HIFIMAN Headphone Compendium

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. E_Schaaf

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

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    Haven't had a chance to mess with the HE6SE or HE5SE. Probably won't plop down cash on either personally but hopefully I'll get a chance to hear one at home through loaner eventually.

    The first person who sends me their pair to test and tinker with will get free mods aside from pad costs, if that's any incentive. I'm curious about them as well.
     
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  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Having had a chance to listen to (and own most) all these headphones but the HE-4xx and 6se, I can confirm the descriptions are just spot on!

    HE-500 was definitely the most agreeable out of the box, with the velour pads (the pleather has a wonky tonal balance), but was surpassed by the 5LE for raw power and transparency, which is why I kept the later until not too long ago (y’ all who came to the Changstar/early SBAF meets might remember me bringing them along the modded HE-6).

    HE-4 is exactly as you describe: a leaner, airier HE-5LE. My first planar headphone!

    Good times.
     
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  3. InsanityOne

    InsanityOne Acquaintance

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    As the current owner of a first generation Code-X and a modified HE-4 I can definitely say that they are two of my favorites. I used to own an HE-500 and a stock HE-5, but sold them because I preferred the HE-4 and Code-X at similar price-points. I am still trying to hunt down an un-modded HE-6 though as I haven't been able to hear one yet. I am also interested in the HE6se, but I haven't seen a good comparison between it and its predecessor yet. Also, why didn't the HE-300 make the "classics" list, was it just too bad? :D
     
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  4. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    It wasn’t a planar.
     
  5. Golmang

    Golmang Friend

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    Owning the HE-4, HE-500 and the HE-5LE I have to say these impressions are absolutely spot on.

    If I absolutely had to choose only one out of these it would be the HE-500 because while technically inferior in a few parts it tonally hits the right spots for me. Weightyness, slam, punchy kickbass (which the Verum lacks), dreamy mids, more genre compatible and definitely much more enjoyable over long periods of time, all in one package. It's also my reference "speaker like presentation" (I don't own the HE-6 unfortunately).

    The other two definitely have more sensation about them, more liveliness and aggression, the HE-5LE has the best soundstage of all three, especially when it comes to depth. Also agree on the "HE-4 but meatier on the bones" aspect.

    HE-4 is the (treble wise) rougher, leaner little brother with definitely less weight on the bass but where the HE-5LE walks with athletic and stoic finesse the HE-4 is a bit more playful. Can't replace the one with the other. They're both unique.

    Since my HE-4 headband broke where the cups are attached I had to Frankenstein it. Not ready to pay 100 bucks for a new headband. Listening to the HE-4 with angled real leather pads I bought from Aliexpress. Less "realism" and openness than the standard velour but more agreeable on the treble (slightly subdued) and and since the clamp isn't what it used to be the thickness/depth of the pads makes up for it. It's a good tradeoff for me.

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Rep...lgo_pvid=ac3526d6-508e-495e-bf5d-6ebcf7e8337c
     
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  6. DEATHxMACHINE

    DEATHxMACHINE Friend

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    Time to contibute to the collective.

    Been able to mess around with some of early Hifimans both stock and modded; He4,He400, he400i, He4XX, CodeX, HE5LE, and HE6 blu tack 6 screw and stock 4 screw. Using Mytek Liberty dac and Cavalli Liquid Gold in a balance configuration. Source is Tidal and Youtube.

    Just a little background on my taste of music to give y'all an insight into my perspective. Father is a classic midwest baby boomer and his first car was an orange 1956 Chevy Bel Air. American Grafitti could be a documentry his early life. So I grew up listening to the oldies channel; 50s, 60s, and early 70s. Also was raised up on a lot of John Wayne movies and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. So some dramatic orchestral western soundtracks on the side. Works done by Ennio Morricone made a huge impact me. This lead to my love of EDM, new retro/synthwave and other electronic music. I also play a healthy amount of videogames.

    HE400 stock with Hifiman leather pads.

    BASS CANNONS! Beautiful muddy bass when using Hifiman leather pads. The veleor pads really calm them down but then they lose their magic IMO. Get the He500 if you want a calmer headphone. These were my second planar headphone after MrSpeakers Mad Dogs. The Mad Dogs are a great headphone but they lack the "planar bass." There are rare moments where a sound equipment upgrade simply makes you go "wow." This happened to me when I first heard the He400 because of the planar bass and first time hearing a fully open headphone. Only owned closed headphones up to that point.

    To call these V shaped would be an understatment. The bass softens the rest of the frequency range and is somewhat of a detriment to the clarity of the mids. But does give a sense of veil. There is frequency response peak and about 1K that can be annoying. Vocals can become a little too forward. Then you hit the other end of the V and the highs can at times be harsh and edgy which is caused by a 10K peak. Has middle of the road soundstage with good intrumental seperation and decent dynamic range. Not the best for orchestral music but electronic stuff is fantastic. Songs with strong bass such as the theme from The Sopranos can make your ears vibrate. This is a very non fatiguing fun headphone.

    They are efficient enough to be driven very well without amp but sound quality does benefit from a decent 1 watt amp.

    These are also simply brilliant for videogames because of their V shape. Explosions sound HUGE!

    I believe these are the definitive fun headphone especially in the Hifiman lineup. They are a great complimentry headphone to a more analytical one. I cannot recommend the He400 enough considering they are >$150 on the used market.

    HE400i stock with Hifiman focus pads

    Boring headphone. Good detail but no bass. These have no character or soul. They were decently efficient. I kept these for about a month before selling them off for half of what I paid because that is how much I thought they were worth. If you want an analytical headphone you may want to try these out since they are ~$150 used. But your are better off picking up a pair of Hd6XX or Hd58X for clearer highs and better bass. Sadly this is the turning point for Hifiman sound signature. Gets boring after this for their sub $1000 headphones. I have not heard the He1000 or Susvara but for the limited time I auditioned the He560 and Sundara I thought they were boring.

    HE4XX stock with Hifiman focus pads and ZMF lamb oval pads

    HE400i with a touch more bass but still not enough bass. Does not have enough clarity in the treble to make them worthwhile for an analytical headphone.

    HE4 stock with Lawton leather angle pads

    These just showed up this week and was also a surprising headphone (common theme with me and earlier Hifimans). Has amazing resolution and dynamics which makes up for its lean but impactful quick bass. Treble is peaky and is probably fatiguing to some. The He4 can easily be described as a He5LE with leaner bass. The sound signature is unique enough to make it a stand alone headphone than a lesser He5LE. A very neat headphone that is more forgiving than the HE5LE and HE6 lines.

    These are not as efficient as other Hifimans in the 400 line. The He4 requires 2 to 3 watts to be happy.

    CodeX (LFF modded HE5) with ZMF Autuer leather pads and Ori suede pads

    One smoooooth headphone. Nothing offensive about this headphone but their rarity an price tag (brencho's recent sell doesn't count since that was a stupidly low price that made me consider buying another pair). Very neutral but due to dampening there is a loss in macrodynmics and impact. Other than that it gets high marks in everything else. Strong bass, no loss in mids and highs are not fatiguing. Decent soundstage with great resolution and timbre. Simply a calmed down he6. I cannot think of much to say about such a great headphone. The definitive neutral headphone to the point that its almost a detriment but that is why you buy these.

    Has good efficiency. Only requires 2 to 3 watts to be happily driven.

    HE5LE stock with ZMF Autuer leather pads, HM5 leather pads and Cascadia Audio Impact pads

    These headphones were a little bit of surprise. With the ZMF and HM5 pads, orchestral music sounds fantastic on these headphones. Has strong and tight bass but impact is not overbearing to be a detriment to the rest of the frequency range. This headphone shines in its upper mids and highs. Very similar to the HE6 4 screw, not as intense but still zippy and sparkly. Pretty good soundstage and imaging but great resolution. Airy but still has above average texture and timbre. Overall I enjoy the stock sound signature very much.

    Switching the pads to the Cascadia Audio Impact dramatically increase bass to near He400 levels. Almost a completely different headphone. Also increases the sound stage somewhat. Makes them great for electronic music.

    Also surprisingly efficient. A good 2 to 3 watt amp can drive these very well.

    HE6 4 screw stock ZMF lambskin Auteur and suede universal pads
    The myth. The legend.

    One bright mutha f***a. The sound signature is the He5LE to the extreme. The He5LE is sober Bane and the He6 4 screw is Bane on Venom. The bass somewhat lean but still is tight and has impact. The midrange is a more forward with greater timbre and texture. God the treble is nuts on this thing. Zippy, sparkly and glass cutting to the point of diminishing the imaging. Its great if you know what you are getting into.
    A suede pad really calms these mofos down and rounds out the signature. Brings the out the midrange and bass a little more.

    I have found these sound fantastic for 50s and 60s music. They handle vocals and the lighter bass fantastically. The Temptations, Delfonics, Shirelles and Marlena Shaw sound perfect on these headphones.

    The efficiency of these headphones has become legendary and I believe is a little over extraggerated. 3 to 5 watts can sufficiently drive these. I have tested with an Emotiva BasX A100 and Centrance Dacmini PX and have found that it increase the quanitity of the bass at the expense of the quality of treble. Maybe I will build of the courage to plug them into my Adcom GFA 545 mk2 but I am too damn scared of making them explode.

    HE6 6 screw blu tac mod with dampening material removed, ZMF lambskin Auteur, suede universal pads, suede ori pads, and HM5 leather pads

    The treble has been significantly calmed compared to the 4 screw. Bass has also been increased. Retains strong midbass. Overall a more balanced headphone than the 4 screw. Suede pads have a similar effect by taming the treble even more. Has good sound stage and better imaging.

    Same efficiency as the 4 screw.

    Conclusions

    Okay, I am tired of writing. But overall exploring older Hifimans has been fun and enlightening. I have found that older Hifimans have way more character then the recent lines of Hifimans (excluding He1000 and Susvara because I have not heard them). They have a less refined sound signature but I believe they have greater timbre, resolution and bass impact. If you play to their strengths and weaknesses, you'll find that they can match very well with certain types of genres. Then with a pad swap and a little blu tac, they are a fun simple diy project.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
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  7. E_Schaaf

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

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    I've had a few Friends reach out for the "test and tinker" offer I made previously above on the HE5SE from Adorama. I've got a few lined up. Let's consider this offer closed.

    Offer still stands on HE6SE. More comparative notes to come.
     
  8. AstralStorm

    AstralStorm Friend

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    You can think of HE6SE as of HE6 6-screw with no need for blutack mod or pad changes as long as you use the new Sundara hybrid pads which are included, and no foam quarter circle in front which robbed HE6 of some detailing. Instead, you can install your own front backwave damping that does not obscure a quarter of the driver. The huge bar strengthening the construction is gone as magnets have been replaced with lighter and stronger neodymium version and plates with stronger metal. Membrane seems the same, as are traces, magnetic field distribution, magnet layout and front plate shape. Bit more glue holds the plate to the PCB.

    They measure slightly cleaner as the new metal casing and driver front plate is even less resonant than blutack dampened original, and flatter in FR and CSD as the pads are a huge improvement even over other third party pads.

    Unfortunately the pads are somewhat shoddily glued and mine have unglued from the plastic holder. Nothing a bunch of drops of cyanoacrylate cannot fix but disappointing and annoying. These hybrid pads are somewhat similar to Focus A pads but with much lower acoustic impedance and softer foam, much more acoustically transparent smooth synthetic (acrylic?) fabric instead of velour. Sides are still pleather but thinner. They're also slightly flatter - with dimensions similar to used broken in Focus A - and most importantly, somewhat angled.

    Oh, and they have a self-destructing cable with minijack plugs instead of older SMC. Few months in and I had to buy a replacement one, which happens to be identical to the hardy HE-500 silver cable with XLR but with jacks instead of SMC for cup connectors.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019

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