The HE-560, unlike its family members, now uses single sided technology that provides superior sound stage and spatial imaging. It reduced the headphone’s weight to an impressive 390g. Compared to the +500g HE-500/LCD-2 and the +600g LCD-XC this is lightweight. It feels light like a toy, like if it’s not even a real headphone. How great is that?!
*So the article title doesn’t mean Extra Large? No. Try Extra Light.
Frequency response is 15HZ to 50kHz and impedance is rated at 35Ohms. Hifiman insists on using those awful connectors, as a result I immediately ordered a new pair of Hifiman to Audeze adapters. That way I never have to screw on any cable ever again and I get to use all my Audeze terminated aftermarket cables. But more on the cable in a bit as I want to come back to the impedance and driveability first.
The HE-560 from the start was promoted as one of the easiest to drive orthodynamic headphones. The 90dB rating of the HE-560 however isn’t that spectacular and in reality it turns out to be just as hard to drive as the HE-500. I’ll cover this more in the amplification part. Also, the HE-560 is supposed to be 35Ohm. I decided to measure my drivers because of the history of the HE-500 drivers not always being correct. My HE-500 drivers are correct but my He-560 drivers measure an astonishing 46.9 and 47.6. Hello Hifiman? From what I have gathered on the web there seems to be a 35Ohm and 50Ohm version of the HE-560 around. Ok then…
Hifiman suggests 150h of burn in for the HE-560. I do believe in burn in for amplifiers and DACs, for headphones not so. Especially not the planars and I can’t say my unit’s sound has changed over the last few weeks either.
Music To My Ears
So the new HE-560 is light because of the single-sided planar magnetic driver. In theory the use of that driver should result in a superior sound stage and spatial imaging and in reality it does exactly that.
First of all you should know this headphone is linear and neutral but in a musical non boring way. The clarity and dynamics of the HE-560 are superb. Same goes for the level of detail in bass, mids and treble but especially in the higher frequencies. This is the fastest and most open sounding orthodynamic in my collection without any doubt.
Balance and imaging is extremely good while the sound stage has a good width but it isn’t the deepest.
The result is a more analytical yet musical and smooth sound at the same time. There is a very slight touch of warmth to the mids but I wouldn’t call it a warm headphone. Rather a neutral smooth one. I haven’t experienced any listening fatigue with this Hifiman creation and I’ve been using it for over 7 hours each day.
Bass is good but somehow it is a bit mysterious. With the right bass (heavy) song, bass can suddenly appear and strike exactly right. With other tunes bass will stay hidden while always being detailed and tight, it just doesn’t always have the body you hope for. That’s where the help of an external amp comes in. Overall the HE-560 doesn’t have a big and punchy pass but it’s more of a fast, tight and detailed bass that comes more to the front with the right music, source and amplifier. That’s no surprise to me as this is a linear and neutral tuned headphone.
The mids are very detailed, dynamic, clear and open. The space between the instruments is big and it results in an airy but natural sound. The mids might seem thinner sounding* and even a bit forward but they are wide with heaps of detail, clarity and air. This is mostly noticeable when you first put on the headphone and start listening. After a while you don’t even notice it anymore and you get drawn in by the lovely sound. *They don’t have the midrange body the Audeze’s show, that’s for sure.
Treble is extended, very clear, airy and detailed. With the stock cable it even gets too hot for me on a lot of recordings. That’s personal taste of course but I prefer using an aftermarket cable to trim it down a little. But in any way, you better like your treble.
I don’t know but I wouldn’t really say there are real direct competitors on the market. I don’t call the HE-500 a direct competitor because it sounds very different and so does the LCD-2/3/XC. Maybe the XC is the only direct competitor when looking at Orthos but it’s double the HE-560s price… A lot of people compare the HE-560 to the Sennheiser HD800 and that actually does make sense.
I never was a fan of the HD800 but the older I get, the more I seem to appreciate the Sennheiser reference sound. The HE560 and HD800 both have incredible detail retrieval but it’s dynamics versus planar magnetic technology and they both have their advantages.
The HE-560 costs $899: the cheapest Audeze sets you back at least a few hundred USD more (the LCD-2 in bamboo). Price-performance wise the HE-560 scores big, that’s for sure. The LCD-2/3, which you can’t call warm, has a thicker and warmer mid section with bigger bass. The HE-500 is warmer and smoother sounding in the mids and has bigger bass body. But the HE-500 bass is looser. So no, the HE-560 is in no means a replacement of the 500, they are very different. It isn’t like the HE6 either, it is somewhere in between with characteristics of both cans. You can clearly hear the 500 and HE6 in it.
Last part on page 3