The HiFiMAN HE1000 represents another culmination in headphone accomplishment by audio guru Dr Fang Bian. It was Fang’s first audiophile-oriented planar magnetic headphones released back in the mid and late 2000s that kick-started the industry’s renewed approach to the planar concept and reintroduced headphone enthusiasts to the particular sonic strengths of the design. HiFiMAN has worked hard to innovate better sounding products every year and they’ve climbed a challengingly steep mountain with the HE1000’s extreme performance and precipitous price. If you can make it to the top, we think its clearly the best-sounding HiFIMAN peak experience yet.
Taking it up a full sound quality notch over their previous bellwether HE-6 model, the HiFiMAN HE1000 offers much easier-to-drive sensitivity and impedance specs along with improved tonal correctness at all frequencies. There is zero hype, bloat or coloration in the HE1000’s enchanting timbral presentation and the top-to-bottom balance is significantly more cohesive against the notoriously hard-to-power HE-6. The HE1000’s precise and smooth sound manages to be engaging and effortless while not skimping an iota on intelligent insight into the music. For audiophiles seeking articulate comprehension and a profound understanding of any recording, the HE1000 delivers vivid definition and a perceptive clarity like few other headphones we've heard.
The HiFiMAN HE1000 bass response is extremely well-textured with a satisfying, full sound and very good extension at the lowest octave, if not the enormous heft or drive we hear in the planar Audeze LCD-4 headphone (priced well above the HiFIMAN HE1000.) The HiFiMAN’s sleek bass weight is carefully corralled to better present a steadfast tonal balance heard throughout the entire frequency scale. The HE1000 bass underpinning remains completely correct and proper relative to the rest of the presentation and it’s by no means a ‘bass-shy’ headphone. In fact, just the opposite; we think the HE1000’s seamless unity of warmth with honest detail is among the biggest assets of its engaging signature sound. Even with slightly turgid recordings, the music always sounds tightly rooted with full control and absolutely no trace of flab. In the electrifying Miles Davis 1975 LP “Agharta”, the complex bottom-end of distorted Fender bass amid runaway Afro-Cuban/Brazilian percussion and Marshall-amplified wah-wah trumpet is presented by the HiFiMAN HE1000 with an ardent yet fully intelligible layout. Compare that to the careening berserker frenzy heard with the powerhouse Audeze LCD-4’s bone-rattling (literally!) low-end gravity and you’ll hear two distinctly different stage viewpoints, both deeply insightful and exciting in their own right.
To our ears, the literal sweet spot of the HE1000 is probably the midrange section where Dr. Bian’s proprietary 'nano-diaphragm' science expertly captures vocal timbre and nuance with a sense of hair-raising immediacy that truly gets at the deep chesty tones of well-recorded human voices, not just the mere sound of a mouth singing words. On David Crosby’s beautifully somnambulant 1971 solo LP, ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name,’ the many gauzy layers of desultory multi-tracked voices are warm, tubey and rich in nuance instead sounding like singers lacking diaphragms as when reproduced with lower caliber headphones. The HiFiMAN HE1000 possesses a majestic, spacious quality that communicates music straight from the inside with a sweetly lilting sense of pacing and exposition.
Along with the solid full-bodied vocal presence, the HiFiMAN HE1000 has a lightning-trigger transient attack that is somehow never dry, edgy or analytically cold unlike other planars or some top-of-the-line dynamic driver cans. Instead, its a surprisingly warm-toned and superbly unified sound where each part of the frequency range rolls out in a classically organic way. Again, no excess or leading edges anywhere make for a pleasing roundness that always stays faithfully transparent and accurate to the recording. The HE1000 quick dynamics, while not as explosive as with the rapid-fire Sennheiser HD800S for example, still remain passionately rendered with a firm grasp of the high-flying loud/soft extremes within the music. Its an astute, artful headphone that basically defines the term 'non-fatiguing' to our ears.
When compared to the Sennheiser HD800S much ballyhooed imaging ability, the HiFiMAN HE1000 presents an almost equally ‘out-of-the-head,’ widescreen perspective that well-complements recordings with excellent room sound or spatial soundstage cues. Music lovers into classical, orchestral or classic jazz recordings will hear a palpably physical sense of instrumental placement with each element of the production poised in perfect weight and counterpoint against the rest of the ensemble. Again, it’s a dynamically softer approach that trades sheer impact for tight upfront brilliance and extreme resolution. The fact that the HE1000 is so dead-accurate without glare makes it a clear reference winner and its free-roaming access into the hidden nooks and crannies of recordings is just about unmatched. Not to mention it also delivers a whole hell of a lot of listening fun too, re-discovering all the obscured details in songs you’ve played a million times. Unearthing this kind of unfettered musical joy what we’re 100% all about here at headphone.com.
The HiFiMAN HE1000 arrive with three different cables allowing you to implement the best cord type for your listening set-up. Included are a standard 9ft cable with a ¼” stereo plug, another 9ft cord with a balanced XLR connection for use with balanced-drive headphone amps, and a shorter headphone cord with a 3.5mm termination for use with portable or mini-plug sources. The detachable cords easily connect into the headphones via regular 2.5mm Y-type plugs into the bottom of each earcup. Wearing comfort is simply outstanding and the HE1000’s large overall size is extremely well-distributed via the wide leather headband strap and soft velour-type earpad design. Its definitely a big headphone but the lightly secure clamping force makes it suitable for heads of most sizes. The HE1000 come in a nice but unspectacular pleather/leather square box emblazoned with a nifty metal HiFiMAN insignia which works fine for long-term storage but not for transit. A hard travel case will be needed if you're planning on toting these lovelies between home and office.
Which brings up a final salient point. Given that these are totally open-back headphones, they are not suitable for most portable uses or listening situations where folks next to you will hear your music loudly leaking out of the cans. So although the HE1000 (and also the HiFiMAN Edition X) are designed to be efficient enough for mobile listening applications with portable devices, their construction really shows them to be superb in-home or audio room cans, or for listening in those places where audio leakage from the open-back construction will not be a problem.
The extended 3-year ‘repair or replace’ manufacturer’s warranty for the HiFiMAN HE1000 remains in place with your headphone.com authorized dealer purchase.
We know its not easy deciding among all our ridiculously great headphones, so please feel free to give our expert headphone.com team a call and we’ll be glad to attempt to break it down even further. And keep in mind our easy 30-day return policy ensures you’ll love what your ears hear - or your money back!