HIFIMAN Edition X Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones - Reviews
Pros: Can be driven by most, if not all devices. Fantastic Midrange. Solid bass response. Pretty.
Cons: Cheap-feeling. Flimsy. Cheap-feeling. Flimsy. PLASTIC. Somewhat warm to the ears.

Intro
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I’m a professional photographer (or something like that) and I live in an apartment. That means that I can’t work in the harmonious glow of high end speakers blasting my face off.
 
Thus, I decided to spend my money on headphones.
 
About Me
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I won’t pretend to be the truest of technical audiophiles. While we can totally get down to optical acuity or the point of having 100 megapixel sensors, I can’t tell you the most about headphones. I listen to music. Mostly Tidal, mostly hip hop, rock, and jazz, with some house and trap EDM thrown in. I can tell you what sounds good to me and why.
 
Short History
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I started my hobby when I was 14 and saved enough to buy some Shure E4c’s to go along with my White Core 2 Duo Macbook that I paid for by taking my lunch money and… not eating. This is also after selling my Ultimate Ear Super.Fi 3 and other earphones.
 
A couple of years later, I realized that the static that bothered me was coming from my headphone jack. I bought a NuForce Icon Udac.
 
From then on, I had those headphones till the cable shorted. From there it’s something like:
 
Apple Earpods -> Havi B3 Pro 1 (broken) -> Havi B3 Pro 1 (broken) -> Shure SE535
 
Sony 7506’s (for 7-8 years as a secondary work headphone) -> Alessandro MS-1 -> Sennheiser HD650 -> AKG K7XX (hated it, gave it to Dad) -> Hifiman HE-400i (possibly might sell?) -> Hifiman Edition X
 
Nuforce UDac -> Maverick Audio -> Audioquest Dragonfly v1.2 -> Grace Design x Massdrop m9xx
 
Hifiman Edition X Review
 
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What's in the box?
 
- The HEX
- Nice form-fitting padding
- 4-5 foot (ish) right angled 3.5mm terminated cable
- 9-10 foot (ish) straight 1/4 terminated cable
 
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I will always break down my reviews by the three things that matter to me. Comfort, build, sound quality, versatility, and my honest opinion to the biggest question of all: Was the damn thing worth it?
 
I bought the HEX I own with my own money. 
 
Comfort - 9/10
 
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I work a lot, so comfort is huge for me. It’s what made me stick away from the Audeze line. I tried them out at an audio store local to Los Angeles, and I couldn’t do longer than fifteen minutes. Too damn heavy.
 
The HEX’s are COMFORTABLE. Extremely. This is coming from someone who didn’t think the 650s were particularly great at comfort, even broken in.
 
The way they completely evenly distribute their weight throughout the side of my head from my temple to the top of my jaw is absolutely fantastic. It doesn’t feel weird to me personally.
 
The 400i’s cup me somewhat tightly, and I’m sure its due to the size of the cups. If the HEX’s had the same cups, I’d feel the same about them. The larger cups are somewhat warm, but absolutely fantastic.
 
 
Build – 5/10
 
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Build is super important to me, and you can ask my work gear about that. I tend not to like things I can’t beat up if they’re portable.
 
These are not leaving the house. Let’s just say that. For how much I paid for them, which was less than most, heeeeellllnaaaaaah.
 
There’s definitely noises when I use them, coming from the headband. My particular copy of the HE-400i feels much sturdier than my HEX, which is pretty sad. We’ll get to this later. I think my point here is this: the 400i build isn’t bad. If my HEX was built the same way, I’d trust it. Sort of. If it didn’t cost this much.
 
 
Sound Quality – 9.3/10
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I’ve always loved the Shure sound. It’s why until my HEX’s, Shure was the only audio company to take my money twice. Hifiman has just become the second (except I bought them used).
 
I am pretty treble sensitive. It has motivated both the way I record audio when I work, and the way I listen to music.
 
My ideal sound signature is this: Laid back treble with roll-off, forward mids, with coherent bass that’s somewhere between the adjectives bloomy and punchy. I loved that my 650s totally nailed this signature. I just didn’t like how the comfort was, and how much scaling they required.
 
Needless to say, my HEX’s NAIL this. Just listen to some high-res Norah Jones. Your mind will be blown.
 
 
Mids - 10/10
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I am a hip-hop classicist. By this I mean, I listen to vocals before beats. I think this is why I subconsciously liked my Shures. It brought vocals to the forefront above all else.
 
Mids here are fantastic. Both male and female vocals sound fantastic. You get enough detail and nuance in these headphones to notice certain parts of recordings (if it’s good enough). For Norah Jones’s Seven Years, you can hear some of the studio noise and acoustics, and the range of the mics and how close she probably came to clipping.
 
I might be completely wrong, but that’s what it sounds like to me.
 
I think the big thing for me here, is that there’s definite separation of the vocals and mid-centric instruments above the bass. That’s huge to me. The mids feel like they’re in the center of my head, the bass surrounds the stage, and the other frequencies and quieter parts of the mix stay separate. I guess I’ll say it here, soundstage for a headphone is fantastic.
 
When I’m working, I can pick apart mistakes in my recordings of vocals pretty quickly. Whether that’s good or bad, ask me when I’m frustrated. But it does help me with my work, and the HEX is the first full sized can that I can say has honestly done that for me.
 
 
Bass - 9/10
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The bass here is somewhere between bloomy and punchy/quick. Dare I say natural and loudspeaker like?
 
It’s interesting because it also seems to hit a middle-ground between my old 650s and my HE-400i’s. I got to do some A/B because I sold the 650s after I got my HEX’s. The HEX’s sound more planar’y in the low end than the 650s did. By this, I mean had quick decay before the pads played any effect on it.
 
The HEX has bass that is neither too Planar-y, nor too typical dynamic and thumpy. It strides a solid middle ground that sounds very natural to me. On some songs (Love Lockdown – Kanye West especially), the bass just reaches below the point of overwhelming.
 
I will say, that for the sake of tracks like that, I wish the bass was ever so slightly tighter. Maybe 5%.
 
 
Treble - 9/10 (for me)
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Not sibilant, and doesn’t fatigue. I can listen to this headphone for hours. I’m not a treble head, so I won’t say much here, especially since most of my music doesn’t rely on treble. It’s smooth and rolled off just the way I like it.
 
 
Soundstage, other dynamics/details - 9/10
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Fantastic in a lot of ways, as I said earlier.
 
- The only knock here is for absolute resolution which, to my ears, can’t beat my friends HD800 out of his Woo Audio WA7. Considering I didn’t buy these for absolute detail, but for enjoyment (95% of the time), it’s only losing a point for this. This doesn't mean the headphones lack detail retrieval. They're still better than most sub $1000 cans.
 
- Soundstage is great, vocals for the most part feel like they're coming from the middle of my head, or just in front of me. Bass feels multidirectional, just behind the vocals. Other instruments come from different sides of my head (depending on the mix). As far as instrument/element separation, different elements of the mix seem to fade in and out ridiculously smoothly. There is also seemingly definitive space between elements of each track. It’s worth the listen alone. 
 
- Solidly black background.
 
- Easy easy easy to drive, but you knew that already.
 
- Doesn’t scale a lot, when using my m9xx, soundstage becomes more coherent and the background becomes blacker. Enough of a difference to matter to me. Makes me think that a high end SS amp would be the way to go here, unlike tubes. YMMV. 
 
***** Hifiman representatives have said that using an amp that outs over 1W will damage these things. I'm not sure how you could do that, without it going crazy loud and blowing your ears out first. Just throwing this out there.
 
- Are these cans forgiving? Nope. Not to my ears at least. Feed it high quality files and input. Don't play 128 kbps music on these headphones. You'll regret every second of it. Lower quality mixes can’t hold up to the Norah Jones’ and the Kanye’s and the other fantastic producers of the world. I listened to Iron Maiden on these, and they sounded absolutely flat. Mind you, they were lossless but not remastered. Classic music, remastered, just popped out of the screen and felt 3D hologrammed in my head.
 
 
Versatility 10/10
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Let’s just say these are the versatility kings. Since they're open, I can be relatively aware of my surroundings when in use, and they can be driven literally out of anything. They sound marvelous out of my iPad. They literally don’t suck out of anything, which even my Shure’s can’t exactly match (due to hiss and electrical cracking).
 
These headphones can be used with, and for anything. I won’t duck points from it due to the fact it’s an open back which limits it in certain environments. Don't be that guy who blasts open-back headphones on the Metro. Please, please don't be that guy.
 
 
What do other people think?
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I have a girlfriend and an apartment mate. My girlfriend could give less of a crap about the gear, but absolutely loves music. The apartment mate is a writer for a computer and tech review site, so he’s a gearhead too. Did I tell you he has a Massdrop account?
 
Girlfriend: Couldn’t take the headphones off, but couldn’t tell me why. Her first real hifi moment was trying out the 400i’s for the first time. This was a bigger and more comfortable experience for her.
 
Apartment Mate: Mind blown, and didn’t take them off for at least two hours when he was supposed to be writing. He was excited to tell me about details in the music that he’s never heard before, particularly mistakes in his lossless Weezer recordings. 
 
 
Are you done buying headphones?
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I'm not sure if these are my end of end games. I'm thinking the only way up from here would either be a pair of Stax SR-007's or HD800S's. The latter for practicality, the former for bad-assery. My interests in sound don't really seem (from what I've heard in the past) to be worth upgrading to any other phone. Don't say Audeze, my big head will probably beg for mercy.
 
Final Notes
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Something worth mentioning was that I bought these knowing I'd be using them with an iPad, and not necessarily with a DAC/Amp. I think you have to be in this camp to fully pull the trigger on these, but I think there's more of you out there than not. These are THE BEST headphones for use without any additional hardware.
 
 
Was it worth it?
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Yes, ABSOLUTELY - for me. 
 
Would it be worth the current used Razordog semi-used price of $1389? Hm… good question. I won’t answer this, too close to call. I’d say yes to all willing to give it a shot.
 
Would it be worth at $1799? ONLY if my tastes seem to match yours, and this headphone is a close to perfect match to your musical tastes. If so, OMG YES GO FOR IT. If not, I hear Audeze, Mr. Speakers, and some company called Sennheiser might have something to say.
 
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Final Score: 8.5/10
 
Which for me, being the cheapskate that I am, on a pair of $1799 headphones that can feel, at times, flimsy, means:
 
Go buy them now! I can't recommend these enough.
 
Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions! I hope my thoughts were worth your two cents.ifiman

senorx12562
senorx12562
Nice review, thanks. Love the lunch money story; that is dedication to the cause. Respect. Cheers.
rmacaisa
rmacaisa
@senorx12562  thanks! that's how to get it done when you're 15 haha
cyberslacker
cyberslacker
nice review, i have the 400i and love em but of course i will be moving up...
Pros: weight, look, imaging, easiness, comfort, efficiency, airness
Cons: cable, soundstage, boring, details

Pros: excellent sound, great comfort, common cable connection style (easy to replace)
Cons: Questionable choice of build materials, HUGE - may not work with smaller heads
INTRODUCTION:
 
When getting into the world of Hi-Fi audio I couldn’t fathom how someone could spend more than a couple hundred dollars on a set of headphones. I had just purchased my first set of real deal headphones (Shure SE-425 for those who are wondering) and while I was happy with them, it was still an endeavor to spend as much money as I did. Seeing people talk about buying $1500.00 headphones and more would do nothing less than make my jaw hit the floor. Surely they can’t be that much better…
 
Enter modern day in my life and I have several pieces of equipment in the $500.00 range. And I can begin to understand how the next step up really makes a difference. This is when I found myself in the review tour for the Hifiman Edition X. Finally, a chance to determine if there was a reason someone should spend such an amount on headphones. So will it be worth the cash? Let’s find out!
 
DISCLAIMER:
The Hifiman Edition X unit I reviewed was provided for a sample period so that we reviewers can provide a true opinion of the device. I am in no way affiliated or obligated to write a positive review for the company. The review below reflects my complete and honest review of the product.
 
ABOUT ME:
I am a 26 year old music enthusiast, audiophile, music lover, whatever your terminology is for us with empty wallets and great tunes! In my obnoxious youth I could never understand why someone would drop the cash for headphones like ours. Over time I learned the differences in not just equipment, but in source files.
Suddenly I found myself spending some money on good gear, and over time it has developed into something more. Not only did I find myself enjoying my music more, but I found communities that share in my hobby.
I have a very extensive and eclectic musical library. I tend to avoid rap and heavy sided metal music. Otherwise, I am game. Most of my music comes from Folk, Rock (all kinds), Alternative, Singer/songwriter, and Acapella. I would say that I am a balanced listener, with perhaps a bit of a bass-head tendency. My library is comprised of mostly legally obtained Redbook 16/44.1 with a few vinyl rips done for me by a friend.
 
My DAP experience has been all across the spectrum, but has recently began the hi-fi journey. Starting with my original RCA RD2204 Lyra (the old days) and continuing to SanDisk Sansa’s, clips, Ipods, Iphones, Android phones (such as HTC one M8) and Windows Phones (Lumia 1520, 1020). Recently I have begun collecting my newer gear starting with my first Hi res dap as the X1/Q1, as well as testing the Sony A17 and FiiO X7.
 
My headphone use is primarily IEM with a few cans. My primary gear currently is my Shure SE-425’s and my Hifiman HE-400’s. I use my FiiO X1 with the Q1 DAC stacked as my daily driver currently. But enough about me!
 
 
PACKAGING AND IN THE BOX:
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One thing that always amazes me when looking at more expensive equipment is the amount of care and planning that goes in just the packaging. The Edition X is no exception, coming in a leather covered hard box with silver front. There is plenty of padding in the box to keep the headphones nice and secure. Typically, I am not one to care much about the packaging as I tend to rid myself of it within a few days of ownership. But I can see myself storing these headphones in this box when not in use.
 
In the box you will find a standard assortment of items. I have included a list of included things in my box. Please note that because this is a review unit, the included accessories could change. With that said, included were the following:
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  1. Edition X headphones (duh)
  2. 3.5mm stereo headphone cable
  3. ¼ inch stereo headphone cable
  4. Warranty card
  5. Owner’s manual
 
SPECIFICATIONS:
 
  1. Impedance: 25Ohm (±3 Ohm)
  2. Sensitivity: 103 dB @ 1kHz 
  3. Response: 8Hz - 50KHz
  4. Type: Planar Magnetic
 
BUILD QUALITY/DESIGN:
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As many others have noted, the Edition X takes many of its design elements from the Hifiman HE1000 headphones. This relies on a suspension strap to rest the phones and some rather incredibly large egg shaped cups. These are some of the more comfortable headphones I have ever owned. There is no noticeable weight, they don’t clamp too hard on your head, and my ears didn’t even touch the inside driver wall.
 
After wearing the headphones for several hours I found no fatigue. The only issue I had came when I was doing some organizing of my house while listening and my ears got rather hot. Granted, I was doing physical labor, but if your ears get warm naturally you may find some heat issues here.
 
It is worth noting that the headphones are nothing short of gigantic. At 5’11” and a solid 280 Lbs, I am not exactly a small man. In fact, sometimes I find that I cannot use certain headphones because the band is simply too small. I found that the Edition X fit me on either the tightest setting or one up from the tightest setting. I fear for the man whose head is too big for these cans. However, I will state that if you have a smaller head you may run into some issues.
 
What I was surprised to find was that the gimbals on the headphones, as well as the cups seem to be plastic. While this is no doubt to keep weight down on the headphones, coming from the all metal HE-400 I was disappointed to see this. It seemed to be questionable in terms of the longevity of the device including so much plastic. However, on the other side of that argument, I never had an issue with any of the plastic components.
 
While the plastic did not seem to be an issue, the ports for the cable may present a different issue. In my testing I did have to return the unit for service as the left cup had intermittent issues with audio cutting out. I also found that the port on that side of the cup seemed loose. I cannot say for sure if the issue is build quality, as there were several other reviewers before me and I have no idea what level of care they received before being in my care (Not to say that any one of them would abuse their equipment). But it did provide enough worry that I was skeptical of their survivability in the long term.
 
The cable ports terminate at a forward facing angle, rather than straight down, this helps avoid rubbing and microphonics, which is appreciated. As a fellow reviewer stated, I did enjoy that Hifiman has switched to a more standard cable connection to the cups, rather than sticking with the micro-coaxial connection the HE-400 uses. I enjoy the security that type of cable provided, but having to ‘assemble’ your headphones was a bit of a chore if you keep them put away.
 
THE SOUND:
For those who do not have experience with many planar magnetic headphones, they have a tendency to sound okay on low power devices, but always sound better when getting proper power from the source. What I found abnormal is that the HEX provided an impressive sound when just paring with a smart phone. The headphones provided a great soundstage, instrumentation, and clarity with just a good ol’ phone.
 
As the Smartphone was my first test (Hifiman has been touting how well the HEX works straight through the phone), I figured that the law of Planar Magnetics surely must apply. So I ventured fourth to grab my X1/Q1 stack. I was confused when the sound really did not change much when provided the extra power from the q1.
 
Next was my Onkyo TX-NR626 home theater system. I reached for the ¼ in. cable and set forth. Once again, while not at all disappointing, I was surprised that the changes when given extra power were minimal. The soundstage became wider, but only just. Overall the sound signature was about the same regardless of how it was driven. This is definitely not a bad thing and in no way a downside. It just seemed strange from my previous experiences.
 
With regards to sound, I really enjoyed the sound from the Edition X. For me the soundstage was very wide. Sound was smooth balanced. The high end may leave a small bit to be desired but for me it allowed the dark side of my music to really shine. The Bass is prominent and well placed (Although it can be a bit loose at times). Vocals were natural sounding, with virtually any sibilance gone.
I find that the wide soundstage and great instrument separation were the crowning achievements of these headphones. Being able to have so much space between the different sounds and vocals made a lot of my music really come to life and in some cases almost sound epic.
 
For fun I listened to some opening music for a few of my favorite TV shows and was in awe of how intense the music was. The Vikings theme song (Fever Ray – If I Had a Heart) had a looming pulse with powerful lyrics that felt emotional and powerful. And finally, the Theme song from Black Sails (Bear McCreary – Black Sails) just made me feel like I needed to fire a cannon and board a ship!
 
In short, I found the sound to be very pleasing. At no point was I disappointed in the way that the sound was portrayed. While I have limited experience in the world of top of the line headphones, I can definitely see the difference.
 
CONCLUSION:
 
So how did I feel about my review time with the Hifiman Edition X? I felt conflicted. On the one hand, the sound was fantastic. It is something that I really enjoyed and would love to be able to listen to at any time. But on the other hand, I was not impressed with the build quality. While everything felt solidly built, it was still just plastic. The plastic also felt too thin and flimsy for the gimbals. For $1800.00 I feel that I should be confident in the product to survive quite a long time. While it is of course an opinion, I just wasn’t confident that the Edition X provided that.
 
It is also important to note that while the Edition X is a fantastic sounding headphone, it is well past the line of diminishing returns. Being that I have not had a lot of experience in top of the line gear, It’s hard to tell just how much better these headphones are from a $1000.00 or even $800.00 headphone.
 
If you have the money to spend on these headphones, and you live in a caring environment, these headphones would be a great compliment to any collection. If you’re having a hard time justifying an $1800.00 headphone purchase, perhaps consider going for something for a lesser cost. That is my ultimate opinion.
 
 
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[size=1em]DAP – FiiO X1, Lumia 1520, Asus Zenfone 2, FiiO X7, LG G5, Onkyo TX-NR626[/size]
AMP/DAC – FiiO Q1 (Wired)
Songs – Fever Ray – If I Had A Heart, Bear McCreary – Black Sails, Pentatonix – Multiple songs, NEEDTOBREATHE – Brother, Trans Siberian Orchestra – Multiple songs.
Pros: large sound stage, nicely balanced tonally, reasonably good impact, relaxed sound, but not recessed, sounds like a speaker
Cons: sound could be a touch more vivid and energetic, not quite as large sounding and airy as the HE1000
I recently had the pleasure of listening to a loaner Edition X.  I already own the HE1000 but wanted to hear how they would compare.  The short answer is that I believe the HE Edition X is a fantastic headphone and has different strengths than the HE1000.  I own many flagship headphones and I feel that the Edition X is competitive with the best of them. The fit and finish of the Edition X is very good.  It doesn't creek, it adjusts easily, and I can wear it for long times without fatigue.  The shape and size seems similar to the HE1000 though the HE1000 pads seem bit thicker (front to back).  The headphone is also pretty to look at, but this is of course, subjective.  It comes in a nice box.  Unlike the HE1000, it comes with a 1/4" and an 1/8" cable, but no balanced cable.  The cables are, however, interchangeable with the HE1000 cables.  The X comes in a very nice case, though it would be nice to have a travel ling style case as an option for the Edition X.
 
So what about the sound?
 
Bass - bass is plentiful, though not quite as much in quantity as the HE1000.  To me it sounds like the HE1000 has slightly more mid-bass and the bass may go slightly deeper than the Edition X.  But the bass on the edition X is very well balanced and satisfying.  The quality of the bass is also very good.  Bass on the X, much like the HE1000, seems like it forms out of thin air, more like a speaker than a headphone.  I would say the Edition X bass is slightly recessed sounding in comparison to the midrange, but this is very subtle and not objectionable to me in any way.  Does the X have the clearest, most visceral bass impact?  It's very respectable, but perhaps not quite as sharp, impactful and powerful as some of the best in that department.  Then again, I think this has something to do with the trait I previously described where it materializes out of thin air from a distance (more like a speaker).  Bottom line, I don't find the Edition X to have the 'grunt factor' that some headphones possess, but the bass is certainly present, of high quality, and full sounding.
 
Midrange - I really enjoy the midrange and in fact, I believe the midrange offers a more forward perspective than the HE1000.  For this reason, I may actually prefer the Edition X midrange. By comparison, the HE1000 sounds slightly recessed.  This isn't to say that the Edition X is forward sounding, but where I characterize the HE1000 as neutral to slightly recessed, I would say the Edition X is neutral to slightly forward ....but not really an intimate sounding kind of forward...just really well balanced and pleasant.  While I tend to feel that the HE1000 needs to be turned up in volume more than normal to achieve the desired sound, I do not have to do that with the Edition X.  For this reason alone, I see myself purchasing the Edition X and keeping it as a compliment to the HE1000.  I also feel that the Edition X has a more fleshed out sounding midrange and the slightly more aggressive midrange / upper mids adds a sense of impact from that frequency range that I feel is actually superior to the HE 1000.  Compared to some other headphones like the Ether C for example, the midrange on the Edition X still is not quite as bright, clear, and vibrant.  It's more laid-back.  But, this makes for a very easy-to-listen to and enjoyable sound,  When not comparing directly to brighter crisper headphones like the Ether C, the midrange sounds plenty vibrant.  It might also be said that the Edition X is the more neutral signature, at least in the midrange, but it lacks just bit of the bite one who prefers a brighter midrange might desire.  The Edition X does has a very natural sounding midrange.
 
You may be wondering, do I prefer the overall sound of the Edition X to the HE1000?  I'll answer that in a moment.  But let's talk treble.
 
Treble - The Edition X has very nice treble but it doesn't necessarily have sparkle or call attention to itself.  It does sound natural, and is well integrated and well balanced with the other frequencies.  The Edition X doesn't feel rolled off, but the HE1000 definitely has a more aggressive treble and more sparkle.  I sometimes feel the treble of the HE1000 is a little too hot, creating a slight excess relative to the upper mids, The Edition X does not present this way at all.  In fact, overall, I would say it has a slight warmth to the sound compared to the HE1000.  That said, the mids of the Edition X may actually sound more open to me than the HE1000, so the warmth of the Edition X compared to the HE1000 is primarily due to its less aggressive treble.
 
Texture - In this regard both the Edition X and the HE1000 are smooth sounding.  The texture of the Edition X is excellent and very articulated/nuanced.  The detail and the timber of the Edition X is quite good.  It may present a richer sound than the He1000, and by richer I do not mean warmer, (though as I said it is warmer).  By richer, I mean more fleshed out timber.  But there is, in my opinion, a somewhat noticeable superiority to the overall texture of the HE1000.   It's a bit hard for me to explain, but the HE1000 sounds a bit like the finest electrostats in the way it presents the texture of the music.  I do not get this feeling from the Edition X.
 
Soundstage  - The soundstage of the edition X is large and impressive.  The sound is nicely layered.  Does it compete with the HE1000?  No, not in my opinion.  It's not a night and day difference, but to me it is somewhat noticeable at times.
 
Imaging - I am happy with the way the Edition X images.  It may not be quite as precise as the HE1000, but I feel imaging is outstanding, overall.  Also, the sound is very balanced (left and right) and vocalists are perfectly centered when they are supposed to be.
 
Clarity - Both headphones are relatively clear. I do feel the more forward sound of the edition X actually gives it a slight edge in clarity, but that really depends on where you focus your listening.  The treble of the HE1000 is more clear, but most of the music is in the mids and the Edition X really delivers in them mids. Now that said, is the Edition X (or for that matter the HE1000) the absolute pinnacle of clarity? Absolutely not.  They Edition X is satisfyingly clear, make no mistake.  But from the mid-bass on down, I have heard tighter, punchier, cleaner, more impactful headphones,  But taken as a whole, the Edition X clarity is still excellent and I consider it top tier. In fact some times, in my experience, speakers can achieve greater clarity by leaving some of the frequencies out, and I'm sorry, but I would rather have a fuller richer sound and give up that last ounce of clarity.
 
So back to the question.  If I had to choose one would I choose the Edition X or the HE1000.  The truth is I would probably choose the Edition X.  I can clearly recognize the HE1000 as the technically superior headphone.  I don't say that because of cost.  The sparkle in the treble, the better bass, the large size of the soundstage and the electrostat-like quality make the HE1000 tough to beat.  But I like a slightly more forward midrange and impactful sound and the Edition X satisfies me better in those regards.  I'm fortunate in that I don't have to choose.  I mentioned at the beginning that I was listening to a loaner unit.  I have been for the last two weeks.  But I fully intend to purchase an Edition X and recommend, for those who can afford it, that you give them an audition, even if you already own and are satisfied with the HE1000.
 
A few more items before I wrap-up.  In terms of my listening preference, I listen to all kinds of genres including orchestral, easy-listening, rock, classic rock, and a bit of jazz. I feel the Edition X excels with all genres.  I listen at approximately 80db but I think the tonal balance of the Edition X allows it to be enjoyed at both lower and louder volumes.
 
As for the equipment, I use a Liquid Carbon headphone amp, and have heard the Edition X on a  MicroZOTL tube amp headphone amp, Bryston, Oppo HA-1, and a Grado headphone amp.  I use an older high-end CD player, I have used the Oppo HA1 DAC, and an Emotiva CD player, as well as a Panasonic DVD player.  I feel the sources are reasonable good and certainly good enough to show off the excellence of the Edition X. 
TwoEars
TwoEars
The HEX is one of my favorite headphones on the market right now, it has very good tonality, soundstage and comfort and is generally very pleasing to listen to. It lacks a bit in ultimate detail retrieval and the upper mid-range is maybe just a tad recessed, the treble maybe just a tad too polite. But on the other hand this makes it a relatively forgiving headphone with a smooth sound that is easy to enjoy for long periods of time without fatigue. But as good as the HEX is I do however feel that it might be priced just a bit high, it would have been an easier outright recommendation had it been priced directly against the HD800 for instance. Whether or not you will prefer the HEX over the HD800 or HD800S is a matter of taste and choice is music, for some I have no doubt the stretch might be worth it. At least I can say that the HEX is definitely worthy of consideration against the HD800 and HD800S, and that in itself certainly isn't bad. Hifiman has come a long way.
punit
punit
Great Review. I like the HE X over the HE1000 because the sound is more to my preference.
reddog
reddog
A great review, I need to try the HE X sometime, it sounds intriguing.
Pros: high efficiency planar, lighter weight, good comfort,
Cons: channel imbalance, resolution stumbles
This here is a micro review and formatted primarily as a direct comparison vs a fully modded HE-6.
There are enough flowery reviews here to paint you a pretty picture, so this will be all point-form and very direct.
 
- potentially more comfortable
- lighter weight, larger cups
- personally I find the cup slightly too long and it presses down into my jaw
- headband kinda big overall; I am on the smallest setting and it still feels too low
 
- that said, the HE-X needs to hang low on the ear to sound right; too high and it seems off
 
- does not reach quite as deep
- top feels like it rolls off a bit earlier as well
- slight midbass emphasis, some rumbles are stronger
- not as clean... has higher distortion probably
 
- there are mild channel imbalances which are throwing me off
- at this price I would expect better driver matching
- possible notches in the midrange??
- produces a funny feeling where sometimes I feel like where a voice or cymbal should really shine but it doesn't
- but other parts come in bright and seem to linger
 
- slightly darker sound overall, laid back tone
 
- staging is slightly behind my ears; this changes a bit depending on where the headphones sit on the head; people with larger heads that get a better fit will very likely get something different
 
- Slightly plastic timbre that rings; I intuitively want to say this has to do with the enclosure and it could use some dampening and/or additional stiffening support, but I'm not going to crack it open to find out
 
- Lady Gaga - Do What You Want: the metallic pulses feels drawn out and hissy
- Metallica - Enter Sandman - the “neverland” whisper is muted
- Bela Fleck - Flight of the Cosmic Hippo - good reach but not quite as deep
 
- There's this odd bass property that immediately makes you think it's stronger and thumpier
- but I think that's just a harmonic distortion in there
- You listen a little longer and you realize it's not actually any stronger
 
- resolution ultimately lags behind the HE-6
- there's a certain speed and lightness that is better
- but at the same time slightly "papery"
- or that plastic timbre annoyingly show through
 
This is more expensive than the HE-6 and has better comfort and sensitivity, but unfortunately does not beat it for sound quality.
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DarktoreS
DarktoreS
For me it is strange to compare the HE6 to the Hex. Why ? If we compared the performance of a HE6 on a mobile source ? I think the Hex is similar to any other high performance headphones designed to operate on mobile sources. For me this headphone is the best on moblie source, and hifiman creat this heaphone for specific performance ! 
Pros: Super critical sound, easy to drive, comfortable
Cons: Price, build quality, somewhat sterile sound.
   20160229_114842.jpg
 
 
 A headphone that’s been making waves. The direct “trickle down” of the legendary Hifiman HE-1000. To be accepted into such a prestigious tour is something I’m tremendously thankful for and for that @Hifiman, and to another friend who helped me, II thank you.
 
     
20160229_120200.jpg   20160229_120057.jpg   20160229_120030.jpg
 
 
The Opening Experience
 
    I must say, this is one of the firmest “handshakes” I’ve ever been given by a company. The presentation is truly one I will not just remember but use as comparison for other unboxings. The pictures on the front and sides are extremely simplistic, professional and scream excellence. The back of the shell is a bit cluttered and could’ve been placed in the manual but it’s not terrible.
    Now once the shell is removed, there’s the real treasure. An all leather headphone case that is beautifully done with “Edition X” written on the front and Hifiman’s logo and Edition X stamp on the stone grey front.
    Upon opening the slightly difficult top you’re greeted with a precision cut headphone layout that adheres to every curve of the HEX, not just a styrofoam generalized cutout but truly specific made. Then in between the cans are the two cables, 1 standard 3.5mm and ¼” jack.
    An incredible visual and one that I will tip my hat to. Well done hifiman, THIS is the type of unboxing experience and “handshake” I admire in companies and it shows me that you take pride in your products and not just a new toy to make money on.
 
20160229_114233_HDR.jpg   20160229_114425.jpg   20160229_115435.jpg
 
 
 
 
Construction
 
    As I take the headphones out I’m greeted with, a very difficult time. Despite looking better than the generalized styrofoam cut outs I’m used to these are a simple grab and equip, these take a little bit of work getting out, which I can already foresee using the case very little because of this.
    Once out of the cutout, I was honestly a little disappointed. For a headphone that costs just south of $2,000, there’s a lot of plastic on these. And it’s not even the high quality plastic but the cheap feeling kind. The headband, despite being a single minutely padded strip of leather feels pretty sturdy. The cans outer shell are higher quality plastic I feel and they have a beautiful purplish sheen to them. The grills protecting the planar magnetic drivers are well crafted aluminum that, despite hearing complaints from others, I had no quality control issues. Also on this note, in case you were unaware, these are completely open back. The noise bleed is real on these and EVERYONE will hear exactly what you’re listening to as if they had these on their heads regardless of what volume levels you choose.
    The cups themselves swivel 180 degrees effortlessly and is equipped with really nice leather/ velour hybrid padding. The cables are thankfully removable and are very well shielded and seem to be quite tangle resistant.
 
20160229_114604.jpg20160229_115051.jpg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Comfort
 
    Perhaps the second most important aspect of a headphone, at least it is to me anyways. How comfortable are they to wear? Can I wear these for hours on end or will I have a set time limit? Well with the Edition X I must say they are extremely comfortable for about an 1 ½  to 2 hours. Now, let me explain where I can up with this deduction and why it won’t necessarily be the same for everyone. The clamping force and the pads are on point! As in I am incredibly satisfied with both of them as I am with the padding length. My large ears don’t touch any of the pads however they do touch the mesh that separates the ears from the diaphragm and it’s that that causes me to grow in discomfort in such a relatively short time frame. Now those of you with average or smaller ears will have nothing but super long and enjoyable listening sessions.
 
 
 
Sound
 
    Ah, finally. The most important factor to a headphone. How do they sound? Again, costing a hefty $1,800 I have extremely high expectations of these and will critique these as such.
    Also a large note that Hifiman cannot emphasize enough. These are meant for mobile/low power use! Further going into saying that applying too much amplitude will actually diminish the sound quality quite notably. So with that in mind I used my phone (LG V10) and my Aune X1s (w/ internal varying amplitude) for the purpose of this review.
    During my week I learned that the imagine on the Edition X is incredible! During the last night of my review period I watch “Naruto the Movie: The Last” (yes, I’m a huge anime buff) and I legitimately felt like I was there. Every sound was absurdly lifelike and add in the position accuracy bestowed in these and I was having adrenaline rushes during the fighting scenes and multiple times had to remove my headphones due to thinking someone was walking in the hall behind me or knocking on the door! While listening to music, these are a perfect critical headphone to listen to because they give little to no biased at all to the audio but instead play it as it was recorded.
Now let me dive into the individual aspects of what I have learned with the Edition X during my week with them.
 
Treble
 
    The highs are, acceptable. They’re extremely accurate and clean with a stunning amount of detail, however, they don’t sparkle at all. I greatly dislike reading the hz rating because of this reason. It’s rated for 8hz-50khz so I’m expecting high to extend waaaayyyyy out there. But what I got was rather dull and fast peaking treble. I never noticed and roll in the upper treble, in fact it was quite linear, but on songs that I use that have explicit high HIGH notes (i.e. colour of the moon, diva dance, etc…) I never got those chills or emotion but rather got breathtaking and controlled detail retrieval.
     Now make no mistake, I may be disappointed in the treble response and was expecting a great deal more, but the treble is still very impressive and those who enjoy the more controlled, tame, sound will find these perfect.
 
Mids
 
    The mids are very similar to the treble in the sense that they focus completely on accuracy and flatness. The vocals are either straight flat or very slightly recessed but reproduce the audio from the artists on point. Going back to the treble I feel those who seek a truly flat and clinical sound will greatly enjoy these but someone like myself who loves the warm sensual sound and a mid focused sound I found these to be rather boring, despite the transparency of sound.
 
Bass
 
    Oh dear goodness the bass! The control, the power, the authority, the speed! I LOVE the bass response the Edition X presents to not just my ears but my being. Now those who keep up with me should no I am NOT a bass head by any means nor are these a bass head headphone but instead show what true bass should sound like and FEEL like! Never was the bass fake, or overly extended to show unwarranted excitement as most due, instead tamed the audio and made it its own delivering what was meant to be heard, nothing more nothing less.
 
                                                         20160229_114221_HDR.jpg
 
 
Conclusion
 
    Overall the Hifiman Edition X is a striking headphone to the clinical music lovers. They produce accuracy and a critical sound that is more emotionless than the HD700’s. If the Edition X where a person, they would be the person that is of the utmost distinguished at their job but couldn’t care less about friends, communication; or rather anything except coming in, doing their job and leaving. These do the job of playing audio accurately as well as I’ve ever heard but in doing such provides a soulless and boring sound.
    They have the flattest tonality of any headphone I’ve ever heard and retrieve detail to a degree deserving of its price tag. They do not scale much at all so I was able to transfer from amp/dac to mobile use without missing much at all.
    Are these some of the best home headphones ever made and a potential flagship killer? Eh I doubt it, there’s just no remembrance I had with these that I feel can crush headphones that are of equal tier. Now perhaps on the mobile platform they’re at the front of the pack but I doubt many people will be walking around with these for they draw a lot of attention. While shopping I wore these into a store and had every aisle someone look and try and hide a laugh.
    So are these great headphone? Absolutely, I just feel they’re currently ahead of their time and are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Add the lowish quality construction to price ratio and you’ve a constant worry about dropping them but and enjoyable experience is certainly a guarantee.
 
Till next time my friends, also make sure you check out my Unboxing and Review videos as well!
 
 
Soundizer
Soundizer
Thank you for the review and I also like the Youtube videos. Perhaps you could do a verbal comparison video between headphones at the same price point, like the OPPO PM1 for example. I hope you will review the Senn HD800s which is actually £100 less than the Edition X in the UK.
Army-Firedawg
Army-Firedawg
Thank you for your kind words. I keep meaning to throw in comparison but I don't want to distract away from the product being reviewed, however I completely understand the positives to it. As for reviewing the HD800 I'd LOVE to but at Carolina Canfest 5 was my first time ever getting to hear the legendary headphone. A direct comparison between the two just from initial impressions is very very similar but I would have to really listen to the 800s to give a difference. 
 
Now between the HEX and PM-1 I would without reserves go for the PM-1 over honestly anything I've ever heard minus the LCD-XC from initial impressions. I really loved the sound of the XC but didn't get to listen long enough to get a full grasp of its capabilities. The Oppo however appealed to every single string in my body and my ears are still to this day longing to hear them again. They're not sonically accurate like the HEX but the sensual and emotionally fulfilling sound is truly something to experience. 
Army-Firedawg
Army-Firedawg
@TWerk
 
hmmmmmm that's a really hard question ummm. Dang I really can't give one a more emotionless title than the other they're both pretty sterile. Now the HEX does reveal Earth and stars more detail than the HD700 could ever dream of but other than that they're honestly pretty darn similar. It's like comparing my B&W P7 to the Oppo PM-1. It's an upgrade but basically the same overall signature
Pros: Presentation, Comfort
Cons: Price, Value, Material Choice
Introduction:
HIFIMAN’s (HFM) newest product to their lineup, the Edition X, has been tour all over the US thanks to HFM’s willingness to loan out quite a few units for enthusiasts to listen and review. Many people have already put forth their opinions and reviews of the Edition X, and I’m certainly one of the later people to get their hand on the Edition X.
 
Despite the fact that a lot has already been said about the Edition X, I hope to bring a slightly different approach to the Edition X as well as how a typical review generally goes. I recently got my hands on a lightly used HD800. As expected, the sound was hyper-detailed but a bit thin with quite a brutal peak at around 5kHz (although I believe most HD800 have a peak more around 6kHz). In an attempt to get the best sound out of the HD800 without the sterility and harshness, I turned to experimenting with EQ. I thought I’d share my findings EQing the HD800 and how it compares to the Edition X here. While one may argue that the Edition X’s biggest competitors may be more along the lines of the Audeze headphones, I feel that, even after 6 or 7 years, the headphone to beat, in many ways, is still the HD800 and, of course, the newly introduced HD800S.
 
Packaging and Accessories:
HFM is certainly a company that has got the presentation of their products figured out. The packaging of the Edition X, while not as luxurious looking as the leather box of the HE1000, feels luxurious and looks beautiful. The overall presentation of the headphones are basically identical to that of all other HFM headphones. The headphones sit inside a foam cutout with the cables and accessories in a small compartment in the middle of the foam cutout.
 
Since the Edition X is advertised to share similar qualities with the HE1000 while being even easier to drive, HFM included a cable terminated with a 6.3mm jack as well as one with a 3.5mm jack - although the cable isn’t particularly friendly for portable use either. Both cables are sturdy, a bit stiff, and certainly more suited for home use.
 
DSCN0439.jpgDSCN0438.jpg
Packaging of the Edition X
 ​
Build, Design, and Comfort:
If you ask me, HFM’s has certainly tightened up the QC for their products since being under fire for quite a few years for having some big quality inconsistencies and issues. I’ve had the fortune of having 4 different HFM products pass through my house, and I haven’t had any sort of issue with any of them.
 
However, looking at the Edition X, you can’t help but wonder how HFM got the idea of using the shiny plastic coating, similar to that of the HE400i, for the Edition X. The HE560, being about 1000 dollars shy of the Edition X, at least has some nice wood veneer on its earcups. an interesting decision, but unfortunately one that hurts the presentation of the Edition X as a premium product if you ask me. I get that the Edition X is supposed to look like the younger brother of the HE1000 like how the HE400i looks like the younger brother of the HE560, but perhaps HFM forgot that they're still dealing with a 1800 dollar product and a plastic finish just doesn’t quite cut it.
 
One of the biggest improvements HFM made with their new lineup has to be comfort. While I absolutely despised how uncomfortable the older models were, I’ve found the newer models to be quite comfortable. The HE1000, despite being very large and a bit heavy, sat comfortably on the head and didn’t cause any sort of pain over time. The Edition X is certainly a comfortable headphone as well, but being just a tad smaller than the HE1000, the earpads are also a little bit shallower and do come in contact with my ears a little. Through a period of a few hours, the earcups do end up giving my ears some discomfort. Other than that, I found the Edition X to be well built and comfortable despite the questionable choice in material for its finish.
 
DSCN0436.jpg
Image Showing the Slightly Shallow Earpad
 
Listening Impressions:
As promised, HFM delivered a high-end planar magnetic headphone that can be driven by portable players. My Lotoo PAW Gold drove the Edition X with no problems - very well, if anything. However, the Edition X is still a headphone that is capable of scaling. In addition, it’s still a bulky open-back headphone. For those reasons, most of my time spent with the Edition X was with my desktop setup and my Asus Essence III. Plus, I wanted to compare the Edition X to my HD800, so I had to keep my setup consistent.
 
The Edition X is a headphone that is most easily described as being organic and smooth sounding. Bass extension is good and the midbass presence is north of neutral - but not overbearing. Midrange is smooth with a soft quality to it while the treble is also a bit more on the relaxed side of things. When I first heard the Edition X, I heard the sense of softness that a lot of people pointed out about the HE1000 - but to a greater extent. Unfortunately, it was a to a point where the sound didn’t sound quite right to me. Overall, the sound is within the realm of neutral to me, but with a downward tilt to the sound.
 
If one is to compare a stock HD800 with the Edition X, well they’re in for a real challenge. Switching to the Edition X from the HD800, the Edition X sounds bloated with a smaller soundstage and unimpressive imaging. Going vice versa and the HD800 sounds ultra thin, sterile, but much more detailed as well. The HD800 is not a neutral headphone. In all honesty, I would say the Edition X is closer to neutrality than the HD800 is.
 
I received my HD800 a little before getting the Edition X unit, so even before I got the Edition X, I had decided to compare the two headphones and see how tweaking the HD800 changes its sound. I used Tyll’s “Big Sound” findings as a baseline (LINK) and tweaked the HD800 further with a 30 band EQ to get a sound that is close to neutrality but enjoyable for me. I would describe the sound to be very gently U shaped but with a midrange that is very accurate and uncolored. I was thrilled with the results to say the least.
 
 
Comparing the Edition X to the EQed HD800 is a much more doable feat. The Edition X still has more of a midbass bump to it, a richer sounding midrange, and a smoother treble, but the two are no longer on opposite poles of things. Comparing my EQed HD800 and the Edition X is what really got me thinking about the price of the Edition X and why there are people out there so against EQing their headphones. The HD800 now retails at about 500 dollars less than the Edition X, and I honestly find the EQed HD800 to be superior in a lot of ways to the Edition X. As expected from the king of dynamic drivers and king of soundstage, the soundstage and imaging of the HD800 is simply in a different league. The HD800 bass response is faster, cleaner, but I will give the edge to the Edition X in terms of low end texture. Midrange and treble detail of the HD800 is also superior to that of the Edition X.
 
DSCN0435.jpg
Listening Setup - HD800, Edition X, and Essence III
 
Conclusion - Lesson Learned:
It’s easy to see that I highly preferred my EQed HD800 to the Edition X. Some may make the argument that messing with the digital signal can only lead to degradation of the sound. Whether that’s true or not is not what I’m here to debate. What I’m here to share is my experience with EQing the HD800 and how it compares to a more expensive headphone - the Edition X. Whether the sound is degraded by EQ or not, I’m able to achieve a sound that is similar to that of the Edition X while having a listening experience that’s far superior in terms of detail and realism. I think that speaks enough on its own.
 
It’s a bit of a bummer. I’m honestly quite a big fan of HFM. I think the HE1000, despite being pricey, is an absolute work of art while the HE560 gives you a taste of what a flagship sound is like without the premium on the price. Meanwhile, the Edition X in between the two does… well I’m honestly not sure what it does. I guess it brings a flagship sound to a truly portable market in some ways. To be completely honest, if you’re looking for the best sound out of a portable player, the Edition X might just be the best option you’ve got. The only issue is I can’t see someone truly using it as a portable headphone. On the other hand, I don’t find it to be particularly competitive in terms of flagship headphones for home use.

So my conclusion? Well it seems HFM designed a product that, on paper, is fantastic for a certain market (the portable market), but the product itself still doesn’t fit in such a market. Meanwhile, the market it seems to fit much better in (the home audio market), is filled with contenders that are simply superior. I feel that the Edition X is sort of stuck in an awkward in-between.. If you can find a situation where the Edition X truly works well in a portable setting, then I think the Edition X will be a great addition to your collection. But for probably 99% of the population, the Edition X, unfortunately, seems like a bit of a miss to me. On the other hand, there’s no better time to buy a HD800. It’s price has gone down thanks to the release of the HD800S, and it’s used price is lower than ever. You can really get a lot out of some research on what a good EQ can do.
Pros: Extremely easy to drive, superior comfort (V2 has improved quality of yokes(metal) and comfy pads that improve sound)
Cons: does not fit all sizes of heads. If you have a small head, these may not work for you. (V2 is improved fit for small heads)
image002.jpg
 
Hifiman Edition X Review:
Update: added Edition X V2 ​
First, a little about the Hifiman HE1000
(History on Hifiman’s Flagship (big brother of the Edition X):
 
     Let’s take a moment and back up so we can cover a little history about Hifiman’s success with their current top of the line headphone; HE1000. Many people commonly refer to them as the HEK or HE1K. The HE1000 has the claim to fame of the World’s first Nanometer thick diaphragms. Dr. Fang Bian, the owner and innovator of Hifiman, has studied long and hard to become a leader in the nano technology market. Dr. Fang produced a headphone with ultra-precise audio reproduction that only a handful of headphones could be considered competition.
The HE1000 comes in with an MSRP price of $2999! Hifiman has successfully set the bar very high for other companies to compete with the HEK. This supercan is able to surpass many of the limits of most headphones today. The HEK is truly an amazing piece of summit-Fi that simply needs to be heard to be fully appreciated.  Hifiman has won countless positive reviews and awards for this Flagship headphone. Headphone Guru gave it the title of Headphone of the Year 2015, which is really not much of a surprise. It’s also won an innovation award from CES 2016.
image004.jpgimage006.png
 
 
Now, onto the Hifiman Edition X:
     
     Dr. Fang decided to reach for a specific market which wants no limits, and demands a flagship headphone that is capable of being sensitive enough that it can be driven from most portable devices. Hifiman’s newest controversial headphone that hits a market niche that not many headphones have achieved. Is the Hifiman Edition X everything it promises to be, or is this a potential failure for Hifiman? The Edition X was officially announced, last year, in October of 2015 @ RMAF. This headphone caught everyone’s attention as it came as an absolute surprise to many.
 
     The Edition X, a.k.a HEX, is Fang’s newest creation and priced at a fair MSRP of $1799. The performance of the Edition X is in-line with the HE1000, yet at a fraction of the price.  Neither of these headphones are targeted at the entry level, mid-Fi market, etc. These are summit-Fi headphones for those who demand the best sound quality. How do they stack up? Is the HE1000 worth 1200usd more than the Edition X? Is the Edition X or HE1000 the right headphone for you?
 
     Planar Magnetics have been known to be very inefficient, and often times large and bulky, yet the Edition X has changed this whole idea. They are ultra-light, comfortable, and insanely efficient to drive.
             
    So to review the Edition X, below is a list of the control gear used to test these headphones.
 
 
Now, onto the Hifiman Edition X V2:
     
     The Edition X V2 is Hifiman's attempt at fixing the shortcomings of the first revision.  They all minor tweaks. So don't fret if you have a pair of HEX revision 1!  The main changes you'll notice right away are the general appearance updates. The blue chrome finish of V1 is quite nice in my opinion and i'm sad to see it go or replaced with a new satin finish metallic black finish. A major improvement has been made with the yokes. The yokes are now metal with V2 and feel more solid and of quality than the V1. Another very welcome revision is the pad style change. The V2 pads are clearly thicker than the V1's. I've noted the issues with V1's pads being too narrow and allowing some people with large ears to touch the driver. These new pads address this issue quite well and further improve sound stage slightly. The dealbreaker with V1 has been addressed with an updated fitment and adjustment options of the headband. Now it is able to fit a wider range of head types. Great job Hifiman! Thank you for listening to your customers and reviewers!  This is a prime example of a company that cares to improve their product and tweak it to make it just right. The new V2 is overall an excellent pair of cans that still remains to be one of my favorites.You might be thinking, "what about the drivers?!"...  The drivers are the same as far as I can tell. It looks like nothing at all has changed. All sound improvements come directly from a pad improvement. But if you have V1's, don't fret! you're not missing out on much by upgrading to the V2 unless you have fitment problems or simple must have the newest, latest and greatest for bragging rights. :D 
 
Below are some photos showing V2 and V1 side by side:
 
 
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take note the V2 is on the left (satin finish metallic black) and the V1 on the right (blue/black chrome)
 
IMG_2372.jpg
Clearly the pads on the V2 are thicker. Nice and soft! they tend to hold in sound a little better.
 
IMG_2373.jpg
take note the difference between the adjustments and yoke designs. The V1's plastic yokes are thicker and adjustment range is limited.
 
IMG_2374.jpg
This view shows the material changes of the pads. The new V2 has a less grippy/grabby material which is "cooler" less warm and fuzzy like the V1.
IMG_2375.jpg
the new updated cables included in the V2 HEX. The box they came in is the same as far as I can tell. These cables are very soft and flexible. Kinda neat you can see the cable as it's clear silicone it seems. They are very soft silicone I think. 
 
 
 
Testing Gear Overview:
image008.jpg
 
Desktop Amp/DAC +Other/Extras:
 
Amp/Dac:
Audio-GD Master 11 w/Audio-GD DIU8 DDC modded with Crystek 957’s
 
Power Conditioning:
PSAudio P300 A/C Regenerator (SR Teslaplex/Gaofei Rhodium/Redcopper) (AudioHorizon Platinum Reference Fuse with WA-Quantum Chip)
 
Power cables:
Cerious Graphene Extreme Power Conditioner Cables/SR
Tesla T1 SE/PSaudio 6guage Lab Cable Cryo’d +AG/RC SonarQuest connectors
 
USB Cables:
LHLabs 2G split cable + Supra USB cable
 
Headphone Cables: stock Hifiman cables and Norne Audio Silvergard S/Zoetic/Eternus for HEX and HEK
 
Other: 
Paul Pang V3 OCXO USB 3.0 card powered by Paul Hynes SR3 5V/7V/9V/12V LPS
Intona Industrial model High Speed USB Isolator

 
Portable Amp/DAC:
Iphone 6, Ipad Mini 3
 
 
Headphones in this comparison:
 
Hifiman Edition X, Hifiman HE1000, Sennheiser HD800, Oppo PM3
 
----------------
Update: My setup has changed since then and is now the following:
IMG_2340.jpg
 
 
Desktop Amp/DAC +Other/Extras:
 
Amp/Dac/DDC:
LV3 Spring Dac +iFi Pro iCan amp (system 1) - Audio-GD NOS11 (modded with silvergarde S wire to replace all copper wire, added EiZZ RCA and XLR connectors) Paired w/Singxer SU1 DDC (system 2) Also testing with Sonore Microrendu
 
Power Conditioning:
KitsuneTuned 800watt OType Isolation transformer w/Mundorf Supreme Oil/Silver caps, Quad rectifier filter, one Furutech NCF duplex and one Synergistic research UEF black duplex - no fuse, this uses a breaker! wired up with 2mm pure silver solid core wire.
 
Power cables:
Cerious Graphene Extreme Power Conditioner Cables/SR
Accuphase 40th aniv + Maze Audio Ref4 carbon 
 
USB Cables/USB other:
LHLabs 2G split cable + Supra USB cable + Jcat Isolator USB patch cable
 
Headphone Cables: stock Hifiman cables and Norne Audio Silvergard S/Zoetic/Eternus for HEX and HEK
 
Other: 
Paul Pang V3 OCXO USB 3.0 card powered by Paul Hynes SR3 5V/7V/9V/12V LPS
Jcat Intona Industrial model High Speed USB Isolator
Holo Audio Titanis Turbo USB 800ma
Less Loss USB key Firewall
Wireworld Starlight 0.3M HDMi i2s Cable
 

Portable Amp/DAC:
Iphone 6, Ipad Mini 3
 
Headphones in this comparison:
 
Hifiman Edition X, Hifiman Edition X V2, Hifiman HE1000, Sennheiser HD800, Oppo PM3
 
Music for Testing:

Amber Rubarth – Novocaine (Sessions from the 17th Ward)
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     My first experience with the Edition X I decided to throw on some music that I’m most familiar with. I chose to listen to some Amber Rubarth and began with her track called “Novocaine. Immediately I was drawn in by strum of the acoustic bass and guitar thus became lost in the music. The detail retrieval was absolutely astonishing and greatly reminded me of the HE1000’s sound signature.  It felt ever-so slightly more engaging due to the very wide soundstage, which is likely due to the massive-open grille design.   David Chesky is a well-known binaural recording artist whom is likely responsible for this effect. Immediately the music drew me in and I had to hear more familiar songs.

Cold Cold Heart - Norah Jones
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     Norah Jones has released albums that are bordering on perfection when it comes to recording quality. She has many songs that are quite popular in my playlists and surely are among collections of many lovers of high end audio. Treat yourself to some 24/192 recordings of Norah.
This is a song in particular which I’ve used for comparison with the DDC’s and their detail retrieval. There is a short and tight acoustic bass plucking in the beginning of this song that either is clearly pronounced or is muffled slightly depending on the power implementation, crystal oscillators, headphones etc. I have gotten it dialed in sounding absolutely stunning. This is a song I prefer with the Edition X over any headphone I’ve tried. Yes, any!

Video Games (Omid 16B Remix) - Lana Del Rey
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     Lana Del Rey has so many great songs, yet oddly I’ve chose this one because of the dynamic changing soundstage. It is a remix which pans her voice all around in front of you. At the very same time, you’ll experience the rhythm of a deep thunderous bass beat while instruments flow all around you. It’s actually quite relaxing as much as it is hypnotic and mesmerizing to follow the movement of her voice. This is a great track to see how well a pair of headphones can image this information, all while pounding a deep sub-bass beat.

Robert Len - Brasilia
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     This song has so many different instruments going on at once, it’s quite difficult to list them all, from chimes, brass, classical guitar, maracas, cymbals, drums. It’s a beautiful track that draws you in deeper. The recording quality is phenomenal and stands out in my collection of headphone benchmarking music. The Edition X does very well here.

Bondax – Gold
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     Heavier and more upbeat bass is found in this track. It has extensive deep bass that hits quite hard while mixing with piano and bubbly synth and higher male vocals. While Edition X holds its own, the HE1000 truly is the best at this track. There is no question about that. This can push a headphone to how well it can control bass notes for extended periods.

Wies Ingwersen - Wailin Wall (Siltech High-End Audiophile Test Demo CD Vol 1)
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     Quite possibly one of my favorite tracks in my list of music. This song caught me off guard at first. Ingwersen’s voice is so crisp and clear you can hear every tiny breath and annunciation. The music is very soft and calming. It has a piano melody, deep bass string beat, some cymbals and chimes to add contrast.

Glass Animals – Hazey – (Zaba)
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     Glass Animals’ whole album is quite good and it is difficult to choose just one song that I would call my favorite. But Hazey surely won me over with its incredible contrasting choice of instruments and catchy beat. Starts with Deep bass and a snap of a finger for a snare like sound. The music videos from these guys are quite entertaining and just strange in general. I recommend you give the Glass Animals a listen.

Saint Preux – Concerto pour deux voix
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     Jean-Baptiste Maunier and Clémence Saint-Preux have joined together, to recreate an emotional song that pushes the limits of one’s ability to sing. Both of these young artists will leave you impressed with their talent. The song begins with the detail of a guitar strumming along with Jean-Baptistes’s opera like singing. Clemence soon joins in and they trade back and forth with notes that few could ever reach. It’s quite an experience to hear. Please give this a listen.

Wim Essed and Henk Sprengen – On the Job (Marantz Hi-End Audiophile Test demo CD Collection)
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     This song intro’s with some of the best strings I’ve heard in a track. Lots of plucking of acoustic guitar and double bass. This track you can hear the strings as the bow and fingers rub against it. You’ll likely be drawn into this track. The Edition X puts you right there with the players.

Anne Cambier, Stijn Saveniers, I Justiniani – G. Caccini – Ave Maria (Winter Music)
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     The most relaxing of all the music I’ve chosen. The voice of Anne Cambier can be soothing and healing. Her voice and the lute make me envision being at a very high class opera in Antwerp. Breathtaking.

Eden Atwood – Blame it on my Youth – This Is Always: The Ballad Session
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     Eden Atwood is actually a new find for me. However did I miss this, I don’t know. Her voice is stunning and recorded very well. I tend to be drawn to music with a double bass and female vocals of this nature. Perfect music to relax to and put your headphones to the test.

 
Puente Celeste - Chiquita 
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     This a great song that tends to fade in and out of silence. A great DSD track that is free for download on nativedsd.com. This track sounds fantastic system 1 setup. The HEX V2 tends to further improve sound stage. 

Album: Raizes
Artist: Laura Polence, Breno Viricimo
Song: Counting Frogs
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This is another calm relaxed song that tests the sound floor. sounds coming from the deep blacks. Yet another female vocal track. I try to focus my reviews to female vocals. They tend to be the hardest to reproduce well. Yet the EditionX v1/v2 does this with ease.
 

  
 
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Vanessa Fernandez - I want to be with you.

     This track I really like the simplistic sound yet is a great example of the clarity that any headphone can deliver in regards to female vocals. Vanessa's voice is quite impressive through a pair of Edition X V2's. The whole album "use me" is recommended. 
 

 
Sound:
     With the Edition X being the newest Hifiman on the roster, I’d say it has one of the more unique signatures. Also, they likely the most neutral sounding headphones that Hifiman has released to date. According to InnerFidelity’s graphs;
 
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HE1000​
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     Looking at these graphs show that the Edition X is quite a flat and neutral headphone. It does not dip down approx. 4-5db from 1.8Khz-2.2Khz like the HE1000. This actually sounds quite nice in presentation IMHO. I find that I enjoy the Edition X headphones with a lot of female vocal music. I personally find that it complements that style of music, therefore I chose many tracks to test that fit this criteria.
 
 
 

 
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Overall sound:
 
Edition X
 
     I’m not going to say either the HE1000 or Edition X is better than the other, since sound is subjective and quite simply the HE1000 and Edition X are not quite in the same category of headphone. I really do enjoy the Edition X headphones for particular styles of music. I find the Edition X is excellent competition to the HD800. I believe Dr. Fang had his sights set on creating a headphone that fit in the category of below 2000usd that would compete with the likes of the LCD3, HD800, and Ether etc.
     
     This quite possibly would be my favorite headphone in this category by a long shot. The sound signature is absolutely addicting and suits the style of music I listen to most. It’s the most relaxed sounding of all Hifiman headphones. Simply put, I would not call this a bright headphone. In contrast to the Edition X the HE1000 has an air of brightness.
Overall, this a headphone I can sit and listen to for 8+ hours in a day and not feel fatigued from an overly bright sound. It’s NOT perfect, but no headphone is. This is a very well balanced headphone that does everything quite well, and really nothing it does poorly. Being that the HE1000 is approximately 1200usd more than the Edition X than it leaves me to say the Edition X is a bargain and can
deliver spectacular and competitive results in the sub 2000usd headphone range.
 
Edition X V2
 
    I can't really say much other than with the new pads the sounds stage seems to have improved slightly and the mids are slightly more forward it seems. If you're using the stock cable, at least in my opinion... don't. As the V1 cable seems grainy or sibilant even. The new V2 cable is slight improvement but still not a very good match imho. I'm a bit disappointed they didn't release the V2 with the balanced cable. I think this headphone scales well with amps and benefits improved sound from a quality cable and summit grade amp. But the sound quality is hard to improve to be honest. I loved the signature of the V1, and it seems this may have changed so very slightly.  I am aware a simple pad change can make a positive improvement or potentially make things worse. I truly believe Hifiman did their homework on these new pads, they are the highlight of the new updates for me personally. Thank you Hifiman!
 

 
 
Cable Comparisons:
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     note: Norne Audio Silvergarde S balanced, Norne Audio Zoetic balanced and Norne Audio and Eternus cables were used to compare vs the stock cable. The best match for the Edition X and HEK was a tie for the Silvergarde S and the Eternus, both cables were quite unique for silver cables as they did NOT add brightness to either headphone, yet they refined throughout the range and removed whatever subtle graininess that was found with the stock Hifiman crystalline cable. The Zoetic is a good alternative to save money and is still quite an improvement over the stock crystalline cable! Norne cables are known for their extremely high quality build and materials, each of these cables is terminated with a Tellerium copper pins and gold plating, the most ideal connector to have. Also some cables have the option for a wood splitter or even machined aluminum if you care for extra details.
 
Silvergarde S (bottom in photo): micro details are maximized, full range is incredibly detailed and balanced, smooths out subtle graininess without any loss in detail. This cable is excellent if every way! The only fault I can give it is that it's somewhat stiff and less comfortable than the other cables tested. The zoetic is by far the most comfortable, flexible etc. This still is my #1 cable for the Edition X V2.
 
Eternus (middle left in photo): same as the Silvergarde S but ever so slight increase in sound stage...yet too small to really put your finger on it.
 
Zoetic (top in photo): pure copper/textile based cable that brings solid bass control and sub bass response, pure clean mids and refined top end yet not quite as smooth and detailed as the silvergarde S top end. Although this is wise choice for keeping costs down for a cable, it's quite a bit better than the stock cable. The Zoetic is an all textile based cable with carbon fiber cores, It's ultra flexible and lightweight by design. It's an incredibly well designed cable that simple sounds stunning for it's price point.  
 
Hifiman Stock cable (middle right in photo): Crystalline copper with Crystalline silver plating: This cable sounds a bit thin compared to it's compared rivals. Bass control and sub bass extension is clearly not as refined. mid range is slightly grainy and top end has a subtle amount of sibilance that is likely due to the silver plated copper. Sibilance tends to be common when using silver plated copper with certain headphones. Personally I believe the stock cable is not a great match for this calibre of headphones.
 
Overall what can you expect from changing the cable? 5-10% increase of sound quality is reasonable to expect depending on the cable choice. Each Amp/Dac and can can influence the cable choice that is best for your setup. But more than likely if you're looking for the ultimate cable for your Edition X, the Silvergarde S is the one to look at. That goes for the HE1000 as well. But if you can afford an Eternus, that would be another 1% yet at an enormous price. I can't recommend the Eternus as a cable due to it's price to performance ratio when comparing it to the Silvergarde S. I know we are to be talking about the HD800 and PM3 a little in this review as well. These headphones pair with difference cables! The HD800 is best paired with a Norne Audio Draug 2 as it will reduce the bleeding glare that HD800 is known for yet also increase micro-detail and bass extension and control. My wife's PM3 we found that the Zoetic is the best match for that headphone. (I have a Draug2 on order for my HD800's)
 
note: we had an accident with the PM3 Zoetic cable and accidently damaged the end connector. We sent it back to norne for repairs and my wife has since refused to listen to her PM3's as she says they sound too thin and tinny with the stock cable. I love this, and find it humerous. We are patiently waiting for her cable to return so she can enjoy her headphones again.
 

 
 
Comparison of HEX vs HEK:
 
     Just from observing the HE1000 and Edition X, one can tell that the Edition X is mostly plastic (lighter in weight) and the HE1000 is mostly metal, albeit aluminum (still heavier). I believe the goal was to create a headphone that was lighter weight as well as being efficient to drive. The problem with the HE1000 is that it simply needs a fairly decent amp to get the best sound quality out of it. The Edition X truly is not demanding of its source. An iPhone, Android, Mojo or other portable device is more than capable of powering the Edition X with plenty of headroom to spare. 
But I personally believe the Edition X can benefit from a higher end source. I am not saying it requires more power, but a very revealing R2R dac can really bring the best out of either of these two headphones. I did my testing on my Audio-GD M11 to hear what these headphones are truly capable of. This is something an iPhone cannot do. I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare these two headphones since they are in significantly different price ranges. Although if you want to compare bang for buck than the Edition X definitely wins. The HE1000 is technically a very fine tuned instrument and delivers uncanny speed and precision and superior imaging to any headphone on the market. The Edition X also does these things quite well but a few steps behind its big brother. 
When it comes to vocals I still find myself listening to the Edition X more than the HE1000. Certain tracks are just addicting and alive with the Edition X. Although with the HE1000 I’m amazed at its super tight and controlled sub-bass. There’s no question the HE1000 is superior to the Edition X in sub-bass. Just check the graphs from Inner Fidelity to prove this statement. The HE1000 is slightly better at upper end detail at the sacrifice of being marginally bright. 
 
Note: I’ve found that pairing a proper headphone cable can make minor adjustments to the sound signatures and reduce the top end glare, and further extend the bass/sub-bass. I’ve tested the Silvergarde S cable from Norne and found this cable to improve the full range and reduce slight graininess in the Edition X in addition to the HE1000.
 

 
Comparison of HEX vs HD800:
 
     It was wholly entertaining to compare these two wonderful headphones. I can fault the HD800 on its cheap looking finish and ear bleeding peaky sound. For my tastes, I’ve found I need to use the Sonarworks plugin to enjoy the HD800’s, along with many other mods such as the Anaxilus mod, internal wiring upgrade and a Norne Audio Draug2 to clean up the sound and make this headphone absolutely spectacular. After all that, the HD800 costs more than a stock HifiMan Edition X. In comparison, the Edition X is very well tuned right out of the box. It’s not quite the same level the HD800 is with portraying a detailed image or wide soundstage. BUT, it’s very close.
   
     I believe these two headphones both do so many things very well. I would leave it up to you to audition them and try for yourself. If you’re sensitive to treble peaks, the HD800 may need a bit of modding for you to “accept” it. The Edition X would be a great choice if you’re sensitive to sharp peaky treble since it’s quite pleasing to the ear and extremely musical. It doesn’t quite have the speed/decay of the HD800 but its close! The HD800 does some very key things better than the Edition X. I still find myself listening to the Edition X most of the time and letting my pair of HD800 collect dust. I wonder, why is this? Likely the reason is that I simply prefer the Edition X.
 
note: I am waiting for a Norne Audio Draug 2 cable to be made for my HD800's. I know this cable is quite amazing for the HD800. I've had one for a while to audition and I can't live without that cable and the HD800. In the meantime the HD800 collects more dust until then. :D 

 
Fit and Finish: 
     
     Personally, I absolutely love the Edition X’s styling and overall quality fit and finish. The grilles are quite attractive and directly from its big brother the HE1000. I personally really like the blue/black chrome finish and find it more attractive than the odd colored wood used on the HE1000. I also like the black headband with contrasting stitches. The black plastic frame, IMHO, is more attractive than the aluminum one used on the HE1000. Some complain about the plastic parts, yet they are quite durable and really lighten the headphone up. I have neck problems and find headphones such as Audeze to be unacceptable for my needs due to their bulky designs that add extreme weight. For instance the LCD4 is around 680grams vs the 399grams of the Edition X vs the HE1000 weighing in at 480grams. My previous pair of Hifiman’s before this were the HE-560 @ 375grams. I found the HE560’s to be one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever owned and I’m quite pleased with the Edition X as a formidable upgrade.
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update: HEX V2
The V2 has increased transparency of the sound, the ear pad material has been changed from the former Velour ear pads. They are now Polyester to make the sound more crystal clear.The headband has also been updated similar to that of the HE 1000 V2.

 
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Asymmetrical Ear Cups
Follows the natural shade of the human ear.
 
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Hybrid Ear Pads
Beveled design conforms to the shape of the human skull while velour and pleather materials provide optimum comfort.
 
 
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Lightweight, ergonomic headband
For better fit, improved sound and comfort for longer term listening
 
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High Performance Cable
That is user-replaceable. Simple connectors allow easy switching or replacement to other cables.
 
 
     One thing I noticed is that although the pads of the Edition X and HE1000 are the same, the ear room is limited in the Edition X.  The HE1000 has a slightly more recessed driver that allows for maybe 1/8” or so more clearance inside. This is quite nice if you have larger ears. Personally I don’t find this to be a problem for me. If you have larger ears, you may want to be sure the fitment of the Edition X is acceptable for you. The most annoying thing I’ve found with the Edition X is the fitment of the headphone itself seems as if it was designed for quite large heads! I happen to have quite a large head yet I still find myself about 1-2 adjustments on the headband away from bottomed out. This shocked me, since on the HE1000 I have a lot more room to play with. My wife’s unable to wear the Edition X headphone since her head is too small, yet she can wear the HE1000. So if you do have a small head than I highly recommend you audition these Edition X’s before going out and purchasing them!
 
UPDATE: Edition X V2 pad changes in detail - they are my highlight of the update! these make the headphone quite special. But hard to justify upgrading from V1.
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Amping needs:
 
     The Edition X really is impressive in this regard. There isn’t much required to drive this headphone quite well. It’s driven quite well out of everything I’ve tested it with. @ 25ohm and 103db Sensitivity! The Edition X may be the most efficient Planar Magnetic headphone yet! My wife’s Oppo PM3’s are a bit like this @26ohm / 102db Sensitivity and would be the second most efficient planar magnetic driven headphone.
 
These are powered quite well from our Ipad Mini 3 and is my preferred way to listen when mobile. Personally I think these headphones scale better to a higher end amp and dac specifically. But the Ipad 3 Mini was quite impressive sounding and I even had a little headroom to spare in the volume control! On the other hand you may gain another 5-10% or more sound quality using a higher end amp/dac which in my opinion is quite significant. Surely not as much as you'd gain if it was a pair of HE1000's we were talking about; In this case, you'd gain 20-30% better sound quality going from a portable device to a high end amplifier and dac.
 
The Iphone6 powers these about as well yet I think the sound quality is slightly better with the Ipad Mini 3. My take on portable audio is that i'm not as critical due to the likelihood you're possibly not going to have a quite listening area and there may be noise around you.  The source is not quite as important when you take that into account. You can get a lot of enjoyment from these headphones more than you would with the HE1000 for portable use.  The HE1000 simply requires a bit too much power for most average portable devices to power them properly. Albeit you can listen to HE1000's on an iphone and it's not terrible, just not impressive. The Edition X is capable of sounding quite impressive off an average portable device. 
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Specifications: 
Frequency Response: 8Hz - 50kHz 
Sensitivity: 103dB 
Impedance: 25 ± 3 ohm 
 
 
 
Note: Dr Fang made a comment online about powering the Edition X’s.
“Don't use amps with more than 1W to drive them or else they will distort. I've seen people use EF6 to drive them which is silly...” (the EF has 5000mW @ 50ohm) "
 
     Well, I can’t help but feel silly to power these Edition X’s on my M11 which has 16000mW of power per channel @ 25ohm or a better way to compare against EF6; M11 has "(8000mW @ 50ohm)". Fortunately it will scale well. I’m using approx. 40-45 steps out of 100 on my M11 amp. The volume control is super exponential and translates to about 2-2.5% of it’s power output. Or 320mW-400mW.  This amount allows the Edition X to be capable to reach around 90-95db or so. update: Even my iFi amp is overkill for these cans. I found the Pro iCan to pair very very very well with these cans, my most preferred amp without question. The manufacturer some how believes too powerful of an amp is a problem. I don't agree. You just need a well built amp that scales well to all impedance of cans. the iFi Pro iCan has just that, and even my NOS11 scales to almost everything except the most sensitive of iems.
 
 

 
 
Misc Accessories Included:
     
     The Edition X comes with two cables. One is a 6.3mm SE cable and the other is a 3.5mm SE cable. Sadly Hifiman did not include a 4pin XLR balanced cable like they did with their HE1000. The Edition X comes in a nice leather wrapped box and foam liner to protect these lovely headphones during shipping.
 
Note: Hifiman has mentioned that they fear people could over drive them with a balanced cable. Personally, I didn’t spend much time testing the Edition X with the SE cables. I used the HE1000 balance cable with my Master11 and almost exclusively listen to them with a Norne Audio Silvergarde S balanced cable.
 
 

 
 
Portable Use:
   
     I must add this part of the review since this is something Dr. Fang claims to have built the Edition X for. Personally I don’t feel the Edition X is suited for portability in all situations. They are simple large, too expensive IMHO, and most importantly they are open backed! I think its borderline rude to share your music with others around you on an airplane. They simply won’t seal out sound around you either.
 
     I must admit how alien it feels to walk out of my listening room with a pair of Hifiman Edition X headphones on my head. My body tells me I can't leave the room or else the cables will pull the amp to the floor or disconnect them from the headphones. It's quite a feeling of freedom to walk around with high end audio on your head. I made a point of folding the laundry while wearing my headphones and just walking around the house in general. It's simply awesome that Hifiman has truly achieved something special with the Edition X. Sure, you can do this with the HE1000 yet the sound will be much thinner, and no headroom for particular tracks. The HE1000 is also way too heavy imho for mobile use. I would find it could slip off your head potentially. The Edition X is just the right weight that it grabs your head enough that it won't fall off. 
 
     They did do an excellent job at keeping them as light weight as possible! Unfortunately there is still no portable case available from Hifiman for these headphones! Either way, these will mostly stay in my listening room. They simply can’t compete with a good trusty pair of Oppo PM3’s in the topic of compactness, portability, durability etc.      
 
     The Oppo PM3, my wife owns, are the best headphone for its price class. They are on par with the Edition X as far as efficiency and ease to drive. Sound quality, not as good of course, but the PM3’s do not disappoint! I’d much rather take a pair of PM3’s out on an airplane, bus, etc.  The Edition X’s are somewhat silly looking when you actually wear them. The Oppo PM3 is quite stylish looking. My wife loves them simply because they fit her better than any other headphone. Plus they are quite immersive with the ability to lock in/out sound. The Edition X does not rate highly in many regards to portable use. This is my opinion.
 
     The HD800, well do we even need to go there? It's NOT a good headphone for portable use in any way. 

 
Pricing* and Value*:
 
*The Edition X V1 has an MSRP of 1799usd yet can be found for a little over 1500usd if you do some shopping around. :D
 
*This is likely the best valued headphone in the price range of 1200-2000usd.
 
*This headphone is fairly priced and I don’t see it’s priced being lowered anytime soon, as well as the HE1000.
 
*Either 2500-2999 for HE1000 is common
Or 1500-1799 for Edition X is common
 
*If you don’t have unlimited funds, the Edition X is a great choice!
 
The new V2 is priced lower than the V1 and a bargain imho. $1299 msrp.

 
Final words:
 
     If you’re in the market for a headphone and your budget is not to exceed 2000usd than the Edition X should surely be at the top of your list. This headphone is supremely comfortable as well as audibly comfortable in a very musical way. It’s NOT a bass-head headphone but does everything quite well with very few negative aspects. The HE1000 is a better headphone in many and most ways, yet not all. I highly recommend you audition both headphones if you can afford them. But I think most people will find the HE1000’s just out of reach and should not feel bad for choosing its little brother the Edition X. Hifiman has truly created a very well thought out headphone and extremely hard to beat at this price point, assuming you find them around 1500usd than that’s an insane amount of bang for buck performance.  
 
    If you're in the market to get a new pair of cans, the Edition X or V2's should definitely be on your radar. Many V1's will likely pop up for sale as some will think they need to have the V2. I'm torn between what to say here. I really like the pads of the V2, but do NOT like the satin metallic black finish of the V2.  With Hifiman's new V2 pricing of $1299 it's aggressively priced in this market and MORE than fair price, it's a steal. Overall I still would choose the HEX V2 as it's just a polished version with the metal yokes, better fitment options and most important, the awesome new pads.
 
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Toolman
Toolman
Thank you and I enjoyed reading your review. Do you plan to do a comparison between HEX and Elear since they are now selling for about the same price range?
bimmer100
bimmer100
I just picked up a pair of HE1000 V2's as well. So I will add to this review on the updates of the HE1000V2.
I was also at RMAF this last weekend and listened to the Focal Elear and Utopia. But didn't think the sound stage of the Focal (either) were very good. Somewhat small imho. And definitely not my taste of sound signature. FWIW.
I prefer the Hifiman signature any day!  The EditionX is wonderful mids and my preference for female vocal type music. The new V2 HE1000's are quite nice and will be a/b'in with the V1's soon....
 
but comparing Focal... meh. Sorry, I have no intention to buy them or borrow them. I had my listening time in at RMAF. If someone wants to send me a pair I would be happy to review them on my own gear. But the amps/dacs I listened to were GSX-Mk2, Chord Dave, and I think it was Hugo TT or Mojo (forgot). But wasn't really my cup of tea. The Utopia was actually a dissapointment for me. :frowning2: I was sooo excited to hear them, but let down when I heard them on the Chord Dave. They sounded better on another setup with the GSXmk2, but they had a 7K silver cable on them!!! hahaha. Way to fancy for me. I'm happy with my Hifiman V2's... 
Matrixnobu
Matrixnobu
Thanks for the detailed review : )
Pros: Sound, Comfort, Looks, Accessories
Cons: Price, Quality?
Hifiman Edition X:

Disclaimer: These headphones came from Todd at TTVJ. They were loaned to me free of charge with no reimbursement from either party. I do everything in my power to keep any bias out of my reviews.
 

 

History and Intro:
 
I’ve been following Hifiman for a while now and I’ve always been intrigued by their house sound. Dr Fang Bian has a unique taste in sound and it is one I’ve really come to enjoy. (I especially love the sound of the HE-560 and HE-400i.) As with nearly all head-fiers, my excitement of the HE-1000 announcement was quickly doused by the $3k asking price. This was disappointing, as it is now out of reach of many (most?) audiophiles. But, its sound didn’t disappoint. To my ears the $3k HE-1000 is a better value than the $2k LCD-3 and $1600 HD-800. Bargain or not, the $3k is still way out of my realistic price range. This is where the $1800 HE-X comes in. Priced right in the middle of the majority of the flagships, the HE-X promises the form factor of the HE-1000 with Dr. Fang Bian’s trademark sound.

Review:
 
Sound:
I’ve always been disappointed in descriptions of sound. While it’s very possible to translate a cans signature sound into an accurate description, it is nearly impossible for a blind reader to truly know if they will enjoy that sound merely based on a written description. Therefore, I will do my best to leave out words like “Musical, symphonic, melodious, etc.” A comparison to other headphones as well as a subjective overall personal enjoyment level seems much more helpful to me. I’m also big on value for the money. As with nearly every person on earth, my budget is limited and I really want the most bang for my buck.
 


Hifiman HEX vs. Sennheiser HD800

The HD800 seems to be the most popular flagship around. One would be hard-pressed to find a table at a meet that lacks an HD800. So, I believe that Dr. Fang Bian likely had the HD800 as his number one target when he designed the HD800. A few members at my local meet did a direct A/B, Song-for-Song, comparison between the HEX and HD800. We all came to pretty much the same conclusion. “Fun” and “Bassy” were a couple of the terms used most often. Yet, a few members even thought that the HEX was more analytical and detail oriented than even the HD800. When looking at the measurements though, the HEX doesn’t come off as extremely bassy or bright. In fact, it’s a fairly flat headphone. I thought maybe it has a really quick transient response, but the measurements say otherwise. Perhaps it is just the “Planar” sound differentiating itself from the HD800. It has ridiculous detail in the bass while not losing anything in the rest of the frequency response. When the music gets complicated the HEX really stands out, yet in an entirely different way than the HD800. I posed the question at the meet “which headphone would you pick up if you were in the market for a $1500-$2000 headphone,” and most were pretty split. A few preferred the larger soundstage of the HD800, while a few were concerned that the quality issues of the HE1000 would also plague the HEX. Personally I’d pick the HEX every time. I’ve never been a huge fan of the HD800, and with the exception of the soundstage the HEX beats or competes with the HD800 in every category.
 

 
Hifiman HEX vs HE-1000

(I didn’t have access to the HE-1000 and there wasn’t one brought to the meet, so this is all from memory of past experiences)
The HE-1000 is an amazing headphone. Prior to the HEX, it was my favorite headphone I’ve heard. (I haven’t heard the Stax SR-009, Shangri La, or Orpheus). The stand out feature of the HE-1000 is how little it does wrong. It’s near the top of every category of headphone descriptions. It doesn’t have the largest soundstage, but it’s close. It isn’t the most analytical, but it’s close. It isn’t the most comfortable, but it’s close. The HEX loses a lot of the character of the HE-1000. It doesn’t have the perfection that the HE-1000 comes so close to achieving. It’s not a perfectly tuned instrument. But what it does well, makes up for any lack elsewhere. I’d still prefer the HE-1000 if they were exactly the same price, but the $1200 savings makes the HEX the better value.
 

 
 
Hifiman HEX vs HE-400i/HE-560.

With the exception of the ancient but venerable HE-6, the HE-400i/HE-560 are the next options going down the Hifiman totem pole. They are both some of my favorite headphones of all time, so even matching them would be quite the chore for Dr. Fang Bian.  They have different sounds and characteristics, but they share some of the same shortfalls so I’ve lumped them together for this comparison. The biggest downfalls with both the HE400i and the HE560 are the small soundstage and lack of bass. I started my headphone journey with the AKG Q701’s, so most headphones are lacking in soundstage to my ears. The HE-400i’s are especially small though. The HE560’s open up a little bit, but they could still use a little more. The HEX on the other hand nearly matches the Q701’s. It’s not completely there, but it at least gets close. The bass on the HEX easily beats the HE-400i and HE-560. I doubt there will be too many complaints on the HEX’s bass. As far as value goes, the 400i is probably still the best value. It’s very close to the 560 on performance and nearly ¼ the price of the HEX. The HEX is probably second though. Despite being twice the price of the 560, its performance is high enough that any potential 560 buyers should seriously consider saving up more and getting the HEX.
 

 

Hifiman HEX vs OPPO PM-1/2’s

The PM-1’s are a very smooth headphone, but they feel fairly bland to me. To my ears, the PM-1’s are outclassed against the HEX. Sonically every aspect of the PM-1’s are slightly below the HEX. The HEX has a larger soundstage, the bass is more accurate, it has more detail, and slightly more comfort. The one area the HEX does give up ground to the OPPO is in regards to build quality. The PM-1/2 is an amazingly well built headphone. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw the OPPO in my carry-on to use on a plane, but I don’t even dare let the HEX leave my house without it being in it’s box. The Hifiman isn’t really fragile, but something about it makes you want to be extra careful with it. The OPPO feels bulletproof.
*It is worth mentioning, a few members at the meet felt that the PM-1 was a superior headphone. In fact, those same members felt the OPPO was the best headphone they’d heard. I personally disagree, but since everyones ears are unique the OPPO may be worth listening to.
 

 
 
Hifiman HEX vs Audeze LCD-X

(At the current time, I do not feel like I’ve spent enough time listening to the LCD-X to offer a fair comparison. It’s price point and design features make it the most obvious comparison though, so I am saving this spot for a future comparison after I’ve spent more time with the LCD-X)
 

 
 
Overall sound:
 
The HEX’s have such a pleasing sound. It’s one of those rare headphones where I don’t know really how to improve it. The soundstage could always be larger, but it’s already really impressive for a planar. In fact the deficiency isn’t really noticeable unless you happen to be following an HD800/K701/etc. level of soundstage. The low-end is amazing. It’s not ideal for an EDM style basshead, but it has so much detail you’ll find yourself searching out songs with prominent bass guitars, timpani’s, and even kick drums. The headphone is so fast that it sounds almost treble-centric without being bright. It brings out detail, but doesn’t have the fatigue often associated with headphones like the K701’s.
 

 
 
Quality:
 
This was a big deal at my local meet. Nearly everyone who saw the HEX was concerned about the quality. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Hifiman has a reputation for suspect quality. When approached about it, the answer always seems to be: “We’re looking into it.” For me personally, I have had no problems with the Hifiman quality control. My HE-400i is perfect and has been extremely durable so far. The story is the same with the HEX. I initially worried about the bend in the screens, but I have since found out that it is a design feature. The cables seem to high quality, the grills are a really nice metal, the box is stunning, and the pads feel very durable. The outer rim of the each cup is painted plastic, which sounds cheap but actually looks pretty nice. I haven’t had any problems whatsoever with the HEX so far.
 

 
 
Comfort:
 
In my opinion, the most underrated aspect of headphone reviews is the comfort. It can make or break a headphone. The HEX is not the as comfortable as the HD800, but it is very close. I can honestly say that without including the Sennheiser line, the HEX is the most comfortable headphone I’ve used. As planars go, they are fairly light. Put them on a scale and they’ll embarrass anything made by Audeze. Dumbo wouldn’t have trouble getting his ears inside the cups. The headband applies the perfect pressure and is adjustable for sizing. My one concern with comfort is the sizing. The HEX is a very large headphone. I have a medium to large head and yet I used the HEX on just one click from the smallest setting. If you have an extremely small head you might want to make sure the HEX will fit you before making a purchase.
 

 
 
Amping:
 
Hifiman really likes to advertise “Ultra High Sensitivity” and “103 dB!” This makes it seem like the HEXs don’t need a lot of headroom. This is very misleading. In fact, my O2 amp didn’t sound much better than an iPhone. It wasn’t until I put them on my Ember or a Violectric V281 at the meet that they really started to shine. I don’t want to make it sound like they don’t sound great out of an iPhone, in fact they are probably the best headphone in the world straight out of an iPhone. It’s just that they compete against a properly amped HD800 out of an iPhone. A lot of power really makes the HEX shine. Too much volume can hurt the HEX, but too much power will just make it sound better. Count on investing in a good amp if you’re planning on picking up a HEX.
 

 
 
Accessories:
 
The cables are really nice. They are quite a bit more pliable than the HE400i's cables. The box is identical to the HE400i box. Despite borrowing from a $500 headphone, the box seems appropriate for the HEX. The 400i box is just that nice.
 

 
 
Price:
 
$1799 is a lot for a set of headphones. But compared to its competition it fits fairly well. The LCD-X is $1699. The LCD-3 is $1999. The HD800 is now $1599. The HEX may not match your ideal sound signature, but it's hard for anyone to deny that the fidelity of the HEX is at least on par with the rest of the $1500-$2000 cans. I wish they were cheaper, but I don't know of a better headphone for less. Despite the price, they are probably the best value to be had in the $1800 range. (At least to my ears). In fact as far as value goes I’d say it’s better than anything above the HD650/HE400i level. Most of the $800-$1500 headphones give up enough that even at $1800 the HEX is the better buy.
 

 
 
Final wrap-up:
 
Is the Hifiman Edition X the greatest headphone ever? No. That honor probably belongs to the Shangri La or Orpheus. In fact I believe even the HE-1000 is a better headphone than the HEX. So the obvious follow up question: “Is the Hifiman Edition X the greatest headphone under $2000?” Absolutely! To my ears the Edition X can compete and win any sub $2000 headphone I’ve ever heard. It truly is an amazing headphone!
 
Special Thanks:
I'd like to give a special thanks to Todd Green from Todd The Vinyl Junkie (TTVJAudio.com). He lent me his personal HEX for this review. He's a great guy and a great dealer. You won't be disappointed by his service!
I'd also like to thank cskippy for doing the measurements shown in the review.

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bixby
bixby
Nice review, but you might want to get the founders name right!  Last time I checked it was Bian
ktmracer12345
ktmracer12345
Good catch! I fixed it. Thanks!
Pros: Smooth balanced sound with good soundstage. Comfortable. Very easy to drive.
Cons: Ginormous. So much plastic. Spendy.

INTRODUCTION

I'm a HiFiMan HE400 owner. They were my introduction to both planar and higher-end headphones. Yes, I know HE400 isn't really a high-end headphone, but at the time I bought them it was the most headphone or IEM I'd purchased to date. I've given the old HE400 a lot of love over the years and have recently started down the path of modding them with velpads, a Lohb suspension strap, and (soon) some Sorbothane. I'm hoping they'll take me farther into the future with a little love. So as you might be able to tell, I've got a bit of a soft spot for HiFiMan headphones. I've also taken a two-week test drive of the HE400S. While those were nice, they weren't quite what I was looking for. I wanted more than my HE400 could give me, and that wasn't the HE400S. So when I saw the Edition X tour open up, I immediately signed up. I wanted a taste of what high-end HiFiMan headphones could give me. Perhaps it would've been better if I hadn't. This experience has opened up a can of worms for me. I'll explain as we head into the review.
 
LINKS OF INTEREST
HFM HEX Page: LINK
HEX Tour Thread: LINK
HEX Thread: LINK
 
 

DISCLAIMER

There is no financial incentive from HiFiMan for writing this review. I am in no way affiliated with HiFiMan, and this is my honest opinion of the Edition X. I hope my feedback proves useful for my fellow Head-Fi members as well as for HiFiMan.
 
 

ABOUT ME

I'm a 43 year old father who loves music. While I listen mostly to electronic and metal these days, I do listen to a wide variety of music - from electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush).  
 
I'm primarily a portable audio enthusiast. My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso.
 
Being a portable audio enthusiast, I typically listen with IEMs but am enjoying listening with full-size headphones more and more and tend to like u-shaped sound signatures, although I break out v-shaped IEM & HP from time to time for fun.
 
As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues. I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear. I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears. That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front.



 
 

SPECIFICATIONS



  1. Rated Impedance: 25Ohm (±3 Ohm)
  2. Sensitivity: 103 dB @ 1kHz 
  3. Frequency response: 8Hz - 50KHz
  4. Price: $1800

 
 

PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES



As usual, I'll go over the packaging and accessories in pictorial format with a wrap at the end. 
 
UNBOXING
HFMHEXUnboxing.jpg
 
 
WHAT YOU GET
HFMHEX-5.jpg

In all, you get HEX, one thinner/shorter cable for portable use, one thicker/longer cable for desktop use, a 1/4" adapter, and paperwork. I'd prefer they packed HEX in a more practical case instead of the giant box.
 
 

BUILD & ERGONOMICS

Again, I'll attack this section in pictorial format, commenting on what I like and what I think could be improved as I go.
 
MEET HEX
HFMHEXBuild1.jpg
 
HEX look a lot like HEK. It's a rather large headphone with unusually shaped earcups. Despite being absolutely ginormous, these extremely comfortable headphones. The suspension strap, roomy cups, and soft pads make it easy to wear HEX for long periods without discomfort. However, I'm a pretty average sized guy at 5'9", yet I had to wear HEX on the smallest setting. I can't imagine these fitting smaller people very well. And finally, I'm wishing the gimbals were metal. Maybe I'm just used to the Cold War build quality of my HE400, but these guys feel a bit fragile for $1800. I guess that's the price you pay for light weight...
 
 
HEX + CABLES
HFMHEX-10.jpg
 
Nothing too special here, I just wanted to show a picture of HEX with the cable plugged in. I'm not a fan of long, thick cables, so I used the thinner, shorter cable during my audition period. I like that the cables exit the cups at an angle instead of straight down, so the cables don't constantly rub on my shoulders. This helps minimize microphonics. I also like that the connectors are much more user-friendly than the coax-type connectors on my HE400. Those are just a PITA. The thinner, shorter cable has a 3.5mm L-plug that works with smartphone cases, which is good because you can get some damn good sound out of just an iPhone with HEX.
 
HEX vs. HE400S
HFMHEX-12.jpg
 
Just a comparative shot of a more typical HFM headphone next to HEX to give you an idea of just how roomy HEX is.
 
 
SOUND
Those of you who know me know I listen to a lot of electronic and metal. You might even know that I've been jamming a lot of classic rock lately, as well. I typically listen to music from Autechre, Behemoth, Bjork, Candlemass, Depeche Mode, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, New Order, Rush, and Sigur Ros during my time with new gear. I might throw in some hard bop jazz or modern minimalist composition every now and then. Just wanted to make sure you know what kind of music I listen to for context. Unlike some other reviewers, I don't keep to a strict playlist. Instead, I choose songs I know well and feel like listening to. I feel it's more organic that way. Anyways, on with the show, eh...
 
I listened to HEX out of various sources from my iPhone 5S to various DAPs to my Aune B1 portable amp and Aune X1S desktop DAC/Amp. I'd also like to point out that my reference for a good sounding headphone is my HE400. I'm hoping to broaden my experience with high-end headphones in the future, but for now my experience is somewhat limited. Just wanted to be transparent about that.
 
The first thing I plugged HEX into was my iPhone. I was immediately impressed. Making a high-end planar that sounds so damn good right out of my phone is some powerful voodoo. I jammed for awhile and then started plugging into different sources I had laying around. While HEX sounded a bit different with each source and better with some than others, it wasn't like I heard any night and day transformations in sound quality. In general, HEX has a smooth, balanced sound that extends well on either side but leans a bit towards the dark side. That said, I didn't feel like I was missing out on detail, HEX just wasn't using brightness to boost detail. Never did I get any accentuation of sibilance or piercing highs. While I liked this, I noticed that some others on the tour would've preferred a bit more energy up top. Male and female vocals sounded natural, never sounding out of place or getting shouty. Bass was deep and responded well when listening to electronic music. It wasn't the tightest bass I've heard, but it was very organic and enjoyable. In short, I clicked immediately with the sound and that feeling never wavered during my time with HEX.
 
I really enjoyed HEX with the Soundaware Esther Analog DAP. It has a full, warm sound that bonded immediately with HEX. It was a beautifully lush listening experience.
 
I also really enjoyed HEX with my Aune B1 and X1S. These gave HEX a more neutral, detailed cast. 
 
So depending on which way I wanted to go (lush vs. detailed), I had options. I'm sure if I had higher-end gear, HEX would respond even better.
 
Compared with my HE400, HEX had more linear bass, more present mids, and much smoother treble. HEX also had a more expansive soundstage. I'd always known HE400 didn't have an even frequency response, but I'd always felt the soundstage was quite good. HEX changed my thoughts on that pretty quickly, with wider, deeper, taller soundstage and better imaging. I can still enjoy my HE400 but am definitely left longing for what I'm missing in HEX. All that said, I recognize that I have little experience with TOTL headphones, so I might be more easily won over than some more experienced tour members.
 
 

SUMMARY

As you can probably tell, I loved a lot of things about HEX. The sound and comfort were top notch. However, I'd like to see them built to accommodate smaller heads. I had to use them on the smallest size, and my 21 year old daughter had a sizable gap between the suspension strap and the top of her head. I also have concerns about the build quality for the price HiFiMan is asking for these. Perhaps I'm just being paranoid, but I'd like to see a little more metal involved to make them at least appear more bulletproof like my good old HE400. And while I didn't experience the issues personally, I know a few of my tour mates have experienced various QC issues ranging from cups not centered between the gimbals and sound cutting out from the female connector. I'm hoping these issues are few and far between and are quickly resolved.
 
To wrap, I'd like to give a big thanks to HiFiMan for choosing me to participate in this tour. It was an enlightening experience and I must say that I miss that great HEX sound.
nmatheis
nmatheis
Hi @leobigfield. I'd love to find a pair of these used for a decent price, however I'm sadly also not in a position to buy a pair at full retail price.
Sil3nce
Sil3nce
Thanks for the honest impressions my friend.
Hope you get to hear more TOTL phones
nmatheis
nmatheis
Thanks @Sil3nce. I'm listening to ZMF OMNI right now and am quite enjoying them. I might talk to Zach...
Pros: +Comfortable +Smooth +Efficient +Easy on the Ears
Cons: -Overpriced -Build Quality -Lack of Treble -Muddy Bass
DSC01469.jpg
 
Introduction:
 
After being a fond owner of the HIFIMAN HE-560 and HE-1000, I was thoroughly interested in the Edition-X that was announced somewhere during the early stages of December, 2015.
While I wouldn’t call myself a long-time fan of HIFIMAN, I’ve enjoyed the interesting signature headphones they’ve come out with over the years.
The HE-1000, to my ears, was a revolutionary experience upon first listen. It’s safe to say I had high expectations for the Edition-X that featured “trickle-down” technology from the HIFIMAN flagship.
 
I signed my name down for the Edition-X Loaner Program (http://www.head-fi.org/t/790292/hifiman-edition-x-loaner-program) and was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the first members in SoCal to get my hands on these.
 
DSC01462.jpg
 
 
 
The HIFIMAN Edition X is a circumaural and full-size planar magnetic headphone.
Its design and form is reminiscent of the HE-1000, featuring oval shaped ear-pads that cover most of the head and a distinct “window-shade” grille. However, the Edition-X is manufactured mostly in black plastic as opposed to leather and metal in the more upscale HE-1000.
The headband and support system of the Edition-X is shared with the new generation of HIFIMAN planar magnetic headphones-- including the HE400i(S), HE-560, etc.
 
The main difference with the Edition-X as compared to other headphones from HIFIMAN is the purported superior efficacy of the Edition-X with any system; no dedicated amplifier or expensive gear is needed to get the Edition-X to sound great. Supposedly these can reach their potential even with an iPhone or portable music player.
 
MSRP is a whopping $1799. This places the Edition-X in contention (price-wise) with most open flagship headphones currently on the market.
 
Regardless, the Edition-X has some big shoes to fill.
For those that didn’t jump on the HE-1000 train before, is this HIFIMAN’s answer to a more reasonably priced TOTL headphone that appeals to a larger audience?
 
Read on to find out!
 
 
Disclaimer:
As a reviewer, I’m not being paid nor am I endorsed in any way, shape, or form.
All impressions are solely my own opinions.
I am not here to convince you to purchase these headphones or otherwise, no matter how much I like them or despise them.
I believe every individual should have their own free judgment to decide if a headphone is for them or not--without being unfairly influenced by hype, hearsay, or measurements alone.

 
 ​
Test Gear List:
 
    Sources/Amps Used:
 
    -Resonessence Concero HP
    -iFi Micro iDSD
    -Chord Mojo
    -iFi iDAC2
    -Cavalli Audio Liquid Crimson
 
    Headphones Used for Comparison:
 
    -HIFIMAN HE-6
    -HIFIMAN HE-1000
    -MrSpeakers Ether (Open)
    -Sennheiser HD-800
    -Sennheiser HD-700
    
 
Initial Impressions / Unboxing:
 
 
Every HIFIMAN headphone I’ve received comes in a different packaging every time.
HIFIMAN adopted a black theme throughout with the HE-X (Edition-X).
The headphones themselves are packaged underneath black foam in a black quasi-leather box.
While you can certainly use the box as a carrying case, you’re much better off purchasing a separate hard carrying case.
 
Accessories are sparse, with two different SE cables available (depending on preference).
One of these is a short 3.5 mm cloth-textile cable for portable usage.
 
DSC01473.jpg
 
 
The headphones themselves are strikingly eye-catching.
The whole black and grey metallic sheen makes them one of the more exotic-looking headphones available.
 
Upon further inspection of the headphone, I immediately noticed that the “window-shade” grille on both sides of the earcups was noticeably dented in and uneven in texture.
Additionally, the plastic gimbals on the HE-X are loose and tend to slide back and forth.
I confirmed with HIFIMAN that this was not intentional and it appeared to be a quality control problem. Other users have also noted similar characteristics on their HE-X.
 
DSC01464.jpg
 
 
I’m hoping that these problems are only showing up on early production models.
This is definitely not the build quality you expect out of a $1800 headphone.
Even for HIFIMAN’s history of QC issues, I was more than slightly let down as a consumer.
 
That aside, I found the earpads on the HE-X interchangeable and nearly identical to those on the HE-1000. Which means that they’re super comfortable and can be utilized for long-listening sessions. The nearly 400g weight of the HE-X barely bothered me at all.
No complaints regarding comfort.
 
DSC01467.jpg
 
 
HIFIMAN claims that the HE-X is very efficient and can be driven from most portable devices.
I can confirm that this statement is indeed true.
This is a huge deviation from traditional HIFIMAN products such as the HE-5LE or HE-6 that require a powerful amp just to be adequately powered.

 
Sound Impressions / Comparisons:
 ​
 ​
 
DSC01456.jpg
 
 
 
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: The HE-X is a headphone that disappointed me with its glaring weaknesses. I really don’t know how else to put it.
 
For some of you reading this, this is the wake-up call you needed.
You won’t find me sugarcoating or downplaying the fact that I believe the HIFIMAN Edition X is a complete hit and miss. Especially anywhere near MSRP value.
Sorry, HIFIMAN.
 
For everyone else, I would appreciate it if you could continue reading my review.
Hopefully, you can get a feel for the confusion and frustration I felt for this headphone.

Note: I was one of the few people to actually like the Sennheiser HD700 after the severe criticism it received. When the AKG K812 came around and blew up in controversy, I politely reserved judgement and got a pair to try. I didn’t find the treble issues nearly as bad as people said. Nor did I “hear” the measured distortion that was reported. It's safe to say the HE-X really wasn't my cup of tea.
 
I spent nights listening to the Edition-X on different setups, hoping that I would adjust to it and discover that it was secretly quite capable.
But try as I might, I noted the same recurring problems.
I really tried to “tolerate” them for the purpose of this review, but I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the music much.
 
Let’s start with the strengths of the Edition-X and why these might be the preferred end-game headphone for a tired pair of ears.
 
First off, the HE-X is an extremely cohesive sounding headphone. They give off the impression of sounding much more open than they actually are. The best way to describe the imaging capabilities of this headphone, is to liken instruments and sounds as suspended/floating for a brief second in a small orb-like shape around your head. Then, they dissipate softly. On certain electrostatic headphones, this presentation is known as “ethereal”, but… Unfortunately, the HE-X lacks the bite and lightning-fast response of electrostatic drivers. Ultimately, this just ends up giving the HE-X a soft undertone around certain sounds.
 
If you take the HIFIMAN HE-560 and combine it with the Sennheiser HD650, you get the ultimate tonality of the HE-X. They’re extremely smooth and easy sounding on the ears though.
Heck, I would like these a lot more if I was forced to wear a headphone 24 hours a day.
Nevertheless, I prefer more soul to my music.
 
Asides from the fact the HE-X is smooth and buttery, (without any signs of sibilance or treble peaks) there’s not much else I can say is outstanding on these headphones. Certainly not after hearing what the HE-1000 is capable of.
 
This is not a reference headphone by any means.
Let’s break it down.
 
[Bass]
 
There’s a decent amount of sub-bass extension, but the mid-bass is akin to a dynamic driver’s decay and attack. In terms of quantity, there’s just way too much.
Think Philips X1 amount of bass.
I wouldn’t even mind if this was the typical quality bass HIFIMAN planars are known for.
The lower registries of the HE-X are flabby and not very detailed.
It really gets fatiguing especially if you prefer modern music (e.g. Electronica and Hip Hop).
The bass is definitely not flagship material. Let’s just put it like that.
 
[Mids]
 
Vocals and the mid-range are probably the HE-X’s strongest feature.  
They’re never recessed and it actually feels like someone is singing to you from the outside, as opposed to hearing voices inside your head.
This might also be the only time the HE-X’s soft character shines.
Female vocals have a dream-like quality to them.
If you prefer a detailed and thin sounding mid-range, stay far away from the HE-X.
This isn’t to say the HE-X lacks vocal clarity. It’s just rich, syrupy, and slightly colored.
 
[Treble]
 
My biggest gripe with the HIFIMAN Edition-X is the treble presence.
If there ever was an infamous Sennheiser veil, here it is.
On most recordings, the HE-X has decent treble extension, but nowhere close to the HD800 or HE-6.
There’s just a clear lack of treble energy everywhere.
And sadly, while the HE-X resolves fairly decently and is perhaps innately detailed, this kind of presentation just makes it seem like it’s not.
There’s no question that the sucked out treble gives them a dark and warm texture overall.
 
 
Brief Comparisons:
 ​
 ​
DSC01458.jpg
 
 
    -vs. Ether
Similar soundstage width and depth. The two headphones both share a slightly darker tonality. The Ether, however, sounds much brighter on certain amps while the HE-X is almost always consistent in its sound. Ether is fairly neutral, with excellent treble extension and deep, accurate sub-bass. The HE-X has noticeably more mid-bass quantity and equal amounts of sub-bass. The HE-X does tend to sound a tad grainy and uncontrolled when it comes to handling the lower frequencies. Ether is much more revealing of micro-details and little nuances in the recording. Both are similarly efficient and easy-to-drive.
    
 
    -vs. HE-560
HE-560’s vocals are much more life-like and dryer compared to the HE-X. I would say the HE-560 is the true little brother of the HE-1000 in overall presentation. However, both these headphones tend to sound romantic at times. The HE-560 is much more distant sounding, while the HE-X is seemingly always forward.
I found the HE-560 to have better instrumental separation and better quality bass.
 
 
-vs. HE-400i
This one's a comparison that someone requested me to give feedback on. I find the HE-400i an excellent value for the money. Its limitations lies in its slightly constrained sound and smaller soundstage capabilities. HE-400i generally has more treble than the HE-560, and certainly more treble up top than the HE-X. Bass is less textured than the HE-X, but faster with above average decay. 
HE-X does a better job of separating the layers of soundstage and giving a better sense of space.
 
    -vs. HE-6
The HE-6 generally shares a similar effect that the HE-X exhibits. When properly driven, the HE-6 is able to suspends sounds against a very black background. However, the HE-6 has more treble quantity and its sub-bass impact tends to sound more controlled. Bass slam and quantity is about on par with each other.
I found the HE-6 a decent improvement over the HE-X while utilizing better equipment though. The HE-6 does a few things no other headphones can do when properly juiced.
 
    -vs. HE-1000
Do these really share similar characteristics? Listening to the HE-1000 makes me not want to put the HE-X on my head again. There’s substantially less bass quantity on the HE-1000 as opposed to the HE-X. Mids quality and realism are much better on the HE-1000. Treble extension and presentation is excellent on the HE-K as well. It makes the HE-X sound sucked out (relatively) in comparison.
I found the HE-1000 closer to electrostats, and the HE-X closer to a regular dynamic headphones.
 ​
*PM me for any specific comparisons with individual headphones. 
 
 ​
Score Roundup:
 
Bass: 5
Mids: 8
Treble: 6
 
Imaging: 8
Soundstage: 7
Detail Retrieval: 7
 
Timbre/Naturalness: 7
Transient Response (Cymbals, Snares, etc.): 6
Cohesiveness: 9
 
Overall Score: 7
 
 
Summary:
 ​
 
In conclusion, I think HIFIMAN did achieve their intended goal of offering a headphone that is consistent in the way it sound with all sources.
I did bring these to an open-house audition for a few of my buddies and it was generally well-received.
I’m sure there’s plenty of people that are convinced that this is an outstanding headphone.
However, for the price of $1800, I think HIFIMAN is being way too positive about what they’re offering.
Let’s pretend that there are no QC issues. The overall sound and refinement are nowhere near the level of the HD800s, HE-6s, or Ethers--let alone the HE-1000 or the SR-009.
If you wanted musicality and lots of bass, the Fostex TH-900 could have done that. And despite having some treble issues itself, it certainly beats listening to almost no treble at all from the HE-X.
If you just wanted a fairly detailed headphone that is both comfortable and smooth-sounding, you could have settled for the HD600/650 and been happy with how well they scaled up.
 
For a small loan of $1799...
 
These are my honest impressions. Your mileage may vary.
Happy Listening!
kidgafanhoto
kidgafanhoto
Thank you !
Soundizer
Soundizer
Many thanks for your honest review. The HIFI Man Edition X reviews seem to be very polarizing in opinion and i starting to think this is not because of any lack of analyses or comprehension by those that review them, as I am very impressed with the level of knowledge and experience by those that review. My logic suggests that it is not inconsistency in review parameters or methodolody, but comes down to MASSIVE Inconsistency in product build quality. It would very interesting is some one could review 3 x HIFI Man X HEADPHONES and do a side by side comparision. If HIFI Man believe in the quality of their products then i am sure that they would confidently allow a 3 x Headphone review under uncontrolled review environments.
Kyno
Kyno
I'm late to the party, but that shows how everyone hear is different.
 
I've owned both HE-560 & HE-400i for a few months. I had to resell the 560 that was giving me ear fatigue (not to say actual pain) in the treble region, while the 400i sounded just fine.
Pros: Very well balanced. Deep/ Present foundation. Open vast sound. Amazing comfort
Cons: Lacks emotion too soft and lacks drive. Price should be lower.

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H I F I M A N    E D I T I O N    X 

 
 
I have received this pair of headphones for audition for a weeks time as a part of the loaner program. I am grateful for the opportunity to audition this headphone but have no ties with HiFiMan.  
 
Gear used:
  1. Late 2015 iMac Retina 5k
  2. Geek Pulse Infinity 
  3. Cavalli Liquid Carbon
  4. ifI micro iDSD
 
About me:
My listening tastes vary depending on my mood but overall I prefer a sound that most closely mirrors your average studio monitors in being engaging yet honest and full from one end of the spectrum to the other. I’m not in the lean, thin and bright camp but can tolerate bright music for short periods of time if the bass gives a foundation to the music. 
 
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I simply just want to offer my impressions of this headphone based on my limited time with them. I will get into the sound first and then the other aspects later if you don’t mind. Right off the bat I will tell you that my impressions of this headphone are generally positive. Yet, as with all things it boils down to personal preference. 
 
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F r e q u e n c y     R e s p o n s e 
9.5/10
 
The Frequency balance is extremely linear from the deepest bass through to the upper mids where  later on in the lower treble near the sibilance region there is only a minor, inoffensive peak. I have yet to hear something sound as linear as this headphone from the bass all the way up until the upper treble where there seems to be a little smoothed response to my ears but nothing too dark. 
 

B a s s 

While I personally prefer slightly more impact, I am certain that the amount of bass here is spot on in quantity. Its relatively tight, solid, moderately textured, and controlled and a slightly not dry.  The bass easily reaches to the lowest octaves and pulls out all of the substance there without too much lingering decay after the notes attack, though I can see some wishing the decay was quicker. Some may prefer a cleaner and sharper bass but it'd be hard to deny it's wisely tuned amount. While the attack is a bit soft it’s still tangible and keeps from being overly thick, or diffuse. There is absolutely no muddying of  the midrange. There is simply not enough mid bass in this headphone for it to murk any part of the frequency response. It’s not slow as much as it is just lacking the assertiveness in it’s leading edge(attack) when compared to the best bass in the business. I recall the he560 to be a tad faster with a harder, tighter, harder  slam yet less in quantity and similar in density. The difference  is that the HiFiman sounds really natural and round while still being mostly everything you imagine of planar bass instead of dry and overly technical. I did find my LCD2.1 to be slower, fatter, a shade more intense, with a longer decay and less detail. However the LCD2.1 had a harder punch (its not hard to me to begin with), slightly more body and dimension. Coming from the LCD-X you will immediately notice your loss of bass density and punch in the sub octaves in exchange for a more gentle presentation but not at the expense of much quantity and foundation. Again, the bass in quantitative presence is supple. 
 
When I used the iFi Micro iDSD to boost the bass, it didn’t respond well at all. I noticed a subtle change but nothing worth mentioning. Also, I don’t feel it really needed a bass boost to begin with. I am a bass head but at the same time I’m not the most committed bass head. Sometimes I like my bass just like the heX in balance; nothing more and nothing less. Personally I prefer the LCD-X bass in almost every way but prefer the HEX bass over the LCD2.1 on certain songs because it has less unnecessary fat around it even if LCD punches harder. Since the foundation is substantial and overall signature is melodic it supports a generic impression of musicality. My favorite price to performance headphone, the  ZMF OMNI, hits harder, is tighter, faster even, and stronger but may be overbearing for some in comparison.  
 
I would like to use Reggae ( born Jamerican here ) as an example. Reggae ( particularly roots ) music needs that rumble and foundation but doesn’t really need a lot of that hard impact as long as it's available. Reggae needs a strong, slightly dense presence down low;  a deep reach with an instantly agreeable transition into the lower midrange of the male dominated music genre; and a sustaining rumble that resonates under the singers voice. The HEX does perfect here. I absolutely want for nothing when listing to reggae. Damien Marley’s voice is another story but almost as equally as spot on. Reggae drums are usually pretty soft and the drumming style lends to the riddim (rhythm) being a second nature element of composition where you don’t even think about it. If I only listened to Reggae I could be totally satisfied with the HEX. 

 

M i d r a n g e

Linear. This headphone is absolutely even from the lower mids to the upper mids and even a bit beyond in my opinion. Like most HiFiMan headphones, the Edition X never sounds very thick in the lower midrange despite its warmer hue. There isn’t the very strong upper midrange presence of the HiFiMan He500 and my LCD2.1 has a stronger upper midrange as well. The midrange response is as smooth, if not smoother than any headphone I have listened to that isn’t an Audeze  and possibly right there in smoothness. Sound ideal… well yes if balance is the only thing a headphone needs to make it sound good. No, its not all about balance. There is more than meets the ears and I will describe those aspects later on. The tones though are very pretty and sound carefully tuned, yet stop just a bit short of delivering the breathtaking realism it’s price suggests. The 900 dollar ZMF Omni has a stronger upper midrange and more aggressively exposes the inner details of the tracks I am used to but some who like a soft and relaxing sound may prefer the less lively, but smoother HeX. This is a specifically natural sounding headphone when judging by it’s balance alone. I rarely feel like I want more upper mids or lower mids except for a rare desire of a stronger presence region to provide a greater sense of purity. Male and female vocals balanced. Quite a feat if you ask me. Through out this week the roundness of the midrange kept my head swimming in some of the  most soothing listening sessions I have had. 
 

T r e b l e

While I prefer only a  dash more energy in the upper treble, and only on certain songs, I don’t think its balance is entirely the reason behind me feeling its a tad too relaxed for me at times. I would be lying if I didn't say it contributes to the impression though. The treble in my opinion does not make this headphone sound dark. In fact, I don’t think its a dark headphone or a bright headphone. The LCD2.1 is definitely darker and while the EdX offers some relief, its not like I am listening to a whole  different category of headphones based on it being bright or something though. To more directly counter the chocolatey dark nature of the old Audeze you would need something like the He6 instead. The extension is okay if not only a hair rolled of in the extremes but it sounds sufficiently extended to me, just not exceptionally airy.  The Edition X is most definitely darker than my all time favorite HiFiMan HE-6 but I honestly prefer the Edition X’s overall treble quantity just a little. It won’t take the crown of the HE-6 for me because I prefer a more physical listen, just to clarify, but if based on balance alone I prefer the Edition X's treble quantity because I gravitate towards headphones that don't excessively boost the treble. However the He6 well amped probably still wins in quality.  I think when cymbals, electric guitars build the X can sound a bit blended and sometimes messy but that's because its treble is not that solid in texture. When I owned the he560 I felt its treble was too hard sounding and biting on the ears. The LCD-X is rougher in the lower treble and even though the HEX isn’t dark its still less fatiguing. The treble texture is smooth and "lite" while avoiding sounding veiled. 
 

T e c h i n c a l t i e s

 

S o u n d s t a g e   [size=17.03px]9/10[/size]

I think the sound stage is very large. This is the largest sound stage I have ever heard on a planar, actually since I haven’t heard the HD800 or yet ( scared of thinness ) or HEK, it has the most wide open sound I have heard yet on a full sized open back. Its not particularly deep, has some width, and a lot of air around the instruments that give the perception of the music being spread out above and below the ears. There is a good center image but it’s not really forward sounding to me. There is a flatness and openness at the same time. It’s almost as if all of the instruments are panned out to a set limit where they cap off on a wall of sound around the ears. I believe sound stage lovers will thoroughly enjoy the HEX despite this minor effect I am hearing.  
 

I m a g i n g / Sound Separation   [size=17.03px]7.5/10[/size]

I must admit that while the sounds seem placed in specific locations in a spread out field I am left to wonder if this is world class sound separation or not. When things get busy and full there is a meshing of sounds it seems to me. The softer than normal transient action is what I am thinking is the culprit. Because it lacks a bit of pop and snap the instruments don’t maintain as much individuality as they would on say the he6 so they can sometimes sound overlapped. On the most relaxed songs with quiet pauses and subtle builds the HEX excels with pin point spacial cues and tantalizing soundscapes that place you in another realm. For these songs I am sad that I am not the personal owner of these headphones especially since I don’t have to touch the eq… like ever. However, those songs are few and rare for me as I am consistently on a search for passionate vocals and the quibbles I have here don’t offer much support when honing in on them to be captivated. This can doesn’t seem to be that incisive at dividing sounds from one another possibly due to its somewhat lazy decay as a drier sound would make it seem more precise. 
SAM_q.jpg
 

E n g a g e m e n t   f a c t o r   [size=17.03px]6.5/10[/size]

I wanted to call this section attack but its not that simple so I’d rather describe the technical aspects as a whole picture. Let’s take the amazingly smooth LCD2.1 for example with it’s out of date technicalities and lush, sexy midrange: 
When listening to horn sections swell to fullness in the song to take front stage, the LCD2.1 utterly decimates the HEX in its ability to convey their presence and dynamic push. When a vocalist belts and the band pick ups their speed and volume to the pace and energy of the drummer, the HEX strains to make that energy emotion as if it caps out and gets boxed in or flat. Even better would possibly be to say there is a clipping of energy as if its governed to a set limit. 
 
Vocals lack a bit of depth to them because they are emerging from a grayish background and don’t get fully carved out of the recording. What you do get is a beautiful surface image of the vocalist and instruments but its like you can’t hear around them. As mentioned previously they aren’t popping out of the recording. If HEX were like the iMax theatre screen, sans 3D in sonic image, the LCD2.1 would be like watching the same movie at a cheaper theatre but in 3D. Sure the IMAX(HEX) is more spread out and colorfully accurate but the cheaper 3d theatre (LCD2.1) attempts to reach out and grab you. I noticed the LCD2.1 to have a rounder and more realistic bodied tonality. The HE6 I remember to have better transparency, micro and macro dynamics with a gorgeous nimbleness around and about each note that played. The he6 has less mids and more highs so the balance has nothing to do with it. The HEX, with its glossy and effortless nature,  quits its efforts when things get dramatic and keeps it’s cool nature at the expense of emotion and realism.
 
The HEX can be appreciably smooth from the right perspective and lend itself to a really swell non-fatiguing session. It is just that I prefer just about every full sized headphone I have had for excitement. I cannot call such a spacious and well balanced headphone boring though… It’s got too many good eggs in the basket to go there. 

 

D e t a i l    Re t r i e v a l / R e s o l u t i o n    7.5[size=17.03px]/10[/size]

Detail retrieval and navigation through the miniature nuances of the recordings are better revealed by the LCD3F which is the best I have heard when it comes to that aspect. But if you are looking at the HEX you aren’t looking for superlatives in any specific category if you have read many of the impressions. You have become interested more possibly because it is said to be a good all around’er and that it is. Resolution is of the less vivid and sharp type but broadly colorful and wholesome. There is never the pitch black aether of space for the sounds to emerge from but what comes forth is refined and grain free. I am aware that the upper treble is very much responsible for revealing details as the tinkles, scrapes, ruffling edges and zips are high up there but as we know there is more to details than balance and the HEX, while not being the stunning here, doesn’t leave too many crumbs on the plate. The decay is not abrupt and the headphone doesn't sound as dry as some of the other headphones I have heard. I want to use creamy to describe the overall texture of the sound but it wouldn't be a thick kind of creamy but like a silky runny kind of response where precision is less important than flow. 
 
 

B u i l d    [size=17.03px]6.5/10[/size]

The HiFiMan Edition X is one of the sweetest looking headphones I have seen. The shiny, black-iridescent paint is quite the stunner in person. I expected a purple tinted headphone based on the pictures I have seen but it’s black coating can take on a few different colors under lighting. The major gripe I do have is a respectable, and commonly shared one. I absolutely do not think an 1800 dollar headphone can share the same plastic parts of a 299 model in the same company. The Edition X headband gimbals are of the cheap n’ easy to break plastic of all of the lower tiered HiFiMans. Other manufacturers are well aware of avoiding such a tasteless mistake and help you justify the fact that you spent a ridiculous amount of money by offering you the luxury your money has paid for. The grill is of a solid chrome finished  metal that offers some quality and appeal to a most uniquely designed headphone of oval shaped cups. 
 
The cords plug into a firm gripping mini connector that is flush finished to the bottom of the cups.   I really like what HiFiMan has done with the connectors and have to deem it my favorite cable connection to date. 
The cable doesn't kink up and coils easily. It's more of a commercialized look than the previous models and much longer as well. 
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E f f i c i e n c y   10

Very efficient yet at the same time it didn't change in sound much when switching between gear as much as my LCD2.1 did. I really don't expect this headphone to scale up well on better amps but I have to remain non-conclusive. The liquid carbon offered a blacker background than my Geek infinity or Loaner iDSD but that's all I could really detect. It is very efficient. This is the plug and play headphone that HiFiMan has been aiming to make for quite some time. I can get very loud volumes straight from my iPad Air and it sounds great!
 

C o m f o r t    [size=17.03px]8.5/10[/size]

While the ear cups seem shallow, my ears never became irritated from rubbing too much up against the driver. The pads are slightly angled and there is ample room from top to bottom on the inside. The only reason for me not giving it a perfect score here is because I am not certain if people with smaller heads won’t find it a bit too big. I have a huge head and am only on one click up from the smallest position. HiFiMan is wise for sticking with the soft velour, yet leather outside for the most comfortable pads I have every worn. 
 
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V a l u e    6/10

1799 should have some superlatives running all throughout this review and if not the build should be absolutely luxurious and refined. Audeze is already overpriced and HiFiMan maybe coming out of their price to performance track record with this entry. Would I pay 1799 for a headphone? Yes. Would it be a headphone of this build and technicalities? I am not quite sure. However, Value is most subjective. Here is the thing though. Currently I am unaware of any fully open back headphone to combine a good low end foundation (deep at that), well balanced frequency response, and spacious, somewhat clear and refined sound. All while providing endless spans of non-fatiguing listening. This makes its price seem like as if its worth it because it is a one of a kind… for now …because manufacturers are actually wising up with their tunings. But even so others probably wont be nearly as efficient and easy to play on all sources as the Edition X. One thing that may be invaluable is that the HEX doesn't trap you to your desktop, grab your phone, tablet etc and go. However I very much prefer the ZMF Omni, LCD-X, HiFiMan HE-6, and LCD3F over the Edition X because they are all relatively more soul gripping, and technically better performing in some areas. 

 

O V E R A L L 

While not the best value I have known, it is the best sounding headphone I have heard that doesn't need special amping.  Kudos to HiFiMan for making good sound that plays well with everything. Because of it's agreeable nature, special ability to be so efficient, and amazing comfort it scored a hesitant but earned 7.9. The balance is gorgeous and I would have given this headphone a 9 if it were priced closer to it's technical performance at a solid 1100 but what I am getting for 1800 is not going to excel against the most technical or luxurious headphones out there. I also would like to say that continual rise in the prices of Flagships seems frivolous to me and this headphone very much contributes to that silliness.
 

7.5

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Lohb
Lohb
Great write-up. Nice to see the 2.1 in a comparison with a $1700 HP.
WhiskeyJacks
WhiskeyJacks
How do you feel these fair against the Omni's my friend? 
grizzlybeast
grizzlybeast
The Omnis are more engaging and slam harder. Other than that these are prob a little better. These aren't built as sturdy though and feel cheaper in the hand. 
Pros: frequency balance, soundstage, comfort, bass extension
Cons: slightly muddy midrange, lacks a black background, soft attack
I was fortunate enough to be able to audition the HE-X for multiple days thanks to Hifiman's loaner program.  Having been a great fan of the HE-400 and HE-560, and with the recent success of the HE-1000, the HE-X was one of the few headphones I was interested in as a possible upgrade or sidegrade to my current HE800.  Before I get into the meat of the impressions, first let me give a quick blurb about my preferences so readers can have a better understanding of the review.  Hifiman is perhaps the house sound I favor the most when it comes to high-end headphones, followed by perhaps Foster and then Sennheiser.  What I appreciate most in sonics is effortless extension top to bottom, and a very gradual u-shaped response.  I prefer meatier than average bass and lower midrange, a slightly laid-back upper midrange, and a crisp and airy treble.  Of course, none of that matters unless the headphone is comfortable.  No pictures for this review, as I feel like I wouldn't be doing any justice to the headphones with my old point and shoot camera.  Other reviews already have those areas covered.
 
 
 
I was lucky enough to be the first in-line for my particular region's loaner pair, so I got to unbox the HE-X as a brand-new headphone.  Hifiman has been progressively becoming better and better in regards to their products' presentation and packaging.  The precision-cut foam inside the product box for the HE-X allows the headphone to sit snugly inside with little qualms.  The detachable cables have their own compartment within the foam as well, which is a nice touch.  The leatherette box is a nice improvement over the wooden box of the HE-560, which tended to dent around the corners.  The hinged lid is also a nice improvement over the sliding metal plate of the HE-560's box.  However, it is my understanding that the box the HE-X comes in is very similar or identical to the HE-400i's.  So while the product box is or decent quality and grandeur, it is worth mentioning that it's shared across Hifiman's lower offerings as well.  I'm not too big of a display-box type of guy, but I find the HE-X's provided packaging sufficient.  It's nowhere the level of Audeze's portable pelican cases or the Oppo PM-1's lavishly polished wooden box, but it suffices for me, and shows Hifiman's continued advancement in build and presentation.
 
In the short time that I had the HE-X, I couldn't really find much faults or complaints with any seemingly lack of durability or quality of construction.  The headphone has a decent feel to it, with rigid materials used for the earcups, grills, and headband.  The earpads don't seem to be actual leather, but are quite nicely finished and are soft to the touch-- they're a markable improvement over Hifiman's first foray into hybrid-material earpads.  The headband assembly is shared with Hifiman's lower offerings, and it's a shame that the gimbals aren't of the same metal as on the HE-1000.  For an 18000 dollar headphone, I would have liked them to be, but the current ones suffice.  The 2.5mm terminated detachable cables are a vast improvement over the mini-xlr screw-in plugs of the previous generation from Hifiman, but I'm not too keen on the aesthetic and quality of the actual cables themselves.  The cups of the HE-X are a very reflective and chrome-like purple color, but the provided cables are more blue in appearance, and don't really go well with the headphones.  I would have preferred black.  The cables are braided as well, but are also very stiff and tend to have a high degree of memory, so they have a knack for getting tangled if you're not careful with them.  Tangled braided cables means fraying over time.  The headband adjustment is also puzzling.  The adjustment itself is very sturdy, but I can't help but feel these headphones were wrongfully designed for giants.  I have an average to above averaged-sized head, but I find myself only using the 2nd to lowest position on the headband.  I know of plenty of people who would find even the lowest position to be too low on their head to be considered useable.  The massive earcups are nice to wear, but trying to fit a headband that was designed with the HE-560/400i cups in mind with these current cups is an oversight in design.  Overall, while the build of the HE-X is average to good, it's a shame that it shares many components with Hifiman's lower offerings.
 
In terms of comfort, the HE-X really excels.  Absolutely humongous ear-pad openings, soft cushioning, modest clamping force, and the suspension strap allow for unparalleled  short-term comfort.  When it comes to listening for half an hour to longer, the shallow earpads start getting a little bothersome, as your ears are always rubbing up against the magnetic array over the diaphragms.  However, it's by no means uncomfortable, and nothing like the pointed fazor elements of the Audezes.  A quick readjustment can temporarily alleviate most annoyances caused by the lack of depth on the earpads.  While I find the feeling of the HE-X to be very comfortable, I would have liked slightly deeper earpads for a completely natural experience.  The massive openings of the HD800 combined with their depth and angle allow for the most comfortable ear-side experience of any headphone I've come across thus far.  The suspension strap of the HE-X however, leaves me wishing the HD800 had something similar for extremely long term listening.  Overall though, this is one very comfortable headphone, and one I'd recommend to people who are looking for a far more comfortable alternative to the Audeze LCD line.
 
On the sonic side of things, the HE-X is a mixed bag, but mostly delivers with its well-balanced sound and graciously-big soundstage.  Its bass is well within the line of other open-planars, and shows very good extension down to the lower 30hz region before steadily falling off-- very aligned with the HE-560 in terms of extension.  Definition and texture of the bass is decent, but not up to the level of the HD800 or even the Audeze LCDs; it comes off as a little flabby and soft in attack.   That isn't to say the bass of the HE-X is tubby or wooly, but it's not as rock-hard of a presentation as I would have liked.  The mid-upper bass is invitingly warm and adds added thickness and bloom to the sound that's much more akin to an Audeze than the HE-560.  The midrange of the HE-X is well balanced, and while the lower midrange sounds very linear and integrated, the upper midrange-lower treble transition shares some of the same colorations to other Hifiman headphones.  There seems to be a dip around 2khz, and an emphasis on 3-4khz that isn't too dissimilar from the HE-560.  This coloration brings the harmonic energy of violins, female vocals, and electric guitars to the forefront of the sound, while at times sounding a little disjointed, because of a lack of upper treble extension and/or a lack of fullness around 2khz.  I find the HD-800's midrange, while gradually down sloping to 4khz, to be more coherent, as it doesn't sway up and down as much.  The midrange of the HE-X also suffers from a lack of clear-black background-- if you will.  It could be an issue with greater than average distortion in the midrange or a lack of speed and finesse of the headphone itself.  I'd perhaps attribute this flaw to both of those causes.  While the lack of ultimate clarity isn't too hampering on the HE-X, it's clearly apparent when comparing against the HD-800, whose lower midrange shines through with sense of resolution and speed.  The treble of the HE-X is perhaps the most well behaved of any Hifiman I've listened to.  It doesn't have the nasty 9-11khz peaks of the 400 and 400i, nor does it have as much emphasis on the 4-5khz region as the HE-560.  Sibilance in vocals is few and far between, indicating a decently behaved treble response.  If anything, I find it can be slightly hard and glaring at times, but that's highly dependent on the source material being played.  As I alluded to earlier, what I find suffering the most with the treble of the HE-X is a lack of extension, which limits the HE-X's ability to portray any ultimate sense of realism.  The treble elements aren't as well integrated into the sound as the HD800 either, making for a slightly soft sound.  I'm mostly nitpicking the HE-X here, but overall I'd say it sounds very good, with frequency balance and soundstage being its two biggest assets.  The soundstage is large enough to not leave me wanting when I transition over from the HD800, and very few headphones can actually brag about that.  
 
Overall this is a nice headphone, and Hifiman's safest and most well-versed entry I've heard yet.  I'd recommend it to any person wanting a more soft and warm type of sound like an Audeze, but doesn't want to contend with the horrid Audeze comfort.  Would I recommend it at full price though?  No.  At 1800 dollars, I think this is too steep of an investment.  You can get similar technicalities in sound and similar comfort out of the Hifiman HE-560, and you can EQ its sound to sound as balanced as the HE-X.  Similarly, I also prefer the HD800 over it, as the HD800 has many of the technicalities the HE-X lacks or comes up short on, and the HD800 can also be EQ'd and modded to have a nicely balanced sound.  I would have an easier time recommending this at a used price of around 1000usd, where it's much more approachable.  However, if you're not into EQ'ing much and are looking for a superbly comfortable and nicely balanced headphone, then you can still give these a shot and see if they're the right fit for you.
 
Source: Late 2009 iMac 27inch/ iTunes
Dac: Schiit Bifrost Uber Analog 
Amp: Schiit Asgard2
Mshenay
Mshenay
nicely done man,
CountryBoy
CountryBoy
Textbook informative review - thanks!
Pros: Deep and well control Sub-bass, good treble extension, slighly warm and the most comfortable headphone I ever worn
Cons: Might be too relax and soft for some.
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UPDATES: 11/8/2016 - HEX V1 cs HEX V2.
 
I want thank HIFIMAN for sending a V2 headphone for my review and comparison. I have been burning the HEX V2 for about 1 month before I do a comparison review. Hope the review would help you determine if you need to make that switch
 
Below are the list of changes
 
1) Yoke is not metal instead of plastic
2) 
Velour ear pads will now be Polyester
3) Improve headband to accommodate more sizes.
4) Ear pad is now deeper so it will avoid touching the ears.
5) Frame of the cups finish is now matt.. no more shiny tinted purple. Good to avoid finger prints.
6) New cable.
 
Frame is now matt black
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Ear pad is deeper. You can see the size differences. It is now much thicker overall
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Front View
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The thickest part of V2 pad measure around 2.9mm -  I know parallex error on the camera angle.. :)
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The thickest part of V1 pad measure around 2.5mm -
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The texture of the ear pad feels like memory foam instead of velour
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Here I contrast the angle so you can see the texture better.. V1 of Left V2 is right.
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Ok now the sound.. I am going to write in small paragraph and in point form. No long story.. just straight point form like jotting notes down
 
The first I notice is the increase treble energy. The V2 has more clarity overall.. vocal sound more sss and cymbal crashes more pronounce than V1. How much more.. well its like applying the trebleEQ by 1-2db or like dial +2 on  any EQ scale. This is just a rough estimation based on ear power. No measurement done. I am sure if anyone chart, it will be shown on the chart. This is no cable change type subtle differences... like a hair differences .. and cannot be seen in measurement. Anyone will be able to hear that differences. 
 
Now with the increase treble, the sound naturally becomes slightly thinner.. very slight. The V1 will have more body to the voice. To be real honest, I love the body of V1 than the V2. But the overall improvement will have me pick the V2.. read on why..
 
Well the soundstage has become slightly bigger overall. I suspect this is due the driver being place at diff angle or position further away from the ear. Now it could be combination of both. I also suspect the increase distant away from driver actually losses some body from V1. This is just guesses based on my experience on changing different ear pads sizes.
 
 The headband now has more adjustment. Well, I don't have any issue with V1 to begin with, as I am always using the 2nd hole. The headband is also more tighter than V1. It grip my head tighter, this is good if you walk around all the time looking up and down but serve no purpose if you are sitting down enjoying music.. I actually prefer the loose grip of V1.
 
The frame also improve IMO. Well the V1's shiny purple finish look cheap.. c'mon it looks like cheap plastic and cut from the same cloth as HE400 at $499. This headphone cost $1799 when I first bought it.. I know I pay too much as its now $1299. Well I sacrifice my wallet so I can write you a review lol.. 
. Well the V2 now is matt black and look more elegant overall. To be honest I am not sure what material is that, it feels like metal but I am not sure, it could still be plastic.. but I know it does not feel cheap anymore. 
 
The yoke is now seriously metal... no more plastic. I was afraid of breaking the yoke when I travel.. I feel relieve now that its metal. The website states increase stability, I am not sure I feel the V2 is more stable than V1, they feel the same and I am not even aware of any imbalance of anything like that.. Its good to know that its more stable.
 
The V1 velour is now polyester, to be honest I am cant feel any differences on my face unless I start rubbing it..I can feel the texture difference when i feel it with my fingers but not on my face. I hope this improvement will help some headfier reduce itchiness due to hot weather. I read in the forum there has been some complaint in hot weather humid region. 
 
Ok now the biggest difference between them.. I absolutely love the deeper ear pad.. Wow this improvements really helps as I am a little annoy by the ear rubbing the driver. The V2 feel so much spacious like moving from a 400sq ft apartment to a 2000 sq feet apartment with high ceiling.  my ears can now stretch out  and wiggle.. 
 
V2 comes with a new cable which feels like some sort of silicon jacket. I am not going into details about the cable, all I can say its slightly brighter.. very slight. This is no match for Ted's pure silver litz ref cable. I seriously think everyone should go get an aftermarket cable. The V2 cable is still not that great.. its slightly better than V1.
 
All in all.. I love the V2 and intend to keep it and return the V1. Another thumbs up to Dr Fang and his team thinking of ways to improve the HEX overall sound quality and comfort level. I hope you can compare and decide the points mention above, if you are looking for more sound stage, treble energy, comfort and less plastic.. go for the V2. If you like the sound with slightly more body and dun mind the ear rubbing and plastic.. stay with V1. 
 
Thanks for reading.. 

______________________________________________________
 
Below is my original review of V1 posted a month I bought it. 
 
 
 
OK I have been listening to the HEX a few days and I ended up the same fate as some of you. I like it very much. I am going straight and describe the sound… where it really matters.
 
The Bass..
 
My goodness, my jaw dropped 10" lower by its awesome deep bass. This kind of bass, I think can only be achieved by some high end sub-woofer, in fact one will need 2 of those sub-woofer to produce this kind of super deep control bass. The LCD X is no where as deep as the HEX - not even close. what the LCD X did better was its mid bass level.. the LCD -X has more slam but after A/bing both, I suddenly feel LCD-X bass is rolled off deep down. I would say the TH900 bass is more closer to HEX than Audeze phone including the LCD3. It's very addictive, I found myself waiting for the sub bass moment in each track. Do note the mid bass is not nearly as powerful as the sub... I find it lack a little which means it won't slam hard like some headphones out there.. This is an easy going bass like the TH900 and the old denon line D7000 etc..
 
 
Treble
 
I find the treble very relax, smooth yet full of clarity and detail and the extension is marvelous, its extend really up there and higher than LCD-X... again, I feel its up there with TH900 treble level. The lower treble is a little more reserved while the LCD -X is more forward.. Its not as sharp as HD800. The cymbal crash gently while LCD-X more pronounce but fail to extend as high as HEX. Well it’s not as recessed as HD650 either.. Its not veil in anyway, it just lacked some lower treble (which is good) but extend way up there. With this kind of treble, I can listen to HEX really loud and not missing anything up there. I can listen for hours without fatigue or feel I have too much music for the day.. A very clever trick by Fang.
 
Sound Stage
 
Ok now my jaw drops to the floor, I never thought that Planar headphones would have this awesome soundstage like the HD800. I first heard the HE400i for fun and although I return in in the end, what amazes me was its sound-stage. I truly suspect this kind of soundstage would be found in higher end models and when it released the HE1K, I was blown away by its soundstage at the show.. and now I am truly glad that Fang incorporate this awesome sound stage in the HEX. I am a big fan of new age music and speaker like soundstage like the HD800 is what I really want in a headphone.. and I have it now together with the awesome sub -bass. As far as I know, this is about the best sound stage I have ever heard in any headphone, it is directly in the HD800 league.. well done Fang!
 
Vocal
 
Well, I would describe the vocal as refine and take it easy kind of approach. It’s very similar to HD650 type of tonality here. No one is shouting, everybody voice is very refine and relax including Bryan Adams. Everyone learns how to curtsey at the end of the show with a gentle thank you. Works really well with Sarah Brightman kind of deal here. As oppose the LCD X and HD800 where the vocal more forward and aggressive. I find the HEX’s vocal in between the super duper romantic Audio Technica and LCD-X. Its just the right amount.. slightly creamy, slightly detail, and nasal congestion free.. in fact it’s so right, I feel
 its very life like.
 
Sensitivity
The HEX is designed to pair with a DAP without the desktop amps (which is why I bought it – for traveling in between hotels with a DAP). My test concludes that the LCD X is way louder at similar volume with Ak240.. than HEX… Its like vol 80 on LCD X = vol 87-90 on the HEX. Overall, there are still plenty of volume play left on the AK240 and it can power the HEX to really loud levels. I test it with a traditional Ipod (160Gb) and although the sound sucks big time (being critical here) it has enough power for the HEX.. same for iphone 6 plus.
 
Conclusion
 
It’s kinda of funny as I find the HEX inherited some of the best DNA among the timeless TOTL headphones. The sub-bass feels like TH900 super awesome deep, clean and tight.. very well control (I suspect its even deeper than TH900).. The sound-stage is in the HD800 league for sure. The treble, smooth, relax, warmer than LCD X but with better extension and lesser lower treble.. which means non-fatigue at all. The tonality is similar to HD650 and if one is a fan of HD650 (I am), then this is the ultimate end game towards the HD650 legendary non-fatigue headphone. For some, HD650 paired with Zana Duex is the end of the game. Now with HEX, HD650 fans can end its game while on the road with an Ak120/240. I did an A/B between Zana Duex SE/ HD650 vs Hex with AK240. The Hex came out the winner. More treble extension, way more powerful bass, wider soundstage and better PRAT.
 
I will conclude that HEX’s tonality is extremely addictive even though it lacks the technical ability of HD800 or LCD -X or TH900, it does something better than all of these headphones, it is much more enjoyable to listen and one can listen to louder volume without an ear meltdown. At the end of the day, I stop analyzing the music and start enjoying every tracks.
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Badfish5446
Badfish5446
Great review, I loved it... my wallet however does not agree.  The HE1000 is out of the question but this is just "inbounds"
Pros: Best 3D imaging, large sound stage, beautifully controlled yet weighty bass, matching midrange and treble, almost fatigue free, very comfortable
Cons: Price is bordering on the unaffordable extravagant range. Plastic gymbals seem out of place on an otherwise well built headphone. A bit geeky looking.
 
I am in the middle of 1 week window to listen to the Edition X as part of the loaner review program. This is the first really expensive headphone I have had an extensive listen to. I have listened to the T1, HD800, and LCD2 in a quiet setting for a couple of hours and them plus a few more expensive headphones at various head-fi meets over the years. So I have a bit of an idea of what more expensive headphones offer but not on a daily basis. My most expensive headphones prior to this is my current Z7, and prior K712 (sold), and D7000 (sold).

To give an idea of what I like I bought the Sony Z7 and Z5 last year and have been using them with a Pono player in balanced mode and they became my defacto favorites. So I like bass boosted warm gear with detailed but polite treble. I also recently picked up the PSB M4U4 IEM which is less bass heavy and more balanced than the Z5 which I also have enjoyed. When I first tried the HEX I found it to sound more like the M4U4 signature wise.

So here I am on day 2 using the HEX and my worst fears have been realized! I really REALLY like the HEX! It offers the best of every headphone I mentioned above and improves on those areas by quite a margin.

So if I was to say what areas are improved I would say the HEX offers a better balance of bass than the Sony's and slightly more bass than the M4U4 with amazing control, nuance, and texture. The bass is strong enough to satisfy my basshead tendencies while being controlled enough to never sound over done, bloated, or over lap other frequencies. The midrange similarly is clear, detailed, and never recessed. Liking warm signatures I like it's slight warmth. The treble is definitely a bit brighter than the Sony's being more like the M4U4. I notice just a hint of ear fatigue when using the HEX but LOVE the added treble presence as it just adds to all music while never crossing into harshness or sibilance. Finally I can not say strongly enough how much I love the sound stage and imaging of the HEX. It offers a very open sound with the 3D imaging of the Z5, beating any open or closed headphone I have owned. I can not say how it compares to the HD800, LCD2, T1 and the like as I have not heard them recently enough to offer a comparison in this area but the HEX is certainly better than my Sony's and the AKG K712 which I used to own, in this regard.

So why is this my worst fear? Its simple really. This headphone costs as much as my entire family vacation last year. It weighs in at a hefty $2400CAD which means I would need to save $200 a month for the next year to afford this musical marvel. It also means I need to say to my family I want a personal product that's worth as much as our entire family vacation just for myself! So I am struggling with guilt over what feels like an extreme extravagance.

Do I think it is 3 times better than my Sony's? Certainly not, but I am very tempted to buy it anyway (a year from now after I have saved up enough money).

So there you have it. I have a new 10/10 standard for listening excellence as the HEX stands head and shoulders above my previous headphones but at a price point that is close if not possibly too high for me to ever attain/justify. So heres hoping to winning the lottery
.
 
One thing that does help justify the cost of this headphone is its low requirements. This headphone sounds awesome from nothing more than my LG G4 phone or my Pono! I have tried it using my Ocean Bravo Tube amp as well and it sounds just as awesome from it. So there is no need to buy an expensive amp to drive this headphone. This would allow the astute shopper to allocate those costs towards the headphone itself. This is a great feature for first time buyers who have not already invested hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in amps.
 
Specific Scores
 
Packaging and accessories - The package that arrived contained everything needed hook the headphone up to either a portable source or a tradition amp. The cables are cloth covered and relatively flexible working well from either my phone or my desktop amps. The retail box looks posh and comfortably and securely holds the headphone when not in use. There is no travel case for the headphone. 4/5
 
Build Quality and Comfort - The build quality of the headphone is solid with the exception of the plastic gimbals which feel out of place on a headphone this expensive. The square headband looks a bit geeky especially if you need to use one of the smallest adjustment settings as it sticks way up in the air. The adjustment system is a bit stiff a hard to manage. Comfort is TOP NOTCH as the weight is not to much and the clamp is perfect. I was able to wear these for hours on end with zero comfort issues. 4/5
 
Bass - The bass is one of the strongest elements of this headphone. It offers bass with enough weight and authority to make instruments like kettle drums, cellos, and electronic bass sound complete, textured, organic, and nuanced while never feeling over done. The bass also never over shadows the other frequencies. 5/5
 
Midrange - The midrange is ever so slightly warm and is not recessed in comparison to the bass and treble offering plenty of detail while remaining organic and engaging. I noticed no particular favor regarding male or female vocals. 5/5
 
Treble - The treble is nicely extended and revealing without stepping over the line into harshness or being sibilant. I can see where the treble might not be quite bright enough for those who really love treble but I think it is about as good as it can get for anyone who find treble exhausting. 5/5
 
Sound Stage and 3D imaging - This is the one area I think the HEX excels above all others especially the 3D imaging. The sound stage is probably not as big as the HD800 from memory but is still very large and the 3D aspect just takes it to that special place few headphones ever achieve. 5/5
 
Testing equipment and music used during the review - I used my LG G4 phone for a good portion of my testing along with my Pono in standard mode, Ipad Mini 2, and my computer going to my Audioengine D1 and then to my Bravo Ocean single tube amp. In all configurations the HEX sounded awesome. The D1/Ocean amp combo and  Ipad Mini 2 were the most relaxed and warm sounding configurations, the LG G4 had a slight V, and my Pono was the most balanced. I listened at low to moderate volume levels only as I do not blast my ears with loud volume levels. I used a variety of classical tunes from Arvo Part and other orchestral composers, Celtic music from Loreena McKennitt, rock from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Black Sabbath, country rock from Blue Rodeo, Jaz from Patricia Barber and Diana Krall, and more. During all of the music I tried I only had one Black Sabbath song sound off for cymbals. Everything else sounded realistic from cymbals to kettle drums and Cellos.

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dweaver
dweaver
Thank you. I enjoyed writing this one as the headphone sounds absolutely awesome. Now I get a couple days to enjoy it and then a year to ponder if I should buy it :).  Unless I get lucky and win the lottery in which case I will have my own pair in a week :wink: LOL.
john777
john777
Thank you for your review. I am trying to decide between HE-1000 and Edition X and need all the help I can get...
miceblue
miceblue
The part about the family vacation just made my day, and is so true for a lot of high-end audio gear unfortunately. I'm definitely not in the market for $1k+ gear.
Pros: Easy to listen for hours,best sound stage I have heard
Cons: Price but that has become all totl phones
The strongest point of the hex is that it makes you feel like your listening to speakers very wide and 3D
The bass is typical hifiman very tight not booming. I use these for mainly jazz light rock r&b
I would not know how to rate on edm, but on the music I listen too these capture my ears and keep me entertained for long sessions
The instrument separation lets you hear everything note very well
The treble is rolled off producing a very relaxing but never boring sound
Pros: Great sound, superior in a lot of ways.
Cons: The law of diminishing returns
I am sitting at my desk, staring at a $1799 headphone. I am not naïve, and I know that $1799 is on the brink of being declared “mid-fi” territory. I want to mull over this price-tag a little though. 
 
I’ve been on Head-Fi since the eighth of July, 2011. I am not a veteran by any means, but I wasn’t born into the world of headphones yesterday. The Sennheiser HD800 goes for just shy of $1100 on Amazon these days. That means a better deal can probably be found somewhere, especially on the second-hand market. The HD800 was regarded as the pinnacle of price and performance a very short while ago. Since then, other more extravagantly priced headphones have come along, and we have seen the ceiling on what we are willing to pay for a pair of top-tier headphones (and DAPs) rise rather steeply.
 
This steep rise has corresponded with the rising popularity of portable listening, a lifestyle segment/accessory industry/whatever-your-sales-term-du-jour-is that has been healthily boosted by popular but audiophile-frowned-upon brands like Beats, Skullcandy, and a host of other “bad” headphone manufacturers (call me cynical, call it capitalism, or simply tell me that popularity means more research and development, and therefore more costs and fancier headphones…I see the coincidental raising of this ceiling with rising popularity and smell a rat…I digress though). Why do I bring up Beats? Because they were found guilty of peddling a product whose price was in place to push their exclusivity factor more than anything else. They were sub-standard in their performance, but still cost more than any normal child could afford. They cost more than any normal child should have to be made to try and afford by their peers and a marketing company. They cost more than any normal child should sacrifice in pursuit of aural pleasure. The money they gathered should have gone to three square meals a day, a new pair of shoes, some books perhaps?
 
When these kids see the light and come to audiophilia, they often see a very short, sideways leap over to a respectable brand peddling better product. They could sell the Beats to some sap on eBay and get themselves some Sennheiser HD600, and move on with their lives. They could also get into Grados, get some SR325is, and feel good about themselves.
 
Why am I rambling on like this? I swear I have a point…bear with me. Now these kids come into the world of audiophile grade headphones, and find themselves in a considerably harsher environment. Pawning off those Beats on eBay won’t take you into “mid-fi” territory anymore. They suddenly are greeted by a very steep cliff to climb. If they want to listen to something seen as “mid-fi” they will find themselves looking at upwards of $700 now. Often they will find themselves mulling over getting a pair of LCD2, or something like the Hifiman Edition X. The Sennheiser HD600, though still an amazing headphone, is a passé recommendation. I won’t even go into DAP recommendations…Astell and Kern own these kids before they’ve even wandered into the portable source gear threads…
 
I am looking at a $1799 pair of headphones, and I am wondering, if I were a high school kid who had noble aspirations towards actually “hearing” my music for the first time, how would I feel if I gave up lunches, sold all my CDs and LPs, maybe turned a few dirty tricks and decided I could do without that second kidney, how would I feel if I finally got that box on the front porch? What would I be expecting? What I would see and how I would feel might go along the following lines. I am writing this review with that kid in mind.
 
If I were that kid, I would carefully slit that tape, and open the flaps on the box. I would be presented with a very nicely bubble-wrapped large, black box that fits almost scientifically into the generic cardboard box it was shipped in. I would carefully peel away the layers of bubble-wrap (careful now…if this thing sucks, I better be able to sell it as mint, or return it without a hitch, or my arse is on the line for $1799). I would slip a very sexy leather-ish kind of box out of that black box that turned out to simply be a sleeve.
 
With sweaty palms I would open the leather-ish box, and find a blank piece of black foam. Under that foam, waiting, is an impossibly sexy looking pair of headphones that look absolutely ludicrous on your head, but whose caress feels almost more loving than my mother’s. Under another insert in that snug, black velvet headphone womb is a pair of cables, one long as hell, for old guys who lounge in La-Z-Boys listening to Chesky recordings of assorted Americana and weird-arse noises designed to tell you how awesome your headphones are, the other nice and short, with a small plug that will happily fit into my iPhone 5.
 
With baited breath, I would plug the short cable into my phone, select a nice track, something with tricky bass, and some frankly bad mastering, something it takes a great pair of cans to handle with dignity….a little Flying Lotus works well here, so I’ll go with him. I’d hit play, and stare out the window of my home, and hear….what? This is what I heard.
 
A pair of great headphones. I heard detail, I heard well-controlled, but still a little sweaty and passionate bass, coupling with no shame in front of me with the mids, while the treble watched like a perv, cheering it on. I had a great experience with them. I loved the imaging, and I found myself flipping along to other tracks….more Flying Lotus, a little Bob Dylan, back to electronic, some Boards of Canada, on to Jazz, some Miles while he “runs the voodoo down”, Coltrane tearing his heart out and pasting it bloody and dripping to his sleeve…These headphones did great things, but there is one caveat: the law of diminishing returns. Because unlike that kid, I have several other pairs of cans laying about. A pair of HD600, a pair of vintage Grado SR80 pink drivers in African Blackwood cups, a pair of Yamaha YH-1, a pair of Magnum V6 drivers in cups of my own making in Black Limba with Rosewood accents. I also have a pair of those mutants running through the forums right now and scaring everyone $h1tl355, the VE Zen v2.0.
 
The Hifiman Edition X is great and does a lot right. The problem is, it doesn’t slay them all completely and leave their corpses rotting in the sun. Shouldn’t $1799 do that? No. All those kids out there selling their Beats and coming on board need to know that, and know it now. I applaud Fang Bian for an outstanding pair of headphones, and have no doubt that $1799 price tag is necessary to pay for the research and resources required to make those diaphragms (…so thin sneezing on them could reduce them to a nice compliment to your boogers sprayed out on the wall). Here’s the rub though. This should not be considered a normal “mid-fi” price-range headphone. These headphones need to be bought by folks who have been around the block…several times….no…make that at least 20 times. They should be ready for the law of diminishing returns and they should be able to stomach paying roughly an extra $1000 to get just one more subtle nuance out of their Chesky records. They should also be ready to encounter borderline bad craftsmanship and not care (the headband gimbals are plastic, and don’t fit the cups 100%, and the mesh over the backs of the drivers is clumsily forced over the connectors at the bottom of the cups leaving an unsightly bump in it).
 
The kids who come in after selling their Beats, they need to be looking for something else. This is not the norm, and they should not be fooled into thinking it is.
 
PS: My HD600 sounded very close to these out of my Pono Player using a balanced cable, sometimes I preferred them. Your mileage may vary though… 
 
*EDIT: updated price. I thought the MSRP was $1500, its actually $1799. Thanks @grizzlybeast 
Sil3nce
Sil3nce
Excellent and honest impressions my friend!
Looking forward to hearing them myself.
You make good points though, they had better be damn good sounding headphones for $1799!
catspaw
catspaw
Kids selling their beats should look at 400i IMHO.
My road took me from bad IEms to cheap over ears from pioneed, technics, then to senn hd 380 and then the HE400.
Now I am debating LCd-2-, HD800 or Srs-2170, but im clear on the fact Im not going higher than that :D.
dxanex
dxanex
This is one of the most enjoyable reviews/short story/anecdotal things I've read here in a while. I've been at this for some time now and have been thinking about getting the HEX as a compliment to my MrSpeakers ETHER. But now you've got me thinking I should listen to the HD 600 again first. It's been many many years. 
Pros: Portable, Very Comfy, Light-weight, High-end, Classy, Presents Music beautifully, Bass, Vocals, Instrumental Separation all spot on, etc.
Cons: None that I could hear or see
Four words.  Wow these are amazing!
 
I honestly prefer the HEX black color over the HEK look, has some sort of classy style to it. 
Plugged these straight into the PC and when I was going through my Spotify/TIDAL/Personal Playlist list it's dominating every song I throw at it! Bass impact is sweet, instrumental separation, vocals, and overall presentation is outstanding.  These are still like new so I can only imagine after continually burning in.
 
What makes these headphones in my opinion worth the money is that you don't need an expensive DAC or amp in order to have music presented beautifully, just plug it in and you are good to go.  With other high-end headphones, taking other equipment into consideration, you are looking at expenses around the 2.5-6k range depending on your setup in which most of the time is required.  Whether you use your phone, your PC, or DAP, or even a high-end setup you will not be disappointed :)
Pros: Portable-ish; Top tier Top end; Shiny !
Cons: Looks; Sizing & adjustment issues with the headband; Less than stellar bass performance
UPDATE: I obtained a HiFiMan HE1000 for use as part of this review.  A comparison between Edition X  and the HE1000 is now provided in the Comparisons section and I have added additional comments and images to the review in several places, all noted as updates.
 
------
 
My standard boring intro: I purchased all hardware used in this review. The Edition X reviewed is production, not a demo unit. I have no relationship with any manufacturer\vendor\etc. of equipment used in writing this review, every thing here is just one guy's opinion.
 
About me:  I usually listen at low to moderate volumes (about 57 dB casual listening, maybe 67 dB rocking out). Preferred music genres are 70s rock & progressive, electronica, female vocals. My current primary systems are Yggdrasil\Ragnarok stack and a QuestyleCAS192\DNA Stratus. The majority of my listening recently has been with Pioneer SE Master1 and Senn HD 800.
 
Comparative listening was done primarily with the Questyle DAC feeding the Ragnarok via no-name balanced cables through goldpoint passive switches\attenuators. Pretty much every amp and DAC I own got thrown into the mix at some point as well for reasons explained below. Casual listening was done with the stock SE cable, comparative listening was done with balanced cables to both cans (except for the TH-900s). Playback was through JRiver 21 on PC, no plug-ins, music and test tracks will be listed at the bottom of the review. Lots of casual listening was done using Spotify & Tidal “hi-res” streaming cause I’m rolling that way these days. Don’t judge.
 
Overview of the cans
 
The HiFiMan Edition X (“HEX”) presents itself as the poor-man’s HE1000, provided the poor man can dump almost 2K on headphones in one shot. Borrowing from the newer HiFiMan lineup, HEX grabs the extended oval cups from the HE1000s (with a few significant changes detailed below) and straps them onto HiFiMan’s “function over form heaven forbid that we make this thing look good” support hardware. The result: HiFiMan gets to clear their shelves of unsold parts and a new aspirational headphone for people who really want the HE1000 is born.  Joy unto us!
 
01Money.jpg
 
Before we get into it some notes on the reported specs…
 
Frequency Response : 8Hz-50kHz​
 
8Hz is pushing it but not too much. I got discernable bass (meaning I could hear anything down there at less than ear bleed levels of volume) down to about 20Hz using balanced power. Pushing the cans to ear bleed levels for measurements showed movement at 15Hz dBA but no further with my crappy measuring equipment. I will defer to their measurements.
 
I can’t hear anything at 50kHz and neither can you.
 
Sensitivity : 103dB​
 
Very efficient, they can be run from a portable successfully. I used them with a Samsung Galaxy phone and a portable FiiO amp, they performed OK, loud enough but not at the performance level as when amped with more power.
 
When you read my can-to-can comparisons below BTW remember I’m throwing massive amounts of power into all of them. The HD 800s & HE6 for instance require power to get best results so if you did these tests with a DAP you might hear something else.
 
Impedance : 25 ± 3 ohm​
 
Rule of thumb says the amp should have an output impedance under, what, 3 ohms?  I think even a cell phone does that these days. However conventional wisdom says planar magnetics aren’t as bothered about impedance as much as dynamics.
 
I ran these on amps with 0.03, 3, 8, 12 and 120 Ohm impedance outputs. There was a definite sound change with the 120 Ohm out but otherwise I didn’t hear much I could pin on the impedance.
 
Weight : 14.07 Oz (399 g)​
 
 
I weighed them at 400g. The long SE cable weight is 69 g.
 
For comparison:
Senn HD600\HD650
256
OPPO PM3
327
HiFiMan HE400S
358
Senn HD 800
366
Mr. Speakers Ether
374
Fostex TH-900
389
HiFiMan HE 1000
480
HiFiMan HE6
549
Audeze LCD-X
600
 
 
The weight is very manageable. HiFiMan got a bonus when substituting the wood cups for the metal alloy shell here, I don’t think this will be an issue for most people.
 
 
Build Quality \ Design \ Comfort
 
The HEX came out of the box with nothing physically wrong with them. First round to HiFiMan!  I have previously received cans from their lower line up with various quality control issues. Here everything was fine.
 
The ear cups share the same elongated shape\size as the HE1000s. These will easily encircle large ears without touching them. The grills appear to be a laser cut steel alloy and remind me of the custom PC fan grills I used to buy. These have a slightly convex bow and appear quite sturdy. The cup material itself (or at least the outer sleeve of the cup) is a lightweight metal alloy, graphite colored-ish with a blue-ish or purple-ish hue to it. Not sure what it is but it’s quite nice.
 
02Color.jpg
 

UPDATED:  Other changes on the HEX from the HE1000 include: The “Nanometer Diaphragm” of the HE1000 is replaced by an ‘Ultra Thin’ one;  The wood casing of the HE1000 is replaced by the metal alloy case (described above) which is about ½ inch shallower than the wood cups, removing quite a bit of space from inside the cups.
 
Pads are pleather with fleece like fabric on the surface facing your head, the interior pleather wall is perforated to allow air flow. The fleece material is similar to the pads on the HE560s: the material is initially scratchy but becomes soft very quickly. Depth of the pad varies from about 25mm in the back to 15 mm in the front. Though that’s not very deep compared to some cans I haven’t had the driver bottom out on my ears so far. These pads are less about ‘cushing’ down on your ears (ala Ether) and more about encircling the entire ear and gripping your head lightly (ala HD 800). Cutting and stitching is tight and the pads are easy to remove and re-attach. In the past I have seen irregular shapes and stitching on HiFiMan ear pads but these aren’t them. Though I don’t have them in front of me, I highly, highly suspect that these are exactly the same pads as used on the HE1000.

UPDATED: The earpads are indeed directly interchangeable between HEX and HE1000.

06Pad.jpg
 
HEX shares the same frame design & materials (plastic yokes, pleather suspension strap, rolled steel frame) as the rest of their current lower priced line up, excluding the HE6. This means if you’ve tried the HE560 or the HE400S (at about 1/6 the price of HEX!) you’ve already seen this frame. The design adds nothing to the looks of the can. Utilitarian, functional and comfortable, providing a good weight distribution over a large area with no pressure points (I’m thinking back to the AKG K702 head strap and wincing). The sliding height adjustments worried me when I first saw them on the HE560s but they have turned out to be fairly sturdy. I wouldn’t give them to my kids to play with though.
 
03Compare.jpg
 
However, while this frame design works very well with 400s and 560s it seems a bit… squirrely I guess? when used with the elongated ear cups of the HEX. The almost 360 degree available rotation (think DJ cans) requires multiple small adjustments every time I put them on. They slide around. And the cups are too low on me even at the lowest (highest?) setting. The top of the cups are fine, this is more the bottoms pressing on my jaw, making me want to lift the cans up about a quarter or half inch. Note how much lower the HEX hangs in the photo above. To get a good fit I had to place additional padding under the suspension strap. Once that was in place things got a lot better.

01HEXHEKCupComparison.jpg
 
​UPDATED: The HE1000 on the other hand fits me better.  It’s kind of hard to see in the photo above but the HEX hangs slightly lower from the frame than the HE1000.  (Hint: Look at the comparative heights of where the yokes connect with the cups).  At the highest setting the HE1000 sits about ½ inch higher on my head.  Also notice the height differences of the steel frame.  That’s not an effect of the camera angle.
 
Build, design and comfort are truly a mixed bag on these. The oversized cup design is very light, attractive & comfortable once in place, even with my glasses. The pads are replaceable for a reasonable price, and the weight is very nicely distributed across the head strap for long periods of wear. All that’s fantastic. But it’s the cheapest frame they make on a can priced at TOTL and I had to add padding to get them to fit.
 
Quality is good, comfort is a near miss, at this price point I expect more attention to sizing, materials and looks overall.
 
Accessories
 
These arrive in the same type of pleather and pressboard box as HE 1000 but with a different insert in the top. This is step up from packaging on HiFiMan’s lower end stuff. No travel case or soft bag included. To be honest, all my headphone boxes are packaged back up and shoved in the basement as soon as I get them. I put about zero value on a box unless it doubles as the travel case. That said HEX box is about par for the price point unless you want to compare it with the PM-1s rosewood case.
 
03Boxv2.jpg
 
UPATED: The HE1000 box is bigger, has a brushed metal insert & a metal clasp instead of a leather loop to open it.  The design is slightly nicer but that’s not why you buy either of these cans.
 
HiFiMan provides 2 cables, both are SE. The cables are cloth covered and terminate in 2.5 inch stereo plugs into the cans. I’m not sure why stereo plugs were used as these are probably wired internally to use mono. The shorter cable is meant for use with portables and has a right-angle SE jack. The cloth covered cable really isn’t designed for outside portable use but neither is the headphone; I presume this is meant for flexibility in walking around the house with a DAP. After only a short period I became concerned about the durability of the fabric near the cable leads. It seems a bit fragile and likely to become crimped or frayed.
 
08Cables.jpg
 
I give the stock cables a meh. Interestingly, when I switched to an OPPO brand balanced cable for some tests I occasionally perceived a slight boost, 1 to 2dB at most, in the sub-bass region. Balanced power?  Something with the cables?  It would be interesting to experiment with upgraded cables on these to see the effects. HiFiMan sells balanced cables for $200 but you could pretty much use any other cable with 2.5 jacks.
 
Sound
 
The top end of the cans is superb with great extension and detail, transient attack, imaging, dynamics. Everything you want is up there (unless you are an HD 800 aficionado, in which case don’t worry, nothing to hear here). HEX met or exceeded most of my cans for top end definition and extension while not pushing it too far forward. I will not be giving up the exaggerated airiness of my HD 800s or TH-900s any time soon but otherwise I would be happy with this top end.
 
The mids are golden, slightly sweet and warm, the bass dips low and is plentiful. Lots of people on the boards seem to be loving this sound. I plugged these in and immediately thought “oh, these are good”. As the cliché goes, you’re going to hand these to your girlfriend or wife or significant other or someone who isn’t into headphones, and tears are going to come into their eyes as they listen to Adele like it’s the first time they've ever heard her, and its’ going to be the best thing ever and you’re going to know in that instant that you weren’t being an idiot when you spent all that money on your system. These are those kind of phones the first time you hear them.
 
However.
 
I am truly not a fan of HEX’s bass and midrange profile. While the sub bass extends deep (20 Hz or so) it’s very loose and rumbly down there. Bass is present and seems balanced with mids but it’s too plentiful in the mix. While I didn’t hear any particular resonant frequencies the whole bass range seems to distort and smear slightly with a greatly reduced attack and transient response compared to the rest of the can. This boosts the volume in that area, colors the midrange darker, and collapses imaging and openness on tracks with almost any bass components. My already crappy 70s rock stuff sounds slightly muddier and even more closed than in the original recordings.
 
When little bass is present in the mix the midrange sounds a bit sweet and the upper midrange becomes superbly defined, almost as much as that top end. Imaging of the entire can becomes top tier, transients beat or meet a lot of stuff out there. Higher vocals (both male and female) color a little lower, not unpleasantly. But that bass is almost always present in the stuff I listen to, pushing the mids and smothering that top end because of it.
 
I ran the HEX in multiple configurations of 4 different DACs and 5 different amps, the issue remained across all scenarios. Output impedance across a range (0.03 to 12 Ohms) did not seem to affect this though I occasionally thought the bass became further exaggerated using balanced cables to the can. My suspicion is something in the design (lack of damping, overall bass resonance of the enclosure, who knows what) is interacting with the bass and midrange areas to produce the distortion. This might be fixed with good EQing, I’m not interested enough to try.
 
I like a defined midrange first, then the airy stuff. That’s me. YMMV, you may not hear the distortion I’m describing or you may actually prefer it. I enjoy the sound too occasionally but that’s why I keep tube amps around. In head-to-head comparisons the smeared bass keeps emerging as the reason this can isn’t a technical superstar. For me, at this TOTL price point, the sound is an “Ooh, so close”.
 
Comparisons
 
I don’t think head phones are built to compete with each other and there’s no one perfect can. But it’s still fun so here are some comparisons.
 
HiFiMan HE1000
 
Sub bass on the HE1000 is recessed compared to the HEX but much more refined: smoother, fuller, tighter, going as low or marginally lower than the HEX.  Bass and midrange on HEX sounds slow, fat and boomy when compared to the HE1000.  HE1000 midrange is recessed & slightly lean comparatively. ‘Punch” is hard to gauge as the HEX hits with more volume but HE1000 hits with greater speed.  HE1000 high frequencies are pushed forward in comparison with the HEX, are much sharper (occasionally brittle) and seem to extend higher.  The pushed treble and comparatively recessed midrange make the HE1000 slightly more open on high frequency stuff (think triangles and cymbals) and tracks with sparse arrangements.  On more complicated or bass-heavy material the HE1000 is vastly more open and much better at imaging due the slow bass of HEX. Attack and transients are better in the HE1000 across the board but make an immediate difference in imaging and details in the bass and lower mid regions compared to HEX.  Low female vocals were occasionally more forward on the HEX; higher vocals sounded a bit thinner on HE1000.  Male vocals were thicker\fuller on the HEX across the board. 
 
The HE1000 outclasses the HEX across the board with the step up most defined in the lower end.  The HEX is the warmer sound but I find the HE1000 is more refined and enjoyable overall. I much prefer the tighter bass and low end on the HE1000 even though it has comparatively lower volume than HEX.  The higher end of the HE1000 is more forward and can be a touch brittle at times. If you find the HD800 too ‘peaky’ you might feel the same way about the HE1000.  Personally I have no problem as it maintains the openness of the cans no matter the material, while the HEX closes up a bit with bass heavy or complicated tracks.
 
Mr.Speakers Ether (open backed, DUM cable)
 
Very similar power requirements for these cans. Ether is slower in top end; in bass regions it seems faster than HEX, probably due to the smeary-ness of HEX’s bass and mids. Bass on the Ether is recessed in comparison and does not go as deep, HEX is much more rumbly and forward down there. The HEX pushes the lower notes of tenor male vocals more than the Ether, changing their color slightly. (For instance, James Taylor on his “Sweet Baby James” album often sounds kind of nasally. HEX pushes his voice a little lower covering that up just a notch. I didn’t hear much coloring on lower voices with HEX; for instance Johnny Cash’s bass-baritone sounded like Johnny Cash, just more of him.)   The HEX has more air & openness on tracks that play exclusively in that region but when bass and mids are also present I didn’t hear much difference. HEX has a slightly wider soundstage and better dynamic range.
 
Between these two I would take HEX for its upper-mids-and-above performance if that bass could be tightened up. I wonder if equalization could do anything but I’m doubtful.
 
HiFiMan HE400S
 
HEX frequency response extends much higher and lower than the HE400S. Sub bass goes much lower and all bass is much louder across the board. The rumbly nature of the can down there may increase my perceived volume. The cans have a similar midrange except when bass & sub bass are present in the mix and HEX pushes that **** up to congest the mids. Much better sparklies, harmonics, and dynamic range on HEX when you play a cymbal solo at them. Better imaging and openness on HEX when less bass is present in the music. I’ve written “possibly better” about 5 times in my notes on HEX transients so I’ll go with “I can’t hear any difference” there. Interestingly I really couldn’t hear a difference on female vocals.
 
I didn't find their sound profiles that dissimilar overall. HEX is clearly better in most areas but, that rumbly bass…
 
Sennheiser HD 800
 
HEX is clearly the bass winner if that’s the contest. Much deeper, heavier sub bass. Upper bass and mids are also much fuller on HEX. Compared to the HD 800 the HEX sounds nice and full without being too bloomy. But the top end is owned by the HD 800s. They remain more airy and open, no matter the track. Treble on HEX is slightly recessed by comparison and doesn’t extend as far up according to my admittedly limited hearing up there. Female vocals are very good on both cans but higher voices are better on the 800s. The HEX is slightly less dynamic and poorer at imaging, I think because of the omnipresent air in the 800s. The HEX soundstage seemed heavier by comparison. Attack and transient response: HEX. But not by much at all.
 
The HEX and HD 800 are different animals. HEX doesn’t encroach into HD 800 territory of owning the “defined and airy” top end. Fans of bass will be better off with HEX. HD 800 needs the much moar power so if you don’t have a balanced amp think about the HEX.
 
HiFiMan HE6
 
HE6 has more, tighter sub bass. On most tracks at sane listening levels HEX starts struggling around 35dB, the HE6 pushed deeper with more control. On the HE6 a deep kick drum sounds tight, maybe not as full\loud as real life, but tight. The HEX sounded like a ported sub, chuffing at me. HEX is woolier in bass and sounds congested in the mids by comparison. I expected HEX to pull ahead in the top end but in listening it was a real mix. I’m having a hard time coming up with declaratives up here. I got good air on both, a very close match in most instances, so tie? But openness shifted between the two depending on material. On female vocals the HEX seemed less precise on the transients, masking pre-vocals & fricatives & the non-note stuff a bit. So attack and transient response (and dynamic range) to HE6.
 
HE6 is the clear winner for me, the only contest was the top end. Those who don’t care about the woolier HEX bass and who don’t have the power to drive the HE6 to its performance potential might choose otherwise.
 
Fostex TH-900
 
TH-900 bass hits harder, fuller (richer, creamier, chocolaty-r), bass seems duller on HEX. Mids are much fuller and forward on HEX but I heard the TH-900 midrange as both smoother and more detailed. The TH-900 was elevated slightly in treble volume although I couldn’t say which can extends further up: I sometimes thought I heard more harmonics on HEX but that was more of a feeling than anything I could really pinpoint. The TH-900 certainly brought more ‘hiss’ to tracks that were prone to it, the HEX sounded much blacker in comparison. On complicated material HEX sounds more closed with much less air and a slightly bloated (comparatively) midrange. Lower pitched female vocals had more air and breathiness on the 900s (the HEX midrange smear); higher female vocals were colored slightly lower and were comparatively recessed by HEX. Imaging was a mixed bag, with a brass band imaging better on HEX and a string quartet doing better on the 900s. Attack and transient response also varied, with HEX doing worse on bass heavy material. Another tie. Dynamic response could also be considered a tie but I’m prone to declaring the Fostex the winner due to its extended tight bass reach.
 
Again we have two very different sounds. The scooped out middle makes TH-900 treble much more pronounced and airier with mid-range heavy tracks. Your preference will depend on your material and your preferred sound. The TH-900s is already in the “love it or not” category anyways: it’s not ‘correct’ but it sure is fun for those who appreciate it. On mid-range centric songs I found myself preferring the HEX though that may boil down to the loudness preference.
 
Conclusions
 
Wow, how to end this. These cans are worth a listen from a lender program or if that midrange sounds like you. Some people are going to love these and for good reasons. If I wasn’t so picky about the midrange (and if I had a bigger head) these might be a keeper for me as well. But I find comfort & fit lacking and think the bass distortion blights an otherwise great sound.
 
In my head I keep going back the phrase ‘At this price point’. Like “at this price I expected more effort in the design and materials” .  “At this price point I could get another pair of headphones AND be able to buy presents for my wife and family this Christmas and not be forced to sleep on the couch”.  "At this price point I could buy a more comfortable couch".  Phrases like that.
 
Tracks used in this Review
 
This is a partial list  of tracks used in writing this review.
 
Sub BassYello – The Eye- Track 5 - "Junior B"
Sub BassDianne Reeves - Never Too Far - Track 2 - "Never Too Far"
MidrangeSteely Dan - Gaucho - Track 1 "Babylon Sisters"
MidrangeSteely Dan - Aja - Track 2 "Aja"
Imaging, OpenessKishi Bashi - 151a - Track 2 - "Manchester"
Mids, High MidsPaper Aeroplanes - The Day We Ran Into the Sea - Track 2 - "Free Wheel"
Male VocalsThe National - Trouble Will Find Me - Track 1 - "I Should Live In Salt"
Female VocalsAllison Krause & Union Station - New Favorite - Track 1 - "Let Me Touch You For A While"
Female Vocals, Imaging, BassShelby Lynne - Just A Little Lovin - Track 10 - "How Can I Be Sure"
Imaging, OpenessShelby Lynne - Just A Little Lovin - Track 7 - "Willie and Laura Mae Jones" (DSD)
Bass, Mids, Imaging, Openess, AttackOpus 3 - Test Record 1 - Side B, Track 1  - "Invention no. 14" (J.S.Bach)  (LP)
Dynamic RangeOpus 3 - Selections From Test Records (CD) - Track 10 - "  'Taint Nobody's Bizness" (Tomas Ornberg's Blue Five)
Attack, TransientsDianne Reeves - Never Too Far - Track 1 - "Hello (Haven't Seen You Before)"
Attack, TransientsNu Shooz - Pool Side  Track 1 - Dont Let me Be The One
Sub BassNeneh Cherry - Move With Me (dub) - Track 4 - Soundtrack "Until the End of the World"
MiscRives Audio Test CD 2
MiscFinlandia Surround Test CD
Miscopus 3 Test CD 4 
 
Edits and Updates
 
12/22: Multiple edits for grammar; Corrected reference to HEX diaphragm build
12/23: Removed statement that no comparison to HEK will be provided
12/27: Added HE1000 comparison and additional data as noted; added test tracks

kendetamas
kendetamas
i had the HE-1000 for a month and I can confirm that the fabric near the jack plugs became frayed.
Articnoise
Articnoise
 
Great review I now actually sense, for the first time, I got a feeling how this headphone will sound like!
ogodei
ogodei
Thanks for the comments.
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