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Sennheiser HE90


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I'll take a (well-driven) Omega II any day, and then there's the cost difference! :o

I can understand why some people really like the HE90, as to me it has a special there-ness with certain types of music I've not heard anywhere else. However, it just sounds too diffuse and imprecise (spatially), with a coloration I find less ignorable than the OII's slight darkness. Certainly, different amps have shifted these aspects, but I've never heard the HE90 without them. Sure, they sound a bit more precise with a KGSS, or a bit less colored with the right ES1 system, but regardless, the sound signature was still quite bright. In essence, when listening to the HE90, I always felt that I was listening more to the headphones than music, as they strive less to reproduce the sound fed to them, than to invariably emanate the "HE90 sound."

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I'll take a (well-driven) Omega II any day, and then there's the cost difference! :o

I can understand why some people really like the HE90, as to me it has a special there-ness with certain types of music I've not heard anywhere else. However, it just sounds too diffuse and imprecise (spatially), with a coloration I find less ignorable than the OII's slight darkness. Certainly, different amps have shifted these aspects, but I've never heard the HE90 without them. Sure, they sound a bit more precise with a KGSS, or a bit less colored with the right ES1 system, but regardless, the sound signature was still quite bright. In essence, when listening to the HE90, I always felt that I was listening more to the headphones than music, as they strive less to reproduce the sound fed to them, than to invariably emanate the "HE90 sound."

I never found the HE90 to be bright out of either HEV90 or ES-1. IMO, the HE-90 has pretty much the nicest treble out of anything I've ever listened too, in fact, the treble might be a little too polite out of the HEV90. OTOH, I always found the L3000 and O2 (via KGSS) to be slightly recessed in the treble though. If we are going to talk bright, the R10 is definitely a good bit brighter than the HE-90.

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I had the opportunity to sample all 3 head to head for a couple of hours at a friend's house (in the Caymans ;) ), and could stand the R10 for about 7 minutes, the OII for about the same, and the HE90 for the balance... in all, 15 minutes were totally wasted. Neither touched the HE90, even though this was with the HEV90. Wish I could have heard them with the BH just because it is NOT as 'polite' as the HEV90. This was through a Shanling T300, and about as nice as I could have imagined.

Of course, he felt his $90k vinyl rig really was far better... and, may have been... :-\

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I never found the HE90 to be bright out of either HEV90 or ES-1. IMO, the HE-90 has pretty much the nicest treble out of anything I've ever listened too, in fact, the treble might be a little too polite out of the HEV90.

It still amazes me to this day how people hear differently. As for me, what you said above exactly duplicates my feelings 8)

The price, however, is still quite unsettling for me :o Since I would never voluntarily pay that kind of money for any headphone, I say more power to you guys with such deep pockets and apparently VERY understanding significant others :doghuh:

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What are your opinions regarding how much you enjoy HE60 versus the OII and R10? :angel:

Well, I have the HE60, and not the others - not that I didn't lust for R10 for the longest time - well, until I actually heard them.

I have heard the OII extensively out of an ES1 from an Acoustic Arts (some or another) which was exceptional, but never heard it through any of the Gilmore amps. I LOVE the tinge of grit the HE60 has in my current setup, though I do need a better source. The HE60 does NOT lack bass with the BH, though it isn't as pronounced as the Lambdas, or, presumably, the OII.

My problem is that I was never able to hear all the pieces in the various combinations at once - IF I would be allowed the latitude to guess my real preference, it would be the Shanling T300 -> BH --> HE90, with the HE60 getting 30% of the snaps, all depending on the music. HE60 for rock / grunge / punk, and HE90 for anything acoustical or classical.

If my luck holds, I'll check some Gamma Pros in short order, and be looking for some 4070 just to see. I really cannot spare $7k for HE90 but can probably spring the $3-4k for a T300.

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I never found the HE90 to be bright out of either HEV90 or ES-1. IMO, the HE-90 has pretty much the nicest treble out of anything I've ever listened too, in fact, the treble might be a little too polite out of the HEV90. OTOH, I always found the L3000 and O2 (via KGSS) to be slightly recessed in the treble though. If we are going to talk bright, the R10 is definitely a good bit brighter than the HE-90.

purk,

I actually found he90s to be a bit bright...didn't notice it until I got to compare side by side with sr-omega. I liked both presentations, but it was more comfortable listening to the sr-omega in the long run. Sounded more neutral tonality-wise than he90. I did like the bigger soundstage of the he90 though.

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purk,

I actually found he90s to be a bit bright...didn't notice it until I got to compare side by side with sr-omega. I liked both presentations, but it was more comfortable listening to the sr-omega in the long run. Sounded more neutral tonality-wise than he90. I did like the bigger soundstage of the he90 though.

Which do you prefer, the SR-Omega (original omega?) or Orpheus?

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The HE90 is both bright and has a nasty upper midrange coloration but you'll never hear it with the HEV90. The soundstage isn't even close to being real as it is always huge, no matter what the recording is like and by doing that they destroyed the imaging that makes an ESL so special. The bass is a big bag of worms and where the HE60 pulls ahead as the He90 gets confused when a lot is going on. This is the real test for any electrostatic transducer as the bass energy can and will overwhelm the driver so the housing needs to dissipate the energy into the head and this is where both the He90 and SR-Omega fail while the He60 skips the issue by just eliminating the really deep bass altogether.

In the end we are talking about two very different ways of designing headphones. Sennheiser was trying to pull off a speaker like aura while Stax has already done that and know it isn't the way to go, so they designed the most accurate transducer they could. They did things that are usually frowned upon when designing ESL's such as increasing the shunt capacitance (extra unwanted capacitance that just makes the phones harder to drive but can give superior control over the diaphragms) and PCB stators with the conductive element facing away from the diaphragm.

Which do you prefer, the SR-Omega (original omega?) or Orpheus?

The O1 is quite a bit better then the He90 in my book with the O2's a few levels above. The O1 is also a bit bright at times, with a fake soundstage and they get confused, much the same as the He90, when a lot is going on but they aren't diffused, can handle a lot more bass then the HE90, can pull of a little soundstage layering but nothing compared to the SR-007 and the midrange is almost as good as the O2's.

This here is a required reading as well as the epic SR-007 review as darth nut goes into the subtle aspects of soft focus and spatial cues. http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=general&n=80474&&r=&session=

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The HE90 is both bright and has a nasty upper midrange coloration but you'll never hear it with the HEV90. The soundstage isn't even close to being real as it is always huge, no matter what the recording is like and by doing that they destroyed the imaging that makes an ESL so special. The bass is a big bag of worms and where the HE60 pulls ahead as the He90 gets confused when a lot is going on. This is the real test for any electrostatic transducer as the bass energy can and will overwhelm the driver so the housing needs to dissipate the energy into the head and this is where both the He90 and SR-Omega fail while the He60 skips the issue by just eliminating the really deep bass altogether.

In the end we are talking about two very different ways of designing headphones. Sennheiser was trying to pull off a speaker like aura while Stax has already done that and know it isn't the way to go, so they designed the most accurate transducer they could. They did things that are usually frowned upon when designing ESL's such as increasing the shunt capacitance (extra unwanted capacitance that just makes the phones harder to drive but can give superior control over the diaphragms) and PCB stators with the conductive element facing away from the diaphragm.

The O1 is quite a bit better then the He90 in my book with the O2's a few levels above. The O1 is also a bit bright at times, with a fake soundstage and they get confused, much the same as the He90, when a lot is going on but they aren't diffused, can handle a lot more bass then the HE90, can pull of a little soundstage layering but nothing compared to the SR-007 and the midrange is almost as good as the O2's.

This here is a required reading as well as the epic SR-007 review as darth nut goes into the subtle aspects of soft focus and spatial cues. http://db.audioasylum.com/cgi/m.mpl?forum=general&n=80474&&r=&session=

I totally sorta pretty much maybe disagree with you icelander. Why? Because just as you have optimized your setup for your O2, I have optimized my setup for the HE90. Yes silver may be more revealing, blah blah and blah. But the way my system sounds I would be hard pressed for anyone to find major problems (except for the spatiality issue and the slightly diffuse nature which IS true of the HE90).

But brightness and upper mid harshness? NOPE! Not if you have it even moderately setup correctly with the right amp (like ES2) and tubes (Mullard XF2) and cables - thick copper! =)

Neil

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I totally sorta pretty much maybe disagree with you icelander. Why? Because just as you have optimized your setup for your O2, I have optimized my setup for the HE90. Yes silver may be more revealing, blah blah and blah. But the way my system sounds I would be hard pressed for anyone to find major problems (except for the spatiality issue and the slightly diffuse nature which IS true of the HE90).

But brightness and upper mid harshness? NOPE! Not if you have it even moderately setup correctly with the right amp (like ES2) and tubes (Mullard XF2) and cables - thick copper! =)

Neil

We always disagree... ;D but we can get serious here for a second. What other IC's have you tried then the VD stuff? All the VD's I've tried are so horribly colored that I wouldn't use them on my clock radio. All that metal creates a lot of skin effect and all that RF shielding kills the high frequencies. You could ask Alex to bring some of his cables or sample some cheap silver cables like the Kimber Select and Ridge Street Audio.

Btw. I was almost a member of the APL family this week, but the unit is found wasn't the real deal, so say thanks to Alex from a crazy Icelander when he brings you the NWO3.0GO. 8)

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Let's see... I've tried much of the Cardas Line, I've tried Kimber as well (but not too high up, but I liked it), Aural Symphonics Purple, Ori X-2, Radio Shack =), and others a long time ago that I can't recall, but obviously my knowledge about various cables is a bit lacking in terms of breadth - but honestly I should really look into silver again, especially with the new setup since I think I can go this route at this point.

I'll tell Alex you said Hi. He's also bringing some CD's and Viny Drops apparently that are supposed to be amazing.

Neil

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