Hifiman Arya Stealth Review

Hifiman Arya Stealth

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The powerful Fiio M17 (full review soon) is one of the best DAPs on the market right now. Not only is it powerful, but it is also technically strong, just like a high-end AK DAP. The synergy with the Arya Stealth is balanced mode is good and you here get the typical powerful bass and full mids, delivered in a smooth and musical way. The depth and layering here is very good, and there’s a nice sub bass rumble, but the bass isn’t as controlled as with the higher end desktop amps. If you have no desktop amp available, the M17 is the next best thing. Good with the Arya Stealth, but just not like a desktop amp.

The EarMen Colibri which we looked at a week or two ago in balanced mode sounds very fast, precise, and energetic with the Arya Stealth. The most remarkable thing here is that the Colibri struggles a bit with complex passages. For the rest you get a sound which is lighter in body and bass presence, with more forward vocals. You can turn on the Bass Boost function, but it just doesn’t sound natural to me with this headphone. This isn’t the very best combo for my ears, and that’s quite remarkable as I absolutely love the Colibri which I gave a recommended buy award.

In this price segment, many of the Arya Stealth owners probably own a Chord Electronics Hugo 2, and they are in luck. The synergy between both units is amazing. It’s fast, powerful, dynamic, controlled, detailed and musical. What a lovely combo. The Hugo 2 comes very close to a desktop amp with this headphone, the difference still being ins the spaciousness, separation and decay. But this is good, a pleasure to listen to and a possible end game setup for many.

Sound – Comparisons

The Hifiman line-up is the first thing that comes come in mind to compare the Arya Stealth with. And especially the Ananda ($699 right now, heavily discounted), the HE6SE ($1,800) and the HE-1000SE. The setup used for the comparison is the Musician Pegasus + Ferrum OOR/Hypsos combo, in full balanced mode.

Hifiman Arya Stealth

The Hifiman Ananda, which has more side pressure, is selling at a discounted price now and it’s an absolute steal right. It however is playing at quite a lower league than the Arya Stealth. The difference (decrease) in dynamics and energy is immediately noticeable when going to the Ananda. The Arya Stealth also is the faster headphone, and it has a higher level of precision and more control/tightness in the lower regions. The Arya Stealth also sounds less intimate as it has a wider sound stage as well as a more spacious and airy presentation. Other points where the Arya Stealth is clearly better are the layering and decay. The overall midrange of the Arya sounds more coherent and cleaner, the bass is more in control and the highs are more precise, livelier. Basically, the Arya Stealth is better in almost everything, as it’s supposed to be. But the Ananda at $699 still is a steal.

The Hifiman HE6SE certainly needs better amplification than the Arya Stealth. It’s also a lot less comfortable because of the older headband and smaller ear cups. Sound wise the HE6SE is more focussed and less forgiving. I wouldn’t call the HE6SE intimate, but they aren’t as spacious and airy as the Arya Stealth. The HE6SE imaging and 3-dimensionality is pretty song, even if the Arya Stealth sounds “larger” in the width. For me the HE6SE is tighter and lighter in the bass department with an over flatter, more neutral presentation. The Arya Stealth’s top end presentation is more forward, fuller and as such, more present always. In the HE6SE this is more neutral. Some would probably say the HE6SE sounds dull compared to the Arya Stealth, while those who like the HE6SE would say the Arya Stealth is too “expressive”. Both headphones are very different, and I see the majority preferring the Arya Stealth over the HE6SE. It’s just more exciting, energetic, and engaging to listen to.

Hifiman Arya Stealth

The HE-1000SE for me still is the better headphone, sounding more natural and refined. The HE-1000SE has the width, depth and 3-dimensionality where the Arya focuses most on width. The top end of the HE-1000SE for me is also more precise and extended. Basically that goes from the lows all the way up to the highs. The Arya Stealth is fuller and softer sounding with bigger bass but the HE-1000SE is more vibrant and all around you. It’s more speaker like where the Arya Stealth, to me, is more headphone like. I prefer the vocal presentation of the HE-1000SE as well. All-in-all the HE-1000 is the better one of both to my ears. That doesn’t mean you will like it more than the Arya Stealth, but it to me is the better one, getting more things right.

Conclusion

How good is the Arya Stealth?! Waw! It isn’t cheap or available to everyone but the performance for the price is highly remarkable.

The Arya Stealth’s tuning is very good. It’s pleasing, yet technically strong as well as musical and exciting. The Arya Stealth always has good body, presence, impact and depth. It’s very easy to understand why this headphone is getting so many recommendations. It’s an absolute award winner and in this price category, the Arya Stealth is hard to beat.

With a good desktop amp, the Arya stealth scales up nicely, but even without special amplification, it sounds remarkable even if there still is room for improvement (compared to the HE-1000SE and Susvara). The Hifiman Arya Stealth is an end game headphone for many, I am sure. It’s a definite recommendation from my end. To our Recommended Buy list it goes, a well-deserved award!

 

 

Page 1: Hifiman, Arya Stealth, Driver & Stealth Technology, Comfort & Design & Isolation

Page 2: Build quality & connection, Specifications & price & accessories, Sound, Amplification Pt. 1

Page 3: Amplification Pt. 2 & Comparisons & Conclusion

 

4.1/5 - (86 votes)

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

4 Comments

  • Reply May 10, 2022

    Michel I.

    Hello Lieven,
    Nice review, as usual!
    Little mistake in you comparison with the HE6SE: “Some would probably say the HE6SE sounds dull compared to the HE6SE”.
    Best regards

  • Reply May 11, 2022

    Vamp898

    I tested several Hifiman headphones from all price ranges multiple times.

    Maybe I have a very strange taste but to this date, I thought the every single of them were really bad.

    In terms of built quality but especially sound.

    I have not tested a single hifiman product that could reproduce an authentic sound of an double bass for example. How can so many headphones from one company fail at an simple instrument?

    When I tested the Susvara, my jar did drop but not because it is that good, because I was surprised how bad an headphone can sound that sells for over 1000$

    Seriously if they were the same price, I would have gotten the Sony MDR-1AM2 which sells for ~180€ in my country. The Susvara sells for 6999€

    The Final D8000, Sony MDR-Z1R or the Sennheiser HD820 are faaaaaar superior to the Susvara in every single aspect you could think of and cost a fraction.

    If you start playing an well recorded high quality acoustic live concert, everything turns into an weird and unauthentic sounding mess.

    I don’t know how and why this company can exist selling these… “headphones” for the prices they do. They are the Softears of the overear world, it’s insane.

    But apparently there are people who like these for whatever reasons I can not understand. Certainly not because they play instruments and/or know how they sound in real live.

    They are better then beats though.

    I have not heard the Arya Stealth yet but I’d be surprised if it remotely as good as this review makes it sound.

    • Reply May 11, 2022

      Lieven

      I think it’s more a matter of your personal taste 🙂

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