HIFIMAN Arya - Impressions Thread
Jun 10, 2021 at 2:03 PM Post #4,006 of 4,015

Somatic

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Does anyone find that the Aryas get muddy, less concise in the upper mid/lower treble range in loud or complex passages. With stock EQ it sounds pretty bad with rock music, etc. Seems like it excels in Rap/Electronic etc.
 
Jun 10, 2021 at 2:09 PM Post #4,008 of 4,015

Somatic

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The build quality could definately be better. But the sound quality is awesome and in my opinion far above its price. On the other hand when i think about the build quality of my Grado GS1000 then the quality of the Aryas is pretty solid :dt880smile:


I've played a bit with EQing my new Aryas and quit like these settings. What do the others think and how does your personal eq settings looks like?

arya-eq.jpg
Seems like the same settings from phototristan ...
 
Jun 10, 2021 at 2:13 PM Post #4,009 of 4,015

Somatic

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Interesting...
"Arya per se: at about 1800 Hz need a quick 2.5 db rise from 1600-2100 (only .5 db at the outside edges of the range) Hz to avoid hollow mids. Also needs a quick down 2-3 db around 5k (4700-5400) less at the edges - see parametric EQ's and Q settings." And, "Also irrespective of HR, the Arya rings like all HFM in the 8-10k range."

A couple months ago I got a pair of Aryas to explore this headphone price range. They are the updated ones with the fabric/foam rather than the metal screen/mesh. LOVE them - soundstage, imaging, detail, separation, layering, bass quality and quantity, even dynamics. NOT SO MUCH - midrange and upper-mid/lower HF. I am hearing reedy, sucked-out, thin vocals and hissy, spitty upper mids/lower HF; lots of nasty sibilance. That seems to fit with the above tuning description.

I'm NOT hearing/getting this on everything, but a lot of things I've listened to. On those recordings where I'm not hearing those things, the Aryas are simply superb. The best headphone I've owned/listened to.

I haven't gone the EQ direction, yet, but I have tried every DAC, amp, other headphone, and music playback tech combo I have to confirm isolation to which piece of gear might be contributing to this and whether some combo might provide the right synergy (gear EQ). Yes, things changed a bit of course, but the exploration pointed largely to the Aryas.

Maybe time to dig into EQ.
I found the same issues with the mids and treble. Did you end up EQing?
 
Jun 10, 2021 at 5:21 PM Post #4,010 of 4,015

misternoe

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Hi can you please compare SQ of Qudelix balanced to your desktop amps? What is main drawback in our opinion? I've only 5k and want to know what is the difference to proper desktop amp.

Thank you very much!

Finally got around to doing this.

Qudelix 5K vs Topping A90/D90 with the Hifiman Arya V2

Equipment Setup

  • To keep the playing field even, all tests were done using Bluetooth with the LDAC codec. Audio was transmitted via an LG V20 Smartphone running Tidal.
  • Both Qudelix 5K and Topping D90 were set to default filters.
  • The Qudelix 5K was fully charged. Both the Profile and Output Power were set to Performance (this boosts output from 2 VRMS to 4 VRMS)
  • The A90 was set to Low Gain (this is plenty volume for me with a balanced cable)
  • All testing done using a GU Craftsman 6N single crystal copper 4.4mm balanced cable. An OKCSC 8 Core Single Crystal Copper Gold-Plated 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter was used to connect to the Qudelix 5K
  • Test tracks can be found in the spoiler at the end of this post

Summary of Findings
I find the Qudelix 5K to have a warmer and more laid back and veiled presentation vs the analytical A90/D90. Details are rolled off and separation is more blurred.

Throughout all of my listening tests, the Qudelix 5K was softening up the clarity and precision present in the A90/D90 presentation. Anytime there were a lot of layers and complexity to a track, the A90/D90 was able to separate things out and provide space between instruments vs the overlapping/blurring that occurred with the Qudelix 5K.

Sometimes when switching between the two devices, some presentations on the 5K came off as veiled when compared to the A90/D90. Live performances sounded bigger and more accurately portrayed the size of the venue.

The Qudelix 5K has plenty of power for the Arya, at least to me. I had to preemptively remove them from my head before a particular track got too loud. Definitely enough to enjoy the dynamics of classical music.

The Qudelix 5K exaggerates the low end more than the A90/D90. There’s enough power to enable the Arya’s sub-bass capabilities.


Topping A90/D90: Bluetooth LDAC vs USB Audio
Just for science, I did some A/B LDAC vs USB tests by connecting my phone and laptop to the D90. I was able to toggle between easily which really made the differences clear.

I thought the A90/D90 was already much cleaner than the Qudelix 5K, but allowing the A90/D90 to run with a USB connection cleaned things up even more. Details were finer etched and the bass was cleaned up even more vs the D90 in LDAC mode.


So is it worth it?
Is it a night and day difference? Well that depends on your level of audiophilia :)

I had the A90/D90 for a few months before the Qudelix 5K. My first impression of the 5K was along the lines of “holy crap, did I really need to buy that Topping stack?!”

Anyway, for me I think it is worth it, but for others it could just be a maybe. As far as DACs and Amps go, it is night and day. However, if you are expecting a giant leap in performance akin to upgrading a $100 pair of headphones to the Arya, then the differences between these two devices is not at that level. It isn’t a whole new world but the added clarity is quite noticeable and really shows what the Arya is capable of.

So again, is it worth it? If you are not a critical listener and simply use the Aryas for passive listening/background music, I would say stick with the Qudelix 5K. However, if you want to see what the Aryas are capable of, take the plunge.

Test Tracks + Notes
All notes based on LDAC strictly performance

Test: SPL capability (Can the Qudelix 5K drive the Arya?)
Track: Berliner Philharmoniker - Herbert Von Karajan - Holst: The Planets - Mars The Bringer of War
  • Using a balanced cable with the Qudelix 5K, I was able to play this loud enough during the build up from 1:10 to 1:22 to the point where I preemptively took the headphones off my head to save my hearing lol
  • I don’t think the Qudelix 5K clipped clipped, but the A90/D90 was cleaner overall

Test: Soundstage and separation
Track: Radiohead - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
  • Black background on both devices
  • The intro snares sound so natural on both devices
  • During the breakdowns near the end of the track the A90/D90 is able to separate things noticeably cleaner. While the 5K sounds good here, it comes off muddy in comparison to the A90/D90
Track: Pink Floyd - Time (I only tested the intro with the clocks going off)
  • Separation noticeably better on A90/D90
  • The texture of the decay and reverberations of the chimes is more noticeable on the A90/D90
  • The attack of the clocks ringing sounds rolled off compared to the more aggressive attack on the A90/D90. Every individual chime is reproduced with impeccable clarity with the A90/D90. Chimes have more apparent texture on A90/D90

Test: Speed
Track: Mad Zach - The Visitor

A90/D90 wins this one easy. The droning arpeggio has noticeably more clarity between notes. The Qudelix 5K softens the attack on each note of the arpeggio.


Test: Female Vocals
Track: Goldfrapp - Utopia
  • Vocals not as forward as on A90/D90, probably due to the veiled details.
  • Soundstage width similar on both devices
  • Overall presentation was similar on both devices

Test: Male Vocals
Track: Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
  • Black background on both devices
  • Micro-detail of Cohen’s voice are veiled on the Qudelix 5K.

Test: Slam capability
Track: Mick Gordon - Doom Soundtrack - BFG Division
  • The Qudelix 5K fared fairly well here. Probably due to the bassier nature of the 5K, there seemed to be more slam vs the A90/D90 at equal volumes. However, the bass slam did have more control on the A90/D90. Both takes on the slam were enjoyable but I prefer the A90/D90.
  • The A90/D90 was able to separate and detail things out better
  • This test makes me think that the Qudelix 5K could be a good option for metalheads

Test: Sub-Bass
Track: Moss - Billy Bibbit
  • Sub-bass at 2:43 comes off as exaggerated on the 5K vs the A90/D90
  • Sidenote: Chimes at 2:41 lack a bit of the sparkle present in the A90/D90

Test: Micro detail and speed
Track: DMX Krew - Juno Deep

Used this to test micro detail and speed because the lead synth on this track has some texture to it and it has some pretty crisp drum machine action happening.
  • Texture on the lead synth is slightly more present on A90/D90
  • Snare hits are more crisp/have more spank on A90/D90. The Qudelix 5K tames the snare in the mix, which is more forward on the A90/D90.
  • The bassier Qudelix 5K makes the track more fun to listen to though.

Test: Live music
Track: Chris Cornell - Like a Stone (Live)
  • More airy presentation on the A90/D90. The venue sounded smaller on the Qudelix 5K
  • Acoustic guitar more detailed on A90/D90 (the guitar string buzz was more pronounced on the A90/D90)

Test: Orchestral music
Track: Hans Zimmer - Interstellar - No Time for Caution
  • This one was interesting. The Qudelix 5K sounded veiled compared to the A90/D90
  • There’s a percussive sound occurring throughout the piece (I think it is a cello or bass bow being tapped against the instrument) which had more spank to it on the A90/D90

Track: Janine Janse, Candida Thompson, Henk Rubingh - Vivaldi: The Four Seasons Concerto No. 2 in G Minor
  • Same story here. Qudelix 5K is veiled
  • Both devices able to present the dynamic range of the track nicely
 
Last edited:
Jun 11, 2021 at 2:30 PM Post #4,011 of 4,015

migo

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Hi @misternoe , thank you for detailed comparison!
I find the Qudelix 5K to have a warmer and more laid back and veiled presentation vs the analytical A90/D90.
This is probably the reason why I didn't find Arya treble hot...

One note to your setup, android Tidal app resamples all output to 48kHz (with analog out for sure) using UAPP can be avoided that, but both tested HP was tested the same way so no issue here. :) I always set BT LDAC freq (in dev. options menu) to the freq that song is sampled in when using UAPP to avoid unneeded resampling.

Conclusion for me: there is not a night and day difference between those two setups. I'm considering to buy Gustard H20 but I'm not sure if I'll like tonal presentation of that amp compared to Qudelix 5k.
 
Jun 12, 2021 at 12:17 AM Post #4,012 of 4,015

ezduzit2500

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Hi @misternoe , thank you for detailed comparison!

This is probably the reason why I didn't find Arya treble hot...

One note to your setup, android Tidal app resamples all output to 48kHz (with analog out for sure) using UAPP can be avoided that, but both tested HP was tested the same way so no issue here. :) I always set BT LDAC freq (in dev. options menu) to the freq that song is sampled in when using UAPP to avoid unneeded resampling.

Conclusion for me: there is not a night and day difference between those two setups. I'm considering to buy Gustard H20 but I'm not sure if I'll like tonal presentation of that amp compared to Qudelix 5k.
If you do get the H20 it has upgradeable op amps that can be easily changed out, you'd be able to modify it's sound characteristics at will. It comes with two LME49720's (decent). On hand I had some NE5532p's (basic), Muses 8920d's (warmer), and OPA2134pa (smooth, natural), but settled with Sparkos SS3602's that opened up the Gustard's sound the best. Not that it really needed modding, it's all part of the fun.
 
Jun 12, 2021 at 9:40 AM Post #4,013 of 4,015

In1unison

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If you do get the H20 it has upgradeable op amps that can be easily changed out, you'd be able to modify it's sound characteristics at will. It comes with two LME49720's (decent). On hand I had some NE5532p's (basic), Muses 8920d's (warmer), and OPA2134pa (smooth, natural), but settled with Sparkos SS3602's that opened up the Gustard's sound the best. Not that it really needed modding, it's all part of the fun.
One great amp
 
Jun 12, 2021 at 11:31 AM Post #4,014 of 4,015

migo

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If you do get the H20 it has upgradeable op amps that can be easily changed out, you'd be able to modify it's sound characteristics at will. It comes with two LME49720's (decent). On hand I had some NE5532p's (basic), Muses 8920d's (warmer), and OPA2134pa (smooth, natural), but settled with Sparkos SS3602's that opened up the Gustard's sound the best. Not that it really needed modding, it's all part of the fun.
Yes, I'm reading whole H20 thread here on head-fi now. :) Have you changed transformers too?
 

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