Comparing World-Class Headphones HiFiMAN HE-500
HiFiMAN HE-500 ($899)
Description - These are full size, open, planar magnetic headphones one step down from top of the HiFiMAN line.
Pink Noise - Slightly lacking in bass extension, with mild warmth due to slightly reduced treble. Treble, however, has mildly pronounced narrow peak in mid-treble ("sss").
Bass Texture/Extension - Extraordinary texture and very good extension. Very, very articulate, maybe slightly dry sounding bass ... what ever that means.
Bass Slam - With a very articulate and tight bass, these babies slammed hard. Very nice.
Midrange - These cans deliver really excellent mid-range performance. Extremely natural tonality. But during this test It became apparent that smooth natural highs that didn't draw attention away from the mids, coupled really excellent imaging, adds a sense of realism that provides the synergy with the mids that allow them to be believable. While these cans have a wonderfully neutral and inviting mid-range, they sounded more like a recording than the real thing.
Treble - Though not quite having the last bit of speed that the estats have, the HE-500 has an excellent treble, delivering a very natural rendition of the highs. The slight peak at 10kHz also gives them a bit of sparkle. Very nice.
Dynamics - These do an excellent job of delivering eye-blinking impact without any wincing. The as this testing moves along, I find myself liking these more and more.
Imaging - The well balanced sound here gives both decent depth and space, but lack of speed prevents them from achieving the level of performance of the estats and HD800. Still, a good show here from the least expensive headphone of the group.
With the exception of a narrow peak at 10kHz, the frequency response of these are right in line with what I would consider neutral. I believe the 10kHz peak indicates the sparkle in these otherwise quite neutral headphones.
300Hz square wave shows a smaller overshoot than the HE-6 and a second ring as well, but of a significantly lower amplitude. After these two artifacts, the wave top is clean as a whistle, indicating a nice black background.
100dB THD+noise plot looks rather noisy through the midrange on one channel possibly indicating some difficulties with power handling, but I did not hear any during listening tests. (Didn't do much loud listening however, as it was such a long session and I didn't want to fatigue my ears.)
Polarity is inverted, as shown by the impulse response, and some ringing is apparent here.