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HiFiMAN Jade II

Rating:
4.6/5,
  1. dill3000
    JADE II ELECTROSTATIC HEADPHONE AND AMPLIFIER
    Written by dill3000
    Published Nov 15, 2019 at 7:40 AM
    5.0/5,
    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

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    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:

    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    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 :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    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:

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]


    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!
      volly, negura and Fegefeuer like this.
    1. 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
      Takeanidea, Nov 15, 2019 at 2:43 PM
      Turrican2 and negura like this.
  2. Grimbles
    Fab Sound, Tank of an Amp, Questionable Cable
    Written by Grimbles
    Published Nov 8, 2019
    4.0/5,
    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.jpg switch2.jpg volcon.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.
    1. Grimbles
      @ISOLordByron thanks for your comments man. You'll see I've credited your comments in the Post Script section of this review.
      Grimbles, Nov 14, 2019 at 10:36 AM
  3. negura
    Hifiman Jade 2
    Written by negura
    Published Aug 19, 2019
    4.5/5,
    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.
    1. glassmonkey
      Great job as usual, man! I love your technical ears. :)
      glassmonkey, Aug 23, 2019
  4. Takeanidea
    HiFiMan Jade II Electrostatic Headphone System
    Written by Takeanidea
    Published Apr 22, 2019
    4.5/5,
    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

    20190418_151537.jpg
    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….



    1. Turrican2
      Great review Trev!
      Turrican2, Apr 27, 2019
      Takeanidea likes this.
    2. Takeanidea
      Thanks so much Phil. I've spotted it on the front page on the day of my wedding!
      Takeanidea, Apr 27, 2019
    3. Turrican2
      Congrats!
      Turrican2, Apr 27, 2019
      Takeanidea likes this.
  5. Dobrescu George
    Electrostatic Experience One - HIFIMAN Jade II Hea
    Written by Dobrescu George
    Published Apr 18, 2019
    5.0/5,
    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

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    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:

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    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


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    Youtube Video Review



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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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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    Contact me!

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      Fastnbulbous, Light - Man and volly like this.
    1. volly
      Really loving your review mate, especially your Youtube channel! Looking forward to your next reviews!
      volly, Apr 19, 2019
      Dobrescu George likes this.
    2. Dobrescu George
      @volly Thank you very much! I'm happy to bring fun content and high-quality reviews!
      Dobrescu George, Apr 19, 2019
      volly likes this.