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Acoustic Research AR-H1 Planar Impressions and Discussion thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by crabdog, Jul 30, 2017.
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  1. WhiskeyJacks
    I have owned both the HE-400i and the HE-560(grill, pad, cable modded), and I own the M1060v2(modded) as well as the ZMF Omni/Ori. I currently am only using my single ended amplifiers at the moment which are the Meier Concerto and ALO Pan AM for my desktop. I have yet to try it with the Concerto but so far with the PanAm with green JAN GE tubes these headphones sound fantastic. They have very good clarity, microdynamics is solid, attention to fine details and nuances well done, imaging so far with the tracks I have tried have been good. I don't remember the HE-400i as much as the HE-560, but I also had a more powerful amplifier via balanced system from Audio GD at the time. Even still with the differences in headroom via amps I feel this headphone is equal to the modded HE-560 sound wise so far, the differences being that the HE-560 has more of ethereal characteristic where it kind of floats around you but so much directly in front of you ( great for some music but not as much with some things) I dont feel like I am lacking space though with this headphone. It is spacious and has a good sound stage, and the HE-560 is more lean sounding throughout the midrange and a bit brighter (without the mod) through the treble. This headphone has a brighter character in comparison to my Omni but not sibilant to my ears so far with what I have played and used via Amps/DACs. The build and quality of aesthetics is really nice, "WOW, I feel like I bought something that actually looks priced right" Lol. Feels solid and pad comfort, though a bit thinner than something like like ZMF pads is still comfortable. Though without positioning adjustments for someone that has a large head(which I do) can put a bit of on top of the head, and I feel like someone with a more average size head would probably find this very comfortable rather than just comfortable. I am looking forward to trying this with the concerto, ibasso PB2(balanced with Fiio x5 mark3 as source), Meier 2stepdance portable amp, and possibly my nfb 28 once out of storage.

    I will also being doing a full and more detailed review once I have had some hours and variations of genres/amp/sources to mix match with. I will also being doing a comparison for entry level planar to more mid tier and entry high end with the three planars I have on hand: Monolith M1060 v2, AR-H1, and ZMF Omni/Ori.
    trellus, hifizen and nick n like this.
  2. WhiskeyJacks
    For those interested, Update:

    I have not experienced the hollow sound some of experienced with the AR-H1, now it possibly may be my sources and amps, or just differences in perception and hearing. I find it balanced across the frequencies with good low end extension detail as well with a bit of thump on tracks that call for it, and the midrange feels very detailed and even with neither a too lean or thick presentation of the notes and music I have listened to and as well a nice tone with the voices(comparing with the ZMF Omni which imo excels in the midrange and low end), as the highs are neither too sibilant or bright for my preferences as well as having good range and an airy detail for this being a forward sounding headphone it does have good sound stage.

    Other note to take in account is the ability to drive this to very pleasing levels with the Fiio x5 lll without an external amplifier such as the Meier 2stepdance or iBasso pb2. It sounds very good with the integrated amp, and though I do prefer it with the amplification of my ALO PanAm I can say that it is not disappointing. Another aspect is though I was having some discomfort on the top of my head when first listening( now granted I have a larger skull) after a little flex and adjustment I can say though snug it is still comfortable enough for me to fall asleep with it on... that is something since I cannot sleep when uncomfortable. A Plus side for this bit of more secure fit is the possibility to use this portably, and though a full size headphone it is definitely small enough and secure enough of my head to walk around the house with or go elsewhere with if so chosen. Which as long as you don't need a quiet environment you should be fine with this headphone, and very satisfied with it reproduction of music for a portable/transportable solution. Fricken rad is what it is.

    I have listened to all types of genres and music with this headphone so far and can say it has done fairly well to great with all he genres, which are: Classic rock, alternative, indie-rock, indie-pop, instrumental, prog rock, cinematic scores and sound tracks, punk rock, metal(older albums such as black sabbath, metallica's earlier stuff, etc.), Classical, folk, and some soul and hip hop.

    Examples of some groups: Everything from Coldplay and Radiohead, Game of Throne Season 1-5 OST, Hans Zimmer: Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Man of Steel, and Rush. Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, the Police all sound very enjoyable via AR-H1. Cowboy Bebop OST was fricken awesome which I listened a lot lately, and the AR-H1 delivered the presentation very well.

    If you have any requests on certain groups or bands that your interested in hearing if the H1 performed well with this music type then please let me know and I will look into it.
    trellus, nick n, volly and 1 other person like this.
  3. crabdog
    Listening right now to Anathema's "Falling Deeper" album with the AR-H1 and it's just amazing. The mix of acoustic guitar and classical strings sounds crazy good.
    volly likes this.
  4. heliosphann
    I've found the AR-H1 can be very amp/source dependent. It's felt thin/hollow on a few pieces of gear I've tried, but others it really shines. While it drives fairly easily, it likes a good amount of power and scales really well.
    nick n likes this.
  5. WhiskeyJacks
    I am fortunate enough even with the Meier Concerto, which is a neutral and detailed amplifier, which I would consider my most lean sound amplifier (though It is just neutral and detailed to me) to still sound really good and also put a difference being solid state versus the hybrid Pan Am. Both of these amps are some of the better pieces I have heard in the 400- 700$ amp range, though the Concerto is aged and the Pan Am is slowly following as well both being my single ended options. I also use the Denafrips balanced R2R DAC which is very good and I believe pairs very well with the AR-H1. I am waiting to get my NFB28 out of the storage and fire it up via balanced with the Ares and AR-H1
  6. cirodts
    I have an AR M2, do you think this headset fits well?
  7. crabdog
    Well, it works wonderfully with the AR-M20 which has a 2.1Vrms output. The M2 has a 3.7Vrms Output so it should be even better.

    If I want to get the absolute best out of the H1 I pair it with the Phatlab Sassy II for a hint of extra warmth and improved dynamic range but straight from the M20 still sounds great.
    cirodts likes this.
  8. lugnut
    Has anyone heard these and the he 560 ? If so, could you highlight what they have in common and what they don't ? Thanks
  9. sawindra
  10. WhiskeyJacks
    The He-560 and the AR-H1 are more very impressive headphones in my opinion. The AR-h1 is slightly less bright than the stock he560, with a more forward midrange, both have good imaging and spacing though the he560 is my ethereal in it's presentation and the H1 is more forward and then wide. The he560 with vocals always sounded like it was being centered above or slightly behind me on my system, but the H1 more in front of me like I am standing by the front row at a concert. Both excel with detail, speed, tight and well extended bass(he560 may have slightly more prat with a good pairing of amplifier and dac, but the H1 is now slouch and midrange sounds a bit more enjoyable with some genres due to placement and the imaging. I would not say the HE560 is an upgrade from the H1 or vice versa, but rather they both have a neutral, detailed, fast, slightly brighter, impressive sound. One being ethereal, nice low end prat, brighter treble, but with the issues of build quality and a bit lackluster in aesthetics for the retail price. The other being more forward, with good sound stage, detail, imaging, a little less bright a little less prat, but also it has a but nicer build and aesthetics for the price. I really do love both so I cannot say which i would chose in terms of sound quality I could be happy with either one. In terms of build quality and aesthetics I prefer the H1. If you can pick them up for similar price perhaps go with the H1 due the better ability to play with portable DAP's/phone and sound good, and also the fit, weight, and stronger build is better option for portability out of the a full-size headphone. I hope this helps and I am sorry I could not just say pick this one over the other.
    trellus likes this.
  11. timb5881
    A friend of mine has these headphones. He has had 1 channel go out on him several times, turns out is a solder joint keeps braking. Any one else have this problem?
  12. crabdog
    I did have one side cut out completely. At first, I thought it was a loose connector but wiggling/replugging the cable etc failed to get any sound. I left it for a day and when I tried again later it was fine.
  13. bwcgrx
    Well I got in on the Massdrop $299 drop of the AR-H1 this week. First new pair of headphones I've bought in around a year.

    The look and design of these is really intriguing. That combined with the price convinced me to give them a try. They do seem to be a rather forgotten headphone though, due no, doubt to some less than ideal objective measurements. I've got several other headphones which have lackluster objective measurements and still find that they serve my ears quite nicely.

    They arrive in about a month so I'll reply to this thread with my impressions.

    I noticed that there is a seller on Ebay that is offering some replacement/alternative pads. One of which is a leatherette and velour set. Has anyone tried pad swapping and if so how difficult is it? Was it an improvement or detriment to sound and or comfort?
    trellus and rockytopwiz like this.
  14. AR-Voice
  15. Slim1970
    Joined the club today and out of the box I like what I'm hearing. They are nicely balanced headphones with nice bass impact. The bass has a nice thump to it while also being fast. The mids are slightly forward but are inline with the rest of the frequency range. I prefer to have a slightly forward midrange than a recessed one any day. The treble so far is good but could use a touch more clarity and air for my ears. I like them a lot so far. The AR-H1's are pretty musical headphones that seem to play just about any genre of music well. I only expect them to get better over time as play them more. For a first attempt, Acoustic Research did a darn good job on the AR-H1's. They sound better than the HD700's I just sent back because I just couldn't get them to sound right to my ears even with EQ.
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