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HiFiMAN HE-500

Planar magnetic headphones

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  • HiFiMAN HE-500

    Front

  • HiFiMAN HE-500

    Open-back earcups produce a wide soundstage

  • HiFiMAN HE-500

    Side view

  • HiFiMAN HE-500

    Solid construction

  • HiFiMAN HE-500

    With hard shell case

Item# 818HE500
 

Review Summary

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Our take on the HiFiMAN HE-500

by David Brown
HiFiMAN

Serious about great sound? Let HiFiMAN take you higher

HiFiMAN HE-500

Few audio companies have been embraced by audiophiles as quickly as HiFiMAN. Their innovative planar magnetic driver headphones have excited critical listeners with their luscious warmth, precise clarity and dynamic range. The HE-500 is no exception, delivering stunning detail and accuracy thanks to the ultra-wide frequency response produced by the large planar drivers housed in these artful headphones.

Go planar and you may never go back

Unlike the dynamic drivers used in most headphones and speakers, planar drivers use thin flexible diaphragms with voice coils etched onto their surface rather than a voice coil attached to a cone. This exceptionally lightweight structure uses a large driver surface area to reproduce your music with openness and detail that are difficult to achieve with conventional designs. The HE-500's drivers achieve a remarkable frequency response, giving listeners powerful bass impact balanced with super-smooth mids and crystalline highs that will satisfy the most demanding audiophiles.

Designed for home use, the HE-500 requires a headphone amplifier, be it a small desktop unit for a computer or a more powerful amp paired with stereo components. An amp will bring all the detail and dynamics out of these headphones and out of your music.

The HE-500 ships with a braided detachable cord which screws into both earcups, a pair of leather ear pads and an extra pair of velour ear pads for customizable comfort. You'll need it, because once you discover the benefits of planar drivers, you may not want to take these headphones off.

Looking for a great-sounding portable music player? Check out the HiFiMAN Express HM-601 Slim.

Highlights:

  • planar magnetic drivers for low distortion and warm, detailed sound
  • open-back design for spacious soundstage
  • 2 pairs of ear pads (leather and velour)
  • 10-foot silver detachable cable connects to both earcups
  • cable terminates with 1/4-inch plug
  • hard shell storage box
  • frequency response: 15-50,000 Hz
  • sensitivity: 89 dB
  • impedance: 38 ohms
  • weight: 21.4 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
 

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Features and Specs
General
Earcup Type
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Open
Bluetooth
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No
Frequency Response
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15-50k Hz
Sensitivity
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89 dB
Impedance
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38 Ohms
Weight
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21.4 ounces
Cord Length
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120"
Airline Adapter Included
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No
iPod Control
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No
Volume Control
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No
Built-in Microphone
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No
Parts Warranty
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1 Year
Labor Warranty
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1 Year
Product Research
What's in the box?

  • Gun-metal gray over-ear headphones with leather ear pads
  • 10' Silver cable with left and right proprietary screw-on terminals on one end and an angled 1/4" plug on the other end)
  • Spare ear pads (velour)
  • 2 Spare screw-on terminals
  • Cloth pouch
  • Hard hinged storage box

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: The HiFiMAN HE-500 over-ear headphones feature high-performance planar magnetic drivers that provide a warm, pleasant sound signature. The HE-500s come with a detachable 10' silver cable with an angled 1/4" plug. The headphones can be stored in the supplied black velour pouch or the hinged hard case.

Performance: These high-end headphones are not efficient enough to provide adequate volume when used with an average portable music player. For best performance, it is recommended that you use a headphone amplifier to drive them.

Ear Pads: The HE-500 headphones come with two sets of ear pads. The leather covered pads are installed on the headphones. A spare set of pads, covered in velour, are also included.

Cable: The supplied 10' cable is made of braided silver conductors. It has a screw terminal for each ear cup to ensure a secure connection. The cable terminates into an angled 1/4" plug. The headphones come with an extra set of screw terminals in case you want to make your own cable.

Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz to 50k Hz
  • Impedance: 38 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 89dB
 
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HiFiMAN HE-500 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

7 people say:

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5 out of 5

HiFiMan HE-500

Written By Bill A, Wilmington DE on Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
These phones were great right out of the box! They are the best I have used to date.Wide open sound stage, extended bass without being muddy or boomy.The highs are excellent without being harsh,NO dynamic compression in the extreme treble! I am driving them with a Yamaha C-80 preamp without any trouble at all.They are comfortable to wear and very good for extended listening cessions.I highly recommend the HE-500. If you enjoy HIGH END audio the are the phones for you!!
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3 out of 5

Well Made

Written By outthere, Idaho on Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Let me first say, I may not have burned in these headphones enough to give an accurate review--the manual says to let them play for 150 hours non-stop. That seemed extreme, especially since I was not sure I was going to keep them. (Crutchfield's incredible service let me compare 'phones, in addition to the Audeze I also evaluated). My reaction was similar to the Audeze, which use similar technology: the frequency response is flat as a table, but the soundstage is walled-in, like putting on ear-speakers. That is not to say these are not stellar (and a relative bargain) high-fidelity headphones. They simply could not rival the experience of either the Sennheiser HD-800s nor the Grado 1000s.
Pros:
Flat, faithful frequency response. Beautiful finish and plush leather--comfortable though a little warm in summer. Reasonable price for the technology and build quality.
Cons:
Limited sound stage does not sound like open headphones. Need power (I used HiFiMan's HD5 to drive them). Accuracy sometimes isn't enough to be thrilling.
2 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great sound!

Written By John W, Dallas, TX on Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I've been piddling around in the mid-fi headphone pool for several years, and so have gone through several pairs of $200-$300 headphones without every finding "the one". Finally, I decided to take a leap and buy one of the acknowledged top-tier headphones, the HE-500.

Long story short - I'm happy :) These phones have a very clear and engaging sound, with no notable weaknesses for my usage. I'll note I'm looking for a quality headphone amp to complete my personal listening station - though my current laptop DAC (the AudioQuest DragonFly) has sufficient power to drive these to acceptable levels, I feel a more powerful amp would give even greater impact and allow me to really rock out, should the occasion arise ;)
Pros:
Clean, clear sound Excellent frequency response, from sub-bass to treble
Cons:
Probably needs a separate headphone amp to achieve full potential
2 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Hifiman HE-500 Delivers

Written By Jbalbin, Mountain House, CA on Saturday, April 20, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I decided it was time for a headphone upgrade. My journey started from Grado 125i's to Beyerdynamic DT990's and now to this. After reading some reviews online I decided to take the plunge and order these headphones. Prior to this purchase I auditioned Sennheiser 650 and 800, Beyerdynamics T1, Audeze LCD2 & LCD3 and I didn't really like the sound of those except LCD3. The T1 sounded similar to my DT990 (still like-fun cans), the Senn 800 flagship too shallow and analytical (but good for classical), and LCD's (dark with a shallow soundstage). I never heard hifimans until my order and I believe I made the right choice. The HE-500 has the smoothness of the LCD's but with nice crystal highs. These headphones have no sibilance at all and I can listen to them all day. These are one of the most balanced headphones I have heard and can take on any genre of music I throw at it from classical, electronica, jazz, rock to you name it. Mids are silky and very natural. It does wonders for vocals, guitar and cello instruments. Be aware thought that it took me about 250-300hrs of burn in to sound this good. Prior to burn in the soundstage was shallow, the bass lacking, and the highs annoying. These headphones sound best amped. On my desktop I paired them with a TubeMagic D2 DAC and Emotiva a100 mini-x amp and the sound is amazing. For a portable setup the Fiio E11 w iPhone actually works but desktop setup is better sounding. The comfort is there but be aware of orthodynamic cans weight.
Pros:
Very balanced sound across frequency spectrum, easy to listen to all day with no ear fatigue, natural sounding, velour pads provided for more comfort
Cons:
Long burn in time, screw connectors for audio cable should be switched to locking mini xlr
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Simply superb

Written By VanD, Brooklyn, NY on Sunday, March 31, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
First off, let's put "Noise Reduction" in the N/A category here. Those of us who buy and appreciate open back headphones understand that noise cancellation is not a motivating factor. I bought the HE-500 cans after reading the multitude of glowing reviews on the Internet. They're right on target. These cans sound GREAT. The midrange is crisp, the soundstage is truly immersive. And if you ask me, you don't need a headphone amp if you own a decent receiver; they're not hard to drive, really.
Pros:
Amazing sound with immersive soundstage. Balanced -- you're not hit over the head with excessive treble, bass, etc. The MOST comfortable headphones I've ever used. Solidly built.
Cons:
None.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Outstanding Cans

Written By JC, Simi Valley, CA on Thursday, February 07, 2013
 
I've had these for a few months now and have truly enjoyed them. The highs are silky, midrange palpable, and the bass deep and taut. When the headphones arrived, they were well-packaged in a re-usable black box. I don't think the box was leather but nicely made. As far as the other reviewer downgrading the included cable, I've had no problems with getting all tangled. The silver headphone cables are high quality and they sound good. Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase, and the HIFIMAN EF-5 tube headphone amp is a killer combination. But if you're looking for headphones to isolate yourself from the rest of the world then these will not work for you, these headphones are open backed.....so you hear the outside noise but the outside noise isn't so loud that it detracts from enjoying the headphones, unless there's construction going on outside your house. Other than that, these headphones are great, much better than the Grado RS1 or Sennheiser HD 600 that I've had.
Pros:
1. Deep/taut bass, smooth midrange, and silky treble. 2. The box that the headphones comes in is pretty cool.
Cons:
No active noise cancellation.
1 out of 2 people found this helpful
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3 out of 5

Doesn't do it for me

Written By Steve D, Kennesaw Ga on Friday, November 30, 2012
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I was hoping I would really like these phones but that was not the case. I currently own Beyer T1s, Grado RS1i, AKG 701s, Senn HD650 among others, with really good front and back (both tube and SS) ends. I also have HIFIMAN HE5LEs (modified somewhat by a Moon Audio Silver Dragon Cable and earcup mods) and was hoping that sound would be improved with the HE500s.In my opinion, it was not. The HE500s have gotten rave reviews almost everywhere else but to my ears they sound bloated and muffled right out of the box. After 200+ hrs of break in (Ayre disc), the sound improved slightly and though the frequency response was fairly even all the way across, it still was somewhat muddied and muffled. The richness, vividness, whatever you want to call it , was simply not there for me, from the bottom on up thru the top.. Keep in mind the headphones I gravitate to and use as my references have a reputation among many to have (slightly) colored mids (Grados) and (slightly) tilted up highs (Beyers), so your results may vary. The HE500s just don't do it for me.

One other thing I want to mention is the suppied cable that comes with these. Even though it is silver conductor , it has no outer sheathing and is EXTREMELY flimsy and gets tangled up like you wouldn't believe. I was stunned that HIFIMAN would supply such a mickey mouse cable with such a hi end headphone. This literally looks like it was made in your basement. Sounds good, but needs to be way beefier, thus 2 stars for build quality.
Pros:
Comfortable, frequency response pretty even from top to bottom
Cons:
Lack of Vividness, flimsy cable
3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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