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HiFiMAN is among the leading manufacturers in the headphone industry and they design superlative products geared to make serious music lovers and crazy headphone fanatics equally stoked. Their drive for a clean, uncluttered signature sound paired with a richly bumping bottom-end has delivered some of the best headphones we’ve ever heard, including the superlative HE 1000 which rates among the top 2 or 3 headphones currently available priced under $5,000 dollars.
Other than the black coloration and more basic material construction, the HiFiMAN Edition X looks quite similar to the top-of-the-line wood-framed HE 1000 and both share a nearly identical full-size, open-back earcup design that provides no isolation or listening privacy when out and about in the world. That means ambient noise can leak in, thus causing you to turn up the volume to overcome the outside noise, perhaps not the best thing to do for your long-term hearing acumen. By the same token, people around you will hear your music leaking out from an open-earcup headphone which can cause consternation if not outright rebellion from your restive office mates or quiet-seeking spouse. So the Edition X is not well-suited for subway, airplane or bedroom listening where isolation is important to keep the music to yourself. With that in mind, probably the ideal candidate for this open-back headphone is the individual who wishes to remain somewhat aware of their surroundings while listening on the go or when navigating the hectic big city. And for the businessman or traveler who wants to enjoy superb immersive sound quality in the hotel room after a long day or for the listener not concerned with ambient isolation, the HiFiMAN Edition X clearly lives up to its intention as one of the best-performing portable cans currently on the market.
The Edition X benefits from many of the same design tweaks that makes the HE 1000 sound so radically awesome. The newly-designed, proprietary ultra-thin diaphragms now employed in the top HiFiMAN planar magnetic drivers present a more delicately nuanced, transparent high frequency response than previous diaphragm iterations. Like the HE 1000, the cool ‘window shade’ outer grilles of the Edition X earcups allow unimpeded airflow in and out of the earpieces, thereby minimizing muddy acoustic frequency reflections back toward the drivers and into your ears.
The excellent weight distribution and light-on-the-ears feel of the Edition X certainly blows away the bulkier, heavier designs of some other planar magnetic headphones and makes this can superbly comfortable for long listening sessions. The frame and headband of the Edition X is quite large, so smaller headed folks may perhaps face some fit or earpad slippage issues that can potentially place the drivers off-axis to the ear and impact the sound, so its always a good idea to try before you buy . Most average and bigger-headed folks will find the lightweight feel of the Edition X totally delightful and very easy to wear all night long.
Sonically, the Edition X notably exhibits a slight pleasing bump in the bass response that fills out the bottom-end and delivers a solid low-end kick that should appeal to EDM lovers and hip soul funkateers looking for some controlled down-low richness direct from their iPhone or Android device. Clean impact and round slam abound and the seamless transitions through the midranges into the laid-back upper frequencies retains much of that signature edge-free tonality we’ve come to expect from the best current HiFiMAN designs. The Edition X does tend show a slight bit of sparkle on cymbals and tambourines where that difficult upper frequency can get a tad sharp or washy with certain recordings. Although certainly not required, a good headphone amp can help smooth overall extension and add a bit of improved dimension to the sound.
That's a small knock against a very good headphone that does a lot of things very well. The insightful and revealing precision of the Edition X maintains a level of acoustic nuance and access to the emotional content of the music that used to be the exclusive domain of kilo-buck home systems just a few years ago. Big room speakers offering this level of low harmonic distortion, linearity and incisive proximity to the music will likely cost you many thousands of dollars. So one of the great things about high-end headphones like the HiFiMAN Edition X is you can get that kind of special VIP musical connection at a relatively affordable cost, all while listening on the move from your favorite portable device. And since the Edition X is an open-back design, the sense of imaging and soundstage spatiality is impressively room speaker-like and among the most dimensional we’ve noted in any portable headphone.
The HiFiMAN Edition X headphones include two cloth-bound detachable cables in its nicely padded black storage box. One cable measures about 3m long (approx 9.5 ft) and is tipped with a standard 1/4” stereo headphone plug. The other cord is intended for portable uses and extends about 1.5m (approx 5 ft) and comes terminated to a 1/8” [3.5mm] mini plug for direct connection to tablets, laptops, iPods and smartphones. The headphone cables connect to the Edition X earcups via simple but solid 2.5 mm plugs into each earpiece. The HiFiMAN 1-year free manufacturer’s warranty remains in place with your headphone.com ‘authorized dealer’ purchase.