Outside of Stax headphones, $1k price tags used to be the top of the heap for audiophile headphones. Alas, times have changed, but fortunately for audiophiles there is a much larger and diverse selection of high end cans to choose from, each of which bring along a new set of traits and proficiencies to the listening game. Today’s review isn’t one of a new top dollar flagship, but rather one from a product that hits the streets around $1.3k – somewhere in the middle of the pack for the current market. Unfortunately for a majority of the population extraneous income for hobbies is oft governed by budgets. And as such, when one evaluates the sliding scale of available options the thousand-dollar range might just hit the part of the bell curve you find yourself in.
The HiFiMan Edition X now on the market is actually a V2, having undergone a few new tweaks as part of the recent update. While driver technology remains mostly the same from the original, the V2 sports a new headband design made from metal along with a gimbal upgrade that now closely resembles what you might find on some of the uppermost premium products from the company. The wedge earpads are also a notable change, offering both a larger depth and slightly different asymmetrical angle against the head compared to the original.
The outside look and grill design can easily be identified as a trickledown aesthetics from the current flagship HE-1000, but unlike big power hungry headphones like the company’s HE-6 the Edition X can also be easily driven from personal device. We had no problem driving the headphone from the Astell and Kern AK240 player, or even an iPhone in a pinch (the latter did max out at a level most would consider quite loud). The translucent cable that comes with the piece is detachable and terminates in the familiar 2.5mm connection. And while it doesn’t attach with any sort of lockable mechanism, the pull and release capabilities of this design are still very much welcome as a safety measure against unforeseen snags against the wire. The ovoid shape of the earcup works well, providing plenty of room for bigger ears (this reviewer’s ears included) and properly distributes the caliper pressure along the head. Overall the comfort level for this headphone is very high, with full marks for both a light weight and a breathable, desirable wear. The suspension mechanism is traditional HiFiMAN, now fashioned out of an aluminum yoke instead of plastic found on the previous iteration. The entire system works well without too much fuss and feel supremely comfortable on the head.
The first thing that jumped out from critical listening sessions is the relative detail the headphone is able to achieve. This is the level of HD-ism that many a headphone strives for, but few achieve. Its very much part of that upper echelon of premium cans, but not necessarily with all the cost weight attached to it. To be honest, at $1.3k this is something that most purchasers would expect. However, with the recent aggregated climb in cost for headphone flagships, is something that appears to be pushing further away as a result of the expanding market. The Edition X V2 flows firmly against this trend, and stands as perhaps a quiet metaphor of what now is achievable for the price of a nice weekend getaway.
Listening to more traditional audiophile tracks it became apparent that the bass was slightly elevated and produced more of a bass drum thump than the MrSpeakers Ether Flow we had on hand. A very touchy goldilocks scenario does play out well in the end of this story however. While slightly elevated, the sound on the ear is still well balanced, with the bump be just slight enough for a little more fun without disturbing the overall vibe of transparency and consistency. Comparisons to the Audeze LCD-4 bass section were received a dash of similarity, but hit just a little higher in the bass region than the low-end emphasis of the Audeze house sound. In every scenario, the thump was very controlled as only a well-designed planar magnetic headphone can do. Rock, Pop and EDM lovers are well taken care of with the Edition X here.
The mids offer up a solid sense of space from a substantial out-of-head distance that contributes to very pleasant listening experience. More spatial than up-close and intimate, the virtual extension in all directions provides plenty of sonic room within the imaginary boarders of the soundstage. The tuned frequency response allows for an excellent projection of the human voice, especially from female sources. The lyrics from Don’t Know Why from Norah Jones had no issues taking a defiant stance ripe with nuanced texture through the Edition X. All the information appears well defined, in full four-color-no-bleed quality. Like most HiFiMAN personal audio products, the Edition X V2 offers up a unique and well-extended treble presentation. It lands more on the fun side, with a technical yet relaxed air about it. It’s not overly harsh in any manner, but still provides plenty of energy to the experience.
The mark two of the HiFiMAN’s Edition X is surprisingly fun for how technically correct it is. I can’t remember the last time I got so much enjoyment out of listening Rob Zombie’s techno-metal track Dragula. The entire spectrum blasts out from the drivers with such control and dynamics, it is quite a spectacle to behold if you are into that kind of thing. Is the headphone perfect? Most enthusiasts would argue that total perfection in headphone design is unobtainable, or at the very least heavily subjected to preference after a certain threshold is reached. Further comparisons to much pricier headphones revealed perhaps a bit less grain on some tracks, but for the high middle ground where it’s based, the X holds its own. The vantage point here towards sonics is unique in an energetic and responsive manner.
The price shelf of the Edition X V2 is really a “new” $1k benchmark. The headphone is very much HiFi at its core, with even more entertainment flushed out on both ends. Designer Fang Bian has constantly pushed for better and better sound from his products, and this new middle ground here is no exception. To my ears it’s the best sounding headphone he has created in that that range to date, which is quite a feat when you consider some of his trend setting entries from just a few years ago. Also worthy of noting is the significant drop in price over the V1 (the original debuted at $1,799), which shows a significant push for a solid value proposition in an arena where extravagance has taken a strong foothold for those with the disposable income. The new Edition X represents solid work from a company that has helped shape the high fidelity landscape of personal audio for many years.
More information: http://www.hifiman.com/
On Adorama: https://www.adorama.com/hmeditionxv2.html