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New HiFiMAN headphones


Leonardo Drummond
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I put a lot of stock in what Iron Dreamer says about headphones, so I was pretty surprised by how well he found the HE-1000s compared to the SR-009s.  Could Fang have achieved the impossible dream of outdoing Stax at what Stax does best?  I hope to hear for myself at some point.

 

Iron Dreamer, if you're out there lurking, do you have anything else to say about the HE-1000s?  I think you've had more quiet time with them than just about anyone other than Fang.

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  • 4 weeks later...

post-27-0-94092600-1432709584_thumb.jpg

 

Peter (Iron_Dreamer) and I did a nice side by side shoot out between these two.  

 

I honestly thought it would take a long time and scrutinizing to declare a winner.  But the HE-1000 hands down wins in just about every category, Detail, Imaging, Texture, Soundstage, Frequency Respose, Phasing, Transparency, and Comfort.  Maybe the SR-009 would win on Build Quality if it wasn't for it's shitty plastic headband and sling attachment that breaks easily.  HiFiMan is not exactly known for stellar QC either, so it remains to be seen how well the HE-1000 holds up, but the build quality so far is a huuuuuuge improvement over it's predecessors.  Notably the headphone cable connector is no longer that ultra crappy micro coax, it's now a 2.5mm mini plug on each side.  

 

Transparency is probably the #1 crazy huge difference with the HE-1000.  I thought the SR-009 was amazing with transparency, but the HE-1000 is just on another level.  With the SR-009, when music is playing, you can still "feel" the sound emanating from the sides of your ears.  Best way to describe in an exaggerated manner, is if you were to listen to music, and then put flat palms of your hands near the sides of your ears.  With the HE-1000, that effect is nearly completely gone.  

 

Major gripe is the headband size.  In the beta test model, it's way too big.  I have a huge noggin, and I have it one click away from it's smallest adjustment.  That one definitely needs to be addressed, as I'm sure it will.

 

The EF-1000 amp is kind of meh for me though.  It's way overkill, suffered from hums and ground loop buzzing too easily.  And runs extremely hot.  I know it's supposed to be a speaker amp too, but I'd just want a dedicated headphone amp.  I don't run a speaker rig and headphone rig together.

The EF-6 Amp is perfectly fine.  Even better if someone like Justin at HeadAmp made a high end UberAmp designed specifically for Magneplanar Ortho headphones like this one.

 

 

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How much is the he1000 again?

I`d love it if this thing sounds and perform better then Joe Skubinskis overpriced fugly piece of shit when the HE1k is available to the rest of the masses.

Edited by DefQon
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That's their house sound so it's likely.  The HE-5 for me is the benchmark of what an excessively forward transducer sounds like. 

 

I firmly believe that the HE-5LE all the way thru HE-1000 are several steps above the HE-5.  After 6 years the HE-5 doesn't represent the "house sound" anymore, although the HE-560 slipped slightly backwards in the slightly aggressive nature but without the fatigue of the HE-5. And I always found that the HE-6 are smoother than the HD800 (on ZDT and EF-6 amps alike).

 

I haven't had much time yet to listen to the HE-1000, but so far I'm very impressed.  It wouldn't surprise me if these are indeed better than the 009 that I sold (as per Edwood).  They are very inefficient and need a lot of power, so the iPhone 6+ can make pretty sounds come out, but not loud enough to tune out anything going on around you.

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Thanks for the feedback Edwood. It sounds like you came to the same conclusion as Iron Dreamer then. The HE1000s do everything Stax does well, but better. And they still offers some of that planar impact too.

I love living in the future.

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c/p

 

Bass:  The bass extension on these is amazing, think sealed Abyss or Audeze.  Overall bass is too present though, and it can be a bit overbearing on certain tracks, again think Audeze.  Bass is very textured similar to electrostat/HD800/Qualia bass, but with more quantity.  The bass isn't visceral like the Abyss or HE-6 though.  I'll get into some of this again later.

 

Mids:  Overall average but I think there's a lot of room for improvement here with mods.  Nice for most male vocals, but a lot of female vocals seem to have something missing.  In fact, my biggest qualm with this headphone is that there's almost no presence.  Not only is this a distant sounding headphone, but it's not involving at all.  In fact, I have to put the volume up or things start turning into background music.  I'd like to be able to play these at any volume level and feel as involved as I normally am.  The lack of presence makes everything outside of the bass sound dead.  I should shun them for this alone as I can't think of much worse to say about a HP, but I think it can be fixed.  The HE1000 is where cymbals go to die.

 

Treble:  I guess presence also falls into this area, but further up I'm fine with the treble.  Not really noticing much sibilance on my unit, and treble sounds pretty clean.  Not grainy like most dynamics, and not distorted or shelved off like some orthos.  However, there's a lack of spacial cues/air present, so live albums can sound more like studio albums with clapping.

 

Impact:  Don't expect the impact of the Abyss, HE-6, or Audeze here.  These sound like they want to hit hard but then kinda push on the breaks at the last second...it's really weird.  Bass impact for instance sounds a bit like the diaphragm is hitting a sponge before full excursion or something.  I'm not sure if this is due to the asymmetrical magnet arrangement, but I haven't heard a headphone with this feature.  Most stats don't hit hard, but they don't exhibit any slowing down before impact.

 

Detail/speed:  These are fast and pretty detailed.  I'd put them about on par with the Abyss here.  The lack of detail is mainly a result of the FR issues I pointed out: bass overemphasis can put a veil on the music, and spacial information is lacking.  They are quite clean sounding as well. 

 

Soundstage/imaging:  Not crazy about this aspect.  Soundstage definitely has the 3 blob effect going with little portrayed in the areas between.  Images are large vertically and a bit on the diffuse side.  Soundstage on most tracks is a good size, but I haven't found them able to expand the soundstage out beyond the drivers.  Then again, few headphones can do that well.

 

 

Overall a good headphone but I haven't made up my mind yet on whether to keep them or not.  I like the clarity and convenience of these, but the FR needs improvement for them to stay.  I think with a redesigned earpad these can actually sound a lot better.  In stock form I wouldn't recommend these for the asking price to most people.  If you like some extra bass in your music and pump these loud enough to not be effected by the lack of presence much then you should check them out, though.  I had high hopes for this headphone and thought for sure I'd like them a lot.  I think they have that potential, but as of now these are probably right outside my top 10 headphones.

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In stock form, personally, I don't think so.  It has the SR-009 beat in bass extension and it has a larger soundstage.  The 009 is considerably more neutral, is more detailed, has presence, can be enjoyed at any volume, has air, is a bit clearer, and has sharper imaging.  They're pretty close in terms of bass texture and slam (in different ways though). 

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Sounds like HiFiMan is trying to emulate the electrostatic sound but the execution is not there yet. Your description really reminds me of an under-driven SR-007 MK2. 

 

Still, at least it's not a bright, aggressive type that seems to be their house sound.  :P  

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Your report of the issue of shelved or lacking of mids and bit of treble touch is the problem I found on all Hifiman headphones except for the 560 which I have not heard and have no interest of hearing. Even running a loaned pair of HE-6 back then off some Denon POA-1500 and 3000 150-200+watt per channel power amps (and these amps are very well made with plenty of grunt) the HE-6 was still lacking compared to my old SR-Omega's and did not come close to the SR-009's I had on hand at the time, unlike the many folks on headfi claiming HE 6 + speaker amp = 009 killer. I admit there was some similarities but the level of difference wasn't even small.  ::)

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Sounds like HiFiMan is trying to emulate the electrostatic sound ...

I doubt they're going for the electrostatic sound, I suspect it's just an inevitable comparison point once you get into top tier headphones.  It's like someone climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and seeing someone else already there.

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I doubt they're going for the electrostatic sound, I suspect it's just an inevitable comparison point once you get into top tier headphones.  It's like someone climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and seeing someone else already there.

 

And the other person has more plankton......

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