Hifiman HE-560

In my experience and unless you find a HP that is perfectly matched to the amp driving it, EQ is nothing to sneer at. Headphones practically beg for EQ with their contortions of dips and peaks.


Back 'em up or kiss goodbye, the whole bunch of 'em. Like my grandfather, a stereo shop owner, used to say. When it comes to my vintage receivers I have two of each, ya never know. I was lucky enough to procure a sound stock of Pioneer and Harman Kardon units before the prices rocketed up. Only one missing its twin is my beloved legendary Pioneer SX-1010. Hard to get a hold of high-quality original or near-original components for it because demand for restored 1010’s is out of this world. Although not being a Silverface itself, it’s the grandpa of the SX-x50’s. A wonderful marvel to look at and the SQ, man the SQ is simply alien. Ah those were the days, units all built in Japan using japanese or US parts.

Restored Pioneers are a hot item, easy to flip and brings in healthy income supplement to this retired bloke. Harman are not as easy to come by and many would-be restorers avoid them due to the wildest cabling jobs I have ever encountered, in sharp contrast with the efficient no-nonsense Pioneer favoured. Also, they don’t look like much, I cannot help but imagine Harman Kardon’s CEO of the day like some couch potato dandy who enjoyed making things messy and yet sound pretty awesome. They were the Rotel of the 70’s one could say. Not that Rotel is messy, but they are undervalued.

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Back in the day, though, I was a Dynaco boy. My favorite setup, which I had for a long time was Dynaco PAS-3x preamp and a pair of Mark III amplifiers, driving the Rectilinear III speakers I still use. Had an AR turntable, and I think the tuner was a Fisher.

I work in the GPU business, which has a 12-18 month refresh, which has Architecture life of 24- 48 months.

Hiffman is simular in leverages an underlying architecture across the line of headphones. HE-560 v1 came out in 2015; remember the early one did not have wood veneer it was a solid teak rim with screw-on connectors. They wanted a more refined look at the time since they were competing with Audueze LCD-2. One thing I like about it at the time; it had a unique sound signature over Auduze LCD2. For the world of disposable gear, The 6-year-old HE-560 headset is in great shape and still sounds very good.

As you point out, it also needed more power back then and was harder to drive then LCD-2

I have come to see headphones like flavors of Ice Cream. They all have a different sound signature. Some like in the Hifiman line will be building off legacy of HE-560 and HE-400, each with there subtle differences due to material changes in the driver to make for improved flavor like Sundara.

What I was trying to say in my original comment RAD-0 would be a natural transition from HE-560 since its signature gives you the bass and treble of the of HE-560 but brings the mids back, but again this is my preference. I have the Hifiman Ananda, which is another excellent headphone, but I prefer the RAD-0 for detail, dynamics, and overall tonality.

Each of us is different in what we like. I hope you find that flavor or Flavors of Ice Cream (Headphone(s)) that soothes your palate.


Dynacos had a very “industrial” look that made them look muscular. I like them but never had the chance to restore any since they are hard to come by on the vintage market. The few that I came across online were high-balled. Hafler is related to them in some way I believe.

I think what made HiFiMan the largest planar purveyor is that they seem to be able to pop out a model to pit against similar offerings from any competitor at half the price for same overall quality products

Oh my yes, it can hold its own against many present-day models. From the looks of it it appears that HFM’s only “disposable” cans are/were the 400 series. 500’s have an above-average life expectancy but moving up from there many models are now built like tanks and made to last as long as there will be a demand for them. A perfect example is the Sundara, you handle them and they feel unusually sturdy with their all-metal bodies. HFM thought that project over and over. The idea was to be able to produce such a large number of cans that they could undersell anyone. The gamble paid off, reviewers and audiophiles were very impressed and it yielded the best-selling planar ever made or so I read about. I have two pairs myself, one for my collection and one of a trio of daily drivers. The other two are Focal Elear and Clear and even though the Clear sounds a little better it’s not by much and I can see someone preferring the Sundara for its more forward presence and BASS godammit the Clears are so timid down there it used to drive me nuts. Makes you wonder why a company that makes one of the best bass-bearing phone, the Elear, can’t add some muster below on another model that uses basically the same drivers. Vent over.

It still needs a lot of power :grin: but nowhere near what the higher-end HE6se requires. That model has a design flaw in its magnetic sandwich. In comparison the $500 Sundara which looks almost like a perfect clone of the $1,800 HE6se, has no design flaws, has only one magnet so requires little power and sounds neat once broken-in.

Indeed. The Sundara inherits many benefits from models both below it and above it (styling). It is only called mid-fi due to its price. Otherwise it’s an entry-level high-end.

To each their own as we say, I’m a Focal person myself but nonetheless the most valuable headphones in my collection are from Hifiman: Susvara. But either I don’t have the proper amp or it’s something else they don’t sound astonishingly good to me, but their styling is to die for.


I have one Focal Elex in my collection, which is a very nice headphone. I can understand the desire for them, on Classic Rock they are fantastic.

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Sigh…HiFiMan’s lack of durability strikes again. The left driver in my HE-560s died. They worked great for 18 months.

Sorry man. Still, that’s like 70 in Sennheiser years, so you got a good run out of them. IIUC often the Hifiman failures are just a poor solder at the jack, so if you’re handy with a soldering iron you could try popping it open and seeing if a quick resolder does the trick.


Yes, I do understand that. Even dog years are 5x longer. I’ll likely buy another brand next time.

I started to disassemble them to inspect the jack and popped off the ear cushions. Both drivers have a zillion deep and irregular cracks – this may be wear/flex from use:

For comparison, here’s the factory photo (assuming they were new):

I’m not sure if I’ll keep poking around with such a sketchy item, or just cut my losses. Those cracks do not inspire confidence.


Wow, it looks like the cracks are in the traces, like maybe they’re delaminating or something. Not impressive.


As a side note, when I bought the Hifiman HE4XX, drop offered a 3 year extended warranty. I normally avoid those like the plague, but in this case I snapped it right up! I hope for their sake that they sorted out the QC on these…

Yeah, they are either physically de-laminating from flex and/or the electrical current caused the metal to drift and accumulate. In either case this suggests that break-in is a real thing, and it probably explains some of the driver failures.

As of now I’m not going to spend any more effort on these.

You just wrote the new HiFiMan slogan: “Not Impressive”

Fingers crossed.

I’ll give the HiFiMan brand a rest for now, and try something else.


FWIW my HE560 drivers look like its between yours and the stock photo but mine are from 2014, when they first came out and the fine cloth screen covering it denser so its much harder to see the surface of the driver. The stock photo looks like it has a SMC jack so I’m thinking that their probably was a bit of revisions with the various generations of the HE560


Does anyone know where I can find measurements for the HE-560v4 and HE-6se v2 to compare them?
Has anyone heard them both?
What are the main differences?

From what I found I conclude that the 560 v4 is not at all in the same league as the 6se V2. So I’ll concentrate on the HE-6se V2.
Anyone have issues with the clamping force? I mean, it being too low.
I like the clamp on an HD6XX, DCA Aeon RT … I have to set all my headphones to the smallest size or nearly the smallest. Seems I have a narrow head. A Beyerdynamic DT770 with Dekoni pads does not have sufficient clamping to give me a comfortable feeling. It sits too loose and shifts around all the time.
So if the clamping force on the HE-6se V2 is quite low the thing could very well flop around on my head. Not what I want!

Hi guys!

I’ve recently purchased a Hifiman HE560, and I’m using it with two different amps - a SMSL SH-9 and a Topping A90. At least the A90 is well know for deliver an excellent power output.

But, with both the amps, I need to set the gain to high and even then up the volume almost to the amp limit (for instance, 80-85 on the SH-9) to get a really good volume (well, I like my music loud…).

So, anyone has a similar experience with this headphone? Is it normal to need such high volume on these amps to get a good loud volume? I’m kind of a noob, and I’m afraid I got a defective unit.

For the record… Specs:

  • Sensitivity : 90dB
  • Impedance : 45 Ohms

Thanks in advance!

These do require some power to sound good and loud. They are not that hard to drive, I was able to drive them adequately with the old iFi xDSD. at 45 ohms, they will require more of your amp than typical 28 to 30 ohm headphones.

I really don’t get concerned about how far the volume knob goes? On the xDSD it would often just hit the red marker, which is equivalent to about 80-85%. Only worry if you can’t get them loud enough and your amp is running just about flat out. You can’t tell much by volume position because there is no standard, and no way to know what percentage of the actual top power it’s putting out at Noon or 3 PM.

Short of measuring it with a multimeter, of course.

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Hi @pennstac!

First of all, thank you so much for your help.

Well, my real concern really is the possibility of any issue with the headphone, because it’s still within the warranty time and I can request a refund if needed.

Being honest, I didn’t notice any malfunction, and really loved the sound of it. But, as I said, it was really strange to me that it needed that amount of volume. On the other hand, I really can get some very good volume at 80-85 on the SMLS (the limite is 99).

Since I don’t have a multimeter, do you know some simple test that I can perform to certify if the headphone has no issues?

Thanks a lot.

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You might switch to the High Gain setting if your amps have them – Low, Mid, and High gain allow the knob to seem more or less sensitive. With some setups I’m always on low gain, with others I change.

Regarding the HE-560’s potential issues, if inclined you might pop off the ear cushions and inspect the drivers for irregularities, cracks, etc. They will require additional power if in the process of failure.