For your ears
First thing I want to get out of the way is the idea that the Edition-X is a mini HE-1000. It is not, it is a unique headphone with its own characteristics and it wasn’t meant to sound like the HE-1000 does. The difference in sound between the Edition-X and the HE-1000 isn’t small either for that matter. The Edition-X was made to be easy to drive and of course to sound good, and that’s exactly what it does, even though it scales up nicely with the correct amplifier.
The Edition-X with its great comfort is easy to listen to for long periods and that sound-wise is exactly the same. No matter what type of music you throw at it (from classical to rap to country to techno), the Edition-X with its soft treble, smooth mids and entertaining bass plays everything effortless. Its sound is easy to love and that combined with its easy drivability and great comfort make it an easier to use and even more addictive headphone than the really great HE-560 and the HE-1000.
The sound signature is fairly neutral but it’s tilting to the warmer side with its smooth and lush presentation. For some the bass might be above neutral but this is very personal. Like all planar magnetic headphones the Edition-X has a very black background, good separation and the typical orthodynamic clear/clean sound. The Edition-X has a good balance but the focus is mostly on the bass and the midrange and its treble is reasonably easygoing. The 6-7k spike that can be heard/seen in the graphs doesn’t bother me at all. Treble is engaging and easy, yet dynamic and energetic, it’s just not the most extended treble.
Depending on the source and the amplifier used the Edition-X’s bass changes body wise. E.g. bass body when using the Woo Audio WA8 is a lot bigger compared to the Dragonfly RED (and Black). Bass always has good body though and its amount is never exaggerated. Bass has a good level of detail and layering but the HE-1000 goes deeper with better layering. Edition-X’s bass is always punchy, fast and goes deep when needed. Only people who really don’t like bass won’t like how the X does bass, all the rest will love it. (and even then the amp has quite the effect on its bass)
The bass perfectly flows in to the full bodied, detailed and layered mid-section of the Edition-X. Delivery is smooth with a good level of layering and depth. Voices sound realistic and precise, the mids are a bit more upfront than on the HE-1000 though. Mids are musical above all and the better your source the more detail you’ll get. At the same time the Edition-X is reasonably forgiving for lesser quality files but the better the file and the source/amp, the better your X will sound. The X doesn’t sound as spacious as say the HD800 or the HE-1000 but it certainly doesn’t sound concentrated. The amount of “air” and the separation in the mids section as a matter of fact is pretty good, it’s just not the as good as in the before mentioned models.
The family (aka comparisons)
The HE-1000 sounds more laid back and it performs even more effortless. You could also say the X is the most aggressive sounding of both, but this isn’t an aggressive sounding headphone. When coming from the HE-1000 you do notice the X’s mids aren’t as spacious and that separation, micro detail, depth and width are even better on the HE-1000. Treble on the HE-1000 is further extended while bass on the 1000 goes even deeper and it has better layering. Don’t get me wrong here, the Edition-X is a really good sounding headphone, its problem just is the HE-1000 is even better. It also is $1200 more expensive.
The HE-560 has less body in the mids sector and the bass has a bit less body as well. Bass also doesn’t go as deep as on the X. Treble more or less is on the same level as the Edition-X but the whole presentation of the HE-560 is more on the neutral side where the Edition-X is a little warmer and smoother sounding. The HE-400i, like the Edition X has bigger bass body but the X’s is still bigger and goes deeper with better detail and layering. The 400i’s bass is a little tighter though. The mids section of the X is more spacious and has more detail but they are comparable body-wise. The 400i’s treble more or less compare to the Edition-X’s.
I still have an original LCD-2.1 and its bass body is about the same as the Edition-X’s but it is tighter. Layering and spaciousness are better on the X from low to highs and it does have more detail. I prefer the LCD’s separation, tightness and clarity though. Depending on the musical style I’m listening to I prefer the one over the other (like with rock and metal as it to me on the X sounds too soft and “loose”). The Sennheiser HD800 is in a different category and you get more detail, better separation and a wider and deeper sound stage. Detail wise I still find the dynamic HD800 to be one of the best affordable headphones out there. Of course the Hifiman has more body in bass and mids and it sounds more smooth and musical. The HD800 wasn’t tuned like that at all.
The Edition-X is kind of a mix of the HE-1000, the HE-400i and the HE-560 as the other headphones either sound rather different or are priced differently. Price wise the Edition-X is closest to the HD800 but sound-wise these two couldn’t be further apart.
Sources and amplifiers aka pairings on the next, after the CLICK