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Is the Hifiman HE-6 clearly a league above the Hifiman HE-500?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by cactus_farmer, Jan 20, 2012.
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  1. cactus_farmer
    ...or is it a bit like the Beyerdynamic DT880 and DT990 situation where even though the DT990 was ostensibly the 'flagship', the two were widely regarded as being more-or-less equal in quality. A similar situation could said to have existed with the Sennheiser HD600 and HD650.
    I think I've read on here somewhere that people thought the HE-6 WAS a clear league above the HE-500, given proper amplification for both (obviously easier said than done with the HE-6), but the folks at InnerFidelity AND Headfonia have both rated the HE-500 HIGHER than the HE-6.
    What do you think?
  2. idletime1213
    In technical terms, I think the HE6 is better. A league better? Not to me, .
    I heard them through some very nice speaker amplifiers and they are among the top headphones around, but the HE-500 is still close to it, and I think I enjoy it's sound sig more.
  3. Jojomite
    I've only heard both through a lyr. i feel that the in terms of detail, the he6 is better, not saying the he500 is not good in this area, which it most certainly is. the midrange of the he6 i find is slightly less warm and musical then the he500, which may be a slight put of to some as it sounds a tad more analytical
  4. pataburd
    I preferred the HE-5LE to the HE-500; and now prefer the HE-6 to the HE-5LE.  The HE-6, to me, are more balanced, more coherent, more extended and much more detailed than the HE-500.  Pricewise, the ratio of the cost of the 6 to the 500 is 12:7; and I would say that the performance ratio--for me--is in about the same neighborhood as well (adjusted for the "diminishing returns" phenomenon).
    cucera likes this.
  5. MalVeauX
    Nope. It's not.
    The HE-6 came first. The HE-500 is an HE-6 that was re-created, an update if you will, to be more efficient and address some sound signature and frequency response touches. They simply then realized they made a different headphone, and instead of calling it HE-6 2.0 or something, they went with HE-500. They're two different headphones at this point, yet both are high-end and equals in my opinion, simply slightly different flavors. The HE-6 and  HE-500 used to be equal trades too. But then they dropped the cost of the HE-500 quite a bit and the HE-6's cost was still high, so they marketed it in a way to where one looks to be the flagship, and one the lesser. But it's simply not the case. I see the HE-500 as the flagship, and the HE-6 to be the precursor to it, the first "flagship" attempt, until they released it takes a speaker amp to power the thing and had a limited market. The HE-500 opened that market. And when they realized they'd sell more headphones if they released something efficient enough for even more people to run, they finally landed the HE-400 and made a headphone that will run from essentially anything and costs less and yet sounds very, very similar to the HE-500. Scary.
    Flavors my friend. It's all just flavors.
    Very best,
  6. Muzik

    Sorry, new to head-fi hopefully I quoted correctly. You mean very similar to the HE-500?
    I'm looking at getting HE-400 or HE-500 but still cant decide after reading almost everything about the two on head-fi...
  7. jerg Contributor
    HE500 used to be $900, and HE6 $1000. They were two sides of the same coin when it came to Hifiman's flagships. Later they decided to differentiate so they jacked HE500 prices down and HE6 price up.
  8. TwoEars
    I own the HE-500s and like it very much but haven't heard their other models.
    They are all great headphones though and what differences there may be in terms of tonal character can be compensated for with EQ-ing.
    I bumped up the midrange a bit on my pair because they are so flat down low that sometimes more bass actually comes through than what I think the artist originally intended.
    This made them sound more like HD650s in terms of tonal ballance but which much greater control and texture, especially down low.
    I'd say go for the HE-500 and don't look back.
    I haven't heard the HE-6s but I can't imagine how they could justify the price difference.
    Maybe I'm wrong but that's the feeling I get.
  9. MalVeauX
    Yes, typo, sorry. If you're on a budget at all, go HE-400. And stop there. If no budget, get the biggest and best you can and be ready to want something else right after.
    Exactly. It's funny how they traded straight up, and people couldn't even sell their HE-6's frankly at the time because the HE-500 existed. It made an obvious issue market wise, so Hifiman priced one to flagship and the other to runner up. Yet they're both the flag ship. People look at the HE-500 like it's the lesser of the HE-6 and it's simply not the case. But... money talks.
    Very best,
    Austin Morrow likes this.
  10. IEMCrazy
    I haven't heard the HE-500, but I have HE-400 and HE-6.   The best way I can describe the difference is "The HE-6 is significantly better than HE-400, but HE-400 isn't significantly worse than HE-6."  By that I mean, when comparing the two, it's relatively obvious that the HE-6 is definitely clearer and more open.  Yet the HE-400 doesn't feel like "eww I can't listen to this after the HE-6", it just sounds like a little bit of detail loss or a "veil" if you will compared to the HE-6.  That shows just how good the HE-400 is, and supposedly HE-500 is even better.
    The one place significant differences start to appear between the two is once you get into heavy EQ/processing/DSP.  The HE-6 takes it beautifully and is infinitely modifiable without pushing anything into clipping or distortion.  The HE-400 starts getting some strange peaks and mudding up if you start pushing the processing too far, revealing the "weaknesses" that some of it's great sound is based on psychoacoustics and not true linearity.  Which isn't a problem unless you go to start tweaking that sound beyond subtle bumps here or there.
    If you want to run the thing from a normal headphone amp the HE-500 (or 400 if you like a dark signature) is a no brainer,  The benefits of HE-6 start appearing when you want to get into heavy EQ/processing, if you have a really nice speaker amp laying around unused, you wish to get into building your rig as a 2.0ch stereo rig as well (which actually IS convenient if you want one rig for headphones and speakers), or if you want to get into some of the top shelf balanced headphone amps,  of which a few are well received based on reports.
    It becomes less a question of which headphone and more a question of which path do you want to head down for your setup.  If you're looking for a great headphone to use in a headphone capacity, HE-500 (or 400) and don't look back.  If you're a recovering stereophile as well as headphile and find some satisfaction in building a stereo rig and putting your speakers on your head, HE-6 is a fun route and squeezes a bit of extra performance out of it to boot! [​IMG]
    FWIW, compared to HE-400, even on Lyr I can tell a positive difference between HE-400 and HE-6, but it's not as resolving an amp as would truly separate the HE-6 from the HE-500 to justify the cost. 
    It's hard to go wrong with the whole HE-series, really. 
  11. jerg Contributor
    HE500 is much closer to HE6 physically than HE400 is to either of the other two, in terms of basic driver design. The only major difference between HE500 and HE6 drivers is the material of the metal tracing (aluminum vs gold - one of the reasons for the sensitivity difference), other than that the tracing patterns, assembly structure and material, and diaphragm are very similar if not identical. HE400 on the other hand has a very different squared off and smaller alu diaphragm tracing that is on a more plastic and obstructive driver assembly.
    The gold tracing may have a slight effect on resolution, but I think it's the voicing of the HE6 that contributes most to the increased resolving abilities of well-driven HE6 compared to HE500.
  12. paradoxper
    The HE-6 is much better than HE-500 and worth the x2 price, unlike LCD-2 to LCD-3. The HE-6 is better across the entire spectrum
    and just more balanced throughout. Caveat, it's a PITA to find a headphone amp to drive it to its potential. Speaker amps bring the thing into
    Stax performing territory. If you're willing to invest time/money to build around the HE-6 don't think about any other headphone.
  13. MalVeauX
    Please explain this, technically.
    Otherwise, all I'm reading is "I prefer the signature of the HE-6 over the HE-500, and therefore think it's worth twice the price."
    The HE-6 is not much better. It's not better at all. They're equivalent technically. Ask Dr. Fang himself about the engineering. Preference to a signature is what is actually being talked about when comparing the two.
    Very best,
  14. paradoxper
    Actually, you should know this is my opinion. [​IMG]
    And why don't you try hearing them both driven off speaker taps and get back to me. 
    They aren't equivalents, but ok, sure.
  15. Fegefeuer
    I had both for several weeks on a V200 and nowhere is the HE-6 right for the price, I would probably pay 50€ more (compared to the HE-500) just for autosuggestive self-deception. :D
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