Hifiman HE-560: Unboxing & First Impression

Disclaimer: Hifiman selected us to receive one of the first samples of the brand new HE-560. Hifiman isn’t a site advertiser.

 

by Lieven V

 

CHECK OUT THE EDITS BELOW!

EDIT August 28/ Full review of the production sample is now online. This First Impression has NO MORE MEANING. Go HERE: https://headfonia.com/hifiman-he-560-xl-ortho/

The Hifiman HE-560 is one of the headphones everyone has been waiting for and therefor I’m posting this short unboxing write-up and first impression. I will post a full HE-560 review soon with all the specs etc, right now it’s just the basics.

I received the HE-560 yesterday late and I haven’t had a lot of time to play with the successor of my beloved HE-500. Will it be as good? Maybe even better? Will it be more comfortable? Will it be easy to drive? … So many questions and a lot of them got answered last night!

The first thing you notice taking the HE-560 out of its very lovely box, is how light these headphones are compared to the Audez’e LCD-2 and the HE-500. I love the design of this new headphone. The headband might seem a bit weird but oh boy it is comfortable! I myself never had any issues with the weight of the planars like the LCD-2/3 and Hifiman HE-400/500, one of the perks of being used to wearing a helmet I suppose. The new headphone is smaller and a lot of people with a smaller head will certainly appreciate this. Even I have to extend it to get a good fit, not like the HE400/500 where I have to put it on the smallest setting to make it stay on my head. The ear pad opening is also smaller it seems. My ears aren’t the biggest but you can feel the pads against them, this wasn’t the case on the HE-500 and I know a lot of people are “allergic” to feeling the pads.

The build quality does not seem stellar to me and I’m waiting for feedback from Hifiman on this so I prefer not to go into detail as this might be related to this being an early review sample.

Those of you who were hoping to find the sound signature of the HE-500 in the new HE-560 will be disappointed, this to me is a brand new headphone. Several keywords come to mind: – Neutral – Clarity – Detail – Speed – Linearity – Sound stage. The planar technology provides a very black background with beautiful clarity. This new HE-560 is also a lot faster than the HE-500 (speed & attack) and it is very linear. Bass, mids and highs make one complete sound and nothing really stands out delivering a lovely neutral but not boring and detailed sound with a wide sound stage.

Bass: goes deep and has a good impact but my first impressions tell me it is less than the HE-500 (and the Audez’e’s) for sure. Not for bass heads but quality bass

Mids: lovely detail and clarity, logic and perfect extension of the lows

Treble: quite extended to me and a good level of detail. Those who like rolled of treble better stay away it seems

The warm smooth sound and the deep soft bass of the HE-500 on tubes are gone but you get a lot of other things in return.

I’ll try to publish a full review next week. Do take into account that these are very early impressions with under one hour of listening straight out of the box with just one amp. So keep checking Facebook for updates and the site for the reviews!

EDIT: Hifiman requested us to send back the HE-560 and it has been returned in the mean time. I hope to receive a new version soon. We’ll keep you posted

EDIT May 22: HFM confirmed a change in design (cosmetically). They are ready to start the production again and they will be presenting in at Newport next week. They told me personally shipping is expected near mid June!

EDIT May 24: HFM has released pictures of the new unit. Veneer wood instead of full wooden cups, extra damping material

EDIT August 28/ Full review of the production sample is now online: https://headfonia.com/hifiman-he-560-xl-ortho/

LL LL2

 

 

 

 

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

49 Comments

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    Elie Hendriks

    Can’t wait to hear more!
    Is it somewhat more comparable to a ‘poor mans’ LCD3 maybe than to the he-500 or LCD2?

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      L.

      Very different sound than the Audez’e’s, I wouldn’t compare them with any of those

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    These might dethrone the Paradox for me. Also hurray for cheap second hand HE500!

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      L.

      hahaha. yes that too!

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    George Lai

    Ear pad even smaller than HE-500? Ridiculous. Lieven, can the ear pads be removed and easily replaced by LCD pads? Thanks.

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      L.

      it’s the same mechanism as before George only the ear cups turn a full 90°. so I would say yes

      • Reply May 6, 2014

        George Lai

        Thanks Lieven

        • Reply May 7, 2014

          L.

          5cm vs the 6cm of the HE-500…

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    Dave Ulrich

    I have the feeling that the HE-400i is going to be more like the HE-500.

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      L.

      we will know in a few weeks!

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      Peter Janušič

      That would be great

  • Reply May 6, 2014

    dalethorn

    So, seems like they saw the MrSpeakers Alpha Dog video and decided to do a very neutral headphone of their own?

    • Reply May 6, 2014

      L.

      But a better one, SQ is much higher

      • Reply May 6, 2014

        dalethorn

        That sounds like an exact description of the Alpha Dog. Light bass, less warm, etc. Actually, much less warm.

        • Reply May 6, 2014

          L.

          AD sounds more closed and less sound stage, less fast as well and it has more bass

          • Reply May 6, 2014

            dalethorn

            AD has more bass? That’s scary, since the AD bass is barely even bass at all.

            • Reply May 6, 2014

              L.

              The one I heard had good bass though

              • Reply May 7, 2014

                dalethorn

                I’m satisfied with electronic tweaks, but I just want to have an accurate perspective of how it compares to other headphones out of the box.

              • Reply May 8, 2014

                Clemmaster

                Aren’t you confusing Mad Dogs with Alpha Pads here?

  • Reply May 7, 2014

    Sam

    Disagree about the HE-560 having less bass than the AD. The AD I tried was very bass-anemic; the HE-560 is hitting the spot with bass impact and texture for me, even more so than my previous HE-400

    • Reply May 7, 2014

      dalethorn

      My experience too. Maybe some who thought the AD had better bass were hearing one that had the bass port setting turned up?

      • Reply May 7, 2014

        L.

        Must have been, cause the AD defo had more bass

    • Reply May 7, 2014

      L.

      Wait are you saying the HE-560 has more bass than your HE-400? Or are you saying you like the bass more on the HE-560? Cause the HE400 has a lot more bass for sure

      • Reply May 7, 2014

        Sam

        I sold off my HE-400 a few months ago so couldn’t compare them side by side. It probably is the case that I just like the bass on the HE-560 more, though IIRC the HE-560 the same if not only slightly less bass quantity than the HE-400. I am quite sure that the texture and control of the bass on the HE-560 is better than that of the HE-400 though

        • Reply May 7, 2014

          L.

          that is better indeed. but quantity and body there’s a huge difference between both

  • Reply May 7, 2014

    L.

    I listened an hour more yesterday and then I switched to the LCD-2 cause I had it with the neutrality. It’s a greatly tuned headphone but it’s oh so neutral

  • Reply May 7, 2014

    Jeff

    I was at a audio show called MoFi in Seoul, South Korea last year and tried these out. Absolutely loved these, sounds amazing. Tried it out with the giant HiFiman amp.
    Someone broke the phones somehow while I was away listening to some AK240s with LCDs though 🙁
    (back then it was just a prototype back then)
    Love the wood one these compared to the blue plastic they used back then. Can’t wait till I order one soon.

    • Reply May 10, 2014

      L.

      I like them both actually, wood and plastic

  • Reply May 8, 2014

    ghost2031 S23

    Nice first look Lieven..

    • Reply May 10, 2014

      L.

      Thanks man. We’ll have a second first look soon.

  • Reply May 10, 2014

    Eugen

    The build quality doesn’t seem stellar … people are reporting that the gimbals scratch the wood cups, loose grilles / glue problems and that the earpads are too small for non-asian ears.

    And that’s just me skimming the problems …

    • Reply May 10, 2014

      L.

      I’m afraid that all is correct. Mine has been sent back for a replacement

      • Reply May 10, 2014

        Eugen

        By not stellar I actually mean bad. 🙂

  • Reply May 10, 2014

    L.

    EDIT: Hifiman requested us to send back the HE-560 and it has been returned in the mean time. I hope to receive a new version soon. We’ll keep you posted

  • Reply June 2, 2014

    Patrick

    Love the site, the reviews, and the passion you guys bring to the table!

    I am trying to put together a setup to use at home while working (I am a freelance writer and web developer, so sit at a computer endlessly it seems).

    I will be using my Macbook Pro, and typically stream from Google Music or my large digital collection (mostly CD rips, but have a fair number of HDTrack downloads of my favorite albums).

    I am pretty sure I am going to be getting a pair of HiFiMan HE-500s, the reviews of them and other contenders (HD-650 and the HE-560) have me thinking they will have a sound signature I will enjoy the most. I like my music to have a nice full richness to them. I love detail, but am one that wants to feel the music more than critique the recordings accuracy.

    To further illustrate, and maybe this will give some insight that might cause you to suggest something else than my current thought pattern, I inherited a very nice stereo from my father. I have two B&W studio monitors, I can’t recall the details, but they are very top notch… their sound is extreme clean, detailed, and ‘flat’… while I enjoy listening to them, I also was lucky enough to get a pair of Magniplanars, as well, which while lacking the same detail and clarity, have a certain depth and feeling to them that is just magical to me.

    So with that in mind, I am looking for a pair of headphones (pretty sure the HE-500s) and in turn a DAC and amp. I am pretty lost when it comes to the DAC and amp. I would prefer something portable, but equally at home in a desktop like setup (my primary working environment, but I do move about the house and occasionally work outside the home to get some human interaction).

    I am really tempted to get the Resonessence Labs Herus. While at some point I might treat myself to a proper stand alone amp (lets not kid ourselves, I will eventually do that once the wife forgets how much I spent in the first place / just won’t mention how much I spend)… I am looking for a DAC/amp combo that can properly drive the HE-500s, and pairs well.

    Last piece of info that might matter, I am looking to spend under $1k total, and am not opposed to going the used route to save money and stretch my dollar further.

    • Reply June 2, 2014

      L.

      Hi patrick, thank you. For some reason my reply from earlier wasn’t saved. I’m glad you suggest the Herus and it would work indeed. On the other hand it would work even better with the Hifiman M8 and especially the Cypher Labs Theorem. That’s a portable combo with desktop quality sound, I’ve been using it myself a lot lately and the synergy is unique

      • Reply June 2, 2014

        Dave Ulrich

        To make up for my earlier a200p snafu, I will say I think L meant the Centrance HiFi M8.

        • Reply June 2, 2014

          L.

          That is correct. Thanks

  • Reply July 9, 2014

    Marc

    L, from what you can recall, how is the soundstage depth to headphones like the Fidelio L2, Audeze LCDs, HD700, and the Alpha Dog? Has HiFiMan finally improved the SS depth on one of their headphones even on lesser rigs?

    • Reply July 9, 2014

      L.

      I don’t have the old version anymore. I received the new HE560 last week but have been a bit busy with the review of the AK players (publishing tomorrow)

      • Reply July 9, 2014

        Marc

        Can’t wait for your review on the HE-560s!!

        • Reply July 9, 2014

          L.

          publication probably in a week or 2

  • Reply July 28, 2014

    Peter

    recommendations for a TUBE amp for the he-560s? Using the audio gd nfb-11 as a dac. Was looking at the violectric v200 after you recommended it, but now I’m looking at a tube amp for around 500-1000. Suggestions? thanks again.

    • Reply July 28, 2014

      L.

      Something like the WA6SE? As long as is isn’t an OTL. Maybe a hybrid, but I’m not a fan of those.

      HE560 review soon

      • Reply July 28, 2014

        Peter

        What about the WA7d or WA2? Why the WA6SE? Thanks.

  • Reply August 1, 2014

    tre54321

    Really enjoying my HE-560…. Had been listening to it over the week with my V200 (received my HE-560 for over a few weeks now, but returned to my country only earlier this week).

    Superb comfort, far more so than my HD650. I can go on hours with the HE-560 even being in this tropical country of mine. Sounds great – Excellent control, imaging, dynamics, slam. Still burning in, but the mids filled up nicely (it was indeed thin when I first listened to it), will see if that helps the slight hardness on the highs. I have both the production and pre-production pads and I much prefer the pre-production pads, the production pads introduced a little unnatural sounding “zing” onto the upper-mids if that makes any sense. I do agree the pre-production pads slews the imaging a very slight bit but it’s a sacrifice I’d gladly make for tonality.

    Can’t wait to hear what you think about them, Lieven. Does Mike not have a chance to listen to them? 😛

    • Reply September 28, 2014

      Mr Smith

      Please could you compare the HD650 to the HE560 wrt bass, treble, mids, comfort and general quality of materials? The 560 sells for more than double the price, but is it at least 40% better than the 650?

      • Reply September 28, 2014

        Headfonia_L.

        Please check the correct article first

        http://headfonia.com/hifiman-he-560-xl-ortho/

        Comparing a dynamic to an ortho isn’t really fair imho. HD650 is warmer, slower, has bigger bass, is smoother and more romantic. I also thinks its better for more types of music. You shouldn’t say the 40% price should translate into 40% better sound. It’s a completely different sound.

        I bought my 650 for 170€ btw. They often sell between 200 and 250 here (Euros)

  • Reply August 14, 2014

    L.

    EDIT August 28/ Full review of the production sample is now online: http://headfonia.com/hifiman-he-560-xl-ortho/

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