Hifiman HE-6

Former Hifiman’s flagship, successor of the HE-5 and HE-5LE. Major difference with those is the use of gold traces on the diaphragm and a stronger magnet. The HE-1000 v1 replaced it as next Hifiman flagship in 2015.

The HE-6 is very hard to drive, with a (measured) sensitivity of 77dB/mW. 2 variants of the HE-6 exist : early HE-6 with 4-screw (that attach the drivers mounting plate to the cups) and late HE-6 with 6-screw. 

Just above 500g, it’s a bit heavy but I’ve never had any comfort issue with the old Hifiman models. The headband probably fits my head shape well, and the stock velour pads, while quite rigid, become softer over time.

○ Release : 2010
○ Current status : Discontinued
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 516g
○ Impedance : 50 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~77dB/mW
○ Average used price : $750-1000

Sound Impression
Impression is based on both 4-screw and 6-screw versions. The HE6 is one of my favorite headphone. It does almost everything right .. almost.

Bass is fast, tight and perfectly extended and integrated in the midrange. It hits quite hard and the impact can be great. EQing the bass is a wonderful experience, the HE-6 takes EQ without any problem. The 6-screw version has a bit more authority in the bass.

The midrange is very enjoyable – maybe not the timbre and warmth of an HD600 but one of the best mids I have heard for a planar, with a small dip around 2 khz but it comes back well around 3-4 khz (unlike many other orthodynamic headphones). The HE-6 has my favorite midrange of any Hifiman, with the HE-500.

Treble is way too harsh for me. With stock Hifiman velour pads, the lower-treble (4-7khz) is super forward and not tolerable, especially on the 4-screw variant which also has a bit more air than the 6-screw.

With some other pads (Dekoni TH900 Sheepskin, Pleather Pads, Ori Pads, etc), the overall treble area is attenuated and FR peaks reduced or shifted. I like the Dekoni TH900 Sheepskin pads the best of the bunch, but I feel it takes away some air and sparkle up top. The stock Velour pads are the best at this and keeping the liveliness factor, that is why I simply prefer using these pads and add some EQ, generally a good -4 dB around 5Khz and another -2dB at 8kHz.

The soundstage is not particularly wide, but the imaging is definitely precise and the feeling of clarity and openness remains great. Headphones like the HD600 or HE500 sounds muffled next to the HE6. This Hifiman is also one of the most dynamic headphones I have ever heard, next to the LCD-4 and Utopia.

In the end, the HE6 is a great headphone with good amplification and small EQ (or pad swap/modding). I prefer it to the HD800 and most high-end headphones for almost every type of music. It’s simply a great all-rounder, although it could be intense sounding for many people.

 

Measurements & Resources

Tyll measurements of a (probably) 4-screw HE6 with stock velour pads. Note the very small lift from 250 to 30hz. Midrange is overall good until 4khz where the low-treble is very elevated and harsh, like all the treble up to 10khz.

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