HifiMAN HE6SE measurements and short review

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Vtory, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Sadly I never got a chance to try dual vidars which I believe sound different. For single vidar I'm having around, I think it the most honest and arguably the most accurate among the bunch, but doesn't have rich timbre, shimmering sparkles, and airiness (I think I like overly and colorfully done in these aspects). It's not that boring by any means though. Just relatively so. Indeed JLH did better than Vidar here although Vidar technically superior.
     
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  2. Magnetostatic_Tubephile

    Magnetostatic_Tubephile Friend

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    Not sure if I would call a 700USD headphone (before tax, duty etc.) an insane value, especially given the fact headphones such as Verum One or HD6XX can be had much cheaper and driven by much more convenient amps, not requiring mods. Its certainly better than the original price though.

    Are you not bothered by the hybrid pleather pads? I always found pleather to be sonically less transparent than leather or HQ velour. Even with the supposedly top quality pads from recent products (Ether 2, Verum One), I can clearly hear degradation of transparency. (Aka weird coloration and smearing due to waves bouncing of the pleather surface.)
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    6xx is very different story. I've never felt 6x0 (technically) stacks well against other top performers without great amps. It has good mid-high tonality and cohesiveness. But I don't say it is sufficiently driven with cheap and convenient amps. Plus except 600 and 580 (both more expensive and less available than 6xx), 6xx do need modding , if the same degree of nitpicking applies.

    Also to me verum and 6se are not in the same or compatible league if non-tonality performance criteria considered. IMO FR is only one aspect of transducers. I used to more seriously look at non-adjustable aspects such as bass articulation/pitch, transient, speed, staging, micro/macro stuffs, etc.

    Taken together, of totl or semi-totl graded performers, I maintain 6SE for 700 usd is insane. Note that I secretly poo-pooed when it was sold for 1.8k usd -- 1.2k usd (the 6OG retail price) feels decent and fair for 6SE. Can't think of any other close alternative under 1k new performing equivalently (full ranged + same or above tech + modding not too necessary).

    On the pads front, not sure if I hear lacking transparency with pleather. I didn't compare pads difference with Ether 2 but I didn't bother. For 6SE, during the preliminary pad rolling, I liked the stock pleather focus pads over others (lamb, suede) due to its sharp, clear, and pin point imaging. Will investigate pads again later though.

    And as always, pad material should be thought in the context of internal dimension and (more importantly) overall voicing/tuning. I don't think one specific material always sonically bad, either.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    This strikes me as the sort of lost thinking that plagues those who keep trying to climb higher and higher with audio gear.

    "HD600/650 is good, but not great without a megabuck amp."

    I say this because I used to feel the same way. And while there are some exceptional, but expensive amps, that just blow you away from time to time, it's too easy to get so wrapped up with high end gear that even when you still test out lower tier stuff, it's hard to shake the mental shackles that let you put things in perspective.

    Plus, I often used to (mistakenly) lump the HD800 in with the HD600/650. Yeah, they all scale and all that, but the HD800 was effectively broken as-is. It's version of scaling was more attributable to finding band-aids to make it sound less bad. Again, there are rare exceptions that fly against this, but I do mean rare.

    Remember, we aren't powering our HD650s with original iPhones here.

    It's not until you're forced back down to budget gear that your mind clears in this regard. It happened to me. I'm not saying gains aren't tangible with pricier gear, but they are not as stratospheric as we make them out to be initially. Chasing the end-game dragon is more a mind game than anything else. Or, at least, it's becoming more and more a mind game as time goes on, since what you can get for little cash these days is much better than years ago.

    I mean, you could get a Modi 3 and Vali 2, and the HD600/650 can still be incredibly tough to beat in terms of midrange-through-treble tone, timbre, and overall high-end performance.

    "It has good mid-high tonality and cohesiveness." When did this not become one of the most critical parts of a listening experience? I'm not saying other aspects don't matter, but you're talking about the essence of music here. It sounds like you're brushing it off. And while I'd say you should change "good" to "great," the vast majority of headphones struggle to get anywhere near "good" when it comes to proper mids-through-treble tone and timbre. This is a sad thing that hasn't changed over the years for lower priced gear.

    I'm not arguing against the HE-6SE being a bad deal at $700 if that's your thing. Seems fine to me if it sounds good. But doesn't this camp also advocate for big ol' power amps to drive them, and at what costs?

    So, you're already $500 up on the HD6XX with the headphone alone. You could get a pretty enjoyable chain for $500 to go along with the HD6XX.

    Even then, what are the cheapest respective amps you could get to, in your mind, adequately drive either headphone? I think you'll still come out ahead with the HD6XX. That is, of course, unless the HE-6SE is more your thing. And that's cool! Sometimes you have to spent more $$$ if your tastes lie elsewhere, and I'm talking about if no amp, no matter price, makes you enjoy the HD600/650.

    Again, I bring this up out of caution that you may be going down some paths a bit too quickly, ones that really end nowhere but to that of distorted perceptions and expectations. Been there myself. I'm starting to think it harms those that are starting out in the hobby or won't have much cash to spend on it, pushing them away and into other communities.
     
  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    @Hands

    Thanks for making great points. I think I understand 90% what you said (maybe more) with the brain. I just can't associate the remaining 10% with my own real uses.

    The reason why I stated about hd650 that way is mainly because I've never been able to enjoy 6x0 enough at any configuration and because I almost give up doing so for myself. Quoting from another thread, I kinda agree 650 is 650 no matter how it is driven. To me 6x0 scaling always works in negative ways -- great upstream doesn't make it super great but less bad. And I confess that I revisited 6x0 many times with some hope but it typically turned out I couldn't be satisfied enough. For example, I had hd600 for roughly one year (of course it's not my first time to have hd6x0). While it had some likes, after having it for one year, I realized my EARS wear it for way longer time than I do.

    Mid high tonality and cohesiveness might be very important. But honestly my distorted ears and brain maximized listening pleasure with "less good transducers in that aspect", although things I was happy with were all more expensive than 6x0. But at least, having less smooth treble responses wasn't fully correlated with inferior outcomes.

    So, simplifying the story, here are relevant pieces of my whole audio hobby experience.
    • Heard a lot of good things from others about hd6x0: some from uber setting, some from budget setting
    • Tried nearly every budget setting but none worked meaningfully and comparatively better. When I thought "oh it's really good. my 6x0 really sings!", other headphones I had atm did no worse than 6x0. And this happens at various price points I tried (fulla 2 being the lowest and 3f being the highest).
    • I measured and verified that 6x0 has the best tonal balances and cohesive mid-high connection. Anything else is worse than 6x0 in the measurement.
    • During the last 1.5 decades, I've bought and revisited 6x0 roughly 10 times combined. I finally gave them up this spring.
    From these, I really can't truly appreciate them as much as you do. I respect others' appreciation though. I still dream hd650 sing greatly with higher DNA or EC some day, but won't chase that road any more.

    And speaking of 6SE amping, it doesn't require mega bucks to drive. At least I didn't feel that way. If the same level of expectation applied (say, 650+vali 2 you said), I am already enjoying JLH (price varies between $100-200) with 6SE. Can't say much about vali 2. But JLH+6SE works for me better than 650 + semi-budget amps such as 789 and jot (these listed because of happy experience of 650kiss with them) or 600 + something like Lyr 3 (my favorite sub-1k amp pick for 600 while I had them). Also note that my favorite amp did not cost me more than 500 usd new. Of course power amps are less convenient due to their weight and connectors. But it can be used for loudspeakers as well.

    Lastly, I admit that every 6SE shit I'm speaking of might come from new toy syndrome. Need more time to support the assessments more solidly.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  6. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I am powering my h6se with an Adcom gfa 535 that cost $125 7 years ago, it was old then, is older now but still humming right along. Only hooked up to this because of statements regarding power required, etc. I think my Singxer SDA 2 c was doing quite fine with these cans. You could try a used phonitor e, wink,
    phonitor e
    Max. Output Power (at +30 dBu @ 1 kHz)

    2x 3.7 W at 120 Ohm impedance
    2x 2.9 W at 47 Ohm impedance
    2x 2.7 W at 32 Ohm impedance
    The Singxer
    Load power
    30Ω 3480mW
    75Ω 1640mW

    Love the phones.So far I see them as up there with the Verite's overall. The similarity to Verum was surprising. It will take some time to fully evaluate but if these were all had, I'd be happy. Lots of resolution and clarity.
     
  7. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Motivated by the budget gear talk this afternoon, today I am listening with the rig "how low I can go".

    [​IMG]

    Topping DX3 Pro > JLH 1969 > HE6SE

    Bifrost 2 not used in this chain because it needs extra work of re-cabling from the audio rack..

    Anyway I can enjoy this rig a lot. It doesn't have well controlled and tight bass of Bifrost 2 + DIY Accuphase (borderline pricey) combo, but lots of details and small dynamics remain quite well. Topping's AKM 4493 DS implementation used to be a little sterile, but in this chain JLH seems to compensate it well although JLH per se isn't particularly wet or warm poo. Good (if not great) synergy. No annoyance.

    If I nitpick, this chain doesn't resolve plankton well. On top of a little loose bass, highs also slightly veiled compared to my reference chain. And a few other drawbacks needing money to overcome (mostly dac's faults I guess). All very acceptable imho. High-end-ish feeling still there evidently. More than enough to seriously enjoy music -- and I'm doing so as typing this post.
     
  8. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @Vtory I appreciate your measured response, because I know I can come across strong at times!

    Yeah, it's probably safe to say the Sennheisers aren't for you. I think my initial message was tailored with my impression that you seemed to be only advocating for the Senns if someone paired them with super expensive gear, and thus were invalidating any claims to them being a value set of headphones. I think there's still a lot of sentiment or claims floating around today that echo messages from many years ago, when it genuinely could be tough to find a budget amp to drive an HD6X0 properly. So, I'm pretty defensive about things having changed in the last few years for the better so as to not confuse those with less experience and tenure in the hobby. Given that, your clarification and expansion helped me, and I hope it helps frame both of our thoughts for others as well.

    I know SBAF has a reputation for being HD650 fanboys, and my guess is that most that say this don't fully understand why we like, or at least appreciate, the HD650. It's because it's probably one of the tonally least fucked headphones for most music, and it's pretty affordable! (Though someone's ASR-approved Topping all-in-one may just sound like plain ass, no matter what you plug into them...)

    "Why get Sennheisers when you can get the Z-approved SHP9500 at $50?" they might say. Because the SHP9500 sounds pretty shitty. Or, "What about my planar bass?" And they can't hear how screwed everything is after 500Hz on their stock HE-5 reissue or whatever.

    I see things like this (not talking about you, obviously), and I want to make sure members here feel OK admitting they don't like the Sennheisers, same as a lot of us often don't care for planars. But anyone on the opposite side of the fence needs to have a deep understanding of user preferences, for those on the other side, with the usual SBAF approach to what we determine is high quality. That is to say, we don't have to like something ourselves to accept it's a good piece of gear, even if niche. (And, no, this does not mean every piece of awful, awful gear is actually good under a niche lens.)

    Given that, I think a fairer statement in the post I first commented on would be that the HE-6, and I assume HE-6SE if it sounds close enough, offer a good value for those that want to capture this sort of sound. And I do think it's the "value" framing that got in the way here, coupled with echoes of the past regarding Sennheiser amp pairing that legitimately give newcomers a panic attack about getting into this hobby.

    Of course, I need to be more careful about this sort of stuff as well, in that I don't want to discourage people from considering gear I might not care for myself, especially because the HD6XX is only $200. So, I don't want you to think I'm singling you or anyone else out, but that I'm trying to be more aware of the messages we send to all readers.
     
  9. J.I.T

    J.I.T Rando

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    I owned edition xx and I had strong curiosity about arya vs he6se for step up from edition xx.
    vtory, Thank you so much for this review.
     
  10. wadec22

    wadec22 Facebook Friend

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    great write up @Vtory, thanks for taking the time to put this all together. I have been eyeing the $700 sale to pit it against Verum 1. I am still a little torn between that and trying to find a used one. I am sensitive to clamp and sounds like this new headband is something to be wary of.
     
  11. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Arya and 6SE are both pretty good (I like them both a lot) but very different from each other. Do read previous threads regarding HE1000 vs HE6 then you may get a better sense. And note that edition xx is extremely tonally favorable out of any amps and sources. If not fully prepared, you may find some tradeoff between tonality and technicality with either 'step up'.

    That said, to me Arya has a better sense of bass articulation / delineation / details at a cost of grainier highs and rough mids (and maybe slightly plastic timbre) by comparison. Much better wearing comfort, too. 6SE's strengths lie in incisiveness/attack, clearer mids, and spot on brightness (among HFM) -- if both driven properly.

    Exactly. Clamping could be a deal breaker -- this warning from a very biased dude in favor of 6SE lol
     
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  12. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    Dunno about this clamping thing. They are on my head now with glasses that usually cause me pain after a bit and it's all good.. I think I could use some thicker pads though, ear are touching the grills a little...
     
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