For the past several years the Chinese personal audio electronics and headphone specialist HiFiMAN has been making waves with its broad family of high performance headphones, almost all of which use planar magnetic driver technologies. Until recently, the upper end of HiFiMAN’s headphone range consisted of the flagship HE-6 (which is superb, but exceedingly difficult to drive), the HE-500 (which won extremely high praise from Editor Alan Sircom in Hi-Fi+ issue 83), and the HE-400 (which was reviewed in Hi-Fi+ issue 91, and which is regarded as one of the most affordable and easiest to drive of all planar magnetic headphones presently available). With all these critically acclaimed products to its credit, you might think HiFiMAN would sit back and rest on its laurels, but that simply is not the HiFiMAN way. Instead, company President Dr. Fang Bian believes that continuous product improvement should be the order of the day.
Accordingly, HiFiMAN gathered extensive feedback on its headphones, carefully noted specific areas where customers had suggested possible enhancements, and then set about a thorough revamp of its headphone product line. The first evidence of this effort has come in the form of two new headphones: the £700 HE-560, which is the subject of this review, followed by the HE-400i (which we will cover in a later review). One key question that immediately springs to mind is this: if you already made a highly respected and commercially successful headphone such as the HE-500, what exactly would you change in a follow-on model?