HIFIMAN Edition XS

Jarlaxle

Head-Fier
Might be the Best under 500$
Pros: Very Wide Soundstage
Relatively Easy to Drive
Very Clear and Highly Detailed
Mostly Comfortable
Good Bass and Treble Extension
Fast Transience as Expected from a Planar
Cons: Ridiculous Build Quality
Dip Around 2k Comes with Consequences
Zingy up Top so can be Fatiguing
Not very Engaging when the Song asks for More Bass and Impact
Hifiman Edition XS is highly regarded since it first came out in 2021 and one of the most recommended headphones under 500$. With the MSRP of 499$, it is mostly compared to Hifiman’s own Sundara and Ananda. You can also read the full review here at mobileaudiophile.com

Edition XS
Pad and Mesh of Edition XS

Disclaimers​


Without boring you too much, I don’t necessarily have a sound preference. I tend to enjoy different sound profiles as long as they do well at what they intend to do. I’m not very sensitive to treble so I can enjoy the most notoriously bright headphones, however I’m somewhat sensitive to upper mids area. Please keep these in mind. Also, I bought Hifiman Edition XS as well as other headphones mentioned here with my own money. If a unit I reviewed is given or loaned to me in the future, I will say so here.


Build, Comfort and Trivia​


Hifiman is a brand I think every Audiophile is familiar with. They have their bright leaning neutral sound signature which almost all of their planar magnetic headphones have. Edition line of Hifimans was discountinued until Edition XS came out which is revised with Hifiman’s latest Stealth Magnet technology.


Edition XS is not built well. Actually, build quality is ridiculous in this price range. Even cheaper Sundara is build better, feels more rugged and I rate Sundara’s build quality as only decent or fine for the price. Seemingly only yolks and mesh on the drivers are made out of metal on these. Plastic is not necessarily a bad material but the plastic used here is one of the worst I’ve seen and paint on mine began to chip already. They are not dents or scratches mind you because these chipped areas don’t touch anywhere when I put them on the desk.


Headband is although comfortable, it is not my favorite design. It looks cheap like rest of the headphones and I can imagine the faux leather on the headband flaking soon. Also, they don’t clamp enough on my normal sized head and if I tilt my head they move and barely stay on my head. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the seal but I can see it breaking easily.


Packaging and accessories are modest to say the least. Only a 3.5 mm terminated cable and a 3.5 mm to 6.35 mm adapters comes with the headphones. Cable is better than what came with the Sundara’s but still not very good. Box looks like environment friendly, which I think reduces costs even more. If there were more accessories like another cable or replacement pads, I would believe Hifiman was trying to be more environment conscious but no, I don’t but that.

Edition XS
Paint is Already Chipping on Plastic Parts
Technical Specifications:


Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 50 kHz


Impedance: 18 Ohms


Sensitivity: 92 dB (not specified, I assume per mW)


Weight: 405 g


Sound​


Sound Signature of Edition XS is bright leaning neutral like most of the planar magnetic headphones in Hifiman’s line up.


Bass​


Edition XS has a neutral and well extended bass. Being planar, this neutral signature come as lean for some and definitely not enough for genres like EDM and hip hop. Bass quality is exceptional devoid of muddiness of boominess. Transience is fast as expected from a planar.


Midrange​


Mids are kind of a mixed bad in Edition XS. While mostly neutral, there is a dip around 2k which helps the perception of soundstage. However, this dip comes with some consequences. Some vocals take step back and lose their intimacy when other instruments are come into play. Also, Sudden rise around 3k can cause unevenness in some instruments like pianos, violins or xylophones. I came across this phenomenon just a handful of times but still wanted to mention. If the points I made left a bad impression, I want to assure you again these are very rare and small gripes.


Treble​


Treble in Edition XS is both it’s strongest suit and downfall. As I mentioned earlier, these are bright leaning. Therefore, sounding very clear and perceived detail is very high. However above at the air region (above 10k) there is some excessive energy which causes some unwanted zing. If I were to EQ these, I would reduce this region a few dBs before I touch the bass. If you mostly listen to Jazz or Classical music, you might not mind it but with genres like J-Pop, Edition XS can be fatiguing after a while. Although these are not particularly sibilant, it is at the edge of being sibilant. Depending on the source, recording or maybe cable as some people report, you may come across some sibilance.

Edition XS
Left: Stock Cable, Right: Tripowin GranVia Cable

Technical Performance​


I may as well name this part: “Why should you buy Edition XS?” Because these are highly technical headphones. When I tried these first, they wowed me with their expansive soundstage. Edition XS might be the widest headphones below 500$. Imaging is also decent, not the best, but good enough. It definitely benefits from the soundstage size.


Thanks to being a planar magnetic, these are highly resolving headphones. Resolve from headphones.com says their resolving capability is more or less the same with 2021 Ananda (that review is here), which I cannot comment on since I haven’t heard them. And as I mentioned above, being bright leaning perceived detail is also very high.


I didn’t notice Edition XS losing its composure during complex parts. Big stage size and high resolving capability really helps instrument separation too. Timbre is not the most natural, but decent for a planar, it didn’t offend me until now. In short, I’d say only imaging is average on these. Everything else is above average or superb.


Quick Comparisons​


Edition XS vs. Sundara​


Bass rolls off on Sundara earlier than Edition XS, therefore weaker. Well, most of the Sundara users only complain about its bass. Timbre is more natural on Sundara too. Male vocals take a step back on Edition XS and sound nasally somehow compared to Sundara. On the contrary, female vocals come closer on Edition XS and they become more similar than different. They are clearer and more emotional on Edition XS, more neutral on Sundara. Sundara is a little warmer, also hazier. Sundara is not necessarily a warm headphone. In comparison Edition XS is leaner but clearer. They are also, as you would guess, brighter, airier but more fatiguing. Staging is noticably better on Edition XS. Sundara is no slouch but these are that good. Sundara is a little harder to drive. Edition XS clearer and more detailed across the frequency range. Sundara’s imaging was a little better in my opinion but they are both decent. Layering and instrument seperation are better on Edition XS with the help of its resolution capability and the size of its soundstage.

Edition XS
Edition XS and Sundara

Edition XS vs. HD600​


These two although both can be counted as neutral, are more different than similar. You can check out my HD600 review here. HD600 sounds more veiled. Edition XS clearer and much more detailed across the frequency range.


Timbre is more natural on HD600. Bass is a little more tactile on HD600 because of the Dynamic Driver. Transience is faster on Edition XS but not very slow on HD600 either. Bass on HD600 just lingers enough. Edition XS extends much better into subbbass and is rumblier. The unevenness I mentioned is more noticable against HD600. Presentation is usually closer and more intimate in HD600 but the unevenness mentioned can cause sudden shouts on Edition XS. Treble is brighter, zingier and can be fatiguing on Edition XS during longer listening sessions. Soundstage is much wider on Edition XS. As you would imagine, these are is clearer, more resolving, more detailed etc. etc.


Conclusion​


If you skipped to the conclusion, I want to reiterate that Hifiman Edition XS is a highly technical headphone, which also happens to be decently balanced in its frequency range. Especially soundstage in these is one of the widest I’ve heard so far. They might really be best headphones under 500$. Some people say you don’t have to pay for the tuning, which I agree to some extent. Minor problems can be forgiven or remedied with EQ after all. For the sound signature of these, some people say they are close to V-shape. Although I understand the sentiment, I don’t necessarily agree. Dip in midrange may cause a V-ish perception but, lack of bass shelf keeps me from calling them close to V-shape. In any case, I try to be critical in my reviews. For the Edition XS, I highly recommend them with a few caveats.
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BonGoBiLai

New Head-Fier
Xtra Special
Pros: 1. Open, expansive sound
2. Transparency
3. Solid technical prowess
4. Efficient for a full sized planar
5. Brilliant Timbre
6. Excellent separation and layering
7. Extremely comfy for people with big/medium big heads
8. Decent build
9. Jack of all trades
Cons: 1. LARGE. Comfort will vastly deviate from person to person
2. Not the best headband design. Might not suit everyone
3. Occasional upper treble glare
4. Source picky. Will sound thin and dry without proper synergy
5. Bass slam could have been better
Hifiman struck consecutive golds with the release of two high end planar magnetic headphones a few while back, Susvara and Arya Stealth. Both adopted Hifiman’s Stealth Magnet design which is supposed to provide clean and spacious sound, devoid of any sort of wonkiness resulting from magnetic interference. Both headphones have natural, lifelike timbre and class leading technical prowess to compliment that.

So when Hifiman released the Edition XS which adopts the same stealth magnet tech as its predecessors, that too for only 499 (literal half of what the original Edition X was priced at), there was a lot of anticipation and excitement . Were we going to get a ‘budget’ Arya S/ Susvara and a true midrange upgrade from Sundara? Fast forward and I can confidently say Edition XS managed to achieve all that, with resounding success.

Disclaimer: I am writing this article as a co-reviewer at Amplify Audiophile Show, a hobby project founded by Mr. @Sajid Amit . You can find our reviews and discussions here. To contact him, you can email: sh2367@caa.columbia.edu. What follows are my personal thoughts and opinions, and no one else’s.

Unboxing, Comfort, Build and Aesthetics:

Unboxing experience is standard Hifiman affair. XS comes packaged in a sizable black cardboard box that doesn’t feel cheap by any means. It can also double as a headphone case if you fancy as XS is humongous and might not fit in most storage cases. Packaging box has ample cushioning inside and the headphone fits perfectly in the cutout. TL/DR: Not extravagant but functional.

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I was half expecting an extremely crappy cable followed by the PTSD from Susvara but to my surprise, it's actually somewhat decent. Pliable, Neither too long, not too short, doesn’t kink or retain memory, has good heft and thickness. It's only single ended though but aftermarket cables are pretty easy to come by.

I like the cable. Nothing fancy but not straight up garbage either


Moving on to aesthetics, well, no Hifiman is going to win any beauty contest. XS is mildly put, ugly; plain and simple. It adopts the headband design from Deva while the cups are similar to Ananda/Arya.

Build quality is honestly quite good. My unit has no rattle or loosened parts. Headband adjustments are tactile and satisfying and being made out metal means a smaller chance of failing down the line. Build quality is not as confidence inspiring as, let's say, Sennheisers, Focals or Beyers. But XS is definitely not a badly built headphone, a definite step up from Sundara and He400se in my book.

adjustments steps are indicated by dots



Comfort can vary from person to person. Deva style headband in a comically big headphone like this might not fit smaller than average heads. I personally found the comfort and clamp to be just perfect and could wear it for hours without developing any fatigue (I have a medium big sized head)

Summarized verdict:

Build – 4/5


Comfort- 5/5 (For medium/large heads), 2/5 for smaller heads

Aesthetics- 2.5/5

Unboxing- 4.5/5 (function over excess)

Sound:

Here comes the most important part, how do they actually sound? First of all, It's nothing like the original Edition X. The sound profile doesn’t share much with the Sundara, Ananda or Arya V1/V2 either. I would call it the direct tonal successor of Susvara and Arya Stealth.

Edition XS is a bright neutral can and kind of suffers the same weakness in bass Susvaras suffer from. Yes bass is very present, has great texture and rumble but it lacks the visceral physicality or the slam that is showcased by the likes of HE6SE and Arya Stealth. That being said, bass quality is still considerably better compared to Sundara and HD650/600.

Now the midrange here is exceptionally good. Lifelike, doesn’t sound thin and shouty and tames the sibilance that can occur between 4-8k with great finesse. It's not as natural and engaging as Sennheiser HD6X0 headphones but gets close and very reminiscent of Arya Stealth and Susvara.

I love the treble on these. Yes XS is bright and boosted in the upper treble but doesn’t sound harsh and unnatural. That extra air up top gives XS a sense of transparency and details which is also quite prominent in the Arya Stealth. Upper treble glare can get sizzly in certain tracks though but occurs rarely so gets a pass from me.

Detail retrieval is price appropriate and fits right in between Sundara and Ananda. Imaging, while not as good as the Arya SE or Susvara, is excellent nonetheless and precise enough for movies and games. One standout feature of XS is the Soundstage. I find it amazing how the added transparency contributes so much to the already impeccable staging. There is this tantalizing sense of spaciousness that I dearly miss in my beloved but very intimate sounding HD650. Live music and unplugged sessions are aural bliss on this headphone. Separation and layering of instruments and vocals are solid A. Speed and dynamics are expected from a planar, snappy and super fast transients.

All of these sound good on paper but none of them matters if timbre is lackluster. I am happy to report that the timbre is excellent and suits all genres of music with ease. Of course the timbre is not as good as HD650/600, Utopia or Susvara but should satisfy even the pickiest of timbre aficionados.

Both male and female vocals sound great. Performance is equally good in heavy metal/rock and relatively easy going stuff like Jazz and classical. I yearned for a bit more bass impact on hip hop/rap tracks though. Like I said in the beginning, XS borrows a lot from its successful forerunners, Arya SE/Susvara and masterfully implements them to create the perfect sub 1000 USD all rounder.

Drivability:
Identical to Arya Stealth. Not a power hungry demon like the Susvara but requires a high current source to sound optimal. Without proper amping or source matching, it will sound thin, dry and lacking in bass. Only powerful dongles like iFi Go Bar, Questyle M15 work well on the ultraportable side of things.

In a nutshell, reasonably efficient and drivability is not a massive pain in the rear like some planar flagships out there.

Comparisons:

HD 600/650:

These legendary cans scale like crazy and will leave XS in the dust if paired with serious stuff like Feliks Euforia AE or any top notch OTL. But in an economically ‘sensible’, ‘plebeian’ setup, XS sounds cleaner and more detailed to my ears. It has far superior soundstage and imaging as well but 650/600 still has superior midrange, vocals and also more realistic treble. All in all a very good compliment to HD6X0 headphones, 6XX/650 more specifically.

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Sundara:
Not even a competition lol. XS is superior on all fronts.

Arya V2:
Arya V2 is unfortunately wonky to my ears and I don't like the sound, at all. XS has far superior timbre but less capable technically.

HE6SE:
HE6SE has a hugely superior, endgame tier bass response. It's a fun headphone but peaky and shrill lower treble can be fatiguing (EQ is a must). XS is more forgiving in comparison. HE6SE is also much, much harder to drive.

Ananda:
Ananda is more resolving, more technical but loses out handily in tonality/timbre frontier. more shouty and thinner in comparison

Arya Stealth/Susvara:
XS basically trickles down what these behemoths are capable of. If Susvara is Porsche 918 and Arya SE is GT3RS, XS is the chill 911 model that’s still sporty and costs a fortune


Final verdict:
Excellent value
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cappuchino

Previously known as sub30
Pros: Transparent sounding
Technicalities
Comfort
Relatively efficient for a planar
Cons: Build
"Boring" signature
Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Mr. Mark and HIFIMAN for providing a review unit of the Edition XS. Rest assured that my impressions written in this review are my own personal thoughts and opinions and in no way influenced by outside parties.

I am not an expert in this hobby nor claim to be an audiophile. I just love listening to music and am fond of writing articles.


Introduction:

The Edition XS was released to serve as the middle ground between the cheaper Sundara and the more expensive Ananda. It utilizes “Stealth Magnets” and a “NEO Supernano Diaphragm,” with the former becoming a shared characteristic across a few models in their headphone line. Sensitivity is at 92dB while impedance is rated at 18 ohms. The Edition XS is sold for 499 USD, which puts it in mid-tier or budget-tier price range, depending on who you ask.

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Phone/laptop -> Zen Blue V2/HUD100 MK2 -> Topping L50 -> Edition XS

I am glad to say that the Edition XS does not require a desktop amplifier to be satisfactory to listen to. With slow music that does not utilize lower bass to sub-bass frequencies, there is no significant difference to warrant the need to “amp” the headphone, given that your listening volume is relatively close to mine. However, if the music you listen to is not as stated and your listening volume is higher, amping the Edition XS would result in modest improvements across the frequency region and its technicalities.

Topping L50 at high gain, between 8 and 9 o’clock (main amplifier used). HUD100 MK2 at 18/100 (for testing efficiency)


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Build and Comfort: The cup is basically the same design as the Ananda, with the only difference being the headband used, similar to the Deva and HE400se. Everything except the grill and the cup holder that swivels thingy is plastic. There, my dear folks, is where I have a problem with the Edition XS. I’ve tried two other budget HIFIMAN models, namely the HE400se and the Deva (wired). Those are essentially built the same as the Edition XS, whilst being ~350/300 USD cheaper respectively. The Edition XS feels the same as the other two. When you shake the cans themselves, there are squeaks here and there, particularly in the part where it swivels.

However, while the build is rather mediocre for its price, it does allow for godly comfort, at least against the five total headphones that I’ve tried. The cup, and in extension the earpad, is egg-shaped. The earpad, when looked at directly, would appear flat. But, the front-end has a very subtle contour. Add that to the fact that the earpad hole does not touch my ears, and it’s like the headphone isn’t even there. The swivel is satisfactory to adjust to your head’s shape. The headband is well-padded and does not hurt the top of your head even with longer sessions (YMMV). Length can be adjusted in a multitude of steps. And lastly, it is surprisingly light for a rather big headphone. Clamping force is light though, so do take note.

Cable is dual 3.5mm to 3.5mm. Length is standard and is rubber-sheathed. It is very supple, does not tangle and no microphonic is heard. This is the best stock cable from the four total HIFIMANs I have/had.


Package: ¼" adapter. Paperwork. Stock cable.


Now, onto sound:

For this review, the headphone was left stock, without mods, with a listening volume of low-medium to medium.

----------

Bass:
neutral. Extension bests the HF580 (same driver as Aiva), and while isn’t as abundant quantity-wise, is satisfactory for most music. With rap/hip-hop, it does leave you wanting for more physicality. The quality, meanwhile, is the most phenomenal of the headphones I’ve tried – IF you want to analyze every minute detail, reverb if present and change with the bass note. It reproduces bass in its purest form, laying it bare for your ears to critique. There is no “blur” along the edges nor does it struggle with control in fast/consecutive hits, thereby avoiding intruding into the succeeding frequency region. This basically just makes it sound like what a planar driver can do, for those that have tried a headphone with such LOL. I won’t deny, I remember using similar descriptive statements in my past planar headphone reviews. And while that is truly the case, with how the Edition XS articulates bass is how a neutral planar headphone sounds like, it does so in the most exquisite manner. Now, if you desire that engaging tuning, do stay away from the Edition XS. It cannot, in any way, provide that energetic and fun bass without any form of EQ.

Midrange: again, neutral. What is interesting, however, is that with every genre I have listened to using the Edition XS (I go from KPOP to Alternative and Electro; basically everything under the sun), it never sounded thin, even with the lack of midbass warmth to add body to the sound. With string instruments, every tiny detail is heard by the ear without specifically looking for it. I just have one gripe – it decays too fast for my liking. You know that feeling of getting hooked into the playing of Carlos Santana? That caressing touch? That, does not happen with the Edition XS for me. Notes just sound too abrupt in a sense, more so than the other planar headphones I have listened to. Now, I do understand it is all preference but I had to get this out for everyone reading this review. Regarding vocals, there is no bias with both genders so no problem there. It sounds like what a neutral pair of headphones should sound like. Not much to talk about. Both are placed comfortably – not too forward where it becomes shouty nor too far back and becomes difficult to hear. It is worth mentioning that the pre-to-upper midrange dip isn’t as apparent as what the graph suggests, even when compared to something like the Sundara. There is, however, an “almost there” sibilant voice as how I would describe it (read: gives out the start of the ssss but doesn’t go all the way), most present with poorly mixed tracks.

Treble: exhibits brightness but is relatively neutral. Couple that with the technical prowess of the planar driver, the neutral bass response, and the detailed midrange and we have ourselves a headphone made for analysis of music. To avoid an overly clinical or “sterile” presentation, what I would do is pair it with an amplifier that can be subjectively described as velvety or warm. However, at the time of writing this review, I only have the HUD100 MK2 and Topping L50, both of which have been described to be bright-neutral. The Edition XS reproduces the treble region with clarity, thanks in part to the previously mentioned tuning. All the characteristics of a planar headphone regarding treble still do apply with this headphone.

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Timbre:
Like what I’ve mentioned, compared to the other four planar headphones I’ve tried, this noticeably has the fastest note decay of them all, making it sound less natural than it should be.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Separation: If you’ve tried the Deva or have read reviews of it, imagine if its soundstage was perfected. That, is how the Edition XS does staging. Exceedingly lifelike presentation, thanks in part to its tuning, imaging prowess and separation capabilities. Wherever any sound comes from, you will notice it in a very hyper-focused manner. I have never encountered any track that gave the Edition XS trouble with imaging and separation. It's a can't miss in terms of technicalities.

Detail-retrieval: Most detailed transducer I’ve listened to. The combination of the tuning and the technicalities bring out every macro and microdetail in the music, thus providing a hyper-realistic listening experience, excluding the occasional brightness of the headphone. It made me hear detail that I never have obviously noticed in songs I thought I knew by heart.

----------

Conclusion:


Transparent – that’s the word that best describes the HIFIMAN Edition XS. Is it the best headphone sub-500 USD? I cannot say as I have only tried four others apart from the Edition XS and all of them are at the very least a hundred USD cheaper. This is also the first transducer I’ve tried that crossed the 400 USD mark. However, if you really want a neutral headphone that is able to reproduce sound in a lifelike manner, albeit with the occasional brightness and almost sibilance, then the Edition XS is for you. Using the HIFIMAN Edition XS is like consuming music in a very discerning manner – you taste and appreciate all the good parts but at the same time perceive the undesirables.



****If you have other questions/concerns with the headphone mentioned, feel free to message me****​
Last edited:
Abrahans
Abrahans
I agree with you, though I'm using it with earmen tr-amp (I know it needs more power), it is not a musical headphone for me, it does not move me, very detailed and revealing but no engaging, Like I'm sitting paying attention to how everything sounds without Feelings for it... Such a Pity, I'm thinking seriously to put in on sale. I wonder what would it be a musical and technical upgrade to mdr z7 and Oppo pm3..

SenyorC

100+ Head-Fier
Improved Ananda with a reduced price?
Pros: Sound is just as good as the Ananda but with newer headband, cup swivel and better cable.
Cons: The cons are not really cons, just personal preferences
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The Edition XS have been kindly loaned to me by Hifiman in order to evaluate them and create this review. Hifiman has not made any requests, they never have, so the following will be my personal opinions in the usual fashion of being as unbiased and sincere as possible. However, it is always good to consider the fact that it has not cost me anything to try out these headphones.

You can find the official Hifiman Edition XS page here: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/315


Intro…

It’s been a while since I last reviewed a set of over-ear headphones. In fact, I think that the last ones I reviewed were the Hifiman Arya Stealth, back in October last year (which, by the way, are a set of headphones that I like more each time I listen to them).

I will also mention the fact that I am a Hifiman fan and also a big fan of the Ananda. The reason that I mention this is that comparisons with the Ananda will be unavoidable in this review, and although I aim to be as unbiased as possible, my love of the Ananda could create a little bias, although whether that bias could be both positive and negative. I mean, when someone brings out a new model of something that you really like, the usual human reaction is to dislike the new product that may replace it, whether this stance is logical or not.

In this case, I will start out by saying that the Edition XS are a set of headphones that are very similar to the Ananda in my opinion, and have fixed some of the things that people disliked about the Ananda, but are they a better set of headphones for less money?

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Presentation…

Apart from the Ananda and the HE1000se, I think that every other set of Hifiman headphones I have received have always been packaged in the same way (except maybe of the plastic insert instead of silk on the HE4000se, but they were still more similar than not).

The usual Hifiman box showing the Edition XS on the front and specifications on the back, opens to reveal the usual warranty card and other documentation laying on top of a foam divider. Underneath the divider, the Edition XS sit in the usual silk covered cut out, with the cable in the allocated center space.

There isn’t really much more to say about it. I have no complaints with the presentation as it is the same as many others by the brand.

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Build and aesthetics…

This may actually be the part where the Edition XS differs from the Ananda the most. While the Ananda has the steel headband with the suspension strap underneath, the Edition XS use the headband that Hifiman are using on many of their latest models. The headband is a simple foam and leather covered headband but has one thing that everyone missed on the Ananda, cup swivel.

Well, I say everyone but that is not really true. Personally I have no issue with the fit of the Ananda, it just fits me correctly without hassle, but I do understand that many peoples largest complaint with them was that lack of adjustment to get a good seal. This is something that the Edition XS has fixed and should make a lot of people happy.

But… and there is always a but… I much prefer the suspension strap style headband. In my personal case, the newer headbands create a hotspot on the top of my head and while it is not unbearable, it does cause me to never really stop noticing the headphones on my head. I am obviously a minority in this case but all I can do is share my personal opinion.

The build quality is also very similar to the Ananda, although I do find that the part of the headband that swivels, and its plastic covers, do feel a little flimsy. I can’t say if this particular headband will cause issues over time but seeing that they have used it on many other models and I haven’t seen too many complaints, I can only guess that it should stand up to daily use without issue.

The aesthetics are also very similar to the Ananda, in fact, the only real difference as far as looks is again, the headband. Aesthetics are obviously a very personal thing and everyone has their own opinion, my personal opinion is that I prefer the look of the classic suspension strap headband.

The last thing to mention in this part of the review is the cable. Here I have to say that the cable that is included with the Edition XS is probably the most simple cable I have received with a set of Hifiman headphones, and it is also the best. It is a simple no frills cable that does not tangle, is of a decent length, avoids microphonics and just does its job.

AVvXsEgTkMlRDrkWUPRjyia5u27AcGwvgse_rzSReXe3wxPkM988KKEEmElfyrMG8761-Hl1W-8qPW_TC694KD4uVZ8SNq6M6_ikYF3EcNgVUvV_Bp6uQMBYjv1D6v69xjPrfornL0uoPw9PjZJwAKuvivWaLA1G1-YthbEyCZNyTC360DP8mtHvIXAi_bkN=w640-h426


Sound…

When I first listened to the Edition XS, my mind automatically said “Ananda”. Let me just point out that there are a few differences between the sound of the XS and the Ananda, which I will comment on, but the differences I feel are minor and if it wasn’t for listening to them side by side, I am not sure I would be able to spot them easily.

Before getting into the specifics, let me just mention power. Although I have listened to the Edition XS on multiple systems over the past week or so, a lot of that listening time has been in the office using a JDS Labs Atom. In my opinion it powers the XS just fine and to reach my normal listening levels (which are quite low), I have been keeping it around noon or less on low gain.

So, starting off in the subbass frequencies as always, here I feel that there is no difference between the two. The extension down into the subbass realms is neutral and any roll off is more due to our natural hearing roll-off than any drop from the Edition XS. Subass is tight and well controlled, keeping up with literally anything you would like to throw at it.

Putting it through the usual “Chameleon” stress test, and giving it plenty of power to see how it did, subbass is just where I like it. It is not as boosted as some other sets, nor are planar usually my favourite choice for the lows, but gives enough to not feel that anything is missing and does it in a very controlled manner.

Moving into the midbass, it is a continuation of the subbass. It is neutral, balanced and very clean. From hip hop to pop, rock to reggae, I find that the bass is just a great representation of clean and neutral. With the lower end of acoustic instruments, such as the guitar on “Crazy” could maybe benefit with a slightest bit of warmth but that is something that I find with (almost) all planars I have tried. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great, but is just a little more sterile than on some of the dynamic offerings (or higher end Hifiman models such as the HE1000se or the Arya).

There is absolutely nothing to complain about in the transition from bass to lower mids and the neutral balance continues up until we start reaching the higher mids. Resolve shared a graph of the Ananda vs Edition XS on the Headphones.com forum (here) and his graph shows the Ananda having more presence in the 3 to 4 kHz region.

AVvXsEikLVCo3TdoeS1WHxaTq3VqWZ610mdnLajCGNPaKNh_ElFLwS_X631c2LwsVTZRNC0QVuw-rmtx9rIFtTbM2k4wx7Sz1M8IE9HzjoI1hSZsyX8ETzroYvXyEcKVecfhFiQ4qhZ6Gazt3yusp1r2A7tCKPJQBkmHqv0qXqLsHT6P-KrLj9TaakkQ7YC9=w640-h300


Now, I am obviously not arguing with a measurement but there is something about this region that strikes me as different and not necessarily smoother on the Edition XS. Let me see if I can explain this in a way that is understandable and not seem like a total fool at the same time :)

The Ananda does give me the impression of being more “active” in these higher mids. As I have said before, plenty of times, I feel that the Ananda is an exciting headphone that sort of shouts “look what I can do”, where I feel that the Edition XS, while having a very similar (almost identical) FR, does not portray itself the same way. I feel that the Edition XS is slightly smoother in that high mid forward space, but… there is a frequency that can come across as very harsh with certain female vocals.

I have a few theories (looking at the graph) as to why this may be and I am inclined towards the fact that the 3kHZ boost does not irritate me at all (when done correctly). However, as the 3kHz mark is slightly reduced on the XS, it leaves the 5kHz mark as the highest peak and I feel this is something that my ears don’t really like that much.

Now, before anyone gets the impression that this makes the XS unlistenable to me, far from it. The difference between the two is very slight and I am focusing on something that is really only a couple of dB difference on very specific songs by specific artists. As I said at the start, if I wasn’t listening to them side by side I am not sure, in fact I very much doubt, I would notice.

Moving up to the higher ranges, here I sort of feel that the Ananda is slightly smoother while the XS gives a slight increase in perception of space. Again, these are differences so minor that I could not choose between the two and would be more than happy with either of them.

As far as details, layering, dynamics and all those fancy words, I really feel that both are on a very similar level. I get the feeling with some songs that I prefer one, on others I prefer the other and in general, they are both great.

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Conclusion…

This review has really turned into a comparison rather than a review of only the Edition XS. I suggest you take a look at my complete review of the Ananda (here) in order to get a more detailed grasp on my opinion of them, that will put this review into context a little better.

I feel that the most important factor for deciding between them will be the headband, in other words, comfort. If you are someone who prefers the swivel and the new headband, then you should have no doubts that you are not giving anything up by choosing the (cheaper) Edition XS over the Ananda.

If you don’t care which headband you use and find them both comfortable, then I would again just choose the Edition XS. It is cheaper than the Ananda, it has a better cable and the sound is just as good. There really isn’t any reason to choose the Ananda over the Edition XS unless you really want that comfort strap (which I really like by the way!).

If you own an Ananda, I really don’t think that there is any reason to move to the Edition XS, again, unless you want the headband/swivel. Both are excellent headphones at their price.

All I can say is that Hifiman has introduced another headphone that I feel sets a level of quality for the price bracket. Where the HE400se is my go to recommendation in the lower budgets, I think that the Edition XS is now a reference mark at the 500€ mark.

As always, this review is also available in Spanish on my blog (here) and on YouTube (here).
Strat1117
Strat1117
Nice review. I think the XS are still under-appreciated, probably because they are more power hungry than people realize. Give them power and there will be no question that they do everything the Ananda does, but with bass and liveliness the Anandas lack.

YMMV
CT007
CT007
400se definitely didn't do it for me, so let's hope this XS at least sounds better than GL2000.
Abrahans
Abrahans
How much power would it need? What amplifiers are good for these?

rev92

Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Hifiman Edition XS
Pros: Great value
Stealth Magnets
Very comfortable
Detail
Resolution
Neutral with a touch of warmth
Highly technical yet pleasant to listen to
Cons: No accessories
Treble can get a bit too hot for some people
DSCF4260s.jpg

Introduction​

Hifiman has been implementing its “Stealth Magnets” technology into every single new model released in the last few months. The only models that haven’t got this significant update have been the mighty popular Ananda and Sundara.
While the newly released Edition XS isn’t exactly an updated Ananda, it surely shares many similarities to its older sibling.
The implementation of Stealth Magnets in all the new releases is a great thing about Hifiman in recent years. They surely are all about improving what’s already great, and considering the fact that the prices stay the same (or even they are significantly lower), it is simply hard not to appreciate what they’re doing. The technology itself is a magnificent show of technology to ensure the highest possible audio quality, and I’ll be covering more of it in the “Tech” paragraph.
Back to the hero of today’s review, the Edition XS. While it might look like the Ananda with a different headband, it’s really more of an upgraded Edition X, which Hifiman has released back in 2016. With its price set at $499, it sits right in the middle between the Sundara and Ananda, entering a new market segment for an open-back, planar magnetic headphone by Hifiman. Considering the fact that both the Sundara and the Ananda have been hugely successful in the past few years, it should come as not a surprise, that the Edition XS has a lot to prove to threaten its older rivals.

Packaging​

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I love reviewing Hifiman products, but this paragraph makes me feel like I was repeating myself over and over again after reviewing a majority of Hifiman open-back headphones. Well, the unboxing experience of the Edition XS is…the same as most of their products.
The headphone comes packed in a basic box with good-looking graphics. Inside the packaging, the only two things that you’ll find is the headphone itself and the included cable. Nothing more, nothing less. Hifiman has been pushing the value to the extreme lately, so you’re getting no accessories, as they would have simply raised the price of the final product. Would you really like it in exchange for some fancy accessories that you’ll probably never (or rarely) use? I definitely would not.
Having that in mind, you simply can’t criticize the kind of approach that Hifiman took with their modern lineup. You’re paying for the performance, not the experience, and considering the retail price, you surely want just that.

Design, Build and Comfort​

DSCF4344.jpg

Same story. The Edition XS is basically the Ananda with HE400i 2020 type of headband. The overall build quality is flawless, I have absolutely nothing to criticize. Yes, I know, the cups are plastic, and it might feel a little flimsy in hand. However, here comes the comfort, where the Edition XS completely destroys many headphones on the market, including the TOTL ones.

You see, I’ve been playing with the Abyss Diana Phi lately, and while its materials and the overall build are absolutely astonishing, the design of this headphone is just unacceptable. A pair of $4000 headphones that you MUST mod to be able to use properly just sounds questionable. Why did I bring that topic to this review? Well, the Build Quality (in terms of materials, finish and design) of the Diana Phi is miles ahead of that of the Edition XS, yet it is becoming totally irrelevant the moment you put them on. This is not a well-designed headphone, it’s literally broken.

On the other hand, the Edition XS (or almost every headphone by Hifiman) is not really impressive in terms of the materials used and overall finishing, but it’s just a masterpiece when it comes to the design. A headphone must be comfortable and convenient to use, and every single Hifiman headphone is just that. Audio equipment can be a piece of jewelry, but it has to be paired with a proper, comfortable, and convenient design (Meze Empyrean/Elite is the best example of that). Hifiman doesn’t design audio jewelry, but they do design headphones that are a joy to use and which you’ll be able to use the whole day, every day. That’s the winner in my book, and it should be in yours.

DSCF4353.jpg

Let’s dive into the comfort a little bit more. While I’m a huge fan of suspension-style headbands, the solid one found on the Edition XS is a great choice. It’s plushy enough to allow you to use them for many hours without any discomfort (been there, done that), and is simply pleasant to the touch. The only other thing worth mentioning is the clamping force, or rather lack of it. It might be a hit or miss for some people, as the XS sits on your head rather loosely, and I know some people are not really into that type of design. However, it further improves the comfort, creating a feeling of a soft pillow sitting around your ears, rather than having two earcups clamping your head like the Sennheiser HD650 for example. I don’t really mind a loose fit with my open-back headphones, so I’d definitely call it a great feature.

Lastly, the cable is one of the best cables that Hifiman has included with their headphones ever. Fair, it is a plain black cable, far away from anything fancy, but at the same time it’s very comfortable and it doesn’t tangle at all, creating a very comfortable and stress-free performance. Way to go Hifiman.

DSCF4351.jpg

Tech​

Let’s cover the elephant in the room…again, the Stealth Magnets. Once again I can’t stress enough how good of a technology this is, so I’d simply paste our description from the Arya SE review:

Stealth Magnets are what sets the tone for the current generation of HiFiMan cans. They came up with a new shape, that makes it easier for sound to pass through it. Conventional, rectangular in cross-section magnets create a resonance between them. That resonance will color the sound in an unwanted manner. Having the edges trimmed at a 45-degree angle strongly reduces the resonance, allowing air (and sound) to move freely. Being all technical it goes like this: moving air changes its volume as it encounters the flared magnets. The changing volume also changes the speed. Less speed means a flatter Q of the resonance. How it’s possible that nobody else does it if it’s so simple? Well, it’s not easy to make magnets in that shape that are repeatable and have very good parameters suitable for planar headphones. So you either pay a ton of money for them, or you order a train of those at a bit less outrageous price. Then you put them in every product you have.

dsadasda.png

It is wonderful to see that great idea coming at such well-priced products nowadays and having that in mind, the Edition XS should be a brilliant value in the headphone market around $500. Let’s see if it’s true.

Sound​

DSCF4282.jpg

Hifiman has its own “house sound” that they are sticking with for years now. It is all about the speed, clarity, and sublime technicalities at the prices that only a couple of years ago would have been called a steal of the century. The Edition XS continues this kind of approach, focusing mainly on neutral tuning with an amazing detail retrieval. Let’s dive into it.

The bass is fast, extended, and has a great texture to it. It’s a planar driver, so the dynamic slam and attack are both somewhat limited, but nothing too extreme. While the Edition XS is definitely not the hardest-hitting headphone you’ll hear, they do create that sensation of seeing the actual shape of the bass notes.
Low frequencies are extended all the way down to the deepest parts of the subbass, creating a thick and natural bass presentation, with a slight hint of relaxation. This is a kind of bass that makes you dig into it and analyze different textures and timbre, not hit you in the face and take you dancing, definitely. The double bass playing in the “Abraham” by Miles Mosley is a great example here. While it might sound a little relaxed, the amount of reverberation and its texture is just so natural and high-quality sounding that it’s very pleasant to listen to. Every natural instrument that does bass sounds just about perfect when it comes to timbre accuracy and the amount of details. Electronic music enthusiasts should look into some dynamic rivals (Focal for example) to get that physical kick and the feeling of energy on the low-end. While the Edition XS might lack in these two departments, they’ll surely pay you off with detail and texture. Did I just describe a rather standard planar-magnetic type of bass response? Yes, but it is just that…a great planar bass with brilliant technicalities, especially considering the $499 asking price.

The midrange is once again – a Hifiman type of midrange. A lot of details, great resolution, forward and neutral sounding. However, the XS also has a slight touch of warmth to it, resulting in somewhat warmer and fuller sounding voices than the Ananda for example. It is a great marriage of technicality and musicality, offering a midrange that is both enjoyable and tonally accurate. Male vocalists sound really good, the likes of Mariusz Duda, SYML, or Ozzy Osbourne are represented in a natural and enjoyable way, without hiding any little details that are present in the mix. While there’s a hint of warmth throughout the lower midrange, the upper mids around 3kHz might sound a bit too hot from time to time. Listening to some poorly mastered albums gave me an occasional sibilance, so I definitely wouldn’t call the Edition XS a forgiving pair of headphones, as it requires a careful pairing with the rest of the system. While most Hifiman headphones pair well with just about everything, especially those great, modern SS amplifiers from Topping or SMSL, the Edition XS might be better off with something more tamed and less clinical sounding, like the Little Dot MK III SE, with its full Class-A, hybrid construction.

While the Ananda comes with a more focus around 3kHz-4kHz, its lesser boost of the upper treble gives it a slightly more neutral sound signature.

DSCF4286.jpg

The treble is full of details, very extended and forward sounding, but it has that slight boost to the upper-treble that I mentioned in the midrange paragraph. Because of that, the treble of the Edition XS could be a hit or miss, depending on your preferences. If you’ll be okay with that occasional hot-sounding upper-treble, you’ll be rewarded with the amount of detail and resolution never found in this price bracket. This is the type of performance that lets you rediscover your favorite tracks in search of sounds that you’ve never heard before. If you’ll ever listen to the Edition XS, play the song called “Evil Dub” by Trentemoller and you’ll be amazed by the amount of micro-details throughout the whole track. That kind of crispy, hyper-detailed sound performance really does wonders for this kind of music, so if you’re a fan of artists like that, this is definitely the headphone for you.
Other than that, the rest of the treble performance is very solid, with a very neutral 7kHz to 10kHz spectrum, which gives you that detailed and insightful type of experience.
At the end of the day, it is an open-back, planar-magnetic Hifiman, so you should definitely expect it to be neutral and vibrant sounding, instead of a dark or muffled type of sound signature.

The soundstage is pretty standard for the latest Hifiman releases. It is big, but not artificially too big. Both width and depth are presented in a natural and impressive way, giving you an absolute “out of your head” type of experience. The imaging is flawless as well and paired with that fantastic detail retrieval, you can use the XS as an audio microscope, getting inside music and pinpointing the smallest details with ease. The album “Hell Freezes Over” by the Eagles is a brilliant example of a record that has a great soundstage. It is a live performance after all, with a lot of musicians on the stage, and the Edition XS does a great job showing each of them with perfect accuracy. There’s really nothing more to it, the Edition XS is a great staging pair of headphones with a lot of air, accurate imaging, and realistic size. Hifiman got to the point where I don’t really know how they could improve their headphones staging capabilities, it’s just that good.

Comparisons​


Hifiman Deva Pro
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If we remove the Bluemini R2R from the equation, the Edition XS would be about two times more expensive than the Deva Pro. This comparison is actually quite interesting, as I find the tuning of both headphones to be fairly similar, with the Edition XS being a little more pronounced in the upper-mid to the lower-treble region as well as in the upper treble frequencies, maybe a little too much. Because of that, the XS comes as a less relaxed and more extreme sounding of the two, with the Deva Pro being more musical and romantic sounding. It is not only about the tuning though, as the Edition XS is an upgrade to our awarded Deva Pro in terms of raw technical performance. The detail is slightly better, it has a better sense of dynamics and its soundstage is wider. If you don’t care about the Bluetooth functionality, simply treat the Edition XS as a more unforgiving, more detailed successor to the Deva Pro. Something to please different types of people.

Hifiman Ananda

DSCF1526red.jpg

The Edition XS is cheaper, as well as more intense, and warmer sounding than the Ananda. In terms of its raw technical performance, I would say these are quite similar, so it’s really a matter of preference. The Edition XS has a thicker note throughout the bass to the midrange and a slightly shoutier upper treble. They both stage just about the same, with only the imaging being even so slightly more accurate on the Edition XS (Stealth Magnets!). While I definitely won’t be calling the XS as the Ananda V2, nor the Ananda SE, it is significantly less expensive, offering basically the same technical level. While the Ananda is a touch more aggressive in the upper-midrange frequencies, the XS is tilted more towards the upper treble region, which results in a slightly more aggressive and less forgiving performance.
Speaking about the bass, these two perform very similarly, with the Edition XS being very slightly more pronounced in the sub-bass region. This gives the new model a touch more vigorous and dynamic low frequencies that will be a better choice in most modern music releases.
Having all that in mind, I’d call the Edition XS as a better value than the Ananda, even though it is NOT a better headphone, which many of you would have expected, considering the technical improvement. For half the price though, it is simply a better buy, and you can invest the rest in a better system.

Little Dot GYFU

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These two have a vastly different approach to their technology, yet they do sound significantly similar in terms of their tonality. Both are fast, detailed, and slightly hot sounding in the upper regions. It is in the technicalities though, where the Edition XS arises as a clear winner. It has more detail, its resolution and accuracy are better and it stages more naturally as well. The Gyfu is a more boutique type of experience, with a far superior unboxing experience and more luxurious materials used, yet it falls short in terms of ergonomics to the wonderfully comfortable Edition XS. If you’re all about the sound quality and comfort, and you don’t really care about the presentation and craftsmanship, the Edition XS is a rather easy choice here.

Summary​

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Hifiman just doesn’t disappoint. Their new Edition XS is a wonderful addition to the current market of +/- $500 open-back planar headphones. With its fantastic technical capabilities, great comfort, and neutral sound signature with a touch of spiciness on the top it will surely become one of the best selling headphones in their current lineup. While this might get repetitive, they simply deliver great audio quality at prices that are constantly lower and lower. You can’t get bored of that.
Recommended.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Hifiman Susvara, Final D8000 Pro, Audeze LCD-X 2021, Hifiman Deva, Hifiman Ananda, Hifiman HE1000se, Meze Elite, Little Dot GYFU, Hifiman Arya SE
  • Sources– Topping D90se + A90, Ferrum OOR, EarMen Tradutto, Musician Pegasus, JDSLabs Atom DAC+/AMP+, Cayin N3Pro, Pro-Ject Debut Carbon PRO + iFi Zen Phono, xDuoo TA-26, XI Audio Broadway S
Big thanks to Hifiman for providing the Edition XS for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion.
J
Jimmyblues1959
This is one of the most thorough headphone reviews that I have ever seen, and extremely useful. I have a pair of HE4XX that I have been using for the past two years and really enjoy them. As they continue to age I know that I will eventually need to replace them, and based on your review, I would now seriously consider the Edition XS. Thanks again for taking the time to write this great review!
  • Like
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J
jmwant
Excellent review. Do you think Hipdac would drive it properly?
Abrahans
Abrahans
Nice review, i Have earmen tr-amp and like it very much, what about that Tradutto? Is it really good?
  • Like
Reactions: rev92

ianfann

New Head-Fier
Hifiman Edition XS
Pros: +good clarity
+detailed
+realistic timbre
+decent bass
+huge soundstage
+good imaging
Cons: -bass is a little too lean
photo_2022-01-30_10-33-01.jpg

DISCLAIMER:
The Hifiman Edition XS was sent to me by HIFIMAN in exchange for an honest review. No monetary exchange took place. This is 100% my honest opinion.


Sub-bass:
The sub-bass has a good rumble and reverb. The sub-bass extension is good.
And the sub-bass is done pretty well, as it provides good rumble, but not too much of it.

Mid-bass:
The mid-bass has a good punch and is well-detailed which i loved. The punch although got me wanting for more. The bass region possesses a good amount of warmth. The bass has good texture and is just overall good. The drums sounded punchy and had a good presence in tracks.
photo_2022-01-30_10-33-13.jpg

Mids:
The mids are amazing on this headset, super detailed, spectacular clarity and resolution is just amazing. The female vocals sound realistic just angelic with good clarity. The male vocals are also good as it has a good timbre and warmth. The guitars are highly detailed, and all the microdetails of the strums can be heard.

Treble:
The treble is a little bright and is forward. The treble gives the female vocals the energy to project itself. The treble does not sound harsh or sibilant. The treble has that sparkle which is always pleasant. The cymbal crashes and electric guitars sound detailed with a good decay. The treble region overall is good.
photo_2022-01-30_10-33-05.jpg

Soundstage/Imaging:
The soundstage is huge, and spacious. It has that layer of air which makes it feel realistic and the stealth magnets makes this sound even more realistic. The imaging is excellent, the instruments are accurately positioned. The sound separation is also excellent, due to the imaging and soundstage. The instruments can be accurately distinguished and don't sound crowded on busy tracks.

Detail retrieval and Resolution:
As I have been saying throughout my review, the detail retrieval of this headset is excellent and resolution is amazing, just like viewing a video at 4K.
The microdetails can be heard which is amazing. This headset has good clarity.

Verdict:
This headset has excellent details, resolution and imaging. vocals sound amazing on these, and the soundstage is spacious. I think that his headset is a good buy as it has most of the things you could ask for.

For reference, check out my video:

Kentajalli

1000+ Head-Fier
Quick review of Hifiman Edition XS
Pros: - Comfy and light
- Good deep bass
- wide bandwidth
- Good resolution
- Value for money
Cons: - A bit bright
- Hollow-ish midrange
- Woody upper bass
I received tonight my highly anticipated pair of Hifiman Edition XS.
For those who are not familiar with these large over-the-ears headphones, they are rumoured to be the successor to Edition X V2, with a more up to date thinner diaphragm and stealth (rounded) magnets. But since I have never had nor heard the Edition X V2, I can not confirm or refute that rumour.
Currently they are only available in China, priced at about $500.
These are priced between Sundara and Ananda, look like Ananda, do not have the efficiency of Ananda.
Efficiency is a little higher than Sundara, and sound very similar too.
They are light on the ears, very comfy as the ears are completely engulfed inside the pads, not too much pressure on the temples.
Here are couple of sample pictures.

HiFiMAN-Edition-XS.jpg

Built, Look, Comfort
The ear cans seem to be made from Aluminium all around, similar to Sundara (Sorry that's all I have to compare), that includes the louvered grill and the yokes, which are also aluminium.
It is pretty light on the head and very comfy. They completely swallow your ears, which also means a good seal, but not too much pressure on the temples.
They have the new wedge earpads with perforated inner sides (Fenestrated? funny word), just a standard foam inside and NOT memory foam (Cheap Hifiman!).
Headband is the new type which nobody apart from Hifiman likes! Sundara type headband is better, feels better, looks better!

Amps
I used a Chord Mojo and a Chord Hugo2 DAC/Amp + my Android phone, USB connected to the DACs.
Music was standard and Hi-Res flac material from internal storage.
I enjoy, Classical, 70's Rock, Blues and Jazz and a little Pop.

The cable
Crap! just throw them out of window, first chance you get.
Don't get me wrong, they look the part, nice and rubbery, nice looking plugs and all, BUT they ruin the sound so much, they are not worth it.
When I first tried the headphones, I didn't like them, sounded a bit Hollow and nasal, with sibilants on vocals. I then swapped the cables for some Focal Clear standard short cable (obviously they fit) and it transformed the sound!
Now technically, Hifiman Planar headphones have constant impedance over the frequency, so cables shouldn't affect the tone, but believe me "They Do"!
The better cable from Focal opens up the sound, extends the bandwidth and takes away the sibilants.
I measured the cables:
- Hifiman cables have 0.3 ohms resistance per conductor, meaning the amp must go through 0.6 ohms to get to the headphones. they also have 90pF of capacitance and a little inductance.
- Focal cables have 0.15 ohms resistance per conductor and 50pf of capacitance.
So they measure resonably similar, but they do not sound the same. Bear in mind, I am one of those who believes fancy cables are mostly snake-oil!
I have pure silver, solid core headphone cables in the works, when ready I shall try them on Editions and report back

Sound quality and tone
After changing the cables to better ones, they sounded good out of the box. They are very listenable without any EQ.
But they can sound a little bright on high treble, and hollow on midrange and a little woody on upper bass.
Bandwidth is fairly extended, bass has a certain Ear-Thumping effect some may like, they may even call it SLAM, perhaps, I am not praising nor complaining, it is there. Upper bass is a little bloomy and boxy sounding.
Midrange is lacking some energy in the typical Hifiman 2kHz region which causes hollow sounding effect. Upper treble is a little too over-excited.
Resolution is quite good, you get to hear everything that's going on, distortion is low, and just like the Sundaras, the Edition XS does not loose the plot when things get heavy. On orchestral pieces and multi-layered tracks Editions keep their composure, which is a very good thing.
Over all , so far they are keepers.
They do need EQ more than Sundaras do, that's next.

EQ
Before I get to that, let me say that neither the Mojo nor Hugo2 had any trouble driving the Editions to uncomfortable loud levels what so ever!
The bright nature of the Editions meant the Mojo sounded more organic, since its darker nature tamed the over zelous treble of the Editions.
- To tackle the bass woodiness (by ear) I applied the following setting:
120Hz Q=2 level= -1.5dB
- For midrange:
2100Hz Q=0.9 level= 3dB
and that's all, didn't touch the treble, cable replacement and midrange EQ balances the sound.
It is still early days though, I probably play with settings a bit more.
Generally I believe EQ when needed , is a necessary evil - so I am hesitant to over use it, less is more to me in this case.
Compared to Sundaras, they are a little more efficient, so if your current amp can drive Sundaras, it can drive Editions.
Sound is a little more open, bandwidth and stereo (left and right) are wider, resolution a little better. They are definitely brothers!
Are Editions better? yes they are after EQ, without EQ ? I don't know.
I am keeping them.

Update:
I rechecked my data on the cables , last night I was quoting from memory (bad idea), here are correct values:
Edition XS bundled cable -
full length resistance Lead=0.15R Ground=0.2R ground to ground @ earjacks=0.5R
Capacitance ground-lead L=160pF R=190pF left-right leakage=140pF

1640373696837.png

Focal Clear bundled cable
full length resistance Lead=0.15R Ground=0.15R ground to ground @ earjacks=0.3R
Capacitance ground-lead L=70pF R=70pF left-right leakage=20pF

1640373771515.png

Revise and correction:
Perhaps I was too hasty to declare that Edition XS was more efficient than Sundara - my mistake was that at same volume setting, Editions sounded louder! which is true, however Editions have lower impedance than Sundara ( 18R vs 30R), and since efficiency is measured aginst Power, then impedance enters the equation to tip the balance. Overall it turns out that Editions have a slightly lower efficiency than Sundaras - my mistake - but we are talking small figures here.

Two nights later
They benefit from EQ for sure! that missing midrange is bothersome, Hollow Sounding is as good a description I could have given, I let someone(s-plural) come up with a valid frequency response curve to determine correct EQ values, but still by ear put it at about 1500Hz to 2.2kHz @ 2 or 3dB. Also there is a something at about 5.5kHz (very approx.) that can shout a tiny bit on some recordings specially with my Chord Mojo. With Hugo2, because of greater clarity it is less of an issue.
The stereo image (specially on Hugo2) is super wide! to the point you may get an out-of-phase effect! a little crossfeed fixes that. On Mojo, no problem. But the phones scale well with Hugo2. It clearly resolves if it is Mojo playing or Hugo2
I still believe my system is cable sensitive - be it the amps, the headphones or both, which is frusterating to me, as I come from that campaign that Coat-Hangers are as good as $1000 cables, and so far I was not proven wrong, till now.
My DIY Solid-Core pure Silver cable defenitely sounds better, over all it is a warmer sound, no hardness in bass, cleaner high hats . . . .
Next to that was the bundled cable that came with my Focal Clears, but this one can add a slight hardness to bass at times.
Bear in mind that I have not spent any tangible money on cables, just tried different ones, none were expensive. Of course it works with coat-hangers too, if you could make a cable out of them :ksc75smile: .
Still very comfy for long sessions.
Can anyone suggest a good fitted hard shell case for these?
That wouldn't cost the earth. . . .
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J
jmwant
After getting the 7Hz Timeless, I was thinking about getting a Planar Headphone. Maybe this would be it.
CT007
CT007
@jmwant I can do a comparison, once I actually get my XS out of the box. I'm really hoping they perform better than GL2000, and especially much better than 400se...
CT007
CT007
So the XS works with either TS or TRS cable connectors..? Or does only balanced require TRS? I'll be using a Forza Claire Hybrid, with TRS+2.5mm.
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I love these Geekria cases. Use them for any model!
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