Maybe say 50 hours? Not sure what Hifiman recommends. I am currently reviewing these headphones. Extremely detailed!
Thank You, so far after about 20 hours I really like them
@Resolve could you please share your EQ preset for the HE1000SE? Thanks and happy newyear!
@Resolve In terms of sound quality, which one would you choose between it and the Heddphone? I’ve seen the video comparing Heddphone and Arya, but He1000se is a clearly higher level product compared to Arya. Some used ones cost about the same as a new Heddphone. Thanks
I have watched his reviews over and over again, seems like this one of @Resolve favorite flagship (at least at that time) until her listened to the Susvara, expert for the tonality. I am having a hard time picking between the HE1000se, Focal Utopia, or the LCD4. These headphones all do different things very good.
Seems if you want a flagship you need to sacrifice somewhere, if you want insane detail… you might not get great mid or low bass, or if you want great bass you need to lose detail and treble.
Seems the most enjoyable headphones range from 2500-1500 in price, like the Focal Clear, Arya, Stellia, ZMF VC and V Open. I own the V open and VC, great headphones.
As always, this review is also available on my blog (in English and Spanish) and also in Spanish on YouTube, links at the end of the post.
Review - Hifiman HE1000se
As mentioned in my recent review of the Hifiman Arya, Hifiman have very kindly loaned me both the Arya and the HE1000se for review, for which I am extremely grateful. As always, I will try to keep my opinions as sincere and unbiased as possible but it is always worth considering that it has not cost me anything to test these headphones.
Today I am going to review the HE1000se and, as was the case with the Arya, I am going to use the Hifimana Ananda as my reference for some comparisons throughout the review (you can see my complete review of the Ananda here: Review - Hifiman Ananda and the Arya here: Review - Hifiman Arya).
After I have completed this review, I would like to put together a short recap of the three models to make direct comparisons between them but today I am just going to focus on the HE1000se.
The Hifiman HE1000se is a set of headphones that places itself easily in the higher end models of the Hifiman line. With a price that is around 3500€, at the time of this review, it is easy to see that we are talking about something special.
My plan was to upload this review a week after the Hifiman Arya review, however, I found that these headphones easily deserve more than just a week of testing before coming to conclusions, at least that is my excuse for holding on to them a little longer.
I have mostly been using the HE1000se driven by the Schiit Asgard 3, however, I have also been using them for a lot of listening time with the JDS Labs Atom. It obviously sounds weird that I would be powering a set of 3.5k headphones with a 100€ amplifier, however, the Atom is an amplifier that I both know well and performs well with these headphones, something that I will mention more about shortly.
The Hifiman HE1000se are presented in a box that surpases the luxurious leather covered box that the Ananda arrived in. In this case it is again a leather covered box but this time in brown with a silver coloured (aluminum?) metal plate on top, sporting the manufacturer and model number embossed on it. The box is also rather heavy, which is not the case with the headphones themselves.
Inside the box we find the headphones in the usual silk lined cutout, with a very nice manual, actually more of a nice book on Hifiman and HE1000se. There is a separate compartment, as is the usual case, where the accessories are held. As far as accessories, we get three cables, one that is rather long and terminates in a 6.35mm TRS, the other is a shorter version that terminates in a right angle 3.5mm TRS and the last one is also long and terminates in a 4 pin XLR to use the headphones in a balanced set up. Unfortunately, the cables are the same style as those included with the Ananda, they are covered in a kind of silicone tubing that brings images of blood transfusion to my mind. The cables work perfectly and have no issues, but they are far from being something I would consider a high end cable to include with a headphone of this category (in fact, I think I said something similar about including them with the Ananda which is less than 30% of the price).
All in all, the presentation is very nice, no complaints at all from my side. Maybe the box is a little large to keep on hand for storage of the headphones (all of my headphones return to their boxes/cases when not in use) but certainly makes it feel like you are receiving something special.
Build and aesthetics…
I mentioned in my Ananda review that they were one of my favourite looking Hifiman headphones, only second to the Susvara, however, the HE1000se have a very similar look to the Susvara, meaning that they are a beautiful set of headphones that, in my opinion, have a high-end finish that places them above the Ananda as far as aesthetics.
The build of the headphones uses the same headband and comfort strap set up that is used on the Arya, although in a different finish, and makes them extremely comfortable. There is adjustment in height of the comfort strap, with swivel and angle of the cups, making them contour perfectly to my face.
They are also very light, making me forget that I am actually wearing them, I have absolutely no complaints about the comfort or design of the HE1000se, they are easily my favourite headphones to wear (and look at) out of the ones I have had the pleasure of trying.
Now, where do I start? Going back to the Ananda for a moment, I said that they were a headphone that met everything I needed and that above the Ananda it would be more a case of personal preference than actual need for improvement. I still maintain that the Ananda are headphones that provide me with everything I need but there is no doubt that the HE1000se offer an approach to my music that other headphones have not been capable of so far.
Let me first say that the HE1000se are an extremely easy set of headphones to drive. I was actually surprised after using the Ananda (and the Arya) as to how much easier these headphones are to drive. Looking at the specs, the HE1000se have an impedance of 35 Ohms and a sensitivity of 96dB, which, in comparison to the 25Ω and 103dB of the Ananda, should make them a little more difficult to drive. For some reason, I find that the HE1000se actually respond better to lower power than the Ananda. They do need a little more on the volume pot to reach the same volume levels of the Ananda but the HE1000se seem to come alive sooner.
As I mentioned above, I have mainly been using the Asgard 3 but I have also used the Atom and these headphones sound glorious on both options. On the Asgard, I am around 11 o’clock on low gain or 8:30 on high gain. I was also surprised to find that they HE1000se also run quite happily from my phone (not my current phone, my previous phone that I use as a DAP on occasions), I am not saying that I suggest this pairing and the sound is not as good as paired with a desktop solution, but they were plenty loud enough and the quality was still great. I also found them to pair very nicely with the iFi Audio Diablo, the complete opposite of a phone with more power than most desktop setups, giving me great sound in a portable format.
My first impressions of the HE1000se were that they sounded great and my thoughts haven’t really changed much since then. If anything, I have come to love them more the more I use them. The general sound signature is clear and detailed but with a great smoothness to it. I am going to try to not deeply compare these to the Arya at this moment, although some comparisons are inevitable, however, I just wanted to say that when I say “smooth but detailed”, it is not in the same way that the Arya is.
In comparison to the Ananda, which is detailed and upfront about, the HE1000se presents it in a way that is just as clear and upfront but with a much more refined touch to it. As I believe I mentioned in the Ananda review, I find them to be very reminiscent of Meyer Sound speakers, very neutral, clean and capable of amazing details. I would describe the HE1000se more as a set of high end Hi-Fi speakers, even though I am not someone who has much experience in Hifi speakers (much more in live sound), in a room that is well treated.
But anyway, enough with the romanticism, let’s go through the usual steps.
The HE1000se is another set of planars that goes down further than our ears do, drawing a straight line past the range of our hearing. The control of the lowest frequencies is nothing short of excellent, no matter the style of music being played. Switching from something like “No Sanctuary Here” by Marian Herzog feat Chris Jones, to “Bury A Friend” by Billie Eilish, then to “Yello” by The Expert, we have three completely different styles of subbass and the HE1000se deals with all of them.
For the general bass frequencies, it is just as capable, or more, as it is in the sub bass frequencies. I have spent a lot of time (as much as possible) listening to the HE1000se over the past few weeks and I can say that this is the first planar headphone that presents bass in a way that could easily stop me from owning any dynamic driver. I really like the bass on the Ananda, as I have on other planar offerings, but there is something about a dynamic driver bass that just feels right when listening to certain bass lines. For the bassists out there, to me the bass of a (good) dynamic driver is like picking up that trusty old p-bass and plugging into an Ampeg, in certain situations it just sounds right. The planar bass is very quick with excellent detail, but sometimes just misses that natural warmth of a dynamic, I do not find that to be the case with the HE1000se.
The bass guitar in Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” sounds like it should, in fact, the bass guitars on all of my test tracks seem to sound as they should. That doesn’t mean they all sound good, I purposely have tracks on my test list that sound bad, I mean they sound as they should, at least to my ears. The warm smooth touch that the HE1000se has in comparison to other planars makes it excel with both electric and acoustic basses. The kick drum is another instrument that sounds as it should on these headphones, they are capable of keeping up with ridiculous double pedal drumming without sounding too dry, something that the Ananda is not capable of. The Ananda can keep up with extremely fast drumming but sometimes comes across as a little dry with the kick drum.
The straight line from the lowest notes continues all the way up to a dip around 2kHz, to raise slightly afterwards to around 3kHz. This allows the fundamental frequencies found in the lower mids to be present with just a slight bit more of presence towards the top of the mids. This avoids that sensation that I got with the Arya where the lower parts of voices seemed to be highlighted over their upper end. With the HE1000set here seems to be just enough presence around that 3kHz mark to make vocals sound more natural to me than they did on the Arya.
Acapella tracks sound great, in fact, I can safely say they are headphones that I have most enjoyed songs like “These Bones” by The Fairfield Four or “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix. Listening to Leonard Cohen was like having him breathing down my neck, a very strange sensation
The same can be said for the majority of instruments in the mid range, sounding very natural and full. On my test track list I have “Adagio for Strings, Op. 11a” performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a song that I listen to a lot but don’t really reference because I am no expert on classical music. However, the performance and the way it was presented took me on a journey of listening to a few hours of classical that I really enjoyed. It is amazing how classical music comes alive when it is well reproduced, something that the HE1000se is very good at.
The treble is possibly the part that impresses me the least. Now, by that I do not want to give the impression that the treble isn’t great, it is, just that it doesn’t “wow” me in the way that the Ananda did when I started listening to it. The treble is still very detailed and has a lovely sense of air to it, it is just not as impressive as the rest of the frequencies. of the HE1000se.
While the headphone is not sibilant, it does seem to be just on the verge at many moment. This sometimes is distracting because, especially with tracks I know very well, I am sort of bracing myself for the sibilance but it never materializes. This probably sounds stupid, complaining about sibilance on a set of headphones that is not sibilant, and no doubt it is, but the treble makes me feel like it is going to be harsh at any moment, even though that is not the case.
There is a sense of air that is pleasurable but I am going to go back to my reference before about Ananda being an open air “live” speaker and the HE1000se being a HiFi speaker in a good room, the Ananda sort of have an infinite roll of into open space whereas the HE1000se are more like being in a controlled room.
Soundstage and image placement
While I just said that the HE1000se being like a controlled room, I was referring to the sensation of treble, this is by no means an indication of soundstage. The soundstage of the HE1000se is very large and well implemented, maybe not quite the huge space that the Arya presents, but still wider and deeper than the Ananda.
This allows instruments and small details to be placed in a very three dimensional way, creating a sensation of wide open space. Where the Ananda are similar to being in front of a large stage, with mains to the left and right, the HE1000se are more involving, more like being part of the music, with instruments and details surrounding you.
The placement of images is excellent, giving a pinpoint location to each and every sound, similar to the Arya but without needing to focus in order to locate them.
And that rolls in to:
Detail and speed
With the Ananda, as I said in the Arya review, the details are pushed up front, making every detail clearly present, sort of like a “hey, listen to this!” kind of thing. The Arya are just as detailed (maybe more so) as the Ananda but present it in a way that is more subdued, making it necessary to focus on the music to appreciate those minute details. The HE1000se is the best of both worlds in this regard.
The details are presented in a way that they are clearly there but are not “in your face” as with the Ananda. They are laid out in a way that is similar to the Arya but stay clearly present, without the need to focus in order to notice the minute details. They are a pleasure to listen to, being extremely detailed without the fatigue of there being too much detail at once but also not needing that extra focus that I found necessary with the Arya.
As far as speed, well, there is absolutely nothing to complain about here, they are fast and dynamic, in fact, sometimes (with fast and complex music) it is my brain that struggles to keep up with the speed.
As far as technical capabilities, I don’t think I can doubt for one moment that the HE1000se are the most capable headphones I have ever listened to. They are a pleasure to wear, a pleasure to use and a pleasure to listen to, at least in my personal experience.
Going back to the Ananda one last time, I said that the Ananda were (are) a set of headphones that give me everything I need and that, at levels of Ananda or higher, it would be personal preference that comes into play more than actual capabilities of the headphones. I still maintain this.
While I feel there are things that the HE1000se does do better than the Ananda, the increase in performance is minimal in these areas and these will be fields that appeal to people who are focused on those specific areas. For example, if you are someone that feels that subbass is very important to your listening experience and music preferences, then I have no doubt that you would clearly find the subbass of the HE1000se to be superior. However, if subbass is not one of your essential priorities, then this will probably not stand out to you because the subbass of the Ananda is already very good and the step up in performance to the HE1000se is something that you will find minimal and probably not be important to your decision.
As I mentioned in the Arya review, I would like to sit down and do a brief comparison between the three headphones and now that I have spent this time with them, that will be my next task, to decide which headphones I prefer for which music or musical experience.
Until then, if I said that I have absolutely no complaints about the Arya, I can only say that I have nothing but praise for the Hifiman HE1000se.
I really enjoy the higher tiered HifiMan as well.
Great job and nice review!
Ananda → Arya/HE6 → HE1000 → Susvara is a nice stepping stone… just sayin’
If they want to send the Susvara my way for review…
As an owner of an ananda who is extremely pleased with it but who spends far too much time wondering what else is out there, I greatly appreciate the comparison in these reviews.
Really excellent review @SenyorC. This is one of the Hifimans that I wouldlove to try. Aesthetically too they are great.
Comparison of the HE1000se vs Arya vs Ananda
I wasn’t sure where to place this so I will leave it here and add links in the Ananda and Arya threads.
As usual, this is also available in Spanish (and English) on my blog and on YouTube, links at the end of this post.
After previously reviewing the Ananda and more recently the Arya & HE1000se, the following is a direct comparison of the three, with my opinions and preferences towards these three headphones.
Please understand that all my opinions and preferences are totally subjective and are relevant to my use case of these headphones, these are not meant to be a “X is better than Y” conclusions, more a “I prefer X over Y for this particular thing”.
Before getting into my completely subjective findings, let’s take a look at the differences on paper of the three headphones.
Price: 1000€ (approximately, in Spain, at the time of this publication)
Link to full review: Review - Hifiman Ananda
Price: 1600€ (approximately, in Spain, at the time of this publication)
Link to full review: Review - Hifiman Arya
Price: 3500€ (approximately, in Spain, at the time of this publication)
Link to full review: Review - Hifiman HE100se
Now, let’s look at each category and see how they compare with each other.
In the case of presentation, the Arya falls behind as it arrives in a simple cardboard box whereas both the Ananda and HE1000se are presented in a leather covered box that feels and looks premium. Inside the box, the layout is identical for all three.
To me, the box that they arrive in is the least important bit, however, the presentation of both the Ananda and HE1000se do make you feel that you are receiving something special. Personally, I prefer the box of the HE1000se because the brown leather and aluminium plate look better to my eyes.
The contents are very similar except for the cable included with the Arya. In the case of the Arya, the cable is fabric covered rather than the silicone tube style cables included with the other two, although the Arya only includes 1 cable instead of 2 with both the Ananda and HE1000se.
To be honest, I am not a fan of either of the cable styles, although I feel the Arya version is slightly more to my tastes. Getting two cables is nice but I would not base any preference decisions on the cables included in any of the three.
The build is very similar on all three models, at least as far as build quality. There are differences in headband and adjustment between the Ananda and the others but that is something that I class more as comfort related than build quality.
I would say that build quality is of the same standard on all three.
As I just mentioned, the Ananda lacks the adjustment that the Arya and HE1000se offer by means of cup swivel and adjustment of the comfort strap rather than the headband itself.
I personally do not find the Ananda uncomfortable but the other two are more comfortable without a doubt. The 36g difference between the Arya and HE1000se is not noticeable and if I had to choose one, it would probably be the HE1000se due to the perforated comfort strap.
Here I clearly favour the HE1000se over the others. I prefer the looks of the Ananda over the Arya, due to the silver grille, but the HE1000se looks much more elegant in my opinion.
To be honest, I don’t have issues powering any of these headphones, however, I find that the HE1000se comes alive sooner than the other two, with the Arya being the one than needs a little extra on the dial in order to appreciate it. I will also say that the Arya are headphones that keep inviting me to turn up more than the other two, I think that is relative to the detail presentation but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Here is the part where each of the headphones presents music in it’s own way. I would like to point out once more that, even if I use the word “better”, it is actually more of a subjective preference than an actual technical performance improval. I am not saying that one headphone doesn’t perform better in certain areas, I am saying that all three are excellent headphones and in certain categories they appeal more to me because of my personal preferences, your results may vary.
I have been using these headphones a lot over the past weeks (and in the case of the Ananda, much longer), during which time I have listened to all kinds of music and have formed opinions before actually sitting down to do this comparison. However, I have specifically chosen to use tracks from my test list to do comparisons here, picking a few under each category to give specific references. You can click on the name of each track and a window will open to allow you to listen to the track on the service of your choice (please note that it may not be the exact same version on different platforms), you can also find a full list of my test tracks here: My test music. It is also worth noting that I have done all of these A/B/C tests using the Asgard 3 fed by the SU-8.
Reference Track: “No Sanctuary Here” by Marian Herzog feat Chris Jones
I find that the HE1000se presents the sub-bass of this track in a much more favourable way than the other two options. At matched volume levels, the HE1000se presents more body to the subbass. The Arya feels a little more subdued with this track in the subbass, missing a little more openness to the lowest notes. The Ananda has the clarity of the HE1000se that the Arya lacks but does not seem to go as low as easily. My pick here is definitely the HE1000se.
Reference Track: “No Mercy” by Gustavo Santaolalla
More than a song, the intro of this track consists of deep hits and rumbles in the subbass frequencies. You really need to push the volume levels on this track to appreciate that low end rumbling. Here I feel that the Ananda falls a fair way behind the two rivals. While the HE1000se is very impressive with the intro of this track, I find that the Arya is more so. As there is nothing else going on to distract you from the low hits, the Arya is spectacular here.
Reference Track: “New Life” by Swindle
With this song I again prefer the subbass response of the Arya, with the HE1000se coming in a close second. The issue with this track is that there is much more going on that it seems at first listen and those details, if taken into consideration, would put the HE1000se easily above the Arya for the full track. However, I am focusing strictly on subbass here and I feel that the Arya does a better job.
Strictly talking about subbass performance, it is very close between the Arya and the HE1000se. I feel that the HE1000se comes across as more musical as it is difficult to pinpoint just the subbass without taking into consideration other frequencies of a song. However, when focusing just on subbass, especially in simple tacks that make this easier, I feel that the Arya seems to be better at presenting this. The Ananda unfortunately falls a little behind here, although it is still very good, it comes across as a little too dry and doesn’t create as much of a sensation of rumble that the other two are capable of.
Reference Track: “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against The Machine
Now this is not a track with clean bass at all, making it very easy to get wrong and also making it more difficult to appreciate the real tone of the bass and low end of the guitar. On the Arya I found it very hard to appreciate those tones in the lower end of the strings, not that they sounded bad but it is not easy to appreciate the effects even when focusing. The Ananda do manage to make it easier to appreciate those effects but the HE1000se just performs on another level here. While the Ananda give you those effects and details upfront, the HE1000se does the same but with more musicality.
Reference Track: “Smooth Operator” by Sade
A classic test of bass tone. I couldn’t even try to imagine how many times I have listened to this track or on how many systems. Listening to this song on the three headphones, focusing on the bass, there is a clear progression from one to the next. I say clear but the truth is that they are rather small increments, however going from one to the other, they are quite noticeable. The Ananda do a great job but come across a little dry sounding, moving up to the Arya there is a clear smoothness added to the bass and is slightly wider, causing the sensation that the bass is actually bigger. From the Arya to the HE1000se there is actually a bit of a step back in width, making it a little less thin sounding and resulting in a better body to the low end. It’s a Goldielocks type of moment: Too cold, too hot, just right.
Reference Track: “These Bones” by The Fairfield Four
I know it is a little strange to include an acapella track in a bass section but this song does have a lot of movement in the bass frequencies. As there are only voices in the track, it makes it easy to focus on those extremely low vocal notes and notice just how the tone and texture are presented. I have listened to this song hundreds of times (or more) on the Ananda to get the reference point that I have for this track when comparing to other headphones. I feel that the Ananda presents a very real and lifelike result with this track. On the Arya, I mentioned that I find the fundamental tones of vocals to be more present than their overtones, and in the case of the voice of Isaac “Dickie” Freeman, this can actually work against his voice, so once more I must say that the HE1000se provides the best result with his voice.
In the general bass frequencies, I clearly enjoy the HE1000se above the Ananda or the Arya. I could literally sit down analyze bass track after bass track with them, not only due to how well they do those bass frequencies but also due to how well they manage to do it without taking the attention away from the rest of the spectrum.
Reference Track: “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes” by Paul Simon
This song features a little bit of everything as far as mid centric instruments, along with clear vocals and a great (mid centric) fretless bass behind them, all topped off with some excellent percussion. This song is great to not only see how the separation of instruments is handled, but to also see if those sudden brass intrusions make the headphones harsh. I need to say that the Arya is my least favourite of the three here. While the Arya does a great job of separating all these things that are happening in the mids, they focus too much on the lower end of the mids and I find it more difficult to appreciate the bass lines in the background (my real focus in this track ) and also puts that emphasis on those lower fundamentals.The Ananda present the details much better in the midrange, keeping it more balanced between the lower and higher mids. However, the HE1000se also does this and at the same time manages to remove a little bit more harshness to Paul Simon’s voice and those brass hits. I am a bit torn here because I prefer the presentation of the details on the Ananda and the actual tone of the HE1000se.
Reference Track: “Elephants on Ice Skates” by Brian Bromberg
This is another track that could have fit in the bass section but also has a lot going on in the mids. To be honest, this is a track that I love listening to on the Ananda, loving the clarity of the details and balance to the midrange but again the HE1000se comes in with the same amount of detail more slightly smoother in some of the plucks and brass moments. Again I am torn between the Ananda and HE1000se for this track. I think that the HE1000se is a more enjoyable listen but the Ananda has more of a “wow” factor with this track.
Reference Track: “Crazy” by Daniela Andrade
This is a song that is totally the opposite, there really isn’t much going on during the whole song, although everything that is happening is mostly happening in the mids. It also means that there is absolutely nothing to hide the performance of the mids. Here the Arya is a lusher sounding headphone with an emphasis on the lower notes of the guitar whereas the Ananda is very balanced and keeps everything at the same level of presence, making the higher end of the mids seem much clearer. The HE1000se uses that dip around 2kHz to its advantage and manages to seem just as balanced as the Ananda but, again, with more musicality.
Reference Track: “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa
In order to have something very different in the comparison, this song is a typical example of a modern production, with sounds covering the whole spectrum. In the case of the Ananda, the mids are completely balanced with both the lower and upper end, presenting a very up front sound. The Arya take this same song and push it further back, further away from us, giving it more room to “breathe”, so to speak. This is a very good presentation from the Arya but once more, it takes the spotlight from the higher end of her vocals and moves it down. The HE1000se brings it back forwards, making the song feel more powerful than on the Arya but without losing that sensation of openness in the mids that the Arya manages.
The mids on the HE1000se are great, placing them clearly above both the Ananda and Arya in my opinion. However, there are certain times and tracks where I prefer the Ananda for that “wow!” factor I mentioned.
Reference Track: “Code Cool” by Patricia Barber
After the amount of times I have referenced this track in reviews, I couldn’t not include it in this comparison. This song is a great test for sibilance, not only to see if certain headphones introduce sibilance but to also to see if they hide it. Now if we are strictly talking sibilance, then the Ananda is on the verge, the HE1000se is just a touch lighter and the Arya is at a level that is much reduced. However, in this track, the high hats and other things happening in the higher regions are just as important in both the Ananda and the HE1000se do an excellent job. The Ananda is just a little brighter than the HE1000se.
Reference Track: “Long After You’re Gone” by Chris Jones
There isn’t actually a lot going on in the treble in this song but I find that it is a song that really needs good treble in order for it to sound its best. In the case of the Arya, there is just not quite enough up there in order to give it the air and space it needs. The HE1000se gives it a much better sensation of air, as does the Ananda, while the Ananda is just a bit more up front about it.
Reference Track: “Hallelujah” by Pentatonix
This track has parts that are very busy in the higher regions, making it very easy for a headphone to become harsh and sibilant in its higher regions. I must say that this song sort of pushes the limits of the Ananda in the high end and if I am not in the mood, I will find myself lowering the volume during this song. The Arya does avoid any harshness at all but also takes away from that powerful representation up top. The HE1000se manages to keep the power of those parts of the song but just taking the edges off slightly, making it easier to listen too (at certain times) than on the Ananda.
I really like the high end of the Ananda, I find it has a great presentation and manages to present details and air that is nothing short of great. However, the HE1000se takes it that one step further, managing to be slightly smoother without ever giving the sensation that anything has been lost or hidden.
Soundstage and image placement
There is no doubt that the Ananda takes third place here. I always felt that the soundstage was good on the Ananda but both the Arya and HE1000se take it to another level. The Arya has a huge sensation of space, both left to right and front to back, however, it places things in such a way that it is necessary to focus on them in order to hear the details that are behind them, which can actually take away from the attention paid to the overall song. The HE1000se manages to keep the same sensation of space as the Arya but brings the background images slightly closer, making them easier to appreciate. I much prefer the way this is approached by the HE1000se.
Details and speed…
None of the three have absolutely any issues with speed, being capable of taking whatever you throw at them and just playing it without breaking into a sweat.
As far as details, all three headphones are amazing in this regard, however, they also present them a little differently to each other. The Ananda gives you all the details up front, presenting them to you in the front row and making sure you don’t miss anything. The Arya spreads the details out much further, moving them a lot further back in some cases, making it necessary to focus on them to appreciate them but at the same time presenting a much more relaxed listen if you aren’t trying to focus on all those details. The HE1000se presents them in a more upfront manner than the Arya, making the details easier to appreciate, but without becoming up front about it like the Ananda, they still maintain that sensation of space and depth.
If anyone had told me a couple of years ago that I would be sitting here reviewing and comparing three headphones of this category, I would have said they were crazy. However, here they are and I get to say which one I prefer, what a great problem to have!
Without thinking about it too much, I can easily say that my preferred headphones out of these three are the Hifiman HE1000se.
Now, we obviously can’t ignore that the HE1000se costs more than double the Arya and more than triple the Ananda and I said that anything above the performance level of the Ananda would be more about personal preference than actual need for improvement. I still maintain that statement. Yes, I prefer the HE1000se over the Ananda but not because I need to improve anything that the Ananda is lacking, it still presents the same amount of details etc., it is because it matches my tastes and personal preference more.
I actually feel a little sorry for the Arya in this case because it came in as a clear contender to the Ananda, which it is, but was quickly overshadowed by the HE1000se. The Arya is by no means a headphone that is anyway inferior to the Ananda, it just presents itself in a way that is not my personal preference.
If I were to compare just the Ananda to the Arya, I would place the Arya in front as far as bass and lower mids, with the higher mids and treble going to the Ananda, maybe with the vocals more clearly in the Ananda camp. The details are excellent on both headphones but the Ananda is more up front about them with the Arya needing a little more attention to really appreciate them.
In my opinion, the presentation of the HE1000se is a refined and relaxed version of the Ananda, making it a much more pleasurable headphone for listening sessions. However, I would still place the Ananda as the most impressive headphone for someone who hasn’t experienced this level of performance, as the way everything is there in front of you gives it a huge “wow!” factor. This comparison has actually reinforced my opinion of the Ananda, it really is a darn good set of headphones!
So, is the HE1000se worth its price over the other models (that you can get both for the same price and still have 1000€ spare)?
I’m afraid that is a question that each individual would have to decide for themselves, I certainly wouldn’t suggest that you click “buy now” on a 3500€ set of headphones before doing more research than this comparison and certainly having a clear picture on what your own personal preferences are.
In my case, I think that I could own just the HE1000se and be happy. I think it is a perfect “only” set for me, that performs amazingly with all of my preferred music. I don’t know if I will ever end up being a “one set” owner (it certainly doesn’t look like it) but if I manage to do it, the HE1000se will be on the short list.
Hey @Resolve could you very kindly please share your eq profile with us here?
just pulled the trigger on these!
I hope you enjoy my thoughts on these headphones and how they compare to the ZMF Verite and Rosson Audio Rad-0!
Excellent review! Will have to go back to listen to it in detail later, but I agree with you on many of the comparison between the VO and HEKse. The bass of the HEKse seems underrated, with other people touting the LCD-4 or the Abyss AB-1266 as the king of bass. While those may have deeper bass and hard-hitting bass, the HEKse bass is just so textured and distinct, I love it personally and it easily EQs up with a bass shelf. Definitely prefer the ZMF house sound tonality, but I couldn’t resist the bass depth and detail of the HEKse, plus it’s wider soundstage to my ears. Certainly the VO has a very 3D soundstage, but I still think the HEKse images wider and taller in a very obvious way.
I ended up selling my VO after getting the HEKse, but I actually have a VO Blackwood ordered, which will hopefully take the place of my beloved Aeolus. Been waiting for the past few years for a Blackwood VO, so again something I just couldn’t resist!
From the screenshot of that video, it looks like you’re ready to play Fruit Ninja with the HEKSE and tubes. That or you’re going to make some frankenstein mods to it.
For those of you that prefer to read vs. YouTube!
thanks for the great reviews.
@Resolve I also saw your review about the Lcd5. I’m currently listening to Arya driven by the Hugo 2 (2go). Looking for a next step and I’m interested in the HEKse and the lcd5.
Have you compared both headphones?
I’d say it depends on if you EQ. I have a hard time with the HEKse without EQ, it’s just too bright, while the LCD-5 is a bit more okay there. Still, these are both ones I’d try before buying if you can. In some ways, if you don’t EQ, it’s worth saving up and going for susvara.
I’ve listened to the HEKse a year ago before I came to know about EQ. Without EQ It was also to bright for my taste. Thats also why I chose the Arya over the HEKse.
But now I use Roon and know more about EQ i’m curious to listen to the HEKse again. Will definitely try to listen both the headphones.
But curious on your thoughts (if EQ is applied) also thinking on the level of detail, airyness and the soundstage between the 2.
The Susvara is not really a preferred option for me as I’m mostly listening from the couch not nearby my audio equipment. So I need something like the Hugo 2 which has no wires.
Don’t think that will drive the Susvara close to its potential.