when the time came for some nice HPs.
 
Here is are some of his findings on the HP amp piece of the DAC10-H and his conclusion:
 
Maximum output is 4,000mW per channel into 32 ohm loads via the balanced output. It will do 3,200mW into 50 ohms and 1,600mW into 100 ohms, meaning every variety of planar magnetic headphone should theoretically be well served. And that's exactly how it played out in my testing.
 
The notoriously difficult HiFiMAN HE-6, at just over 50 ohms, sounded better than I've ever heard from an integrated amp section. It didn't have that thin, bright character which comes from a lack of current. Low frequency performance was strong too, with excellent bass rumble and deep extension. I have heard the HE-6 sound better, but not without adding an expensive outboard amp.
 
Other models from HiFiMAN and Audeze sounded great as well—I particularly enjoyed the LCD-2 Fazor which has a more refined, detail-oriented sound than its predecessors. The amp stage of the DAC-10H seems to focus more on dynamics than micro-detail, so pairing it with the smoother first gen LCD-2 models may be too much of a good thing. HiFiMAN's new HE-1000 flagship has impressive highs and also sounds quite good from the DAC-10H. That probably makes for my favorite combo of all, though I recognize the price discrepancy is fairly extreme. Folks running a $3k headphone would almost certainly own a dedicated high-end headphone amp. Still, it's nice to hear what the NuPrime is capable of.
 
Moving away from planar headphone designs, I brought out a variety of dynamic options. High impedance models like HD800 and T1 had plenty of drive—my ears gave out long before maximum volume was achieved. The slightly smoothed top-end of the amp made a great match for these particular cans, both of which can sometimes be considered overly bright. Again the focus was more on a weighty, dynamic presentation than it was on detail retrieval. Subtle nuances were by no means glossed over—they just weren't as prominent as I've heard with some other amps. Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on the taste of each individual user. Note that I used the T1 only from the single ended jack, while all the other listening I've mentioned thus far was balanced. I do think the balanced option sounds superior and recommend using it whenever possible. The 1/4" jack is perfectly acceptable but in comparison sounds a little soft and "boxed in" for lack of a better term.

 
Bottom line—the amp section is satisfying to the point where it feels like a quality stand-alone amp rather than a mere add-on. It's so good that I believe NuPrime could release a dedicated headphone amp based on the same design and be quite successful. No sooner did I have that thought than I discovered NuPrime actually does have just such a device in the works, tentatively scheduled for an October release. If they can keep the price reasonable and perhaps lower the output impedance a bit, it could really be something.
NuPrime also sells a version of this device sans headphone amp, called the DAC-10. It goes for $1,495 which is $300 less than the DAC-10H.
 
I have yet to hear a headphone amp costing $300 that sounds this good, not to mention packing this much power or being a fully balanced design. The previously mentioned Lake People G103 doesn't match it, nor does the NuForce HA-200 ($349) I covered last year. Therefore it seems reasonable to recommend the version with the integrated amp as the better value, considering what you get for the money. Even if one mainly uses speakers at the moment, there may come a time when headphones enter the picture...if/when that happens, won't it be nice to have a very solid headphone amp already

 
Conclusion: There's certainly no shortage of quality DACs in the popular $1,000 to $2,000 price range. So how does the NuPrime DAC-10H stand out from the crowd? Let's recap: as a DAC, it equals anything I've heard in its class. Add in the exceptional preamp stage, the cutting edge format support, the very generous connectivity, and of course that killer balanced headphone amp, and it seems NuPrime is ahead of the game. There's really not much it can't do. If you find yourself in the market for new DAC, NuPrime's DAC-10H is worthy of very serious consideration
 
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 3:10 PM Post #1,819 of 12,271
 
Cool, thanks for taking the time to share your thorough analysis. I'm going to give it a fair shot for sure. I'll probably also try to hear the 560, LCD stuff (though I don't really want to spend much in excess of 1K) and the Dharma.
 
The DAC-1OH was recently reviewed in the Absolute Sound and Inner Fidelity. I'll share the link if anyone's interested. Inner fidelity really liked it and he tried it with the HE-6 with no issues. I'll post the link if anyone might be interested in his review.
 
Here is are some of his findings on the HP amp piece of the DAC10-H and his conclusion:
 
Maximum output is 4,000mW per channel into 32 ohm loads via the balanced output. It will do 3,200mW into 50 ohms and 1,600mW into 100 ohms, meaning every variety of planar magnetic headphone should theoretically be well served. And that's exactly how it played out in my testing.
 
The notoriously difficult HiFiMAN HE-6, at just over 50 ohms, sounded better than I've ever heard from an integrated amp section. It didn't have that thin, bright character which comes from a lack of current. Low frequency performance was strong too, with excellent bass rumble and deep extension. I have heard the HE-6 sound better, but not without adding an expensive outboard amp.
 

 

 
Well, that's certainly good news. It's also worth noting that the previously quoted article "Comparing World-Class Headphones" was from 2011, when the HE-6 was still brand spanking new to the market. This review is from 2015, so I would imagine Tyll has gained a significant amount of experience in amping the HE-6 in those four years. His feelings about the headphone may have evolved somewhat since that initial article.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 3:46 PM Post #1,820 of 12,271
Loving the HE6s so far with metal. The first thing I noticed over the HE500s was the overall improvement in richness of sound. Its not necessarily warm or lush but very extremely full sounding. 
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 3:49 PM Post #1,821 of 12,271
  Loving the HE6s so far with metal. The first thing I noticed over the HE500s was the overall improvement in richness of sound. Its not necessarily warm or lush but very extremely full sounding. 

 
Which amp are you using? Please and thank you.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 3:53 PM Post #1,822 of 12,271
  Loving the HE6s so far with metal. The first thing I noticed over the HE500s was the overall improvement in richness of sound. Its not necessarily warm or lush but very extremely full sounding. 

 
Now you can update your profile and signature for an instant "street cred" boost!
tongue_smile.gif

 
I also am curious which amp you are using.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 4:37 PM Post #1,823 of 12,271
Jul 31, 2015 at 4:51 PM Post #1,824 of 12,271
   
Well, that's certainly good news. It's also worth noting that the previously quoted article "Comparing World-Class Headphones" was from 2011, when the HE-6 was still brand spanking new to the market. This review is from 2015, so I would imagine Tyll has gained a significant amount of experience in amping the HE-6 in those four years. His feelings about the headphone may have evolved somewhat since that initial article.

Tyll did not write that (2015) review. John (project86 here) did.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 5:15 PM Post #1,825 of 12,271
markm1 said:
 In defense of the HE-6 would anyone be willing to offer a counter to the claims of accentuated tizzy mid-treble peak that hinder low end slam?

I'm guessing the treble translates well to a lot of extreme metal. But, I need cans that can do genres besides metal.

Thoughts?

Apprec
Mark


Hansotek pretty much nailed it.

With all due respect to Tyll, his opinion here is an outlier and should be treated as such.

Even taking into account his high sensitivity to treble and love for all things 'warm and yummy', he's got so much wrong in his write up that I have to assume the HE-6 he had was broken or (more likely) under amped. He describes the bass as bloomy, lacking in impact, and the headphone on the whole as lacking in dynamics, in stark contrast to the vast majority of opinions on the 6, which would contend the exact opposite.

When I have time I'll dig up some meet impressions from this year on the 6 for you to demonstrate a wider spread of opinion to illustrate that Tyll's is an outlier.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 5:34 PM Post #1,826 of 12,271
Hansotek pretty much nailed it.

With all due respect to Tyll, his opinion here is an outlier and should be treated as such.

Even taking into account his high sensitivity to treble and love for all things 'warm and yummy', he's got so much wrong in his write up that I have to assume the HE-6 he had was broken or (more likely) under amped. He describes the bass as bloomy, lacking in impact, and the headphone on the whole as lacking in dynamics, in stark contrast to the vast majority of opinions on the 6, which would contend the exact opposite.

When I have time I'll dig up some meet impressions from this year on the 6 for you to demonstrate a wider spread of opinion to illustrate that Tyll's is an outlier.


Thanks everyone. I just wanted to be clear was your collective praise for the 6 with the right amp in regards to metal in particular or across all genres. It seems to be the latter.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 5:59 PM Post #1,827 of 12,271
Guys,


I'm going to Capital Audio Fest at the end of August. Taking my DAC/Pre/HP amp (Nuprime DAC 10H which I use as the brain/nerve center for my speaker system


http://www.nuprimeaudio.com/index.php/pages/the-team/home-audio-dacs/dac-10h.html).


 


I'm hoping to audition some of the big players with the DAC 10H. So, looking for that one set of good cans for my mains.


 


You guys have me intrigued by the HE-6 which previously wasn't even a thought for me. But a lot of you love it for metal. I found the following review on Inner Fidelity which is pretty critical I would say:


 


 


 



HiFiMAN HE-6 ($1199)

Description - These are full size, open, planar magnetic headphones at the top of the HiFiMAN line.



Pink Noise - Very even through bass and mids; slightly uneven and overall slightly accentuated treble with a moderate low to mid-treble peak (think: "shhh").


Bass Texture/Extension - Very good in both texture and extension with slight bloom to sound.


Bass Slam - Planar magnetic cans typically have the best bass as a class of all headphone types. I found the HE-6 to do quite well in bass slam, but the slight bloom and strong treble to somewhat hinder their ability to hit the low notes hard.


Midrange - I found it a bit difficult to focus on the mids with these cans because of the mildly accentuated treble. The mids are very good, but I couldn't quite get interested with the distraction.


Treble - I find the treble here not only a bit too emphasized, but also having a bit too much "tizz," which obscures the natural sound of cymbals and brushwork.


Dynamics - These are very punchy sounding cans, as planar magnetics tend to be, but unfortunately it seems to me that too much impact is coming from excess treble energy.


Imaging - These deliver a strong sense of space and depth, but image specificity (the ability to separate instruments in space) is not so good. The zazzy highs are simply preventing it.




In defense of the HE-6 would anyone be willing to offer a counter to the claims of accentuated tizzy mid-treble peak that hinder low end slam?


 


I'm guessing the treble translates well to a lot of extreme metal. But, I need cans that can do genres besides metal.


 


Thoughts?


 


Apprec


Mark

 

Really strange opinion. Bass is not got good enough because author doesn't like treble... HE-6 scale well and fine-tune well to personal taste with mods, but stock version says about potential loud and clear.
Currently I use HE-6 at home for 80% of music and have no problem with jazz, metal and rock that consist most of my menu.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 6:32 PM Post #1,828 of 12,271
 
   
Well, that's certainly good news. It's also worth noting that the previously quoted article "Comparing World-Class Headphones" was from 2011, when the HE-6 was still brand spanking new to the market. This review is from 2015, so I would imagine Tyll has gained a significant amount of experience in amping the HE-6 in those four years. His feelings about the headphone may have evolved somewhat since that initial article.

Tyll did not write that (2015) review. John (project86 here) did.

 
Way to check the author, me. :/
 
Oh, by the way @paradoxper, way to solve this entire thread way back on page 17. I noticed that post when I was searching for @Music Alchemist's first post in the thread (in that conversation earlier). Now we're basically on page 105 of the epilogue... like a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 6:36 PM Post #1,829 of 12,271
  Oh, by the way @paradoxper, way to solve this entire thread way back on page 17. I noticed that post when I was searching for @Music Alchemist's first post in the thread (in that conversation earlier). Now we're basically on page 105 of the epilogue... like a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.

 
 
Jul 31, 2015 at 6:38 PM Post #1,830 of 12,271

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