Hifiman HE6-SE
Sep 30, 2018 at 5:38 PM Post #112 of 3,903
After seeing spritzer's teardown of the Shangri La Jr., I wouldn't consider purchasing a CHiFiMan electrostat.

Spritzer tore apart the IFI IESL pro and said that it had absolutely no gain and was poorly designed, though I respect his knowledge I'm not sure everything he says is correct.
Then again the original jade had lots of issues and Hifiman hasnt made much progress in their QC...
 
Sep 30, 2018 at 6:14 PM Post #114 of 3,903
Spritzer tore apart the IFI IESL pro and said that it had absolutely no gain and was poorly designed, though I respect his knowledge I'm not sure everything he says is correct.
Then again the original jade had lots of issues and Hifiman hasnt made much progress in their QC...

Yup and also headphones are much simpler breakdowns than an amp.
 
Oct 2, 2018 at 12:22 AM Post #116 of 3,903
Have to say I'm really impressed with the build quality of the HE6SE. It feels like a premium headphone. Zero creaks or rattles. The cable seems very high quality with zero microphonics or other annoyances. It just feels solid & well put together.

I remember every time I saw the original HE6 at meets it always seemed to give the impression of a cheap plastic toy.

Hifiman has come a long way in build quality. Very impressed. For those of you put off by the HE6 and waiting for the same sound in a higher quality better put together product - the HE6SE delivers.
 
Oct 3, 2018 at 6:52 PM Post #117 of 3,903
Hey Guys,

I was able to get my hands on an HE-Adapter to try running the HE6se from a speaker amp. I realise its still not an ideal set up. I have an adapter coming that I purchased which will allow me to go straight from the speaker taps, as supposedly the HE-Adapter degrades sound quality. Whether or not that is true, I’m not sure. I guess I will find out.

Now. Lets get the initial concern out of the way. Price. $1800 is too expensive, but if you can find a deal, these headphones are worth consideration. If the HE6se is indeed the same as the original HE6, which Hifiman has told me the drivers are, trying to find a used pair in good condition is *definitely* worth checking out. $800(ish) for this sound quality is a good deal in todays market. $800+cheap receiver from thrift shop+SDAC or similar=“budget” TOTL heaven? I think it might. For under $1000USD you could have a set up competitive with the best out there. Is it as good as the Susvara on a TOTL set up? No….but it wouldn’t be *miles* off. Diminishing returns are real in this hobby, and I think the HE6se, or a used HE6, makes an argument for being some of the best sound out there for the money. At least that I have heard.

As I said, the set up I’m using isn’t ideal. Currently it is Chord DAVE->Cheapo Marantz receiver I had lying around->HE-Adapter->HE6se. Would some high roller speaker amp be better, sure, probably, but I’m happy for the time being :)

The HE6se sound *so* much better with some proper behind them. Even just a cheap A/V receiver. I was getting some distortion with the DAVE as these things are so tough to power. I’m super glad I decided to give the receiver a try. Everything across the board sounds better. I didn’t expect such a profound change.

The bass, whilst not the most in terms of quantity, is surprisingly good in terms of quality. Does it slam as hard as, and is it as visceral as the Abyss Phi or Susvara? No. But it is still super. It digs down fairly deep. Putting power behind the HE6se has made the bass come alive. It isn’t as weak and limp sounding. I listen to lots of electronica with fast complicated bass patterns, and the HE6se doesn’t struggle at all with them. Its defined, fast, and has decent detail retrieval. Sub bass is a bit rolled off I think. Not too bad, but you can tell there isn’t as much sub bass as some headphones.

The mids aren’t what I would call warm and present, like an Audeze LCD-2 or something similar in sound to that. Its a colder sounding headphone. Thats not to say the mids are super sucked out and recessed, they aren’t. I wouldn’t say this is a V-Shaped sounding headphone. I don’t hear any weird hardcore spikes in the mids.

Ok here is the weird part. I wasn’t sure I really liked the treble before trying these with a speaker amp. I thought it was a bit rough, and raspy. Now, while it is still elevated sounding, it is smoother sounding, and less raspy. It just sounds very clean and clear. However, if you like darker headphones, these are not the headphones for you. I could see the treble being problematic in terms of quantity for some people. I don’t mind it, but some definitely might.

Detail retrieval on a whole is impressive. Not as good as the Susvara, it doesn’t dig as hard and deep into the recording to bring out those tiny details, but compared to the Sundara it is a *lot* better. I can see why the HE6 was the flagship. Imaging is pretty good, not amazing though. I think this is a product of the soundstage not being that large and expansive. It isn’t an “out of your head” type of sound. It is totally acceptable, better than the Focal Utopia in terms of soundstage, but not imaging. The soundstage isn’t super deep and natural sounding like the Susvara.

All in all, with some proper power behind them, these headphones are great. I was a bit luke warm on them until I heard them with the speaker amp. If you have $800 to spend on a pair of headphones and can find a good condition pair of used HE6, and don’t mind running them from a cheap receiver with a budget DAC, that would be a heck of a good set up for the money. Are these worth $1800? I’m not so sure. They are certainly a great sounding headphone, but that extra $1000 on top of what you would pay for a used pair of HE6 is difficult to reconcile. However, *if* you can find like $600 off, and again you don’t mind going the budget route for source gear then boom. That would be a great set up for less than an LCD-3, and it sounds better (to me and my ears.) These headphones are a bit of a conundrum. If Fang hadn’t gone full potato with regards to pricing, I think I could say these are some of the best value out there, with one or two caveats. As it stands? Buy a used pair of HE6, or haggle hard.
 
Oct 4, 2018 at 4:14 AM Post #118 of 3,903
Hey Guys,

I was able to get my hands on an HE-Adapter to try running the HE6se from a speaker amp. I realise its still not an ideal set up. I have an adapter coming that I purchased which will allow me to go straight from the speaker taps, as supposedly the HE-Adapter degrades sound quality. Whether or not that is true, I’m not sure. I guess I will find out.

Now. Lets get the initial concern out of the way. Price. $1800 is too expensive, but if you can find a deal, these headphones are worth consideration. If the HE6se is indeed the same as the original HE6, which Hifiman has told me the drivers are, trying to find a used pair in good condition is *definitely* worth checking out. $800(ish) for this sound quality is a good deal in todays market. $800+cheap receiver from thrift shop+SDAC or similar=“budget” TOTL heaven? I think it might. For under $1000USD you could have a set up competitive with the best out there. Is it as good as the Susvara on a TOTL set up? No….but it wouldn’t be *miles* off. Diminishing returns are real in this hobby, and I think the HE6se, or a used HE6, makes an argument for being some of the best sound out there for the money. At least that I have heard.

As I said, the set up I’m using isn’t ideal. Currently it is Chord DAVE->Cheapo Marantz receiver I had lying around->HE-Adapter->HE6se. Would some high roller speaker amp be better, sure, probably, but I’m happy for the time being :)

The HE6se sound *so* much better with some proper behind them. Even just a cheap A/V receiver. I was getting some distortion with the DAVE as these things are so tough to power. I’m super glad I decided to give the receiver a try. Everything across the board sounds better. I didn’t expect such a profound change.

The bass, whilst not the most in terms of quantity, is surprisingly good in terms of quality. Does it slam as hard as, and is it as visceral as the Abyss Phi or Susvara? No. But it is still super. It digs down fairly deep. Putting power behind the HE6se has made the bass come alive. It isn’t as weak and limp sounding. I listen to lots of electronica with fast complicated bass patterns, and the HE6se doesn’t struggle at all with them. Its defined, fast, and has decent detail retrieval. Sub bass is a bit rolled off I think. Not too bad, but you can tell there isn’t as much sub bass as some headphones.

The mids aren’t what I would call warm and present, like an Audeze LCD-2 or something similar in sound to that. Its a colder sounding headphone. Thats not to say the mids are super sucked out and recessed, they aren’t. I wouldn’t say this is a V-Shaped sounding headphone. I don’t hear any weird hardcore spikes in the mids.

Ok here is the weird part. I wasn’t sure I really liked the treble before trying these with a speaker amp. I thought it was a bit rough, and raspy. Now, while it is still elevated sounding, it is smoother sounding, and less raspy. It just sounds very clean and clear. However, if you like darker headphones, these are not the headphones for you. I could see the treble being problematic in terms of quantity for some people. I don’t mind it, but some definitely might.

Detail retrieval on a whole is impressive. Not as good as the Susvara, it doesn’t dig as hard and deep into the recording to bring out those tiny details, but compared to the Sundara it is a *lot* better. I can see why the HE6 was the flagship. Imaging is pretty good, not amazing though. I think this is a product of the soundstage not being that large and expansive. It isn’t an “out of your head” type of sound. It is totally acceptable, better than the Focal Utopia in terms of soundstage, but not imaging. The soundstage isn’t super deep and natural sounding like the Susvara.

All in all, with some proper power behind them, these headphones are great. I was a bit luke warm on them until I heard them with the speaker amp. If you have $800 to spend on a pair of headphones and can find a good condition pair of used HE6, and don’t mind running them from a cheap receiver with a budget DAC, that would be a heck of a good set up for the money. Are these worth $1800? I’m not so sure. They are certainly a great sounding headphone, but that extra $1000 on top of what you would pay for a used pair of HE6 is difficult to reconcile. However, *if* you can find like $600 off, and again you don’t mind going the budget route for source gear then boom. That would be a great set up for less than an LCD-3, and it sounds better (to me and my ears.) These headphones are a bit of a conundrum. If Fang hadn’t gone full potato with regards to pricing, I think I could say these are some of the best value out there, with one or two caveats. As it stands? Buy a used pair of HE6, or haggle hard.

Great write-up ufospls2 on your initial impressions on the new HE6SE's.
From my experience the HE-Adapter does definitely degrade the sound all round as mentioned in past posts by others (including myself).
Yes, a used HE6 in good to excellent condition is a great buy. I was lucky to buy a fully reconditioned pair with 12 months warranty from a UK Headphone company although they did cost me close to £900. They are great though especially now with a new custom cable which I believe is a must buy to the stock HE6 cable.
I have never been that impressed with the Chord DAVE headphone outlet trying it with LCD4's, Focal Utopia's etc. and I am a die hard Chord Electronics fan especially with the Choral range.
I found my HE6's have plenty of "out of head" type of sound and great soundstage powered dirtect from my Chord Mezzo 140 in fact the best I have heard from a headphone to date.
Agree with buying a used pair of HE6's especially if they have some dealer warranty with them.
As I wanted a speaker amp anyway (as also want to use speakers when I can) it was a no-brainer for me to buy the Chord Choral Mezzo 140 to go with the rest of my Chord Choral system. That I now also have a great sounding headphone system for approx. £900 without having to buy a headphone amp and I was then able to sell my expensive electrostatic headphone system (BHSE & Stax 009's) was also a bonus.
 
Oct 4, 2018 at 4:46 AM Post #119 of 3,903
I have the HE-6se's coming and I use the HE-Adapter with my Susvara's and Burson Timekeeper amp on occasion. I really don't understand how using the HE-Adapter can degrade the sound. There's no electronics inside. It's just some resistors in parallel and series limiting voltage and current. It's a protection circuit so you don't damage your headphones or amp.

When I listen to my Susvara's through the HE-Adapter the sound improves all around. I expect the same sonic benefits when I get my HE-6se's. I feel safer using the HE-Adapter than going straight from speaker taps personally.

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Oct 4, 2018 at 11:51 AM Post #120 of 3,903
I have the HE-6se's coming and I use the HE-Adapter with my Susvara's and Burson Timekeeper amp on occasion. I really don't understand how using the HE-Adapter can degrade the sound. There's no electronics inside. It's just some resistors in parallel and series limiting voltage and current. It's a protection circuit so you don't damage your headphones or amp.

When I listen to my Susvara's through the HE-Adapter the sound improves all around. I expect the same sonic benefits when I get my HE-6se's. I feel safer using the HE-Adapter than going straight from speaker taps personally.

The word "Resistor" gives the first big clue away followed by limiting the voltage and current. This is exactly what it does to the sound i.e. resisting the amp from sending out the full sound spectrum and frequencies (at least to my ears) and on top of this my power amp was running very hot (due to the resistance of the HE-Adaptor Box) as now without it it runs just warm as it would do powering speakers. I also don't have to have the volume up as high as when I did with the HE-Adapter box (due to the additional resistance to overcome) I have no issues with my HE6's without the HE-Adapter box after over a month of running them this way.
 

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