The HiFiMAN HE 1000 – CES 2015

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This year at CES very few products had the personal audio crowd buzzing like the new flagship from HiFiMAN. While pricing is still TBD, the new HE-1000 planar magnetic headphone from the headphone company should land somewhere above the $2k range. How far above that point has yet to be revealed but expect big things from this new piece, both in terms of performance and pricing.

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The short handout on the new device produced for CES press gives us only a few tempting tidits into its backstory.  A “nanometer diaphragm made with nanometer grade material” powered by a “non-symmetrical magnetic circuit” which are pushed with a 90 dB sensitivity and 35 ohm impedance.

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The overall fit was fairly generous and surprisingly light considering the size of the oval-shaped ear cups. During my short listening session I felt the wear of the piece was very comfortable, especially for a planar. Its very hard to get a good read on the sonic performance of a headphone in a loud exhibition hall, but from what I was exposed to the new flagship felt like a firm move in the right direction.

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Everyone loves a new flagship and it has been a while since HiFiMAN has made another reach of the top of the cake. The unit on hand at CES was just a prototype so initial impressions and build may vary from the final product, but the new design is definitely a stretch in a new direction for the company in terms of full size headphones. The extra bling of the grill and Sennheiser HD-ish shape drew a stark contrast from the pronominally round and subdued visual queues of the rest of the lineup. Expect to see availability around the end of Q1.

The HE 1000 wasn’t the only new item on display.  HiFiMAN also had a new vacuum tube shunt regulated push-pull class A amplifier that delivered a whopping 8 watts into either balanced or SE headphone outputs. Dubbed the EF1000, the new amp offers a separate power supply and even the option to power loudspeakers with spec’d 50W Class A, 150W Class A/B amplification.

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Founder [Fang Bian] even treated attendees to the newest update to his expansive DAP line with the introduction of the HM901s. The redesigned body is made of solid aluminum and a new step potentiometer promises even more precise control and accurate channel balance. The updated player utilizes the new ESS9018 – 2 chip and includes DSD playback.