Acoustic Research AR-H1 Open Planar Magnetic Headphones Measurements

Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response plots show a flat bass response to 200Hz. I like some emphasis, but bass response on an open headphone is rare. Midrange response from 200Hz to 1kHz is quite uneven. THis isn't necessarily a problem as the HiFiMAN HE1000 also has this character and is a very pleasant headphone to hear, but in this case I did hear these cans as lacking some coherence through the midrange and could get a little hard sounding—especially at high volume. The rise from 1kHz to 3kHz is a little rough, but more importantly should rise about 5dB farther to be on target. This resulted in a distant sound lacking in vocal overtones. Although the curve overall is fairly flat, there is an area between 8kHz and 12kHz that is pretty clearly overemphasized to my ears.

30Hz square wave is slightly swayback but remains above zero over its length. I felt the bass was the best area of performance of these headphones. 300Hz square wave is somewhat ragged looking and indicative of the high frequency splashy sound I heard.

Impulse response is a little better looking though it does ring for a while. Planar magnetics will often do this without too much detriment, in this case however I found it audible.

THD+noise plot is fairly good, but a few spikes might be indicative of the hardness I heard in the midrange.

The impedance plot shows a nominally 34 Ohm headphone. The three glitches in both the impedance and phase plot at 440Hz, 700Hz, and 1.7kHz match up with similar features in the frequency response and distortion plots. I suspect we're seeing some modal vibration of the diaphragm at these frequencies.

Isolation plots shows that these are fairly open headphones and responds as expected.

Needing 137mVrms to reach 90dB at the ear, the AR-H1 will play to solid levels from portable devices.

Acoustic Research High Fidelity Audio
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Indianapolis, IN 46268
+1 (844) 353-1307

zobel's picture

AR will learn from this. We are saved from looking further into this headphone. Thanks.

luvmusik's picture

Thank you for this review.

Is there anything in common with the Oppo PM-2, other than visual features ?

Jazz Casual's picture

Those measurements don't look good.

thefitz's picture

I thought you only reviewed stuff you liked, only saving negative reviews for egregiously bad headphones (i.e. Ultrasone Edition 10) or flagships with crazy hype (LCD-4). Why would you ask for a sample and throw them under the bus?

If that review philosophy's changed, please review the HD700.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
What can I say, they had promise when I listened at RMAF. I think I've mentioned "newsworthy" at some point regarding reviewing less-than-very-good headphones. This is a slot heating up and if I hadn't weighed in on the AR-H1 I think it would be unresponsive of me.

Okay, my review of the HD 700: Ouch! Way too bright and piercing.

tony's picture

You kept a good many folks from HD700 Sennheisers annnnnnd a good many other rather pricy headphones.

I know folks that purchased the HD700 in spite of your review, who later describe their disappointments but still moved onto the HD800.

I only recall a 'few' headphones that our Tyll loved, the rest of the 'liked' were because of their price/performance equations.

Tony in Michigan

coastman25's picture

You are fond of referring to Tyll as “our Tyll”. Who’s Tyll, surely his own Tyll, I would suggest. He is already in between a hard place & a rock. Dammed if he does & dammed if he doesn’t.
It seems to me perfectly acceptable that Tyll reviews not only possible candidates for the WOF but also intriguing and less likely candidates. I am sure he, along with us all, delights in finding headphones that on first appearance seem duds but on further investigation prove to be pleasant surprises and indeed visa versa.
AR was a respectable and even highly regarded speaker maker way back in the 70s & 80’s. For sure, the present owners want to trade on that heritage and why not. A planer magnetic headphone at this price wants to be taken seriously and with a respected brand name is bound to get attention.
If there is a problem with Tyll’s reviews, which there isn’t. I suggest it has more to do with his desire to cover all bases ie not just be a headphone reviewer but in addition comment on news, devices, trends, development, a better measurement system and establishing an upper & lower audiophile benchmark etc etc.
At least Tyll has his headphone reviewer hat on for a while so we should rejoice at that. One down and two to go.

tony's picture

Tyll reports on the Future stuff, placed in the Context of our shared histories.

Tyll is "Our" Tyll in the sense that he's one of us, representing "Our" interests, sharing "Our" aspirations, kinda leading us on a exploration of this new world of personal audio, showing us the mis-steps to avoid, pointing out the interesting bits. Tyll is "Our" Man in Headphones !

Doubling Down

Right now, our Tyll is the only one reporting on what happens after the ear converts sound into electricity which then travels to the Brain to be processed. This is an important component to Personal Audio ( all of Audio) and it's a part of the work my Audiologist is describing to me in explanation for my changing hearing curve responses. ? Why is my 8khz hearing response curve tapering down as I age?, which is just one noticeable & measurable aspect of human hearing.

No-one understands the Ear/Brain relationship

My brain prefers dynamic drivers, well recorded Music or Live Acoustic Music releases Dopamine in my brain, I don't know why, neither do my UofM Audiologists. We might be decades away from understanding our Brains. Innerfidelty is one of the few places where the Ear/Brain relationship is described in the context of gear, thanks to "Our" Tyll.

21st. Century Tony

tony's picture

AR is a Brand owned by the VOXX Group ( about $700 Million in Sales ), once the Audiovox Branding.

There are 5 products within the AR Brand, all are Chinesium based.

VOXX is a OEM type company.

Tony in Michigan

ps. AR's packaging is the best part, it looks Japanese.

mariscosyketchup's picture

When I grow up, I want to be like Tyll (or at least, a similar beard), wonderful review as always.
Keep doing the good job, thanks for being so honest!

Acoustic Research HiFi's picture

Dear Tyll:

Thanks for taking the time to review the AR H1. We are disappointed that you were not thrilled with the product, but we appreciate your feedback, especially as it relates to what you would like to see in a future product.

Like all of our DAPs and in-ear monitors, the H1 was designed in-house by engineers dedicated to the Acoustic Research HiFi brand. Our goal is to design and market audio products that are true to the vision of AR's founders. Though we agree that quality headphones in the $500 - $1,000 range are not as common as they should be, we didn't have a specific price range in mind when first developing the H1. Instead, we set out to create a planar headphone that can go head-to-head with the most popular products in the category.

Since first delivering the H1 earlier this year, sales have been brisk, and feedback overwhelmingly positive. As much as we hoped you, too, would be a fan of the product, we're happy you took the time to give it a fair assessment.

Thanks again for spending some time with our headphone. We hope you have a chance to review some of our other models sometime soon.

nadtom's picture

I’m a happy owner of the AR-H1.
I ordered an AR-H1 and a HD700 same time to compare them.
My audio system: Bodor Audio PC + Audiobyte Hydra Z USB Bridge + Hegel HD12 dac/preamp (+NAD M25 power amp + Elac 249.3).
According to the reviews what I have read the HD700 was my favorite.
After few days test I had to say that the AR-H1 is definitely in an other (much) higher category, then the HD700.
The sound of AR-H1 is open, clear, airy, detailed, natural. Texture of bass is rich, goes very deep, punchy but precise, the sound stage is wide.
(sorry because of my English)