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). The long 3-year manufacturer's warranty remains free with your HeadRoom 'authorized HiFiMAN dealer' purchase receipt.
- 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 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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Posted by mrfcpa from Denver on 2012-08-30
Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Great Value and Very True to the Recording
Cons: Slightly Heavy
Today I got the replacement pair and attached them to their Cardas cables and amped them up. ABSOLUTELY INCREDIIBLE!
It appears that I was missing everything because of a defective mini-coax connector. Now I know what I was really missing.
I love to listen to live music - not over digitized, over produced stuff (that's what the Monster Beat Pros are for). I just listened to a couple of live sets - Led Zeppeling in Berlin circa 1972 and Robert Gorden in New York in 1978. The real measure of a live recording, in my opinion, is the sound of the audience and not the performer. FINALLY A HEADPHONE THAT DOESN'T MAKE THE AUDIENCE'S APPLAUSE SOUND LIKE BACON FRYING ON A FLAT TOP AT JOE'S GREASY SPOON.
Great imaging, really good bass response (listen to a live Gordon Lightfoot version of 'Sundown' - wonderful bass and twelve string guitar). Mids and Highs are completely inoffensive.
If you don't want to buy a Grace 903 and drive a $1,500 - $2,000 set of cans, these are the way to go. Even on a smaller amp (HeadRoom's Micro Amp/DAC) these things deliver it all.
I am thrilled that I have these in my collections.
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Posted by WhiteCrow From head-fi from Scappoose ,OR on 2012-04-21
Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Great sound, Built well, Preformance
The HE-500 headphones to my ears are a very natural sounding headphone. The distinction between neutral and natural here being that everything has expert placement along with it's slight warm tilt make this a very pleasing headphone for nearly any listening session.
The sound quality of these monstrous cans is just phenomenal, the bass is very punchy and has a great grain and texture it; yet not overpowering it has a mild emphasis over the rest of the spectrum. The midrange is a bit of an enigma. I'm so used to headphones with a much rougher and pronounced in your face midrange and vocal range in particular I was a bit taken back to the placement of vocals. Most vocals on these headphones are not recused but sound like they are set back on a stage almost. The Upper frequency's have sparkle and zing to them but not sibilant with GREAT upward extension.
Build quality on the HE-500 is pretty great as well. I have had full metal headphones that feel flimsy even though I know they are not. The HE-500 really FEEL metal; Ridged, heavy, and meaty. Really pleasing to hold and feel like I could fend off a pack of Wilder Beasts with them. The Leather is not real leather like advertised but protein leather like that sound in cars, it may not be real but it's really comfortable
The Comfort of the HE-500 is also pretty great all things considered. They can clamp a bit too hard on the noggin but the leather and velour pads are great. I prefer the Leather as it's a bit softer over all I feel and the cups distribute pressure pretty evenly around my ears. The headband does not force it's self down on me head and they really don't feel that heavy wearing them.
The packaging is somthing else I liked about these. I was originally extatic for a headphone that came with a box, A REAL LIVE WOODEN BOX FOR A HIGHEND HEADPHONE I PAID $700 FOR!!!!! but it didn't come with one....I was a bit sad but the trade off's are well worth it. A new silver cable!, A SET!!! of leather ear pads, and a SET!!!! of Velour earpads. The bat design for the ear cups is also improved over the flimsy bent plastic ones, to less flimsy machined/molded plastic!. The carrying case included is pretty tough as well. Yes it's a $40 case but that does not mean it isn't built rather well.
The drab backs to this headphone I feel REALLY needed to be taken into consideration. Amping, boy oh boy do these headphones need amping. Running them out of my little Dot MKII I was getting a very respectable sound, but it was not anything close to what I would consider $700 worth let alone the original price of 800. Lack luster bass, the vocals were set back VERY far yet not recessed...it's a very odd sound, and a much more zippy highend akin to the sr80i's. Keep in mind the Little Dot MKII only pushed about 100mw of power at 32 ohms, The Schiit Lyr I'm using now pushed about 6WATTS at 32 ohms. This really made a large difference on this headphone I feel. The bass opened up a substantial sum, the midrangeg was pushed forwards...not so in your face but not as far back as unamped or with the MKII and the midrange became VERY smooth and continued it's liquid smoothness well into the upper frequency's. The big draw back to this is the Lyr is another $450 another option is the NFB-12 but that is also $200 and has been reported to not synergize with the HE-500 as well if your really looking for that natural sound.
Over all I love these headphones and feel they really are a world class sound at a sub world class price; not by a whole lot but still a drop. 1star off for SQ as they require quite the amp to run, and 1 star off comfort as they can squeeze quite hard.
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