Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Oct 9, 2015.
What's the difference between Focus pads and Focus-A pads?
So, after reading Tyll's review >here< I gave these another listen. These are good. Again, I don't hear these as bright as when I listened to them at T.H.E. Show. Fairly engaging. But IMO, somewhat lacking in bass. Even relative to the HD600s I have. IMO the HD600/650 feel better built as well.
I don't think these are superior to the HD600/650s in almost anything but sub-bass distortion. But YMMV.
Anyhow. Did more measurements of these today (Focus pads) and the measurements match the ones I did before. I also measured my HD600 the exact same way: like closed cans. The measurements are overlayed in the last plot.
Where the HD600/650 losses is in sub-bass distortion, which is somewhat common in most open/leaky headphone designs.
HE400S Frequency Response (In all measurements the HD400S is using Focus pads)
HE400S Frequency Response (current measurements vs previous)
Comparo of HE400S (red/green) with HD600 (yellow/blue) both measured the same way using a non-leaky baffle
HE400S Square Waves:
Here are the HD600 square waves as reference.
HD600 Square Waves:
I definitely agree with you Ultrabike. I don't think the HE400S outperforms the HD6X0 in anything except ease to drive. Good headphone though. Easy to advice to everyone.
On my loaner HE400S, treble (8khz) bothered me during the first hours but no more now. Considering I only used the HE400S during my lunch pause at work 2 or 3 days a week, I don't think it's brain burn in but more real change after some hours of burn in. I'm not a burn in believer usually but in this case , i'm almost convinced there's a change.
Would you mind to explain what did you mean when you say " measured like closed cans" . Thks !
Actually, they are quite different!
Focus A Pad
Stock vs Focus
Stock vs. Focus A
Focus vs. Focus A
I did a quick pad-swap so all levels should be with respect to the same volume. Focus A Pads have the most bass extension. I'm listening to them now. Overall, I think I'm almost leaning towards the original angled velours as my preferred. They're the most lively and open sounding of the bunch. The bass extension is great with focus pads though.
I really like the 400S and think it does deserve a spot on the IF Wall of Fame. I completely agree with statement from Tyll's review of the HE-400S, "a great first serious purchase for budding headphone enthusiasts." Think about how often people purchase and resell the HD6x0 series? They're probably the most purchased and re-sold headphone. IMO this is because of two factors:
1. If people buy them early, they lack the experience and gear exposure to put their performance into a broader context.
2. Their gear is shit, because they're new to the hobby, and the 300ohm Senn's can sound pretty fucking crappy from the headphone jack of an average piece of consumer electronics equipment.
There is one specific affordance that I think that the entry-level HiFiMan planar brings to the table, and it really helps with the second purchase-rebuy factor: I think that the HE-400S sounds much better than the Senns out of an average piece of consumer electronics equipment. I even got good performance out of them from the headphone jack of my Galaxy Note 4.
The Sennheiser HD6x0's big affordance is one that we're pretty familiar with here: I think that the HD6x0 Senns scale up much better than the HE-400S. At equipment levels where you're considering what "summit-fi" headphone (I fucking hate that term) has right set of flaws you can live with, the HD6x0s are invaluable for providing a high-scaling neutral reference point that lacks the (often glaring) problems of ostensible upgrades. Every flagship headphone has some sort of nasty sin of commission: sluggish response, poor bass, treble etch, price, build quality and long-term reliability, soft presentation, thin presentation, and/or just overall coherence.
I think that somewhere along the way - especially with the rapidly increasing price of hi-fi headphones - many of us have gotten used to thinking about the HD6x0 series primarily for affordability and superb hi-fi value. Consider Tyll's descriptions of the HD600 from Tyll's HE-400S review:
"the pinnacle of price/performance value"
"a great headphone and worth the price of entry"His descriptions of the HE-400S have a similar focus on affordability-to-performance:
"a friggen sonic bargain"
"Given it's price and type"
It certainly is that too. And if you're new the hobby and you're just getting your feet wet without any certainty about jumping in deeper, the HE-400S makes sense. If you're committed to investing more, the HD6x0s provide more long-term returns. For people like us who have already made the investment, we know the latter - and I think it's a bit harder for us to see the former.
The "long-term returns" of the HD6X0 is a great way of putting it. I am definitely in agreement with most folks here -- the HD6X0 is simply better overall, but it's not without upgrading the rest of your chain.
For $225-250 used, portable compatibility, and great sound, you can't go wrong with the HE-400S.
The point is that for HD6X0 , there's a game changer anf its name is Geek Out v2. For relatively cheap you can have a light, small, balanced, usb powered combo that sounds great with a HD6X0. Definitely greater than the best you can obtain from a HE400S IMO. So, yes the HE400S is an easy and good recommendation for beginners but for people who are ready to add money in a dac/amp ... HD6X0 still rules.
I am in the minority. I have heard the HD600 and owned the 650. The only way I would take a 650 would be with the mod. I now own a the HE=400s and am very pleased. I just find the mid presentation very pleasing to my ears. Up front , clean and clear, and similar to my speaker setup.
No best judgement though, I like both and feel they are excellent cans and values in the crazy new world of uber priced cans. As for getting a bit more out of it. Sorry, again in the minority. Seems to do quite nicely with strong value oriented dacs like the Matrix and amp like the Asgard2. I sure would not build a system around the 400s using a Yggdrasil and an EC though and that is where I think the modded 650 has an advantage. It sounds superb as you go up the dac/amp chain. Then again , if I had that kind of cash to dedicate to a headphone setup, I would be using modded HD-800s and not 650s.
Definitely. The V2/V2+ is a really affordable option and gets quite a bit out of the HD6x0s. (Aside: I can't wait for the V2+s to ship out! Hope the new chassis doesn't suck.) I always think that if shit hit the fan and I had to sell my equipment, I could be still be pretty happy with a V2/+ and a pair of HD650s.
I also think this effectively demonstrates the barriers for entry-level personal audio hobbyists. Most people looking to find better audio are going to start at the level of headphones - which is a reasonable choice. The rest of their information-seeking process won't be nearly as straight forward. For instance, your new (potential) entry-level enthusiast:
A. Might not know that different headphones benefit from amplification - and in ways that are far more complex than "more power = good";
B. Might not know what a DAC or a headphone amplifier is or what it does. (Or, that their d/a converters in standard commercial equipment are usually lowest common denominator functionalist crap);
C. Definitely won't know who Light Harmonic is, what a Geek Out is, or why they need anything more than the headphone jack for their gear;
D. Definitely won't know what sources of information are trustworthy (which will likely lead them to information resources like CNet - or shopping at Best Buy);
E. Might lack the patience to do in-depth research prior to opening their wallet. Fuck, some of us lack that even now;
F. Most assuredly won't have any understanding of their own sonic taste preferences.
Most intro-level users (of anything) lack an understanding of their information needs, the information knowledge gaps that they're trying to address, and the (trustworthy) information resources that would enable them to address those gaps and make better choices. If they've lucked into InnerFidelity, then they've encountered an access point into the hobby that is useful, trustworthy, and clear enough to provide them with meaningful information.
Beyond being a pretty good headphone, the HiFiMan HE-400S is a great case study in how entry-level user needs would be greatly enhanced by a legitimate, broad-reaching audio enthusiast society or organization. For every InnerFidelity out there there are a dozen or more sites that really just exist to push people into buying overpriced shit. A hobbyist society would be invaluable for addressing knowledge gap D, which will enable a motivated new user to work outward from that stable point to gain more technical, domain-level knowledge ("this is you read a frequency response chart, a waterfall plot, THD measurements, etc."), to decide on the level of financial investment that they're willing/able to make, and what general equipment makes type of sound that they like to hear.
I think some of this will come down to if you prefer a planar or dynamic driver sound. I find myself leaning more toward the dynamic driver sound.
Personally, the HE400S I heard at Tyll's (so, same one he reviewed), just wasn't as refined and cohesive sounding across the board as the HD650 (assuming amps good enough to drive them well). And while the bass might have had less distortion, it did lack extension and some balls. Though the HE400S MIGHT have done a slightly better job with air and a wider stage...can't remember entirely.
That said, it was a highlight for me. Great headphone. I just think the HD600/650 start to walk away from it once you feed them a good DAC and amp. But the benefit of the HE400S is that you can get pretty reasonable sound with it straight from your phone, though it does gain some balls with a dedicated amp.
Again, all comes down to tastes. Both HE400S and HD600/650 are quite good. Oh, and I'd much rather take the HE400S over the Ether.
Really ? Mind to explain why ?
Even with the stock pad, sub-bass roll-off on the HE400S, I preferred its tone, sense of body, and general balance over the Ether, which sounds too lean, a bit too grey, a bit too glarey, and is generally boring.
The left side still has sealing problems?
I read the whole topic because it sounds pretty interesting (you get it ? It "souuuuuuunds" hum... anyway). Thing is, usually when I read some very similar criticisms about two types of different headphones, it's because the're almost the same. I think we came to the point where we can state that these two headphones (6x0 and 400S) are similar enough that the only things that will make you prefer one to the other are some margins in lows, distorsion, or something else, but not much more. There is no dethronization or stuff like that in here, just two headphones pretty similar that one will like more because of a little bit less distorsion, or because you can plug it to your smartphones, etc...
So far I hadn't read anything about it, but the fact that it is a planar magnetic does not make a big difference ?
The HD 600/650 are just better. However they're more expensive and you'll need to spend at least another two hundred bucks on an adequate DAC and amp. If you already have something like a Schiit stack or Objective combo but no decent open headphone, the HE400S isn't worth it. It's 300 bucks. That's close to the Sennheisers on sale. With the cost of Focus pads, that is an HD 600. If you want to cheap out on the transducer, the AKG K7XX is a better choice. For people new to good audio gear who have nothing? The Hifiman is great and a step up from the HD 558/598 or Philips X2 for a little bit more money if you can get it to seal on your head.
Of course then we get into that 500 to 700 dollars isn't really that much more than 350. I upgraded to an HD 650 rig just by not eating out at all for a few months and realizing the TOTLs all have annoying flaws.
Dunno. The measurements (weeks apart) are consistent. Maybe some driver variation going on.
To me the mids and treble seem somewhat different.
You can go back and forth all day on these two, they are both great.
But I have a bone to pick with the folks that are saying the 400s work great with your phone. Well they play loud with a phone if that is what you mean. Playing lossless files through a decent Android phone via HP out gives me an okay experience, but not anywhere near the higher resolution experience of hearing via a decent dac/amp connected to same phone. You can argue that better phones will do better, etc, but at the end of the day, why waste the capability of the 400s on this type setup. Some may but I would rather just go $100 iem.
So for me the doesn't scale well scaling argument does hold water at least in the scenarios I have used them in. Yes, I do think when you spend big bucks on a nicely perfected source and amp the HD650s will be amazing, but for the middle earth the 400S can be just as amazing if it is your preferred presentation.
It's kinda like the OPPOs. They sound pretty decent from a phone. Not at their best, but decent. Mostly they just lack some balls and become limited by whatever technical strengths and weaknesses your portable device has. Pair them with a good amp, and, sure, they're transparent enough to show different gear characteristics (well, thinking modded OPPOs here), but mainly they just gain some balls and extra technicalities, like resolution and detail retrieval. HD600/650 just keep going up, and up, and up, and up, etc. with better gear. Stuff like the HE400S and OPPOs hit a wall quickly, where as the Senns keep going. I know some call this scaling, some prefer to call it gear matching or whatever.
HD600/650 from a phone, LOL. Why even bother? I actually enjoyed the HE400S from my phone, though I preferred the extra testicles it grew from a good amp.
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