Acoustic Research AR-H1 Planar Impressions and Discussion thread
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I know this is partly new owner euphoria but I can’t help thinking what an amazing bargain the AR-H1 is at $599. I actually wasn’t much into planars before this, having been a little disappointed in the Aeon and the HiFiMan models like the Edition X (the latter mostly because of how cheap it felt). I was excited about the Abyss Diana but I honestly don’t know if $3K is worth the investment now. Obviously the law of diminishing returns and all that is always a factor but that’s usually when you go above the $1K price point. It’s rare for a $599 headphone to make you really question the high end heavy hitters.

I am also still stunned as to the quality of the design and build. One of the best built headphones I’ve held in my hands - at any price.
So nice to hear that you are enjoying them. How are you finding the top end? Smooth? Extended? Any peaks and valleys, coarseness?
 
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I think there is a difference though between a boutique company charging higher prices and, for example, a company like Focal charging $4K for the Utopia. It’s easier to be more critical of the latter because they usually have access to resources and technology that smaller companies don’t have the luxury of having. The Utopia is now selling for under $3K, perhaps a bit of market correction at work, and even that seems a little ridiculous.
 
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involuntarysoul

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I think there is a difference though between a boutique company charging higher prices and, for example, a company like Focal charging $4K for the Utopia. It’s easier to be more critical of the latter because they usually have access to resources and technology that smaller companies don’t have the luxury of having. The Utopia is now selling for under $3K, perhaps a bit of market correction at work, and even that seems a little ridiculous.
the Utopia owners get burned, i see many Utopias selling for $2.5k used, that is $1500 or 40% value gone after 1 year.
 
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So nice to hear that you are enjoying them. How are you finding the top end? Smooth? Extended? Any peaks and valleys, coarseness?
So far I am finding them very smooth in the treble region - not at the expense of clarity either. It has a muscular and vivid sound but capable of finesse and nuance.
 
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Do they have isolation worth mentioning? I want as little as possible for my open ones.
 
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I am not the best judge of isolation as I usually listen to open headphones in very quiet conditions but it actually provides a decent amount of isolation. It leaks quite a bit though.

I don’t know the rules of comparing planar v dynamic headphones but I can confidently say the AR-H1 is superior to the Focal Elear, especially in tonal balance.
 
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I am not the best judge of isolation as I usually listen to open headphones in very quiet conditions but it actually provides a decent amount of isolation. It leaks quite a bit though.

I don’t know the rules of comparing planar v dynamic headphones but I can confidently say the AR-H1 is superior to the Focal Elear, especially in tonal balance.
I too am glad you're liking them! How do you find the soundstage width / depth? That' usually the Achilles' heel of planars. Thanks!
 
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It’s difficult for me to describe or perceive sound stage in terms of width, depth, etc. What I can tell you though is that there is no sense of the sound being too intimate or direct - meaning there is a nice sense of openness and space; a lot of breathing room so to speak. This is probably due to the specs (86 mm driver) and the fairly tall ear pad design. However, it is not thin or distant sounding like a HD800 can be. It is commanding and dynamic - might be a contradiction to what I said about directness but I guess you get a good balance of both approaches.
 
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It’s difficult for me to describe or perceive sound stage in terms of width, depth, etc. What I can tell you though is that there is no sense of the sound being too intimate or direct - meaning there is a nice sense of openness and space; a lot of breathing room so to speak. This is probably due to the specs (86 mm driver) and the fairly tall ear pad design. However, it is not thin or distant sounding like a HD800 can be. It is commanding and dynamic - might be a contradiction to what I said about directness but I guess you get a good balance of both approaches.
Thanks for the reply.
I owned the R70x at some point and somewhat remember how that sounded. Hopefully the AR-H1 is a lot more spacious. Oh and how's the bass? The 70x actually had nice bass so I wonder how these compare :)
Thanks!
 
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The sound stage is definitely more expansive on the AR-H1 as compared to the R70X, which is a much more intimate presentation. The R70X has really good bass, especially for an open back, but the AR-H1 is even better. Can't complain at all in that department, as it has real authority.

I should add that the AR-H1 is easier to drive than the R70X. However, it's not ideal straight out of an iPhone, and even the DragonFly Red struggles to get it going. But it sounds pretty good out of a modest FiiOA5 amp, and great out of a Pico Headamp. With a desktop amp like my Violectric V100 is where it really shines though.
 
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I'm intrigued at this price. Can anyone comment how these sound in relation to the HD600?

With HD660S and LCD-2C's coming, the $600 market is finally looking interesting.
 
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Okay folks, some initial impressions and measurements of stock AR-H1...

First, let me say that I think this headphone is pretty good for the money but NOT great. Those looking for a completely smooth treble will want to look into MrSpeakers Aeon line. I've been using these with the Vali 2 for the moment. The peak at 10kHz can be an issue depending on recording and gear. I don't hear the dip at 4kHz being that much of an issue. It pushes the sound away from you giving better space to the music, kind of like the HD800. There are two issues with mine that are highlighted when listening to sine sweeps. The ridges around 500Hz are at different points, it's not a measurement artifact so I hear the sine sweep shift around as it goes through this area. The difference in bass is consistent between measurements but it's not much of an issue as bass frequencies are harder to localize and in listening the imbalance isn't as drastic.

Comfort is decent. The clamp from the cups keeps the headphones nicely in place and the self adjusting head strap can be pushed up off your head to minimize creating a hot spot. I do get fatigue after an hour or so but I'm used to very light clamping headphones. Their overall weight is light which is great as a portable option. They don't collapse though, so you'll need something like a Slappa case, which they JUST fit in, to transport them.

Here are stock measurements and comparisons to other planar headphones around their price point:












I like them as a portable listening option. They did need all of the juice from my Galaxy S5 so a good DAP or additional amp would be a good idea. I think some strategic felt mods will help with the treble peak.
 
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Thank you for your observations.
 
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I like them as a portable listening option. They did need all of the juice from my Galaxy S5 so a good DAP or additional amp would be a good idea. I think some strategic felt mods will help with the treble peak.
Hi,
I see that you have the Aeon Flow Open to play with. What can you tell us between those 2 cans?
Comfort wise? Soundstage? etc...

Thank you for your time.
Kelvin
 
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