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Some thoughts on these and specifically in comparison to the HD-6XX
Immediate impressions: transparency unlike anything else I've owned. The closest pair are my M50X but the speed of these drivers is in another league. Every pluck of as string sounds more like a string being plucked rather than a playback of a recording. I've heard complaints and concern about build quality but honestly the biggest con is that out of the box I don't imagine the sound signature is close enough to ideal for most people. After a few weeks of listening I compared these with my friend's HD-6XX using my Schiit stack, alongside some other cans and a eclectic variety of test tracks. Eventually the big conclusion was that thanks to a greater emphasis on the low mids and upper bass in particular, the Sennheiser's achieved a more full sounding listening experience for a greater variety of music. To an extent this can be addressed with EQ. EDM and other music with significant sub bass elements simply were superior with the HD6XX thanks to their greater extension however, regardless of EQ. Other takeaways:
- Impedance figures aren't the whole story- the HE4XX appreciates amping headroom but the HD-6XX is even less sensitive and will require more juice.
- Dynamic open airs might be remarked to enjoy a general sound stage advantage over their planar brethren but the HE4XX was no slouch in this match up. This headphone provided a clear advantage over any closed pair I've heard.
- When directly compared to the Sennheiser headphones the HE4XX feels like a more premium product thanks to its materials. The HD-6XXs were almost entirely lightweight plastic, something I didn't expect. The finish and texture of the plastics weren't anything special either. In person the blue is very subtle comes off more as a cool grey. The HE4XX are as much a delight to touch and see as they are to listen to.
- Comfort wise each is its own- the HD-6XX is much smaller in person than product photography and the oblong cup shape led me to assume. The HD-6XX is significantly more lightweight thanks to that size, the aforementioned materials, and on account of using conventional dynamic drivers. They do have a significant clamp force - maybe not as much as the M50X but it is to be noted. The HE4XX on the other hand are the heaviest cans I've experienced but have a much more reasonable out the box clamping pressure. Overall I wouldn't say either headphone had a clear advantage here and should clarify that the HE4XX wore their weight well and didn't place an undue amount of this on the headband. This was the comfort element that was the most challenging to adapt to with the M50X.
Not a head to head item but I'd also be wary of the 2.5mm jacks on the cups. When inserting the cable or pushing on the ends of the cord with mild force some changes in the output were observed. As such I'd feel more comfortable keeping the cord in more often than not to avoid unnecessary insertion cycles and just regard the replaceable cable as a safety net if something happens to the original.
Overall the HE4XX is a technologically impressive headphone that requires an EQ to deliver the best possible results. It's a great deal for a good looking pair of desktop cans that's certainly worth considering against the other top dogs in this price tier. Living up to its name the Hifiman HE4XX brings performance clearly descended from true hi-fi offerings delivered at an exceptional price.
Great review and comparison!
I do have the M50x and planar wise I have the mark3's.
I kinda figured it might sound like the M50x somewhat ...
I'm not sure which to get ... Also I have the hd598se.
Just wanted to get a more better audiophile upgrade for gaming and all types of music.
I'm leaning more towards the HE4xx as it sounds like it would be more fun and also cause it's 30 dollars less.
If you like the Sennheiser sound I'd say the HD 6XX's are great cans but even the 558's are also very impressive cans that provide a lot of the same experience. I'm not super familiar with the 598s but I imagine they close the bridge even more. If you want to try something different then the HE4XX will provide that certainly. However for gaming there may other options you should consider. For long sessions I can imagine comfort might be a more relevant concern since distractions can be really unfortunate and impact your enjoyment. That and while I think sound stage can help music experience, a headphone that excels at it will enjoy an even more major advantage with positional awareness for gaming.
Cool, thanks for replying! I ordered them!
I have both cans and I have to say your review is spot on. It's really tough because I love both sets but the Sennheisers tend to be more "fun". However they also tend to be music/genre specific and the HiFiMan excel for tv/movies/gaming IMHO. Schiit stack drives them both
Do you listen to electronic music with the 4xx? i wanted to buy the 6xx but from what i read the 6xx is not much suited for electronic music(Deep & Progressive house)