Where I’ve seen them, repeatedly, is on the headphone front with the sonically awesome but notoriously difficult to drive HE-6 headphones ($1,300). I know reviewers that have these headphones just to abuse headphone amplifiers as a kind of torture test! But when well-driven, as by the HiFiMAN EF-6 headphone amplifier ($1,600), with its 5 watts of output power, the HE-6 can provide one of the most musically engaging personal audio experiences currently available on the market (the set is available for $2,300). Deep bass, tonal richness and oodles of detail and air make for a very compelling package. And that’s just the start.
A pair of new entrants from HiFiMan were recently announced, the HE-400i ($499) and the HE-560i ($899). Both are planar-magnetic and are considerably easier to drive than the older HE-6. The new cans are single-ended only, unlike most of the designs in the HiFiMAN stable, and 35Ω and boast over 90dB in sensitivity. Not sure I’d pair either with an iPhone, but I suppose you could get away with it. The weight of both headphones is also relatively modest, making their use and long-term wearability rather high. In my short time with both headphones here at CanMania, they’re an easy recommendation and viable alternatives to some class-leaders in the segment. I hope to have more to say on these guys soon!
I also found here the new digital audio player, the HM-700. This device is remarkably sleek, with what looks like a hinge in the middle of the unit, like it’s some kind of flip-based phone. The bottom panel is where all the navigation buttons are laid out, and that top half is the display. The unit carries 32G of storage but doesn’t support AIFF and is limited to 48kHz sampling, which means a target audience that doesn’t really line up with audio’s high-end. It’s cool-looking, though. Prices vary with the included ear-bud headphones: $249 with the RE-400 and the price jumps to $499 with the RE-600.