HE-6 Measurements (removing stock dampening, pad rolling, fuzzor)

Discussion in 'Audio Science' started by Thujone, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    Oh, you're listening to them stock?

    The HE-6. The headphone you shouldn't listen to in stock form. Err, well, that's what the internet would lead you to believe. Hop around HF and you'll find that it's very rare for someone to contently listen to these stock. One way or another, HE-6 owners take the extra effort to make sure their headphone is not as Hifiman intended.

    Anyone who's been on the Hifiman merry-go-round would find that the HE-6 has some odd dampening built straight into the headphone. And when I say "odd" I mean you won't find this on the HE-400, HE-500, HE-4, or HE-5-LE and certainly not on the new offerings from Hifiman. The dampening I am referring to is the fiberglass/cotton on the back of the driver and the triangular foam insert on the front (see OLD and NEW versions of earside dampening).

    Well, as you can imagine, just like the many other HE-6 owners out there, I don't want Hifiman shitting on my dreams and I figure it's time to say goodbye to the foam and cotton. For no reason other than "it's better". It doesn't really end there though. In fact, removing these is basically the 'default' modification. It's almost assumed, at this point, that nobody in their right mind would even bother keeping that junk in there. The real question, then, is with the pads.

    Hifiman has done a great job creating many different options in the pad department. When it comes to the pad rolling, the amount of options is enough to increase just about anyone's heart rate. I know my pets are certainly sick of hearing sine sweeps.

    So, without further adieu...

    [​IMG]
    Stole this sweet pic from HF

    Abbreviations used


    Pads:
    PL - stock pleather
    V - velour
    AV - angled velour (HE-400S pads)
    Fo - focus pad
    FoA - focusA
    1540 - Shure 1540

    Other:
    NG - no fiberglass/cotton
    NF - no foam on earside
    Rug - rug liner (same stuff used on Anax 2.0 mod)

    Subjectivity and stuff

    This is a bit of rapid fire. Feel free to skip this crap and get to the shiny graphs. Admittedly I went through these measurements fairly quickly and didn't have long listening sessions with each setup. I will comment where I felt a strong enough difference.

    Stock PL - Actually not bad. Bass and midrange is perfect, treble is a little rough in Sibilance City. tiny bit of wonkiness.
    Stock V - Brighter than PL. Upper mids and treble are a little glaring still, not bad. No wonkiness.
    NG PL - Wonky. Upper mids are not as present (despite measurements below).
    NG V - Very nice. Pleasant low bass and only a little glarey in the treble. Awesome mids.
    NG AV - Biggest difference from velour is bass is not as present. Maybe the bass decays more quickly here? Not sure since the measurments are very close.
    NG FoA/Fo - Similar criticism as the AV. Surprisingly, the FocusPads don't seem to have much of a difference vs. angled velour as opposed to on the HE-400S.
    NG 1540 - Just too dampened. These sound great on the spacey HE-4 but not here. Too intimate. Treble is way easier on the ears, however.
    NG NF V - Nailed it. I'm either getting used to the treble or this foam piece was somehow adding some glare. Nothing else seems affected, and the treble difference was subtle if possibly non existent -- not confident here.
    NG NF V Fuzz - Took too long to do the mod to notice big differences. This mod just makes sense, though. dampening reflected waves without impeding incoming waves? Sign me up.

    After doing some initial before/after with the glass, it was about the time where I said "screw it", thinking it gave an uncomfortable amount of glare. Plus, having more openness on the back sounded nice. Taking off the foam didn't change enough for me to try putting it back.

    Now for shiny graphs...

    Stock HE-6 (stock dampening, pleather pads)

    FR
    [​IMG]

    Distortion
    [​IMG]

    CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Classic 1kHz PL peak.

    Effect of Removing Fiberglass (pleather)

    NG vs. Stock
    [​IMG]

    NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Was not expecting the differences to be non-existent objectively.

    Velour (NG)

    V NG vs. Stock
    [​IMG]

    V NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Cleaner CSD than stock, despite what may be the "ortho wall". Warmer tilt on the FR with a much more even midrange.

    Angled Velour (NG)

    AV NG vs. Stock
    [​IMG]

    AV NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Even cleaner CSD than normal velour pads. Almost identical FR to velour.

    FocusAPad (NG)

    FoA NG vs. Stock
    [​IMG]

    FoA NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: More velour-like than pleather-like.

    Shure 1540 pad (NG)

    1540 NG vs. Stock
    [​IMG]

    1540 NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: The leveling of the treble is expected based on the thick pad dust cover.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  2. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    Effect of Rug Liner (V NG)

    This is inspired off of several users putting rug liner on the earside of the driver. I used the same stuff that I bought for the Anax 2.0 for the HD800. I measured with the rug liner in several orientations. There seems to be a difference from stock, but orientation didn't seem to have a considerable effect. Therefore, these measurements represent all orientations of the rug liner.

    Rug V NG vs. V NG
    [​IMG]

    Rug V NG CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Maybe creating some ridges at 11-12kHz?

    Effect of Earside Foam (V NG)

    V NG NF vs. V NG
    [​IMG]

    V NG NF CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: Finding differences here may be too nit-picky.

    Effect of Fuzzor (AV NG NF)

    Since this is a very common mod for nearly all Hifiman headphones, I'm posting distortion measurements as well, since there seems to be some differences.

    Pre fuzz
    [​IMG]

    Post fuzz
    [​IMG]

    Pre vs. Post Fuzz
    [​IMG]

    Pre Fuzz CSD (putting an extra one here, even if redundant, for easy reference)
    [​IMG]

    Post Fuzz CSD
    [​IMG]

    Notes: No FR or CSD changes to be noted, as these types of differences could easily be seen between two measurements back to back. Subtle differences in measured distortion.


    Wrapping it up

    I'm currently settled in on a velour-clad (EDIT: now using vegan, see page 3), no glass, no foam, fuzzor modded HE-6. Overall, the response is very pleasing to my tastes. The treble isn't as hot, the bass is silky smooth and present, glorious HE-6 midrange, and the lack of earside/outside dampening is probably not hurting the soundstage department.

    Overall, I've had a lot of fun doing this and I apologize for the order of things (NG -> pad roll -> NF -> Fuzz). If anyone has more specific subjective questions or suggestions for new ideas, go ahead and shoot! I'm just now noticing I don't have normal FocusPad measurements up there, and I definitely don't have vegan pads, but this can be a work in progress.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Can you post impulse response? Stock HE-6 has a treble etch, and I am starting to wonder if impulse response shows this more than FR or CSD.
     
  4. AustinValentine

    AustinValentine Friend

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    Fantastic work Thujone! Maybe I should consider an HE-6 to try out on the Mjolnir 2 >.> <.< >.>
     
  5. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    I'm not very impulse savvy, let me know if this is what you're looking for.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  6. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    Thanks! I'm perfectly enjoying them out of Project Ember. With a couple little tweaks, I'm sure you can tune them they way you like.
     
  7. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Can you post the spectrogram of stock HE-6? I've found that I can see spectrograms better than CSDs...

    Thanks, Thujone!
     
  8. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    I can always change the parameters if you'd like to send a screenie of yours.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  9. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, for sure. Please try these numbers:

    [​IMG]

    I've found that this shows energy storage and etch better than CSD for me. For instance, notice the 4.5KHz excess green region. It rings all the way to 1.6ms, whereas most everything else >1KHz dies off at approx. 1.0ms.
     
  10. Prydz

    Prydz Friend

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    Doesnt many find the treble to get alot better when paired with a good speaker amp?
    Ohhgourami's mod, which is just Audeze suede pads and some felt. No fuzzor.
     
  11. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    OH! That makes sense, I should have paid more attention. Here you go (added HD580 for reference):

    HE-6
    [​IMG]

    HD580
    [​IMG]

    Let me know if that works!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
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  12. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    Seems to me that most people think a speaker amp transforms them into some whole new level of elite. I simply don't have the desk real-estate.
     
  13. Prydz

    Prydz Friend

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    I can only speak for myself, but pairing HE-6 with Mjolnir vs FW F6 or INT-150 is HUGE difference.
    Mjolnir make it sound rather thin and sharp. Speakers amps makes it sound sublime, very natural and smooth.
     
  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yep. This works. Thanks!

    I can see why there's an "etch" or "edge" in the HE-6 now. Notice the weird cut-off at 7KHz?

    I've seen that cut-off on some headphones that I've heard as "etch" as well, like the HD800. Granted, HD800 kinda gradually eases into that missing region, rather than cutting it off abruptly like that. HE-6 seems like it's rising, rising, and then suddenly... gone, then rise again. That's sure to cause some weirdness.

    Note that it's not the same as resonance, or ringing, or at least I don't think so. Ringing is like... a flare up, whereas I've always heard the HE-6 as more like... tizzy or etch/edgy, rather than flaring, depending on amp.

    But on that topic, I can see the green region invades up past 1.5ms at 9KHz, which I'd say may potentially create a flare.

    In any case, it's pretty obvious that HD580 decays a bit faster >1KHz to me. But down low, I think HE-6 has better decay characteristics.
     
  15. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    I think you're right. This issue at 7-7.5kHz can be seen on the FR as well (the deep notch). My HE-4 and HE-5LE have similar issues, though the HE-6 is mild compared to the other two.

    Here is the HE-6 with the config I'm using now:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
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  16. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah. That looks good.

    If you're modding toward a target, I'd generally try to reduce the yellow and green regions as much as possible. The red regions don't really affect much IME. But when green goes beyond 1.5ms, it's actually kinda audible and annoying.
     
  17. JoelT

    JoelT Friend

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    The driver needs to be sealed in to housing with blu tack, and the pads need to be hermetically sealed as well, both of which will impact the bass performance.
     
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  18. fishski13

    fishski13 Friend

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    Whenever I read the phrase 'hermetically sealed' I see the image of Carnac the Magnificent in my head. any other 40+ duffers on this ship?

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. frenchbat

    frenchbat Almost "Made"

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    Cool writeup Thujone, thanks for the work.

    Do you think fuzzor mod influence might be seenable also on the spectrogram ? I agree with Bill that it's easier to see, at least to me.
     
  20. Thujone

    Thujone Friend

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    Totally understandable. I get a little confused here though. The reason you see so much green (in the latest spectro) is due to the ringing/ridge that shows up on the CSD. Back at changstar, I believe this was consistently referred to as the "ortho wall" and was deemed inaudible. It is odd though, since not all pads show a ridge in that area and, truth be told, I don't believe I hear it either. But I have begun to reach the same conclusions as you though; maybe these HE series cans are not super clean up top but very clean down low.

    The blu tack is an interesting mod. Another one that's similar to the fuzzor - can't see why it would be a bad thing. I do remember purrin doing measurements with and without adhesive sealing of the pads. Not surprisingly, there was no measurable difference. If you have enough clamping pressure, enough to make a proper seal, I can't imagine it's any different than adhering the pads in place. If the headphones are loose on your head, however....

    Thanks! Here are some more spectros. The fuzzor does seem to clean it up barely. Maybe @jerg would like to get a look in here.

    Pre Fuzz
    [​IMG]

    Post Fuzz
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017

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