REVIEW: HiFiMAN Edition X Over Ear Headphone
HiFiMAN, a veteran in the headphone and earphone industry, have recently accrued a lot of attention in audiophile circles through their innovative solutions and well-regarded product line-ups. An example of just this is their recently acquired CES 2016 Innovation Award for their HE-1000 headphone – the world’s first in nanometer-diaphragm thickness. Hot in pursuit, HiFiMAN have launched another high-performance planar headphone lauded the Edition X.
Much like its elder brother, the Edition X implements an ultra-thin diaphragm that is said to retain some of the same magic that has earned the former its many accolades amongst the Hi-Fi community. However, unlike the HE-1000, the Edition X was primarily developed with the intentions of high efficiency in mind and thus boasts the ability to be driven from any portable audio device such as a smartphone with ease.
Weighing in at just 399 grams, the Edition X is relatively light for its size and is only 49 grams heavier than HiFiMAN’s latest budget-busting HE-400S headphone. Like the HE-400S and HE-1000 before it, the Edition X employs a similar ergonomic headband system that has aided comfort and weight distribution in their new generation of head-gear. The Edition X retails at market for a relatively expensive $2,799 which places it in competition with several big-hitters in the headphone arena such as MrSpeakers’ Ether, Sennheiser’s HD800S and ENIGMAcoustic’s Dharma.
With that said however, the Edition X manages to retain a unique selling point in the crowded marketplace with its impressively low 25 Ohm sensitivity. Head designer and CEO of HiFiMAN, Fang Bian, has made this possible with his years of experience in nanotechnology and commitment to advanced research and development. Without further ado then, let the review commence.
The packaging of the HiFiMAN Edition X headphones, while not as luxurious as the HE-1000, is still premium looking as should be for a product for its price. It is evident to see that the packaging is a design borrowed from HiFiMAN’s HE-400i headphones which is a smart and well-implemented revisit to truly show off this product. The silver printed finish on the top section of the box opens to reveal the pair of headphones in the same foam cut-out seen in many of HiFiMAN’s other packages.
Included within are two stock cables terminated at 6.3 mm and 3.5 mm dimensions, a user manual and warranty cards. HiFiMAN have purposefully chosen not to include a balanced cable to deter users from powering these headphones with very powerful amplifiers that would otherwise distort the Edition X’s frequency spectrum.
The Design & Build
As mentioned, the design of the Edition X is very much reminiscent of its flagship brother, the HE-1000 with the latter sporting metal for its headband compared to the former’s plastic. Both, however, utilise the same premium alloys for the patented window-shade grill to maintain openness and subdue unwanted levels of distortion. The grill provides an exotic look to both the Edition X and the HE-1000 making it look not only visually appealing but also distinctive to the marketplace.
The metallic sheen to the plastic rim adds to the Edition X’s unique profile by rendering it stunning in all light levels. A possible critique, however, would be the use of plastic which might not sit well for audiophiles at this price point. It is worth noting though, that the use of plastic has helped to drive down the weight of this product for long-term use and while not the most expensive of materials, certainly looks and feels first-class.
The housings of the diaphragm are rotatable in both the horizontal and vertical planes to allow listeners different variations to achieve an optimal fit. Finally, the cable connects are angled away from the user to prevent cables rubbing along clothing to not only improve ergonomics but also reduce microphonics.
On the subject of fit, the Edition X provides volumes of ear space which is truly comfortable in long-listening sessions much like most of the HE-series. At 399 grams, the weight is evenly distributed and works well to achieve a consoling experience unlike the rather heavier Audeze brand of headphones.
The plush velour pads assist in the ergonomics department but the depth of the ear-cups is an area which could have been improved upon to provide even more room for the user. Overall, however, the Edition X delivers a light and pleasurable experience.
A dual balanced-armature earphone called Rock-it Sounds R50 ignited my interest for all things audio. Since then, I have been enthralled with psycho-acoustic impressions ranging from gear such as IEMs to DAPs and eventually full-sized headphones.