DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by purr1n, Oct 27, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    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
    DSC00001.JPG

    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)
    HE5XX FR.png

    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.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
  2. rtaylor76

    rtaylor76 Can't wipe his tag

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    Different pads would also probably help the bass. Many liked the Yerg pads, which was a DIY affair that required more stuffing, stitching, etc. It really helped the low bass in the OG HE-500 and made it more listenable for poor recordings on mid-size amps (Gilmore Lite, Lyr 3, etc.).

    The pads for the 5XX look like the hybrid pads, which I liked the least with my HE-500's. If wanting more air, the felt pads sounded better for classical. The hybrid pads to me just sounded strange.

    Changing pads also was diffcult on the OG ones. The hook had to go under the inner lip. It looks like the cup on the new 5XX looks like it has an interlocking mechanism and the pad appears to be somewhat circular with a slight teardrop.

    Any words on the pads and how difficult the changeout would be Marv?
     
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  3. nishan99

    nishan99 Almost "Made"

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    For $220 they're clearly targeting the 6XX market share (smart move targeting the biggest market share in hifi headphones).

    How is their imaging? is it diffused like the newer HFMs?
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The pads are hybrid, cloth on the face and pleather on outside and inside rims. I'm sure a full pleather pad will have a much better seal. A reverse approach to this may be interesting, with pleather on the surfaces that touch the face for best seal and cloth (absorptive) material on the inside rim.

    IMG_20201027_111844.jpg

    The pads mount with plastic clips around a thin plastic ring. Not my favorite approach. Pad rolling won't be easy as this plastic ring is not removable like with the OG HE-500. The ring is embedded (glued) into the pad and breaks rather easily. I already broke a piece on the ring near the clip on the other earpad. Note the earpads slightly teardrop shaped to conform to the cup.

    IMG_20201027_111834.jpg

    The pads with the velour face will likely not seal as well, hence the slight bump at near 50Hz and tiny bit of roll-off.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2020
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  5. Ti_Leo

    Ti_Leo Acquaintance

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    So it's using single-sided magnets and the nano diagram. I've tried a few circular HFM models with single-sided magnets, didn't really like them. The closest model I can think of is HE5SE, which sounds kinda plain. But I think they changed the front grill design at least, and the opening is no longer in rectangular shape now.

    And it looks like the ear pads are in teardrop shape now, and the locking mechanism seems changed also (But I think they are just Sundara / HE5SE pads with new shape and stuff). So there really can be some new design in this. But I was shocked by how good those double-sided magnet old model was, I just wish they could make resurrect that design...

    Edit: just saw purrin's pics, the pads are different, HE5SE's were using perforated leather, HE5XX's are non-perforated.
     
  6. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Am I the only one suspecting this (at least driver-wise) origins from he560 instead of he500? Weight reduction is too much in my understanding: he500 500-ish gram, he560 370-ish gram, and he5xx 355 gram. Of course he560 could be possibly argued as magnet-reduced he500 (just speculating) though.

    Anyway if 5xx sounds very good, it's glad to see something to recommend for planars in this price range, as I don't want to support v-blahblah audio at all.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    From the Motu Ultralite headphone output, very wide and diffuse, stuff pushed more to the side with classical recordings with a hole in the middle. Think of it as two-blob to side, with the blogs being expansive (I like to use Stanley Black's LSO recordings). From the EC Studio 45 Custom, I get moderately better localization, slightly better depth, and with studio recordings, good center imaging. Still, it still wants to throw things wide. Note that my preference is less wide but deep; but ultimately I could care less about headstage when it comes to headphones. For those who crave the HD800 effect, or a large part of it for cheap, and don't care about anything else, then this is the way: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ser-hd560s-review-the-new-standard-not.10040/
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I am not sure of the exact specs (didn't bother to read anything on Drop). The FR jaggies would lend itself more to it being a SE magnet design (although possible exceptions). Also the super light weight is a dead giveaway. The typical HFM nano diaphragm weirdness isn't there. If maybe anything a touch toward the smooth plastickly side, but I am really nit-picking here. Doesn't have timbre of crunching aluminum or female vocals shrieking like banshees. Better quality thinner traces probably allowed some weight reduction and more linear sound.

    How did HFM pull this off? Here is a look at their traces on the diaphragm. The process isn't as fine as Audeze's, but this is a HUGE step from what I've seen before, which looked scary as F, even on their higher-end headphones. Seriously, they use to look as wide as five line highway, with horribly uneven deposits that looked like they were going to flake off or break (which they did). It's good to see this process mature though.

    DSC00271.jpg

    --

    Here's a look at the swivel mechanism. There is some play that is allowed here.
    DSC00270.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
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  9. Crinacle

    Crinacle Friend

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    Here's something interesting that I found, the listed driver specs on the HE5XX are exactly the same as the Deva: 93.5dB sensitivity, 18 ohm impedance, and the same double-sided magnet array (actually I'm not so sure appears that yes, both are double sided but asymmetrical).

    Was curious so I re-formatted my Deva measurements to Jude's scaling (because we use the same rig) and found closer similarities to the Deva (closer than the rest of the lineup, at least).

    7OhU6PbOSjWXXcXWCl04_1.jpg
    Deva (HF scaling).jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
  10. Philimon

    Philimon Friend

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    Wow. These really dont have that steely timbre like 4XX? And that treble peak really isnt a problem? because it looks problematic. The new driver pic you just posted I guess explains it all. And then its single sided magnet, so can it resolve and sound dynamic like OG 500? Does single-sided allow better timbre because less reflections? These look more comparable to HE4 than HE500?

    Edit: deva!
     
  11. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    Nice! Although while I can see the logic of using a 3.5mm connector for headphone drivers, I actually prefer the OG twist-on ones. I tried the newer HE-400 with the 3.5mm mono connectors and they came out all the time.

    The specs on the Drop site are vague. What does 93.5 dB sensitivity mean? Based on 1 mW? No mention of amplification requirements either. Does it need the power of a Lyr?
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    If would be funny if these were a Deva (without the Bluetooth) in a throwback OG style headband. I knew nothing of the Deva as after the lackluster Sundara, I sort of gave up on them. Didn't feel like continuing reviewing stuff that didn't interest me and no interest from anyone here as well.

    I'll take more measurements and post apples to apples FR (with comps or without - at least consistent) to get a better idea.

    Was the Deva SE or double-sided? I know HiFiMan started to use neo magnets to shave weight... about time.

    EDIT: from this diagram of the Deva, looks like SE:
    upload_2020-10-27_12-4-28.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2020
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  13. skem

    skem Friend

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    How do these sound next to Verum 1? Would a person who loves the Verum sound, but not the ethos, be happy with these?
     
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  14. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    What kind of warranty do you get with it?
     
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  15. YMO

    YMO it's not drinking alone if you're on Zoom

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    Build Quality due to HIFIMAN infamous history?
     
  16. Crinacle

    Crinacle Friend

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    Asked a friend for pics of the Deva's driver:
    IMG_20201027_120308.jpg

    For reference, the HE500 driver:
    unknown.png
     
  17. Ti_Leo

    Ti_Leo Acquaintance

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  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HE5XX vs HE4XX
    Frequency Response
    Flat Plate Coupler (compensated)
    GRN/RED = HE5XX
    GRY = HE4XX
    upload_2020-10-27_12-35-10.png

    HE5XX vs HD650
    Frequency Response
    Flat Plate Coupler (compensated)
    GRN/RED = HE5XX
    GRY = HD650
    HE5XXvHD650.png

    I will post CSDs and HD to get a better picture. FR may not tell the entire story, although some differences can be noted already. I suspect the 8kHz narrow peak on the 5XX could be an ortho wall thing.

    I've never bought the reflections stuff because that's not how it works. With double-sided magnets, I would expect lower distortion, particularly even harmonics, all things being equal. SE magnets have the advantage of less weight. OG HE500 was never a big resolver. This is better, probably on the account of the nano diaphragms, but not so nano, and also better quality finer traces. The more interesting question is whether these resolve better than Verum 1 to partially answer @skem's question - noting Verum 1 wasn't a resolution monster either, even in the scheme of planars which do plankton well.

    Tone and timbre closer to OG HE-500. HE4 had a totally different presentation with that zippy detail slider moved up 350%.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
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  19. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    Hmmm cool thanks for the review Marv.

    nice to see more affordable good sounding orthos though I wish it wasn’t being done by hifiman and a crazy racist or whatever (I intentionally haven’t read the thread). But still very cool about the price and sound.

    Not to be a downer and the price points are different but the traces are still nothing compared to fostex’s late 70’s flagship ortho.

    hifiman in 2020

    [​IMG]

    Fostex in 1979

    [​IMG]
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    No different from history as we move from the Greeks to the Middle Ages.

    upload_2020-10-27_12-55-40.png
    upload_2020-10-27_12-56-27.png
    upload_2020-10-27_12-57-17.png
     
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