This is the place to discuss everything regarding the HE5XX. This is a collaboration between Drop and HiFiMAN.
- Operating principle: Open back
- Drivers: Nano Diaphragm planar magnetic drivers
- Magnets: Double sided
- Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: 93.5 dB
- Impedance: 18 ohms
- Finish: Matte black with high-gloss black printing
- Headband: Spring steel with adjustable sliders
- Earpads: Hybrid Focus pads
- Laser-etched serialization
- Cable: 4.9 ft (1.5 m) stereo cable
- Termination: 3.5 mm
- Weight: 12.5 oz (355 g)
It’s come to the attention of the community that this headphone is remarkably similar in terms of specs, driver design, and look to the HiFiMAN Deva. At the moment I have to report that nearly all of my testing points in the direction of these two headphones being acoustically identical.
HE5XX vs Deva:
Here is the HE5XX with the Deva pads:
Perhaps the strongest evidence of this is in the driver’s behavior when adding an air gap. For those unaware, when you break the seal on a HiFiMAN headphone, the bass will elevate substantially. Here we can see that both the HE5XX and the Deva elevate and roll-off at precisely the same spot:
With regards to the driver, I can conclusively state that both the Deva and the HE5XX use a double-sided magnet array (I’ve taken them apart, pictures and video soon to come) and that in both cases this is more similar to the design ideas that were found in the HE500 and HE-6 than some of HiFiMAN’s newer single-sided magnet array headphones. Now, while they are visibly identical, at the moment we have to leave aside any of what we can’t see - like what’s going on with the diaphragm and tensioning.
Lastly, we can see some of the distortion behavior as well. I have to give a big thanks to Mad Economist for helping me make sense of this.
Deva L distortion:
Deva R distortion:
While there’s usually some moderate variation when it comes to distortion measurements (even with the same headphone), we can see that 2nd harmonic distortion has similar features in all the same spots.
Notably absent in these measurements is the HE5XX right channel, and there’s a reason for this. For this particular unit, there’s some channel imbalance going on. While it’s likely not significant enough to be all that noticeable while music is playing, it is noticeable in a sine sweep - and of course it looks confusing in measurements. I will post channel matching eventually, I just want to make sure it’s right and do some more testing first.
So at the moment, I’m running with the assumption that the L channel behavior in both frequency response and distortion metrics is the norm - and indeed this is nearly identical to Jude’s measurements that are listed on the Drop store page as well.
The bottom line is that unless customers are getting something different from the initial review units that were sent out (which is highly unlikely), we should expect this headphone to be acoustically identical to a wired Deva. Is that a bad thing? No, but anyone expecting this to sound like an HE500 will likely be disappointed. While the Deva/HE5XX is generally well-tuned, it simply doesn’t come remotely close to the technical performance of the HE500. So, at $220, in my mind this is appropriately priced. Would I take it over an HD6XX? Probably not, but it does do certain things better, like its overall tuning (maybe with a bit of EQ to get rid of that 5.3khz peak), and it has a much more even and filled-in soundstage.
Update. Here are photos of each side of the drivers:
As mentioned, they look nearly identical. I think there’s a bit more glue on the Deva magnets, maybe part of the manufacturing process, but this difference is unlikely to produce any meaningful difference in terms of technical performance. Remember - they measure the same.