The HE-60, or “Baby Orpheus”, was Sennheiser’s lower-end electrostatic model in the 90s. Little brother of the legendary and luxurious Orpheus / HE90. The HE-60 has been discontinued for over 15 years now.
The build is very close to an HD6x0 variant. Same frame, plastic materials, but different ear pads and padding (pleather). Ear pads are hybrid velour / pleather and they are known to worn out quickly. The HE-60 is very comfortable and light. It’s an electrostatic driver so it requires energizers ; the maching amp (HEV70) is not great so most HE-60 owners plug them into Stax amps (or other brands).
The HE-60 is also sadly known for its poor reliability, many pairs have given up and died over the years. Unlike most estats, the dust covers are permeable on the ear sides, which means that the stators are very vulnerable and exposed to dust, and dust is dangerous for electrostatic headphones. It is crucial to keep the HE-60 in a clean environment and protect them from particules with a dust cover bag, or simply put them in their box when not used.
○ Release : 1993
○ Current status : Discontinued
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 264g
○ Impedance : 10000 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~100dB / 1khz
○ Average used price : $1500-2500
The HE60 is honestly a great sounding headphone. Is it a super estat HD600 ? Quite close to that in my opinion. There is a huge jump in technicalities, but a shift in tonality.
The HE60 is overall a slightly lean / bright headphone, but it’s not a fatiguing sound. The bass, as often with estats, is the weakest part of the frequency response. It’s there, it does extend a bit, but probably rolls off around 50-60hz and there is no mid-bass elevation. The bass is articulated but the impact is light.
The midrange is absolutely the star of the show. Quite incredible and engaging, and 1-2 dB less shouty than my HD600 in the 3 khz area. It is marvelous and exceptionally transparent and coherent. The overall timbre of the HE-60 is excellent for an electrostatic, as I often find estats a bit lean and artificial sounding (most Lambdas for example).
The treble is a bit elevated, around 6 khz and 10 khz. The quality of the treble is excellent, and the 6 khz is far less annoying than the edgy 6 khz resonance of the HD800. The 9-10 khz peak does slightly bother me, with any “sss” sound reproduction. The upper-treble is not as accentuated as many Stax headphones which sometimes have too much air and not enough low-treble.
The resolution is great – more resolving than most modern headphones below $2000. It is a step-up in detail over an Arya, the headphone against which I’ve mostly compared the HE-60 to. The Baby Orpheus has a lot of resolution ; the decay is very fast but not as quick as a SR-007 or SR-009. The stage isn’t narrow like an HD6X0, but less wide than a good bunch of high-end headphones.
What is even more surprising is the dynamic range of the HE-60 ; it’s probably the punchiest electrostatic headphone I’ve heard to date. It has pretty capable dynamics to offer, and can compete well with some planars or dynamic drivers. Don’t expect Utopia or LCD-4 dynamics though.
The HE-60 is hard to find, and can’t be recommended due to the reliability and the fact that Sennheiser no longer services HE-60s (but still does for the HE-90) and does not have HE-60 parts anymores (especially spare drivers). It’s a wonderful sounding headphone with solid timbre and resolution, but it’s not a great all-rounder considering the poor bass impact and slightly bright tone.
Measurements & Resources
Thanks for the accurate and concise yet thorough review of my favorite headphone.
I have many high end phones including an HD 800, Stax 007, Jade II, Koss esp 950 and
many more. My go-to first choice of headphones is my Baby Orpheus (HE 60).
The HE 60’s are so rare because owners are quite reluctant to part-with – these
are definitely keepers!
Hope to hear these someday, they look amazing. I love my Stax Lambda Sigs currently paired with a T1 🙂