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HiFiMAN Arya, R2R200, HE5se and Jade II – RMAF 2018

Yes, that is a total of four new products on the way from HiFiMAN. The planar-loving personal audio company now offers a long and wide cross section of gear that offers a little bit for anyone and everyone. Designer Fang Bian is never one to sit back and relax in this regard, and it really doesn’t come as much of a surprise that he’s got not only a new $2.5k electrostatic system, but also a new HE1000 V2 planar update AND a new micro-sized DAP with LHDC wireless codex. If that seems like a lot from one company, that’s because it is.

The R2R2000 Digital Player

The new player is one of the smallest Fang has ever introduced, but the tech packed inside is fairly mighty. Not just a mere DSD-compatible hi res player with dual R2R PCM1704U-K silicon, it also now jives with the new above-aptX tech LHDC protocol. From there it outputs 500mW power to two balanced headphone jacks (3.5mm & 4.4mm), an XLR adaptor is included. Fang really knows what the hobby is about and attempts to hit all the tech, jack sizes and connections that the consumers look for. On the RMAF show floor, I couldn’t help but notice how small the unit really is, especially in contrast to some of the other AK players on the market. It fits very easily into the hand, pants pocket or even front shirt pocket… if that’s how you roll.

The R2R2000 DAP is currently available for $2,500 from the HiFiMAN site and Adorama.

Jade II Electrostatic System

To complement their high-end Shangri-La ($50k) and Shangri-La Jr. ($8k) electrostatic offerings, HiFiMAN will now also be producing an even more attainable system called the Jade II. The full system with matching amplifier and headphone will run you $2.5k, but the headphone alone is $1.5k. The new can includes some of the latest nanotech driver work from Fang. The film used measures less than .001mm thick and the amplifier is solid-state (both Shangri-Las utilize tube-based designs). The Jade II wasn’t available for audition by the time I made it over to HiFiMAN booth on Sunday of RMAF, we will catch up with the system next go ’round and let you know our thoughts.

Expect a street date of November this year for the new Jade II system.

The Arya Planar Magnetic Headphone

The pitch for the new Arya leans hard on the idea that it is a close descendant of the HE-1000, now in its second iteration for $3k. The price tag will provide some relief to that pocket weight at $1.6k, as the press release touts claims of driver linage very close to the original. Also from the pre-show press release:

“With an ergonomic design to comfortably fit most listeners, the Arya incorporates such HIFIMAN features such as the patented “window shade” system that reduces reflections to widen the soundstage. A super-thin diaphragm guarantees faster response and the bare minimum of distortion.”

Sound from RMAF was very promising, even from the noisy showroom floor. Good dynamics partnered with a clear sense of detailed highs helped promote the new headphone in a positive light via the R2R2000. Focused imaging and a solid perception of distance within the recordings permeated each test track and tonal structure felt right, but more critical listening in a quiet area is needed for further study… stay tuned.

The HE5se 10th Anniversary Headphone

The original HE-5 for HiFiMAN was arguably one of the first cans that “started it all” within the enthusiast community. Amp pairing threads became the stuff of legends. Back in the day the prolific can was one of the early headphones that helped put planars on the map as an authoritative force for bass retrieval, against a backdrop of some pretty floppy noodles from the dynamic category that had come before. Now to celebrate the 10th anniversary, HiFiMAN is putting out a limited SE run of 500 units. Like the original, the ear cups are wooden but highly updated to avoid some of the structural pitfalls of the first run. From the presser:

“The HE5 is a sentimental favorite for HIFIMAN customers and staff, said Dr. Bian. For many, it was the first high-end headphone to demonstrate the neutral, transparent sonics and wide soundstage of a planar design. As much as we appreciate the original, I think it is important for an updated version to reflect how far our brand and its products have come in 10 years.

The new HE5se re-imagines and updates the beloved original while retaining the basic elements of what made it one of HIFIMAN’s most successful models. The super-thin diaphragm is remarkably precise, giving the HE5se’s planar driver a sense of space and sonic realism that is unmatched by similarly priced products. With significantly higher sensitivity than the original version, the HE5se is much easier to drive.

A new HIFIMAN-designed hybrid headband is lighter and more adjustable than the original, affording the listener hours of listening comfort and pleasure. In addition, HIFIMAN’s proprietary FocusPad features memory foam surrounded by pleather and soft velour layers that gently envelope the ear.”

Expect shipping to start in November for the HE5se, with retail pricing projected at $699.

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