Reviews by GoldenSound


Previously known as GoldenOne
Great, but when arya exists it's hard to justify
Pros: Fantastic detail retrieval, immensely comfy, great timbre, very pleasing overall tuning and technical performance
Cons: lowend is present but could be a bit faster, expensive
Video review here:

The Hifiman HE1000V2 is a beautiful headphone. It looks fantastic, feels fantastic, and is hands down the most comfortable headphone i've tried with the potential exception of the Arya. However this is due to the Arya having a plastic build and therefore being slightly lighter. Many will prefer to have a touch more weight in exchange for the metal construction of the HE1000v2.

The pads are angled and just the right balance of firm/soft. Absolutely cannot fault the comfort in any way at all.
The build looks and feels premium. It isn't what i'd call massively sturdy, but I'm more than happy to have a headphone that is more comfortable even if it means I cannot safely run it over with my car.

The one thing about the build I really do not like is the cable. The cable is quite frankly not what i'd call acceptable for a headphone of this price. Much less the $6000 susvara (which uses the same cable).
Its basically a rubber tube with the core materials through it, which crinkle and rattle when you turn your head. If you get these, plan on getting a custom cable.
It is nice that they just use normal 3.5mm though (older units were 2.5mm), so getting a custom cable is easy and no need to fuss with proprietary connectors.

Overall tonality:
These are a headphone that leans ever so slightly warm of neutral. Its a departure from the lower cost hifiman offerings, but not at all overdone, and I very much enjoyed it.
Its a sound signature that offers plenty of detail, technicalities, forgiveness, and doesn't at all feel overdone or as though it's trying to impress with party tricks. It simply does just about everything some level of good to great.

Soundstage and spatial presentation:
The spatial presentation of the Arya was likely my favourite thing about them, and its just as good here.
Staging is tall, wide, and layered beautifully. The combination of excellent and precise imaging alongside the very impressive layering within the stage leads to a very convincing overall presentation of space.
The one area where I perhaps wanted a little more was frontal staging. Vocals were noticeably closer on the he1000v2 than the arya, however not overly so. And I didn't find it distracting.
Additionally what I really like about the he1000 line overall is the ability to stage lowend elements properly.
Many other headphones even if they have excellent air and overall staging, can often still have lowend be 'in your head' or not quite properly distanced. That is not the case here. Listening to "contact" by daft punk, the distancing, imaging and timbre of the drums was fantastic, and not many other headphones can do it in quite the same way. Its distracting to listen on another headphone once you've heard it on something like this (or the Susvara, which does it even better).

Treble is overall very good. Its slightly 'smoother' than hifiman's cheaper headphones, and smoother than the Arya as well. Though not so far as to call it "smoothed over".
Its excellently resolving, BUT, I have to say I did encounter a few times where I was listening and thought to myself:
"This sounds great, but I know there's a little bit more that i'm not quite getting".
It seemed that whilst the Aryas offer fantastic air, resolution and overall performance, which is a blessing on a good chain, but often too much and unforgiving on a poor chain or poor track, the HE1000V2 favours the slightly more 'polite' route.
Taking a step back from squeezing every last bit of detail it can from the driver, and instead focusing on an overall more enjoyable presentation.
This is great in many situations and I never found these harsh or fatiguing, but it came with the tradeoff that sometimes I felt as if it were holding back.

These are not the most ideal headphones for ultra-critical listening. But for sitting down in the evening with a glass of whiskey and just relaxing to music. They are stellar.

The midrange here there is not all that much I can say. Because it is in a word: Beautiful.
Timbre of vocals is excellent, warm and full bodied without being forced or veiled, delicate and nimble when needed, thick and encompassing when demanded.

Midrange is indeed simply excellent and at this price there is not much more I could ask of it.
Certain headphones like a ZMF Verite might give a perhaps more "vivid" sound which many might prefer. As though someone had taken a photo and turned up the saturation. Beautiful, vivid, but not necessarily "true to source".

But in terms of going for a natural presentation without colouration, this is fantastic.

Bass is the only part of these headphones where I felt a little mixed.
Planars usually need a fair bit of power, and scale nicely when more is offered. Even the Arya, which isn't too difficult to get loud, becomes quite a different animal on a powerful amp. And the flagship Susvara I honestly wouldn't even consider the same headphone on a speaker amp vs headphone amp.

The HE1000V2 doesn't need that. The response doesn't change so long as it has 'enough'. And moreso, the signature of the amp itself plays less of a part than on some other headphones.

Headphones like the HD800, Susvara, Arya, all change massively depending on the power and sound signature of the amp they are run off. However the HE1000V2 only changed subtly when I swapped between the Asgard 3, Magnius, AHB2, Cavalli Tube Hybrid and RME ADI-2 Pro headphone amps.

This was nice as I often found myself fussing with amps too much on other headphones.
BUT, this was also in part because whilst a can like the Susvara can knock your socks off with fast, thunderous, impactful lowend when powered by the AHB2, the HE1000V2 was again a little more 'polite'.
With quite present and well extended lowend, but not massively fast or snappy.
Once again referring back to "Contact" by daft punk. On the HE1000V2 the timbre, presence and 'thunder' of the drums was plentiful, the initial snap and impact was definitely better on the Arya.

If you are a basshead or EDM fan these may not be the best choice.
But for those who prioritise timbre, these shine. Drums really do sound phenomenal on these even if at times I'd like a little more slam. The realism makes up for it.

I think the HE1000V2 are truly excellent headphones. Had I evaluated these entirely on their own, I would have absolutely no issue whatsoever saying 'buy these asap'.
But what gives me pause is that Hifiman's own Arya is incredibly similar. And I would consider it an equal, but slightly different headphone. Which for half the price.....makes it a very compelling choice.

The HE1000V2 is for those seeking a natural, realistic presentation. And at does wonderfully.
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Love your reviews..

You mentioned Arya does well with warm amps, preferably class A.

I have ares2 upstream in the chain. Wondering do i get a singxer Sa1 to get the soundstage, resolution etc. or go for Jot2 for slam and macrodynamics?

Also no one out there is able to answer this conclusively but i understand hifiman demos units on totl tube amps (Auris Euterpe etc.) Im eyeing a Cayin IHA Mk2 to pair with arya (and 6xx). Wondering wud that be a better pairing with Arya than the jot2 or Sa1.
Any help/suggestions will be much appreciated!!

Keep them videos coming.. im actually holding off the SA1 purchase hoping ul do a review for that..

PS i got the Ares2 after watching yr review of it.. the way u explained the ss nuances helped me decide (given my music preferences). so thanks for that!!
Hifi DTH
Dear Sir,

I have tested the Arya and HEKv2 with the Parametric EQ from Crinacle, I even try to tune down some of the high sibilance frequency. But I still somehow feels really force or aggressive "S" or "T" sounds of any track I am listening to. This perceived from me a view of very bright and high in the treble. The treble in general sounds fine but the "S" really irritated me compare to of the Arya. I felt like they got smoothen off and lose the sharp edge somehow. Would you suggest any EQ preset to lower or at least make the sibilance less stand out and be more natural. I do not have so many options for DAC and AMP. I only owned a Topping D90 MQA and Schiit Gungnir Multibit. AMP is topping A90.
Thank you in advance!
so funny how we all hear differently. Crinacle thinks theyre almost estat speed.


Previously known as GoldenOne
Why have neutral when you can have fun?
Pros: Warm and engaging presentation, forceful and well-presented lowend, convincing timbre, never fatiguing, isolated USB
Cons: resolution is 'good' but not amazing, blackground could be better, no DSD or high sample-rate support
Video review has been posted here:

The bifrost 2 is schiit's midrange multibit (R2R) dac offering.
It is an interesting dac for a few reasons, the primary one being that it offers an exceptionally warm and 'thick' presentation that will go a long way to satisfying rock and EDM lovers, as well as those that seek to ensure they will have an engaging and never fatiguing listen no matter what they're playing.

Build and features:
The build on the bifrost 2 is fantastic. Schiit's typical sleek design, a nice, matte finish metal sheet with sharp, clean text, and a simple front interface.
The build is overall fantastic and stacks perfectly with other schiit products. The only real gripe is that I do wish the power switch was accessible from the front of the unit (or that the input select switch doubled as a power button if you held it for example.)

Internally there are some fantastic things to see. A linear PSU, true balanced output stage, and perhaps my favourite of all, genuine, fully galvanically isolated USB. Its fantastic to see that on a DAC under 1k and is all too uncommon on alternative products.
Worth noting though, the SPDIF input does sound a touch different to the USB, even when fed from a schiit eitr or chord mscaler (upsampling off).
The USB input sounded a touch better to my ear, but the difference was subtle.

This is a no frills or gimmicks dac with some features that are very nice to see.

Overall sound signature:
This is a very warm sounding dac, its not a dac that is seeking outright performance in resolution and technicalities. Instead it seeks to draw you in with thunderous engagement, texture and a sound that invokes a desire to just get up and dance.
Even with dacs on my desk that were unquestionably more resolving, the Bifrost often ended up being my choice simply because it was just more FUN to listen to.

Bass is particularly forceful and 'weighty'. Its not the fastest or most snappy, but retains excellent texture and timbre.
Genres such as rock, or tracks like "Pan" by plini sound fantastic, thumping, convincing and just all round fantastic on this dac. There is a sense of tactile imaging that many other dacs don't provide
The bass is really the defining characteristic of this dac. And there will be people who don't like it, it will certainly be a bit much for classical perhaps, but for many genres it really is just damn good fun.

Midrange is again, warm, engaging, forward and with a textured presentation that puts a smile on your face.
This is NOT a neutral dac, but I could not care less, because its just too much fun. Sometimes a little added colour and emotion goes a long way.
If you're a fan of something such as ZMF headphones, you'll be a fan of this DAC.

Timbre of both male and female vocals are invitingly real, with precise imaging and depth that leaves little to the imagination.
There are other dacs that outresolve the bifrost 2 for sure, but regardless the bifrost 2 is a more convincing presentation in several ways and I found myself switching back to it more often than other choices.

The treble presentation on the bifrost 2 is 'good'. There's not a huge amount to write home about but nothing done wrong either.
Its not a hyper-resolving dac but never feels lacking.
The only real criticism is that I do wish 'air' on the bifrost 2 was a little more present. Switching from the Bifrost 2 to the slightly cheaper Soncoz SGD1 the SGD1 definitely won in terms of the presentation of more delicate upper treble elements and air.
Its good though, and there's really nothing to complain about. The other areas of this dac are what really sell it and the treble is done plenty well enough to keep everything sounding great.

The Bifrost 2 is a flavoured (in a delicious way) and warm dac with a lot to love. Its not going to suit all tastes but if you're wanting more emotion, force, and THUNDER from your music then the bifrost 2 will provide.
The addition of extra features like galvanic isolation on the USB, and the linear PSU mean that its hard to find a reason NOT to recommend this dac unless the flavour simply isn't to your tastes.

My only issue now is It's left me eager to try it's big brother the yggdrasil!

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Really enjoying your reviews mate, keep it going!


Previously known as GoldenOne
My wallet is trembling but I can't stop smiling
Pros: Near-unmatched separation, excellent resolution, tonality and timbre is exceptionally natural and convincing without hiding any details or excitement
Cons: Aesthetics are very polarising, without the MScaler the staging is much less impressive, cost, headphone amp could be better
This DAC is not mine, neither is the M-Scaler. Both were loaned to me for a couple weeks to spend some time with them. All thoughts and opinions are my own and unbiased.
All opinions were formed with the combination of DAVE+Mscaler, not the DAVE alone.

I have posted a video-review here:

Equipment Used:
- Hifiman Susvara, HD800-S, Hifiman Arya
- Benchmark AHB2
- Goldpoint SA2X
- Focal Alpha 80

The aesthetics are.....not my cup of tea. I'll be honest chord dacs do not do it for me in terms of looks, and the fact that this is even more "out there" isn't helping.
The build itself however is solid. Solid metal chassis, lovely materials used everywhere (The XLR ports on the back feel incredibly satisfying....give me those on all of my equipment please!).
The only thing I really think should be changed is the buttons. The buttons are actually balls that roll and it feels awful compared to a fixed sphere like on other chord products.

House sound:
The chord dave is a slight departure from the chord "house sound" in many of their lower cost dacs. I have a qutest which I was able to compare side by side, and the qutest was a noticeably more 'polite' and warm DAC. The DAVE strives for transparency, and usually I hate using that word, because I do not believe that any component is truly 'transparent', but the DAVE simply works so well with absolutely every genre, every track, and every transducer that its hard to find a better description for it.

It is noticeably more neutral than other chord dacs, without EVER coming across as lacking in any manner. Its neutral because it CAN be, and it can do it right. Rather than needing to add flavour to cover up shortcomings in performance.
The resolution the dave offers is incredible, and combined with chord's signature separation, and the excellent timbre, it creates an addictingly engaging result.

Bass on the DAVE is very impressive, never does it feel like it is imposing itself over or bleeding into other parts of the mix. It always remains distinctly separate without losing any force, weight, depth or timbre.
"It's all so incredibly loud" by glass animals is a track that on mediocre dacs sounds claustrophobic and 'busy'. But on the DAVE it remains distinctly separate, defined, and STAGED. Very few dacs can stage and present low-end elements as convincingly as the DAVE is able to.

Midrange on the DAVE is smooth, refined, beautiful. Vocals sound warm and engaging with incredible resolution, allowing you to hear every subtle nuance, the reverberations of the guitar within the room, and all of it without ever sounding forced or coloured in any manner. It does not sound like this DAC is TRYING to make things sound good, it just is. Nothing is made warm, or made cold, everything is presented to you as-is, with all the resolution and space required to make it sound real.

Treble is excellent. I've mentioned the resolution and have to do so again. Cymbals are fast, responsive, clear without being aggressive. Sibilance is beautifully tamed without ever sounding smoothed over. This DAC has an incredibly refined signature and strikes a great balance between being honest and being musical. Bad masters will sound bad, but great masters will sound phenomenal. It is not trying to "fix" music like the Qutest at times did, it is simply presenting it to you.
The air and space that the quality of the oversampling provides goes a long way to making upper treble elements sound all the more fantastic.

Headphone amp:
The headphone amp does in my opinion let this DAC down. Its ok, its fine, but its nowhere near the calibre of this DAC and it would be a shame to buy this with the intention of using it as a combo unit.

Its quite powerful, and won't have any trouble driving pretty much anything (other than susvara which really did not sound as they should), but the actual quality of the amp leaves it in a position where its nice to have, but would NOT use it as your daily driver.

To M-Scaler or not to M-Scaler?
The difference the M-Scaler makes is not small.
It takes the DAVE from a great DAC which I would say probably isn't worth the money, to an exceptional DAC that its hard to think of reasons not to want.
The staging expands massively, and resolution increases by a not at all small amount. The issue I faced is that without the MScaler, it was quite difficult not to focus on what was suddenly missing. The staging, detail, and even a bit of separation, the MScaler just turns all of that up to 11 and once it was gone it was tricky to get excited about the DAVE alone.

The MScaler makes such an improvement that i'd say the DAVE may not be worth it at its price standalone, but in combination with the MScaler it is truly fantastic. And you'd need to look at high end R2R or a dCS vivaldi to beat it. barring simple flavour preferences.
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@n2413 A couple years ago, I would have agreed with you completely. But, as someone who just bought a Sonnet Morpheus, well, we all go a little mad sometimes. Of course, $3200 is a lot less than $15000, but still...
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What was missing on the Susvara? Sadly I auditioned them on the Dave and didn't like them... time to go back!
Don't forget there's the Nagra Tube DAC + PSU