CES 2015 Show Highlight: HiFiMAN HE-1000 Planar Magnetic Headphones
It's no secret to InnerFidelity readers that I've had a hard time with HiFiMAN headphonesthey tend to be too bright for me personally and I just can't get excited enough to review them. On the other hand, I thought the HE-500 was an excellent value and was strongly competitive at its price. Likewise recently I had troubles with the HE-560, but many I know and respect thought they were very good cans. In fact, ljokerl likes them very much and I've asked him to review them for InnerFidelity as he is able.
The new HE-1000 is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, however. It was with much trepidation I sat down for my first listen to them. Then...
The new HE-1000 nailed it...at least as far as a headphone could on quick listen at a show. "This sounds like a reference level headphone", I though to myself. That's a rare thing; there's only very few headphones (and their upstream rigs) I'd even begin to say approach what I heard on this rig. Show impressions are unreasonably fickle, it's pretty easy to get stunned and then love something in a rush of subjective bias. So be it, I was overwhelmed at how good these cans sounded. Obviously, HiFiMAN's new EF-1000 companion amplifier with HM901S and HiFiMAN Dock as source were performing their duties handily as well.
To separate out the cans from the rest of the rig, I brought out my AK240 and CEntrance M8 rig to play the headphones on a familiar source with familiar music. I wouldn't hazard a guess as to what the differences might have been between the two source rigsthe headphones continued to sound absolutely great. Airy, quick, articulate, without harshness or glare. The sound was a bit warmer than what I've come to expect from HiFiMAN; the bass was well proportioned, and mid-range coherence and liquidity seemed right down the middle. A great showing! But why is this headphone so different?
Dr. Fang Bian, Founder and CEO of HiFiMAN, received his PhD from City University of New York in chemistry with a focus on nano-technology. He spent a bit of time with me explaining that the HE-1000 diaphragm is the first "nano-thickness" diaphragm for planar-magnetic headphones of which he's aware. The physical size of the diaphragm is quite large, and the magnetic structure is unusual, two-sided, but asymmetrical. I can't wait to learn more about these headphones, and to have a more extended experience with them.
For more impressions, see this Head-Fi thread where HiFiMAN has a mini-meet in New York after CES to give east-coasters a chance for a listen.
Click here if you can't see the video.