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Help choosing when I cannot audition all phones (HE-500, LCD-X, HD800, HE-6)

  1. Gowry
    I'm facing a dilemna. I recently bought a pair of HE-500s and ordered a Matrix M-Stage w/OPA627 op-amps biased into Class A. Currently I'm listening to the HE-500s on an iBasso D10 Cobra. They sound really really good. I'd been listening to my Ultrasone Pro900s mostly lately, though I also have a pair of HD600's cabled with the cardas smurf cable. 
    I bought the HE-500s then started questioning whether this is end-game. If I'm gonna pay $700, maybe I should go end-game. If that's the case I should be considering the HD800s and the LCD-X. I'd consider the HE-6 also, but i don't think the M-Stage is gonna pair well with them. I've read that it pairs very well with the HD800. I see the HD800 may go on sale this Black Friday, too. Are the Audeze headphones as detailed as the HD800? Does the detail of the HE-500 compete with these with the amp I'm getting? Is the change in tonality the biggest difference between these headphones?
    I primarily listen to rock, electronica, and female vocals. I listen to very little classical or jazz. I do like listening to a lot of acoustic and female vocals, though. I really have enjoyed the HE-500's so far. Listening to tracks like Tin Pan Alley by Stevie Ray Vaughn, Over My Head by King's X, Disintegration by the Cure, or some Fiona Apple has revealed a lot of details I hadn't heard on my HD600 or Pro-900s. I like the guitar sound on them A LOT! Listening to Neil Young playing Cortez the Killer on Weld is great! I'm a little worried that the HE-500's are a bit fatiguing. The HD600's are by far the least fatiguing headphone I've ever worn. I can just melt into them. 
    I like the treble on the HE-500 other than thinking it may be a bit fatiguing. The headphones do clamp a bit, too. I am thinking that I'd adjust the headband more in the future to make them easier to wear. I'm wondering how much the sound of the HE-500 will change once I get the m-stage, too. 
    Any suggestions for me? I hate being undecided. I'm just worried I'm gonna get something and later find that my tastes would have been better served by xxx.
    Thank you all. I've been reading through messages all weekend long. It's comforting knowing there are others out there as obsessive as me =D
  2. TheJosablo
    I've heard several reviews of the HE-6 being better than the HD800 because they say the senns will be sibilant at times and has too much of an open soundstage which the HE-6's will perform better at, i have not tried them for myself, but hey, here are my two cents, lets hear from the experts I hope.
  3. manbear
    IMO, it would be best to listen to the HE-500 with the M-Stage for a while, then think about new cans. Enjoy your upgrades incrementally -- the M-Stage will hopefully be a good step up from the portable amp. The HE-500 likes power. You won't get any more for the HE-500 selling them now (used, that is -- I don't know if you're still in the return window). So enjoy the journey.
    FWIW, the HE-500 and HE-6 used to be considered peers, until Hifiman adjusted prices to make the HE-6 the "flagship." So you're already in end-game territory. There's always more though [​IMG]

    Also, try some jerg pads for the HE-500. They definitely made a difference with my HE-400. The holes are easy to cut, just skip the velour top mod if the sewing looks intimidating. 
  4. Saren
    If you are having trouble with the comfort of the HE-500 then the Audeze and Hifiman HE-6 are quite similar/heavier in weight. The Audeze is a fair bit heavier being more than even the LCD-2/3 models due to the metal construct? (if I recall correctly) The HE-6 has a more extended high end than the HE-500, the HD800 is noticeably brighter. If you find the HE-500 fatiguing in the treble then those two may be a bit much ultimately, as the HE-500 treble is not very forward like the other two. The HD800 is the most detailed, as you mentioned you like the detail offered by high end cans. The HE-6 will need more power than the matrix can offer, it will sound thin and will lack volume. HE-6 sensitivity is very low and needs a lot of power to be on the safe side for peaks in music listening.
    I cannot comment on the sound of the LCD-X having never heard it.
    One thing to keep mind of is that the HE-500 is an outstanding sounding headphone for the price and is a top value. From this point on diminishing returns begins to kick in and the differences between cans, can become the finer details and incremental increases. Don't expect a 1400 dollar headphone to sound 200% as good as the HE-500 on a total level. Sure sound signatures may be preferred, but you have a fantastic headphone there.
  5. Gowry
    Thank you all for the replies.
    I am still in the 30 day trial period for the HE-500s. I plan on continuing to listen to them. I guess the frustration is not being able to compare them to the others or understand the differences. When I say I'm afraid they are fatiguing, I don't think it's the treble necessarily. For example, cymbals don't make me feel fatigued. An example of what might me just take headphones off in the middle of a long listening situation can be found at about 1:45 into "What If" by Coldplay on the X&Y album. Right as it goes into the "
    Ooh ooh-ooh, that's right" it's like some sort of overload. The HD600 are much more relaxed now. Maybe the m-stage amp will make a big difference when it comes. What would you call this sound? It could just be that it's poor mastering (ie., loudness wars.)​
    Also, it's not really weight that bugs me. It's clamping on my ears and making my ears warm. I think some loosening of the headband will likely fix that, but I doubt they will ever be as comfortable as the HD600. Are the HD800 as invisible as the HD600 in this regard?​
  6. szanella
    I currently have the HE500, the HE6 and the LCD 2.2... my favorite one is, by far, the HE500, followed by the HE6.
    I honestly believe you're in the end-game territory, and would suggest you not to expect much difference between the LCD and the HE500 - the main difference will be signature. Actually, the LCD has less details and a more closed presentation than the HE-500. For my tastes, it's rather inferior, and much less confortable (or more unconfortable, if you prefer).
    HE-6 vs He500 is a whole different story. Sound signature apart (bass and treble levels), the HE6 is a league above the 500, airier, with wider soundstage and amzing detail retrieval.
    Btw, the HE500 REALLY benefits from power. Wait for your new amp before thinking about selling it!
  7. Happy Camper
    The HD 800s are the best of the HDs. The HE6s are the best of the HEs.

    IMO, the 500s are 85-90% of the 6s with similar gear that can get the most out of both so better value goes to the 500s, absolute best performance belong to the 6s. The soundstage and micro-details improve on both with quality power but the 500s can be ran on lesser amps with more presence because of higher sensitivity. If given proper power, the 6s will show you why it's the statement headphone of HiFiMan. Problem is most headphone amps won't provide that to the 6s. Many have confused loudness with quality power. I feel quality power will expose more detail with less db with reserve current that delivers quickly with demanding peaks. Quality power won't collapse the soundstage when demand requires it.

    The 800s are a larger % above the 6xx (though I love the 600s). The "veil" of the 650 is removed but if you like them, the 800s will seem brighter. The 800s are detail monsters which is why a lot like tubes on them. An analogy I've found describes the 800s on a SS DAC (analytical) & SS amp will be like a sonic microscope. Of course there are warm or analytical components from both tube and SS gear so this isn't an absolute statement.

    Both 800s and 6s demand the best gear or else you will hear all the warts of components, wire, material. That's why you hear both scale very well with better gear. Between the HD & HE, hard choice. I'll let those who own both to discuss the comparisons. There are tradeoffs between the two.

    The weight of both the 500 and 6 are 502 gm per Head Direct.

    Other options that play in the same field are the T-1 and though I've not heard them, the Abyss (over $5k). Then there are the stat phones that are also in that top end of headphone nirvana. That will demand you study in their needs. They demand their own special amp.The top end Stax with amp gets into it's own league. The Koss rig is another option.
  8. Graphicism Contributor
    Save yourself some cash and pickup the discontinued Sony MDR-SA3000 before they're gone for good. While the HD800s might be the better all-round performer, the money you saved could be spent on an OTL Tube amp with some nice tubes. The Sony's have greater accuracy and anything with real instruments is a real treat to listen too. The Sennheisers are more musical and theatrical and would be considered better overall I suppose. As far as electronica goes I wouldn't really consider either a typical big-bass performer, however if you go back through head-fi history you will see the Sony SA5000s were at one point a leading contender. How times have changed. [​IMG]
  9. Gowry
    Thanks, szanella
    It is good to hear from someone who has those phones. Everyone says the HE500's benefit from power. How will the m-stage do? From what I've read it's really good for the HD800 and I've read some reviews saying it's good with the HE500's as well. I'm guessing it's not enough for the HE-6. Hmmm...if you hadn't said you prefer the HE500's to the HE-6, I'd consider that maybe I should get them and upgrade my amplifier later (or try driving them from my NAD C340--since speaker amps and the HE-6 seems to be all the rage. I'd probably blow them up, though) Would the M-Stage bring the HE-6's close to the HE-500s? Oh...and don't think the thought hasn't crossed my mind that I could get the LCD2.2 and keep my HE-500 for the same cost as the LCD-X or LCD3.
    Graphicism, I'll have to read up on the MDR-SA3000. Natalie Merchant, Fiona Apple, Suzanne Vega....if it makes them shine, then they will be cans that I want. Listening to Daft Punk leads me to believe that the HE500's are great at electronica. 
    I'll give the HE500's some soak time. Listening to Neil Young's Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House now. I had hoped the m-stage would show up on my doorstep today. Hopefully tomorrow! 
  10. Gowry
    Oh. I just dug around in my garage and found my X-Can V2. Definitely has some extra weight behind the sound now and a lot more smooth, too! I'm hearing some sorta sub-bass on Suit & Tie that I didn't remember hearing on my Pro 900. It's just a hint of it though. Fun!
    Seems I remember people saying to leave the XCan running to let the tube get nice and toasty?
  11. Graphicism Contributor
    Oh absolutely, and thinking about it the Sony's are at a price where you can buy and sell them in 6-12 months time for what you paid if not more. If they're not your cup of tea that is.
    I'm also a big fan of electronica, I've been through the typical selection bass-forward headphones and found the Denon D7000 close to perfect. However I do the majority of my headphone-listening at night to unwind, I save electronica for the day-time and my speaker setup. On an evening I listen to the likes of Diana Krall, Natalie Merchant as you mentioned and other calming female vocalists; I find these excel on the SA3000s more so than any other headphone I've had the luxury of listening too. Not simply for their accuracy but true sense of space, I often find myself taking them off my head thinking I've left the speakers on. Folk and other instrumental music is also excellent.
    I should also mention the comfort; they're light, they do not clamp or dig into my head and (as I live in Florida) do not make my ears sweat!
  12. Claritas
    I doubt there is an "end game," but if there is, you get there by playing the game. That said, asking for help is a good start.
    I can't recommend headphones for music genres I don't know about. But I can certainly report about physical comfort:
    All of the Hifimans are heavy and uncomfortable.
    All of the Audeze are comfortable enough.
    HD800 is easily most comfortable of the ones you asked about.
  13. Gowry
    So, since I've last posted I received my m-stage amp and added a Peachtree Dac-iT x.
    It sounds really good and sometimes I feel that euphonic feel that I'm seeking. Listening to Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun album at the moment.
    It's a very mellow sound. 
    I love the detail--especially in the highs. I can hear so many little things that were never clear before. The only thing that bothers me is that the soundstage isn't as all-encompassing as I thought it would be. Does anyone else have these and the pro-900s and can compare the soundstage? I've done a partial kees mod on my pro 900s. I think it tamed the bass with some cotton and a piece of felt (but not covering the holes. Does the pro-900 have a better soundstage? Maybe it's a result of the s-logic. I feel more like I'm wearing headphones with the he-500. I have to take off my pro-900s to check my surroundings far more often than the he-500s...of course that might partially be because they're closed. Don't get me wrong. I definitely prefer the he-500s. I just wish they had the same soundstage. Please take this with a grain of salt, too. This is my feeling atm and I don't have my pro-900 here to to an A/B compare with. I tend to leave them at work.
    Would the LCD3 have a smaller or wider soundstage?
    Thank you all for your comments. 
  14. Gowry
    Last night, I replaced the leather earcups with the velour ones. It's made a fairly substantial change. I believe now that there is a greater soundstage and they don't seem harsh at all. 
  15. Taowolf51
    Once you get in endgame territory, finding the right headphone is more about your personal preferences over small incremental changes in "accuracy". I'd really listen to as much as you can before jumping into endgame.
    If you can visit a meet or an audio trade show, I'd do it. It's an excellent way to listen to and compare top-end gear.
    I'd check out the thread about powering orthos with the Emotiva Mini-X speaker amp, it's becoming a very popular amp for orthos because of how much power you get for the money.

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