ENIGMAcoustics Dharma D1000

General Information

Electrostatics and Orthodynamics headphones

Latest reviews

Pros: Resolution amazing vocals
Easy to tailor the sound
Cons: Headband support easy to break
Sibilant on a wrong amp.
Dharma d1000
Equipment chord mojo colorfly c4
Jds labs atom. I use rhapsodio golden cable

About the build this is very solid build better than hd800 build wise the only problem in the built is headband support easy to break i know someone who also broken the headband support but its very easy to fix so for me its not deal breaker.

sound impression and comparison
This is tonaly balance to me
The bass is like hd800s but more quantity on dharma but i think hd800s is technically better in bass a bit clean on hd800s but I actually like the bass of dharma than hd800s because hd800s is tight and clean but i feel boring i sold my hd800s so this is base on my memory but i always listen to same type of recordings the dharma has thicker note and i love the bass of dharma really enjoy it never get bored... i want to point out the dharma response a lot to cable rolling using rhapsodio golden cable the bass and mids vocal male in female is noticeably better than stock cable that is not the case on hd800s it sound the same to me so dharma has a lot of advantage because you can tune it by cable rolling like many iem.

Mids i can say this is like stax presentation but unlike stax that is super boring to me. This has excellent extension on both ends and very enjoyable
The detail retrieval and layering is almost on par with hd800s this is a surprise to me. I don't know if some of you will agree to me but for me hd800 is a bit Vshape i own it 6 to 7 times if I remember correctly. The dharma is a bit forward mids than hd800.

High. The high for me is the strongest point of dharma. Before for hd800s is the best experience i have when it comes to vocals but right now for me dharma is better in that region im not sure but there's something in the dharma that makes the vocals better maybe richer and ticker thats why i enjoy it a lot than hd800s im not actually sure.

Soundstage and imaging. Soundstage is very wide and round every instrument has their own distinction but hd800 is wides then hd800s dharma is last when it comes to soundstage imaging i prefer the hd800s because hd800 is to wide that the imaging is not positioned well unlike hd800s and dharma

Final thought
The dharma is my clear choice i own hd800 6times in 8years in this hobby etherC twice hd800s and t1 once.
If i can make a ranking
T1 v1

Technically hd800 is the most superior but the dharma has a huge advantage on cable rolling because any good iem cable can use it to change the sound very easy to drive you just need a proper matching.
And the treable and vocals of dharma is really above these headphone that i own before.
Pros: midrange, midrange, clarity, treble, worth every penny
Cons: Fit
This is my first review on Head-Fi, or anywhere else for that matter.  I will not go through the normal paces of creating a review based on the set pattern of product history, build and comfort, sound and a conclusion. I don't feel that I have the technical acumen at this point in my journey.  The review would come across as trite.  In addition, this review will make no claim of these headphones being an "endgame" purchase.  A term for this relative new-comer that eludes me.  It eludes me because I associate "endgame" with the end of a journey.  I am just beginning my journey, there will be more headphones, more experiences and I hope each takes me closer to the music I love.  Ok, enough of that...
My System for listening (I am not much for evaluation)
iMac streaming Tidal and Flac through VOX.
Audeze Deckard Dac/Amp
EnigmAcoustics Dharma D1000
In a word, glorious.  I have several wonderful pairs of headphones and all of them make me feel differently.  Before I go off on a tangent about the qualities of each that I find some satisfying in their own unique way, it is the Dharma that has captivated me the most.  My only complaint is that the build feels a bit one-note.  The suspension system works great, but requires a certain size head before it really starts to provide the resistance against the head to create the perfect seal.  In short, I have an average to smallish noggin and they move around a tad bit for me.  More than I would like.  My work around is to wear a baseball cap and then they fit and seal perfectly.  The ear pads are extremely comfortable and there is the perfect amount of space between the drivers and my ears.  
I have never listened to an electrostatic headphone before, and although these are a hybrid, I see what the fuss is about.  The highest octaves where the electrostat driver kicks in provides the most incredibly musical, extended and fatigue free listening experience.  I can hear everything.  As I sit and write this, I am listening to George Benson's "Bad Benson".  A 1974 CTI recording with the ubiquitous Ron Carter on bass.  His version of Take Five got me into the CTI Jazz/Fusion scene 20 plus yrs ago, and listening to it through the Dharma brings back feelings I haven't felt while listing to him since the day I fell in love with that musical genre.  The clarity of the Dharma is so great, I can hear the pluck of Ron Carter's pick on the bass strings.  I can hear the filter Benson is playing his guitar through and the feeling of his fingers moving across the fretboard.  The bass is tight, controlled and impactful.  I could use a few Db more, but I at no time feel like I am missing out on any part of the integrated whole.  His guitar sores across the melody, the cymbals of Steve Gadd's kit are life-like and in perfect balance.  The Dharma is one seriously beautiful headphone.
My favorite musician is Steve Kimock.  He is a marvel, his tone is so beautifully warm, fat and clean.  His sense of melody and creativity is second to none, but his ability to convey a mood or paint a picture is what sets him apart.  While listening to his classic instrumental "It's Up To You", I am taken back to every live experience.  Sitting in front of him watching his hands, his eyes closed as he scats each note. I can feel his sense of tone and melody take over my soul.  The Dharma picks up every part of Alfonso Johnson's bass line, while the speed of the Dharma keeps up seamlessly with Rodney Holmes' lightning quick percussive abilities.  I often use Steve Kimock Band when listening to a new pair of headphones.  I do so for several reasons.  One, their sound is mixed perfectly, their shows are always recorded as a Soundboard Matrix available in FLAC or ALAC.  They use a mixture of the Soundboard and Stage Mics which gives you the perfect marriage of depth and image.  Second, Kimock's guitar abilities are unrivaled.  He can play 10 different guitars in different keys through different filters in any given show.  He is part Guitar God, part Jewish Grandma.  Neurotic and brilliant, always the perfectionist.  Lastly, their ability to fill out a soundstage with texture, melody and emotionally charged music allows me to understand whether or not my headphones are accurately portraying the vibe and improvisation of the experience.  Happily, the Dharma more than makes the grade.  The low end is perfectly displayed, the midrange is luscious and liquid, and the treble is without a hint of fatigue.  It has the perfect amount of air and sparkle.  The image is perfect, the soundstage puts every musician exactly where they are, and the tonality is exactly right.  I am not just "hearing" the music through the Dharma's.  I am also able to "see" the music through a 3D soundstage.
I am quite sure that someone else can tell me why I am feeling this way while listening to the Dharma.  Be it the subbass, midbass, transition into the mid-range or treble.  Honestly, I love reading reviews that give that type of detail.  I just don't have the ability to give that type of a review yet without sounding trite myself.  I only know that when I can hear every last piece of the music in a way that moves me to tears, I am on to something.  I highly recommend you give these headphones a try.  
Thank you!
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Pros: Fantastic imaging, round soundstage, natural-sounding timbre, transient speed for treble, classy appearance
Cons: Resonance frequency response peak, headband adjustment, earcup swivel, stock cable length



Review scoring breakdown:
Value: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Design: 4/5
Comfort: 3.5/5
Total: 3.875/5

Before I write this review, I just wanted to say that this pair of Dharma D1000s is not mine, but a friend let me borrow them for some time.

I've generally been a big fan of electrostatic headphones and their technology. There are quite a few advantages to an electrostatic driver design over others: air compression linearity, driver speed and responsiveness, and extremely low distortion are arguably the three biggest ones. Throughout the past few years I've head the great pleasure to listen to a variety of e-stats, both traditional ones and electrets.

Many of you know that most electrostatic headphones require the use of a special high-voltage amplifier that provides a very high voltage bias to the diaphragm itself in order for the speakers to even work as intended. Electret diaphragms go around this problem by including either a permanently-charged diaphragm that doesn't require this voltage bias, or a step-up transformer is built into the headphone.

In the case of ENIGMAcoustic's Dharma D1000, it takes an approach closer to the former: a patented technology called Self-Biasing Electrostatic (SBESL) that uses the music signal itself to self-bias the electrostatic tweeter of the driver.

Apparently this self-biasing property is in part due to the molecular structure of the driver material itself. Fascinating stuff! I wasn't able to find the patent number for it unfortunately.

Now no technology is perfect, and I will get into this a bit in the sound section below.

Audio Quality: 4/5
Overall Sound
The short and sweet summary:
  • Bass roll-off at around 50 Hz
  • Slightly elevated mid-bass/lower-midrange response
  • Peak in the upper-midrange at around 6 kHz
  • Somewhat grainy treble
  • Lightning-fast treble transient speed
  • Somewhat slow bass transient speed
  • Smallish soundstage
  • Accurate imaging/instrument separation
  • The sound is dependent on where your ears are relative to the drivers

The one big problem I have with the Dharma D1000 in terms of its sound is that it's very dependent on where your ears are relative to the drivers. The electret driver is towards the front of the headphone so if your ear is near that, you'll hear more upper-midrange and treble. Towards the back of the earcup, you get the opposite effect. I hear a similar effect for vertical placement of the drivers too, strangely enough. The best sound for me was right in the middle of the earcup.

The frequency response of the Dharma D1000's bass is slightly elevated from the lower-bass upwards, but rolled-off below that. It doesn't have the visceral impact feeling that planar magnetic headphones typically have, and instead takes the sound of a dynamic driver with good presence and a thumpy kind of sound. The dynamic driver, despite its large 52 mm size, unfortunately seems to sound somewhat loose and slow to me. The bass is just kind of "there" without a lot of texture and definition. That being said, its presence makes up for it and I find the bass to sound pleasing overall.

Despite what others think, I find the bass region to have the largest room for error in terms of fidelity while still being able to enjoy the music. After all, low-frequency sounds in the speaker realm are highly variable and absolute fidelity is more problematic compared to other frequencies, yet people still enjoy it regardless of this. The Dharma D1000's bass response is engaging to me and I quite enjoy it for most of my music, enough to get my toes tapping.

The midrange of the Dharma D1000 as a whole sounds pretty dang good to me. The elevated bass response provides the lower-midrange with a nice rich tonality that sounds accurate to me in terms of timbre. Again, maybe due in part to the dynamic driver, the midrange doesn't have super-fine texture reproduction and the music just seems "there," though pleasing to listen to for music.

The upper-midrange and treble response of the Dharma D1000 is mostly dictated by the electret driver from my understanding. I can hear a very obvious peak in the frequency response at around 6 kHz, and it can get fatiguing if you listen to hotly-mastered music and/or music that has a lot of that frequency. A simple -3.0 dB EQ can fix that issue though.

In terms of the frequency response, the Dharma D1000 sounds a bit grainy to me, adding a layer of detail that seems artificial. This is a common thing I hear from headphones on the other hand, so I tend to dismiss this. I don't hear any super large peaks in the frequency response that makes the treble unlistenable on the other hand, so that's always a good thing. Often times a broad and/or large peak at 9-10 kHz will ruin the music to me, and the Dharma D1000 does not have this issue.

On a different note, the electret driver does a marvelous job at keeping up with music transients, in typical electrostatic fashion. This sounds absolutely crazy, but if you take a music track that involves a lot of drumset sounds (cymbals, snares, etc.) and you use a high-pass filter on it after 6 kHz, you can appreciate the driver's speed for higher-frequency sounds. Like my STAX SR-207 electrostatic headphone, the Dharma D1000 is able to easily keep up with every note of the drumset, while keeping them separated from one another. I find a lot of headphones unable to do this, so this really puts the electrostatic technology in the lead for higher-frequency transient speed reproduction. Also similar to the SR-207, I can turn up the volume of the high-pass filtered Dharma D1000 and the music doesn't distort nor fatigue my ears; again, being a property that I've only really found to occur with electrostatic headphone drivers.

Soundstage is a topic I have a hard time talking about, honestly. Most stereo recordings are made in a sound-proof studio room, mixed together with other sounds, and reverberation is added to make it sound echoey as if it were emulating a room. Soundstage is thus an artificial term as most music quite literally has no soundstage; it's just added reverb. Some recordings, particularly those of orchestral or choral works (or even binaural), tend to have a natural soundstage due to the natural reverberations that occur in the recording venue (not a sound-proof studio room). However, since you nor I were present in the venue at the time of the recording, it is literally impossible to tell someone, accurately, how big the soundstage really is. A headphone may have a "big soundstage" to someone, but how accurate that soundstage is is a completely different topic.

Using self-recorded binaural recordings is one method to go around this, as the microphones will capture sound with timing differences specific to your setup, and you are present at the time of recording to verify the accuracy of the sound cues yourself. I tend to use such recordings as my reference for sound localization in general since I know exactly where sound sources are coming from relative to the microphones.

Back to the Dharma D1000, I find the soundstage reproduction to be fairly accurate in terms of proportions of the depth and width (height seems to be the odd one out), but the soundstage as a whole is shrunken down in size. This isn't necessarily a bad thing if you like a more intimate sound, and can work well for many regular stereo recordings.

Imaging/Instrument Separation
Although the soundstage isn't the largest, the Dharma D1000 has terrific imaging abilities and I think it's one of the best attributes of this headphone. With the binaural recordings I make, the Dharma D1000 has very convincing imaging, actually more so than my SR-207. Usually front/back imaging is difficult for me to hear, but the Dharma D1000 somehow does a better job at this, and it's very easy to appreciate this quality of imaging for music and gaming alike.

I usually don't talk about gaming audio too much since I don't have too much time to play video games these days, let alone games that feature spacial audio cues. That being said, I have been enjoying Blizzard's most recent first-person shooter: Overwatch. This is going to sound extremely cliché, but I find the Dharma D1000 to have excellent imaging for this game and I can localize where objects are in my head, more so than other headphones I've heard. Actually just in Overwatch's training mode, there are stationary robot enemies that can be used as sources for audio cues, and as I turn the in-game character in a 360˚ circle, the robot enemy's sounds are pretty well-correlated with where they appear on the screen. Again, front/back localization has traditionally been difficult for me to hear, but with the Dharma D1000, they're more readily apparent to me.

Design: 4/5
The design of the Dharma D1000 is really good overall. The headband/headpad assembly reminds me a lot of AKG's automatic-adjusting system but it's slightly different. AKG uses elastic bands that connect the leather headpad to the earcups via a plastic piece that rides along the bands of the headband arc as it adjusts to a head. The Dharma D1000 uses a static plastic headpad strip that's attached to the headband arc, which then has an elastic strip connecting to the other side. The headpad seems to be a piece of plastic wrapped in a breathable fabric material and it wraps around the elastic region of the band. This is quite a unique design I think, but it doesn't quite work out for my head unfortunately (see the Comfort section below), and I can't see it being a very durable system in the long-run considering AKG's elastic headbands tend to stretch out over time. Because of the elastic system, and the relatively heavy design of the headphone, the Dharma D1000 tends to sag on my head. Unfortunately, I tend to hear differences in the sound depending on my ear's position within the earcup and depending on where the headband rests on my head, just like AKG headphones in my experience.

Apart from that, the rest of the headphone itself is pretty well-designed.
  • The ENIGMAcoustics logo is embossed on the leather part of the headband arc, which is fairly flexible and yet it retains its original shape.
  • The outside of the earcup also has the ENIGMAcoustics logo silk-screened(?) on it in faint lettering so it's not as noticeable.
  • The inside earcups are very spacious
  • The drivers are angled within the earcup, so there is no need for angled earpads.
  • The earpads are supple and very large
  • The detachable cables use a 2-pin connection like the HD800.
  • The overall appearance is conservative, yet classy.

One gripe I have with the headphone design is that the swiveling earcups are attached to a vertical metal gimbal that runs down the back of the earcups from the headband. This makes gripping the headphone to put on your head a bit awkward since the front of the earcups can articulate, while the back of the earcups (which is what you'd grip) stay in place.

If you consider the cable as part of the headphone design, the stock cable is really, really, really long at 3 meters (about 10 feet). I can walk everywhere in my room without having to take them off of my head. While this is convenient for that purpose, 90% of the time I'm sitting down at my desktop rig and the super long cable ends up being a burden.

Comfort: 3.5/5
Again, because the headband's only adjustment is through the automatically-adjusting elastic system, the comfort of the Dharma D1000 is not quite optimal for me. Sometimes the headband stays near the smallest setting (my preferred setting) and the Dharma D1000 sits very comfortably on my head. Other times it seems to sag, and thus causes the relatively heavy headphones to slouch down on my head. My head is pretty round, wide, and short, so your mileage may vary.

Other than that, the earpads are quite supple and pliable, and the earcups are deep enough that most people shouldn't have any problems with the driver touching their ears.

Value: 4/5
Is the Dharma D1000 perfect? No, what headphone is? I do think this is quite a unique headphone, and despite the competitors in its price range, I think this is one of the more interesting ones and is easily among my favorite headphones that I've heard. I wouldn't necessarily call it a reference headphone, but it does have a rich tonality to it that makes it a really pleasant listen. Likewise, minus the ~6 kHz peak, the treble is a bit grainy-sounding in terms of frequency response, but due to the electret driver, it keeps up really well with music transients as well as imaging within my head. Combining the dynamic driver's contribution of the natural-sounding timbre with the lightning-quick response of the electret driver, the Dharma D1000 sounds really engaging and dynamic (no pun intended) to me. I highly recommend giving these a listen if you're able to since I do think they are a fantastic headphone package.
I agree with pretty much all of your findings, right down to the headband adjustment, which seems to be only adjustable by gravity. While I don't find the bass boomy or bleeding into the mids, it sometimes seems to stand out by itself, away from everything else. This is one of the many headphones that I like listening to....for a while. Eventually something begins to bother me and I have to switch to something else.
I never got past the highs on this one. Way damn harsh to my ears, though I quite liked everything else. Oh well. Great review!
Good review dude! 


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