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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. nadtom
    The problem is not the USA price...but our price...the tax and fees are to high in Europe...in my country the tax is 27%!!!
    I bought my AR-H1 for ~470Euro (on Black Friday), and I was happy because the list price is normally ~660Euro...disgusting...
  2. Slim1970
    That’s where I got mine from at an even lower price than what they are advertising now. They shipped out fairly quickly. But it’s the sound of the AR-H1’s that is truly impressive. I think at current cost they sit atop of competing headphones and it’s not even close.
    volly and SonyFan121 like this.
  3. Dobrescu George
    By phasing I meant that they are slowly reducing the price more and more, and they may eventually stop selling them.... I hope they are coming with a new model, because I'd really love to hear more from Acoustic-Research in the future :)

    I think that Sundara is not for everybody, it has a lower body, and a lighter sound than most people are used to, in this aspect AR-H1 is more natural. With Sundara, you get more dyuanmics, that is where they really win :)
  4. ste787
    Congrats, for 300 pounds . It Will provide hours of enjoyment. Make sure you have an headphone amp with enough juice to power it. I can run it on iPhone But it Really open up with Power! It is half the price of it’s competition. Some headphone cable ofc cost more than ar-h1.
    volly likes this.
  5. SonyFan121
    Thanks. Yes I will probably need to buy a good enough amp for it. the Oehlbach headphone dac/amp I have at the moment will probably not work well with the AR-H1. It's been a good amp, the only one i've needed for 4 years, but it's time to replace it.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
  6. Mark Up
    I hope they consider an upgraded open and maybe closed option. More low end without affecting the existing detail, and a headband that extends farther for large heads.
  7. crabdog
    I'd love to see something with the same sound signature but smoother highs and an improved headband.
  8. Slim1970
    The Oppo PM2's and the AR-H1's are very close in sound signature. The PM2's offers the improvements you are looking for.
  9. volly
    I personally find the high's really nice, to me, they are smooth and extended. Compared to my Edition X's, it's a tad more natural on the Edition X's but not as involving. I find the H1's are very revealing of your signal chain, I could hear differences between a Modi to a Bifrost and to a Vintage DAC like my Theta's. Ultimately, I was reward feeding the H1's with a highly resolving DAC and powerful amp. This is akin to something like the T50rp's, throwing more power at the headphones is definitely not wasted, the H1's in a sense is quite scalable! For example, the Edition X's approach ear-piercing levels at 9 o'clock on my Mjolnir where the H1's can go up to 10-11 o'clock and filling out the sound more.

    Also, throwing tubes at the H1's hurts the clarity just a tad but adds that extra warmth to the mid's and high's. The bass doesn't hit as hard due to tubes but gives the planar's one heck of an analogue type sound. In Solid-State mode, these are detailed, clear and still very musical. I really want to compare these to other planars of it's current price range as I have a feeling the H1's could really shine out of the bunch!

    I wondering if there are variances between post-production to final production @crabdog?

    It is nice that there is a bit of interest for the AR-H1's as of late, not trying to hype but genuinely impressed with these can's!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
  10. volly
    As I do, over at the Nighthawk's thread, I would like to share my personal music experience with said headphones.

    Alan Parson's Project - Tales of Mystery and Imagination
    The H1's just takes you away here, the way I find the H1's handles instruments and vocals is great, really great! Excellent depth and a sound-stage that extends just enough, everything has it's place and is never congested!
  11. crabdog
    According to AR the H1 that I got was the final production version. There were just some minor differences to the packaging.
  12. lugnut
    Has anyone had a opportunity to hear the AR-H1 and the Ibasso Audio SR1 ? If so would you give your thoughts on the two.
    Also what is the situation on replacement pads for the AR-H1 ? Stock replacement vs upgrade pads such as ZMF or Dekoni ?
  13. crabdog
    I plan to test the SR1 at CanJam at the end of the month. I've not considered replacement pads as I find the stock ones pretty good for short-medium sessions. Would be very interested to hear your experience if you decide to try some custom pads!
  14. lugnut
    I don't own the AR-H1 yet, very tempting at the $300 price. Would also like to know the pad options. I do own the ibasso sr1, and feel it is a very good headphone for the $499 . Was hoping someone had heard both. The sr1 has a few faults,but still shoots above it price range, happy I scored a pair.
    crabdog likes this.
  15. WhiskeyJacks

    I wanted to write something in response to this yesterday, but two things prevented me: I was at work and I hate writing long rants when I am using my phones touch screen keyboard. So, I have been listening to the AR-H1 for around a year now, and when I first received this headphone I was using the ZMF Omni's in walnut as my main driver. Now, I will be upfront I have been engaged with this hobby for around 6 to 7 years, and I found myself early on preferring planar magnetic drivers over your dynamic driver. That is not to say there is not headphones that I have owned, being dynamic, that I did not love. I have owned and or used extensively these: He-400i's, T50rp Mk1 modded, ZMF Master, ZMF Vibro closed back, He-560's(modded), HE- 400, Oppo PM-3, M1060v2 (modded), and AR-H1. There have been others, but they were not owned or used for a great length of time. I owned the HE-560's the longest along side the currently owned ZMF Omni's. So this was just to outline when I have used for planar's the past few years. I have use various dynamic headphone from 100$-1500$ over the years much more than planars but I feel like the comparisons is mostly to do with the other ortho dynamic's.

    When I first received the AR-H1 my current two full sized headphones were the ZMF Omni's(definitely a high end headphone and the best T50rp modded headphone I have heard) and the M1060 v2(which I had sold my HD6xx to keep). So I believe it is fair to say they are both very competent headphones one in the mid-fi price bracket and the other in the high-fi price, then comes the AR-H1 pretty much dead in the middle between these two. To be fair I actually did not care for the AR-H1 all that much when I received it, being that the midrange felt to forward and close, the sound stage was decently wide but I felt like the depth was average, the treble was not too hot which I feel is a good thing, but it didn't excite me at first. I was pairing with the NFB28( so plenty of power, 8 watts into 32 ohms I believe), Meier Concerto(very spacious, agile, neutral), ALO Pan Am(fantastic tube-hybrid with decent power for ortho's) for desktop amplifier and the Ares R2R DAC.

    I gave the AR-H1 more time to settle on me, and during which I tried all three desktop amplifiers and also my two portables iBasso PB2 and Meier Audio 2Stepdance. The more I listened; the more I became use to it's sonic differences between my other headphones. I started to really like the H1; it was detailed; not the most detailed headphone I have heard but one of the best when it came to details in the sub 1000$ range. It is not forced when it comes to detail and speed, and it has both micro and macro details. Paired with its competent imaging it became very easy to pick out the individual notes and instruments as well as where they were arrayed in the recording. I feel like the balance of the headphone is definitely something to take note as well, because though it is mid-forward it definitely doesn't slouch in low end or treble. The bass is very even, tight, and with good prat as well as depth. It does not have as much bloom and thump as a dynamic headphone, but I also feel like it has a quickness and control that you don't find on dynamic headphones in the 500$ range. I personally like that tight, controlled, and fast bass that go deep but has prat more so than larger but less controlled bass response. So, as far as bass goes I will give it a B+/A- which is great. I know that the Omni's have a nice bass response as well with a bit more weight to the notes being that the walnut ZMF phones have weightier notes than the H1, but is also very well balanced with just a bit more slam and presence. While the M1060s has some really fun bass it can definitely sound less refined with more presence, slam, and energy which is great with certain sources and songs. personally I prefer the Omni's and H1's bass response because I like a more neutral headphone that is balanced to a certain point.

    The midrange is definitely the most forward of the frequencies on the H1, but it is not something that is a negative because the way both vocals and strings are done on the H1 sound fantastic. I have heard other's describe the H1 being thin, but I don't hear that at all even when I was listening to the more neutral, thin, and spacious Meier Concerto. I think it may take a little time to adjust to the tonality and forwardness in the midrange if you are coming from either a strictly neutral or perhaps a V shaped headphone. Once you adjust, like I did, you end up savoring each time a good vocalist really gives you something special with these headphones. The vocals feel like almost they are being sung for me and with the H1 still being open and airy while the vocals sound a bit more intimate is an impressive attribute. I have always been a mid's guy, but I never liked there being great midrange at the expense of low end and treble. I prefer a nice balanced headphone over a headphone that does one thing well. Thankfully the H1 does midrange very well and still retains the other frequencies. The ZMF has a fantastic mid range as well feeling very lush and organic. I would not say one is better than the other more like preference. Compared to the M1060 they both just stomp out that headphone in detail, tone, and clarity.

    The treble on the H1 is smooth, detailed, and neither too dark nor to bright for my taste, and because I still hear the nuances of the higher frequency without feeling that fatigue after longer periods of time while listening to instrumental, classical, and orchestra pieces I can say I am very satisfied overall with this headphones capabilities and though I feel like the scalability isn't as intense as my HE-560 was, I definitely agree that this headphone though enjoyable on my both tidal via my Sony XZ premium and my Fiio X5 lll it definitely loves power. Even pairing the Meier 2stepdance (which is arguably one of the best portable amps I have listened too under 800 dollars) makes a big difference with separation, imaging, spacious detail, and prat. Pairing this with a more capable amp such as my NFB28 or LCX balanced brings about a lot of rewards for that extra power, being that the treble becomes more refined/nuanced while opening up, bass gains a bit more prat and depth as well and weight, while keeping a lovely midrange which both detailed and yet musical. I believe this headphone, especially for the massdrop price of 299 is ridiculously good, is a definite buy if these traits appeal to you. For 299 you could not find any headphone that I could say was a better purchase except perhaps the He-560s as far as sound quality goes either one of these for under 500$ is exceptional. The plus to this that the AR-H1 is both better build quality( even with out he-560's issues with yokes, the H1 feels more premium) and easily more portable due to drivability and the size(though both are full-size phones I feel the H1 is easier to have on my head when moving around the house or at work). I hope this helps people on the fence, and remember that this is just my impressions and preferences. I think this headphone does a whole for sub 500$, and is a very balanced and enjoyable sound signature if not dead neutral.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
    Beagle, ste787, volly and 3 others like this.
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