HiFiMAN Edition XS

I was finally able to get the HiFiMAN Edition XS in for testing. Here are the measurements, along with preliminary notes. I still need to spend some more time with it to get a more thorough sense of the intangibles.

HiFiMAN Edition XS frequency response on GRAS 43AG standardized measurement rig with KB5000 anthropometric pinnae:

Channel matching (for Crin):

Sound Signature (smoothed to same degree as target):

It’s generally similar to the Ananda, just with slightly less upper mids, and slightly more upper treble.

HiFiMAN Edition XS vs HiFiMAN Ananda (measurement taken from a 2021 unit):

Interestingly when you break the seal and introduce an air gap, the resonance frequency is lower down on the Edition XS than on the Ananda (this is typical behavior for undamped planars with an air gap measurement):

So for those who had trouble getting a seal with the Ananda, you’ll end up with more bass on the Edition XS. But… I didn’t have any trouble getting a seal on either of them. The Ananda clamp is stronger, meaning the front seal might be stronger, while the Edition XS has cup swivel and a lower resonance frequency. In some respects we could think of the Edition XS as the ‘safer’ design for bass extension, if for whatever reason the Ananda doesn’t seal correctly for you.

My initial assessment is that I don’t think these needed HiFiMAN’s stealth magnet tech, as my only real complaint with the Edition XS comes from the upper treble being slightly overemphasized (which is where you see the impacts of the stealth magnets). With the Ananda, it’s a bit better balanced with the upper mids, simply because the overall ear gain level is higher in general throughout. In other words, the upper mids and treble are slightly more balanced on the Ananda, and the upper treble zing isn’t as noticeable. Still, it was very easy to adjust on the Edition XS.

Here’s my EQ for it:

FR after EQ:

Here’s an alternative EQ with a bit more bass for those who want that:
image

I think it’s best to leave the mid treble alone on this since that’s bound to be different depending on the individual’s personal ear - or at least adjust this by ear, not by the graph if you’re going to.

Initial Impressions Only!

Notes

  • Comfort is really good on these - better than that of the Ananda and Sundara for me because… it’s got cup swivel! Yes!! Thank you HiFiMAN! I much prefer this design, even though the headband plastic sides feel a bit cheap. The yoke is a sturdy piece though so that’s good.
  • Slightly more ‘u-shaped’ sound overall compared to Sundara 2020 and Ananda, but generally a similar tonal balance, which is good.
  • Detail is solid but not meaningfully better than the Sundara 2020. I think the real question is whether or not there’s much distance there between the Edition XS and the Ananda, and at the moment my answer is… maybe the tiniest bit for trailing ends of tones, but that could also just be due to the increased level around 3khz on the Ananda, which would give that clarity to piano tones for example. So they’re within the ballpark, and honestly close enough.
  • I’m still assessing the level of macro contrast and punch here, but at the moment it’s also about par for the course with these types of planars - that is to say not great but also not super compressed either. If anything it sounds closer to the Sundara than the Ananda for this quality, so slightly better than the Ananda there I find (and remember that I also measured the Ananda on my head and got full bass extension as well).
  • Soundstage - Nice and spacious sounding, these HiFiMAN planars all do a great job at that, and that’s perhaps also in part due to the midrange cut they all have around 1.2khz, or maybe their conjunction with the mid treble emphasis.
  • I tend to think that without EQ the Edition XS sounds just a hair swollen for fundamental tones in the lower mids and upper bass, again perhaps due to that midrange cut above that, emphasizing this region. This makes it just a bit less cohesive than I’d like. At the same time, that does give good body and richness of tone to those regions, and I know some people like that. So this one is totally EQ optional, although I do still think the Ananda and Sundara 2020 have just slightly better tuning overall for my taste.

Conclusion subject to change as I spend more time with this headphone over the course of the week

At the moment I find the HiFiMAN Edition XS to be Sundara 2020 and Ananda adjacent, which is to say, it’s really solid. It’s also priced appropriately, if not somewhat aggressively considering the Ananda is in that same ballpark. While it’s tuning is slightly on the zingy side for me in the upper treble, the comfort benefits and lower resonance frequency of the Edition XS are at least tangible reasons to go for this one over the others if you feel those are important factors.

Here’s the video review:

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Thanks for allowing the option @resolve :wink: :rofl:

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Can’t wait for the full review. Not that I’m planning to buy. Just to justify my recent 2020 Sundara purchase :smiley:

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Looks like a win considering it trade blows with Ananda while being 200$ cheaper.

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I gave these a quick listen yesterday and liked them. I am a fan of the Ananda so the similarities are a positive for me.

I’m looking forwards to spending more time with them over the next few weeks.

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@Resolve, assuming you’d take the he6se v2 over this and Ananda at the current $550 US Adorama special price, assuming adequate amp?

https://www.adorama.com/hmhe6sev2.html?emailprice=t&sterm=2AZW5Mw51xyIWfQSfeyDyzh9UkG2B01VUQAJww0&sterm=3bWTSz3UFxyIRy5XvDzTa12cUkGyHh3AE3T-TY0&utm_source=rflaid62905

Depends what you value. Edition XS and Ananda both have better soundstage than those for example. Also, I’m not sure what they’re selling with pads on those these days, if they’re the same as the ones I evaluated or not. If it’s exactly the same as what I evaluated, then yeah I’d say it’s worth it.

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I’m definitely intrigued about the XS. A while back I was talking about how much I like my 400i with it’s big open sound and somebody mentioned I should check out the HEXv2. They were already discontinued by then so I’m hoping the XS can fill the same role

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Yeah I still miss my HEXv2 very much. I wish they’d just used that headband from HEX, HEK and Arya.

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Yup, I have no complaints about that style headband either. If I do end up getting the XS, I’ll keep an eye open for a cheap Arya or other headband to swap with

Finally decided to pull the trigger on Edition XS after eyeing this since last October (local distributor finally has them available). Luckily Dekoni leather pads for egg-shaped Hifiman became available around the same time too. Since I prefer sheepskin usually, I got it too. It does somewhat change the tuning, adding some extra microdetails at a cost of some sibilance. Bass gets more texture, but the mids lost a bit of emphasis.

Overall, the change is very minor, within 3-4% by my estimate. I prefer the comfort of the memory foam and leather skin from Dekoni.

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That’s interesting. Usually non perforated leather pads would lift up the bass considerably and kill a lot of eargain energy. I’d guess the hybrid Dekoni’s would make the least change to the sound.

I think the choice of foam and thickness compensated some of the effects of the full leather. The Dekoni pads are slightly thinner than stock pads and the memory foam has slower rebound.

So are these as hard to drive as people say? Do they run well of a liquid spark?
I’ve seen some people say they run perfectly fine of an atom at 10 o clock and some basically saying they need a speaker amp (not really but almost).

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I run mine fine at 1 o’clock on low gain on an Atom+ stack. I’m sure more power would increase dynamics, but my XS sound lovely with ample volume off an Atom+ stack.

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Just adding the video review here:

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I really love the Sundara but find the mids a bit recessed for my taste. Does the Edition XS do better than the Sundara there?

Sundara 2020 is less recessed in the mids than Edition XS, but still slightly.

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How do the XS (or any “big” HFMs for that matter) compare to the A2C sizewise? The thing stopping me from upgrading my 400i for a Sundara is that the round earcups are on the small size for me (possible that Dekoni earpads would help). I’m hoping the eggshaped cups will be more comfortable for me, but i’ve also read complaints they are too big and put pressure on the lower jaw. Sadly, I’m hundreds of Km from anything resembling an audio shop so a demo isn’t possible

The Edition XS has cup swivel so it doesn’t put as much pressure on the lower jaw as the Ananda or Sundara. And yeah the opening is massive on these, larger than A2C.

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