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HiFiMAN HE-500

Your Price: $599.00
MSRP $699.00 No Sales Tax
You Save: $100.00 (14%)
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This product is HeadRoom Recommended.

Top Ten For AudiophilesDr.Fang Bian has struck yet again with the HiFiMAN HE-500 'Orthodynamic' reference headphones. Sporting slightly easier-to-drive efficiency and sensitivity specs versus its stunning but power-hungry HE-6 planar magnetic cousin, the HE-500 produces a crystal-clear tone full of suppleness and warmth while not missing detail or authority at edges of the frequency range. A perfectly floating, spacious soundstage dimension beckons classical and symphonic audiophiles while cogently reproduced instrumental body ensures jazz fans & rockin' rollers are equally blown away. Includes both velour and leather earpad sets.

Accessories may vary slightly from photos shown, please refer to "What's in the Box" description below for current accessory details.

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Product Features:

  • Lusciously detailed planar magnetic [aka 'Orthodynamic'] reference sound
  • Significantly easier to drive than power-hungry top-of-line HiFiMAN HE6
  • Immediate yet warm and supple presentation synergizes well with any musical genre
  • Genuine leather earpad cushions (great velour earpad set also included)
  • Our biggest HeadRoom HiFiMAN favorite around the office!

What's In The Box:

  • (1 pair) extra replacement HE500 velour earpad cushions
  • Detachable silver headphone cable
  • Hard-sided black cardboard storage box


The world of reference audiophile headphones has undergone a revolution of sorts in the past few years with the (re) introduction of planar magnetic designs, formerly popularly known as 'Orthodynamic' headphones during their heyday in the mid-1970s. The HiFiMAN HE-500 represents audio manufacturer Head-Direct's strongest entry into top planar magnetic audio performance and features slightly easier-to-drive specs versus its top-of-the-line --but extremely power-hungry -- HE6 reference high-impedance model. Although perhaps not quite as fully transparent at the very extreme edges of the audible frequency spectrum as it significantly pricier cousin, the HE-500 retains a timbral smoothness that nicely softens the edges of the HE-6's hard analytical veneer. For listeners seeking a slightly warmer tone and more focused bass presence than heard in some planar magnetic cans, the HiFiMAN HE-500 deeply engages with classic and modern jazz/rock recordings to present low fundamental tones and soaring upper highs with equal aplomb. Orchestral lovers will appreciate the HE-500's deeply spacious, simple imaging ability that renders instruments and voices lucid and well-delineated within their respective stage positions. Very clean acoustic punch and extra-fast transient 'quickness' makes the HiFiMAN HE-500 also a synergistic choice with singer/songwriter acoustic music and nuanced audiophile recording-type fare. Naturally, a good headphone amp is recommended for maximized planar magnetic sound quality. As with most planar magnetic drivers, please allow about 300 hours of 'burn-in' play before the full sonic pleasures of these awesome cans are realized.

The HiFiMAN HE-500 headphone sports true 'full-size' ergonomics and the perfectly round earcups will completely encircle the earlobes on most wearers. The provided earcup cushions are made with real leather and are extremely comfortable for long listening sessions. However, we feel the also-included velour earpads provide significantly better sound performance; the leather pads seem to squash out some of the HE500 openness and clarity [NOTE~ HeadRoom Tip 196: Try the HE500 with the velour pads if not happy with the performance of the leather cushions!]  A very lightweight, high-quality 3 meter silver-braided headphone cable is detachable at the earcups via gold-plated 'screw-in' connectors, making for easy cord upgrades to balanced-drive /XLR headphone amps or eventual cord replacement if needed. The cord terminates to a mini 1/8" [3.5mm] plug; a 1/4" stereo plug adapter is provided. As mentioned, an extra set of velour earpad replacements is included in the HiFiMAN HE-500 box within an unfortunately rather cheesy black 'plasticized cardboard' box containing the detachable silver headphone cable and accessories (HiFiMAN has discontinued the cool wooden storage box of the earlier editions).


  • Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year
  • Headphone Type: Full Size
  • Connector Type: 1/4
  • Weight: 502 grams
  • Impedance @ 1kHz: 38 Ohms
  • Detachable Cable: Yes
  • Cord Length: approx 9.5ft
  • Cord Type: Straight Y
  • Coupler Size: Large
  • Ear Coupler Type: Full-Size
  • Driver Type: Planar Magnetic
  • Acoustic Seal: Open
  • Sensitivity: 89 dB

Reviews At A Glance
5 Reviews
2 Reviews
1 Reviews

Average Rating 
(Showing 3 of 8 reviews)

great headphone - but not for me
Posted by Mike from Seattle, WA on 2014-03-26

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: bass, treble
Cons: midrange

These headphones have the bess bass I have ever heard - clear, linear, neither attenuated nor boosted, and super deep. They also have great treble response. But the midrange is attenuated in the critical range from about 1kHz to 5kHz. This is where the harmonics of natural acoustic instruments live, which is what gives cellos, basoons, etc. their distinct sounds and subtle variations of tone from one player to the next. On the the HE-500 these instruments sound perfectly clear but they're not voiced right - the timbre is veiled and they don't sound realistic.

Still, I'd recommend these headphones for anything except recordings of acoustic instruments in natural spaces. Even for acoustic music, many people will find the HE-500 voicing to be euphonic if not realistic. They're not for me, but they are fine headphones that many people will like.

HeadRoom Response:

Customers URL was redacted.

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3 out of 3 people found this review unhelpful. Did you?

Reference Headphones for a Steal
Posted by timpicks from Redmond, WA on 2014-03-08

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Balanced sound, exquisite highs, great value
Cons: Some say they're heavy

I spent a month researching headphones, and was willing to spend up to $1500. After much deliberation, I found the clear leader for price-to-value was the HiFiMan HE-500's. And boy was I right! These cans are superb in every way. The HE-500's don't color the sound at all - they are truly 'reference' headphones. I've found that they need a good 50-100 hours of burn in, but after that they really open up. I can still remember the exact moment these cans came to life... I was listening to Big Head Todd's "Love Betsy" from their "Midnight Radio" CD, and I was taken aback at how crisp the crash symbol sounded and how true and deep the bass guitar hit my eardrums. Amazing! I'm using these phones with a Schiit Lyr and Bifrost "Uber" DAC, and the combo is making my music sound better than ever. The common complaint about these headphones is the weight. And yeah, they're heavy. But do they hurt? No. Are they uncomfortable? Not to me. I'm writing this review with them on, and I've been wearing them for seven hours. These are headphones that need a good AMP/DAC combo, so I doubt you'll be wearing them when you're going for a run. I considered the Audeze LCD-2's, and would like to try them out some day, but I can't imagine any set of planar headphones outdoing the HE-500's - especially at twice the price. I would buy these cans again in a heartbeat. Highly recommended!

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3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?

A modestly priced exemplar of upper tier headphones
Posted by Meowspergers from Houston, TX on 2013-11-09

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Impressive sound quality, not too hard to drive
Cons: relatively uncomfortable

Sound quality:
I can almost promise you that, no matter what cans you've listened to before, you'll be impressed by the HE-500s. The accuracy, detail, and soundstage of these things are remarkable and rivaled, in my experience, only by the Sennheiser HD 800s and Audeze LCDs. Bass is punchy and tight, the mids are crystalline but smooth, and the highs are resplendent with nary a hint of sibilance.

The soundstage of the HE-500s is truly expansive. There have been times where I genuinely thought I might have still had my speakers on while wearing them; I had to remove them to make certain.

You can get used to wearing the HE-500s. When you do, wearing them isn't so bad. You may even be able to forget you have them on if you've had them for long enough. I can.

Compared to most other cans, though, the HE-500 is stupendously heavy. The clamping force alone can give you headaches at first. Changing the ear pads from the default pleather to the included velour won't help very much, though it will be an improvement. YMMV.

Look, Feel, and Durability:
I think the HE-500s are striking and elegant, despite their size. I don't know, look at them yourself.

The cans themselves feel extremely well built, though the included silver cable seems a little on the delicate side. Even with the braiding, the cable feels only marginally more flexible than a paper clip. It's certainly beautiful, but I'd be less worried about it if it was covered in rubber.

Sound Quality
Look & Feel

6 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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