Official HIFIMAN HE1000 Impressions Thread
Jun 5, 2015 at 1:32 PM Post #406 of 3,541

money4me247

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I have used 4 different amps on the HE1K, and these can scale down to other amps pretty darn well. The amps I have used : Fillo e12, Schiit Audio's Asgard 2; lyr 2, Ragnarock. The HE1K is a very natural, ultra revealing headphone, that always sound so beautifully musical. And these cans scale down and up with the audio equipment, one uses.

I recently got the chance to play with a bunch of extremely nice headphone amplifiers (some of the top-end ones include the taurus mkII & mcintosh mha100) with the HE-1000 and I actually strongly agree with this statement. The mha100 pairing scaled up the sound quality so well that I even considered purchasing it despite its ridiculous $4.5k price tag. Quite audible and significant improvement to the sound quality. Won't comment in-depth because I don't own these high-end equipment, but did spend multiple hours doing direct (sighted) comparisons and running various test tracks (all lossless files mainly covering classical, jazz, rock, and soundtrack - may list the actual song list when I have more time).
 
Previously, I found amplifier scaling with the high-end headphones I've tried not to be significant enough to my ears to justify any extremely expensive purchases, but the HE-1000 does really noticeably scale up with top-of-the-line equipment to quite a significant degree. The additional plus in my mind is that the HE-1k not very picky with amplifiers and still sounds pretty solid using even entry-level & mid-tier gear. Noticeably underpowered though in direct comparison against stuff like the Aune B1 and HA-2, and easy to hear that you are not maximizing the potential of the HE-1k. The best amplifier to my ears out of all the ones I tried was the mcintosh mha100 by a very wide margin. Some of the more interesting ones I got to try included the new tube amp from Hifiman (EF100) and the new amplifier from Audeze (Deckard). There were a few more, but really the mha100 was the one that stood out the most in my mind and the one I ended spending the most time with.
 
Also, I found that balanced headphone output with RCA single-ended input on the taurus did not outperform the mha100, which is only single-ended. I do wish that I could have run a fully balanced set-up on the taurus to do a better comparison. Also, tried RCA input to balanced output on the taurus against the RCA input to the single-ended output. Perhaps there may have been differences, but relatively harder to gauge. Would need more time to really get a good sense.
 
I also had the opportunity to try the HE-1000 with the Chord Hugo. The Chord Hugo definitely does NOT adequately power the HE-1000 in direct comparison to the nicer headphone amplifiers. Its amplifier section was actually not very competitive in my mind. Perhaps it would work as a standalone dac in your setup, but I do have to admit that I personally was not very impressed with Chord Hugo. Also, got to try the Vega as well. From my personal testing, I do feel that the amplifier makes more of a significant difference in sound quality than dacs. Actually opposite of what I was expecting as I went in looking for a dac upgrade and left wanting an amplifier upgrade. hahah. Would like further testing to confirm though.
 
I also did have the opportunity to run direct comparisons between the LCD-3 & HD800 on the mha100 & taurus against the HE-1000. Please note that these are my personal opinions from extensive auditioning, so feel free to disagree/ymmv. The comparison against the LCD-3 was easy. I personally felt that for my tastes and for what I am looking for, the HE-1000 strongly outperforms the LCD-3. Most noticeable difference was that LCD-3 had an significant blurring effect to the notes compared to the HE-1k. The HE-1k easily sounded cleaner, clearer, faster, more accurate, and more realistic with a larger soundstage & more precise imaging. I can see the LCD-3 appealing to people who enjoy that warmer 'smoothed over' 'slightly blended' effect to their musical presentation. I will leave the more detailed analysis to actual owners. The HD800 was more competitive to the HE-1000 in my mind for what I am looking for, but at the end of the day, I personally felt that HE-1000 was distinctly the more sonically capable pair of headphones to my ears. The HE-1k also scaled up to much higher performance levels on the mha100 than the HD800 in direct comparisons. The HD800 was not modded with stock cables and I don't know if the mha100 is considered a good pairing for them, so I will refrain from analyzing in-depth. (Feel free to PM me for my subjective thoughts, but rmb not the same set-up as some of the other people are commenting on). I do disagree with some of the other opinions expressed about the relative differences between the HE-1k & HD800 after my own direct comparisons, but I am not a HD800 owner, so I will leave it at that. I do strongly respect the HD800 and I do think it is quite a solid pair of headphones. This is the fourth time I've extensively auditioned the HD800 and I do appreciate it more every time I try it. For me personally, this experience did answer the remaining questions I had about the HE-1k and I will most likely be keeping it.
 
edit: Do note I still highly recommend doing a personal audition to see how the HE-1000 fits for you with your equipment, and seeing if the price difference is worth it for you personally. We all are looking for different things in this hobby and have different views on budget/value.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 2:01 PM Post #407 of 3,541

lojay

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I do actually agree with many of your assertions, but obviously not all. Please read my previous posting and my HD800s comment. However, despite all that and its numerous flaws, and drawing a line, the HD800s are a better sounding flagship than the HE1000s beta I am hearing. Now - see what the dilemma for me is with the HEK? 

This is not only compared to the HD800s, but to the HE-6s too (the latter of which were my de-facto go to headphones). The latter I prefer to the stock HEK I have here, anytime. And I tried really hard to appreciate the HE1000s more than this over extended listening.

A flagship with some flaws is understandable. None is perfect. A flagship that is too relaxed, not engage or energize comparatively to any of the other flagship transducers (including speakers) that I have here and really doesn't manage to capture my attention when it should and the recording calls for, is not right. Then comes the pricing, which I have not even included in my opinions, as my focus is sound quality.


I agree, though I don't think I am as disappointed with the HE1000 as you are. That said, we are at least hearing the same things. I don't really care if others are not and are sticking with what they think are best for them. Good for them. To each his own.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM Post #408 of 3,541

musicman59

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  I recently got the chance to play with a bunch of extremely nice headphone amplifiers (some of the top-end ones include the taurus mkII & mcintosh mha100) with the HE-1000 and I actually strongly agree with this statement. The mha100 pairing scaled up the sound quality so well that I even considered purchasing it despite its ridiculous $4.5k price tag. Quite audible and significant improvement to the sound quality. Won't comment in-depth because I don't own these high-end equipment, but did spend multiple hours doing direct (sighted) comparisons and running various test tracks (all lossless files).
 
Previously, I found amplifier scaling with the high-end headphones I've tried not to be significant enough to my ears to justify any extremely expensive purchases, but the HE-1000 does really noticeably scale up with top-of-the-line equipment to quite a significant degree. The additional plus in my mind is that the HE-1k not very picky with amplifiers and still sounds pretty solid using even entry-level & mid-tier gear. Noticeably underpowered though in direct comparison against stuff like the Aune B1 and HA-2, and easy to hear that you are not maximizing the potential of the HE-1k. The best amplifier to my ears out of all the ones I tried was the mcintosh mha100 by a very wide margin. Some of the more interesting ones I got to try included the new tube amp from Hifiman (EF100) and the new amplifier from Audeze (Deckard). There were a few more, but really the mha100 was the one that stood out the most in my mind and the one I ended spending the most time with.
 
Also, I found that balanced headphone output with RCA single-ended input on the taurus did not outperform the mha100, which is only single-ended. I do wish that I could have run a fully balanced set-up on the taurus to do a better comparison. Also, tried RCA input to balanced output on the taurus against the RCA input to the single-ended output. Perhaps there may have been differences, but relatively harder to gauge. Would need more time to really get a good sense.
 
I also had the opportunity to try the HE-1000 with the Chord Hugo. The Chord Hugo definitely does NOT adequately power the HE-1000 in direct comparison to the nicer headphone amplifiers. Its amplifier section was actually not very competitive in my mind. Perhaps it would work as a standalone dac in your setup, but I do have to admit that I personally was not very impressed with Chord Hugo. Also, got to try the Vega as well. From my personal testing, I do feel that the amplifier makes more of a significant difference in sound quality than dacs. Actually opposite of what I was expecting as I went in looking for a dac upgrade and left wanting an amplifier upgrade. hahah. Would like further testing to confirm though.
 
I also did have the opportunity to run direct comparisons between the LCD-3 & HD800 on the mha100 & taurus against the HE-1000. Please note that these are my personal opinions from extensive auditioning, so feel free to disagree/ymmv. The comparison against the LCD-3 was easy. I personally felt that for my tastes and for what I am looking for, the HE-1000 strongly outperforms the LCD-3. Most noticeable difference was that LCD-3 had an significant blurring effect to the notes compared to the HE-1k. The HE-1k easily sounded cleaner, clearer, faster, more accurate, and more realistic with a larger soundstage & more precise imaging. I can see the LCD-3 appealing to people who enjoy that warmer 'smoothed over' 'slightly blended' effect to their musical presentation. I will leave the more detailed analysis to actual owners. The HD800 was more competitive to the HE-1000 in my mind for what I am looking for, but at the end of the day, I personally felt that HE-1000 was distinctly the more sonically capable pair of headphones to my ears. The HE-1k also scaled up to much higher performance levels on the mha100 than the HD800 in direct comparisons. The HD800 was not modded with stock cables and I don't know if the mha100 is considered a good pairing for them, so I will refrain from analyzing in-depth. (Feel free to PM me for my subjective thoughts, but rmb not the same set-up as some of the other people are commenting on). I do disagree with some of the other opinions expressed about the relative differences between the HE-1k & HD800 after my own direct comparisons, but I am not a HD800 owner, so I will leave it at that. I do strongly respect the HD800 and I do think it is quite a solid pair of headphones. This is the fourth time I've extensively auditioned the HD800 and I do appreciate it more every time I try it. For me personally, this experience did answer the remaining questions I had about the HE-1k and I will most likely be keeping it.
 
edit: Do note I still highly recommend doing a personal audition to see how the HE-1000 fits for you with your equipment, and seeing if the price difference is worth it for you personally. We all are looking for different things in this hobby and have different views on budget/value.

 
I do own the MHA100 and agree with you. It does a great job with the HE-1000. I have been using them on the high gain setting but this weekend I will modify one of my aftermarket cables to connect the HE-1000 to the speaker tabs. From the speaker tabs the MHA1000 is going to give about 10 watts/ch to the HE-1000 so I expect them to scale even further up.
 
I also own the HD800 but they are not stock. I am using a Zeus OCC Copper cable (they were too bright for me with the SPC stock cable) and the wires connecting the socket to the driver internally were also replace with the same OCC Copper cable. From al the amplifiers I have heard the HD800 (including my maxxed out WA5-LE) IMO they sound the best out of the MHA100 but I have not done a head t ohead comparison with teh HE-1000 yet.
 
Yesterday I did a quick cable rotation on the HE-1000. I used the stock cable that I was told by HiFiMAN is Single Crystal Copper (which I think they meant OCC), the WyWires Red and the WireWorld Nano Platinum (OCC Solid SIlver). It was a very quick comparison (I will do another one with more time later) but it was clear to me that the WireWorld cable due to its construction was more transparent and detailed than the other two without loosing in the low frequencies. Out of those 3 I would place the WireWorld in first place, the WyWires ins second and the stock in a close 3rd. Don't get me wrong the stock cable is pretty good but it does contribute in the warmer sound of the HE-1000 that many people have talked about so I guess it a matter of taste.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM Post #409 of 3,541

jamato8

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I do own the MHA100 and agree with you. It does a great job with the HE-1000. I have been using them on the high gain setting but this weekend I will modify one of my aftermarket cables to connect the HE-1000 to the speaker tabs. From the speaker tabs the MHA1000 is going to give about 10 watts/ch to the HE-1000 so I expect them to scale even further up.
 
I also own the HD800 but they are not stock. I am using a Zeus OCC Copper cable (they were too bright for me with the SPC stock cable) and the wires connecting the socket to the driver internally were also replace with the same OCC Copper cable. From al the amplifiers I have heard the HD800 (including my maxxed out WA5-LE) IMO they sound the best out of the MHA100 but I have not done a head t ohead comparison with teh HE-1000 yet.
 
Yesterday I did a quick cable rotation on the HE-1000. I used the stock cable that I was told by HiFiMAN is Single Crystal Copper (which I think they meant OCC), the WyWires Red and the WireWorld Nano Platinum (OCC Solid SIlver). It was a very quick comparison (I will do another one with more time later) but it was clear to me that the WireWorld cable due to its construction was more transparent and detailed than the other two without loosing in the low frequencies. Out of those 3 I would place the WireWorld in first place, the WyWires ins second and the stock in a close 3rd. Don't get me wrong the stock cable is pretty good but it does contribute in the warmer sound of the HE-1000 that many people have talked about so I guess it a matter of taste.


I have been using the Whiplash Twau cable, which is the gold plated silver and can attest that the stock cable is good but you can get even more out of the HE1000 with different cables as the Twau allows you to be even more engrossed by the sound. 
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 5:02 PM Post #411 of 3,541

reddog

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The HE1K is addicting and I got so into the sound, I did not notice the home care nurse ringing the doorbell; she had to ring me on the phone lol, to break the HE1K hypnotic grip upon myself lol. By the way I have never enjoyed Frank Zappa's Sheik Yerbouti as much as I have today.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 5:02 PM Post #412 of 3,541

rgs9200m

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Is there any sense that the HE1000 has elements of the HE500 along with the 560? While I like the 560 a lot, the 500 has some sort of enhanced texture that I can get my arms around, and in that sense is more engaging to me (using the "engaging" theme from Nekura earlier in the thread that rang true for me). Actually, the 560 (with the stock cable especially) is more towards the HD800 style of sound, with an emphasis of clarity, and a few more rows back, not distant, but not intimate either. Although the 500 isn't a detail or insight champ, it has more rounded, silky images with out any hint of raspiness (is that a word?). And the 500 is not rolled off either, but has a fullness of texture in the mids and highs, which is nice.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 6:24 PM Post #413 of 3,541

calaf

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  Is there any sense that the HE1000 has elements of the HE500 along with the 560? While I like the 560 a lot, the 500 has some sort of enhanced texture that I can get my arms around, and in that sense is more engaging to me (using the "engaging" theme from Nekura earlier in the thread that rang true for me). Actually, the 560 (with the stock cable especially) is more towards the HD800 style of sound, with an emphasis of clarity, and a few more rows back, not distant, but not intimate either. Although the 500 isn't a detail or insight champ, it has more rounded, silky images with out any hint of raspiness (is that a word?). And the 500 is not rolled off either, but has a fullness of texture in the mids and highs, which is nice.


I know exactly what you mean, the HE500 is an extremely engaging and musical
very_evil_smiley.gif
headphone. I have not yet done any real A/B comparison with the HE500, but extension, imaging, transparency, and dynamics of the HE1K are in an entirely different category. If you are listening to a well recorded symphony there is no comparison really.
But...  when listening to music with a relatively simple structure and lots of energy (say RATM Take the Power back) the HE500 more than hold their own.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 6:42 PM Post #414 of 3,541

jerg

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  Is there any sense that the HE1000 has elements of the HE500 along with the 560? While I like the 560 a lot, the 500 has some sort of enhanced texture that I can get my arms around, and in that sense is more engaging to me (using the "engaging" theme from Nekura earlier in the thread that rang true for me). Actually, the 560 (with the stock cable especially) is more towards the HD800 style of sound, with an emphasis of clarity, and a few more rows back, not distant, but not intimate either. Although the 500 isn't a detail or insight champ, it has more rounded, silky images with out any hint of raspiness (is that a word?). And the 500 is not rolled off either, but has a fullness of texture in the mids and highs, which is nice.

HE1000 sounds fuller than my modded HE560, it's quite clear when I play vocal music and actively seek that nice bloom in the voice.
 
My old HE500 developed a pretty nasty imbalance, so I can't really test it for anything without getting distracted, unfortunately.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 8:06 PM Post #416 of 3,541

prot

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That is your opinion. That does not make it a fact for others. 


Last time I checked this was the 'impressions' thread .. and there was not a single 'fact' in it anywhere.


Also many thanks for everyone who posted their honest, unfiltered opinions and comparisons. That is exactly what I expect from those preproduction reviews .. not stories about magic sound and not funky metaphors about lalala. And I'm pretty sure that is also what any honest and serious manufacturer wants to see.
 
Jun 5, 2015 at 8:18 PM Post #417 of 3,541

jamato8

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Last time I checked this was the 'impressions' thread .. and there was not a single 'fact' in it anywhere.


Also many thanks for everyone who posted their honest, unfiltered opinions and comparisons. That is exactly what I expect from those preproduction reviews .. not stories about magic sound and not funky metaphors about lalala. And I'm pretty sure that is also what any honest and serious manufacturer wants to see.

 
----------------
Quote:
  Because the HE1000 aims to compete with if not supersede all the flagships out there, and there happens to be a flagship less than half of the price which with the benefit of a $5 modification can sound superior to the HE1000 with the right set up. The HE1000 needs to step up its game here.


That is your opinion. That does not make it a fact for others. 
-------------------
 
To put in perspective. In his opinion it does not compete but to make a statement that the HE1000 needs to step up its game here, is an opinion. There appear to be a number of people that have an opinion that for them, the HE1000 does many things right and better than many of the other "flagships". So for them and myself, the the HE1000 has stepped up. And this is my opinion. 
 
Jun 6, 2015 at 12:02 AM Post #418 of 3,541

ruthieandjohn

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Review of Beta HiFiMAN HE1000:
Comparison to Sennheiser HD 800 & Grado PS1000 and the Comparison of 6 Amps
 
Here is my final review of the HiFiMAN HE1000 (beta version).  This review compares both early and burned-in performance on 10 acoustic features to the Sennheiser HD 800 and the Grado PS1000.  It also compares, again on 10 acoustic features, HE1000 performance with an assortment of 5 amplifiers (CEntrance HiFi M8, Joseph Grado Signature Products HPA1, Sennheiser HDVD 800, Schiit Lyr 2, HiFiMAN EF5, and HiFiMAN EF6).
 
For my review of the HE1000, I provide a unique approach compared to other reviews here.  Specifically, I:
 
  1. Compare, in a "1st 2nd 3rd place" sense, the HE1000 to my two other top-end headphones, the Sennheiser HD 800 and the Grado PS1000;
  2. Compare in this three-way comparison both upon receipt (less than 1 hour use) and after a number of hours of burn-in that seem to be seen by others as sufficient (130 hours);
  3. Compare (after full burn in) in this three-way method to four different DAC/amps I have at hand: CEntrance HiFi M8, Sennheiser HDVD 800, Joseph Grado HPA1, Schiit Lyr 2;
  4. Engage my local audio store, Overture Audio (Ann Arbor, MI), a HiFiMAN dealer, by using their HiFiMAN EF5 and EF6 amps to compare to the HPA1 and Lyr2 in the above comparison of my own amps.
 
The test method and pre-burn-in test results were posted earlier on this thread and are repeated with the three newer comparisons from the above list here, for completeness.
 
Test Method
 
I have used this test method many, many times on many headphones, as can be seen by the tables here and the links to over 18 individual tests therein.
 
I used four songs, all encoded in Apple Lossless Format at CD quality (I actually bought the CDs and ripped them... no internet download involved) and played by my Apple iPod Touch 5th Gen.  Because each of the 10 acoustic tests used a limited segment of music (2 - 10 sec), an infinite loop was used to repeat the appropriate segment of each song while headphones were switched in and out.
 
  • "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone," by Band of Heathens, from their album One Foot In The Ether (used for fidelity of drum sound, positional resolution of two vocalists, and ability to discern pitch of string bass passages);
  • "Spanish Harlem," by Rebecca Pidgeon, on The Ultimate Demonstration Disc of Chesky records (used to assess female vocals, transparency, the attack of finger on bass string, and high resolution discrimination of differences in shaker shakes);
  • "Symphony No. 3 in C Minor Op. 78 (Organ Symphony) - IV" by Camille Saint Saens played by Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (used to assess the "ripping" sound of well-rendered lower brass and organ reed pipes, and the ability to hear a very small entrance amidst a bombastic chord of orchestra and organ at full tilt);
  • "Throwback" by B.o.B. on Underground Luxury (used to assess ability of a bass tone, specifically lowest C on piano at about 32 Hz, to pick me up by the throat and shake me!)
 
The 10 tests were as follows:
 
  • Transparency:  What is between me and the music?  A felt cloth?  A "Sennheiser veil?" A frosted window?  Dirty window?  Clear Saran wrap?  or nothing?  At its best, makes me forget I am listening on headphones and am in room with musicians. [I use the 12-second segment 0:00 - 0:12 of "You're Going To Miss Me," which is kick drum, guitar, piano, and cymbal for this test]
  • Width of sound stage:  How far to the left and to the right, (yes, AND up and down in best cases) does it seem the musical sources are arranged? [I use the same 0:00 - 0:12 segment of "You're Going To Miss Me,"  which starts with kick drum center, guitar #1 right of center piano far right, guitar #2 far left, to see 1) to what extent am I among rather than in front of the musicians, and 2) how wide an angle do those positional extremes of instruments form?]
  • Positional resolution:  Can I distinguish a difference in position of two singers in Song 1? [I use 0:30 to 0:38 of "You're Going To Miss Me," where one vocalist ends a verse and a second vocalist, standing next to him, takes up the next.]
  • Bass visceral:  Does the bass in third verse of Song 4 actually shake me? Or do I just hear it?  [This test uses 0:31 through 0:33 of "Throwback, " where the bass drops to the lowest C on the piano.]
  • Drum "twang":  At start of Song 1, do the bass and tom tom drumhead have a tone and a pitch, rather than just a thump? ["You're Going to Miss Me" 0:00 - 0:12]
  • Bass pitch perception:  For the complicated bass runs in Song 1, do I hear a pitch with sufficient accuracy to sing or transcribe the part? ["You're Going to Miss Me,"  1:02 - 1:23 to see if I can hear the pitch of not only the bass glides and accented notes, but also the grace notes]
  • Bass finger pluck:  Do I hear the actual impact of fingers on the bass string just before hearing its sound on Song 2? ["Spanish Harlem," 0:00 - 0:04, listening most carefully to the repeated 3-note pattern to see if I not only hear an initial attack but some structure immediately following, before the finger leaves the string and the sound just rings)
  • Shaker variation:  In Song 2, verse 3, do the various shaker shakes sound a bit different from each other, as they should? ["Spanish Harlem," 1:40 - 1:47:  there are clearly loud and soft shakes, but how many more volume levels of shakes can I distinguish, and can I hear structure within each shake as the seeds hit the shaker wall?]
  • "Ripping" of organ / brass:  In Song 3, is there the sensation of hearing each vibration of the French horn and low organ reed tones (sort of the tonal counterpart to hearing a "pitch" from a drumhead in Test 5); ["Organ Symphony," initial chord from 0:00 - 0:04 and French horn passage 0:06 - 0:12]
  • Discern added chord:  About 1:38 into Song 3, after the full orchestra and organ hold a chord at the top of a passage, can I hear a small number of orchestra instruments join in, as sort of an echo, in the second measure of that chord? ["Organ Symphony," in the passage starting at 1:08, how well can I hear the small additional chord added at 1:16 on top of the full strength organ/orchestra chord in progress?  Clearly enough to have noticed it if I weren't already listening for it?]
 
These tests generally emphasize what I find most pleasing in a headphone, namely high-frequency-related features including transparency, upper harmonics of sounds from drum-head, brass, organ pipe, and string bass, and high-resolution effects such as fine detail of each shaker sound and the finger on the bass string.
 
Headphones Compared
 
I compared the HiFiMAN HE1000 beta version to both the Sennheiser HD 800 (driven by the Sennheiser HDVD 800 DAC/amp using digital input) and the Grado PS1000 (driven by the Joseph Grado Signature Products HPA-1).  I drove the HE1000 with the portable CEntrance HiFi M8 amp in single-ended configuration.  Both other headphones were driven single ended.  Both the Sennheiser and the Grado had manufacturer-matched amps, while the HE-1000 did not. However, I then compared the amp I used with two HiFiMAN amps, the EF5 and the EF6 (the EF6 is a large amp, 8W into 32 ohms, used with great effect with the HiFiMAN HE-6 headphones.  The EF-5 amp is a hybrid tube/op-amp system likely intended for the HiFiMAN HE-500 headphones).
 
My initial impressions of the HE1000, stated here because, indeed, this is the HE1000 Impressions Thread, are:
 
  1. Within the first two seconds of listening to the HE1000 out of the box, I noticed the complete, strong bass and the exceptionally large sound stage.  Neither of these took detailed listening tests -- they were immediately apparent.
  2. There were some nice  touches - for example, the 1.5m cable, with its right-angle 1/8" connector suited for plugging into a portable audio device, has a very thin shoulder around the plug, allowing you to plug it into an iPhone that is in a protective case (only Sennheiser and V-MODA seem to think to do this - Grado never does... kudos to HiFiMAN!)
  3. Another convenient feature is that the cables do NOT twist-lock into the earpiece.  While this might seem unsafe (pull out if pulled), it actually encourages me to use the right cable for the job, since they just plug into the earpieces (for example, changing the cable on my HD 800 is a sit-down, spend-some-time job because of their tight twist lock).  It also provides a degree of safety of relieving the tension of cable pulls, e.g., by standing up while inadvertently standing on the cable, and pulls the cable out of the headphone rather than pulling the headphone off of your head and dashing it to the floor.
 
Test #1 - less than 1 hour at-home usage of HE1000
 
The table below gives a first place (blue, 3 points), second place (red, 2 points) and third place (yellow, 1 point) rating to each of the three headphones compared to one another on each of the 10 tests.  Just for fun (nearly meaningless, though, for supreme-level headphones such as these), I added the points across all 10 tests to see which headphone was overall highest scoring, second, and third.  Since these are rank orders rather than absolute scores, and since I can make mistakes in comparison (though I tried to assure that any differences I declared were large enough that if made to repeat in a blind test, I could... hence, there is at least one feature that has a three-way tie), scores of 3 or larger are significant.
 

Comparison of HE1000 at less than 1 hour of user use to burned-in Sennheiser HD 800 and Grado PS1000 shows that the HE1000 provides impactful bass performance and superior sound stage while maintaining most aspects of treble detail.
 
Test #2:  after 130 hours of headphone burn in
 
I ran the headphones continuously at various volume levels for 130 hours, with about 2/3 of that time using music from my collection and 1/3 of that time using pink noise.  Here are the results of the identical comparison to Test 1:
 

 
Comparison of the HE1000 to the HD 800 and the PS1000 after 130 hours of use of the HE1000 shows one change from the above plot of before-use characteristics -- an improvement in positional resolution.
 
The effect of burn in on these metrics was negligible.  The only item that changed was an improvement in the ability to resolve the apparent position of two singers standing side by side that occurred with burn in (highlighted with a bolded box border in the chart).  My guess is that the sound stage became larger with burn in, but since it was already the largest of the three, the sound stage measure did not actually change with burn in.  However, the associated factor of spreading the music sources over a larger angle caused an improvement in the positional resolution of two singers.
 
Test #3:  Comparison of Amplifiers (1 of 2)
 
These tests, as well as Test #4, occurred after completion of the 130 hours of burn in.  This test used the same 10 acoustic features to compare performance of the same HE1000 driven by different headphone amps.
 
The first amp used was the CEntrance HiFi M8, used in all tests on the HE1000 so far.  This is a portable amp/DAC capable of putting output power of over 0.6W onto a 35 ohm load.  The amp was used in its middle output impedance mode (2 ohms) with gain switch set to High.
 
The second amp used was the Sennheiser HDVD 800, an amp designed by Sennheiser especially for their HD 800 headphone.  It was not expected to work well, as its output impedance, intended for the 300 - 600 ohm input impedance of the HD 800 headphones, is 43 ohms.  Since the headphone impedance of the HE1000s was 35 ohms, the "damping factor rule" that amp output impedance should be less than 1/8 of headphone input impedance was violated.  For this (and all) amps, the headphones were driven single-ended, not balanced.
 
The third amp was the HPA1 of Joseph Grado Signature Products.  This amp, no longer in production, was designed for Joseph Grado by Sidney Stockton Smith, who was responsible for the design of many great Marantz amps.  Unlike the Sennheiser, it IS intended for 32 ohm headphones.  Since unlike the two amps above, this amp did not have its own DAC, I used the Sony PHA-1 DAC, driven via digital signal by an iPhone 5 directly over its Lightening connector.
 
Here are the results of comparisons, all using the HE1000 headphones.
 


Comparison of the CEntrance HiFi M8, Sennheiser HDVD 800, and Joseph Grado HPA1 each driving the HiFIMAN HE1000 headphones show best soundstage from the HPA1, best transparency from the HDVD 800.
 
Surprisingly, the HiFi M8 performed overall more poorly than the other two amps.  It was never first place for any of the 10 acoustic characteristics.  The HDVD 800 won on transparency, while the HPA1 provided the largest sound stage.  In fact, the larger sound stage of the HPA1 was apparent within the first few seconds of listening.  All of the amps sounded excellent with the HE1000.
 
Test #4:  Best Home Amp Vs. HiFiMAN Amps
 
I chose the HPA1 as the amp to anchor the comparisons with two HiFiMAN amps, the EF5 and the EF6.  I "borrowed" the EF5 and EF6 from the floor of the local HiFiMAN dealer, Overture Audio, Ann Arbor, Michigan (thanks, Overture!).
 
The EF5 is a hybrid tube / solid-state amp in the same price range as hybrid amps such as the Schiit Lyr 2.  HiFiMAN literature states that it was designed for the type of headphone (planar magnetic) that the HE1000 is (along with the HE-500 and others).  Its output power has been variously stated as between 1 and 2 W into 32 ohms.
 
The EF6 is a much larger all-solid-state amp, targeted for the HiFiMAN HE6 headphones, that provides up to 8 W into the 35 ohm load of the HE1000. It has a stepped-attenuator volume potentiometer and both single-ended and balanced inputs.
 
The results of the comparison are shown here:
 

Comparison  of two HiFiMAN amps, the EF5 and EF6, to the Joseph Grado HPA1 place the HPA1 performance between that of the EF5 and E6.
 
 
Surprisingly (at least to me), the Grado amp performed significantly better than the EF5 amp.  The EF6 amp performed best of all.  Both the EF5 and the Grado amp required volume turned up to 90% -100% of full, while the EF6 kept the volume around 50%.  I conclude from this comparison that a ~$500 amp (such as the Schiit Lyr 2, a hybrid tube/op-amp amp that I had been considering), at least to the extent of its similarity to the EF5 hybrid amp, would not perform as well as the Joseph Grado HPA1 that I already have (though the Lyr2 puts 6W, not 1-2 W, into 32 ohms, so there is a difference with the EF5).
 
Test 6:  Schiit Lyr 2, Joseph Grado HPA1, HiFIMAN EF-6
 
Several days after conducting and posting Tests 1 through 5, I procured a Schiit Lyr 2 and compared its ability to drive the HE1000 to the Joseph Grado HPA1 and the HiFiMAN EF-6 (best home and best HiFiMAN amps compared to Schiit Lyr 2).  The Lyr 2 puts 6W into a 32 ohm load such as the HE1000 Beta, and it is known for driving Grado headphones well.  That (plus its small form factor) made it a candidate for me to consider in finding an amp for the HE1000.
 
Here are the results of the comparison:
 

 
 
 
As shown above, the HE6 outshone the Lyr 2 (and the Grado HPA1) for driving the HE1000, having better soundstage, more transparency, and better bass impact.  The volume control on both the Lyr 2 and the HPA1 was at about 90% of full; the volume knob on the EF-6 was at about 50%.  However, differences in sound between first and second place, and second and third place, were very small for these amps -- even the HPA1 sounded very, very good with the HE1000.
 
Conclusions
 
Again, the HE1000 announces itself immediately at first listen with a superb bass and an unusually large soundstage. I agree with several statements made by other reviewers:
 
  1. The HE1000 presents bass as if it had a separate woofer - not interfering with higher frequencies but kept completely separate;
  2. The HE1000 provides microdetail in the low-volume portion of recordings so well that a listener is tempted to turn up the volume.  This can end up causing some listener fatigue from louder passages.
 
The HE1000 is unusual in its ability to span the ranges of characteristics that folks deep separate headphones for, e.g., bass power, bass detail, simultaneous with treble detail and huge sound stage.  It could obviate the need for buying two or more complementary top-of-the-line headphones, as it does a wide range of things very well.
 
The HiFiMAN EF-6 drives the HE1000 better than the Schiit Lyr 2, Joseph Grado HPA1, Sennheiser HDVD 800, CEntrance HiFIM8, and HiFiMAN EF-5.
 
I like the HE1000 very much and find that it fills the void of simultaneous bass power and treble detail that no single one of my headphones could quite provide.
 
Now having completed my review, I have lent the headphones to Overture Audio, Ann Arbor, MI, for them to use and demonstrate to customers.  They are a HiFiMAN dealer, and HiFiMAN has helped them many times.  This loan was approved by HiFiMAN as long as the headphones were labeled as "pre-production, may differ from final article,"  which I did.  So if a reader is in the neighborhood of Overture Audio, it is a great opportunity to try the headphones. 
 
___
edit 6/17/2015:  Added a Schiit Lyr 2 amplifier to the test... found it was second best, next to the HiFiMAN EF-6, for driving the HE1000.  Results integrated above.
 
Jun 6, 2015 at 2:14 AM Post #419 of 3,541

NZtechfreak

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Great write up! Quick note - the impedance matching thing doesn't apply to planars.
 
Jun 6, 2015 at 3:44 AM Post #420 of 3,541

moodyrn

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That is your opinion. That does not make it a fact for others. 
-------------------
 
To put in perspective. In his opinion it does not compete but to make a statement that the HE1000 needs to step up its game here, is an opinion. There appear to be a number of people that have an opinion that for them, the HE1000 does many things right and better than many of the other "flagships". So for them and myself, the the HE1000 has stepped up. And this is my opinion. 

I share this opinion.
 

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