Hifiman HE-6

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by Meteora, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Mhm, I can agree with this, I've noticed the same thing when the k1000 landed at my place for some reworks.
     
  2. weicheheck

    weicheheck Acquaintance

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    Some pictures of what I did: https://imgur.com/a/sbytyAq

    I had a bunch of extra blu tak and it worked out pretty nicely for giving some space between the drivers and my ears. The blu tak on the hinge is to hold the drivers at the angle I wanted with respect to the vertical, and the pads are attached to the he 6/ blu tak with double sided tape.

    You know how when you're taking off your headphones you sometimes hear the bass get really big sounding at a certain angle/distance? I get some of that effect with the extra distance and angle that I've added, as well as a dramatically larger soundstage. You can see in the before pictures that the way I was wearing them with vegan pads was very sub optimal for HRTF.

    Edit: bass and soundstage weren't quite as massive as yesterday when I was messing around with my hands. I pointed the drivers even further outward on the vertical and that solved it. That meant more Blu Tak to fill the extra space, added the final form in the same album I posted :). Absolute sub bass cannon now.

    Edit 2: Alas! no more than 24 hours after getting everything set up the headband decided to crap out on me on the right side where the plastic with the He 6 logo connects to the leather. I think I've experienced every aspect of Hifiman's poor craftsmanship at this point (I even swapped headbands with my 6 screw He 6 because I noticed it was more symmetrical in how far it allowed both cups to swivel forward), I guess I should've seen it coming with the tension that was created by widening out the headband.

    Me being the unrelenting optimist that I am, I saw this as a nice opportunity to explore the possibility of an even more extreme version of the mod I've done. What if....I stack 2 pads on top of each other??? Never would I have a better chance to satiate my curiosity than now, so I decided to break off the side that was still intact and then reconnect the headband in a way that gave me even more room to work with.

    I used Blu tak as the initial connection, wrapped it with tons of packing tape, and then wrapped that in black adhesive felt for comfort and I guess aesthetics...:D I got my Ether c flow pads and coated the back with double sided tape (its some shitty $2 elmers tape dispenser, very reversible), after sticking them on top the psuedo vegans, I got clear tape and wrapped it around where the pads connect to assure there would be no air gaps. The prototype is complete!

    https://imgur.com/a/aN4jENu


    I ended up making the size too extreme, and I should've also considered adjusting the angle at which the headband connects to make it more comfortable, it's far from refined, but i see a lot of potential. Imaging is not quite as pin point but it is still respectable, and could be improved with tighter symmetry between drivers, soundstage and bass are both comically large, although the stage gained more in width than other dimensions so it isn't quite as 3d sounding (I'll be messing around with how to fix this) and detail retrieval is almost on par with before. Things like the hands clapping in the middle of Song for the Man by Beastie Boys might be a tiny bit harder to notice, but they weren't something that I easily noticed before either. As a matter of fact as I was righting this I just heard some transients in a dubstep mix for the first time. Electronic music has been dramatically enhanced, bass hits harder, and is boosted in the 40-80 hz region now as well as the boost I got from the initial mod, the He 6 is in basshead territory now, but manages to do so with minimal bleed into the mids, only showing up in highly compressed sections like the intro to Kingdom by Devin Townsend Project.

    I have to turn up the volume a bit more to get similar SPL which was to be expected, I might end up having to crack open the F5 to adjust voltage (I probably won't compare the f5 and Vidar until I settle on a more permanent HE 6 configuration).

    Comfort is very poor, but I can fix that by taking the headband apart again and setting it up in a more optimal fashion (hopefully I can clean up the imaging and stage in the same step). I'm going to try and make this work, I'm pretty sure the soundstage is now larger than any headphone other than the k1000, and this set up has the unique quality of having both a massive soundstage and massive bass, something that seems hard to find in the headphone world. This thread is turning into my diary so I'm hoping I'll still have room to keep editing this post :D.

    Edit 3: I thought about it and the diameter to thickness ratio of the pad stack was going to leave me with a much more 2d sounding stage compared to before, I would need something more like an extreme version of Grado jumbo pads to be able to maintain a 3d stage while making it huge, and I'm not really in a position to be dabbling with custom pads, so the hifiman K1000 will be left on the back burner for a few years down the road.

    I settled on vegan pads plus blu tak extension, and fixed the headband with velcro and adhesive felt, I skipped on the tape after realizing the felt I have is actually significantly stickier. The headphone has nearly 75 grams of blu tak on it now as well as some additional weight from all the adhesive materials I used, and the eye balled nature of my headband reconstruction naturally meant it wasn't a perfect fit, far from it (too wide and a bit too low). I mulled it over for a while, then I decided to try integrating a headband as a pseudo lohb strap, and I have to say, It fixed both my issues perfectly :). The headband provides both the upward and inward forces I needed to get the HE 6 right where I needed it, and it also helps distribute the weight more evenly. THe He 6 is actually more comfortable now than it was before the headband broke. Some pictures of the current state.

    https://imgur.com/a/Q0H8GUq
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  3. Dukja

    Dukja Rando

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    I love my HE-6 paired with Aleph 3. I have owned it for longer than I can remember. And I preferred it to HD-800 most of the time. Recently, I built an Amp Camp Amp. While testing it and compare it with Aleph 3, it just make me re-appreciate it again. :p

    While ACA can drive HE-6 nicely, how ever HE-6 shows me how much deeper/wider and yet intimate at the same time Aleph is capable of. F5 has been my dream to build for it next.\/

    If I may side-track to another question briefly, I really like to find a pair of speaker that is as capable and refined as HE-6 for a small listening room (10x10). I have a pair of Philharmonitors and like it, but again and again HE-6 just show me it is not possible to reach the same level with my speaker.

    I would really appreciate someone has experience on both worlds to share a good P/C ones!! :bow:
     
  4. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    I'm not Ray and I realize this is a post from January, but thought I'd chime in from all the reading I've done this past weekend over the HE-6. (Yep I decided to pick up these headphones since I already have a Vidar, plan on getting a Saga and I really miss my old HE-500)

    So the consensus seems to be to get a vintage R2R DAC (preferably one with PCM63 chips) if you can find one or get a Schiit Multibit DAC. The Airist RDAC would be an interesting option to consider and I'd love to try that in my system whenever it becomes available again on Massdrop.

    The R2R DACs seem to help alleviate the etched, ringing treble folks would complain about on a stock 4-screw HE-6. Pad swaps would also help, before going further with more mods. @ohhgourami has mods here in this thread https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/ohhgouramis-he-6-info-and-mods.1726/ but there might be more mods needed if you are really sensitive to higher frequencies.

    @purr1n posted that the Modi Multibit A2 reminded him of a vintage '90s R2R DAC (https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...-incorrect-audio-blog.7261/page-2#post-249650)

    All that said, it seems the Modi Multibit would make a great pairing with the Vidar/Saga combo. Then if you want to upgrade, Bifrost Multibit A2, which has now moved it in the Gungnir/Yggdrasil family. I see a lot of HE-6 rigs with a Gungnir though. I just don't think I have a system to take full advantage of that DAC.

    As for me, I'm going to save up the cash for a Bifrost Multibit A2 since I might get more benefit out of it with my speakers and I can upgrade it to Unison USB next year. 99% of my music library is standard redbook, so I don't see a point of getting anything more than that.

    Plan is to have Vidar/Saga/Bifrost Multibit/HE-6 for a year or so, then maybe explore different amps. I'll probably never have the money to @ohhgourami godlike rig though. I wish I could hear the HE-6's out of that.

    I still can't believe I spent nearly a grand over a headphone. I had a rule never to spend more than $300 on headphones. But I long for that planar bass again and that sheer visceral sound. (I know folks say the HE-500 had like one note bass, but to my ears I never heard that good of bass from a headphone before. I was running them out of a first gen Lyr and Bifrost.)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  5. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    I need some advice from fellow HE-6 owners. I bought a custom cable from Dyson Audio that will let me connect these headphones directly to the Vidar without any adapter.

    I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything stupid to where I accidentally short a driver, since I've read that happening to a few people.

    Here's the cable I have:
    [​IMG]

    Just to be clear on this, the Saga and Vidar need to be powered on first before I hook up those 4 speaker taps? And the Saga volume needs to be turned all the way down?

    After I'm done listening, do I still keep the Saga/Vidar on, unplug the HE-6 from the speaker taps, then turn the system off?

    Sorry for the ridiculous questions, I'm just very nervous on doing any damage to headphones I spent a grand on.

    Any other tips for maintenance and longevity for the HE-6? My 4-screw pair is on its way and I would like to keep it for years if possible. Already had the Saga/Vidar so this was a no-brainer to get.
     
  6. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    I turn on my whole system first, have the cable already plugged into the terminals on the amp side (but not the headphones).

    Make sure pre-amp volume is ALL the way down and nothing is playing. Screw in the SMCs on the HE6. Press play on whatever you're using. Then slowly turn up volume.

    When you're done, reverse order - 1. Volume down. 2. Unscrew HE6. 3. Turn off power amp. 4. Turn off pre-amp.
     
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  7. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    do these wise steps above in order you won’t smoke your headphones. one late night I missed a couple and poof- right driver of Code-X popped. they sit in a basement box still, for some reason.
     
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  8. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    @jexby if you want to send those my way I can do my best to see if there's any possible way to repair without complete driver replacement. No real risk involved if it's already blown.
     
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  9. captkirk

    captkirk Khan's BFF

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    Ditto above... with that style cable you'll want to either have the speaker taps disconnected or the SMCs off the 6 before startup.

    I killed my ruby-red Slants leaving it connected on startup with volume down. Setup was identical to yours @treboR.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  10. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    Thank you guys for the replies, much appreciated.

    Have any of you had problems with the socket inside the cup where the SMCs are inserted? Like becoming loose or anything? I figure it might just need a nut tightened or a dab of glue.

    I only bring that up cause it was one of the other quirks I've read around.
     
  11. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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  12. Jozurr

    Jozurr Almost "Made"

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    Ideally what you should do is send the cable to Dyson, have it split into a cable with 4 pin XLR, and an adapter with 4 pin female adapter. That way you can leave the speaker tap adapter plugged in at all times, turn on the preamp, turn on the power amp, have the volume down to zero with nothing playing, and then just plug in the headphones into the adapter.

    Screwing and unscrewing the smc adapters and cable every time on power up is not only just a pain in the ass to do, it might just strip the connectors on the headphones (these are weak and have known issues like them running lose etc).
     
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  13. Jozurr

    Jozurr Almost "Made"

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    He cant directly use the adapter - his cable is terminated in bananas, not 4 pin xlr. It's wiser to split that cable in a cable+adapter - that way the whole cable+adapter match too.
     
  14. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Yeah, I understand that. I just assumed he has the original XLR cable that came with the HE-6.
     
  15. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    That was the cable adapter I was originally going to buy, but when I talked to the seller on eBay I asked him to make me the best cable for the HE-6 to connect to a speaker amp. I spent around ~180 for the custom cable.

    But yeah that ideally would make more sense than constantly un/screwing the SMCs.

    I guess I'll just have to stick to removing the speaker taps.

    Thanks, I'll reach out to him and see how much it will cost to do that. Pity cause the custom cable he made is very nice.

    (BTW I just bought your HE-6 on HF lol)
     
  16. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    Quick take on the HE-6 4-screw.

    I don't have any good point of reference to compare the HE-6s to (except the HD650s which ain't fair) so probably pointless for most people here to read and I'm sure there's a lot better reviews out there. Take with a grain of salt. Sorry I'm not the best person to write-up on gear, you guys are way better at it.

    Thanks for the contributions folks here have made on the HE-6. Amp pairings, mods, etc. Lot's of super useful information on this board, so thanks to all HE-6 owners here.

    Chain: PC->Eitr->Modi 3->Saga (w/ "Bad Boy" 3-rivet tube)->Vidar->HE-6
    Waiting for the Bifrost Multibit to restock to get the final piece in my chain (and for my speakers too).

    (Sidenote: Modi 3 is an awesome DAC for headphones. Better resolution and greater impact than the SDAC I had. However when used with my speakers, it's a bit blurry in some of the dynamics and the bass is slightly bloomy depending on certain tracks. There's a lack of sharpness and defintion in the attacks compared to my Emotiva DC-1. The DC-1 stumbles in soundstage and not as euphonious as the Modi. I'd easily take the Modi over the DC-1; more harmonious and not as dull. I wish I had started here first when it came to DACs.)

    For HE-6 mods: I added a ZMF Suede Pilot Pad and Auetuer pads, removed the quarter foam in the cups, cable from YFS, and kept everything else stock. I'll probably remove the grills later, but for now I enjoy the headphone as-is.

    I know people trash the build quality of these cans, but I'm not bothered by it. My expectations were already super low to begin with but I love how heavy they feel in hand. Doesn't feel flimsy or look chintzy to me. Must be all the years I've owned an MDR-7506 has rubbed off on me. On my head, super comfy with the ZMF pads I added, as comfortable as a 650.

    First impressions: The resolution is incredible. I've never owned a kilobuck headphone or anything considered "high-end". The nicest pair I have are the stock HD650s, but listening to music thru them is like having sex with a condom on or showering with a raincoat. It's like there is this thin somewhat transparent curtain hanging over a Van Gogh painting. You can still make out what the painting is but you just want to pull back to see all the detail. The HE-6 solves that detail problem for me. Now I can pick up on those vibrations coming from the piano strings. I can hear all of those soft cascading chimes with greater clarity. All of these little details just pull me more into the music.

    The overall sonic presentation is "speaker-like". I don't feel like I'm listening to headphones, but music coming out of speakers. I normally don't care about "soundstage" with headphones, cause I think it's simply non-existent, but there is a lot more width and depth than the HD650s. There's better imaging and focus too. The HD650s are closed, compressed garbage in comparison. Seriously the HE-6s make the headstage of the HD650 sound like a Porta Pro Plus. (Not trying to knock the Porta Pros, but it's the closest description I can think of). Music comes into the phones like vapor and then fades out into blackness. There is just this amazing liquid effortlessness without a hint of digital harshness. There is too much of that harshness in the HD650s where music sounds finely chopped up, like cymbals crash with an artificial texture.

    Vocals have great potency and vibrancy, it can almost be a bit disconcerting at times because of how realistically they are rendered. If you are someone that predominantly listens to vocal recordings, these are your headphones. Recordings I have committed to memory now have revealed new shades of tone and pitch I've never heard before. It's kind of neat that the resolution of these cans is so good you can pick up on the quality of the microphones used for vocals.

    I know everyone's favorite feature of the HE-6 is its powerful slam, but I think I like the "weight" of the music over its deep slamming capability. There is this fuller-bodied sound character that I've never experienced with headphones before. There is no fragility or thinness here. For me this makes it a much more immersive experience which heightens the impact.

    So those are my quick highlights, will do some more listening this weekend.

    I get where Psalmanazar is coming from regarding the disconnect of the bass and midrange. Some tracks can make that disconnect obvious but it doesn't detract from my overall experience.

    The only problem I have with the phones, and this might be alleviated with mods, is there is a bit of sibilance that gives me some fatigue. I agree with Tyll, that upper midrange is a bit "tizzy". It's not necessarily distracting though.

    Very, very pleased with the HE-6. Definitely worth the $1k+. They've satisfied that itch I've longed for in a headphone and given me fresh ears to my favorite music. Falling in love all over again with albums I've spun thousands of times.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
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  17. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio (Thread Judge Code-6 District)

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    I wouldn't worry too much about additional mods if you're happy with how they sound currently - in general, my completely unhealthy ultra-neurotic modding experience with the HE6 (which is still ongoing) led me to the belief that the best possible outcome is that they allow the headphones to play louder without fatigue (generally by strategically darkening certain spots in the FR and reducing ringing, which can clean up the mid-thru-treble transition if done right). If you can get more volume without fatigue, you'll perceive a fuller bottom-end and more texture in the top octave with a bit more slam - best case scenario. May or may not even matter to you depending on what you listen to and at what level.

    You can tailor a bit of a slope with various mods too (even though if you find yourself wanting a darker sound, the 6-screw or 6SE might be a better place to start). You won't be able to add anything that isn't already there - just either highlight the strengths of the headphone or mitigate the weaknesses. And pad swapping can cover a lot of that ground already - I prefer the lambskin non-perf Auteur pads for my own preferences. Always found the suede pads color the midrange a bit too much for my tastes.

    With your chain, no need to go down the rabbit hole with other speaker amps either. If you find yourself getting upgraditis after a few months, the only thing you'd need to consider is another DAC. HE6 makes picking out differences between DACs quite obvious, which is a double-edged sword. I imagine Modi 3 actually is a nice pairing though - smooth and slightly forgiving. A nicer DAC would just gain you a bit more slam and bass extension, I imagine.

    That was a lot of rambling. Thanks for keeping this thread alive! HE6 will always be in my top 3 favorites, even though my relationship with it has always been very love-hate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2019
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  18. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    LOL dude I hear ya, I am already super neurotic as it is. Although I think I can put a limit to the "madness" when it comes to audio gear. I used to scratch my head with folks modding $15 KSC75s by drilling holes. Is that really going to turn them into an HD800? Or people doing various other nutty things to squeeze out every drop of performance from a $200 headphone. Just buy a better headphone. However after listening to the HE-6, I get why people can go a little crazy with modding or upgrading expensive headphones in general. It makes much more sense to me to spend the time and money modding an HD800 over say an ATH-M50X, you know? There just seems a higher ceiling potential which could give you back more benefits than modding a cheaper phone.

    Yep that's exactly the ideal outcome I'm looking for. From the short time I've had with this headphone, it seems the more volume gives more body and weight in the music. I love that but it's weird. I think getting a darker sounding DAC may just be enough to tame the fatigue.

    That's what Zach told me too, he preferred the lambskin. I went with the suede cause the Audeze Vegans were discontinued, they looked pretty similar to it and they'd match the pilot pad. cskippy posted he likes the stock velour, so I might give that a try. Putting the pads on with the retaining ring was a pain in the ass though.

    Yeah I don't have any intention on getting another speaker amp. There's always the case of some amp or headphone or whatever is better, but I'm satisfied. Honestly glad I got into the HE-6 this late. Almost 10 years later with tons of info out there on the best amps, DACs, mods etc. Back then I had an HE-500 with a first gen Lyr and Bifrost.
     
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  19. ohhgourami

    ohhgourami Friend

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    Blutack mod ties the bass and mids together. Something worth considering.
     
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  20. treboR

    treboR Almost "Made"

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    ohhgourami, thanks for your mods and instructions.

    I'd like to but the cables in the headphones look thin and I don't want to break off the solder. Maybe I'm too overly cautious. Your blutack mod does make sense in tightening up the bass impact. The sub-bass is just a touch bloated. I can live with this though.

    Only thing that bugs me is that slight "ringing" treble. In theory a R2R DAC should take care of that last bit of it besides the suede pads, which based on the measurements I've seen here tame some of those higher frequencies. Listened to the headphone the past hour, fatigue set in and a little after I took the headphones off.
     

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