HiFiMAN Edition XS

I have Edition XS for a while now. While I didn’t have the chance to use them on my desktop chain much, I definitely like them. The guy I bought if from said I’d probably get rid of Sundaras once I heard XS, but I doubt it. I am absolutely in the same camp with @Resolve about these who also convinced me to buy Sundara in the first place.

Edition XS is good. I have a few kilobuck pairs and they still wowed me in the first listen, which didn’t happen for quite a while. However after a while I also noticed their short comings. First I miss bass impact on these. Transducers are capable of producing tight quality bass. It is linear and for the songs that require linearity it is exquisite. But I couldn’t make them punch in EDM songs etc. Did I say one of the forementioned pairs is Clear MG. So take that as you will, maybe I am spoiled.
Also like @Resolve mentioned, I couldn’t completely appreciate that “U” shape in some songs, vocals went a little too far back for my liking when instruments are also in the picture. I missed Sundaras in those songs.

Lastly again I also a little annoyed by the zingy nature of the upper treble like Andrew. But I have to remind you these are rather small gripes. I don’t expect XS to do everything perfect, it can’t be both V-shaped, neutral or mid-forward, right? I have different pairs just But the soundstage is one of the widest stages I heard so far. I would suggest Edition XS especially to those who want to experience wide soundstage on a budget.

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Edition XS was my first audiophile headphones. Since I have gotten a Drop AEon X Closed, and some budget IEMs (Moondrop Aria and Dunu Titan S). The Edition XS is still the highest sound quality in my collection, outside of maybe the AEon X Closed being preferable on tracks with really spicy treble.

I highly recommend Edition XS with a couple caveats. One is the fit, I know this has been discussed to death. I have always described myself as having a big head. I used the Edition XS on the smallest size adjustment. If you have even a medium sized head, do not buy this headphone. It will not fit you.

On a related note: The headband works for me for 1-2 hours. After which I get a hotspot on my head.

The build quality is honestly a little rickety feeling at this price bracket. The driver assemblies feel solid, but the way the arms swivel and are attached to the headband leave a bit to be desired.

Included cable is actually pretty decent. Pleasantly surprised given Hifiman horror stories.

Stringed instruments including electric guitars, sound amazing here. Maybe more experienced audiophiles are more jaded here and are more used to that “plucked” quality of planars, but Edition XS delivers it in spades.

Bass extends all the way. Listen to it out of an iFi Zen DAC (which is plenty of power BTW), and it’s loads of fun to turn on TrueBass on some tracks and get that planar bass loud with a real sense of impact.

Vocals aren’t the star of the show but sound natural (no plastiky timbre to my ears).

In the treble region I love these headphones on 99% of tracks, with maybe cymbals grabbing a bit to much attention for my taste as nitpick. However, when listening to Vaxis II by Coheed and Cambria, I straight up couldn’t handle it and switch to the AEon Closed. So some recordings that are particularly spicy might cause problems.

Detail for both leading and trailing edge is the best I’ve heard in my limited experience. Same here with dynamics and impact actually. Very impressive, and really makes me curious about Focals if those are even more impactful, although I think I like that planar detail maybe a bit too much.

Soundstage to me maybe feels like a sound quality aspect to my ears that maybe be a bit over hyped? I am curious of some other opinions. Isolation of instruments and control is excellent, but I don’t get the sensation of sound coming out much further than a couple inches past where the headphones actually are.

Anyways overall very happy with the Edition XS as an “active listening” headphone.

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@Rambone Can You Please mention which DAC is a better pairing for the edition XS. The Zen Dac or the HiFiman R2R DAC for a smooth, non fatiguing sound. Thinking of getting the edition XS. I have the Zen Dac and Zen Can Combo as well as the chord Mojo and the Hip Dac along with a topping E30.

I think it’s fine. You can also just dial in a bit of EQ to get it to be more neutral for you.