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HIFIMAN HE6se Loaner tour

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  1. Dobrescu George
    Man, I don't know, what do you mean fatiguing?

    I usually consider that something is fatiguing if it has either textures that are hard, and which cause fatigue, too sharp or too harsh treble, or just an overbearing lack of tonal balance.

    He6SE is indeed the kind of headphone that brings things to you, but it does so by being dynamic, I think the treble texture, tonal balance and even the overall textures, I think that everything is pretty much spot-on (?)

    A highly dynamic headphone will never sound dull though, so yes, dynamics can be a touch startling when you hear something this dynamic :)
     
  2. Takeanidea
    My recording George , is anything but fatiguing! But, by the highest of standards, some will find the punch slam and clarity hard to deal with if they are used to more laid back stuff or mid range stuff. The HE6SE is much more lively than the Jade II , but that doesn't detract from either, which, of course, makes things ever more confusing
     
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  3. robthemac
    I'm waiting on the HE6SE at the moment, but I have owned an original HE6 previously. I would agree that it could be fatiguing at times, with a harshness to the treble. This was consistent with small headphone amps to 100WPC speaker amps. However, I listen very quietly, and it was much more balanced-sounding at higher volumes. Not quite sure how to explain that!
     
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  4. Dobrescu George
    Ah, I understand. I agree with this, HE6SE is more lively than Jade II, it feels more punchy.

    Also, I agree that it is punchy and if you're expecting laid-back stuff, you'll have a reveal with He6SE, but I don't think I could name their signature fatiguing, at least for me, it is dynamic and interesting. But I see your point entirely, and it is an excellent point, upgrading straight from a midrange headphone, to something this revealing can be quite the throughout experience.

    I see what you mean, but that is normal, the overall tonal balance changes a bit with volume, listening really quiet may be different from listening really loud, in terms of overall tonal balance. There is a name for the effect, but I can't quite recall it on the spot.

    I think that the treble of He6SE is detailed, but far from fatiguing, it is nicely countered by the bass and the midrange, I'd say that the treble has a good amount of detail to it, but it is still pretty far from being harsh or grainy :)
     
  5. ksorota
    I'm finding these headphones to be very dynamic and play hip hop extremely well. The bass extension is surprising on certain tracks and it needs for the volume to be cranked. I often times take them off to talk to someone and realize how loud they are. Cannot say I find them fatiguing... Aggressive maybe, but in a good way.
     
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  6. Takeanidea
    What kit are you using?
     
  7. ksorota
    Tidal through a 2qute to a Jotunheim (late model)... The Gilmore does a fairly good job but loses some of the heft that the Jot provides in the extreme frequencies.
     
    Dobrescu George likes this.
  8. Brooko Contributor
    Might pay to put your preferences on paper when you say this George. You're one of the few people I know who boosts treble on what most would already call bright headphones :wink:
     
  9. Dobrescu George
    Eh, that changed a bit more recently.

    I'd say that HE6SE itself is pretty reference.

    Sundara is a tad bright to be called reference, while Alara is a bit warm and smooth to be reference.
     
  10. ksorota
    I would like to start off by thanking Hifiman for sponsoring this loaner tour as I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to spend two weeks with this really great set of headphones.

    Its hard to think of another headphone as divisive as the HE-6/HE-6SE and for good reason. In my testing I experienced the negative and positive aspects of such a low sensitivity headphone and would like to give a few of my impressions.

    Build:

    I have not owned the original HE6, but have used the older style headphones in the HE500 a few years back and can easily say that the new suspension strap is more comfortable. However, the lack of swivel on the gimbals is a disappointing omission in the construction, as is the easily damaged paint along the slider mechanism. Personally, I do not like the look of the raw spring steel headband that so many of Hifiman's cans use, but YMMV. I prefer the look of the Campfire (with the Cascades), Focal, and ZMF approach to wrapping the headbands even if it adds weight.

    Comfort:

    I found the HE-6SE's to be comfortable to wear, but would notice extra pressure on my glasses frames after extended use,which I attribute to the lack of cup swivel. If I removed my glasses, that pressure point would be relieved and the headphones were very comfortable. Weight is not to much of a concern for me, as i am used to heavier cans. The microfiber on the hybrid pads is nice and soft, as is the foam.

    First impressions:

    When I received the HE-6SE I only had a Gilmore Lite MK2 at my disposal, but having heard the rumors about these headphones needing power, I had purchased a Schiit Jotunheim to provide the necessary punch. The first few days on the Gilmore were satisfactory at best. The HE-6SE's were lacking in dynamics and low end punch. That is not to say that I could not get them to play loudly, because that is not true, they did play loudly. Only the loudness lacked separation and impact.

    As a Point of reference, most of the headphones that I have listened through the Gilmore have been below the 12 o'clock position. Headphones include: Ether C Flow, Ether Flow, Ether 2, Auteur, LCD-2C, HD660S, Cascades, Focal Elex, Focal Clear. Currently running Tidal Master's on a windows 10 PC, Xonar DG Card Optical out to a Chord 2Qute, to amp.

    In contrast, the HE-6's easily went to 2 o'clock and beyond as they begged for the power. Almost every time I removed the headphones during listening I would be shocked at the current loudness I was using to make the most of the amp pairing. Another important note is that these are very open cans and leak almost, if not 100% of the sound. Placing your hand in front of the cups from about 12 inches away is immediately noticeable in the sound which is fascinating to me.

    Long Term Listening impressions:

    Bring on the Jotunheim and more power. The first thing I noticed when driving the HE-6's off of the more powerful Jotunheim was the increase in the extreme frequencies. The highs were more apparent, as were the lows. The bass now had more rumble and impact, and the treble had more energy and forwardness...the mids stayed mostly the same, however the imaging was better defined. The imaging of this headphone is one of its standout features. Notes and sounds were coming from all around me, not just side to side and front, but also down below to the left and slightly behind. I enjoy imaging like this with my other daily driver (Auteur), but the HE-6SE's have a somewhat more aggressive/forward sound that begs you to pay attention.

    The most recent HIFI headphones I have owned...the Ether 2 and Auteur are very good compliments to one another. The Ether 2 being more dark and natural while the Auteur takes neutral to the fun side. The HE-6SE sits just beyond the Auteur and brings out more of the fun...I find it to be very good at all frequencies. It has fantastically deep bass extension that is solid and controlled while maintaining a tight midrange and crisp treble. I can see a bright source and amp driving the HE-6SE's to the bright side, but not the Jot. I never experienced listening fatigue, and almost always found myself turning up the volume to levels not typical of my usual listening. Of the three headphones (HE-6SE, Auteur and Ether 2) I would almost def. stick with my Auteur for everyday, but for a second can, I would take the HE-6SE over the Ether 2 eight out of 10 times. I really did like the sound of the Ether 2, but it just lacked some bit of extra that I feel the HE-6SE provides in spades.

    I listen to a lot of electronic, alt-rock, classic rock, digital-alternative, dance, and chill music which the HE-6SE's handled very well through the Jotunheim. During some exploration on Tidal I found myself in the Hip-Hop area and could not believe how good it sounded through these cans. The extremely low bass notes/tracks present in a lot of this genre just played along great, not in a basshead way, but in a controlled manner that filled in the songs with a nice baseline. The forward treble allows for crisp vocals and "sounds" to manifest in a nice surrounding of sound that I had not really noticed in the past. To be fair, I do not listen to a lot of hip-hop, but I just found these headphones to handle it well.

    Other standout artists included RadioHead (multiple albums), Paul Simon, Aerosmith (Big Ones), Beck (Morning Glory), Daft Punk, James Blunt, Poolside, Passion Pit, Chvrches, etc.

    Conclusion:

    I was not sure if I loved these headphones at first or not. But after extended listening, trying many different artists and genres of music I have come to the conclusion that I would like to own these headphones, but I am just not sure what my time frame for purchasing them is. While I find the comfort to be mostly OK, I would like to see a bit more refinement in the build...especially at this price point. I told my friend to guess which headphone looked more expensive between the Cocobollo Auteurs and the HE-6SE's and without hesitation he reached for the Auteurs. In my opinion, rework the gimbals mechanism to add rotation and improve the look of the spring steel headband because the combined package feels like a much lower end headphone.

    side note: I know look is less important than sound, but I would be very tempted to swap out the Hifiman Headstrap with one from the latest Audeze's

    So, Final thoughts...I really really like this headphone and would like to own it in the near future. Are they worth their asking price? I would hesitate to give an affirmative yes because of build quality appearance, but based on sound quality...solid yes. They are dynamic, punchy and engaging...At their original price they would be an easy recommendation and almost necessary purchase to fill my planar sized hole! If not for recently purchasing the Auteurs, I think that I would be actively considering these as my next set of cans. But for now, they will remain just out of reach.
     
  11. robthemac
    I have had a few days with these so far, here are my impressions. Thanks again to HifiMan for the opportunity.

    Gear used: First amp: Musical Fidelity VDAC-2 --> Trends Audio PA-10.1D --> Trends Audio TA-10.2P --> HifiMan HE-Adapter. Second amp: Woo WA-7 with tube power supply.
    Other headphones for comparison: Audeze LCD-3F, Sennheiser HD-800S, HifiMan Ananda, Sennheiser HD-6XX, Beyerdynamic DT-990.

    I have previously owned an original HE-6, so I knew mostly what I was expecting. However, I was thrilled with the improved comfort and build quality compared to the original. The headband design in particular made for much more comfortable listening.

    Plugging them in, these are incredibly power hungry. Using my WA-7 for reference, I would almost always have the volume control at 9 o'clock with any of my other cans. The HE-6SE (and the original before it generally required me to go closer to 2 o'clock, or about the point where the WA-7 starts struggling. Accordingly, the majority of my listening was done through speaker taps and the HE-Adapter.

    Sound-wise, if I could only have one headphone of the above collection, it would be the HE-6SE. It really is excellent at everything. Bass is incredibly tight and well-controlled. I would prefer a touch more sub-bass (e.g. LCD-3F), but otherwise the low-end is hard to fault. I know people talk at length about the bass improving with more power, but after trying multiple speaker amps (up to 100W/channel) with the original HE-6, I'm doubtful. Mids are slightly forward (especially upper-mids/lower-treble), which is great for saxophones/trumpets/electric guitar, but can make some vocals sound just a little hollow. Treble is smooth, even, excellent extension. Detail retrieval and soundstage are well ahead of the LCD-3F, if not quite HD-800S level.

    The HE-6SE would be my headphones of choice if I could only have one pair. However, in each individual aspect, I prefer other pairs of mine. The bass of the LCD-3F goes deeper more freely, even if it isn't quite as tight as a result. The mids of the HE-6SE are more forward and enjoyable than the LCD-3F or the HD-800S, but not quite as even as the budget HD-6XX (or 650). Treble is miles ahead of either the LCD-3F or HD-6XX, but is bested by the HD-800S. Same with detail retrieval and soundstage.

    In summary, the HE-6SE to me are the perfect headphone for someone who wants one pair to do it all. The comfort and build quality make them worth the premium over a used HE-6. There is nothing they do badly, and they do everything really well. However, if you have the luxury of having multiple pairs of headphones, they can be beaten in each individual aspect. Accordingly, I love them, but I won't be buying them.

    The Ananda, however..... wow..... more to come after I have a few more hours with them.....
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
  12. Dobrescu George
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  13. Ragnar-BY
    Greetings from Bialystok, Poland.

    If it`s not late, I would love to participate in HE6SE tour. My system is Chord M Scaler and Chord TT2 and HE6SE are one of headphones that I might be buying in future. It would be nice to have chance to listen to these headphones in my system and share impressions with others.
     
  14. Oregonian
    Thanks for the potential opportunity - but you can take me off the list. Had no communication and no idea of when or if the tour unit was heading out west so ended up buying one off eBay at a great price. And love the headphone...............much easier to wear than the original HE-6, which I loved.
     
  15. Mshenay
    Have to say, I wanted to like this one but too uneven. Driver has some good detail but the tonality is too off for me



    Here's to hoping I can hear another modded HE 6 or 6SE, on the bright side apparently the 6SE is better stock than the original HE 6...

    Actually... I did hear a legacy HE 6 with some very light mods at the Maryland meet I went to in May and It was a noticeable albeit small improvement over this. As I had both this stock HE 6SE to hear alongside that lightly modded 6 at that meet
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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