NOTE ON THE PADS: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...xx-review-and-measurements.10082/#post-323192 PICTURES OF TRACES: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...xx-review-and-measurements.10082/#post-323196 SUSPICIONS (UNCONFIRMED) OF BEING A DEVA RECUP: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...xx-review-and-measurements.10082/#post-323197 FR COMPARISON TO HE4XX and HD650: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...xx-review-and-measurements.10082/#post-323214 DISTORTION: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-2#post-323221 IMPEDANCE: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-2#post-323240 CSDs: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-4#post-323469 HEADBAND (NOT A "WORSE" ONE): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-6#post-323699 FR COMPARISON TO OG HE-500 JERG: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-6#post-323726 SENSITIVITY: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-6#post-323741 UPDATE ON DEVA: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...sumptions-behind-the-he5xx.10106/#post-324000 TAPE MOD (SUPER FANTASTIC SMOOTH FR): https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...iew-and-measurements.10082/page-8#post-324536 Holy f**k $220? I'm so glad Drop is back to its old self where the deal is so fricking good that I have to give them my money. TBH, I thought this was going to be priced at $399 - "as a deal" - the old HE-500s were what? $699. What it comes down to is that in my mind, the PPP (proper price point for performance), which I can be a bit stingy or tight on, was $400. $220 beats this significantly. The downside for this price is that we will have to wait. https://drop.com/buy/drop-hifiman-he5xx The OG HD-500 was known in Head-Fi circles as having a speaker-like presentation. Voluminous but not overdone bass, a dip in the upper mids (the opposite of the Sennheiser HD800), with a return in the mid-treble. The HE5XX isn't exactly the same, but it carries out the HE-500 tradition with a host of improvements. The headband takes after the OG look, but is in fact way more comfortable with better quality padding. The gimbal mechanism is more refined with wider bands of metal and a built in mechanism for swivel. The cups and clamping force feel much much lighter. I wasn't a big fan of the Sundara's ergonomics: rough sharp edges on the metal, metal almost as thin as sheet metal, swivel and adjustment mechanisms with too much bind, and most of all an ugly headphone. It looks like Drop x HiFiMan has taken many of those criticisms to heart and massively improved on them. The HE5XX is so completely the other way that it feels as if had MrSpeakers ergonomics (not quite the mechanisms, but the comfort and lightweight is definitely there). The slight teardrop shape of the cups, which I think is sexy, is nod to the TOTL Susvara. A lot of people are going to be happy that HiFiMan has brought these back from the dead. There's been a segment of hobbyists who have been itching to get that of that old school sound (HE-6, HE-5, HE-500). HiFiMan, while initially saying that bringing them back was out of the question, has been steadily releasing remasters of them in the past few years. Customer demand is hard to ignore. Looks like Drop went all in with HFM on the HE5XX, and that's a good thing because all of sudden, its super affordable. The appeal with the OG HFMs was their timbre and slam. The newer HFMs with their thinner membranes and wannabe STAX sensibilities didn't always appeal to the old schoolers. Despite sounding "faster", many models exhibited steely, splashy, or plasticky timbre, lacked slam, or exhibited bouncy-bouncy effect in the lows. Now I wouldn't say that these HFM remasters go totally back in time to the OG sound, but they do straddle the line between the OG and new HFM sound. It's a good compromise in my opinion. Let's compare to the OG HE-500. The HE5XX is very similar to it, but arguably better in terms of FR because it doesn't have the OG HE-500's dip in the upper mids. There's still a depression, but it's not so obvious. In terms of the highs, if we isolate them, seem a bit overall brighter on the 5XX, but not excessively so. However, it should be noted that OG HE-500 also had a peak - a tizzy point in the mid-treble. The most immediate difference is that the HE5XX is clearer. The OG HE-500 always had a veil and congested one-note bass, alleviated somewhat by a big power amp. This what I used to call "HiFiMan bass", which was always there with the HE500 which could not be fully be powered through like with HE-5 and HE-6. The HE5XX carries the warmth of the HE-500 over. In terms of transient response, the HE5XX sounds faster and lighter on its feet. As a result, there is some loss of heft in the lows that the OG HE-500 was well known for. The HEXX isn't as hefty and powerful in the lows as the Audezes, but in return it's not as sluggish. We're talking about tradeoffs. The use of a low gain speaker power amp can give us back some of that heft if you are so inclined. In short, the Drop x HE5XX is the first HiFiMan in a long time that didn't have something that made it unlistenable (massive treble peak, upper vocal range peak, steely timbre) - at least not without mods. Sure it's not perfect, there's a small treble peak, and the dark tilt may be not amenable to people who like neutral or brighter heads; but for me, it's more than good enough. And again, the price is bonkers. Drop x HiFiMan HE5XX Frequency Response miniDSP EARS (SBAF perceptive neutral compensation) I swear I got better bass extension the other day, but chalk to this up seal, humidity, or whatever. We're still getting down to 30Hz before we get rolloff lower than the level at 1kHz. Think of this as a bass bump at 60Hz. Note that the OG HE-500 was similar in this regards without a optimal seal. Like the OG HE-500, there is a dip at 6kHz, but it's not so extreme. I will take another measurement on the flat plate coupler to get an apples to apples comparison. Overall, the FR measurement is nice downward slope with a small dip at 6kHz and a rise at 8kHz. The peak isn't significantly higher than the level at 1kHz, so it's not nasty. It's there, some sibilants will be enhanced, but not difficult. Note that the FR profile is quite a bit of a departure from the up an down undulations of other fairly recent HiFiMan headphones (a dip at 2kHz followed up a bump at 3-4kHz) which I always found problematic. For 220 bucks, this is the entry-mid-level planar to get.