July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Headphones

Hifiman EF500 Amplifier/DAC Review

In the world of mid-fi desktop DACs/Amps, where quality meets affordability, Hifiman EF500 stands out as a compelling option. Priced at $459, it seeks to strike a balance between affordable alternatives and high-end extravagance. Along with his counterpart, the EF499, available for $299, the EF500 offers a high listening journey. Join me as I explore what makes the EF500 the best choice for discerning audiophiles looking for premium sound without compromising their budget.

What you get
EF500 DAC/Amp
Power cable
User's guide

Build
The Hifiman EF500 features a vertical design similar to that of its older brother, the EF600, which gives it sophistication and robustness. Its substantial weight, attributed in part to the sturdy stand, ensures stability on any desktop surface, while each component exudes durability without compromising elegance. The solid chassis construction, along with a bolt-on faceplate, not only adds an industrial touch but also reinforces the structural integrity. The front panel houses minimalist controls, including a prominent volume pot and a dedicated knob for toggling between high and low gain settings, along with four options for oversampling preferences, offering flexibility to users. With headphone outputs that support a quarter-inch jack and a 4-pin balanced XLR, and a variety of rear panel connectivity options such as balanced EF500 proves its worth. as a versatile device adaptable to a variety of audio setups.

Design
Integrated within the EF500 is the extraordinary Himalaya LE R2R DAC, which represents the epitome of its design innovation. Acting as the core of the EF500's signal processing, this chipset intricately manages power distribution through a series of resistors. Called the “ladder” method by Hifiman, this cutting-edge approach meticulously maintains the fidelity and precision of digital signals, culminating in an unparalleled listening journey.

Sound impressions
After spending several hours delving into its features, I've developed a strong affinity for the EF500. It's a versatile mid-fidelity DAC/Amp that really caught my attention for its nuanced response to different headphones. Exploring their settings, particularly alternating between high-gain and oversampling options, revealed a fascinating variety of results across various headphone models. For example, when I connected the Final Audio D7000I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth it added without sacrificing detail, although I did notice a slight narrowing of the soundstage. Despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed the overall listening experience. Furthermore, my experimentation with Lyrical Meze II showcased the EF500's ability to deliver exceptional detail and clarity. Its ability to widen the soundstage and enrich performances left a lasting impression on me, making the EF500 a standout choice in the world of DACs/Amps.



Summary
During my time with the HiFiMAN EF500, I found it to be a very pleasant experience. While not all headphone pairings were perfect, the EF500's Himalaya DAC consistently impressed me with its ability to preserve and even enhance the unique character of my headphones. I was especially pleased with the way it improved the sound of my Final Audio D7000 headphones, adding warmth without compromising details. Additionally, the EF500's build quality left a strong impression, and its sturdy construction instills confidence in its longevity. Additionally, the abundance of input and output options provided valuable flexibility and ensured compatibility with various audio setups. Considering its reasonable price, the EF500 emerges as a strong contender in the mid-fidelity DAC/Amp market, offering impressive performance and value.

Hifiman EF500 DAC/Amp is available in Audio46

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