Buy

Many thanks to samma3a.com for providing me with a Hifiman HE-560 to review.

Hifiman is a relatively young producer of audio gear. The company was started by Dr. Fang Bian in 2005 and started selling under the HiFiMAN brand since 2007. The company was founded in New York, USA, but moved the head quarter to Tianjin in China in 2011 where their two factories are located as well.

They design and manufacture high performance headphones, portable players and amplifiers. The HE-560 is the successor of the HE-500. HiFiMAN’s flagship headphone is the HE-6 and they offer as well the legendary earphones RE-400 and RE-600.

The headphone under review here was awarded the Audio Excellence Award (2015)  and the CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award in 2015. Hence I am pretty excited to be able to listen to it.

 Manufacture’s Specifications

  • Type: Full size – over ear
  • Drivers Size:
  • Drivers Type: Planar-Magnetic
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz to 50KHz
  • Sensitivity: 90dB @1mW
  • Impedance:  50 Ω
  • Microphone sensitivity:
  • Maximum Input:
  • Weight with cable: 375g
  • Connector: 6.5mm single ended
  • MSRP:  $899

 Design:

Out of the box:

Wooden cups with pretty black accents and a black metal cover, innovative head band. Very clean and modern looking headphone. I think it has stellar looks. Makes my LCD-2 look very old-fashioned. Sturdy build, these headphones will stand the test of time.  However I am not so happy with the connectors, they are the same as on my HE-400 which is great if you have more than one Hifiman, so you can use the cables again. I prefer the plug-in cables of Audeze to these screw in ones, they also see to be a bit more fragile and fiddly. I do like their slight forward angle, helps getting the cable out of the way from your shoulders.  The cable runs on both sides into the ear cups, so upgrading to balanced cables is just a very simple cable swap.

Style

Earcups have the classic round shape, angled leather ear pads are very comfortable and create a great seal..it’s a muted, elegant and clean style/design. You don’t look too silly with them on, the square headband…well…. but at least it’s very slim.

Build quality

I wouldn’t call it exceptional – I think it’s pretty much what you would expect in this price range.   Maybe you could call me a slight bit disappointed.

Comfort

Awkward looking headband is very comfortable on your head since it wraps around the shape of your head instead of creating a “hot spot” at a specific location. A very comfortable headphone I was able to wear for hours. They are also the lightest planar magnetic headphones I have ever experienced and that alone makes them amazing headphones to wear.

Supplied accessories:

A nice sliding wooden box, headphone and one cable. Not what you would expect from a $899 headphone. Pretty sparse. Slightly disappointing but the sound quality makes you forget this. How often do you unpack your headphones? I rather have a second set of ear pads or an additional cable (shorter/longer) etc. than a box. My personal preference.

 Sound:

The overall impression you get when putting these on the first time is: Music and details are just everywhere… the sound quality is amazing on these. I will get into the details below but they deliver. The first few minutes with these I was really very impressed. Music is all around you with these headphones. You are IN your music. the music is not in your head – you are in your music – hope you understand what I am trying to say. Amazing clarity that reminds me of the HD800 – the detail monsters. The HE-560 has some of it traits. Details galore without being clinical.

Bass: Don’t expect a boosted bass (in quantity) these are balanced headphones. Not bass-shy but also no emphasis on the bass. The bass is there, tight and perfectly layered. You won’t get the slightly emphasized bass of the LCD-2 but it’s very pleasant to listen to, even with EDM and modern pop/rock music. The bass reaches really low in best planar tradition. They are easier to drive than other Hifiman headphones but if you want them to sound their best, then use a proper powerful amp and a good DAC, these headphones deserve them. You get used to the signature of these headphones. I still would prefer the bass of the LCD-2 for pure enjoyment but could happily live with this headphone for…well forever? Just $899 hmmmm……. So it’s neutral but can reach very low, well textured and planar magnetic fast!

 Mid-range: Compared to the LCD-2 you have a bit more mids, the exact right amount. Vocals sound lovely female or male. Instruments come out where and when you expect them to, brilliant. String instruments are full of power and energy – brass has timbre you haven’t’ heard before.

Treble: Details, details, details. Lots of detail in the treble, you hear everything but it’s not forcing it on you. It’s not a clinical headphone. It has all the detail but still giving you a musical experience that is not fatiguing. It has air around it and from wha tI can judge it’s very natural (for a lack of a better word).

 Sound Stage and instruments separations: Coming from the LCD-2 on a single ended cable I couldn’t help but saying a loud WOW. Music surrounds you. You are taking a bath in your music. While other headphones like the ATH-M50, HD-25 etc. are playing everything between your ears, this headphone just wraps around you, near and far and plays it all beautifully to give you goosebumps. The soundstage is not artificially large – it’s just right. Enough width and depth, you can pinpoint instruments in space.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • One of the lightest planar magnetic headphone in the world
  • extremely comfortable
  • replaceable cable and ear-pads
  • high quality cable (unlike some other Hifimans)
  • high build quality

Cons:

  • disappointing accessories (headphone with cable, box, that’s it)
  • with a tad more bass it would be the most amazing headphone ever

Conclusion:

Is it silly to call a $899 headphone a bargain? Probably. I would still call it that. This headphone is really something you will enjoy for a very long time. Pair it with a good amp play some high-resolution content and just forget the world around you… It’s a worthy successor of the HE-500 and slots in nicely behind the HE-6. But it’s so much more accessible. While the flagship HE-6 needs an insanely powerful amplifier (and your own nuclear power plant to supply the power) to sound its best, this headphone is surprisingly easy to drive. My Gloveaudio A1 or Cayin C5 could drive it properly. Using a Violectric V200 or Gustard H10, Schiit Lyr or Asgard, Fiio E12 and you are set. Going balanced does get you a tad more soundstage but it’s not needed. I had a Plussoundaudio Dionysian Series Custom Balanced cable lying around from my HE-400 and while there is an improvement – it’s not as dramatic as with other headphones. The stock cable is very nice (and VERY well made). It has high quality connectors, the massive plug is from Neutric.

If you want to experience the pleasures of planar magnetic technology go and don’t settle for second place headphones. Go in all the way on this one.

I am very sad that I have to return the review headphone to samma3a.com again but I am very thankful to have experienced this headphone.

I have not heard a better headphone in this price range (list price).

You have been warned – don’t listen to this headphone – trust me, you WILL spend $899 after you do.

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