HiFiMAN Edition XS Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

HiFiMAN Edition XS Review

 

 

Introduction:

HiFiMAN was founded by Dr. Fang in New York – USA and is one of the most well-known personal audio companies in the audiophile word that offers a wide variety of Hi-Fi Reference and Premium class products like Portable Audio Players, Planar Magnetic & Dynamic Driver Headphones, Desktop Amplifiers, Earphones, IEM’s and TWS Headphones & Monitors.

HiFiMAN Edition XS is a full-sized open back planar headphone and the younger brother of the highly-acclaimed HiFiMAN Edition X that was released back in 2016. It is equipped the latest Neo Ultra-Thin Diaphragm and the brand new Stealth Magnet System, which are all part of HiFiMAN’s new driver Technology.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank HiFiMAN for providing the Edition XS Headphone as review sample. I am not affiliated with HiFiMAN beyond this review and all these words are reflecting my true and unaltered opinions about the product.

 

 

 

Price & Availability:

The actual price of HiFiMAN Edition XS is 499.00 US$. More information’s about the availability can be found under the link bellow;

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The HiFiMAN Arya Stealth Magnets Version came inside cardboard box that has a smooth surface, which is in black color. On the top of the box is the illustration of the Arya Stealth Magnets Version and a nice textured background. Here are also some product related brandings and the “Stealth Magnets Design” sticker that has a nice iridescent effect.

 

Inside the box are the following items;

  • 1 x HiFiMAN Edition XS Open Back Headphone
  • 1 x Detachable cable with 3.5mm plugs and 3.5mm headphone jack (150cm long)
  • 1 x 3.5mm to 6.35mm Headphone Adapter
  • 1 x User Manual
  • 1 x Advertising of the Stealth Magnets Technology
  • 1 x Warranty Card

 

The HiFiMAN Edition XS comes with an approx. 150cm long cable that features a 3.5mm headphone plug. The cable comes with TPU isolation in black color that shows low amount of microphonic effect.

The cable has two sockets with 3.5mm male terminations.

The 3.5mm headphone jack has an L profiled plastic housing that sports a strain relief for extra durability.

 

 

 

Design, Features & Comfort:  

HiFiMAN has done extensive research in the Planar Magnetic driver realm. Planar Magnetic drivers usually have lower distortion compared to dynamic drivers while producing better details. HiFiMAN Edition XS features an ultra-thin diaphragm coil known as Neo Ultra-Thin Diaphragm with fast response and lower distortion in the output signal.

HiFiMAN Edition XS features their new stealth magnet design that was originally featured in the flagship Susvara. HiFiMAN has optimized the air turbulence and reflection of the sound waves inside the driver cavity. This makes the magnet invisible in front of the sound waves to archive a more natural sound reproduction. This technology not only improves of the Edition XS, it also improves the stability and durability of the magnet.

The Edition XS adopts some design elements that we have seen on its bigger brother the Edition X and the Ananda with expectation of the headband system. Personally I do like the design of the Edition XS, which has a nice industrial look with a combination of parts made of plastic and metal material, which are in black and silver color.

The ear cups of the Edition XS have the same oval (egg) shape and the grill design that we have seen on previous products like the Ananda, which reflects the design philosophy of HiFiMAN’s latest planar headphones.

The asymmetric ear pads do follow the natural shape of the human ea, which are replaceable.

The earpads do have a nice fabric surface in black color, while the exterior coating surface is made of pleather (synthetic polyurethane leather) material in black color.

The padding of the ear pads is pretty comfortable and looks quite similar to those of the Arya and Ananda that I have reviewed before. Right behind the grills and inside the ear cups are thin layers of fabric material on both sides in order to protect the ultra thin planar magnetic diaphragms from dust and other small particles.

At the bottom of each ear cup are 3.5mm TRRRS female connectors that do fit fairly tight to the sockets on the detachable cable.

The headband system of the HiFiMAN Edition XS looks very similar to the one we have seen on the DEVA and DEVA Pro with expectation of the color pattern.

The ear cup holders can be slightly rotated but doesn’t offer any folding mechanism.

The outer surface of the headband is made from pleather material (protein leather) which is synthetic leather in matte black color. The interior features high-grade memory foam for a comfortable fit and elasticity.

The headband adjusting mechanism shows the size of the headband with small notches.

Both ends of the headband have plastic parts in dark grey color and do sport Left and Right markings on the inner surface, while the left outer surface has the HiFiMAN and the right outer surface the Editions XS brandings.

When it comes to the comfort I can say that the ear pads are pretty comfortable that do nicely surround my ears, while the clamping force is pretty fine.

The HiFiMAN Edition XS is a headphone with an open-back design, which means that it has almost no isolation.

 

 

 

 

Drivability & Pairing:

The HiFiMAN Edition XS has a pretty low impedance of 18ohm and comes with a sensitivity of about 92dB, which makes it ideal for the use with Portable DAP’s like the iBasso DX240, FiiO M11 Pro or portable DAC/Amplifiers like iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon and FiiO Q5s.

The Editions XS pairs out of the box pretty well with any audio source I have used with it, even dongles like the Lotoo Paw S1 are very enjoyable.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Headphone Design                : Open-Back
  • Impedance                             : 18Ω
  • Frequency response range    : 8Hz-50 kHz
  • Sensitivity                               : 92dB
  • Weight                                    : 405grams
  • Plug Size                                : 3.5mm

 

 

 

 

List of All Features:

  • Large Planar Magnetic Driver
  • New Advanced Neo Ultra-Thin Diaphragm
  • New Stealth Magnet System with invisible Magnet Architecture
  • Low impedance for Higher Efficiency

 

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • Headphones                           : HiFiMAN Edition XS, HiFiMAN Ananda
  • DAP’s                                     : iBasso DX240, iBasso DX300
  • DAC/AMP & Amplifier            : iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon, Sonocz QXA1, Lotoo PAW S1

 

 

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Michael Jackson – Billie Jean (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Photek – The Hiden Camera (Spotify)
  • Muse – Hysteria (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Rush – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Edition XS is an open back planar headphone that utilizes HiFiMAN’s latest NsD (NEO “Supernano” Diaphragm) and Stealth Magnets Design, which shows audible improvements over the previous designs of the company.

The Edition XS is a headphone with a pretty natural and realistic sound presentation that pairs quite well with any source I have listen to it. When it comes to the frequency response, I can say that the bass is pretty fast, controlled and clear from the sub- to the midbass area. The midrange sounds extremely transparent, airy and detailed while listen to both vocals and instruments. The treble range on the other hand is able to shows a decent level of resolution, clarity and extension.

 

This review has been written after a burn-in period of about 100 hours. I have used the stock cable that was included inside the box and have pair it with sources like the iBasso DX240, DX300, iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon and Soncoz QXA1.

 

 

Bass:

The Editions XS shows a linear bass response with a nice breeze of coloration that adds musicality to this area. What you will immediately notice is the speed and sense of authority that the new NsD Diaphragm Planar Driver offers. The was quite audible in complex songs like Photek’s ”The Hiden Camera” or Gogo Penguin’s “Raven” that I highly enjoyed especially when paired with the Soncoz QXA1 and iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon.

The subbass region shows an efficient level of depth and intensity, which shows an audible improvement compared to previous planar headphones of the company, for example the Ananda or Deva (wired). What I also really like about the Edition XS is its great response to EQ adjustments. For example the iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon can take the subbass depth and rumble of the Edition XS to another level when I do listen to songs like Massive Attack’s “Angle” and Lorde’s “Royals” that sounded very exiting. The Editions XS offer

The highlight of the midbass region is the sense of speed, clarity and resolution that I have really enjoyed during this review. For example; string instruments like acoustic guitars and cellos are reproduced with good grade of fullness and weight, while percussions like snare and kick drums are fairly impactful without to sound veiled or muddy, even in very complex bass passages. The Edition XS offers a linear yet pretty accurate bass tuning with decent level of authority and detail retrieval.

 

Midrange:

The HiFiMAN Editions XS shows mildly warm midrange tonality and a pretty realistic and natural overall presentation in this area. The level of transparency, airiness and resolution is impressive at this price point that won’t never disappoint you what ever you listen, if male of female vocals, percussions or strings.

The HiFiMAN Editions XS shows a moderate sense of lower midrange depth and intensity, which is able to create an efficient level of body and warmth in this area when I do listen to instruments like while violas, acoustic guitars and organs or to vocals like Dave Gahan, B.B King or Eric Clapton do sound pretty realistic, emotional and detailed.

The upper midrange of the Edition XS is more highlighted and detailed compared to the lower midrange area, which is able to produce a decent sense of dynamics, clarity and resolution. Both female vocals and instruments like clarinets, flues violins or pianos are reproduced in a very detailed and lively manner. There is a slightly amount of sibilance present, which seems to be a common character of HiFiMAN planar headphones. This was especially audible when have use it with a bright source or when I did listen to poor recorded songs. However, this situation partly disappeared after a burn-in period of 100 hours.

The general midrange performance of the HiFiMAN Edition XS impressed me with its sense of realism and the attention micro detail retrieval that is top notch for a headphone at this price level. Both vocals and instruments do have enough space in the midrange so that is created a decent sense of separation.

 

Treble:

The HiFiMAN Edition XS has a quite highlighted treble tuning that shows an impressive level of detail retrieval in this area. The general presentation of this region is highly dynamic and energetic, while the grade of separation and the sense of extension are outstanding for a planar headphone at this price level.

The lower treble region is slightly less pronounced compared to the upper treble register, while it is able to create a decent level of clarity when I do listen to vocals or instruments like, mandolins, flutes and cymbals. The transitions in moments when instruments do play with high level of distortion are in general relative controlled, while it can sound a bit sharp if you pair it with a bright source or listen to poor recorded songs.

The upper treble register is more emphasized and energy loaded compared to the lower register, which offers a decent sense of airiness and sparkle. For example, instruments like crash cymbals are shown with an above average level of extension, while violins and flutes are bright, lively and detailed. The upper treble tuning of the HiFiMAN Edition XS can sound from time to time a bit energetic, especially when you listen to treble intensive instruments.

However, the general treble performance of the Edition XS is above average and fulfills my expectations, especially from an open back planar headphone in terms of resolution, extension and technicality. Everything from snare drums to pianos, form hi-hats to string instruments sounds extremely detailed and lively.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The HiFiMAN Edition XS offers a pretty open and airy soundstage atmosphere with impressive level of separation and localization of instruments and vocals. The soundstage is shown with an above average sense of wideness and decent grade of depth. The Editions XS is a great chose if you want to experience an out of the head soundstage atmosphere.

 

 

 

Comparison:

HiFiMAN Edition XS versus HiFiMAN Ananda:

As I have already mentioned, the Editions XS and the Ananda do look pretty similar with the exception of the headband design where I prefer the Edition XS. The similarities do continue in the sound department where you can find small but audible differences.

The Edition XS has a slightly warmer tonality and fuller presentation compared to the Ananda, which sound a bit more neutral and bright. The Edition XS shows slightly less subbass depth/rumble and midbass impact/intensity, which was fairly audible when I have listen to songs like Massive Attack’s “Angel” or Lorde’s “Royals”, while both headphones do offer a pretty identical performance in terms of control, speed and resolution.

The midrange of the Edition XS is a bit warmer and fuller compared to the Ananda, which sounds a tad sterile and energetic in this area. However, it’s not a night and day differences that I have to mention, but these small nuances are audible. The lower midrange of the Edition XS is slightly fuller and offers more depth that is pretty audible when I do listen to male vocals and instruments like acoustic guitars or cellos. The Ananda sounds more energetic and somewhat shouty in the upper midrange register, which creates a slightly better sense of detail but makes it also prone to sibilance and harshness compared to the Edition XS when I do listen to female voices and instruments like violins or pianos.

The lower treble region of both headphones shows a pretty similar performance in terms of clarity and definition, while the Edition XS has the slightly edge when it comes to the control in this register. The Editions XS shows a higher amount of airiness and sparkle due to boost in the upper treble region, while it sounds somewhat sharper compared to the Ananda, which is slightly more controlled in this area.

Both the Edition XS and the Ananda do offer a decent performance in terms separation and the placement of instruments and the vocals. The soundstage depth and wideness of both headphones is very similar.

 

           

Conclusion:

The Edition XS is HiFiMAN’s latest open-back planar headphone that will immediately mesmerize you with its technical capabilities, its attention to the smallest micro detail and with its pretty natural and realistic presentation. The Edition XS deserves every penny since it offers a high end sound experience for a pretty affordable price that will satisfy you from the lows to the high. Highly Recommended!

 

 

 

Pros & Cons:

  • + General Resolution & Technical Performance
  • + Authority and Speed of the Lows
  • + Detailed & Realistic Midrange Presentation
  • + Energetic and well Extending Highs
  • + Spacious Soundstage Atmosphere
  • + Great Value
  • + Comfort

 

  • – Energetic Upper Treble Tuning (can be tamed with the right source)
  • – Cheap Looking Stock Cable
  • – Weak accessory package (No Protective Case, No Balanced Cable, etc.)

 

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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