HiFiMAN HE-500 INITIAL SUBJECTIVE IMPRESSIONS
As usual, I listened to them before measuring them. Unfortunately I do not have my high-end rig at this time, so I had do with an O2 amp and Sansui 5000X receiver. I have no doubt that these would have sounded better from the BA.
The HE-500 has a very nice somewhat dark presentation with a slight emphasis somewhere in the midrange. I would say around 4k (based on the vocals from Madonna's Lucky Star from her Immaculate Collection CD). Some percussion and cymbal work could be a bit snappier so it sounds like a depression from 6-8k. The HD650 and SR009 actually have a similar depression at this spot and it's actually not a bad place to have it in light of modern recordings. As with every down, there's a up - at 10k, but I never felt there was a peak that far exceeded the top overall slight darkish slope of the HE-500. I can definitely see some people have issues with this trough followed by a peak, but it doesn't bother me that much. Compared to my own LCD3, the HE-500 has lots of air, but like many large orthos, it still falls short of the HD800. (I need to re-measure my LCD3, it could be defective, not sure.)
In other words, the tonal balance is very nice. The dark slope is what it is, a slope, not a shelf that starts in the midrange (yuck), so we are still able to hear the harmonics in good relation to the fundamental notes of the instruments and voices. (I don't think LFF will scream - WTF! I can't master with these.) I did not hear any problems (meaning resonances or ringing) when I auditioned them. Then again, I'm so dead tired after my recent move that I probably wouldn't find Grados grating.
Compared to the LCD3 or even the HD800, the lowest bass octave seems to be missing. Upon additional listens, I did not feel that bass quality, articulation, or texture were any worse than the Audeze's. The only difference was with bass volume which the LCD3 has in spades - I am not a basshead so I am satisfied with the HE-500's bass quality, although a half octave more extension would have been nice.
How much do these cans cost?
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