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Hifiman HE6se Review (Headphone)

Jimbob54

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Which ear pads are you guys using?

I actually find the HE6SE V1 headband generally comfortable enough, but my ears do get hot.
Do the v1 come with the Palli like the v2? Mix of faux leather round the sides and fabric on the face? They are better for me than the all velour I got from Hifiman. Not tried any 3rd party ones.
 

watchnerd

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Do the v1 come with the Palli like the v2? Mix of faux leather round the sides and fabric on the face? They are better for me than the all velour I got from Hifiman. Not tried any 3rd party ones.

That sounds like what mine came with, yes.
 

bagwell359

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I've lurked here from time to time...

I'm impressed by the usage of objective/subjective analysis to describe audio.

I have not noticed anyone trying to factor in ringing (esp in planars) from waterfall plots?

I've modified a number of HFM cans (fuzzor, pads, cables, dynamat, screens minimized/off), then EQ.

The two best cans were the HE-6se v1 and HE-500. Fuzzor does away with some/much reverb. HFM cables and pads in my experience are meh and not tuned to match the given can. Bass has good tone, impact, but the Q is sometimes not enough (dynamat).

It's an opinion long held by many that the HE-6 and HE-500 do best with the Ether Angled Lambskin - most linear, and I find the best soundstage too (have tried 13 types).

After all that they still need a raise in the bass and upper mids from EQ. The ringing is audible around 4300k and 9700k (variations due to manufacturing). Can't drop too much because music is there (start with -2 db), do not exceed 3.5 db. Some coincide with higher FR output (4300), others do not. It's clearly the last thing to be looking into, but I worked on both for 3 years before I got the final click.
 

watchnerd

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I've lurked here from time to time...

I'm impressed by the usage of objective/subjective analysis to describe audio.

I have not noticed anyone trying to factor in ringing (esp in planars) from waterfall plots?

I've modified a number of HFM cans (fuzzor, pads, cables, dynamat, screens minimized/off), then EQ.

The two best cans were the HE-6se v1 and HE-500. Fuzzor does away with some/much reverb. HFM cables and pads in my experience are meh and not tuned to match the given can. Bass has good tone, impact, but the Q is sometimes not enough (dynamat).

It's an opinion long held by many that the HE-6 and HE-500 do best with the Ether Angled Lambskin - most linear, and I find the best soundstage too (have tried 13 types).

After all that they still need a raise in the bass and upper mids from EQ. The ringing is audible around 4300k and 9700k (variations due to manufacturing). Can't drop too much because music is there (start with -2 db), do not exceed 3.5 db. Some coincide with higher FR output (4300), others do not. It's clearly the last thing to be looking into, but I worked on both for 3 years before I got the final click.

how would different ear pads stop the driver ringing?
 
Last edited:

bagwell359

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how would different ear pads stop the driver ringing?
I concentrated my findings a bit too densely for brevity Pads have to do with bass, soundstage, depth, perspective (Row C vs Q), those sorts of audible issues, and of course comfort.

felt or other absorbers on the stators, and perhaps nearby surfaces are the first line of defense with HFM planars. Then EQ aimed at ringing. I have confirmed to my ear, adjusting for ringing (-2 db say, in a narrow band - Q ~ 6.00 +) even when that area is slightly down FR wise sounds better than raising the FR and ignoring the ringing. Then there is ringing and the FR raised in the same area, then adjustments are easy, and I've found they don't have to be additive (+3 + +2) =~ adjustment -3.

Long before I ever heard the HE-6 and HE-500 people were performing these mods. Look at HFM now - stealth magnets...
 

bagwell359

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OK new guy, read whole thread.

v1 & v2 are superb at Adorama prices - esp now with the v2 open box at Adorama for $550. Of course the XS is in China for $440....

I have the 4XX, it's got bloated mid/upper bass (not much low bass), reticent mids, and a treble that takes turns being bright and vacant. It does not improve with substantial changes (pads, cable, fuzzor, screen off, balanced power from a Ragnarok 1. If someone cannot tell this apart from a Sundara, 400i, and the 6se - well time for a new hobby.

Its tempting to have one formula to apply to a universe of products. Like EQ here. But there are mods, there is EQ, and there is addressing ringing (yes with the tools of FR EQ) but using the data input from waterfall plots.

I have heard the HE-6, HE-6se v1|v2, HE-500, HE-5LE, and Susvara on my amp (own all but HE-6) - the Ragnarok 1 in Gain 2, 4-5 O'Clock - that's about 4 wpc. I've also heard all but the HE-6 (6 screw) on the Lyr 3 (balanced) and that worked nicely too.

I want to politely disagree with the poster (not his choice) that said his HE-500 is rarely used because of the HE-6se. It's true the 6se has better low bass and is more technical overall. But the 500 has a much bigger and more correct soundstage, and has a way of playing overtones correctly only challenged by the big guns: HEK se, 007, 009, Voce, LCD-4, Susvara, Raal - that of course in a non stock state:

fuzzor mod - performed by dozens if not hundreds. cuts down reflections & cancellations. cleaner less diffuse. EQ can't do this.

pads/screens - Ether Flow Angled by Dan Clark, best FR of any pad, very wide and deep soundstage matched with no screen its quite intoxicating. Made my own screens (10 to 1 open) but not needed as its safe w/o them. Again EQ cannot accomplish this.

stock silver plate cable -> Black Dragon v1 (stock is microphonic and makes treble too bright) O2 copper just as good. EQ no good here.

Dynamat: 500 Q is a bit too fat. Tack doesn't do enough per volume, sorbothane superb but sticks poorly. Dynamat cheap and a small sheet lasts years. Easily tuned, again something EQ cannot do.

Bear in mind I don't believe in power cords, speaker wires (except special cases). Balanced interconnect. However SE interconnects, head phone cables and room treatments - yes.
 

peniku8

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Interesting mods bagwell, I'd love to see some measurements comparing their impacts on FR, distortion and ringing.
When comparing mods and headphones you're EQ'ing them to the same target curve, right? Comparing without matched responses wouldn't really make sense as that would just dominate all changes and the subtle things beyond that would be obscured.
 

bagwell359

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Interesting mods bagwell, I'd love to see some measurements comparing their impacts on FR, distortion and ringing.
When comparing mods and headphones you're EQ'ing them to the same target curve, right? Comparing without matched responses wouldn't really make sense as that would just dominate all changes and the subtle things beyond that would be obscured.
I was anti EQ from 1979 to 2019. So the mods were first. Then I got a digital parametric and decided it was a good thing. I tried the settings, but it didn't give obviously correct results. I went about 15 months adjusting and trying again. I'm sensitive to any treble issue and when I read on another site, that using the waterfall plot to deal with ringing seemed to be a good idea. It was weeks, and I got the ringing down a bit, the tone got a good deal better. I have no interest in doing anymore with these cans.

My current set up is: LG v40, Schiit Gumby 1, Schiit Ragnarok 1. My other alt is: HD-600 with a BHCs. I run high end CD's on a Cambridge CXC transport (no EQ).
 

PeteDzi

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OK new guy, read whole thread.

v1 & v2 are superb at Adorama prices - esp now with the v2 open box at Adorama for $550. Of course the XS is in China for $440....

I have the 4XX, it's got bloated mid/upper bass (not much low bass), reticent mids, and a treble that takes turns being bright and vacant. It does not improve with substantial changes (pads, cable, fuzzor, screen off, balanced power from a Ragnarok 1. If someone cannot tell this apart from a Sundara, 400i, and the 6se - well time for a new hobby.

Its tempting to have one formula to apply to a universe of products. Like EQ here. But there are mods, there is EQ, and there is addressing ringing (yes with the tools of FR EQ) but using the data input from waterfall plots.

I have heard the HE-6, HE-6se v1|v2, HE-500, HE-5LE, and Susvara on my amp (own all but HE-6) - the Ragnarok 1 in Gain 2, 4-5 O'Clock - that's about 4 wpc. I've also heard all but the HE-6 (6 screw) on the Lyr 3 (balanced) and that worked nicely too.

I want to politely disagree with the poster (not his choice) that said his HE-500 is rarely used because of the HE-6se. It's true the 6se has better low bass and is more technical overall. But the 500 has a much bigger and more correct soundstage, and has a way of playing overtones correctly only challenged by the big guns: HEK se, 007, 009, Voce, LCD-4, Susvara, Raal - that of course in a non stock state:

fuzzor mod - performed by dozens if not hundreds. cuts down reflections & cancellations. cleaner less diffuse. EQ can't do this.

pads/screens - Ether Flow Angled by Dan Clark, best FR of any pad, very wide and deep soundstage matched with no screen its quite intoxicating. Made my own screens (10 to 1 open) but not needed as its safe w/o them. Again EQ cannot accomplish this.

stock silver plate cable -> Black Dragon v1 (stock is microphonic and makes treble too bright) O2 copper just as good. EQ no good here.

Dynamat: 500 Q is a bit too fat. Tack doesn't do enough per volume, sorbothane superb but sticks poorly. Dynamat cheap and a small sheet lasts years. Easily tuned, again something EQ cannot do.

Bear in mind I don't believe in power cords, speaker wires (except special cases). Balanced interconnect. However SE interconnects, head phone cables and room treatments - yes.
Hi
Interested in all your mods. I have Adorama HE6SE v2 version, and have replaced grilles with home made, 3D printed ones, with some light chiffon to prevent dust entering. Also replaced the cables.
I am interested in doing the Fuzzor mod next, but as usual I am stuck in analysis-paralisys stage. Wondering about what if this, that and the other.
What felt did you use for the fuzzor? does it matter? I have access to sticky back felt from a craft store, which is maybe 1mm thick, and is made out of polyester:
would that do?
 

PeteDzi

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OK new guy, read whole thread.

v1 & v2 are superb at Adorama prices - esp now with the v2 open box at Adorama for $550. Of course the XS is in China for $440....

I have the 4XX, it's got bloated mid/upper bass (not much low bass), reticent mids, and a treble that takes turns being bright and vacant. It does not improve with substantial changes (pads, cable, fuzzor, screen off, balanced power from a Ragnarok 1. If someone cannot tell this apart from a Sundara, 400i, and the 6se - well time for a new hobby.

Its tempting to have one formula to apply to a universe of products. Like EQ here. But there are mods, there is EQ, and there is addressing ringing (yes with the tools of FR EQ) but using the data input from waterfall plots.

I have heard the HE-6, HE-6se v1|v2, HE-500, HE-5LE, and Susvara on my amp (own all but HE-6) - the Ragnarok 1 in Gain 2, 4-5 O'Clock - that's about 4 wpc. I've also heard all but the HE-6 (6 screw) on the Lyr 3 (balanced) and that worked nicely too.

I want to politely disagree with the poster (not his choice) that said his HE-500 is rarely used because of the HE-6se. It's true the 6se has better low bass and is more technical overall. But the 500 has a much bigger and more correct soundstage, and has a way of playing overtones correctly only challenged by the big guns: HEK se, 007, 009, Voce, LCD-4, Susvara, Raal - that of course in a non stock state:

fuzzor mod - performed by dozens if not hundreds. cuts down reflections & cancellations. cleaner less diffuse. EQ can't do this.

pads/screens - Ether Flow Angled by Dan Clark, best FR of any pad, very wide and deep soundstage matched with no screen its quite intoxicating. Made my own screens (10 to 1 open) but not needed as its safe w/o them. Again EQ cannot accomplish this.

stock silver plate cable -> Black Dragon v1 (stock is microphonic and makes treble too bright) O2 copper just as good. EQ no good here.

Dynamat: 500 Q is a bit too fat. Tack doesn't do enough per volume, sorbothane superb but sticks poorly. Dynamat cheap and a small sheet lasts years. Easily tuned, again something EQ cannot do.

Bear in mind I don't believe in power cords, speaker wires (except special cases). Balanced interconnect. However SE interconnects, head phone cables and room treatments - yes.
Hello,
I have one more question,
You said you own both 6se v2 and the Susvara,
I read various conflicting accounts of the differences between these two cans
Some say that while the Susvara is better than 6se v2, the differences are very small, and question the 10x price difference
Others claim that Susvara "smokes" the 6se (I presume that means it is much better) especially when it comes to dynamics
But I also read an account that claimed 6se hits harder than Susvara

What are your observations on this matter?
Maybe other members have heard these two cans can also shed some light on this?
This is just to satisfy my curiosity, I can't imagine myself spending $6K on a set of cans. Unless maybe if i win the lottery.

Regards
 

ShiZo

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Hello,
I have one more question,
You said you own both 6se v2 and the Susvara,
I read various conflicting accounts of the differences between these two cans
Some say that while the Susvara is better than 6se v2, the differences are very small, and question the 10x price difference
Others claim that Susvara "smokes" the 6se (I presume that means it is much better) especially when it comes to dynamics
But I also read an account that claimed 6se hits harder than Susvara

What are your observations on this matter?
Maybe other members have heard these two cans can also shed some light on this?
This is just to satisfy my curiosity, I can't imagine myself spending $6K on a set of cans. Unless maybe if i win the lottery.

Regards
I was also going to ask for rankings :p
 

Jabinho

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Hifiman HE6se planar magnetic headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,800. I had previously reviewed the now discontinued Hifiman HE6 so great to see how the replacement performs.

The HE6se distinguishes itself with new headband, cups, etc.:

View attachment 131031

Very unusual ultralight "tube like" cable comes with the headphone:
View attachment 131032

It has a clear silicone like outer jacket and possible Litz wiring inside. It crackles unfortunately right by the connectors but otherwise works well.

I had to extend the headband to max to get it to fit on my measurement fixture and my head. So if you have larger head, be sure you can try it out and return if you don't get good fit. This also caused a bit of undue pressure on my ears/head. It is not bad but it is not as comfortable as I remember the HE6 being.

The H6se is the second heaviest headphone I have tested so far (since I started to keep track):
View attachment 131035

Cup dimensions are 57x57x22 mm (height x width x depth). Note that the cup depth is asymmetrical so that is approximate.

The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. I searched for any and all measurements I could find online. Alas while a number of them are close to mine, none are using the exact fixture down to coupler and pinna. As you will see, I have confirmed the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers specially in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests.

Hifiman HE6se Measurements
As usual we start with our frequency response:

View attachment 131036

The overall signature is very close to the He6 with its dead flat bass and mid-range response and shortfall after that. There is a bit less peaking around 4 kHz. From then on, there is similarity but measurement accuracy drops off especially with new pad and such.

Relative frequency response to target guides us in developing equalization curve:
View attachment 131037

The HE6 had very low distortion. The HE6se bests that yet again:

View attachment 131038

Other than a couple of peaks at 114 dBSPL, this headphone doesn't seem to know the meaning of distortion!

We have a bit exceeding our 40 dB threshold but we have a bit of peaking there so we can pull that down and lower its impact:
View attachment 131039

Group delay shows good response in bass and usually fuzziness in midrange in this class of headphone:

View attachment 131042

This is very different than HE6 as it would be due to different cup configuration.

What was a puzzler was headphone impedance:

View attachment 131043

Company spec is 50 ohm which matches that of HE6. They say the same driver is used so we should be getting the same impedance but I am seeing 64 ohm. This is an automated test so not sure how there can be this much error. Wonder if newer drivers are a bit different.

Sensitivity is a bit lower but that could be sample to sample variation:
View attachment 131046

Then again it could be due to higher impedance of the driver.

Hifiman HE6se Listening Tests and Equalization
I listened for a few seconds and then selected my HE6 preset in Roon. The positive transformation was unmistakable. Everything improved across the board. However, the sound had a bit of brightness that surprised me. I made one slight adjustment to 4 kHz region but did not make much of a difference. The biggest improvement came from optimizing the bass EQ:

View attachment 131048

With HE6, I just threw a shelving EQ at it and it made such a positive difference that I did not try to optimize it further. I did that now and boy did it balance the sound nicely and gave me that gorgeous sub-bass with incredible resolution and fidelity.

To give you an idea how good it now sounded, I could not weight to take a picture of the HE6se so that I could wear it again and listen to the rest of my playlist! :) This is one of my reference tracks that sounds so gorgeous on this headphone:


Conclusions
Many movie sequels are terrible. It is good to see that Hifiman has more or less resurrected the HE6 in the HE6se. Overall characteristics remains and with some EQ, it sounds incredibly good with its great bass capability and near absence of distortion. For me personally, it doesn't fit as well so it wouldn't be something I would purchase but you may think otherwise.

Overall I am going to happily recommend the Hifiman HE6Se with equalization. Even without EQ, it can be a fine choice. But why settle for that???

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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What do you think about this video ?
 

PeteDzi

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If you watch this on youtube, In the description below the video he rated the headphones differently than he did in the video. So we have a contradiction. In the video he definitely states that he preferred HE4xx, x4 and 400se over the HE6se, but in the description below (after revisiting the headphones?) his two favourites are HE6se and Sundaras.
I wonder why he changed his mind?

He didn't say what dac or amp he was using.

I am not a fan of sound demos on youtube. What am I supposed to conclude about the sound of headphones captured through a microphone (didn't say which), compressed, transmitted, uncompressed and played back through my BT headphones which i use for watching youtube? What even is the point?

I've had the Sundaras, which I quite liked, but then got HE6se, which for me personally, was a clear winner over the Sundaras.
 

peniku8

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I EQ all my headphones to the same preference curve, so this test is about as useful to me like a snowmobile to somebody living in the Sahara desert. You'll also be judging response curves over anything else in these kinds of tests, so I'm personally not very convinced that this is of any use at all.
 

Jimbob54

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I EQ all my headphones to the same preference curve, so this test is about as useful to me like a snowmobile to somebody living in the Sahara desert. You'll also be judging response curves over anything else in these kinds of tests, so I'm personally not very convinced that this is of any use at all.
Which test?
 

GaryH

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If you watch this on youtube, In the description below the video he rated the headphones differently than he did in the video. So we have a contradiction. In the video he definitely states that he preferred HE4xx, x4 and 400se over the HE6se, but in the description below (after revisiting the headphones?) his two favourites are HE6se and Sundaras.
I wonder why he changed his mind?
Because he looked at the headphones (and their prices).
 

peniku8

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cheapmessiah

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He's also said in other videos that the sound captured is sometimes not representative of the technical capabilities of a headphone.

Also if he doesnt tell you how the rig is calibrated so that you can eq your headphones to either kemar, harman or optimum hifi the test doesnt realy tell you much other than A has this or that region of the FR higher or lower than B.
 

Bleib

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Gotta wonder if it's possible to hear that this sounds better than 400SE? Quite the price difference... about as costly as my loudspeakers
 
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