The build is almost identical to the original HE5, except that this version has a more serious all-black finish. The weight feels the same on my head, and the pads again is still too stiff to sit comfortably while providing a good seal on my head. So, not much changes in ergonomics from the original HE5. But, the pad surface are softer than the HE5, and it does make the headphone’s comfort significantly better. Checking back to the original HE5 pads, I can confirm that the cloth material used to wrap the pads is indeed different, and that contributes to a softer touch on the skin. The headband is also slightly wider than the original HE5, as you can see from the photo, but on the head, the feel of the headband is identical.
If the original HE5 comes with a black cardboard box, the LE version comes with a nicer box with an artificial wood surface. When I first saw the box, I thought “Awesome, the LE comes with a wooden box!”, so I was a little disappointed to find out that the box is not real wood, but still it’s a much welcome change from the black box of the original HE5. The standard cable is also quite unique because they come terminated with a 4-pin XLR, then Head-direct supplied the appropriate 4-pin XLR to 1/4 TRS adapter for single ended amp user. It’s almost like they have anticipated that people will be plugging this to balanced amp.
Okay, moving to the sound, the HE5LE may sound darker than the original HE5 because it has lost the aggressive and bright treble. PBig and open soundstage, although it’s quite flat to what I’m used to in the HD800.
When I first received the HE5LE, the treble was a little harsh, but I think most of the harshness was already gone after 12 hours, and I certainly don’t notice too much change from 12 to 24 hours.
I really haven’t listened to the HE5LE enough, as I just received it a few days ago. So I can’t really write a full proper review. At the moment I’m still trying to get a good sinergy with the HE5LE. I’ve tried it with a few different amplifiers, from the small Audiotrak Imamp (which works suprisingly well to drive this big orthodynamic), to the TPA6120 balanced amp (in single ended and balanced), and the Beta22 in balanced. The built in amps on the Matrix Mini-I, the Nuforce uDAC, and the Dr. DAC DX2 simply was inadequate. It works, as long as you keep it in low volume, but on higher volumes they’ll start do distort. I did notice that despite the lower impedance (25 Ohms vs 30 Ohms) the LE version requires higher volume level to achieve the same loudness, but it’s really not that much different in amping requirements than the original.
There are some physical changes around the driver between the HE5LE and the original. With the LE version, the holes on the grill are bigger and is shaped like a honeycomb. You can see that there is a cloth right behind the grills, whereas the original doesn’t. According to Fang at Head-Direct, removing the black cloth from behind the grill is an easy way to get a brighter sound on the LE. I personally haven’t tried this.
I’ll try to post a more in-depth comparison between the HE5 and the LE as I get more familiar with the sound.