That HiFiMAN is dedicated to only producing the very best headphones around has become obvious to everyone following the debate surrounding the HE-560's release. The pre-order version we reviewed here (all teak finish) appeared to be their final retail product until an issue with cracking wood appeared. Due to a few minor issues with the pre-order version, like pads that were too soft, baffle trimming and wood cracking, HiFiMAN decided to put the release of the final version on hold until all issues, performance and structural, were ironed out, which takes us to the version we will test today.
HIFiMAN's release version of the HE-560 is now a plastic-cup design with ebony veneer instead of all teak, and the pads are harder. The baffle design has also been changed, which should make bass performance even better than on the pre-order version.
Weight: 375 g
Impedance: 50 Ohms
Driver type: Orthodynamic, single-sided
- Frequency response: 15 Hz - 50 kHz
The driver itself has not been altered significantly from the pre-order to the release version; however, some tuning elements, including baffles and pads, have been altered.
The headband is still incredibly comfy as it is one of the better constructions around.
The headphone's look changed from the pre-order to the release version, which is very unfortunate as the pre-order version looked glorious in its all-teak cups. The release version features plastic cups with ebony veneer, which also looks good, but aren't quite as brilliant as those all-wooden cups. The reason for the change was that some samples had issues with the wood cracking.
One of the things we commented on with the pre-order version were the pads. They were simply not firm enough to prevent one's ears from reaching the insides of the cups, making them slightly uncomfortable to wear. This has also been changed for the release version as the pads are now much firmer.
HiFiMAN already pushed the boundaries with the pre-order version of the HE-560 and the release version is even better. The most noticeable improvement is in the lower midrange and in bass. Both are even more cohesive and the precision has gone up noticeably, although not by a night-and-day difference.
The small tweak to the pad's stiffness makes a big difference to the soundstage and how taught the bass is. That coupled with the new baffle design is perhaps the main reason why the new HE-560's midrange and bass performance is noticeably improved.
The relatively small change in bass performance is definitely enough to justify HiFiMAN postponing the product's final release for about a month or so. The dedication to perfection has definitely paid off, and with the release version now available, it is hard to go back to the previous HiFiMAN planar magnetic headphones as the HE-560 ups the performance to a completely new level.
These, to me, surpass the performance of the Sennheiser HD-800 which I have held in high regard ever since it came out. The bass performance and level of detail in the midrange more than makes up for the somewhat smaller soundstage, but your mileage may, again, vary at this point.
The midrange was superb on the HE-560 pre-order version and is just absurd on the final version. That coupled with the minor tweaks in bass performance make this a world-class headphone. Right up there with the HD-800 if not surpassing it on most accounts, the new HE-560 sets the benchmark as far as detail and cohesiveness goes. The HE-6 I once thought hard to topple in terms of midrange precision has now been surpassed on all accounts.
Value and Conclusion
|9.8||HiFiMAN's dedication to producing what the headophile community wants knows almost no bounds. The release version of the HE-560 improves on all the negatives we commented on except for the price, $899, which we feel is a bit on the steep side. The amplification and source requirements remain unchanged, but the performance has gone up and noticeably so. The new design's only downside is that the aesthetics have been compromised a bit through the reintroduction of plastic cups. While the ebony veneer does make up for some of the loss, it just does not look as great as the pre-order version did. The release version is still a good-looking headphone, but it isn't quite the beauty the pre-order version was. The upgrades in sound performance, however, more than make up for the slight aesthetic set-back.|