Hifiman HE5LE First Impression

From the first moment that I put on the HE5LE, I immediately like this version better than the original HE5! The changes is significant enough that even when I didn’t have the HE5 with me, I was able to tell that this is clearly a more balanced version of the HE5 sound. Yes, the sound is darker, but we’re not talking HD650 dark here. The change for the darker sound really makes the LE version more neutral and more balanced. I really can’t say if people will immediately like the HE5LE better than the HE5, as I’ve read some comments that say the LE version is veiled. Although it’s certainly not veiled, I can see where the comment is coming from. With the original HE5, its bright presentation does make details in the music very, very evident. The HE5LE still has the wonderful detail of the HE5, but it doesn’t try too hard to show off the details.

A lot of people feel that the treble of the original HE5 is too hot. They like the overall sound, but they are trying very hard, often trying to pair with a dark amplifier to try to alleviate the hot treble. If you are one of those, then the LE version is for you.

HE5LE in full black, next to the original HE5.

Personally, I am liking the change. It’s not a very dark headphone, and it still has a brilliant treble, and it’s still able to give an exciting and lively sound, but this time not as bright as the predecessor. The speed is still there, very fast, yet with a more natural decay than what I found on the Lambda Staxes (of course the HE5 is not as fast as the SR404s.) The detail is mostly unchanged, and likewise the soundstage.

In addition to the darker sound, the HE5LE also comes with more bass presence. I think the HE5 may have been fine for accoustic jazz, rock, and perhaps even metal. But when I tried to listen to some electronica like Prodigy’s Fat of the Land, the original HE5 sounded really sharp and bright, and likewise playing Hotel Costes Vol. 1, I’m missing a lot of the needed bass presence to make the ambiance sounds right for a house music. Not so with the HE5LE. Nice bass presence from the upper bass down, with punch of the original HE5.

The HE5LE looks more serious in all-black. Even the stitches on the headband are black.


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27 Comments

  • Reply May 15, 2010

    Bouncer

    Hello Mike,

    Thanks for the initial impression.

    May i know if the Audinst HUD-MX1 will be able to drive the HE5LE properly?

    • Reply May 15, 2010

      Mike

      Hi. I haven't tried that combo. I'll let you know by next week.

    • Reply May 18, 2010

      Mike

      I tried that just now, and I would say yes, the Audinst HUD-MX1 can drive the HE5LE, though not optimally. About 1 o'clock on the volume knob on low gain, and 10-11 o'clock on high gain provides enough loudness for me.

      • Reply May 18, 2010

        Bouncer

        I see, thanks alot for your time.

        When using high gain, is there noticeable grain in the sound coming from HE5LE?

        May i also know would the Audiotrack Imamp or the Audinst HUD-MX1 drive those cans better?

        • Reply May 18, 2010

          Mike

          Hi,

          Noticeable grain on high gain? Do you mean noise?

          I don't have the ImAmp with me right now, because Hadi is using it, but from my past experience using the ImAmp with other cans, I would say that it has a better amplifier section than the Audinst HUD-MX1.

          • Reply May 19, 2010

            Bouncer

            Hi,

            I see.

            Yeah i did meant noise, pardon me for my bad english.

            • Reply May 19, 2010

              Mike

              Hi, sinclair, I heard no noise on the HUD-MX1 even at maximum volume.

              • Reply June 17, 2010

                不撒

                彩电撒旦撒旦撒旦萨低层次才撒

  • Reply May 15, 2010

    h.rav

    How is the build quality? I didn't like the original HE-5's build quality, it's quite poor, IMO…

    • Reply May 15, 2010

      Mike

      The build quality would be almost identical aside from the slight differences I mentioned. I really didn't think it was that bad though. If you can live with a Grado, you certainly can live with this.

  • Reply May 15, 2010

    Jose

    Nice to know you got them! any plans to try the HE5LE out without the protective cloth?

    • Reply May 16, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Jose,
      For sure I will try them out. HE5LE without the cloth compared to the HE5.

  • Reply May 16, 2010

    buz

    Could you try whether the Lehmann can drive the HE5-LE properly? I’m using getting a pair to combine it with my M-Stage 🙂

  • Reply May 17, 2010

    Mike

    Hi Buz, I don't own the Lehmann Black Cube amplifier so I can't really try that combination. But it's a powerful amp, and I don't think it should have problems driving the HE5-LE. As far as sinergy is concerned, I can't be too sure, as ultimately it'll go back to your music and personal preferences.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Jay

    Thank you! THANK you!! THANK YOU!!!

    Do you have to do these reviews the way you do?! I don’t even got 5 hours on my current equipment, and now I have to buy this and that, and that and this!!!

    Just kidding. As always, excellent review. Keep up the good work, and the great tease.

    • Reply May 19, 2010

      Mike

      Hey Jay, I'm glad I can make your wallet suffer. Keep on coming back here for even bigger damages. Hehehehe

      Just kidding.

  • Reply June 6, 2010

    charles de bourquene

    Hello,

    I buy a Hifiman he-5le, and I would know what amp advised for overcome the acute.

    I have one m3, I prefer the DIY but I can buy already made

    Thank you

    • Reply June 6, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Charles, I'm not sure what you mean by "overcome the acute".

      The EF5 amplifier has such a great sinergy with the HE5 and the HE5LE, and I'd highly recommend it. In fact, I'm thinking of writing a review on the EF5.

  • Reply June 6, 2010

    charles de bourquene

    The small EF5 is better than one m3 with opamp discrete?

    I have the impression that the small ef5 is not excellent.

    I have a large budget ($700) I think that I could have better, isn't it ?

    • Reply June 5, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Charles,
      I’ve never auditioned the M^3 amp before. I’m sure it’s very good. But amplifier sinergy is real, and the EF5 to me has a better sinergy to the HE5/HE5LE even compared to my fully balanced Beta22 amplifier (which is the bigger brother of your M^3). You really should give it a try.

      Cheers.

      • Reply June 6, 2010

        charles de bourquene

        I will like to listen the EF5. But in Paris, hifiman is unknown. I will look feedback of ef5

        Thank you very much.

        • Reply June 6, 2010

          Mike

          Yes, please do give it a listen. The EF5 is unknown almost everywhere. I've listened to a lot of more expensive amp, but the EF5 seems to be designed and voiced for the HE5.

  • Reply June 18, 2010

    不撒

    你们写的什么啊?

    • Reply June 17, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Senjo,
      Your comments show up as boxes on my browser. I don’t think I have the appropriate language pack installed. 🙁 Care to use english? 🙂

  • Reply December 3, 2010

    Barun

    Hey Mike,
    Do you think that the Little Dot Mk III Tube amp(Mullard 8161, EF92) will be able to drive these headphones?

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