Soon after I received the Hifiman HE-6 headphone a few days ago, I started posting crazy tweets that reads like “The #Hifiman HE6 is jaw-dropping good! Gotta find me a jaw support.” Some people would probably realize the initial new toy syndrome aura surrounding my HE6 tweets and probably ignored those tweets until after the initial enthusiasm has subsidized. Fair enough, even a full time reviewer like me are not free from common human faults. But there’s no denying that the new headphone from Hifiman is really good and even now my jaw still drops sometimes.
After two days of burning in and listening time, I feel now it’s a proper time to start writing a first impression article about the HE6 headphone. When me and my friends first heard the HE5 headphone, we were all floored with the sound signature of the modern Hifiman Orthodynamics. We’re all quite familiar with vintage orthodynamic headphones, and yet the HE5 really brings the ortho driver to enter modern driver territory, and it started to challenge the dynamics and electrostatics establishment. The sound signature was fresh and very engaging, its treble quality, soundstage, and bass impact being very phenomenal not only for orthodynamic headphones but in comparison to other driver technology as well. Soon, however, many people felt that the HE5 was too bright and too fatiguing for long term listening. Hifiman then introduced the HE5LE which is noticeably darker, and yet more balanced sounding than the HE5. Although the HE5LE is wonderfully balanced, it couldn’t really create the same wow factor that the original HE5 did. It’s good sounding, but it didn’t have the people-stopping, jaw-dropping power during headphone meets that the HE5 had. Now, Hifiman is back in the market with the HE6, and finally we have another headphone that will cause quite a fair amount of jaw dropping in meets.
Sound signature wise, the HE6 is more similar to the HE5LE than to the brighter sounding HE5. The HE6 is clearly in a higher league than the fives, and regardless of sound signature preference, almost everyone will opt for the HE6 headphone if given their bank account allows. With some gold plate mumbo jumbo in the drivers, Hifiman has created quite a monster headphone that will comfortably compete with all the big boys of the headphone industry.
When I first listened to the HE6, I was really floored by the amount of clarity that the headphone has. It was clear, it was transparent, it had a really black background, all of those good things without having the slightest hint of harshness. The clarity of the sound is not a result of treble peaks or other nasty tricks like that. Rather, you feel like you’ve just upgraded your DAC and you’re playing a higher resolution digital recording. The clarity feels like you’ve added a turbocharger on the DAC and get so much more resolution in return. Yes, the improvement in resolution is the main thing that brings the HE6 to the $1000+ level. In some ways, the HE6 exceed many of these $1000 headphones. The HD800 and the T1 definitely doesn’t have the clarity and the black background, the Omega2, though probably blacker in background, doesn’t feel as clear sounding as the HE6. I can’t quite predict how the HE6 will match to the LCD-2, as it’s been a while since I last listened to the Audez’e, but I’m quite sure it will be a good match between the two.