HiFiMAN HE1000 V2 and Edition X V2 planar magnetic headphones

HiFiMAN Edition X Version 2,
HiFiMAN HE1000 Version 2

Now, let’s take a look at the V2 changes made to the Edition X model.  Like the HE1000 V2, the Edition X V2 also receives an upgrade to its headband frame, one that again promises to accommodate a wider range of head sizes while applying appropriate, just-right clamping forces. In the case of the Edition X V2, though, the frame updates are even more extensive than in the HE1000 V2, as the ear cup support yokes are now upgraded from the previous moulded plastic parts to use new black anodised metal yokes (much like the metal yokes that were always used on the HE1000 model).

Next, the Edition X receives new bevelled ear pads that appear to be identical to those now found on the HE1000 V2. Apart from the changed bevel angle and somewhat revised shapes, the big news once again is that the velour touch surfaces found on the first-generation pads have been changed to incorporate a polyester fabric said to increase sonic transparency.

Finally, the Edition X V2 gets upgraded signals that, while not identical to the HE1000 V2 cables (because the latter feature more complex conductor arrays), nevertheless do look like they use high purity copper and silver conductors and incorporate versions of the flexible rubber vibration-resistant jackets we noted on the HE1000 V2. The Edition X V2 comes with two cables: a 1.5m cable fitted with a 3.5mm mini-plug and a 3m cable fitted with a 6.35mm Neutrik headphone plug. A 3.5mm-to-6.35mm adapter is also included.

Unlike the HE1000 V2, the ear cups of the Edition X V2 have not been modified for weight reduction purposes as the original model, which weighed just 399g, was already very light. One other thing that has not changed is the headphone’s extraordinarily high 103dB sensitivity rating, which is essential to maintaining the Edition X V2’s identity as a true high-end headphone that can be driven from a smartphone or tablet. The only externally visible change is to the finish of the ear cups; the original Edition X’s were done up in a gloss ‘black chrome’ treatment, while the new V2 versions are treated to a subtle, satin-texture metallic black finish that is very handsome indeed.

Now let’s look at how the V2-series changes have influenced the feel and sound of the HE1000 V2 and the Edition X V2.

In the Hi-Fi+ issue 126 review of the original HE1000, we praised the headphone’s “terrific openness, transparency, and very high levels of resolution,” and the HE1000 V2 continues in much the same vein, while demonstrating even greater resolving powers than its predecessor. But here’s the part you might not see coming: even as the resolution of the HE1000 V2 increases, so too does the perceived smoothness of its overall presentation—a rare combination of virtues. Thus, the amount of musical information on offer goes up significantly, but without any attendant increase in brightness, edginess, or stridency; on the contrary, the V2 sounds noticeably more relaxed and so is easier to enjoy for longer periods of time. These sonic improvements are certainly worthwhile, but they are more incremental than transformative in nature, which should come as no surprise given how good the original HE1000 was in the first place.

For a good example of the V2’s new qualities in action listen to the track ‘Something More’ from Sara K’s Hell or High Water [Stockfisch, SACD], carefully noting the textures of both Sara K’s voice and of each of the accompanying instruments. What is striking is the way the HE1000 V2 deftly captures all the transient information from plucked or percussion instruments while also perfectly rendering their upper partials and high harmonics. The original HE1000 always did a great job of conveying a vivid, up-close-and-personal view of the textures and timbres of individual instruments and the HE1000 V2 does an even more convincing job in these respects.

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