Hifiman HE-560


My HE-560 arrived today. As you can see from the QC label on the box, it was manufactured in early 2017.

It was packaged well and came with a decent looking presentation box. Just like I remember from my HE-400i, upon opening the box I was greeted by an overwhelming, eye-watering chemical smell.

I took some measurements with the stock pads, then swapped on some ZMF Ori pads, and remeasured. I’ll share graphs and impressions later, but the measurements showed that the HE-560 is very sensitive to positioning. I’ll let it burn in for 24 hours and then see how it sounds, but given the high variability in the measurements I don’t think I’ll be able to glean any great insights from the burn-in experiment.

In the meantime, the stock pads and storage box are airing out in my garage :slight_smile:


HiFiMan drivers are large and extremely thin – they tend to slightly vibrate (and the even larger Edition drivers even more so). This contributes to their tone and perhaps to your positioning issues.

I learned this from DIY Audio Heaven HiFiMan review(s), such as:

Also, from what I’ve read elsewhere be very careful with the plastic yokes on the 1st generation units–they are said to crack. My 2nd generation yokes are steel. At first I tried to bend the springy headband to relax the fit, but then realized the yokes weren’t spring tempered. They bend quite easily for adjustment.

I’m still running them with my mediocre Chinese “thicker” pads. They are quite comfy and have a bit deeper/richer tone than factory, but the QC was just fair.


The earpad openings are quite small, to the point where they curl up the dummy head’s ear, and the pads are angled. I suspect that these factors have a lot to do with the variability of measurements with position.


That might help explain the heavily-discounted copies that have been showing up of late.

The Jade II at CanJam @ RMAF 2018 were, as I recall, quite pongy too (a minor issue given how gritty the sounded). This is not something I’ve come across with any other brand of headphones to date, though it is not at all uncommon with anything low-cost and involving plastics that hails from China in my last year’s Amazon purchases.


Supply and demand baby!

Yup, in this case it’s the pleather.


Now that I’ve tried them with the HE-560 I think they do reduce the leanness a bit. A 6N6P in my Ember helps too. I think the Atom has power to drive the HE-560 with authority, and it’s certainly quite resolving, but the Ember seems to add some meat to the bones (at the cost of a little resolution).

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Congrats. Hopefully you’ll like it and hopefully your batch isn’t prone to the yoke issue that mine was. That said, my 3D printed yokes have been perfecto and look like the original.

Curious to hear your opinions on them in the future, since your previous impressions have been always incredibly insightful.


Well, that was an almost comically fast failure! Sound on the right side cut out. Swapping sides on the cable didn’t help and continuity test shows that the cable is carrying a signal on the shared ground and on both sides, so I guess it’s the driver that’s bad. Return to sender :frowning:

From the brief time that I had listening, my impressions would be as follows:


These are pretty light for a planar magnetic, and with the nice suspension headband they don’t cause any hotspots. The clamp however is pretty unreal - stronger than any of my other headphones, and exacerbated by the extra thickness of the ZMF Ori pads. Given the headband shape, it’s not clear to me how I would fix the clamp like I did on the HD58X.

Burn In

I did let the headphones burn in overnight and didn’t hear any noticeable changes this morning.

Sound (with ZMF Ori Pads)

Definitely on the bright side, though nothing like the DT 1990 I used to own, and it’s fairly smooth and well balanced. The rendition of metal percussion like cymbals and hi hats may be the most realistic of any headphone that I’ve heard. Most of the midrange is pretty neutral sounding, though the upper midrange is perhaps a tad hot. Bass is well extended but sadly a bit anemic, even after EQ. I tried some music with solid bass content like Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Charles Mingus’ Haitian Fight Song. Perhaps I’m not giving it enough juice, but the Ember II is capable of putting nearly 2 watts into the HE-560, so I’m not sure that it’s starved for power.

Timbre for most stuff, including piano, guitar and voice, sounded strikingly good. I remember the HE-400i having a slightly whispy kind of timbre, I hear no such issue here.

Clarity and detail seem fine, though not necessarily outstanding. Part of that may be that the slightly brighter sound signature keeps me from turning up the volume as much as I would with the LCD2C, so I’m not getting into the sweet-spot in terms of distortion and clarity. I recall having a similar challenge with the Focal Elex.

Soundstage and imaging seem okay, though I didn’t find it particularly immersive.

Bottom Line

Overall, the HE-560 sounds very competent, but unlike a lot of other headphones I’ve tried it doesn’t have any clear standout characteristics that really grab you on first listen. From my admittedly limited listening experience, true TOTL headphones all have at least one standout characteristic (often accompanied by at least one glaring flaw). The HE-560 does not fit this mold. If it would actually keep functioning for more than a day, it does seem like it could be a decent all-rounder.


The QC of the company is well beyond a joke. I seems a real shame because build quality issues aside the brand as a whole seems well liked and popular. If they put more effort into build quality their market share would I’m sure, grow.


That’s too bad. You could inspect for dust as that can need up planer drivers but I doubt that’s the problem. If the highs are a little hot, you may find the Sundara more to your liking.

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I think I actually kind of liked the highs for what they are. I’ve heard various reports of Sundara driver failures too, so I’m probably done with Hifiman, at least for a while.


Sad, but understandable. The first generation 560 is becoming a legendary product for its failures.


hate it when excitement for a new toy dies like that. Condolences

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Hyper defined is how the HE 560 sounds to my ears as well and @Torq input on power is excellent! Couldn’t explain any of it better, I actually bookmarked the comments for future reference
and I like Thicker Velour Pads my self, I went with a pair of Brainwavz Angle’d! Help’d keep the bass nice and flat but darken’d the top end and upper mid range

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I think I have to try some overear planar’s in the near future. I’ve only heard the Audeze iSine 20’s that I briefly owned. Great sound with the Cipher cable but so uncomfortable. Maybe HE4xx?


I never owned the HE4xx but did own the HE400i for a while, which AFAIK is almost identical sound-wise. Some of the stereotypical attributes that I associate with planars are:

  1. Smoothness/lower microdynamics
  2. Well extended sub-bass
  3. Large but not necessarily accurate soundstage

I remember the HE400i as smooth and having a very wide and somewhat unnatural soundstage. I do not remember it having good sub-bass extension. So in that sense, it’s probably an okay introduction to the “planar” sound, but by no means the best.


I think the 4XX is probably best bang for your buck in the planar world. Plus they are comfortable, and built pretty good especially the new 3.5mm connection ones.


Thanks for your input guys. Much appreciated.

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I came an inch away from buying the 4XX at $169, but found the HE-560 2nd Edition for $250. So, I have no experience with the 4XX. The 560s have really, really good sound.

I found the reviews at DIY Audio Heaven to be helpful:


DIYAudioHeaven speaks well of the Sundara as well, which is now generally available for around $350 in the U.S.