CES 2016 Show Highlight: The Long Awaited HiFiMAN Shagri-La Electrostatic Headphones
At over a decade in the making, it was great to finally see HiFiMAN's new electrostatic headphones. Dr. Fang Bian, HiFiMAN's Founder and President, seemed sincerely thrilled to be showing his new Shangri-La electrostatic headphone and it's partner 300B tube headphone amplifier. This new flagship headphone shares some similarities to the look of his HE1000 and Edition X headphones, but bests it, to my eyes, with a new one-piece stainless steel grill.
Dr. Bian is expert in nano-technologies and claims the Shangri-La diaphragm strongly benefits from a nano-thickness material and nano-particle conductive coatings. I've heard horror stories of how difficult it is to properly coat electrostatic diaphragms evenly with the conductive materials needed to convey an even charge over the surface of the diaphragm. One of the beauties of nanotechnology is the ability to precisely control the creation of coating layers. In the case of electrostatic headphones, having an very even layer means the entire surface will have a very even motive force applied when driven. This will help prevent uneven forces that might instantiate modal break-up on the diaphragm surface.
The sound I heard was quite good, but what struck me most was how clear the treble sounded. You know the sound of really tight bass? Well, it's almost as if these cans had really tight treble. Quite unusual...and tantalizing. Definitely looking forward to a long audition and measurements.
The headphones are expected to become available sometime before mid-year with the 300B tube amp following some months later. No price is set as of yet, but a reliable source said the headphones are planned to be available separately; they will be compatible with other currently available electrostatic headphone amplifiers; and the price of the headphones alone will be five figures.
I have to note here that I make it a practice to try to spread my coverage around and I rarely interview the same company two shows in a row. Despite that, I'm certain the Dr. Bian's prolific production of new products has him in more of my videos than anyone else...by a long shot. Oh well, here he is again; he's certainly earned the frequency of reportage.