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zibra 5th October 2012 07:17 PM

Best headamp for Hifiman planars?
Im owner of Hifiman HE5LE. Already have quite decent amp but I heard its not perfect match for it. All I could say about it its much better than Lovely Cube which is Lehman clone.
I read in many topics that these planars like a lot of current - many ppl use speaker amps for it and some even use 300W monoblocks ehh.
I dont know whats exactly truth, probably somewhere in the middle but I would like to make some tests. Unfortunately dont have any amps at home.
Maybe you could link me some chinese kits of headamps or amps generally which could "sound" good or have potential? Im afraid of chinese kits but theyre quite cheap (prob. for SQ reason ehh?) to give it a try.
Maybe some chipamps in AB class?
Maybe some DIYers have these quite demanding HP and could give me a hint where to search for experiments?

mullardel34 5th October 2012 07:47 PM

It's the low-impedance nature of the HE5LE (38 ohms) which is at the core of what makes it difficult to drive these headphones over their full range of dynamics. The relatively low sensitivity of the HE5SL (87.5 dB at 1 mW power input) also contributes to the problems of properly driving these planar-magnetic headphones. :D

Realistic SPL's (sound-pressure levels) values for fortissimo passages with a full orchestra (plus chorus) typically register around 110dB (peak) at front-section seats in the performance hall. Of course, rock concerts, with their massive sound-reinforcement systems, can exceed 120dB (peak) for front-row seating locations. So, realistic reproduction of the full dynamic range of music performances would require a headphone-amplifier power-output level at least 32.5 dB above the specified 87.5 dB at 1 mW power input for the HE5LE headphones. Bottom-line; you'd want to target headphone-amplifiers that can provide at least 1.6W (1600mW) RMS of output power into the 38-ohm load in order to avoid dynamic compression; that's sufficient current-drive to directly power a number of higher-senstivity loudspeakers... ;)

That's probably why HiFiMan's own EF-6 headphone-amplifier ( is specified as delivering a power-output level of Class-A 5W at 50 Ohms. :cool:

zibra 5th October 2012 08:21 PM

My headamp can provide 1800mW for 32 Ohm - it should be something around "needed" power for HE5LE. On the other side I noticed that many ppl (including Hifiman) state that more power is better. I dont want to spend 1500 USD for EF6 to test it:P
Im looking for some kit or anything that will be quite powerful and gives very good SQ - I assume it could be amplifier not dedicated for headphones only.
People also mention that plugging it into such powerful headamps like EF6 or Schiit Lyr is still worse in SQ than plugging it straight into speaker taps... I wonder whats the logic and wheres the truth.

mullardel34 5th October 2012 09:52 PM

2 Attachment(s)

I share your amplification concerns; I have the HiFiMan HE-6 planar dynamic headphones (as well as some DIY orthodynamic headphones which present an even uglier amplifier load; ~4-ohms, 93 dB 2.83V/1m).

My current DIY high-performance headphone amp is a design predicated upon using an eBay-sourced PCB which implement's John Curl's JC-80 design (All FET class A preamplifier JC-80 PCB ! | eBay). The board even includes on-board capacitance-multipliers as a final stage of power-supply processing. Be aware that this circuit (like many contemporary high-end audio designs) employs out-of-production, low-noise, "unobtainium"-based Toshiba JFET's (as well as the low-noise Toshiba MOSFET's in the capacitance multipliers); sourcing the BOM (bill of materials) parts-list can be challenging... :D

The power-supply is critical to the degree of sonic neutrality which can be realized in the final results. I'm achieving excellent results using the all-FET, low-noise, super-shunt regulator based on a design by Erno Borbely; the PCB can be sourced from eBay (All FET low-noise super shunt regulator PCB Borbely ! | eBay); again, be aware that this circuit also employs out-of-production, low-noise, "unobtainium"-based Toshiba JFET's. You'll need to increase the regulated output voltage from +/- 15VDC to +/- 30VDC in order to power the JC-80 PCB, so you'll need to have sufficient design chops to properly alter the feedback network for the increased output voltage... ;)

However, a carefully-configured implementation (with sufficient heatsinking of the output Fairchild MOSFET's to allow pure Class-A operation up to 5 watt output) can be quite musically-satisfying. :cool:

BTW, I did listen to the HE-6 headphones with the prototype of the HiFiMan EF-6 at RMAF 2011 last fall and the sound quality was excellent... :)

zibra 5th October 2012 10:21 PM

I would like to try something more "available" :D

mullardel34 5th October 2012 10:44 PM

Where's your sense of DIY adventure? :D

Realizing the full sonic potential of the HiFiMan HE-5LE's requires a headphone-amplifier with a high degree of power and finesse; that's not going to possible with some low-cost, IC-based design. Other than the JC-80-based headphone-amplifier that I described, the next-best result that I've heard is the HiFiMan EF-6 (despite what some whiners have espoused as their opinion...).

The only other option that I've personally auditioned was a buddy's Transcendent Sound T16 OTL (output-transformerless) tube-amplifier (; definitely "in the hunt" from a sonics standpoint, but it costs more than the HiFiMan EF-6, even in kit form (15W/Channel stereo kit with all tubes): $1699.00! ;-)

Good luck in your hunt! :cool:

zibra 5th October 2012 10:55 PM

Well first of all I will try to "hear" that EF6 amp but its unavailable in my country now. Maybe some other stuff like sources too to see what my amp can do :D

jcx 5th October 2012 11:03 PM


Realizing the full sonic potential of the HiFiMan HE-5LE's requires a headphone-amplifier with a high degree of power and finesse; that's not going to possible with some low-cost, IC-based design
yeah, you might have to spend upwards of $5 for an op amp to do a decent job:

zibra 5th October 2012 11:15 PM

I have really decent amp but I wont speak for constructor. Sometimes Im just only curious about these fairytales regarding powering these HP by 300W monoblocks etc etc. Its funny on one side but if you dont try youll never know:)

BuildMeSomething 6th October 2012 09:54 AM

Lets do some quick maths for the HE-5LE's to hit various spl;

120dB - 1778mW or 8.22VRMS
115dB - 562mW or 4.62VRMS
110dB - 177mW or 2.6VRMS
105dB - 56mW or 1.45VRMS

You need to decide how loud you want to go. My two headphone amps are set to give 110dB, but I only go upto 60% volume so could get away with a lower 105dB set-up for comfortable/loud listening.

Something like the Objective2 could be used if you were happy with a 110dB level, it can provide about 400mW per channel. I think most commercial desktop headphone amps would allow for 115dB, but hitting 120dB does narrow the market down...


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