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HiFiman HE-500 (HE as in High End) Proving to be an enjoyable experience in listening.

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by jamato8, Apr 26, 2011.
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  1. davidsh
    That's rangy. Doh!
  2. ThurstonX
    Well, the Focus pads are... not bad.  They're about on par with the HM-5 pads in terms of comfort: a little clampy if the cups are angled toward the front, but that's easily dealt with; and a little claustrophobic compared to the Q701 pads.  That makes the Focus pads warmer to wear.  If you're not in a cool environment, they're not great (here I am stuck upstairs in a heat trap; yes, AC and ceiling fan going).  This must be pad #8, and none can touch the Q701 pads for roominess.  That comes with the price of stiffer foam, but I'll take that expansive sound stage any day.  The Focus pads aren't really itchy or anything, though we'll see with heat buildup over an extended session.
    I ended up adding the untrimmed foam rings that come with the stock pleather to raise them up a little.  Once the clamping force was compensated for by angling the cups just a touch toward the rear, they're pretty comfortable.  I have to tuck my ears in a bit, but these are less annoying than the Shure HPAEC1540 Replacement Alcantara Ear Pads, which kind of sit half on my ears.  Pity, as they could be seriously nice pads.  In order to ensure a good, non-clampy, non-touchy fit, the Focus pads require the cups being pulled down more than the Q701 pads; just to note; still plenty of room.
    Soundwise, the Focus pads are a little congested compared to what I'm used to, but I think my brain is already adjusting.  On my modded HE-500s there are no annoying peaks or glaring frequencies.  The HM-5 pads were a bust due to that, even modded.  Tested using the same suspect songs.  Bass impact is quite nice; it's a tad more diffuse with the roomy Q701 pads.  Vocals are a bit more in your face, but nothing awful; just a function of the amount of space.
    After a few songs (30 - 40 minutes) I'm coming to appreciate the sound more.  Definitely punchier bass than the Q701 pads, and those handle rock with deep bass pretty well.  The... focus... (BAH!) of having less room inside makes them slightly aggressive, but not in an unpleasant way.  Maybe it's due to the pleather inner rings.  It's actually a nice change, and will come in handy with albums that are mixed on the... thick side (Test For Echo by Rush being one; plenty of bass, but the Focus pads even out the presentation in relation to the Q pads).  OTOH, for poorly recorded and mixed indie rock, I'm not sure how the Focus pads will fare.
    After nearly two hours without taking them off, in the end I'm pretty happy with the Focus pads on my modded HE-500s.  After all the back and forth about them vs. the Focus A pads (granted, primarily in regards to how they sound on the HE-560s), I was a little worried about the investment.  While not the most comfortable pads I own, I was able to wear them that long (and could have gone longer), and most importantly, I'm diggin' the sound.
    Oh, and feel free to substitute "intimate" for "congested" [​IMG]
  3. ThurstonX
    LOL!  Thanks for the humor.  Being tall, I never think about it, so that one slipped right over my head, after angling upwards [​IMG]
    Rangy LIVES!!!
  4. ThurstonX
    Isn't that funny.  You associated my avatar with me.  It's art, baby.  Just like good writers may leave you thinking this or that character is autobiographical, they ain't.  Just good (avatar) art [​IMG]
  5. StanD
    But don't you wish that you were really Thurston Howell III Esq.? Now that would be art, you could afford Picasso and so on and all the headphones, DACs and Amps, all to your heart's content.
    By the way, now I'm getting in interested in those Q701 pads that you've been nagging me about, I like room. I figure that once the lab monkey has been experimented on enough, we'd know for sure. So what do you say? Which are your definite favs?
  6. ThurstonX
    Well, sure, but one can't choose one's fictional parents... oh wait... I AM ThurstonX Howell III, Esq.  [​IMG]  Thanks, Stan.  I'm off to eBay for some "fine" art.
    Dude, EFF the Q701 pads!  My bastardized hybrids are the shizz, yo!  I just thickened the foam rings using two donuts of thick Creatology felt (foam ring sandwiched in-between), then used a strip of the thinner felt to cover the inward-facing ring... JESUS!  Sunday done come early!  Can I get a Hallelujah?  Hallelujah!!!  Now we got some serious space in there, and interestingly, the bass is thumping looooooooooow, yo.  Makes me wish I had the HE-400s for comparison.  Yep, that low.  That's still surprising me, as it never hits that strong and low with the Q701 pads, which, as noted, are quite roomy.  Increased clamping is minimal, and easily adjusted out of mind.  Detail retrieval (high hats, cymbals, etc.) seems unaffected.  God, these are fun now, and my ears can breathe.  Oh yeah, and the sound stage is bigger now.  The Lyr says, Turn me up, sucka! and I must obey [​IMG]
    By all means, you should pick up the Q701 pads.  So inexpensive direct from AKG.  But you should check out the Focus pads.  Maybe on the pricey side, but they're more comfortable than the old stock pads.  Modding is optional.
    Rock on, brother [​IMG]
    For the record, I'll probably make another pair of rings with just one layer of felt.  This might be a tad over the top [​IMG] 
    Nope, I'm definitely not a basshead.  LOL.  Fun with acoustics, that's my motto.
    As to favs... I still gotta go with the Q701 pads, but once I nail down these Focus mods, they will get ear time, for sure.
  7. headphonatic
    From what I've learned, the noise floor differs from person to person. Personally, I don't think there's a better amp under $1000, and the noise is practically unnoticeable after the music starts playing. As long as you're extremely careful with the volume knob, the sound's definitely worth it. Plus, there's no damage to the headphones (just don't tell Fang, jk). I've tried the He-500's on the Phonitor, and the RPX-303. The RPX-303 (even as an amp) comes pretty close, but doesn't do soundstage like the TP60. I'd love to drive them through a 339 one day, but for now window shopping is all I can afford.
    To connect them, here's the link
  8. StanD
    1) Topping has a higher failure rate, from comments that I've read. Also I've seen distortion curves that increase much more as the volume is turned up.
    2) I believe headphonatic gave a link of which post has links to inexpensive adapter cables.
    3) Only if there was a catastrophic circuit failure.
    4) You'll have to consult with Professor Google on this one.
    5) IMO,you would probably not notice a difference with the Magni, unless you spent the money and had an emotional investment that took over [​IMG] 
  9. Llloyd
    A common misconception with people who are new to tube gear. Good tube amps. I imagine the lyr has a very clean sound while the valhalla goes for a more stereotypical "tubey" sound (see: cheap tube amp).  Some people are more into that romantic, overly warm sound, but that's not really what good tube gear is all about.  IMO a good amp is a good amp. Both tubes and SS can both be voiced similarly if the engineer/designer is meticulous enough.  I think people write tubes off a little too easily. On the other hand SS is a no frills solution
  10. Llloyd
    Since nobody really answered here, what you get is increased dynamics, detail, sound stage, not necessarily all of these, and a more immersive sound.  The biggest most immediate impact a good amp had on me was bass reproduction, secondary to that was an increase in texture/detail/transparency, tertiary being stage/dynamics.  The bass texture and control you can get out of a good amp is incredible on the HE-500.  This is assuming you have a source that can keep up with your amp but.. you're following it the right way--- similar to the path I followed with my purchase of the HE-500 about 2 years ago.  Get good headphones -> good amp -> then source upgrade -> amp upgrade 2, then I was done. Mostly did a little bit of trading, buying, selling to find a nice synergy with my gear and ended up with the current setup after switching back and forth between the taboo and my bakoon amp. I'm in a good place right now where if I want the extra bass I can pop the cans, but mostly my speakers and my headphones are nearly equal. Just depends on the situation for which ones I'll use. Kind of bought the bakoon on a whim and it wasn't really necessary, but it's a nice amp to have around nonetheless.
    I think the main thing is to once you get an amp, live with it for a bit and get to know the differences and see if you want more than what you're getting out of your headphones. Take some time to notice all of the little things that the HE-500 can do in different setups.
  11. shayson1357
    well, I'm upgrading from a sony xb-900 out of an on-board realtek to using the he-500 out of a speaker amp, not that big of a difference eh [​IMG] 
    so I'm willing to bet that upgraditis will remain in recession for a long time while I save up my dimes and quarters [​IMG]
    oh,by the way, is it a good idea to hookup a pc sound card to the amp's input ?
    would I get the extra features offered by that card ? and what advantages or disadvantages does that route hold instead of going with something like the odac with RCA outs [​IMG] ?
  12. .Sup
    Odac would be a nice upgrade over the onboard.
  13. Liu Junyuan
    That or a Modi.
  14. Nimzerz
    beware with the modi, i couldnt stand the treble when using the modi/emo/jergpads and had found that the velours were better than the jergpads in this setup due to it's less bright lower treble/upper mids. Just.... be careful with bright setups
  15. Liu Junyuan
    I know what you mean about the Modi. What are you using now?
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