Matthew Jens

Official Ambassador Bryan Manuel


Favorite Genre / Artist: Sixties(19651975)Psychedelic/Rock/Blues/
Progressive/Reggae/Folk/Jazz/ PostRock/Progressive/Ambient/Electronic/Dubstep/Art-Rock

Favorite Audio Gear: HE60 (BabyOrpheus)+KGSS, AKG K-1000, Stax SR-007 OmegaII Mk1, Joe Grado HF-1/HF-2(HP-1000), SAC KH-1000

Lives In: Alcona, Ontario, Canada

Bryan Manuel

An aging, frustrated, idealistic hippie...16 in the Summer of Love, 18 during Woodstock If you remember the Sixties, you weren't there.

Why Bryan is an Ambassador

Being a retired teacher who, outside of medical appointments dealing with COPD, I have lots of time to dedicate to my favorite hobby - audiophile quality music and collecting high-end headphones.

I am finding that my immersion in this satisfying hobby has been helping me with my disease and actually alleviating not just stress, but also symptoms to a degree. I have been a member of Head-Fi since 2008. I have amassed many headphones which I regularly share with others at headphone meets around the Toronto area. I have been developing and refining my audio listening skills, and spend considerable time reading and reviewing reports and reviews concerning headphones, amplifiers, sources and pretty well anything to do with the audiophile hobby, and feel that I am somewhat qualified to add my own reviews and observations to the mix.

I am a product of the 60's, was 16 during the Summer of Love in 1967, and 18 at the time of Woodstock, so my tastes are obvious. However, recently I have been expanding my tastes to include post rock, electronica, dubstep, psychedelic, progressive and alternative rock just to name a few.

We Love Bryan because...

Music and community have the power to heal. We are honored to have Bryan in our ambassador program and who doesn't love a self proclaimed hippie? We can't wait to hear the stories you have from the 60's...if you can remember any of them ;)

Latest Review:

HE-1000 - And Yet Another Flagship Headphone Takes Its Place in the Pantheon of Headphones

With the newest FOTM headphone now making the rounds, both through copious online reviews and ownership, I finally had the opportunity (although brief) to experience them at a local Toronto headphone meet. My time was limited, and meets are certainly not the best venue due to the expected ambient noise and unfamiliar sources. However, I was doubly fortunate as the HE-1000 was being powered by the absolutely gorgeous and phenomenally sounding also recently released McIntosh MXA 70 Integrated Audio System amplifier. A stunning combo &. If you happen to have close to 8K!

Dr.Fang Bain the founder of HiFiMAN claims that the diaphragm on the HE-1000 is the first nano-grade thickness diaphragm for planar magnetic headphones. Im left wondering whether the actual thickness is close to 1000nm or thinner. The electrostatic Stax SR-007 diaphragm was 1350nm, and Fangs now very rare HE-Audio JADE from 2008 boasted a 500nm diaphragm. I have yet to see the full specs for the HE-1000.

In terms of appearance, personally I think that the HE-1000 is gorgeous. The mix of silver, light wood veneer and black and tan give them a nice fresh update from the staid blacks and silver of most other headphones. Although large in appearance they are extremely comfortable and anyone can get a good seal regardless of ear size. The HE-1000 is well-built and easy to drive.

Based on my limited time (25+ minutes) and the dissonance of the room surroundings, my aural review is somewhat circumspect. My first impression of the HE-1000 was that it was richer, fuller and warmer than the HE-560 with an overall unsound signature.

The HE-1000 has some of the best bass I have ever heard. It's very hard hitting and even tighter and better controlled than the HE560's which I recently reviewed. Of course, none of the bass bleeds into the mids emphasizing the clarity and tightness of the low end. Compared to the HE-560, the bass is more musical and fun, without losing out on low frequency detail. Overall the bass is present when it needs to be, and with good quality and quantity.

Although the mids were ever so slightly coloured, they were very close to neutral. Excellent detail yet still warm and laid back. Vocals are very realistic as if the singer was right there in front of you, not too close yet not too distant. Compared to the HE-560, they sounded more opulent yet still maintaining a greater amount of detail.

Highs are well-extended with little to no sibilance. However, it is here I believe is where the Sennheiser HD800 excels compared to the HE-1000. Although the treble sounded realistic with incredible extension, my brief time with the HE-1000 had a mix of harshness contrasting with some brightness on some tracks, possibly attributed to my rather short listening session and lack of personal test tracks. Overall the HE-1000 treble is relatively clean and airy with a high level of detail retrieval.

Soundstage on the HE-1000 is simply amazing with laser-like precision in imaging. Not only can you precisely locate instruments and particular sounds but you can also hear a distinct sense of spaciousness. The HE-1000 has great focusing ability and very wide imaging projection, which truly provides a very detailed impression of the ambience of the studio/concert hall where the music was recorded. Lightning fast transient responses with razor-clean attack and decay approaches that of electrostatic headphones.

I do feel that the HE-1000 offers a direct and significantly noticeable upgrade to the HE-560 in most every sonic aspect. This is quite an impressive accomplishment to my ears as I already felt that the HE-560 was one of the most technically capable headphones currently on the market as noted in my recent HE-560 review. Truly a remarkable headphone, more than capable with most if not all genres and what can be described as a fun headphone that one can listen to for many an extended listening session.

Now, does anyone have a spare kidney?

— Bryan E Manuel

HiFiMan HE-560

HE-560 - The Headphone of Choice

How many times have you rifled through your collection of headphones looking for just the right sound signature for that new lossless track just recently downloaded from Pandora? The choices seem endless and you hope that you dont spoil your listening experience with too many unsatisfactory listening tests and too much time expended. Wouldnt it be nice to simply pick up one pair of headphones (I always wondered why a singular set is referred to as a pair but thats another topic). Well, the not so recently released HIFIMAN HE-560 nicely fits the bill.

First off, the 30% lighter weight (when compared to similar planar magnetic headphones) due to the utilization of single-sided magnets and the improved comfort from the velour pads, and the nominal clamping force, make these headphones one of the most comfortable, as corroborated by many hours of relentless listening sessions.

The improved efficiency of the drivers makes them far less power hungry as compared to HIFIMAN'sflagship the HE-6, although they do benefit from a moderately powerful amplifier to really make them shine. They have a smooth, open and extended sound signature with well extended, textured mids and detailed treble which results in airy yet natural vocals. Pace, rhythm and speed was good on all points with the HE-560. A spacious soundstage and very good instrument separation provides good impact and the bass goes deep and hits with a strong punch. Considering the very clear midrange, somewhat sparkly treble and fast, tight but deep bass, these headphones offer a very crisp and clean sound.

For a planar, the sound is very fast with a strong attack and somewhat protracted decay. HE-560 has a clean and smooth signature that makes the sound flow with ease, making these headphones very addictive. From excellent detail retrieval and crystal clear and well-textured vocals, to a spacious soundstage and good instrument separation, to an impactful, tight and authoritative bass impact, these headphones will meet the needs of the discriminating audiophile, and are able to confidently address the nuances of many musical genres. Their level of comfort, good build quality and ergonomic design are unparalleled. They are the headphones I find myself drawn to most regularly, and with great satisfaction. At $899.00 I cannot think of another competitor that can offer the same level of quality at that price level and the HE-560 also has some nice qualities that eclipse the competition. This headphone exceeds my expectations and is worthy of my recommendation. They are definitely the headphone of choice!

Equipment Used:

HIFIMAN HE-560 (with Focus Pads)

DAC Music Fidelity M1 DAC

AMP(S) Headroom Maxed Out Home Headphone Amplifier
- SAC KH-1000 (AKG K-1000)
- Schiit Audio LYR

Bryan E Manuel

I Want to become an Ambassador