Review: Hifiman Edition X V2 – All I want for Christmas…

Disclaimer: Hifiman sent us the Edition X V2 free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t have to be returned as far as I know.

 

Hifiman

Hifiman over the last years has quickly become a personal audio brand everyone knows and talks about. They offer a whole range of products for every budget, from the $249 Edition S to the $2999 HE-1000, and they strive to continuously extend, improve and update their product line-up. At the same time that’s exactly what people both like and fear about Hifiman. Some love them for always trying to bring better value and the latest technologies to their products while others find Hifiman to update their existing units way too fast, leaving some of their customers with a bitter taste in their mouth. While I certainly do understand that last group, I at the same time admire them for wanting to improve.

With the Megamini and Supermini, Hifiman recently launched two completely new products, but they also launched revisions of two of their TOTL headphones, the HE-1000 and Edition-X. To be honest, when I first heard about it, I was quite surprised to see it happening that soon or even “at all” as I absolutely love the Edition X V1. I’m sure Dr. Fang had his reasons though (see “Updates” below). After the news came out, Hifiman realized not everyone was very happy about it and they offered an upgrade program for the V1 HE-1000 buyers. As far as I know the Edition X V2 isn’t part of such a program. When the Edition X was first launched around December 2015, its price was $1799 (MSRP). The new Edition X V2 that was announced in August 2016, sells for only $1299 after it was permanently discounted only recently. It’s a huge mark-down and it makes the headphone obtainable for a whole lot more buyers. The difference with the reference HE-1000 now is $1700USD, leaving a big gap between both. Maybe for a new product to come? This time however we’ll be looking at the second version of the Edition X, the X V2.

I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Hifiman sound and they have produced fantastic sounding headphones over the years such as the HE-500, HE-6, HE-1000, HE-560, HE-400i, etc etc etc. While I didn’t feel the need for an X update, it is here now so we’ll gladly look at it and test it out for you.

Edition X V2

The Edition X V2 shares most of the V1’s characteristics and it still advertises the latest V2 as follows:

“Ultra thin diaphragm: lightning fast response, uncanny detail and ultra low distortion”

The new Edition X still has a high sensitivity so that it can more easily be used direct out of smartphones and portable audio devices.  The typical window shade grill design it shares with the HE-1000 still serves to reduce sonic reflections and to deliver clearer sound. The X V2 is still very light and the headband has been revised to deliver a better fit, improved sound quality and better comfort for extended listening periods. The typical asymmetrical ear cups have been revised as well but still follow the natural shape of the human ear.

hifiman-edition-x-v2-3

Updates

The Edition X V2 has undergone several styling and mechanical enhancements that, according to Hifiman, substantially improve its appearance, durability and comfort.

1. Approved head band design: Accommodate a wider range of head sizes

In my case the headband, with both versions, is set to the lowest position. With the new V2 the ear cups are better centered over my ears and it improves the overall comfort as the headband seems to distribute the weight better on the top of my head.

2. Newly updated yoke metal that helps to increase stability and durability. The original yoke is in plastic.

The new yokes are thinner and smaller at the same time and as they now in metal, they just feel a lot more qualitative and “right” for a headphone in this price range.

3. Improved beveled ear pads that are thicker with a larger asymmetrical angle.

They are exactly that and while they feel and fit great, the build quality, as in the stitching, still isn’t perfect. I don’t think these pads would pass Sennheiser’s QC.

4. Ear pads are now in polyester (before velour) to increase sound transparency. The surrounding pleather material has not been altered

So the pads and yokes now look and feel different/better and the termination of the cup is different. Where the V1 has a glossy blue finish, it now is matte grey/black-ish. The ear pads are easily replaceable so you can switch them to the version you prefer (but this will most likely impact the sound quality).

Comfort, Design & Build Quality

The Edition X V2, just like its predecessor, comes delivered in a gorgeous box you could store the headphone in when you’re not using it. In my case it rests on a Sieveking stand and the box goes to the attic but you seriously could leave the box in plain sight, it’s well built with top quality materials and it’s a pretty box all together.

hifiman-edition-x-v2-2

If you quickly look at the Edition X’s you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart right of the bat. The build quality of both my units (except for the pad stitching, as I reported) is very good and the grills still look very sexy. We (and a lot of other audiophiles) haven’t always been pleased with the Hifiman build quality but I really can’t say anything bad about the headphone finish at all: there’s no glue and everything fits and matches up.  With the added use of the metal yokes, it even feels better and more solid than the more plastic feeling V1. The 3.5mm headphone connecters are perfectly flush in the ear cup and detaching and connecting cables couldn’t be easier. Just make sure you plug it in the 2.5mm hole or you might find some scratches around the headphone connector after a few weeks of use. You either like or hate the huge head band system but it sure is comfortable.

The cables in the V1 had a grey sleeve finish and I quite liked their style. This time you get a white see-through plastic “sleeve” and it’s absolutely not my kind of thing, they look and feel weird. (Marcus even describes them as hospital tubes). Sonically and build quality-wise they’re perfectly fine though, I just don’t get the look.

Like I reported when I reviewed the original, the Edition X – even though it is fairly huge – is extremely comfortable and the V2 is even more so than the V1. It still isn’t Sennheiser HD800 comfy but that’s a personal thing; I know people who prefer the HE-1000/HE-X comfort over that of Senn’s. The earcups/drivers are thinner in the V2 but the pads are slightly thicker; I can’t say my ears touch the ear pads or the driver in any way though, but I don’t have the biggest of ears either. The Edition X V2 weighs only 300gr which is perfectly normal (and not heavy) for a full sized headphone. As it isn’t the smallest headphone, that actually is pretty impressive.

All in all, pretty darn good in all possible ways.

Specs

Frequency Response : 8Hz-50KHz
Impedance : 25 Ohms
Sensitivity : 103dB
Weight : 399g

Sound starts on Page Two, right after the jump or the click HERE

Review: Hifiman Edition X V2 – All I want for Christmas…
4.06 (81.25%) 16 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

17 Comments

  • Reply December 28, 2016

    Mark

    Umm, did you or are you going to return these? Of all the tech review/sites etc. Walt Mossberg appears to be the only one that goes out of his way stating that he never keeps free samples or products he reviews. An admirable quality.
    I’m not questioning your integrity, however the inference of bias refuses to go away.
    I hope you did/do return them.

    • Reply December 28, 2016

      dale thorn

      “Of all the tech review/sites etc. Walt Mossberg appears to be the only one that goes out of his way stating that he never keeps free samples or products he reviews.”

      Oopsie – read his ethics statement. He *does* keep some items. Now of course, you might say “well, those things have no real value” etc. etc., but the truth is, he *does* keep some stuff. But the big picture is this: As the most highly paid staffer at the WSJ until 2013, he made nearly one $million each year, so the notion that he would be influenced by a “free” $500 item is of course a silly notion. And then we’re just talking money, not technology. Those of us who are really into audio tech value our reputations far more than an occasional freebie.

  • Reply December 28, 2016

    Mark

    As a follow up I’ve read you other reviews and this is my first time on your website. Your disclaimer that as far as you know they don’t have to be returned peppered through ypur reviews I must say appears to treat your readers witn contempt. I’m certain the first line in the emal you receive will quite clearly state you can keep the product after review. I don’t call your integrity into question previously and it appears others comments don’t broach the subject.
    As soon as ai read that weak attempt of a cop out of a disclaimer the rest of thr words are a waste of time to read. You understand on this day and age integrity has taken a back seat quite comfortably. Maybe I’m out of line or unaware if you return these items. Politicians/police etc in Australia have not had the luxury of keeping gifts and nor should the public expect it. I’m not comparing you to these occupations, but principally it’s the same thing. Considering your lack of any mention in returning the items it’s open to conclude you don’t. If so I’m only one person who can’t accept this and will seek reviews elsewhere. Integrity means a lot to me and the respect that goes with it.

    • Reply December 28, 2016

      Dale Thorn

      There are some things you just don’t know, for example:
      1) A professional review costs more to do than what a $2000 headphone is worth used.
      2) The money, which is not a lot for most small headphone sites, comes mainly from advertising.
      3) All of the really expensive products do get returned.

      That’s the way it really works. And BTW, if you can’t pick out the critical parts of the review that tell you how it really sounds, then you’re not trying.

    • Reply December 28, 2016

      Dale Thorn

      And I forgot:
      4) The only real incentive to review any product is to “build the site”, to have more reviews and more industry coverage.

  • Reply December 28, 2016

    NightPhotographer

    Hello

    How do you compare it to HE-560 with respect to the sound stage and imaging?

    Merry Christmas

  • Reply December 28, 2016

    Lieven

    Thanks, Dale

  • Reply December 29, 2016

    Bryan

    Excellent review Dale. I really enjoyed the HE-1000 v1 at meets (however never heard the Ed. X), and decided my Christmas present would be a pair of the new Edition X v2 at the friendlier price point. I was pleasantly surprised at the similarity of presentation between the Ed. X v2 and the HE-1000 v1. I match your impressions of full body and a natural sound, with the slight reverb I enjoy from planar magnetics. Some have called this headphone neutral, but I find it slightly on the warm side, which is quite honestly where I prefer it. I did replace the stock cable with one of my own making (DIYAudioBlog.com) and am still quite happy with the purchase a month later.

    Thanks very much for creating and maintaining this site. Even responding to individual comments rapidly is very impressive. I know first-hand it is not easy to generate income from niche interest sites. Your reviews are far better than the ones where everything sounds “great”, and I appreciate your analytical view of the sound properties, as it easily allows me to look for qualities I enjoy or don’t enjoy in an audio product. It’s sometimes hard for reviewers to adequately describe the sound so that seekers of warmth and musicality (without sacrificing detail) can put some sort of trust in what they are ordering without audition.

    I also have a penchant for tube amplifiers, my current favs are the Bottlehead Mainline and S.E.X. (no affiliation). The S.E.X. (albeit highly modified) just oozes musicality, and the Mainline provides a very nice amount of detail without losing that tube amp feel. Which desktop tube HPAs do you currently hold in highest regard?

    Thanks Dale and best regards.

    • Reply December 30, 2016

      dale thorn

      Oops – you mean Lieven, yes?

      • Reply January 5, 2017

        Bryan

        Ah yes I do, my apologies. Two very talented audio reviewers: Dale and Lieven 😉

  • Reply December 31, 2016

    NEIL

    Excellent review! I’m considering purchasing the X V2 or B&O H6 2nd Gen but since I’m fairly new to headphones (not IEM as I have about 10) and only have the Superlux HD668B, Audio Technica ATH-M50x and MEE Venture AF52, can you tell how does the X V2 compare to the HD668B?

    I love the HD668B and trying to use as my benchmark for all new purchases, although this may seem an unfair comparison from a price/cost perspective.

    Thanks.

    • Reply December 31, 2016

      Lieven

      I don’t have the 668B but the X V2 is in a different league compared to the H6. If you have the budget, the X V2 is the one you need 😉

  • Reply January 21, 2017

    Nick

    hey Lieven,
    It’s been a while since I got the opportunity to check out your reviews and even had to miss can jam last time, but great to see you are still writing great reviews.

    I m still waiting/saving until I can upgrade to the he 560, but with prices in NL still at 900 euro’s it almost seems lucrative to go on for the x v2. Although based on your comparison the neutral and more detailed sound of the 560 seems to better match the corda classic ff, as I love details in the music….ahhh choices.

    Thanks for the review and all the things to contemplate. Hopefully I ll make it to can jam this year!

    • Reply January 22, 2017

      Lieven

      Hi Nick. Thanks! I do think the 560 suits your taste better, yes 🙂

  • Reply January 23, 2017

    Luther Adams

    Hello. I read your review of the Edition X V2. Loved it. For one , you described the differences between the V2 and the V1. I have a few questions. I own the Hifi-Man HM-650 with the power II card. I labsolutely love it but there are no tone control adjustments that can be made on the unit. I’m wondering if I will get enough low bass. I’m not one to over do it on the bass end but I definitely like it. I don’t want my music to sound thin. I was also looking at Focal’s Elear. I listen to a wide range of music. From classical to edm and rap. Which one of these do you think would be better for me?

    • Reply January 24, 2017

      Lieven

      thanks! I’m not familiar with that DAP. I would suggest you listen to both of them. Both the Elear and the X V2 are very good sounding headphones where the Elear sounds most reference. For EDM and rap I’d go for the XV2, classic, the Elear. It’s a tough choice!

      • Reply January 24, 2017

        Luther Adams

        Thank you for your quick response. It’s definitely tough. I don’t have any stores near my to listen to the headphones either.

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