DROP + HIFIMAN HE5XX Review and Measurements

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

  1. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Nope. Tell us if it's shit or not in less than a sentence, ideally using a single metric to determine goodness of fit for individual preferences (of which there only is one— conform).

    EDIT just in case: the above is an exercise in horrible humour; I personally love storytime and think it's fun trying to digest measurements.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  2. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    So does the 5XX fix the congested bass? Or does the "warmth carried over" mean it still has this problem?
    (sorry if I'm being illiterate)
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah, the HE5XX fixes the OG's HE-500 congestion and muddiness. (This is why I eventually sold my pair, with the Jerg mods and all that). Even from modest sources, the HE5XX performs well. The warmth I am describing is more like the internal warmth or warm timbre throughout the audio band, instead of something concentrated in the higher bass / lower mids (either bump in response, lingering attack, slow decay, high distortion in the low/mid bass leaking into this region).

    Despite the treble peak, there's a smoother connected quality to how sound flows out as opposed to the grainier quality of dynamics. Slightly even moreso compared to other planars, but not excessively so where the timbre is plasticky. Whether this is more or less realistic is up for debate and largely a matter of personal preference.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2020
  4. Elysian

    Elysian Friend

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    It took all day before they picked up on it at the other place. Drop forum was much quicker.
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/mad...iman-he-5xx-review-added.534479/post-15944807

    Drop has gone from 93 to 221 sold over the last 7 hours. I don't even care that it's a rebranded Deva and it's great to see a quality mid-tier planar in the $200-300 range which would've been unthinkable 8 years ago, but the deceptive marketing has left a bad taste in my mouth. I totally support @zerodeefex taking Drop behind the woodshed.
     
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  5. DrForBin

    DrForBin Friend

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    hello,

    tl/dr: conflicted

    firetruck, firetruck, firetruck, ("what word begins with f and ends in uck...firetruck and other fancy words.")

    those of us with limited resources would love to sample different flavors.

    the Drop HE5XX looks to be a possible solution to that craving.

    as Drop can't seem to get along with JBL, ( where, oh where, have the MASSDROP X JBL LSR30X POWERED SPEAKERS gone) i hesitate to even consider sending them money.

    then again, i own and enjoy HD6XX and AKG 7XX.

    then again, there is all that other Topping and O2 stuff.

    is it price point? catering to the lowest common? allowing the consumer to make multiple bad choices as long as they shop there?

    once upon a time, it seems, that bang for buck, integrity, and curation were to be had. now, that seems to be blue moon.
     
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  6. Eric_C

    Eric_C Friend

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    Call me shallow, but there’s something to be said for a Deva in boring black. I would have bought wired deva in my country for USD 230 (from a store) if not for the hideous colour.
     
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  7. Ti_Leo

    Ti_Leo Acquaintance

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    I was curious about it, then I checked, and I think it's because HE5XX uses dual normal 3.5 connectors while Deva is using single 4 pole 3.5mm connect on one side, so it's no compatible...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Good to hear this. I might be a little over-sensitive about people being fished. My bad not checking Drop discussions again.

    Seems I kinda appreciate warning labels as a reader, as decision making equation gets richer.
    No matter what they are (or whether or not they're real), such things always force me to sit back, hesitate more, and prevent post-purchase regrets anyhow. But that's perhaps just myself only.
     
  9. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    ok I’m trying really hard to save my whole ortho rant for another time, place and not in response to a post of yours. But I’m sick of everyone thinking they can judge planar magnetic technology as used in headphones based off the creations of hifiman, Audeze and a couple deuce bags who have no clue what they’re doing.

    have you heard a well modded original Fostex T50 from 1979 or an NAD RP18 or any of the vintage Yamahas or smaller round driver Fostex? Or any other og orthos?

    electrodynamics sounded sooooooo shitty at the point in their technological development that orthos are at now and they were being developed by large companies by audio engineers with education and training. Not random dudes who somehow went from putting playdoh on T50rp’s to making their “own” orthos entirely. I use quotes because who the fuck knows.

    The best is yet to come from planar magnetic headphones and that’s a promise. I’ve personally heard what they are capable of. To quote Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris “beyond your wildest dreams”

    there are 3 people on this forum I know of with extensive experience with vintage orthos one being myself (not to toot my own horn I’ve just made the sacrifice in time and energy) and all 3 people continue to prefer the older models after being really excited by the ortho resurgence and really wanting them to kick ass. Not one of us thinks any of the modern orthos are up to snuff. One finally gave up after owning the Abyss for some time and really trying. He went back to a Yamaha YH1 I believe. I won’t name names because I don’t want to be on record speaking for them. (And yet I kind of am I guess)
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  10. wormcycle

    wormcycle Friend

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    Do you remember if you had the grills mod? At some point I removed the grills altogether on my HE500 and it sounded noticeably better. I think I will buy 5xx just to compare HE500 directly, even if I end up selling one them.
     
  11. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  12. Skyline

    Skyline Double-blindly done with this hobby

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    I bought that particular pair...no grill mods. I've heard several pairs of 500s and none of them quite matched that particular pair. The jerg mods were legit.

    I'm still kicking myself for selling them.
     
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  13. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The situation is rather pathetic today. Verum is the only one I think which has nailed down the timbre with a bit of that old school sound. However, the traces are downright primitive, and this shows in lack of resolution.

    Audeze has improved their process and their TOTL LCD-4 is fantastic. There are still concerns with consistency however, likely related to diaphragm material uniformity and tensioning. I think you would really love an A-grade LCD-4. I heard one at TSAV and flat out thought it was one of the best headphones ever. However: $4000 and questions on variance and how many are a A-grade remain.

    The main issue I've seen is lack of true research to discover, rediscover the art. Audio is a tough business to survive in. I'm sure Audeze was pressured to simply survive, much less win, after selling their soul to the devil by taking a Warner money injection.

    HiFiMan chased ever thinner nano material while completely ignoring their process for laying traces, leading some people here to replace their HFMs four times or maybe even more.

    Thr end result has been driver failures and inconsistent sound. I've had both Audezes and HFMs die in my very hands. Several headphones, not one. And I've lined up multiple same model pairs from both companies that sounded different, even fairly recently.

    I do think it's fair to say that orthos suck - with the implicit "modern" - since no one can buy any of the kapton or mylar OOG T50RPs from the 70s anymore. I don't think the likes of Fostex will try either. There isn't enough money in it. People want Airpods these days.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Will get to CSDs today. It's been one of those weeks with back to back meetings all day every day. I'll see if I can squeeze something in. Remind me if I forget. I'm currently in a meeting and two other chat side conversations for my RL job.

    I don't think that link benefits SBAF in any way. Maybe it benefits another publisher like Zeos?
     
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  15. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    yes it’s fair to say that modern examples of orthos suck I won’t argue with that. But I will forever argue with extrapolating big ideas about planar magnetic tech in headphones in general based on neo orthos alone. Or poorly/non modded vintage orthos.

    The story of the orthodynamic headphone is a very sad one. A few industrious companies took the new technology and ran with it in a few different directions in the late 70’s / early 80’s but never figured out how to implement their well designed drivers acoustically. So it didn’t really go anywhere commercially as I think electrodynamics are much easier to implement once you have a driver. The industry gave up too soon and everything went electrodynamic and they all gave up trying to make orthos that would sell. (Except Fostex who somehow manages to sell the abomination that is the stock T50rp).

    imagine if you stuck a pair of Maggie’s in a cement walled 10x10’ room right up against the wall, were horrified by how they sounded and then threw them into the trash. That’s what happened to the original ortho headphone movement.

    Decades later a thriving scene of enthusiasts developed who, spearheaded by head-fier Wualta, figured out that these old ortho drivers were awesome but just weren’t in great housings that didn’t have the acoustic treatment that these drivers needed. They all started finding all the various models made and figuring out how to mod them to improve them and make great headphones that the original companies should be ashamed of.

    This scene is what inspired Audeze to turn their new planar magnetic microphone driver into a headphone and hifiman to piggyback into this idea and start making new orthos. But none of them knew what they were doing. The problem of how to implement an orthodynamic driver still hadn’t been figured out and neither of these companies really had any idea what they were doing with driver design either. As @purr1n you’ve pointed out.

    I think the only reason some of the neo orthos sound half decent is because they of course think open back is better coming from the history of electrodynamics and newer manufacturing tech allows them stronger magnets and lighter diaphragms so that they can be what’s called “air damped” meaning that the weight and pressure of the air behind the driver alone is enough to damp it to function properly. Not so with the vintage orthos. In other words, they didn’t need much acoustic treatment.

    you might notice that the hifiman models people here like the best are the ones that are damped meaning that air wasn’t enough and thus they are moddable and able to be tuned like LFF did. (I’ve never heard one of his mods though I should say, and don’t care to).

    that’s not to say that an air damped ortho couldn’t be great, it’s hypothetically the ideal as far as I understand it. We old school enthusiasts used to drool over the idea of a modern air damped ortho. But there isn’t much room for modding them or tuning them by buyers because the tuning is all in the driver. I guess you can fuck with the pads like what jerg did but that only gets you so far if the driver is flawed.

    Anyways this resurgence has been pretty halfassed and only small companies have participated. Companies who couldn’t make a good electrodynamic headphone to save their lives. That’s something to think about. Hifiman at the beginning of their ortho production days had a competition between an ortho design team and an electrodynamic team. The electrodynamic was a piece of shit. I think it was called the he-300. So what does that say about the quality of their orthos if they can’t make an electrodynamic that competes with even the mid-fi offerings from the big long standing companies? I believe they only sound as good(-ish) as they do because of the great potential in the tech. Even a shitty neo ortho is still pretty great. And that’s all we have.

    @purr1n I would love to hear or own an LCD4 but at 4K and without knowing I’d get an A model it’s not ever going to happen. Owning I mean, I could probably hear one at a meet someday. That would be very cool.

    my point:
    No one with real understanding has ever made a commercial orthodynamic headphone.
     
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  16. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    I will append my I’m not going to rant rant by clarifying that I’m not in any way saying people should go buy vintage orthos because they sound better. The 3 people I mentioned have each spent over a decade working on vintage orthos and learning their nasty little ways.

    god knows who reads this forum, so this is to all you out there in the void. I would easily recommend a neo ortho over an un or poorly modded vintage ortho. They sound like complete garbage stock (think Maggie’s in a little cement room)
     
  17. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio; recovering HFM addict

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    Thanks for taking the time to type that out. The historical context is important, but I'm left with questions. If solely air damped planar builds are ideal, are you suggesting the bottleneck in neo ortho design is simply the quality of drivers?

    A lot of my experimentation with planars followed from LFF's methods as someone who owned a few of his phones and wasn't quite satisfied. Open-air HFMs from 2011 to 2014 were frequently the beginner modder's headphone of choice since they're all so bare bones and almost any form of light damping could improve the insane zingy highs. But dialing it in further than that only ever became more complex - more particular placements of materials (asymmetrical arrangements, partial coverings, etc), different materials, pads like you mentioned, mass loading the housing, etc. There were some aspects of the sound that could never be fixed - 2k dip, a bit of etch in the mid treble, sloshy diffusive sense of space, etc.

    What does the ideal planar driver implementation look like? Just the superior build quality of a vintage planar driver with an open acoustic design? How could a modern planar driver be improved aside from stronger, stealthier magnets, more durable diaphragms, proper tensioning, more accurate trace-laying etc? I'm having a hard time envisioning what innovation has not yet been explored. Unless that vision is just having better QC, selling products with proper damping from the start, or making prices more accessible. I guess there's lots to improve on from that standpoint.

    edit - I've heard all the neo heavy hitters - LCD-4 (many pairs), Susvara (mostly at trade shows), RAD-0 (helped build these for a while), Empyrean (meh), AB-1266 (we deal these at UA). My preference when it comes to planars has always favored my early 2010 LCD-2 and modded HE6/HE4 with a beefy amp. My mind will be blown if I hear a well-modded vintage planar that can best what I was getting from the HE6 towards the end. But I moved on because I thought there was nowhere else to go - I wasn't quite happy, but further mods became a game of trade-offs and I always felt something was missing. I would love to eat my words.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    LOL. Before anything else, it isn't as bad as it looks. There is a lot of micro or low amplitude ringing, but this appears to be at almost every frequency. In respect to the 8kHz peak, there really isn't a ridge - it looks more like an "ortho wall". I guess the good is that we don't really see ridges, the initial decays actually look super clean and fast. However, after this, we see the signal continue at a low amplitude. This likely indicates lack of damping.

    FWIW, STAX tend to do this (but not to this extent). The result sound of this behavior is what I mentioned above:

    there's a smoother connected quality to how sound flows out as opposed to the grainier quality of dynamics. Slightly even moreso compared to other planars, but not excessively so where the timbre is plasticky.​

    Note that I increased the FFT Window to get a higher resolution look.

    HE5XX
    CSDs
    FPC HE5XX L.jpg
    FPC HE5XX R.jpg
     
  19. E_Schaaf

    E_Schaaf MOT: Upscale Audio; recovering HFM addict

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    Now I'm actually really curious to hear what that sounds like. The fact that it's distributed across a wide band somehow makes me less concerned than the singular walls of most planar CSDs. I always wonder if the temporal smoothing effect of planar diaphragms has something to do with the sense of 'liquidity'. It's like a motion blur / frame blending filter.

    Given the extended decay here, this would be a great unit to demonstrate the effectiveness of fuzzor / rug liner / blu -tac mods, which helped a little bit on the older ones, but might help more here given the degree of ringing.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
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  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ^ Exactly.

    Sometimes stuff is counterintuitive. When I first saw this behavior with e-stats, I was puzzled because it didn't line up. By traditional interpretations, I thought I should be hearing nasty nasty peaks like needles into my eardrums. Then I started to note more of these "ortho walls". Further experiments with the burst response measurements also confirmed hints of this of this behavior with 'stats.

    What I started to realize is that a peak which exhibits as triangular ridge will prove more bothersome. An "ortho wall" type effect where there is a localized rise that doesn't extend into a ridge, and then slips down into a light-blue or darker color, didn't seem to bother me.

    In fact, this ongoing low-level ringing at many frequencies, seems to correlate with this sense of "liquidity". I like the motion blur / fame blending filter analogy. What we don't know or have nothing to correlate to is how much of this is too much. I'm not sure I hear this liquidity as being excessive to the point of sounding plasticky. It sounds fine to me.

    Here are top view CSDs to give us another angle so to speak. In one respect, if we imagined a higher floor, the decay - the initial decay - is rather very consistent and fast.

    HE5XX
    CSDs
    Top-view
    FPC HE5XX L.jpg
    FPC HE5XX R.jpg

    Here is STAX SR-009 CSD.
    The behavior is there, just lower in level. If I lowered the floor, I'm sure we would see it (I don't think I have the original data anymore).
    upload_2020-10-29_11-39-43.png

    There are also hints of in the FR (the tiny fuzz)
    upload_2020-10-29_11-41-20.png

    Audio science is fun! Err, well at least real audio science. Not fake audio science disguised as religion / dogma.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2020
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