HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphone and Amplifier - Reviews
Pros: Stunning transparent and neutral sound, lifelike imaging, feather light, comfortable
Cons: Headphone, though sturdy, due to the materials doesn't feel as premium as price tag implies.
Headphones are HUGE (I've an above average head and I'm on the smallest setting).
Nondetachable cable.
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For as long as I’ve been into this spiraling hobby, electrostats always come up in conversation as a top tier option to strive for. Recently I was finally able to listen to the legendary Stax SR-009 (paired with equally infamous gear) and immediately understood what made them special. Sadly, that was the end of my experience, the audio meet. Until Hifiman allowed me to take part in their Jade 2 tour. Finally, after being able to experience an extended listening period, using my music and equipment, I understand what makes not only electrostats but the Jade 2 a truly special piece of equipment.

A little about me
I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.
I'm a firefighter for both the civilian and military sector and the cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
I enjoy fishing and relaxing to audio products and then reviewing them to help others decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.

Equipment used at least some point during the review
-D.A.C.(s)
-PS Audio DigitalLink 3 w/ Cullan Stage IV Upgrade
-Sennheiser HDVD800
-Sources
-LG G8 Thin Q/HP Pavilion
-Playing Pandora, YouTube, and various format personal music

Disclaimer
I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.


The Opening Experience
Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience
Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this product introduced itself shall we?


Construction

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Starting with the amp. This thing is a brick with grips. The amp boasts a very solid and impressive feel, being made of all aluminum, with the weight and looks to complete its role of a power house. Boasting a power button, 2 electrostatic inputs, a source input selector button, and a volume knob with a set max and min (doesn’t free spin )on the front, it all stays simple and straightforward. Moving to the rear, you’ve the power input with the voltage selector switch right under it (a good implementation that allows personal sales to different countries), and then both balanced and unbalanced source inputs on the back. There’s really not much negative to say about the Jade 2 amplifier. It’s built, at least IMO, very well.
Moving to the headphones. The first thing I noticed about the Jade 2 headphones was how incredibly light they are, at least from memory, they’re the lightest headphones I’ve ever felt. The headband and grille is made of lightweight (obviously) but very sturdy aluminum with the head strap sporting what feels like faux leather. The headband adjustment and driver cups are the only parts that I’m not sure about. The website doesn’t mention any plastic being used but these two pieces feel very plasticy but that’s neither here nor there. The earpads use a faux leather and cloth hybrid (my personal favorite) that, at least to me, looks and feels like it can’t be user replaced (but I didn’t push/pull very hard on anything). The driver cups are connected to the frame using 2 bolts which only gives the pads an up/down range of motion but no side/side. A negative I do have about the headphones is that these things are HUGE, as in the headphones themselves and not just the pads. I have a decent size head and I have to put the Jade 2 on their lowest adjustment setting so for those, like my wife, who’ve a smaller head, it's not very practical to listen to these headphones.
Finally, moving down to the cable. The cable is not detachable, though it looks and feels respectively durable, if something were to happen then you’re going to be out a more than likely costly expense to ship them to Hifiman (or authorized/similar repair facility), pay their fee and then ship them back.
But in conclusion, my final thoughts on the construction of the Jade 2 system is that Hifiman did a very good job at making their $2,500 system both look and feel as premium as their price implies it should.

Comfort

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The Jade 2’s comfort is, for those who can wear them, incredibile. The Jade 2 pretty much disappears on your head they’re so light plus the padding has the goldilox level of support and give. I don’t receive any microphonics from the cable when I move around in my seat and the strap doesn’t mess with my head/hair even after very long listening sessions (I do keep my hair quite short as well). I can see some having problems finding the sweet spot on their head due to the Jade 2 not having any side/side movement of the pads.

Sound

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Before I start this section. It should go without saying but though I link YouTube videos when I’m giving examples, this is for convenience only. If applicable, I HIGHLY encourage you to listen to the music I’m referencing on as high a quality as possible to experience the fullest sound possible.

From the time one presses the play button on their track of choice you’ll immediately understand what makes this Jade 2 system special. The level of transparency rivals or beats any other headphone that I can think of, they just disappear. Soundstage feels natural and accurate with the imaging quite pinpoint. The Sennheiser HD800 S comes to my mind when listening to the Jade 2. Minus soundstage, I feel like the Jade 2 is an upgraded HD800 S in most aspects but shares a similar analytical and stale sound, as well as a small treble spike and bass dip as well.

Treble

The highs on the Jade 2 are clean, controlled and have great extension. There’s also a presence of airiness that not many other headphones can relate to. A piece I found recently thanks to an awesome anime (Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life) called “Tenkyuu,” IMO really shows off the capabilities of the Jade 2 system in relation to treble as well as the treble peak it sometimes has. And if the Koto isn’t your thing “A Moon Filled Sky” by Tenmon is another great piece but really gets high on the sharpness.

Mids

The mids really are full of body and emotion being played through the Jade 2. Despite not really having any accent to the mid range, the Jade 2 makes the artists voices sound so real and true that I find it very difficult to listen to them and not have my eyes close to take in all the sound. John Moreland’s “Hang My In The Tulsa County Stars” is just one of many of his songs that really come to mind when I talk about experiencing emotion by the artist. Female vocals are also just as, if not more, impressive. Rebecca Pidgeon’s “Spanish Harlem” also sounds as if she’s singing right to you but when listening to that song while writing this, I really got full sense of how black the background is on the Jade 2. It’s hard for me to put that phrase into words but the only thing present was just her and the instruments to accent her. I didn’t hear any background noise floor, static nothing. Sad I can’t listen to other headphones through this because the Jade 2 amp’s noise floor really impresses me.

Bass

Hmm. So, the bass on the Jade 2 is what I would call audiophile quality but not enthusiast quantity. There’s bass on the Jade 2 in respect to control, speed, and minimal to no decay but there’s is not a slam or impact to them or at least to the degree that makes enthusiasts really get into their rock, metal, or house (etc…) music. I can insert as many different examples as I can google search but my overall thoughts about the bass will basically be repeated.

Conclusion

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To summarize my thoughts on the Hifiman Jade 2 system, Hifiman, IMO, created a wonderful product that even when taking its price into consideration, performs very respectable compared to other TOTL products such as the Sennheiser HD800 S I mentioned earlier. The Jade 2 is $2500 for BOTH the headphone and amplifier. To me, when considering how well they’re built and how comfortable, though very large, the Jade 2 headphones are and, objectively, how analytically sound they are, I would not be surprised if the Jade 2 becomes a staple in many of electrostatic or rather headphones in general conversations about what a solid step towards an audiophile sounding endgame (though endgame is a rather ambiguous term that truly doesn’t exist).





Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.

Attachments

ksorota
ksorota
Great review...always enjoy hearing your take on headphones. I would love to know your thoughts as a direct comparison to the PM-1 which I assume is still a favorite of yours. I sold the PM-1 a few years ago and still somewhat regret it...I found the Jade II to be a very enjoyable headphone with very few negatives if any really at all.
Army-Firedawg
Army-Firedawg
@ksorota
Thank you very kindly for you compliment, I really appreciate it. My comparison of the Jade 2 to my, yes, still beloved PM-1, is pretty much exactly like the HD800 S. The PM-1 is still, by far, one of the most musical headphones I've ever heard to date (still trying to find tower speakers that share its sound) where as the Jade 2 is incredibly analytical but also "stale" sounding. In relation to what a "traditional" audiophile would look for in a headphone I can, at the very least on a personal note, wholeheartedly recommend the Jade 2. To me, it takes what makes the HD800 S so renowned but just a little bit better; even though the soundstage isn't as big as the 800, I think it sounds more true.
rocksteady65
rocksteady65
Superb review! As for the Cable nitpick, who has ever seen and Electrostat with detached cable? I haven't. I don't think it would be feasible or Safe, for that matter...
Pros: sound stage, imaging, detail, smooth sound
Cons: requires dedicated amplifier
headphone cable can be better
Disclaimer:

This HIFIMAN Jade II electrostatic headphone is a unit in an audition tour conducted by HIFIMAN.
I am curious about an electrostatic headphone, so I really appreciate to HIFIMAN team for
this opportunity to try Jade II.
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- gear used to compare:
Sabaj D5 -> iFi iCan Pro -> HIFIMan HE-1000 V2

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- Look and feel:

. It is in a shape similar to HE-1000 V2 that I own, but lighter in weigth.

. Headband: Jade II has newer headband that has round shape. V2 has flat top.

. both are very conformtable on head, Jade II has aluminum frame without wood veneer,
so I like V2 better on this regard.

. the cable split has been stripped a little bit, which shows the thin wires, makes one
worried about the possible issue from that.

. Amplifier is big and solid design, looks handsome.
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- sound stage:
Jade II has great sound stage, it is wider than its depth, it sounds like you are in a music hall.
By comparision V2 sounds like in a smaller room.
Accompanying that incredable sound stage, music image benefited, instruments seem in their
own position and blend in together without interfering each other, on the other hand V2
sound crowded and intimated.
I also noticed Jade II is nature sounding, good layering from different instruments which
are in different volume and in different locations that provide a good sense of the stage.
Listening to Jade II, it is closer to speakers setup than any other headphones that I have
experienced.

- bass:
Jade II bass is there, it can go deep, if you tried Titanic movie sound track 1. Never An Absolution,
the bass can be heard and feel but a tad weak and no extension, it can not compete with
subwoofer speaker (no HP can I believe), comparing with HEK-V2 it is a tad less quantity,
my HEK V2 is driven by iFi iCan pro, and Jade has its own amplifier, so I cannot change gear to
find out if this can be tweaked, that is one of drawback of dedicated amplifier setup.
V2's bass is not great itself comparing with dynamic HP, but I think Jade's bass
can be enhanced a bit, maybe boost it from amplifer, just like iFi iCan pro XBass setting that I use
on my HEK v2 to tweak its bass.

Tried Adele - Rolling in the deep, it is not bad, but if it can punch harder, it would be perfect.
However, with Eagle's Hotel California the bass is still enjoyable.

- mid, high and volcals:
Jade's mid is pleasant to listen, clear and smooth, sounds sweeter than V2, I would descibe is
as a velvet sounding.

Because of its large sound stage, listening to vocal feels recess, this might take some times to
get used to since most heaphones sound closer in. But Jade sounds smooth and clear which makes
all singers, male and female, sound better, and if you are familiar with the singer's voice
chareacters, you may realize that Jade sounds truely for the singers.


Conclusion:

Listen with Jade II is relax and enjoyable. It is the best when listen to a symphony music.
The sound stage makes one feels like it is a live music.
Overall, I think Jade II does everything right, but still there are some areas
that it can be enhanced to do better, such as bass, needs more quantity and quality, and
Headphone cable can be better.
Pros: detailed yet smooth treble presentation, wide soundstage
Cons: non-existent sub-bass, anemic mid-bass, no bass texture, cold and thin midrange, weightless transients, limited soundstage depth, fuzzy imaging, poor imaging separation, fragile non-removable cable, creaky build quality
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER:
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The HiFiMAN Jade II is an over-ear electrostatic headphone with a list price of $1399. HiFiMAN’s energizer can be purchased separately for $1599 or with the headphones for a total price of $2499. I had the opportunity to listen to the Jade II in the context of a Head-Fi loaner tour. I was in possession of the Jade II for roughly a month before writing this review. In the near future, HiFiMAN will provide me with a prepaid shipping label and I will ship the Jade II to the next reviewer. I am not being compensated for writing this review, and my thoughts and conclusions are my own.

SIGNAL CHAIN:
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I used the HiFiMAN Jade II and its associated energizer in a balanced configuration with my SMSL SU-8 (v2) Digital-to-Analog Converter. I tested these headphones with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to.

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:

The HiFiMAN Jade II arrived in an enormous plain cardboard box marked with the HiFiMAN logo and illustrated with a diagram of the Jade II. The box is also marked with the Jade II’s technical specifications and HiFiMAN’s contact information. Inside the box, the Jade II is secured in heavy duty foam. The energizer was located in separate box underneath the box containing the headphones, also secured in protective foam. HiFiMAN includes a power cable for the energizer. The package I received did not contain any additional accessories or documentation, but as it is a loaner tour unit, I cannot say whether the retail package is similarly spartan.

ENERGIZER BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN:
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The HiFiMAN energizer is a monstrous block of metal with two headphone outputs, a power button, a button to switch between inputs, and a volume knob on the front, and balanced XLR and single-ended RCA inputs on the back. The volume knob has distinct steps. When the energizer is powered on, the top of the energizer gets warm but not dangerously or even uncomfortably so.

HEADPHONE BUILD QUALITY / DESIGN:
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The Jade II is very lightweight, which does not inspire confidence in its long-term durability. The headband uses a two-part design with a thin black metal outer band and a leather suspension strap. The headband has vertically articulated hinges attached to the driver housing but does not rotate laterally. The headband adjustment is stiff and I worried that I would break the headphones when extending it. The headband can creak when putting the headphones on or taking them off. The pads have a leather side/perforated velour face hybrid construction.
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The flat paracord-wrapped cable is non removable and arrived in a frayed state. While there is strain relief where the cable connects to the driver housings and at the connector termination, there is none at the Y-split, above which the paracord had sheared free entirely on both sides.

COMFORT / FIT / ISOLATION:
The HiFiMAN Jade II has a relatively light clamping force and is exceedingly comfortable to wear for extended periods. Despite the light clamping force, I found the Jade II to sit on my head securely. There is no isolation and a significant amount of sound leakage.

SOUND:
The HiFiMAN Jade II is a bright-sounding headphone with a forward upper midrange.
The sub-bass is nonexistent and the mid-bass has limited impact, slam, and heft. The bass is monotone and there is no bass texture. There is not enough mid-bass to create any sort of bleed into the lower midrange, but the lower midrange is devoid of warmth and body. The presence region is overly emphasized. Despite the forwardness of the upper midrange, I did not perceive the Jade II to be sibilant. The timbre is very dry. The treble presentation is detailed and energetic with ample sparkle and air. It also avoids sounding harsh. Transient responses across the frequency response are immediate and effortless but have no weight. The effect of the top end emphasis in combination with the dry timbre is the total absence of dynamic contrast. The soundstage is wide but its depth is limited. Imaging is not terribly precise and instrument separation is poor considering how expensive the Jade II is.

POWER REQUIREMENTS:
I would have preferred more headroom using the HiFiMAN Jade II’s energizer in light of the necessity of EQ correction. Using oratory1990’s Harman AE/OE preset requires the energizer to be set to about 90% of its maximum output. If my DAC had a lower output I likely would not not have been able to drive the Jade II sufficiently.

CLOSING WORDS:
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I do not recommend the HiFiMAN Jade II, especially at their list price. They need extensive EQ to sound acceptable and I can’t imagine spending $2500 on a pair of headphones that sound as tonally wrong as these do out of the box.
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Pros: Transparency, resolution, transient response
Cons: Lacks a little character, slightly cool tonality, cable is bad
Firstly I would like to thank HiFiMAN for sending me the Jade II system on loan for the purpose of this review.

I have less experience with electrostat systems than anything else, but I have heard a few. Due to this, sadly I do not have another amp/energiser on hand to test just the Jade II headphones with.

Gear Used:

Topping DX7 Pro / Singxer SDA-2 > XLR out > Jade II

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Tech Specs:

Frequency Response: 7Hz-90kHz
Bias Voltage: 500V-650V
Headphone Weight: 365g (12.9oz)
Amplifier Weight: 6.5kg (14.3lb)
Amplifier Dimensions: 276 x 270 x 116mm (10.9″ x 10.6″ x 4.6″)

https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/jade-ii-electrostatic-headphone-601.html

Build Quality:

Well the amp is one solid looking thing, made out of aluminium it heavy and feels solidly put together. The inputs and outputs are great, the volume knob is stepped and feels great in use. The headphones have a fixed cable that is covered in nylon sheathing, it isn’t particularly special and is quite noisy when it hits against things, but it has good strain relief and does the job. The cups are plastic to keep weight down, with a comfortable hybrid headband which distributes the weight well. The earpads are similar to those of the Ananda and are comfortable, longevity is something only someone who owns these can comment on. Overall the combo looks good and the amp is certainly very well built but the cable on the headphones let them down slightly.

Comfort:
The Jade II headphones are exceptionally lightweight, paired with good pads and the headband strap that distributes weight evenly and you have a very comfortable set of electrostatic headphones. I have no issues wearing these for prolonged periods of time.

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Sound:
Lows: I do not have a lot of experience with electrostats but one thing that always comes to mind is their speed, and this shows most when it comes to the lower frequencies. The Jade II system leans a little towards a brighter tonality, with very quick and precise bass that favours accuracy over body. They are incredibly snappy yet there is more than enough quantity for my listening tastes. Due to their incredible transient response, the Jade II do an exceptional job of separating instruments down low, and layering is also a strong point when listening to them. Whilst certain tones can lack a little impact, what they do not lack is clarity, you cannot get the Jade II to ever sound muddy or slow. Don’t discount this nimble and fast paced low end for rolled off though, they can easily dig right deep down into the sub-bass frequencies with ease.

Midrange: There is a great balance to the sound of the Jade II, tones in the midrange may come across a little on the cooler side as they lack any kind of influence from the low end. This does however work in their favour when it comes to the separation and width of the soundstage, the midrange is where it should be and everything is so perfectly placed you don’t notice the slight lack of richness in vocals. This is a headphone that will impress those who enjoy picking apart the tracks and hearing each individual layer, it is not perhaps, the most easy or relaxing listen though. There is never much of a favouring of male or female vocals, electric or acoustic tracks, they just render it as it is. Acoustic guitars sound excellent with well rendered reverberation, yet electric guitars have power and drive. The transition into the highs is smooth without any boost in the sibilance region.

Highs: This part just tops these off, they may be light and nimble on their feet, but they have a delicacy to their sound that renders them smooth and not offensive or harsh. The treble is so intricately detailed, yet devoid of harshness or fatigue inducing peaks that they just want you to listen to your whole collection over and over again. The treble is perfectly balanced in the mix and extends without any hint of early roll off, and due to their incredibly open back nature they have excellent air and resolution. They really do get the highs spot on, especially when it comes to the accuracy of their placement withing the soundstage, there is real height which benefits the treble and helps keep it well separated from the rest of the mix.

The soundstage has great width, but they also have a good amount of height. It is convincing too though, and you can clearly separate instruments by their space within the soundstage. These are one of the few headphones that have convinced me that headphones can do both height and width soundstage wise.

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Conclusion:
Well the Jade II system is expensive, there is no ignoring that fact. But I personally really enjoyed my time with them, they have a balanced sound signature that leans a little towards a cooler tonality. They are responsive and snappy, yet have a certain refinement that allows you to listen for prolonged sessions without fatigue. They do a brilliant job at picking apart the recording and letting you hear every nuance. I am also told that the headphones scale up well with other amps but sadly I do not have access to any.

Sound Perfection Rating: 8/10 (expensive, the cable isn’t great, but the sound is clear and precise without being fatiguing)
Last edited:
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Reactions: Kevin Lee
Pros: Sounds amazing even if there's a lot of background noise,
Cons: Shouty, Uneven timbre, Staging lacks coherence, Lacking Detail relative to competition, poor dynamic contrast, Poor Value or Performance given the Price
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The Jade II from Hifiman is their first mass production foray into an entry level electrostatic headphones. While there was an original Jade manufactured and distributed, it's difficult to find and apparently quality and frequency response varied from unit to unit. Non the less here in 2019 Jade has resurfaced and been brought back to life! The headphone itself is available for $900 via the Hifiman website with an optional amplifier for $1600. Seeing as Electrostatic headphones operate vastly different from traditional planar-magnetic or dynamic headphones a dedicated Electrostatic amplifier is needed! So the system I'll be reviewing as a whole costs $2500 straight from the Hifiman Website. However it would seem local dealers do have a more competitive price for the system around $1800 as well, heck Bloom Audio has it for $1700 as of the writing of this article!

I'll also mention I received the system in my own home for a temporary in home listen direct from their team in exchange for my thoughts and this review.

Build and Construction
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The Amplifier is self is quite massive, heavy and sturdy. My only qualm with it was the some what loose and not quite fully seated feel to the front panel buttons and even the volume knob. I wasn't a huge fan of the knob's taper either as it only had around 12 or so discernible steps, so I was either listening a bit quieter or louder than I wanted for some tracks.
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The rear panel proved much more robust as all inputs were fully seated with a firm grip and contact. I had no issues with seating my kinda bulky Pangea Power-cable either.
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It's ultralight weight stiff frame is barely above what I'd consider acceptable in terms of overall construction quality. Thankfully I had no issues with fit or wear, the headphone was comfortable and I got an acceptable seal each time. Still I wouldn't advise or encourage purchasing this one second hand.

Presentation & Quality of Sound
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So my first few listens of Jade II where positive! It was snappy, detailed, super quick, open and spacious with a lush mid-range and sparkly top end. However... the more I listened with Jade II the less impressive it became and more problematic it sounded.

For listening purpose I used my RME ADI 2 Dac with XLR Into the Stock Jade II amp, track list is as followed;
  • Beck - Guess I'm Doing Fine
  • Best of Chesky Jazz - Dynamic Test
  • Goat Rodeo - No One But You
The overall tonality of Jade II was mostly uneven at the top and bottom ends with a rushed presentation or envelope to my ears. There's a obvious forwardness to the upper mid range with a rolled off Low Bass response. I wasn't a fan of it's lack of a certain decisive weight or force on the leading edge of sounds and an overall poor ultra low level resolve. To my ears that lack of resolve manifested in that the trailing edge of sounds were often cut short or faded into silence to quickly.

Jade II presents an open and spacious stage with good precision and layering, tho at times it's a bit incoherent so it sounded fake or a bit forced.

Technically it's not terrible but the problems with it's frequency response and presentation make it difficult to appreciate the detail and resolve that is present. An given the price I don't see any reason to recommend it when there's options that cost less and simply outperform it without departing from it's rich light weight and quick presentation.

Headphone Comparisons
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Now of the many times I heard Jade II at trade shows I loved it! An I was absolutely ecstatic about getting to hear it in my own home.

I usually prefer headphones with a more lean, clean quick and open presentation. Like my own SDR Modded HD 800 [Non S] so given the price that comparison was natural, I also wanted to include the Koss ESP 95X as it's the only other Electrostatic I have experience with.

95X vs Jade II
Now to my ears while 95X wasn't technically on par with Jade II it's far more even presentation allowed for a plethora of resolve, detail and technical prowess to shine thru more naturally. With 95X the more I listened the more detail I noticed, the more correct it sounded. Quite literally the opposite experience as Jade II, tho where as Jade II has some top end Sparkle 95X is a little darker. However the two share a similar reserved sub bass response and lusher low mid range.

With Vocals I found Jade II sounded;
  • Disconnected
    • Oddly forward with emphasis on the chest and lips without as much in between
  • Rich but smeared
    • A good sense of harmony between male and female singers when listening with a duet but lacking some low level detail & texture of the individuals
With just Drums Jade II sounded:
  • Off or uneven
    • Toms are kind incoherently in your face and the high hats have an intermittent presence or defined place in space relative to the rest of the kit
  • Compressed
    • Lacking cohesive dynamic contrast as a whole
Worst of all is the sound of Strings or Stringed Instruments, this is where Jade II was the most offensives to my ears. It was simply wrong time and time again it sounded off and too rushed. Vibrato was hard to discern and the whole presentation was too quick, there was simply a lack of information being presented to my ears. The leading edge of fundamentals in the strings strummed was very in your face followed by a quick settling silence and a lack of harmonic overtones. This was spectra where Jade II had the most if any kind of leading edge to the sound and I frankly found it more distracting than anything.

Information, detail and sound that was present with the $500 Koss ESP 95X system without all the other glaring faults or distractions.

HD 800 vs Jade II
Track-list was the same but I ran my RME ADI 2 Single Ended into my Modded APPJ PA 1502A Set Amp, which including labor and parts cost me around $500. I again used the stock Amp with balanced input for Jade II

Frankly this section will be short as I don't wish to beat the dead horse. For my tastes I saw no advantage that Jade II had over HD 800. It was simply worse across the board, and given that a second hand HD 800 Non S can be had for around $800 I don't see any reason why you want to spend more on Jade II. Even during some brief listens of HD 800 on my JDS Labs Atom I again found nothing Jade II does better than HD 800.

Conclusion
I cannot recommend Jade II at least not without also suggesting a small box fan to accompany it. When I listen to Jade II with about 55 dB[a]'s of ambient background noise it doesn't sound so bad! In fact a lot of the problems area's aren't as obvious even with the addition of literal noise, I mean there's still about the same level of detail and resolve overall too. So maybe if your in a noisy environment and your insistent on an open back headphone with a lively, rich open presentation then yea maybe Jade II is the headphone for you. Heck I really feel Jade II is one of the best sounding headphones in noisy environments I've heard.

Otherwise if your listening in a quite space I'd encourage trying the Koss 95X as your first foray into electrostatic headphones or putting together a system for one of the many competitive and highly resolving dynamics on the market today.
Pros: Nice detail, clean sound
Extremely comfortable
Cons: Cable durability is questionable
Low end needs a bit more boost
Feels like it's a tad pricey for what you get.



The Hifiman Jade II is a second-generation electrostatic headphone from the famous Chinese makers of primarily planar magnetic headphones. This is my first listen of any of their electrostatic headphone line, but I am familiar with most of their planar magnetic headphones, owning a couple myself presently and in the past.

The Jade II was provided to me on loan directly from Hifiman as part of the Head-Fi Loaner Tour. I was actually a little surprised when they reached out to me, since I forgot all about it. That said, I was excited to try out this headphone and it’s matching electrostatic amp, as I haven’t used an electrostatic headphone for a long period of time before – only at meetups and in-store demos.

The Amplifier

The Jade II Amplifier really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting the amp to be as large and massive as it was. It dwarfs my RME ADI-2 DAC, Woo Audio WA7 and Massdrop THX-AAA amplifiers. I ended up having to put it on a different shelf so that I could capture some desk space on my normal listening station.

The amplifier features both balanced XLR and single ended RCA inputs on the back and two headphone output ports on the front. There’s also a large power button, a signal switch button, and a nice large aluminum volume knob that feels great. The knob isn’t totally linear, there are volume steps that are tactile as you turn it.





The Headphone

The Jade II headphone itself is incredibly lightweight. It’s not as light as say the Koss ESP950/95X, but it’s pretty light compared to all of my other headphones. It’s been sometime since I’ve put on a pair of Stax, but from memory, these feel lighter than those as well. I would definitely need to confirm to be positive.

The lightweight, and the large oval cups, similar to that of the HE1000, Arya, Ananda, and Edition X series, makes the use of the newer Hifiman headband style more easily worn. If you’ve read my previous discussions or seen my thoughts about this headband online in the many forums or discord, you’ll know that I am not a fan of it. The new headband was designed to be more durable than the last one, which broke often at the yoke (but I adore it), but this new headband has no rotation and therefore feels very stiff and can be uncomfortable. Luckily on the Jade II, it works and fits like a glove. The clamping force is just right for me, and feels rather nice.

The headphone cable is flat like most electrostatics are but is not removable. That said, it looks and feels durable, however when the splitter portion of the cable seemed to fall apart slightly – with the braid coming undone exposing the poly-wrapped copper below.


The Sound

The Jade II sounds like a typical electrostatic signature, however a little bright. It’s fast, resolving, but missing a lot of low end prowess. The upper-mid-range seems a little exaggerated and the treble is a little unbalanced and bright given that the low end seems to roll-off drastically at around 100Hz.

When I first put these on and listened for about an hour, I really didn’t like how they sounded. Listening to a mix of rock, electronic, and country music just sounded like a lot of the low end was missing, and it sounded very lean and skewing towards being too bright. It doesn’t ever sound sibilant or harsh though – just a little upper-mids focused. That’s not a bad thing though, as I do like some elevation there.






But like I said, I didn’t like it after the first hour and put it away for a day or two. I came back to it with a fresh set of ears and started listening to other genres, like piano jazz, ambient and more folksy rock music – stuff like Guaraldi, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Nickel Creek, and James Taylor. I felt like the Jade II sounded a bit better now. The resolution was very good, but I don’t remember it being God-like calling like how I heard the Stax SR009 for the first time, or when I listened to the Focal Utopia on. It doesn’t provide as big of a wow factor as I had hope.

That’s not to say that the Jade II isn’t impressive. It does a great job of delivering a very smooth midrange and treble presentation – in that it feels natural and airy, and pushes the upper limits of what may be considered bright and harsh without ever going above that line. I tested it through a variety of songs that have female vocals that sometimes lie on the other side of that fine line.

For one, Alvvays’s Dreams Tonight is a song I play often to see how high and how harsh Molly Rankin’s vocals can reach. While they do seem like they’re pitched a little higher than what I normally prefer, her voice has a lot strained emotion to it and it sounds and feels very euphoric in a sense. Still, I would prefer her tonality to be a little downplayed slightly, and that there was a little more warmth in the general overall tonality as a whole.




I do applaud and appreciate the wide soundstage and clean, precise sound that electrostatics can bring, but I do find the Jade II to a be a bit pricey at it’s normal asking price. When on sale, like they were this holiday, they are quite a contender for a value. I say this, because at it’s normal price, I would rather have something not electrostatic and not have to deal with a dedicated amplifier (at an extra cost) and that whole limiting factor for marginal improvements on resolution with the trade-off of low end loss. At half the price, the rewards are more easily reaped and defendable.
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I am giving this review as I'm part of the Jade II tour.

You can also catch my review on my blog site:
http://subjective.reviews/jade-ii-electrostatic-headphone-and-amplifier/


Intro and basic sound observations

One thing I like about the Jade II is the ease of listening: they are truly a pleasure to listen to. I have been able to listen to these all day with no issues.

I feel the Jade II has a special presentation one analogy example if you are familiar with speakers, I would say the Jade II has a high end omnidirectional loudspeaker type of presentation. You know if you’ve ever been in a room with a high end omnidirectional loudspeaker – the sound is effortless and sounds good wherever you are in the room – they are not overly analytical – the aim is for them to just sound natural and good wherever you are. So there’s no stressing or having to sit in the middle of the room on your listening chair just for the sound to sound nice or have to waste your time adjusting speaker positioning in your room for them to sound good or even needing room correction.

If I was to continue this analogy, I would say the Jade II has a mix between a high end omnidirectional speaker and a high end electrostatic speaker as the imaging is in between the two. So you would kind of get a mix between the imaging of a great electrostatic headphone and an omnidirectional speaker.

It has the presentation where you would never over analyse the sound – you kind of just switch off all of that and just enjoy the music without the stresses and distractions an audiophile would get with the typical analytical headgear, where they would think and test more than listen to music.

Another thing I like about the Jade II system is there isn’t any worries with having to pair the headphones with an amplifier it comes with a nice amp and the full package is competitively priced which is a bonus.

Aesthetics & Build Ergonomics

They are comfortable in various ways, first; they are very light and fit my head really well. I am pleased that the newer headphones from HIFIMAN fit me well. Even without the swivel on the headband system like some of the other HIFIMAN of headphones. I have tried the SUNDARA, ANANDA, and the HE6se. they all fit nicely and feel comfortable. I seem to favour the bigger headphones more, meaning the style of the HE1000, ANANDA, Jade II, etc.

I have to say the Jade II is just as comfortable as the ANANDA, likely even more because they are lighter – I have almost forgotten they were on my head at times







Audio quality – Comparisons

Comparison with the HE6se

Comfort
:

Both headphones have similarities in some build aspects, the headband system is identical if you take into consideration the headphone size differences. The pads are also similar in most of the design apart from the sizing. That being said, they are both comfortable!! The HE6se has come leaps and miles since a stock HE6 – I can now wear the HE6se for multiple hours at a time where I couldn’t do this with the stock HE6.

When you put them against each other, there will only be one winner comfort wise – the Jade II wins hands down – they have to be one of the most comfortable headphones out there!! Its feels like nothing at times, they are so light! I could easily listen to these all day long and I have done occasionally.

Sound:



Infected Mushroom – Army of Mushrooms – Track 12: The Messenger 2012 (speed test) my friend (Ithilstone) showed me this track for testing the capabilities of our HE6’s – On the HE6se it was great–fast transients highly dynamic and visceral which renders a great three-dimensional presentation, punchy when it calls for it and the bass goes deep with a nice amount of sub bass. Imaging is just great! Highs are present and detailed without harshness. The amp I used for the HE6 is my beast (XA30.8)

Jade II










I was wowed when testing the Jade II on how well it did, just as I mentioned earlier the Jade II has unique staging signature which is great – It was a superb listen, I put this track on specifically to do the listening comparison / test with the HE6se and the funny thing is that I kept drifting away into my world of music and forgetting that I had to analyse the music, it’s a good job it’s a 10min track so I could get back on track in time to make an assessment (not that I wasn’t able to recall the track) It’s just that I don’t think the headphones a made for that overly analytical music analysing. I find them a carefree listening experience.

On the listen I found the Jade II not only kept up to the fast and complicated sections of the track it excelled – the share speed of the Jade II is a joy; it effortlessly could render fast transients of the music with authority and elegance. The bass was fast, had the punch when it needed it but was never overlay punchy or in your face. It could make you aware of the excitement of the track all with no fatigue. The highs were airy and articulate but not over animated. The dynamics were really nice! – all presented in the Jade II’s unique sound bubble.

I would say the Jade II has the faster transient speed than the HE6se – generally you can’t compete with Electrostats in that regard, But the HE6se has the deeper sub bass and is more dynamic when it comes to bass. There is HE6se is more visceral in the presentation and for this track gets you right into the energy of the track. Some people don’t like that presentation in a headphone, the Jade II is a perfect alternative option.

With the right amplifier the HE6se renders images and soundstage more similar to the HIFIMAN Planer Dynamics Susvara or the other Electrostatic Headphones like the Shangri La Jr and Senior (of course the Shangri La Senior is in its own league). I would say the amplifier used with the HE6se has a lot to do with that – you see the HE6se scales well with gear. That being said, the Jade II still has some other similarities to the Shangri La Senior – the way it’s non fatiguing, natural and effortlessness to listen to are all traits that the Senior and the Jade II has.

The Jade II also scales nicely with gear. I have tried the Jade II Headphones with the other HIFIMAN amplifiers and you get transparency, dynamics imaging improvements with every jump.

It could be seen that the HE6se comparisons are a little unfair – they are driven by amps which cost more than both the Jade II Headphone with the Jade II Amplifier.

The Pass Labs XA30.8 and the Pass Labs XA25 are high-end low wattage speaker amplifiers that I have in-house and as an amplifier builder, I have also built the First Watt F6 and F7 you see I am a little crazy for amping the HE6’s!! (these headphones has specific amping requirements for the headphones to open up and sound their best)

High current low wattage speaker amplifiers has been the go to for driving these HIFIMAN range of harder to drive headphones: HE6, HE6se or the Susvara, you see there are headphone amps out there which can do a good job with the HE6’s or the Susvara but they truly shine with the right speaker amp.

I’d say it’s all about the effortless nature you get when listening to these headphones when they are correctly amped. You definitely hear the magic.

Now with the Jade II system there isn’t any worries – you get an amplifier which is design just for the headphones itself, that simple. Don’t be concerned with anything else just connect a nice DAC and you good to go! No need to search high and low for the perfect matching amplifier you already have it.

Can the Jade II sound better with a different amplifier? Yes, but ask yourself this question? How much with that other amplifier cost? I haven’t seen such a good Electrostatic Headphone System package deal of this sound quality.

For those camera lovers around it’s a little similar to using a good camera with the kit lens, no matter how good the kit lens is. You are still in for a treat in terms of future upgrades.

The downside is that it can get pricey for some lens upgrades. You may just prefer a simple life and find one of the few good cameras out there with a real nice kit lens, no need to upgrade the lens as you can take some stunning pictures right away! Happy Days! – no need to stress and go down a never-ending rabbit hole. The option is always there to look into other lenses later on.

So just like that the Jade II system is a superb system alone but you could always explore other amping at a later date.

For example – I recently attended The UK Hi-Fi Show Live 2019 – Ascot. HIFIMAN was there in full effect!! They had all their gear to listen to, it was a great weekend. I checked out all the electrostatic headphones and amps this is when I did my system tests.

I even checked out the ifi audio stack comprising: the Pro iDSD, Pro iCAN and the Pro iESL the (electrostatic extension) I was able to do a comparison of the Susvara and the Jade II both on the same system! That was crazy.

See Trev (Takeanidea) having a good listen :)






The stack system wasn’t cheap but you could mix and match to your needs. That being said both the Jade II and the Susvara sounded great on ifi audio stack.

Audio quality – Comparisons

Quick comparison with my HD800s



Sound:



For this comparison, I did a track from Gregory Porter.

Album: Nat “king” Cole and Me – Track 2 – Smile

Jade II

Jade II renders the music so nice, vocals are natural, textured and clean, with no artificial grain coming from the amplifier. The instruments appear natural and I can pick out each note as they come in. They render the strings with fluidity and preciseness, the plucking of the harp and the beginning of the track is just great along with the violins.

The London Studio Orchestra recorded the track with Gregory Porter. I have been lucky enough to catch Gregory Porter live at the Royal Albert Hall, and he performed the song with The London Orchestra. I definitely get a similar joyful experience listening to this track on the Jade II.

I get small glimmers of flashbacks from my experience listening to Gregory Porter and classical music on the original Sennheiser Orpheus years back (it was a great experience) This great headphone also had a slight warmth to the sound, and the vocals was the most natural vocals I heard until that point of time.

HD800

My HD800 have been slightly modded – It has the inner lining cover removed and has sheep felt over the inner metal ring section to eliminate reflections which would cause the typical HD800 6k spike.

The amplifier used is an amplifier I have built myself, and I have developed it specifically for my HD800. This is not a typical headphone amplifier driving the HD800. In my experience I have never been entirely happy with the HD800 driven with 95% of the amps which I’ve heard with them – I feel they suit other headphones better. I feel the HD800 is just as picky as my HE6 to sound their best. The amplifier I am using is a high voltage but low current amplifier which give the HD800 exactly what they need. I have brought along my HD800 to so much events and shows and my mission was to find a good amp match, which I had no luck with so I built my own. (It’s not as easy as it sounds – It took me a year to get the amp sounding this good with the HD800)

Seriously, this amp is the best I’ve ever heard the HD800’s and some of my head-fi friends who have listened to my setup have agreed. If you think the HD800 are harsh or lack bass – you have just not heard them on my amplifier – and the thing is the amplifier does not give the headphones extra warmth or is boosted in base, it is dead neutral – but just give the headphones what it needs power wise which allows the headphone to operate as they should.

With the same track and the HD800

Everything is super accurate in terms of soundstage imaging and positional cues, etc. I could hear more detail with my amp and the HD800, the dynamics where great, the vocals and instrument separation were top-notch. After doing A-B tests, I feel the HD800 lack some magic which I get from the Jade II.

I think it is all to do with the speed transients which give the Jade a life like naturalness with the rendering of the sound. Even though my amp could get more details and the HD800 could present the details – I think the effortlessness nature of the sound from the Jade II is where the magical pleasing aspects comes from.

Much like the Jade II the HD800 is extremely comfortable – I could happily listen to either headphone for hours upon end with no comfort issues or listening fatigue.




Conclusion

Jade II Electrostatic Headphone and Amplifier


I would say for me they are the perfect all day long headphone – I have worked in the office all day listening to the Jade II system and they fit in so well – not only is it an all in one system minus the DAC, so no need to worry about getting a separate amplifier. The system is very neat and would easily fit on my desk, or on a small cabinet below my desk.

One of the golden highlights for this system is that the sound isn’t in your face and it’s not fatiguing one bit – it has such a nice presentation it doesn’t get in the way. As a graphic design I’m sat down on the computer a lot, with some headphones It can be difficult for me to concentrate and be creative if I’m listening to music. I would get distracted and even analyse the music, which would hamper my creative work flow. With the Jade II, this isn’t the case. I would just sit back relax and work away with great concentration. I feel like quality background music helps my concentration, and it seems like the day goes by even quicker.

I would leave some of my other headphones for critical listening times: evenings or weekends. The Jade II is for anytime!
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Whoa...that was sure worth the wait! Impeccable description of the essence of the Jade II, even the Hifiman amp didn't get too much abuse and that's not made by you! Wonderful stuff
Pros: Amazing SQ
PRAT
Amazingly Life-Like Sound
Cons: Crappy cable (see post script update below)
Massive system
Expense
Quick Read Conclusion

The Hifiman Jade 2 amplifier and headphones (the “Jade 2”) provide an exceptional desk based electrostatic ecosystem for your ears. If you have the kit necessary to eek the highest levels of performance out of these headphones, you won’t be disappointed. This said, the Jade 2 is not perfect – I have some questions around the build of the headphones (specifically the fixed cable - UPDATE: see post script below) as well as the practicality of integrating the Jade 2 into your set up. One of the reasons main reasons I listen to headphones is portability – spending c.£2,500 locking yourself to your desk with the Jade 2, which require an amplifier the size and weight of a typical tank to drive them, defeats the object for me. But good lord, they don't half sound good!

Introductions and General Bumf

This review follows a familiar format, but as described above, this is an “ecosystem” review. For me, with the Jade 2, the headphones are inseparable from the amplifier – none of my other amplifiers even have the right plug for driving the Jade 2 headphones, let alone the esoteric power outputs required for electrostats. As such, when I talk about the Jade 2, I am talking always about the Jade 2 headphones plugged into the Jade 2 amplifier.

I also want to add that I haven’t really made much in the way of comparisons below, as I think they are pretty meaningless in the context of my review. The Jade 2 are the first pair of electrostats I have ever heard, and I could only listen to them through their own amplifier. The only arguably meaningful comparison I could draw was therefore between a Pro iDSD>Jade 2 Amp>Jade 2 and a Pro iDSD>Sennheiser HD600. This at least allows me to illustrate some of the differences with a pair of headphones I know well in the HD600. I also tried to volume match by playing a steady 1 kHz tone and using the soundmeter app on my Samsung Note 8. I appreciate not a perfect match, but better than not trying at all, and should hopefully help to reduce, if not entirely eliminate volume bias.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am in no way affiliated with Hifiman and have received no inducement from them to write this review (other than the chance to participate in the Jade 2 tour).

Test Kit: I have tested the Jade 2s with pretty much every DAC I have in my arsenal! They got exposed to a Schiit Modi 2 Uber, RHA Dacamp L1, ifi Nano BL and A&K AK70 mk 1 (in line out mode) but I got for and away the best results using an iFi Pro iDSD (which I had on loan from iFi at the time).

Preparation: I received the Jade 2s as review samples and so relied on the fact they had been through lots of hands before mine. I therefore didn't give them much burn in.

Me as a listener: I am not a pro by any stretch of the imagination. I have always enjoyed my music, and my tastes are pretty broad. I go to live music ranging from rock and pop concerts to orchestra and opera. I would not describe myself as having a trained ear, but I am attentive and my ears are in pretty good nick for a 35 year old.

My tastes: neutral to warm, but I do like good punchy bass and I love to hear decent instrument separation.

Test tracks: Test tracks noted in the review below were the TIDAL 16/44.1 available through their Hi-Fi subscription.

So, on to the main event. [/General Bumf]

Tech Specs

From Hifiman’s website accessed 11/8/2019 https://hifiman.com/products/detail/298:

Headphone

Frequency Response: 7Hz-90kHz

Bias Voltage: 550V-650V

Weight: 365g (12.9oz)

Amplifier

Weight: 6.5kg (14.3lb)

Dimensions: 276 x 270 x 116 mm³ (10.9" x 10.6" x 4.6")

You’ll note the enormous frequency response, as well as that some of the typical stats (like impedance) aren’t given – presumably irrelevant in the context of an electrostat ecosystem.

Unboxing

It was a pretty typical workday afternoon, until my PA appeared with a massive box (45cm x 45cm x 45cm) carried in on a luggage trolley. The box was around 12kg all in – material in weight then and I was glad I had chosen to drive in that day. The unboxing was unremarkable, with the amp, headphones and a manual packaged in cardboard boxes.

Build and Practicalities

The amp itself is massive and very heavy, but feels very solid and well built. The actual amplifier is housed in a central metal box, and there is then another sort of “wrap around” piece of metal which appears to act as a heatsink. The whole thing somehow put a tie fighter into my mind!

tank.jpg

The buttons are all solidly built, and the volume control (which I never got higher than about a third) has microsteps, with the difference in volume between each step sufficiently small to allow a great degree of precision in terms of volume setting. On the front is also a balanced/RCA push switch selector and two headphone outputs.
switch1.jpgswitch2.jpgvolcon.jpg
On the rear is the power input (selectable between 240 and 120 volts) and a pair of balanced and unbalanced inputs (3 pin XLR and RCA respectively). It’s built like a tank and weighs a ton. This is very much a fixed piece of kit – not portable.

rear1.jpg rear2.jpg

The headphones themselves are a tale of two halves for me. They are very pretty, with the electrostatic “nanotech driver” reflecting and splitting the light beautifully behind the protective covers.

headp1.jpg headp2.jpg headp3.jpg pretty1.jpg pretty2.jpg pretty3.jpg

The faux leather, notched adjustable headband also creates a very comfortable headphone.

adjust1.jpg adjust2.jpg bands1.jpg

However, I have some real reservations about the cable, and it is the only bit of the whole system which feels cheap. Firstly, it is non-replaceable which I simply do not think is acceptable in a high end system. Secondly, the cable itself looks thick in the pictures but this is just a plastic sheath and inside it are some very thin, very standard looking bits of wire. I struggled to get a good photo, but take my word for it – this feels flimsy, and as the cable is irreplaceable this is an expensive failure risk in one of the weakest points in the system. UPDATE: see post script below.

cable1.jpg cable 2.jpg

The earpads though were very comfortable and I had no issues with some extensive (3+ hour) listening sessions.

pads1.jpg

The Sound

Highs, Mids and Lows

In highs and mids, the Jade 2 performs spectacularly. There is a life-like quality of crispness and definition I have never quite heard in the same way through a headphone. Cymbals have a remarkable shimmer which I have never quite felt in the same way through a headphone as in real life. Take the start of Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill, just before the first verse starts, the cymbal hit really stood out, shimmering in my ears. Another track which demonstrated the skill of the Jade 2s is James Brown’s Funky Drummer where the tapping drumline is up in the forefront of the sound you hear. Voices too, especially female vocals have a clarity and life-like edge to them, sounding rich (for a vocalist like Nora Jones) or breathy and thin (for a vocalist like Stephanie Poetri in I Love You 3000) as originally intended.

What the Jade 2’s are not however, is a basshead’s dream. The Jade 2’s bass put me in mind of good balanced armature bass – you get well described notes and clearly hear the bassline, but you get none of the impact a dynamic driver IEM delivers. Thus with the Jade 2; the bass is all there, well described and clean, but there is none of the visceral impact or weight, making the Jade 2s (to my mind) far better suited to orchestral music, jazz and acoustic numbers and far less appropriate for bass heavy dance or rock music. I understand this to be a pretty normal trait for electrostats and, if so, the Jade 2 is consistent.

Soundstage, Separation and Detail Retrieval

Detail, separation, precision and soundstage the Jade 2 has in utter abundance. The soundstage is both wide and deep, and this assists greatly with the instrument separation which is absolutely fantastic. Even on the most congested orchestral tracks… think the crescendo in Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King (from the Peer Gynt suite). Lesser headphones can get a bit confused towards the end of this piece, with the various instruments overlapping or “mushing” together. Not so with the Jade 2 which defines and places each instrument, allowing the listener to easily focus on the individual or allow the whole piece to wash over in glorious detail.

Head to something a bit more modern, and listen to The Greatest Show form the Greatest Show soundtrack. Not only are individual voices in the choral pieces identifiable, but the separation of the drumbeats from the footsteps from the bassline all separately defined and detailed. The Jade 2s are up there with the very best I have heard for detail retrieval.

The Jade 2s are also very fast – by that I mean that there is a crispness, particularly around higher frequencies (think the top ranges of snares, kicks and the top ranges of things like violins). This means that each note of each instrument has a clear start and instant end, with almost no “bleeding” of sound between (for example) drum kicks. The same is also true of lower frequencies, so if you listen to a track where there is some bass and kick flowing together (perhaps the start of Camilla Cabello’s Havana) there is a perceptible staccato to treble beat and the bass line. The best adjective I have for this sensation is “clean”.

Comparisons

As I mentioned above, I don't have apples for apples with the Jade 2s. They are cleaner, crisper and quicker than the HD600s with more separation and detail on offer, but less impactful bass.

What I would say, form a comparisons perspective though, is that the Jade 2s showed up all of my best kit, and it was only when I plugged them into a Pro iDSD I had on loan from iFi that I heard anything like their capabilities. I think it is telling of their quality that it was not until I put £2k of DAC into their inputs, that I heard these headphones sounding their best – not that they didn't sound good with the Modi 2 Uber, or my nano BL. But the level of detail, precision, separation and the “life like” sound only really came to the fore through the Pro iDSD.

Stack.jpg stack 2.jpg

Niggles

The cable is, as mentioned above, poor and the connector is uncommon, meaning these aren’t plug and play with non-electrostatic amplifiers. The amp is massive so this a desktop listening experience and the Jade 2s are very, very leaky (to the point where I woke my daughter up listening to them in my office with the door open).

Conclusion

They sound great. But they pin you to your desk. They are also scalable up to the highest level I have ever heard meaning you need great kit to hear them at their best. On re-reading my review, the most repeated feeling was "life like" and I think this is the thing which blew me away about the Jade 2 - how much they sounded like real life.

Post Script

I received a really interesting PM about this post from @ISOLordByron which i set out below. It's informative re/the cable.

As a quick note, there's a reason that the cable is the way it is. One of the major design challenges of an electrostatic system is keeping the capacitance low, as it will lead to capacitive lag that will effect impulse speed and phase linearity, among other things. Without getting into too much technical jargon, the cable needs to be very high purity copper, very thin, and insulated very densely to avoid issues. Copper also corrodes and oxidizes so a detachable connector would ideally be played in a different conductor, which, would significantly increase capacitance. So, it sadly kind of has to be this way. The Stax cables also feel very cheap.
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Grimbles
Grimbles
@ISOLordByron thanks for your comments man. You'll see I've credited your comments in the Post Script section of this review.
I received the Jade 2 part of the tour organized by HFM. Many thanks for the opportunity to hear these at home and at length.


In terms of look and feel, the Jade 2 have an industrial look and feel. Not very premium, but appears sturdy, and at this price range I think this is about right. The only weakness is the cable which seems less sturdy than comparably priced Stax cables. It has been a while since I owned electrostats, but I did acquire an used pair of Stax L700 during my time with the Jade 2, as I also wanted to hear the latter at home and so I had something from a similar price range to compare with.

I will focus mostly on the headphones, as I cannot compare this amplifier with another one from the same price range. My main comments on the amplifier are it seems a bit on the warm side of things and it requires quite a bit of voltage from the source. My DAC can output between 5.6-15Vrms so that's more than plenty, but I would be slightly cautious with lower voltage sources paired with the Jade 2 amp.

The packaging the Jade 2 system arrives in is very basic. Cardboard boxes similar to Audeze 2 classic. No frills there.

Gear used:

MSB DAC V stack
Audioquest SKY cables
Audioquest Diamond USB
optimized PC

Stax L700 (modded for linear bass)

Sound impressions:
The very first impression is the Jade 2 have a very natural sound, slightly on warmer/fuller side, but largely neutral. The soundstage is pleasantly big, with very good depth and great height.


Tonal balance:
The Jade 2 are a bit warmer and fuller sounding than the L700. Very close to neutrality, with a slight euphony.

Bass:
The bass is quite linear and goes very low. The sub-bass weight does not compete with my HE-6 or SR1a, but I don't expect that from electrostats.Saying that the Jade 2 have very satisfying bass in terms of both quantiy and weight. I am not a bass head, although I do have benchmark level headphones for bass quality, and I don't feel I am missing anything with the Jade 2 when listening to music with strong bass content. Even EDM sounds awesome.

The L700 have less bass body and impact. The bass attack is more defined than the L700s and there is more extension.

So the Jade 2 win here.

Midrange:
The most important part of the spectrum.

From 200hz to 800hz both Stax and Jade 2 measure virtually flat. The difference is the timbre. The Stax L700 have slightly thinner body with better note separation and sound faster.

Around 1khz the Jade 2 have around +1dB but Stax around +3dB, followed by a gentle decay to 2khz on both headphones.

I would say in comparison the Jade 2 have the more natural sounding midrange to my ear, with the Stax winning in technicalities. The latter are slightly more resolving of micro-detail.

Treble:
The treble is typical of electrostats: silky, clean, airy, lacking distortion and very detailed. Even the brighter/peakier areas sound quite benign, unless someone is very particular about these areas in the FR.

Both headphones have a peak around 4khz. For L700 it is at 4-5khz and a couple of dB smaller than the Jade 2's.


Soundstage:
In terms of stage proportions I would compare them as below:
Width: Jade 2 > L700
Height: Jade 2 >= L700
Depth: L700 > Jade 2

Both these headphones have a very spatious head stage.


Transient response:
Both headphones are really fast. They reach full sound amplitude very quickly and more quickly than most planars. They can hit hard when the content requires, but the Jade 2 seem to have a more focused weightier attack, whereas the Stax L700 hit have the ethereal quality typical of most Stax.


Detail:
Both are VERY resolving headphones, but I would have to give the edge in resolution to the L700. However at this price range the resolution capabilities are beyond reach of most dynamic and planar headphones.

I have really enjoyed my time with the Jade 2 system. And if I had to pick just one headphones between these and the L700 it would be a difficult decision. On build quality alone there are more premium features the L700 have, like genuine leather pads and nicer cable. I used to switch between these two headphones depending on mood and occasionally content. Both are great all arounders. But for a more relaxing listen, the Jade 2 have the edge. The L700 are a bit more resolving and crispier/cleaner sounding, without giving too much way in terms of body. In conclusion the Jade 2 are really well positioned price wise for the sound quality they offer, and imo ahead of equivalently priced planars. But then one has to consider the electrostatic energizer cost to the equation.
glassmonkey
glassmonkey
Great job as usual, man! I love your technical ears. :)
Pros: Smooth refined sound, detail, sub bass.
Cons: No box for the Headphones. There may be no going back once you go for an Electrostat!
HiFiMan Jade II Electrostatic Headphone System – the return of the legend

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Disclaimer

I am part of the loaner tour for HiFiMan’s new Jade II system. I don’t own it, more’s the pity! I’d love to tell you that once this article has been written, I shall be able to retire in comfort on the proceeds of the huge sum of money that HiFiMan has paid into my Swiss bank account. Sadly that is not the case. As always, this undertaking is purely for love, not for money. As you can guess, sometimes I imagine I am a superstar in the audio world with company executives kneeling at my feet, where I can name my fee and it is paid without question and I jump on and off planes with an army of assistants clamouring for my attention. This is all a fantasy, sadly. I work full time. Money, space and time are all constraints on my quest for audio perfection.

Introduction

If I could choose only one brand for my Audio Equipment, (although that would, of course, be a tragedy) I would choose HiFiMan. They aren’t perfect, thank goodness. There would be no new gear to lust after, if every product a Company made was so good that it marked the end of the road ; the mythical endgame.

My first HiFiMan product was the HE6, purchased from a headfier from across the water. It sounded a little off. My Subjective colleague Dillan had a listen and diagnosed a polarity problem. He believed the positive terminal had been soldered to the negative terminal on both drivers. He soldered the terminals and, hey presto! I had a world class set of headphones. I know that Team HiFiMan will want me to tell you this is not the HE6SE, just launched, that I am talking about. It is the old HE6 model, and I have had this for 5 years, and would not part with it – unless HiFiMan graciously offered to do a straight swap for the Jade II. In that instance, I would reluctantly accept that deal, as painful as it would be. The HE6 is a hard hitter. It has slam and punch in all the right places. It has a realistic mid range and a live feel to the high frequencies that is stunning. The HE6 is a demanding beast. It needs amounts of power that would make a normal headphone enthusiast shudder. Give these phones a knee up with a speaker amp and they leap into action, pushing serious amounts of air into the old lugholes.

As followers and fans will be aware, I have reviewed the RE2000 Silver IEMs 2 weeks previously. Utilising the same driver as the RE2000 Gold, I found these to be little marvels, with the typical HiFiMan sound signature; smooth, forgiving, yet with subtle mid and treble detail that many others strive for, but just cannot reach. Incidentally, they are still available for $800, reduced from $1500, on the HiFiMan website. At that price they are a bargain indeed.

I purchased the Massdrop RE00 model; I still cannot believe the sound quality of these IEMs for the retail price I paid for them. They are a tiny bit bass shy, but make it for those shortcomings with a great mid presence. I have had on extended loan the HE1000 V1 from my Subjective friend Tom. I became increasingly fond of the HEK’s. They had an uncanny ability to make, pretty much, any recordings sound good. It was a wrench to send them back. They will be missed.

The Jade II is HiFiMan’s first sensibly priced electrostatic headphone and amplifier. There are 2 other electrostats in the HiFiMan range; the Shangri La Jr and the Shangri La Senior. The Shangri La Senior remains the finest sound I have heard from any headphone system. This includes the original Orpheus and its successor, the HE-1. They were very good, don’t get me wrong. Yet my ears preferred the signature of the Shangri La to the HE-1. I was able to listen to both systems within a 1 hour timeframe on a show I attended in London. HiFiMan had the Shangri La on full display and were approachable and friendly, being only too happy for us to play our own music through the system. Contrastingly, I had to book a listening spot for the Sennheiser HE-1. I found the whole experience unnecessarily stuffy and overhyped, quite frankly. I can also reveal I have had the chance to do a side by side comparison between the Shangri La Jr and the Jade II Headphones. This opportunity came up on Friday 19th April, and the demo was courtesy of a mini meet between Team HiFiMan's very own Mark Ramos, Team Subjective’s Dillan and Trev(AKA me!)
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Electrostatic Technology


Dynamic drivers rely on a centuries old system of stuffing a load of wire into a magnet, gluing the magnet to a cone and putting a current through the magnet. This pushes and pulls the centre of the cone back and forwards. Not much voltage is needed for this. Electrostatic drivers do not have a force directly applied to them. No magnets are used. Electricity is created near a membrane which resonates across the entire surface at the same time, with the same force. The end result should theoretically create more efficiency and less distortion than a dynamic driver of the same size. There are portable solutions available which don’t need this, but for normal circumstances, a large voltage is needed to agitate the driver membrane. Typically we are talking 580+ volts. That requires a specialist electrostatic amp incorporating a power supply of that magnitude and the special outputs that ensure you don’t accidentally plug a conventional set of headphones in. Presumably, as headphones, they would not be happy bunnies if they had that much current put through them. Typical isn’t it? If you want the posh technology, you have to get a specialist amp to run it. The only other solution would be to get an energiser. That is a smaller, less expensive piece of equipment. It has the right connections. The electrostatic headphone plugs into the energiser and then plugs into an amplifier. The affordable energisers are getting old now; the newer ones that I have found cost far more than the Jade II amp, which would seem to be one of the cheapest electrostatic amps currently available. I read an article recently which claims that the best dynamic driver Loudspeaker in the World has 30x the distortion of a standard pair of Stax Electrostats! If nothing else, that goes to show just how much difference a decent pair of headphones can make to one’s listening experience. And when you take away the ringing effects caused by walls, furniture, doors, windows… With all these problems overcome, and no neighbours being disturbed, who needs speakers?!



Build

Due to the lack of magnets required, the Jade II headphones are light for their size. They retain the teardrop shape of the original Jade design. The pearlescent finish is somewhat a departure from what HiFiMan have previously tried - and it works. When shown to the light, the headphones positively shimmer with green and blue. The cables are fixed – cable swappers can keep their money in their pockets, which is wonderful news. The headband is standard HiFiMan – it is robust enough and flexes, but the cups don’t swivel like the Shangri La Jr, for instance. In use the headphones are light and comfortable.
I would have liked to see a display box for the Jade II headphones. HiFiMan sell a headphone case on their web store for $6; it is an essential item for something of this value. It needs looking after, and I can't imagine someone not using either a display stand or box to keep these safe. Most IEM's above $30 from China come with a velour bag or case, and this headphone system is $2500; I believe it deserves even more care than a $30 Earphone.

The amplifier is much weightier, at 6.5 kg. It has plenty enough power to run the Jade II’s, 1200 mw @ 10 kHz. A 2nd output is offered, meaning the hobby need not be quite as isolating as it usually tends to be. It also allows for comparative testing, more of which later. The amplifier is based on an opamp design. There are 2 inputs at the rear; rca and balanced. I have several more bits that could be hooked up if there were more inputs available; cassette decks, cd players, dacs and the like. But I’m probably unique in that respect, like the rest of you lot…


Sound

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I did plug in the Lampizator DAC4 and headphones and switched on the Jade II system and was very pleased with the results. But it struck me that such musings don’t really have much meaning unless they can be compared against something of (at least) equal value or reputation or design. Whilst I have owned Stax Electrostats in the past, I have none at present. I had a quick think. I decided to try the HiFiMan legend, the HE6, against the Electrostats. I have a Benchmark DAC1 which I have tuned up to a 10V output on both headphone sockets. The DAC1 will also output to RCA line out simultaneously. This will allow at least the same track to be listened to, at the same volume and at the same time.

Comparison with HE6

The HE6, already described herein as having slam and punch, is at least worthy of comparison with the Jade II or pretty much any other headphone, come to that. I would describe it as a World Class Headphone. I have a customised WyWires cable, a comfier headband support and have open grille modded it. It does look like it’s been frankensteined, but I’ve seen worse, believe me! The sound stage of my HE6 is not super wide like the Sennheiser HD800, which I also own, and doesn’t have a silky upper mid range either. But it has a tonal quality which is linear and a dynamic presence with enough viscerality to give a real excitement to the music.

I sat with my wife to be for 45 minutes and we swapped between the HE6 and the Jade II every minute or so. We played completely random tracks. The reason why I no longer use test tracks is because life is too short. I spend a fair proportion of my listening time whilst I am reviewing stuff, there would be little time for music, arguably the most important part of it. Having listened to everything from 60s to Classical Music, these were the differences as I heard them.

The bass on the Jade II goes lower; there is a larger soundstage of the Jade, part of which is created by the sub bass presence, as compared to the mid bass slam of the HE6. The viscerality of the HE6 is not present in the Jade II; the presentation of the electrostats put no edges on the music; yet there seems to be very little missing despite of this. The signature is linear but also smooth. The Benchmark DAC1 is a solid state digital source and is noticeably rougher sounding than my loaner DAC, the Lampizator DAC4. The Lampizator, as all Lampizator’s, is an R2R source with a valve output stage. I found that I preferred the sound of the DAC1 over the DAC4 as I felt the Jade II’s were slightly soft through this combo. The HE6’s, of course, love the Lamp. They still have plenty of impact, reducing some of the low end decay present in the Lampizator. Further burning in, either of my ears to the sound signature of the Jade II, or of the possibility that the drivers need time to mature, has made the Lampizator my preferred mode of transport for the electrostats. The Lampizator is a special piece of kit; it combines exceptional r2r clarity with the softness of valves. When pitched against the very best competition, the Lampizator DAC4 can sound slightly laid back, particularly in the vocal region. Careful partnering is necessary, especially when listening to fast, congested rock and pop music. The HE6 was not the winner for me against the Jade II. The excitement of the HE6 made it a very close contest, using the Lampizator as a source. I suspect that not everyone will agree that the Jade II outperforms the HE6. HiFiMan has introduced the HE6SE, which will retail at a higher price point than the Jade II headphone but at a lower price point than the Jade II plus amp. I am told that the driver in the SE model is the same driver in my original HE6. Given that HiFiMan is pitching the SE in a similar price bracket to the Jade II, clearly they believe that many will prefer the liveliness of the Planar to the smooth refinement of the Electrostatic.
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I pondered that the 2 headphones were very different in their signatures and this made it difficult to state categorically that 1 was better than the other. If I was able to set up 2 electrostatic headphones and hot swap between them, that might give a better indication as to how the Jade II compared to it’s own kind. Little did I know that the chance would come around so soon. 2 days after I received the Jade II system, I was on my way across the bottom of the Country. I travelled from Devon across to Canvey Island, nestled in the bottom corner of Essex, to meet up with Mark Ramos, the man behind the Jade II loaner tour from Team HiFiMan. Dillan, also from Essex, was collected en route, and we met up with Mark for a mini meet. Mark had brought along 3 suitcases worth of kit. Among the gems was a Jade II system, and a Shangri La Jr. Electrostatic Headphone…..

Comparison with Shangri La Jr.



The Shangri La Jr. is a beautiful headphone. I was assured by Mark that the Shangri La Amplifier would upgrade the sound of the Jr. still further. Nevertheless, I was smitten by the sound, even being played through the Jade II amplifier. The clarity of the Jr. is such that it draws you into the music with even more insight than the Jade II. The difference between the 2 was stark. The Jade II sounded slightly muffled compared to the Shangri La Jr. Bear in mind that that Shangri La Jr. is $4000 for the headphone alone; the Jade II is $2500. I preferred the Jade II over the HE6, a headphone I have enjoyed without reservation for several years. To outperform the Jade II in such a manner was astonishing, but it doesn’t mean the Jade II is not worth bothering with. Of course not! If you use the argument that the Shangri La Jr. was a better sounding headphone as a reason not to look at the Jade II, why not go the whole hog, and get a Shangri La Senior? That’s better again! So this is about being sensible about what you can actually afford, rather than what is the absolute best out there.
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Conclusion


My time with the Jade II System has been short but sweet. It is a welcome addition to the sensible end of the Electrostatic Headphone marketplace. I hope this will encourage ever more electrostats from other manufacturers, maybe from HiFiMan itself. The Jade II has a realistic price tag and sits comfortably against the standard planar dynamic offerings. The standard planar dynamics need not be thrown on the scrapheap just yet. They do offer a different type of sound than their Electrostat cousins. Some will prefer the sound of the Planar, the HE6 for instance had a livelier sound signature than the Jade II. For a laid back listening experience, this may satisfy some of the kit swappers amongst us. Maybe some will settle for the Electrostatic experience and call it quits. At least until the Jade III comes out….



Turrican2
Turrican2
Great review Trev!
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Thanks so much Phil. I've spotted it on the front page on the day of my wedding!
Turrican2
Turrican2
Congrats!
Pros: + Excellent aesthetics and build quality
+ Ultimate comfort
+ Really wide and clear sound
+ Details that are incredible for their price point
+ Soundstage as open and as wide as some 10.000 USD+ Speaker systems
+ Perfect Phase
Cons: - Not very portable
- Needs an electrostatic AMP to work
- Not very loud, best at quiet and moderate listening levels
- Extremely open works both ways, you need silence to fully enjoy them
Electrostatic Experience One - HIFIMAN Jade II Headphone and AMP System



HIFIMAN Jade II is an electrostatic system made by HIFIMAN, an entirely new kind of headphone and AMP we are reviewing here at Audiophile-Heaven, with about 660 Volts running through the headphones, and with a special AMP to provide that voltage. We'll study whether they stand up to their 2500 USD price mark, and how they compare to other similarly priced Headphones in today's review, our first official review on an Electrostatic Headphone system.




Introduction

Let's begin by saying that you are interested in purchasing Jade II, and you try to figure out whether you should order from HIFIMAN or not. In my personal experience, they are a very trustworthy company that will go one step beyond what's typical to help you and to make sure you have a good experience. The story on why I need to mention this is quite long, but at some point, before I ever seen any of their products, it seems that they had some build quality issues with some series. This may have been restricted to a few batches or so, but it did happen, and there's a pretty widely spread opinion that their products may have build quality issues. As a few very precise measurements of the quality of their products, I've seen directly about 5 pairs of Sundara headphones, and none had any issue. I had one, and I saw 4 others in Romania, all of them working really well. I have Arya, and a friend has HE6SE, and Ananda. From those, my friend experienced some slight issues with Ananda, but HIFIMAN fixed those promptly for him, he sent the unit back to HIFIMAN, but to their headquarters in Europe, so he didn't have to pay or wait for shipping to China, and he was sent a new Ananda unit. As for their in-ears, I have RE800 Gold and Silver and RE2000 Gold and Silver. All of them working well after years of actual usage, besides a few fine wear signs on RE2000 Gold, which in all fairness are probably my fault for not using them a bit lighter, and for not storing them in their case all the time while I was not using them. HIFIMAN is also interacting with the public over Head-Fi nowadays, and it looks like any issues that existed with their headphones are a thing of the past. While my review on Sundara isn't officially out yet, I will tell you this, I tortured Sundara to see it break, I took it out in actual rain, I dropped my Sundara multiple times, and I took it out in dust, snow, and while I had wet hair after taking a shower. For me, Sundara has been like a true workhorse, it works as it did in the first day. I do trust that some folks really had some issues at some point, what I also think is that HIFIMAN sorted those out now, at least all the units I personally seen being quite well made.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Hifiman, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Hifiman or anyone else. I'd like to thank Hifiman for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with Hifiman's request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal experience with Hifiman Jade II Electrostatic System, also named Jade II for simplicity during this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Hifiman Jade II find their next music companion. This review is part of a Jade II tour taking place on Head-Fi.



About me

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html




Packaging


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:



















The thing about the package, is that they are packaged well. Lots of foam and protection, hard cardboard, and no glamour, is the way I'd talk about Jade II. Where Arya comes in a very neat package, Jade II comes in one huge cardboard box, inside which there are two smaller cardboard boxes, each of them having lots of protection, and one having the headphone, and one having the Amplifier.

There are also two little papers, one with the warranty, and one with a little guide to Jade II and other Hifiman products.

Overall, the package is practical, but there's no glamour, no beautiful packaging, and no Peli carrying cases included. This being said, considering that you can't really carry the AMP anywhere because of its weight, the package is very fair and I feel happy that the system is protected during transport.



What to look in when purchasing a high-end Headphone


https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



Technical Specifications






Youtube Video Review






Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort


So, starting with the build quality of Jade II, they are made well. The headphones are made of plastic, and they have the same headband mechanism as Sundara, which was pretty good already. This being said, Jade II creaks a bit when you adjust it, which is because the screws that connect the headphone to the headband are a touch too tight.



The cable is not detachable, which is actually not unusual for electrostatic headphones, and this seems to be the norm. The cable is tangle-free, and I would have a hard time ever tangling it. You can see the actual metallic connectors inside the mesh of the cable, and I think this is a pretty practical solution, for a headphone I will never take outside, the cable is both long enough and light enough to be practical, it is flexible enough to be practical. If anything, it has a bit of microphonic noise, but again, this isn't a big issue, you're not going to move a lot when using Jade II.

On the other hand, this is the lightest headphone I have ever seen in my entire life, they are so light you won't believe it when you first touch them. Also, as far as comfort goes, Jade II is at the peak level of comfort, the only other headphones that are as comfortable being HD800S from Sennheiser, Hifiman Arya, and Crosszone CZ-1.





The isolation is zero, and they are so open, everything leaks out, just like a little speaker, and indeed, those feel more like ear speakers than headphones, the way the sound is open is on a whole new level compared to most headphones, imagine that there is no headphone, just air. That's the way they are supposed to feel and to work.

Aesthetically, I think they are beautiful, simple yet modern, beautiful smooth angles, and the with beautiful colors in the cups. The grilles are surely not enough to protect the drivers against small debris, but sitting on my desk for almost two weeks, they are still alright, and when you purchase a 2500 USD headphone system, you probably will be storing them in a support so nothing gets inside the cups. My room is pretty dusty, and I can't notice any dust that would have gotten inside them. Jade II looks better than Stax systems for sure, when it comes to aesthetics, and also better than Koss 950, which I had to compare Jade II side-by-side with.



The Amplifier is a huge metallic AMP, and Hifiman were nice enough to post some photos of it disassembled online, so you can also have an idea of what's inside it. The large shell is designed beautifully, a nice aesthetic piece that won't look old nor vintage, but rather modern and smooth. The AMP is designed for best cooling, with the support keeping it off the surface it is placed on, so it never gets too hot. The AMP is extremely heavy, about 8-10 KG and it is not easy to handle around.


I asked Hifiman directly about this, and Jade II is compatible with any electrostatic AMP system, so you don't need to use them with the Jade II Amplifier if you don't want to. On this note, the Jade II Amp system isn't the loudest one, and Jade II in general sounds best at low and moderate levels, loud still being clear, but given their signature not being that recommended.

Now, there's one thing that was a concern, seemingly a user experienced what he described as an electric shock with Jade II. I can only say that I tempted fate, and sat on the floor and my fluffy carpet while wearing Jade II, I moved while wearing them, and used them in my normal usage conditions, and haven't experienced any issue. Hifiman also checked that exact pair and explained that the electric shock scenario is impossible. The user has done a pretty spot-on review about their sound, and their build, and there's always the chance that the culprit was some kind of fungus or otitis, since a lot of ear issues look and feel the same, and an electric shock at 660 Volts would hurt badly rather than leaving a numb feeling.

Another issue discussed before about the Jade II System is that the Amplifier is either a copy of a stax system, or that the Amplifier is not built well enough. On this note, I do feel that the AMP isn't the loudest, but it is a 1000 USD AMP in terms of clarity, control and overall quality. I tested Stax Lambda Pro with a Stax Amplifier, and it was considerably below Jade II (as it should be given the price), but more about that in the comparison section.

Overall, I think that Jade II is a well made system overall, Looks and feels modern, and the headphones would win a place in Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame for comfort alone, this is how comfortable and open they are.




Sound Quality


The signature of Jade II can be described as a light, open, airy, clean, crispy, extremely detailed, midrange-forward or absolutely linear, musical, euphonic, slightly smooth and slightly soft, and wide.



The bas is very linear and flat, so this one is really not made for bassheads. The bass, though, is very clear and punchy, and although it doesn't deliver much in terms of physical rumble, it really touches a sweet spot for me in terms of speed and resolution, I love hearing those quick notes in technical death metal. For Classical music, Jade II is a bit lighter than a normal body would be, but the extreme speed and precision really compliments busy orchestrals and complicated pieces well. Jazz and easy listening music also hits a sweet spot for me with Jade II, and the only place where I wouldn't recommend them, and would instead grab Arya or HE6SE, is EDM or electronic, where Jade II's flat bass doesn't compliment those music styles quite as well.

The midrange is extremely wide and clear, and although may sound funny, they manage to sound extremely airy, wide, but also manage to bring the voices right to the listener. The phase of this headphone is so perfect, it would drop the jaw of any sound engineer or live-mixing engineer. The midrange, you may expect to be grainy and detailed, but instead all details are presented in a really natural and slightly smooth manner, but make no mistake, Jade II has so much detail, that the first day I got them, I just spent an entire day, and I mean, the entire day, just listening to them. The way they convey and reveal details is something entirely new, not only because they present new details, but they have shown to me things that I knew existed in the music I was listening to for years, but in a way that made me appreciate that same music even more. The midrange is very clean and clear, crisp, and also a touch soft towards splashy, which is a thing I appreciate with Hifiman house sound in general, they get the natural character of music really well, and even their most detailed headphones are not detailed in an aggressive way, but rather, they are extremely detailed, yet still enjoyable, the details flow to you, aren't hammered on you or harsh.

And then, there comes the soundstage and air, Jade II feels like there's no headphone, just air and clarity, they sound as open as a ~3000 USD Speaker system, if not even more. Compliment the stage with a perfect phase, the open and comfortable design, and the experience of listening to Jade II makes even most 10.000 USD Speaker systems feel limited, considering that you don't need to be in a prefect position with Jade II, you can lie on your back and get that stage and clarity, detail and refinement.

The treble is also very nice, it is a smoother-texture, yet extremely well extended, clear and airy treble. I think that the strong point of their treble is the ever so slightly splashy nature, it is never harsh, but it has more detail than you can imagine. The air in the treble is also real, since I'm a younger listener, I notice the differences between a headphone that extends in the upper treble and not extremely quick, and Jade II really has got that extension you want in the upper treble.



The dynamics are another strong point of Jade II, if you bump the volume of the Jade Amplifier up to about 2 o'clock, you get a really natural dynamic, as in, the actual dynamic you'd get from real life instruments at that volume, and that, in my book, is another point where it really shines.

When you think of soundstage, you have to think of layers and open, Jade II doesn't have a typical soundstage, because voices are closer to you, while background instruments are pushed back, yet their details are never lost, nor dispersed, rather, everything is clear in space, exactly like you'd imagine a high-end hologram to be.

Overall, the sound of Jade II is very impressive, but not by being colored, but by being absolutely linear. Absolutely in-phase, and exceptionally open.



Desktop Usage


Since you need a special Amplifier for Jade II, their own Jade II AMP, or another compatible Stax AMP, you are going to use Jade II only while at a desk, or while lying on your favorite armchair, or while lying in bed.



You kinda need a good amount of silence for Jade II, they are ope, and this goes both ways, they offer zero passive noise isolation, and a lot of surrounding noise won't do you any good. Furthermore, you need enough space for their Amplifier, and they leak like there's no headphone, but a mini speaker, which they pretty much are.

I have used them connected to my Brooklyn DAC+ DAC as their main DAC, but I also tried them with M2Tech Young MKIII DAC, and also with a few more DACs, including Burson Play.

Their AMP gets plenty loud, but they are so clear, you may bump the volume more than you normally would. This is actually a bit of an issue, because I found myself often going a bit too loud with them, the AMP stays perfectly clear up until about 3 o'clock, after which it struggles a bit. I wouldn't recommend listening louder than they are at 3 o'clock for extended periods of time though. Since they are compatible with other electrostatic AMPs, you can always pair them with something else, but the Jade II AMP is sweet for sure, I found it to be clean, clear, transparent and very detailed. It surely beats whatever was powering the Stax Lamba Pro I heard a while ago.


Overall, Jade II is an awesome desktop headphone, and if you have the right DAC, so is their AMP.



Comparisons


I picked HIFIMAN Arya (1600 USD), Crosszone CZ-1 (2000 USD), and Audeze LCD-MX4 (3000 USD) for comparing Jade II to. All the other headphones have been driven from Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ as a DAC/AMP, while Jade II was driven from either Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ or M2Tech Young MK III DAC, combined with their own Jade II Electrostatic Amplifier.



I did side-by-side comparisons, but not exactly in-depth, with Meze Empyrean, where Jade II sounded wider, more airy, and more clear, had a tighter and a more linear bass, although the Empyrean had more impact, and more sub-bass rumble. Jade II revealed more details than Empyrean. Comparing Jade II to Stax Lambda Pro made Jade II sound much more airy, more extended, more detailed, more clear, and it made Stax Lambda Pro feel quite soft, although enjoyable in its own right.

HIFIMAN Jade II vs HIFIMAN Arya - Starting with Arya, both Jade II and Arya have a similar light and snappy tuning, both are extremely open and both are extremely comfortable. In fact, Arya is the closest non-electrostatic headphone you're likely to find to Jade II. The sound is lighter and more crisp on both, but Arya has considerably more bass, where it counts, Arya has way more deep rumble, although Jade II is more tight and more linear. Both have perfect phase, though Jade II somehow manages to bring even more detail out of music, refines on what Arya does even more, and makes music sound even more enjoyable and easy to listen to. Overall, if you wanted something more versatile, Arya is surely that, Arya is even driveable from some portable sources, and although you're not likely to take it outdoors, it is the simpler to use headphone, while if you wanted something that is more of a state-of-art for its price headphone, something that has even better detail and clarity, then Jade II is winking at you.

HIFIMAN Jade II vs Crosszone CZ-1 - Crosszone CZ-1 has a very different basic principle from Jade II, being a closed-back, vented headphone with 3 drivers. Overall, the comfort is similarly good on both, although CZ-1 has a different adjusting mechanism. Jade II feels more solid and more punchy, where CZ-1 feels more soft, more splashy and more gentle. CZ-1 portrays a larger and deeper soundstage, where Jade II brings voices a bit closer to the listener. Jade II tends to be more neutral, where CZ-1 is more musical and more euphonic, Jade II feeling more precise and linear, it is pretty clear that CZ-1 wasn't created to be perfect but perfectly musical and enjoyable, where Jade II is so linear, it is scary. Jade II tends to reveal a bit more detail than the more gentle CZ-1. Both are hard to drive, but you can drive CZ-1 from most normal sources, while for Jade II you will require a dedicated Amplifier, so you should take that into account. Overall, if you're looking for a high-end but open experience, CZ-1 is very nice, especially if you like a gentle sound, while if you want a really open experience that's truly linear and which has a perfect phase, then Jade II is a great option.

HIFIMAN Jade II vs Audeze LCD-MX4 - Audeze is quite well-known for their high-quality headphones, and LCD-MX4 is no exception, being a real flagship through and through. The build quality feels better on MX4, as they have a lot of real leather and metal, but they also feel much heavier, and get warmer easier while in usage, although they also have a bit softer and more puffy earpads. LCD-MX4 can be driven from anything, including portable sources, and I even took LCD-MX4 on multiple walks, I tend to walk while wearing it quite often, as I don't mind people hearing what I'm listening to, and I like the way they feel, while Jade II is an "indoors" headphone that needs a dedicated amplifier to work. The sound follows a similar tuning, but ends up being very different, Jade II is more airy and sounds more open, while LCD-MX4 tends to have a much more deep and thick sound, with less emphasis on the upper midrange. Bassy songs sound much better on MX4, where light and airy sounds end up sounding better on Jade II, especially atmospheric music. LCX-MX4 is more dry and smooth in its character, the details are a touch harder, it is a punchier headphone that shows especially bass details better. LCD-MX4 is intended for music mastering and engineering, having a slightly more forward and more aggressive sound than Jade II, but also revealing certain details better. Jade II, on the other hand, has a more dynamic sound, a lighter and more quick sound, and also can reveal certain details in the midrange better, in a wider, and slightly more separated stage. Overall, if you're looking for one of the ultimate planar headphones, with one of the most revealing sounds, yet with a deep, and profound bass, LCD-MX4 still makes one of the best options, while if you're looking for an electrostatic headphone, with a linear, light and snappy sound, extreme levels of detail, and with a clear, clean image, with a really engaging sound, Jade II makes an excellent offer.



Recommended Pairings


I am only recommending DACs here, and for that I picked 3 pretty nice choices, Burson Play Vivid (400 USD), Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ (2000 USD), and M2Tech Young MKIII DAC (1500 USD). For the connection between Jade II and the DAC of choice, I have used high-quality cables, provided by HIFI Center Romania.









HIFIMAN Jade II + Burson Play Vivid - I was curious how would Jade II sound paired with a more entry-level DAC, like Burson Play Vivid, and for sure I was not disappointed. In fact, this is one of the most affordable options that I could easily recommend for driving Jade II, and although it doesn't have the detail and refinement of DAC+ or Young MKIII, Burson Play vivid surely has a really wide soundstage, an amazing level of detail, and a clean, crisp sound, when powering the Jade II system.

HIFIMAN Jade II + Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ - Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ is one of my favorite DAC/AMPs for driving headphones, and takes one of the first positions, if not the first position, in my personal Headphone DAC/AMP ranking. Even when used as a DAC, it shows why you'd want a high-end DAC for powering something like Jade II, giving them a huge soundstage, a clear and crisp image, excellent dynamics, an amazing overall level of separation and detail, and giving them a refinement and musical, yet detailed, king of sound you want to get from a high-end system.


HIFIMAN Jade II + M2Tech Young MK III DAC - Young MK III from M2Tech is one interesting DAC, but it can't drive headphones directly, and it needs an amplifier for headphones, Its sound is very similar to Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ in terms of details and refinement, but it is a bit more forward, overall Young MKIII also feels a tiny touch warmer, complimenting Jade II quite nicely, almost like giving them a bit of Tube magic, if I could put it like that. This is one of the best high-end DACs on the market, and it surely compliments and completes Jade II nicely, giving them a really crisp and clean sound.



Value and Conclusion

The value of the Jade II Electrostatic System, which is about 2500 USD for the whole system, or 1500 USD for the Jade II Headphone, and 1000 USD for the Jade II Amplifier, is very evident, as this is an electrostatic system, and those usually start much higher in terms of pricing.



The build quality is up with all flagships, although the headphone may feel a touch too light at first, you end up admiring and falling in love with how light and comfortable it is. The cable is tangle-free, but not detachable, although this is normal for electrostatic headphones. You surely feel like you're not wearing anything while having Jade II on your head.

The AMP, on the other hand, is extremely heavy, looks beautiful in terms of aesthetics, both modern, and well build, with a good attention to detail, looking like the kind of Amplifier you would want on your desk. It can even drive two electrostatic headphones at the same time, if you'd want to listen to the same album at the same time as your loved one.

The sound is light, airy, snappy, tight, detailed, yet magically musical and smooth. The treble is extended very well, and so is the bass, although the linearity of Jade II is its strong point, they really like to be linear and clean, not overly bassy nor warm. Furthermore, the kind of open presentation they have, make most 10.000 USD Speaker systems shy and blush, while Jade II goes strong in terms of air and clarity.



At te end of the day, if you're looking for an extremely detailed, yet musical, clean, crisp, and snappy headphone, with an euphonic sound, yet which reveals almost everything there is to reveal, if you want an affordable electrostatic system that looks modern, is comfortable and is easy to use, then you really should check out Jade II, as it is one of the best there is in this price range.



Full Playlist used for this review


While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

Tidal Playlist

https://tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

Song List

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine


I hope my review is helpful to you!

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Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@volly Thank you very much! I'm happy to bring fun content and high-quality reviews!
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Chimmy9278
Chimmy9278
It is only a watch and dream for me. One day I will get myself these awesome headphones. But nice review nevertheless.
Dobrescu George
Dobrescu George
@Chimmy9278 - Happy to provide an interesting read! For a simpler listening setup, yet similarly magic, I recommend Arya from HIFIMAN, they have a lot of the magic that Jade II has, but for a much lower price, and it is simpler to use.
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