Disclaimer: Hifiman sent me a review sample of their new unit. Hifiman is not a site sponsor.
I think everyone was, no wait correct that, still is extremely excited about Hifiman’s latest headphone ever since they announced it so many months ago. The Hifiman HE-500 is one of my all-time favorite headphones and so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. But oh my, that didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.
An Early Disappointment
When I received the first HE-560 the lovely wooden box was damaged. Not only that but it was full of greasy finger prints under the wrapping. Not a good start but ok it’s just a box, right? The cups on the new Hifiman were wooden (Teak) and after the box and prints, I immediately turned on the lights for a closer inspection of the headphone. And yes, my disappointment only got bigger.
There were scratches caused by friction where the headphone is connected to the headband. I found multiple dents in the grill and the wood, which also had chips out of it. The ear pads were too small for my tiny ears, had extremely bad stitching and weren’t symmetric. To top it off there was a huge dried drop of varnish on the Teak on one side. “Oh my” I said to myself, “consumers get this for $899?” Immediately the HE400 driver story came in to mind but I didn’t report about all of it in my first article because Hifiman reacted incredibly fast to this and apparently I wasn’t the only one. I wrote: “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”.
Sound wise the first HE-560, which came with a bulky plastic cable, sounded pretty much as the one I have now, only the mids in the new version are much nicer (less cold). But anyway, after reporting these issues to Hifiman they asked me to send back the HE-560 immediately, which I did. The headphone I had been looking forward to only rested on my head for about an hour before going back to the US of A.
Hifiman took my remarks and those from the early adopting Head-fi community very seriously and they promised to come back with an improved version of the HE-560. The waiting, again, had begun.
When the second version arrived (in an improved box with a nicely sleeved crystalline copper and crystalline silver cable), the full Teak cups had gone and were replaced by a veneer over plastic design reminding me a little of the look of the LCD-X( C) cups. According to Hifiman, the veneer is more than 1mm thick so they call it bowed wood. I will come back to cable later.
No more scratches and dents this time. Everything was in perfect condition. Happy me! I just have one remark I will get back to. The pads are pleather on the outside and velour on the “inside”. They are extremely soft and shaped like the Audeze pads but in a smaller degree. “We improved the driver damping so the new 560 has more bass if you are using the old ear pad. However the new ear pad is more open for better high/mid clarity”. I have to go from memory but for me personally the change in sound with the new pads is minimal. The new pads however started a completely new craze on Head-fi and so I unsubscribed from the thread. Enough is enough. The detachable pads, in combination with the extremely good suspended head band design and the light drivers, make the Hifiman HE-560 one of the lightest and most comfortable Orthodynamic Headphones on the planet. You hardly notice it on your head, no painful feeling on top, no death grip and perfect sealing pads. It can’t get much better really. What a design! I love the HE-500 but the comfort is so so, it doesn’t really fit small heads and it isn’t the most comfortable fit. After a few hours the HE-500 starts to hurt on top of your head from the headband and the cups are so big they don’t seal well on everyone’s head. (velour pads do help for comfort)
I personally think their new creation looks stunning. It is a slick design but people in the office do look weird at me as they’re not used to the head band system, which does kind of stick out and looks funny on your head. I have to agree with that but let them laugh. Best comfort ever!
So the new HE-560 which is available now is perfect and has no more issues? I’m not saying no single new HE-560 will ever have a problem but that goes for all headphones, no, all tech products worldwide. I’m a quite critical guy and I have only one complaint about the cosmetics of my specific unit: the color of the veneer on both cups doesn’t match and I think that sucks (see picture). None of my LCD’s have that issue. But ok, I can live with that. I’m happy with how it turned out. Very happy.
It continues on the next page