Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr Review

Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr Award

Design, comfort, usability & Isolation


You either love or hate the typical SHANGRI-LA jr amp design, but you can’t deny it’s an eye-catcher with its size, shiny top surface, and soft main body. The jr has unique lines and the raised tube setup and the LEDs (1 light/2 steps) in the front make it an absolute attention magnet. It’s impossible not to see and get drawn to this setup when you’re walking into your room. Hifiman calls it an industrial design, aesthetically beautiful to complement any desktop. Most of my friends that saw the amp didn’t really like the design, but I personally do. It has that something special, that je ne sais quoi or x-factor.

The headphone itself is larger in size but is ergonomic and very lightweight (374g). You can easily wear it for multiple hours without ever being bothered with it. The weight distribution and pad pressure are just right to give you the best possible experience as well as comfort. Top scores for Hifiman here. Note that the EST headphone uses Hifiman’s typical headband system we have seen before on the Susvara, HE-1000 series, and Arya Stealth, just to name a few. This time round, the fabric used for the SHANGRI-LA jr headband is leather. The ear pads are also replaceable.

I would say my head is normal in size, and I must use the smallest setting. So, if you have a smaller sized head, getting the perfect could be a little challenging. The (non-removable) cable on the headphone is like 1.5m long, and that means that you have to stay fairly close to your amplifier at all times. In my office that isn’t a problem, but in my living room setup, that meant installing a chair next to the amplifier. There is no friction-noise whatsoever here.

 The grills of the headphone look very much like those of the excellent Susvara. The design, colour and finish of the headphone very much reminds of the Susvara and HE-1K models, the biggest difference here being the 2-tone silver-black color of the headband.

The SHANGR-LA jr headphone is an open type of headphone, and that means that all the sound leaks out and that all environment noise will go in. That means that the ideal listening room is one where it’s quiet and where you don’t disturb anyone else. When I was using it in my living room, I could only use it when my wife wasn’t watching tv, as that killed the experience for both of us.

Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr

Specs, Price & Accessories

As mentioned before in this article, the SHANGRI-LA jr is selling for $8,000 USD for the amplifier and headphone. Before, you could buy the amplifier separately, but I can’t seem to find it anymore on Hifiman’s website. You can still find it online for around $3,6K however. The headphone stand is available for $99 USD.

In return you get the best shipping and storage box ever, the amplifier with the 4 matched tubes, the headphone and the lovely headphone stand.

The unit’s specifications are the following:

Frequency Response: 7Hz-120kHz
Bias Voltage: 550V-650V
Weight: 374g (13.2oz)
Product: Amplifier
Weight: 11kg(24lb)
Dimensions: 400 x 265 x 108 mm3 (15.7″ x 10.4″ x 4.2″)
Aviation-grade aluminum alloy
Tempered glass panel

It’s a good package, though I wouldn’t have mind seeing a nice set of RCA or XLR interconnects in the box. With this Bias Voltage, you can also use the headphone with most non-Hifiman electrostat amplifiers.

Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr

Sound – Intro

I for testing the have used the SHANGRi-LA jr in the following two setups. 1: Laptop with ROON > Soundaware A1 ROON Endpoint > Musician Aquarius DAC (coax) > Balanced input of the SHANGRI-LA jr. The second setup was my laptop with ROON > Soundaware A1 ROON Endpoint > EarMen Tradutto DAC (coax) > EarMen CH-AMP pre > SHANGRI-LA jr (in non-balanced).

Hifiman’s marketing team describes the SHANGRI-LA jr’s sound as following: “The tubes at the core of the SHANGRI-LA jr offer a warm and sumptuous sonic quality. It’s an emotionally moving experience elevating musical performance beyond belief”.

Let’s find out for ourselves!

Sound – General

In this case, the amplifier and the headphone have probably been tuned to each other by Hifiman.

The combo sound clean and clear, as you would expect from an electrostat system, but there is some smoothness and tube warmth present as well. It’s not a strong presence, but it does make it somewhat softer, smoother, and pleasing to the ears, without eliminating the technical strengths.

Overall, you get a full bodied presentation, with a rich timbre. The SHANGRI-LA jr setup is very precise and it has a high resolution. The amp and headphone are also transparent in fact, something you notice when connecting different DACs and even EST amps.

As we’re used to and expecting from an electrostat system, you get a great pace with top-level attack, and a high energy level. As said, the additional tube smoothness makes the overall timbre softer and pleasing to the ear. The SHANGRI-LA jr setup is balanced and linear, certainly in the lows and mids. Starting from 2k it gets more volatile and one could even say there is some vocal forwardness. That however works well with the typical tuning, and it isn’t a negative aspect at all.

Technically as we’ve already hinted, the combo is strong, and it shows a wide sound stage with excellent extension on both ends as well as in the depth. Layering is good but there’s still margin for improvement here. Spaciousness, airiness and note extension are all at a high level as you expect from a reference system. It however isn’t just about technicalities with the SHANGR-LA jr. The combo does everything effortless and always in a musically smooth, and engaging way. I have listened to many different types of music with this setup, and everything works well and sounds great.

I do recommend using a normal, natural sounding DAC with this headphone system, and not a treble forward type, as this can bring out the top end in the Shangri-LA jr just a bit much.

Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr

Sound – Classics

Bass is full bodied and nicely present with a good punch but all in a normal, natural, and civilized way. Bass reaches down low, but the sub-bass rumble is on the lighter side. The layering is nice but could be even better. Presentation-wise the lower end is neutral to slightly warm, meaning easy and pleasant on the ears.

The mids perfectly connect to the bass and they share the same amount of body but also the character. Natural, but smooth that is. The mid timbre probably is the most impressive. Spaciousness, airiness and that bit of tube smoothness and warmth do it fr me here. The vocals are more to the front and the upper mids have a brighter, less smooth character. The typical vocal presentation doesn’t bother me in any way in this typical tuning, and it always keeps things exciting (but realistic).

The treble section is where the SHANGR-LA jr is less linear and starts getting peakier from around the 2K mark. It’s not so much an issue to me, and many fellow headphone enthusiasts like this typical tuning. Treble is never bright or sharp, but it is energetic, spacious and extends nicely.

Hifiman SHANGRI-LA jr

Sound – Conclusion

I love what Hifiman has done with this full system. You get all the benefits of a high end electrostat sound system, mixed with a bit of tube smoothness and warmth. It makes the SHANGR-LA precise, yet natural, easy on the ear and always musical sounding.

Let’s find out how we feel about the amplifier and headphone when we start mixing things up.

The review continues on the third page with the comparisons. Click here.

Page 1: Hifiman, SHANGRI-LA jr, Box & Delivery, Build Quality & Lay-out

Page 2: Design, Comfort, Usability, Isolation, Specifications, Price, Accessories, Sound Intro / General / Classics / Conclusion

Page 3: Sound Comparisons, Conclusion, Pro & Con

4.1/5 - (122 votes)

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.

1 Comment

  • Reply March 14, 2023


    I prefer the sound of SHANGRI-LA JR system over SHANGRI-LA SR system. Stax X9000 with a good amp to me also sounds more enjoyable than Senior system from Hifiman. Jade 2 system to me is as mediocre sounding as Sennheiser HD650 or LCD3, too veiled and without liveliness. I wasn’t crazy about Audeze CRBN either, reminded me somewhat of original Sennheiser Orpheus amp with HE90, although it’s pleasant enough. Never liked Stax 009/009s – thin and dull regardless of the amp. Best value to me: Hifiman EF400 dac/amp plus Hifiman HE6SE v2 with stock cable via XLR output – but mostly for classical and ECM label and jazz trios. Although Steely Dan and Donald Fagen sound great too through it. Affordable system brand new at around $1200. Also love the sound of Empire Ears ESR MK2 with A&K SE200.

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