Dr.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.
- 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
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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
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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
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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
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.
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Posted by Andrew from Silverdale, WA on 2013-02-04
Recommend Product: No
Pros: Beautiful sound
Sound: The sound of the HE-500 is better in every possible way compared to the HD-600. The bass extension is deeper, yet tighter. So, in comparison, the bass of the HD-600 sounds flabby and doesn’t go as deep as the HE-500. This came as a surprise to me because the HD-600 offers truly amazing sound for the money. The upper range is much higher with the HE-500, but without being ear-piercing or uncomfortable. The mids are similar to the HD-600 in that they are warm and welcoming. The sound stage seems wider with the HE-500 and the clarity/detail of the sound is quite remarkable – significantly better than the HD-600. The down-side is that to get the most out of it, the HE-500 much be properly amped. I did an A/B comparison between the Schiit Lyr and Asgard. The Lyr increased bass depth and strength while at the same time improved sound stage. While the HE-500 headphones sound better than the HD-600 even through the Asgard, I don’t know if the improvement in sound justifies the cost with a lower power amp.
Comfort: Having owned Grados and Sennheiser headphones, I was expecting a headphone of similar weight - all the headphones I’ve previously used were comparable in this area. I didn’t even think to look at how much the HE-500 headphones weighed. I wish I would have. These headphones weigh about twice as much as the HD-600 headphones (HE-500 = 17.7oz/502g, HD-600 = 9.2oz/260g). While the HE-500 might be built like a tank, they also feel like they weigh as much as one. Also, it would seem that I have an unusually small head, because, even when at its smallest size, the headband barely touches the top of my head. If it weren’t for the clamping force another reviewer rightfully mentioned, the entire weight of these headphones would be resting on the tops of my ears. The leather earpads are soft and comfortable, though as with other leather products, they might cause a bit of sweat over longer listening periods. I have not yet tried the velour earpads.
Look and Feel: The finish is beautiful and flawless. The headphone cable must be threaded into place. I don’t have sausage fingers, but even so, it took a bit of patience to thread the tiny connectors into place. A small, non-marking (such as nylon) tool for fastening the headphone cable might have been nice to include considering the cost of the headphones.
Durability: As mentioned above, the HE-500 have some weight to them. I wouldn’t expect them to fall apart – except perhaps from the dropping force created by their own weight - they are nothing close to being delicate.
Overall: The sound quality is amazing. However, they do require proper amping to get the most out of them. The comfort factor is where the HE-500 headphones fall short. I assume the increased weight is related to the design type as the Audeze LCD-2 headphones are also on the heavier side. The headband could have been designed to accommodate a wider range of heads like many other manufacturers do. Even a better headband bad would have helped with this. Since I purchased the HE-500 headphones through HeadRoom’s B-stock page, they are not eligible for return or refund. Had I been aware of the dramatic different in weight and the subsequent decline in comfort, I probably would have held off and purchased the Sennheiser HD-700.
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