Disclaimer. The Hifiman Edition-X was sent to us from China free of charge by our partner Hifiman, the unit doesn’t need to be returned as it will serve as a reference in future reviews.
Whenever Hifiman announces a new headphone I get a bit anxious as Hifiman is in the top of my favorite headphone brands together with Sennheiser, Audeze, Beyerdynamic, Philips Fidelio, and a whole lot more. My first few paragraphs from the Hifiman HE-1000 review sum it up best:
“I have been a fan of the Hifiman planar magnetic sound ever since I got the – now discontinued – Hifiman HE-500. The 500 was my favorite headphone for a very long time but headphone technology has quickly evolved and my personal preferences changed somewhat. I still own the HE-500 and think back of it with a lot of good memories but it nowadays hardly gets any playtime anymore.
Hifiman hasn’t been sitting still and over the last few years they have completely changed and completed their product line-up. Gone is the design of the HE-500 and HE-400 and the new headphones – except for the HE-6, their former TOTL headphone – now all have the same head band design. The HE-400i, HE-400S and HE-560 all are a lot more comfortable and the quality of sound went up. Hifiman’s reference headphone, the HE-1000, follows the new design strategy but at the same time Hifiman incorporated a new ear cup design“.
The new design can be found in the Edition-X as well, the difference being the choice of materials and the depth of the “pads” as the driver got even thinner (but more on that in a bit). Hifiman’s latest Edition-S doesn’t follow this new design trend and the portable Edition-S even is foldable and it features a completely new headband system. Both “Edition” headphones, beside their name, barely have anything in common with each other, except for the fact that they can easily be driven by a portable source.
Hifiman describes their latest Edition-X with three statements:
“Ultra-High Performance – Ultra-High Sensitivity – Ultra-High Experience”
Fang really seems to like the word “Ultra” as their description of the new driver diaphragm is the following:
“Ultra-Thin Diaphragm for lightning fast response, uncanny detail and ultra-low distortion”
All joking aside, the Edition-x (with its high sensitivity) allows use with virtually any smartphone or portable audio device on the market. You really don’t need a (portable) amplifier but hooking one up will make the Edition-X perform at an even higher level. The new drivers should have low distortion and amazing sound quality while the window shade grill design greatly reduces sonic reflections for clearer sound.
The Edition-X comes delivered in a classy grey and black box but there is no travel bag to easily store this rather large headphone in. This new Hifiman uses the 2.5mm connectors and accessory-wise you get two cables with a 3.5mm (1.5meter) and 6.3mm (3 meters) termination. Unlike the HE-1000, it doesn’t come with a balanced 4 pin XLR termination as this headphone is supposed to be used with portable sources. There are lots of aftermarket cable options though and I’ve mostly been using PlusSound cables myself.
Frequency Response: 8Hz – 50kHz
Weight: 14.07 Oz (399 grams)
Comfort and design / Build Quality
The Edition-X to me, just like the HE-1000, looks stunning. Where the HE-1000 had a metal and wood look, the Edition-X shows a dark deep blue and black finish. Hifiman uses the same headband system as the HE-1000 which they introduced with the HE-400i, only the materials used in comparison to its big brother now aren’t of the same standard. The Edition-X still features incredibly soft leather/velour pads but all the rest is more plastic-like, lighter and it feels “cheaper”. The build quality however is perfect, something that hasn’t always been the case with Hifiman’s first units. There are no complaints about the Edition-X though and as my Edition-S is also flawless, it seems like Hifiman has learned its lesson.
The sexy grills of the HE-1000 ear cups are still there but where they feel and sound more metal-like on the HE-1000, they are more plastic-like on the Edition-X. Size wise they’re still very similar leaving the Edition-X looking like a pretty big headphone. These asymmetrical ear cups follow the natural shade of the human ear. And the hybrid ear pads’ beveled design conforms to the shape of the human skull while velour and pleather materials provide optimum comfort. The ear pad depth, or the distance from your ear to the driver, compared to the HE-1000 is less as the driver is thinner in the new design. This might be a little more annoying for the big eared listeners among us. The cups of course can still swivel 360° and by using lighter materials, the 399gr Edition-X disappears on your head even more than the HE-1000 does.
The cups are fairly huge compared to 95% of all the headphones on the market though and the Edition-X isn’t really a headphone for the small headed. While it’s the same design as the HE-1000, the head band sits “different” on your head. To get the perfect positon I, with the HE-1000, have to click the cups down up a few notches. I have a fairly normal but smaller head and with the Edition-X, the ear cups on the smallest setting, only sit just right for me. So if you know out of experience that most headphones on the smallest setting are too big for you, then this will certainly be the case with the Edition-X. During long listening sessions the Edition-X is more comfortable than its heavier sibling but it still isn’t at the HD800 level of comfort.
Sound on the next page, after the click here or below