HiFiMAN And The Shangri-La Jr. – CES 2018

For most people HiFiMAN’s electrostatic statement piece dubbed the Shangri-La is pretty far out of reach at $50k. At CES, designer and founder Fang Bian unleashed another electro beast into the wild, this time a little easier to catch by the tail. How much easier? The new “Jr.” will set you back about a cool $8k, but does bring the game back down from a true statement piece and into the realm of full electrostatic setups (nice headphone + nice amplifier, really).

The Jr. is indeed a direct descendant of the flagship piece of which it shares its name. According to the HiFiMAN rep, most of the same technology and design is present in the smaller entry, but in a more distilled, lighter package. The $8k does get you a tube-driven matching amplifier (including the glass). The Jr is almost in full production and from what I heard at the show, things are heading in the right direction. HiFiMan may make a few small tweaks here and there, but the overall tonality at CES should be maintained all the way through to the final product when it gets released into the wild. The company is currently taking preorders on both the Shangri-La and the Shangri-La Jr. with an approximate ship date of April 2018.

I once asked designer Fang Bian which headphone that he created was his favorite. His response was pretty straightforward – whatever headphone he created most recently. This bodes well for the pitch the comes along with the new $500 Sundara planar magnetic headphone also on display in the room at CES. There are claims of faster response time than the company’s 400i and an evolution of thought that culminates to better headphone tech at cheaper price. Simply put from the room representative, “The Sundara is a $1,500 headphone from a few years” ago. I don’t readily disagree with claim. Tech has evolved, and things sound as good as they ever have. I have been reviewing HiFiMAN products long enough to see this progression unfold and Fang’s forward progress has always been evident in the products he continues to manufacture. The iPhone-ish clamp of the whole lineup is great for newcomers and those who don’t mind upgrades. Fans who have already made big investments – just remember that the resale price of a lot of audiophile gear does hold its value over time, it might be time to jump back in.

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