by Dan Browdy
HiFiMAN has been on a bit of a roll this year with the release of their new flagship, the HE-1000 planar dynamic headphone. Announced at CES and released recently, it has grabbed everyone’s attention with its spectacular sound quality and its commensurate price. Many consider it one of the best headphones you can buy today and it even won the only award for a headphone at RMAF this year. Unfortunately, its $3000 price tag puts it out of reach of many.
Enter the new HiFiMAN Edition X. Many fans of the HE-1000 have been waiting for the inevitable “trickle down” products from the HE-1000 and the Edition X is the first such headphone. It is expected to be priced at $1799, which, while still priced very high, is significantly cheaper than its big brother. Visually, it looks like they took the shape of the HE-1000 and the finish and materials from the HE400i. It’s a striking look, but I suspect opinions on it will be split.
The Edition X sounds much like its big brother, as you might expect. In a show environment, it’s hard to get a good feel for open headphones. But from what I could hear above the din of the large hall that houses the Canjam area sounded very good. The Edition X gives much of the performance of the HE-1000 and I believe folks who opt in for this unit will not be disappointed. One thing to note is that it is designed to be very sensitive and run off portable sources. This is great for some, but not for others. If you have a big beefy amplifier, you may want to try it first to make sure it will work for you. I heard it on a [Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon] (~2.5W/ch) and it sounded excellent.
What many people were not expecting was yet another new headphone from HiFiMAN called the Edition S. This additional edition will be the lowest-priced model in Hifiman’s line at $199. Unlike its planar magnetic siblings, the S will be a dynamic driver headphone. It can be used in open-back mode and it comes with little magnetic plates to cover the back of the ear cups. I can’t think of another headphone right now that can be run with both options and I think this flexibility will appeal to many. It also folds up for easy transportation and has a removable cable using a single-entry 3.5mm TRS jack.
This unit is still in the process of being tuned so what CanJam attendees heard is not final. However, it’s got a fun bass-heavy signature that should be appealing to fans of electronica or hip-hop. With its removable cable, it may also be a good candidate for a fun gaming headphone. These headphones are still in early development and will hopefully launch by the end of the year, but a date has not yet been set. Hifiman is experimenting with this new naming convention so both of the new titles here may also be subject to change.