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✒️ Author: Kah Hon | 📷 Photo: Willy
When the Hifiman Edition X was first launched, it made quite a big commotion among the audiophile space featuring a full sized, open backed planar headphones, low power driving requirements while having the same open resolving sound characteristics as the HE1000S. The reborn Edition XS is the successor of the legendary Edition X, with newer technologies brought over at a more affordable price. The Edition XS retails for RM1999, slotting itself in between the Sundara and Ananda. The Edition XS also features the NEO supernano diaphragm and stealth magnet technology lifted off from Hifiman’s flagship, the Susvara.
The build quality is basically the same as the Ananda and that is a good thing. The overall construction is made from metal, with the same large comfy earpads and overall shape as the Ananda. The only exception will be the new improved lightweight padded headband and a different stock cable provided in the box. This is more of a personal choice, as some people prefer the previous top leather strap, but the new headband has reduced the overall weight of the headphone which is always a nice welcome. The cable provided is also the same one found with the 400SE and Sundara, while the translucent cable still is only provided for their flagship range of headphones. The cable does actually affect the sound quality when comparing headphones as I will elaborate further on.
Another welcome improvement is the lower power requirements; the Edition XS having a low 18 ohm impedance and 92db sensitivity, does not require a very powerful setup to bring the best out of it. I have tried plugging the XS with the iFi Zen Dac v2 and it powered the Hifiman without much issues and even less so with the balanced output. However, like the rest of the Hifiman line of planar headphones, the Edition XS does benefit and scales up from having a relatively powerful amplifier, plugging into more beefy setups from Audio GD, Aune as well as Topping, and you can appreciate the headroom and performance they provide.
Although the price comparison places the Edition XS in between the Sundara and Ananda, I would like to clarify that the Edition XS shares more similarities in tuning with the Ananda compared to the Sundara. The Sundara has a different tuning overall, therefore I would not say the Edition XS is an outright sonic upgrade. Comparing the sound between the Sundara and Edition XS, the Sundara has a smaller sound stage and more intimate signature, but the Sundara does excel in timbre and imaging. The Edition XS sounds more spacious and open with a slightly more transparent sound.
Despite the Ananda and Edition XS having a very similar overall tuning and sound signature, the Ananda is still a step above the Edition XS and has it beat when it comes to the technicalities; it has more resolution, more open and revealing in detail retrieval. The Ananda’s does scale better with higher end equipment, as it is more sensitive, squeezing out more sound quality when connected to a more powerful/resolving amp setup.
The biggest change during my comparison between the 2 headphones was when swapping the stock cables. This came at a surprise when testing the headphones out with their respective stock cables, the Edition XS sounds roughly about 90-93% similar, however when using the Ananda stock cable on both headphones, the sonic difference became much closer, almost roughly 95%. The cable swap sound is quite obvious once doing an A-B comparison; it seems that the black stock cable provided with the XS, has a more intimate sound stage as well as mids being slightly further away.
Is the Hifiman Edition XS a great buy? Absolutely. You are essentially getting a pair of Hifiman Ananda’s, with almost identical build quality and sound to match, but at a much more affordable price point for many. When comparing the 2 Hifimans, I cannot help but compare this to another audiophile brand, Moondrop with their Starfield and Aria offering; they also sold the Aria which has 90% of the sound signature with the Starfields for a much more palatable price. This feels like dejavu (the good kind). If you love the sound of Hifiman flagships, but have been slightly discouraged by the price tag, these are definitely a model worth checking out and shortlisting.
◆ Neo Supernano Diaphragm
◆ Stealth Magnet
◆ Improved lightweight headband
◆ Invisible magnet architecture
◆ Low power requirements
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◇ Retail : RM1999 | Promo : PM for best price⠀
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