HIFIMAN Headphone Compendium

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

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HIFIMAN Headphone Compendium

    Per random request, I've put together this compendium for HIFIMAN headphones. In hindsight, this was a good idea because many measurements existed only on the changstar archive site (which is tends to be down 80% of the time.) The headphones are listed in roughly chronological order of release. I've included a short subjective impression and measurement link for each headphone. The headphones are split into two sections, "classic" and "new". The classic refers to the first generation of HIFMAN planars. The classic generation headphones all had a round cup with a clampy headband. The new generation HIFMANs have a suspension headband and have better ergonomics in general.

    Feel free to add comments. I will integrate them in if they make sense to me.


    CLASSIC GENERATION

    HE-5

    Precursor to HE6. See HE6 - very similar. Might be better behaved than HE-6, but not sure. Slightly more efficient. This is the headphone that LFF's Codex was based on.

    HE-5 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42325


    HE-6
    Extremely inefficient. Powered to its full potential, a slamming and resolving can. Neutralish sound signature with bitchy etchy treble unless modded. With the right amp, the murkiness goes away and the driver is better controlled and damped. The HE-6 has a great combination of transient response and tactility not matched by any of the newer HFMs. Arguably the best overall HFM headphone after proper mods and with appropriate component matching. Some make the case that HE-K is better, but really, two different sounding headphones, and ultimately HE-6 has more correct timbre. Keep in mind that this one has withstood the test of time. @ohhgourami and @Clemmaster have done quite a lot of modification work, with Clem preferring a warmer sound and ohh preferring a more neutral sound.

    HE-6 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42327


    HE-500
    Speaker-like frequency response with bass, warmth, and nice body to the mids. Slight mid-treble bump that manifests itself differently on different gear. On some systems, the HE-500 can sound flat out darkish (not a bad thing). One note bass and not particularly strong in technicalities, but very enjoyable nevertheless. Like the HE-5, better transient response, driver control, and bass quality can be achieved with bigger amps. @jerg did a lot of modification work for the HE-500 which improved its openness and tonal response. There is a reason why the HE-500 was one of the last classic series HFM headphones I had lying around before I sold it.

    HE-500 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42329


    HE-400
    V-shaped FR, actually more precisely, a huge dip the upper mids causing the bite of guitars, trumpets, and drums to be muted. Can be tizzy with some last octave emphasis. Many users shaped the tonal signature with different earpads. Really nice taut bass. Poor midrange distortion and lack of refinement from single sided magnets. A great value at that time, considering the lack of other quality options for the price: great quality bass, and no nasty low-treble spikes.

    HE-400 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42333


    HE-4
    Almost famous. Clean, fast, super zippy. Taut bass as good as HE-400. Unfortunately, a treble bump, odd timbre (IEM balanced armature like), and lack of body throughout do it in. Would be one of my favorites if not for these things. Has some similarities to HE-400i, but this one is cleaner sounding. Works best with a bassy and warm sounding amp. Reminds me of a leaner HE-5LE with funkier timbre, of which I won't comment too much on because I don't remember it that much and I never had it in my hands that long.

    HE-4 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42323


    NEW GENERATION

    HE560
    Could be some minor production variation, but Focus-A earpads are mandatory to address several peaks in the vocal harmonic and treble regions. Needs proper matching to make sure it doesn't sound too lean; but once match is achieved quite good. Not as demanding as the HE-6, but with proper tweaks, a fairly fast, surprisingly resolving, and neutralish headphone. Slight plasticky timbre which is shared by the HE400S and HE-X, but nothing to worry about. Under good conditions with synergistic components, the HE-560 can be fantastic headphone - almost up there close to the HE-K and HE-5. You can argue a case for this against HE-5 because of easier amping requirements.

    HE560 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-headphone-compendium.1685/#post-42319


    HEK or HE1000
    Fast, open, and diffuse sounding TOTL type can. Headstage is tall, airy, open, and somewhat nebulous. Super extended at the extremes. Splashy treble in some units. Substantial variation observed early on - anecdotal. If anyone gets a chance, hear @No_One411's HE-K. Softer impact compared to HE-6. The start and stop is gradual, but once it gets going, lightning fast. Especially soft (with a corresponding reduction in treble splashiness) if not amped well. Feed it from a true TOTL amp, the HEK will scale correspondingly in resolution and macro-dynamics. Most resolving HFM can with microdetail retrieval approaching but not quite meeting the Sennheiser HD800. Super clean sounding with lower measured distortion (across the entire band) than almost anything else. Fun bouncy bass character, but top end timbre could use some work.

    Huge nitpicky stream of consciousness discussions on HE1000: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...headphone-impressions-from-cs.604/#post-15008
    HE1000 Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42314


    HEX or Edition X

    Technically less competent version of HEK, but a excellent tonal signature akin to a B&K curve with a slight downward slope from the bass to the treble. Same physical profile as the HEK, but a much lighter headphone. Along with HE-500, best tonal response of the HFM headphones, with this one being less dark and more even in the treble. Soft and not as clean as HEK. The difference in technical ability between HEX and HEK is substantial. The tonal signature and timbre of the HEX is better than the that of the HEK though. So I guess I can say: not super exciting, but it does nothing wrong. Scales a bit and really deserves a top notch amp to make it come alive.

    HEX Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hifiman-edition-x-hex-measurements.870/

    The V2 version seems to bridge the HEX and HEK sounds. See here for measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...-hex-v2-measurements-and-quickie-review.3187/


    HE400i
    Not quite what people wanted or expected as the HE-400 successor as the bass wasn't quite as clean and dexterous as the HE-400. Treble peak which could be difficult with many pop recordings. Overall much better technicalities than HE-400 and slightly better technicalities than the HE400S; but that treble spike does it in. A worthy consideration for less treble sensitive folks or classical or jazz listeners.

    HE400i Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ium-in-progress-staging-area.1685/#post-42309


    HE400S
    Must use with Focus-A pads to get a proper seal, otherwise significant low bass rolloff. Cleaner and higher quality bass than HD6X0. Slightly laid back in the upper mids until a small lower/mid treble spike which is tolerable or easily mitigated by a sheet of TP. Behind the HE-X and HE-500 in tonal signature. HD6X0 has it beat from mids on up though and also scales better in terms of ultimate resolution. A great value and should be a consideration if one is in the market for a good sounding entry level headphone to pair with modest gear.

    HE400S Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...iman-he400s-measurements-and-impressions.545/
    HE400S Focus-A pad Measurements: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...fiman-he400s-with-focus-pad-measurements.189/

     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE400i Measurements

    A big thanks to uncola for sending these here.

    • Remarkable consistency for an ortho (HFM is getting good at this)
    • Low distortion
    • Bass not as taut as original HE-400, but still significantly better than HE-500.
    • "Fun" U-shaped signature without overbloated bass.
    • A bit of treble peakage there at 9k
    • Slight 3-4k emphasis will result in shrill vocals. The treble peak at 8-9k could result in sibilance with the ess's? Rather than a broad bump, it's a fairly sharp peak. Because of this, certain tracks which happen to contain a lot of energy in that specific area will hit it - "spot lite" treble is a good way to think of it.
    Overall a fine effort following in the footsteps and in the spirit of the original HE-400. The midrange distortion (audible) of the original HE-400 has been corrected. The treble bump of the original HE-400 is moved down a few thousand Hz from the mid/high treble to the mid treble. The packaging and the box are awesome. So much improved from the cheap box of the original HE-400. Smells nice too. Design of the headphone is similar to HE-560, but has plastic cups instead. I actually prefer the shiney plastic cups to the veneer of the HE-560. Looks like the same 4k bump (as the HE560) is still hanging out there. This time it's accompanied by another peak an octave above. I'm guessing you're not averaging responses anymore as the high treble looks to have a well defined curve.

    The LCD-2r2 (non-fazor) has more bass power and continues / flattens after the treble roll-off, whereas the HE-400i comes back with a mid-treble emphasis. The new HFMs (400i and 560) are a little bit softer with bass impact, but overall less muddy compared to the HE-500 and maybe less veiled / thick as the LCD-2. If you can get past the LCD-2's dark tilt, the LCD-2 is really in another class of headphone compared to the HE-400i. As it should for the price differential.


    HE-500 are more neutral. Thicker sounding. Broader, but much lower magnitude treble bump at same spot. Very smooth with jerg pads. HE-500 can actually sound dark on certain amps.

    HiFiMan HE400i Measurements
    Frequency Response and CSD
    HE-400i-R6c35.gif
    HE-400i-L21bc.gif
    HE-400i-L CSDeed0.gif
    HE-400i-R CSDb462.gif

     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE1000 Measurements / HEK Measurements

    Frequency Response and Distortions L and R 0db = 100db SPL
    HE-10007c33.png

    L Channel FR and CSD
    HE-10005f19.gif

    • Channel matching is excellent. Slight deviation in bass probably a result of pads / alignment. I didn't bother spending a lot of time adjusting. They already looked great enough, especially for orthos.
    • Distortion is excellent. TP mods remove 4-5kHz distortion spike.
    • Note "ortho wall" near 5kHz. All orthos exhibit similar behavior. It's not audible and absolutely nothing to be worried about. Here a link on the ortho wall phenomenon: http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,1726.msg45968.html#msg45968 I think there are other threads and posts where this is discussed.
    • Of some minor concern is the 7.5kHz peak, which correlates to subjective impressions from a few peeps.
    • The good news is that there is no long lived ringing / ridge at 7kHz. This means it ain't bad.
    • Bass extension looks to be fabulous
    • CSDs overall clean with fast decay from about 1kHz up.

    HiFiMan HE1000 TP Mod 2-Ply Kirkland

    • Look pa. I fixed it! See FR below. No peak. I may go to just single-ply, but the 2-ply definitely is very effective.
    • BTW. EXTREMELY AWESOME DISTORTION MEASUREMENTS.
    HE-1000 mod5032.gif
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2016
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  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE560 Measurements

    Frequency Response Channel Matching 0db = 100db SPL
    HE560 prod l+r816d.png

    Distortions and CSD
    HE560 prod l dist5536.png
    HE560 prod l csdb6de.png

    • Comfort and fit. They feel light. Suspension headband is super comfy. Ear pads are to die for. I actually feel these are more comfy than the PM-1. HE-500 is horrible in terms of ergonomics compared to these.
    • Bass clarity. HE-500 tends to have this one-note muddy bass thing going on unless you run it out of certain power amps.
    • Less bright than HE-500. Depending upon amp, I've had to EQ 9kHz down a few db. With HE-560, not necessary.
    • Not as smooth in FR compared to HE-500 / Jerg pads, but really, can't tell easily because the 2k dip is oftentimes desirable and at worst benign.
    • Especially resolving for an ortho. Plankton galore. I'll give it a good run against Abyss. I've already compared before in less formal settings so I know Abyss wins. What would be interesting is by how much? (NOTE comments were with Focus-A pads and on pre-production)
    • If people are paying well over $1.2k for AKG812, PM-1, LCD-2, this in comparison is a bargain.

    Measurements HE560 with Focus-A Pads

    he-560 prod w pp padsb86a.png
    J0vqOFJ.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE-4 Measurements

    Frequency Response and Distortions L and R 0db = 100db SPL
    he4l1b82.png
    he4r91b6.png
    CSDs
    he4lcsdf6d4.png
    he4rcsd84f0.png

    • In general, lower overall HD than HE-400 or HE-500 with exception of funky spikes in the R channel. Also notably high 3rd harmonic. Could this explain the BA quality of the sound? The 5k distortion spike is worrisome. Probably translates to possible 10k ringing and the timbral weirdness mentioned above. A lot more last octave air than the measurements would indicate.
    • The treble is just too much for listening sessions over 15 minutes. Hard to explain. It doesn't seem peaky. Just has a super-definition quality which tires me out. Gotta be those distortion spikes.
    • CSDs. Fairly clean other than "ortho walls". I thought there could be some ringing around 10k, but there really isn't any. I guess we'll have to chalk up the timbral weirdness and hyper-definition effect to the distortion spikes at 5k - which also seem to correspond to the ortho wall (tension). Normally this ortho wall isn't evident on a subjective basis, but in this case, I think it is.
    • Thujone made a spot on observation of the nature of this: "I would use "sss" to describe the HE-4's treble and "zzz" to describe the HE-400".
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE-5 Measurements

    Frequency Response Channel Matching 0db = 100db SPL
    he5fr3.txt5f39.jpg

    Distortions 90db SPL A
    HE5R52c1.gif
    HE5Lc356.gif

    CSDs
    he5l.txtfac2.jpg
    he5r.txt5c0d.jpg
    The ringing is not as bad as it looks. They actually do NOT sound like treble razors of death and I'm wonder if these are artifacts specific to orthos ("ortho wall") since the LCD3s also have them. There is however some ringing that 7k area.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE-6 Measurements

    Frequency Response Channel Matching 0db = 100db SPL
    HE6R.txt86fe.jpg

    CSD
    HE6L.txt6e43.jpg
    HE6R.txt08d7.jpg

    • I've never really felt that the HE-6 was that bright. But I did feel it sounded etched. The sharp 5k resonance (see CSD below) combined with the peak at ~10k probably explains why. 5k is the energy/edge/bite area of the spectrum. John Grados also have excess energy at 5k.
    • But otherwise very very clean. This matches the subjective experience of those who have heard it.
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE-500 Measurements

    STOCK Fuzz Earpad Frequency Response and CSD 0db = 100db SPL
    1 he500-2 stock17e0.png
    01 HE500 #2 CSD stock fuzz pad3b8d.png

    PLEATHER Earpad Frequency Response and CSD 0db = 100db SPL
    1.1 he500 2 pleathere9d5.png
    02 HE500 #2 CSD pleathera9bb.png

    JERG Earpad Frequency Response and CSD 0db = 100db SPL
    2 he500-2 jerg4a96.png
    03 HE500 #2 Jerg mod w vents and stickers2d6d.png
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
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  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    HiFiMan HE-400

    Frequency Response Channel Matching 0db = 100db SPL
    he400fr.txt0a57.jpg

    Distortions 90db SPL A
    he400r86b1.gif
    he400l50a8.gif

    CSDs
    he400l.txt9530.jpg
    he400r.txt56f3.jpg
    • CSD is fairly clean with fast decay, except for the 2k ringing is "wall of ortho" ringing which is not audible as something nasty - at least to my ears.
    • Spikes between 3kHz-12kHz present problems depending upon their magnitude and whether they translate into ringing.
    • Distortion is still low despite higher than typical higher order harmonic distortion. Bass distortion is excellent - better than HD800.
    • Treble at 10kHz is a bit hot, but it's not any louder than the bass/mids.
    • 14kHz shoots up a bit, but this is an area where most people's hearing starts to roll off.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    bump
     
  11. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    and then there's the code-x, the headphone that has pretty much made me say "nope" to every regular HFM can every time I try a new can. I so miss my pair.
     
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  12. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    The only other headphone I'd consider keeping around.
     
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  13. brencho

    brencho Loves pumping iron (Moderator)

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  14. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I actually think besides the Code-X the HE1K is really solid but unfortunately out of my price range. I know a lot of people have said negative things about it but honestly to me it is one of the most detailed headphones in the HFM line and something I would consider to be able to stand up to the HD800 in terms of details and tonal balance.

    Must say though that the HE1K lacks the bass I like where the Code-X bass is definitely very memorable. Hope you are doing alright Luis just wish I could find an HE-5 for sale.
     
  15. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    On the last set of HE-500 measurements should that say JERG PADS instead of PLEATHER?
     
  16. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    Yup!
     
  17. brencho

    brencho Loves pumping iron (Moderator)

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    checks out :)
     
  18. knerian

    knerian Friend

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    All of you, who ignored the HE-6, will regret it. Ohhgourami just bought a new 1911, and he got a custom trigger, optimized for picking off HE-6 haters.
     
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  19. brencho

    brencho Loves pumping iron (Moderator)

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    hahaha look man, you give me an amp that will drive them and i'll totally buy a brand spankin new HE-6 :)
     
  20. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    In the top four headphones. HD6X0 and Code-X require less to get an awesome sound. HD800 or HE-6 with a well matched amp are pretty incredible.
     
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