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HIFIMAN Edition XS – King Of Stealth & Neo Supernano

HIFIMAN Edition XS –  King Of Stealth & Neo Supernano

 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS is a revolutionary headphone made by HIFIMAN, released in 2021, and priced at an aggressive price of 499 USD, creating competition for everyone, and pushing the market to bring the best headphones possible at more affordable prices. They will be compared to other similarly priced headphones, and more expensive ones as well, including Sendy Audio Apollo (500 USD), HIFIMAN Ananda (999 USD), Denon AH-D7200 (700 USD), Dan Clark Aeon Flow RT (500 USD), and iBasso SR-2 (500 USD). 

 


 

 

 

Introduction

 

HIFIMAN started to become better and better lately, their headphones being the crème de la crème in the audiophile world. It feels like they are the most wanted when it comes to over-the-ear headphones, and even in Romania, they are the most popular company as far as sales go, with at least 10 of my friends having purchased Arya Stealth after reading my review, and tens others having Deva PRO and Ananda. I can see the appeal, they make nice sound, but Edition XS goes for even more, promising a revised design and ergonomic compared to previous HIFIMAN models, along with the epic sound we’re used for, so today’s review will study whether they deliver on those promises and whether Edition XS is a worthy purchase at the moment. It may come as a surprise, but this is the first time I consider the release of a well priced headphone to be a market disruptor, but we’ll explore this towards the end of the review. 

 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in HIFIMAN Edition XS find their next music companion. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab a pair of the Crosszone CZ-10 Headphones from www.amazon.com here: 

 

 

 

Packaging

 

First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

 

 

 

 

The unboxing experience of Edition XS is really good, similar to that of Deva PRO and Deva, although Edition XS is not made to be compatible with the Bluemini R2R DAC Adapter. 

 

HIFIMAN includes a typical audio cable, the angled one, along with a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter with Edition XS. 

 

 

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

 

Starting with the technical information available on Edition XS, they are using many new pieces of technology above the original Edition X, with an improved headband, a more ergonomic design, and with the inclusion of the new Stealth Magnets, along with the Neo supernano Diaphragm. The diaphragm of Edition XS is 75% thinner than that of the original Edition X, and it has a much faster response time, with much lower distortion. 

 

 

 

 

The Stealth magnets are similar to those presented in HIFIMAN Arya Stealth, which I reviewed recently, and they are basically acoustically stealthy, and shaped in such a way that they will enable free pass through of the sonic waves, without reflecting anything back to the listener, lowering the overall distortions, increasing the clarity, and creating a more natural sonic presentation than headphones with traditional planar magnets. They look like shades and make for a slightly improved aesthetic, but you’re not very likely to notice it if you put Edition X and Edition XS drivers side by side, unless you look inside the cups. 

 

 

HIFIMAN also changed the headband design, and went for the same design as we’ve seen on HIFIMAN Deva PRO and other recent headphones, with the new extremely lightweight, softer headband for much better comfort. While I have not reviewed the Edition X before, I did review the original HIFIMAN Arya, which used the previous headband design, and the new one is actually more comfortable, and structurally better for long term integrity. Edition XS is actually literally in top 3 lightest headphones I ever reviewed, and weighing just 405grams, but with a good weight distribution provided by both the headband and the earcups / earpads, they are among the most comfortable headphones ever made. The pinching force / clamping force seems to be evenly distributed, and it helps with the weight distribution as well, as the earpads slightly push against your head, creating a really even fit for Edition XS. 

 

 

I did take them for a walk outdoors, using a custom cable and a 4.4mm Music Player, but I don’t think they were designed for this, since they have a really low sensitivity of just 92 dB, and won’t get extremely loud from portable sources, the impedance being low at 18 Ohms. This means that you will need a high quality source for Edition XS, otherwise you risk running out of juice, as well as into current overdrive easily (both problems with the source, not the headphones). There is no headband creak or comfort problem, but Edition XS isolates none, and I can hear myself typing this review, even with music playing through them. They also leak openly, and that’s a big part of the Stealth Magnets design, they are supposed to have as little resistance to passing sonic waves as possible, to offer the best overall listening experience. 

 

 

All in all, HIFIMAN revealed a really well made, well designed headphone, with one of the best comforts seen to date, but which is hard to drive and I really would recommend considering desktop amplifiers and DAC/AMPs for Edition XS, along with an upgraded cable, to have enough juice for them. With the lateral swivel provided by the headband, they are going to be comfortable for everyone’s head, regardless of the shape and size. 

 

 

 

Sound Quality

 

I want to start by saying that the Edition XS is crazy power hungry, and to get most out of them, you need a high capacity, high power, high quality amplifier, and they won’t let you settle for less, being rather hard to drive and even harder to master. The sources that they sound best with are Astell & Kern A&Ultima SP2000T (using a 4.4mm cable for the balanced output), Violectric HPA V340 Amplifier, Cyrus One Cast, Keces S3, Smyth A16 Realiser, Rebel AMP, Audio Analogue AAdac. Most of the impressions in today’s review have been taken with Astell & Kern SE180 and Lotoo PAW6000, as I have those on my desk, using them both daily. 

 

 

When driven properly, the HIFIMAN Edition XS sounds exactly as a pair of ultra high end speakers with warm tuning, in a well treated room. The reason I’m using this description is that the soundstage and naturalness of Edition XS is unique, they are incredibly open and transparent, and when they are driven well, the impact and dynamics are better than most headphones can offer, regardless of the price range. I do think that they potentially make competition for other HIFIMAN Headphones, like Arya Stealth and Ananda, having a sound that easily rivals them, but at a much lower price. Edition XS has a less neutral tuning than either Ananda or Arya Stealth though, and the midrange is sweet, warm, while the bass is quick and neutral in quantity, and the treble is smooth in textures, well extended, relaxed and clean. One could say that Edition XS leans in between being midrange-centric and natural, with a good emphasis on the midrange, and most of the energy and impact coming from the mids. The overall sound of Edition XS is super relaxed, natural and lush, perfect for basically any music style, and enjoyable for days on end. HIFIMAN Edition XS prefers medium listening volumes and sounds best when listened quietly, at medium and medium-high volumes. 

 

 

The bass of Edition XS is super clean, quick and has a neutral quantity, basically allowing the listener to experience real-life-like dynamics and speed for the lows, but with a neutral and clean presentation. You learn to appreciate the finer nuance between different types of bass presented in music, and Edition XS is great at revealing even minor details in music that you otherwise wouldn’t notice. Edition XS is best for acoustic, natural and realistic music, and provides less of that blunt and forceful presentation that we generally appreciate in EDM, Techno and Dubstep. Even with songs like Asking Alexandria – A Prophecy sound impactful, deep and dynamic, although most of the impact is in the lows of Edition XS. HIFIMAN’s Ananda has more bass, weight and impact than Edition XS, while Arya Stealth has even more bass and impact than Ananda

 

 

The midrange of Edition XS is clearly the best part of their sound, and they are headphones made with the focus on instruments, voices, musicality and the soundstage. I am not even sure how you can tune something to sound so transparent, to have so little signature of their own, and present music so transparent. Edition XS takes the whole concept of headphones and throws it away, revealing a really clean, natural presentation but which is open, more so than even some budget speakers that can sound very unidimensional. Edition XS has superb musicality, with good emphasis and sweetening of basically everything, from male voices, female voices, guitars, violins, basically everything sounding natural, clean, sweet, musical and superb through them. The overall midrange is about as open on Edition XS as it is on Arya Stealth, but it has a sweeter, warmer presentation. There’s less thickness on Edition XS than there is on Ananda, which makes Edition XS more transparent, quicker in dynamics and overall impact, and more transparent. The best part is that the sound stays always natural and super detailed, and even listening through my usual playlist, I noticed many new instruments in songs that I noticed, Edition XS’s more midrange centric sound showing new information in songs even after I’ve heard that song with much more expensive headphones. They even manage to stay relaxed and fatigue-free, with this signature, effortless and well mannered, but since most of the impact is in the midrange, the bass remains neutral, nuanced more than it has quantity. Instrument separation is top notch, and comparable to most 1000 USD priced headphones, but I noticed that Edition XS tends to reveal soundstage rather than forcing their own stage on music, basically music that was recorded in a larger room, or with a wider presentation in mind sound really wide, while music recorded to sound more narrow sounding closer to the listener (still quite wide and large). 

 

The treble of Edition XS is smooth in textures, but their signature can be said to be slightly bright, having more top end extension and quantity than it has in the lows. The treble has excellent detail and texture, it has a fast, but slightly wet texture, which takes away the edge the treble would normally have, and leads to a pretty natural and well mannered treble. In fact, the treble of Edition XS can be said to be relaxed, despite their tendency to have a slightly bright tuning, and they are generally super enjoyable regardless of the mastering quality. In fact, Edition XS shows if the mastering quality was poor in the bass much easier, and they reveal distortions in the bass easily, while they tend to hide problems with the mids and the treble, all music sounding basically sweet and euphonic through them, from Iron Maiden to Ghost and Linkin Park. The best overall presentation is with music that’s made to sound natural and clean, rather than over processed and loud, and Edition XS has excellent dynamics, so the sound is better when the mastering has more dynamics and allows for more overall information about the stage to be presented to the listener. 

 

 

 

Comparisons 

 

 

 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS vs Dan Clark Aeon Flow RT (499 USD vs 500 USD) – If you ever read my review on Aeon Flow, you probably know that I have a great deal of respect for Dan Clark and the company, as they provide some excellent quality headphones, for good prices, so I won’t hesitate to say that the build quality is excellent for both Edition XS and Aeon Flow RT. The overall comfort is better on Edition XS, which has less clamping force, larger earpads, and a more comfortable overall fit. The weight feels lower on Edition XS, as the weight distribution is more even. In terms of sonics, Edition XS is superb, and it provides a really transparent, midrange centric sound, with great details, but Aeon flow is exactly the other way around. We have a really strong U-Shaped signature in Aeon Flow RT, with a strong emphasis on the sub bass, and upper treble, a strongly recessed midrange, and tons of details / resolution. Aeon Flow RT can sound fatiguing and strong headed at times, which is why I consider Edition XS to be exactly the opposite to it, as Edition Xs is a headphone with a pleasing sound, tons of details, but a relaxing, mid centric presentation that comes through as natural with most music. Both Aeon Flow RT and Edition XS are hard to drive, but you could get Aeon Flow RT up and running with some good portables, while for Edition XS, you mainly want to get a stronger desktop headphone amplifier, especially fi you listen loud. 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS vs Denon AH-D7200 (499 USD vs 700 USD) – I found that the support of a company is important when committing to a purchase, and Denon’s absolute absence in the lives of their customers, with no support for their products really shows when their headphones inquired a problem and I needed to solve it, being left to order components myself from their local shop, whom did not even deliver those completely, lacking some acoustic dampeners in the back. HIFIMAN’s outstanding support has been shown already, with many customers stating that they are happy with the service they received, but the comfort of HIFIMAN Edition XS is also considerably better than AH-D7200, which has a somewhat good fit, but the earpads are too shallow, and hard, providing worse fit and seal than Edition XS. The default cable is better on Edition XS as well. The overall tuning is more V-Shaped on AH-D7200, but it has much better resolution, better details, better dynamics, impact, a much wider and deeper soundstage, better instrument separation, and is generally more transparent and quicker on HIFIMAN Edition XS. In fact, Edition XS is so good that it puts the AH-D7200 to shame, showing how much the sonics have improved over the most recent years, and that despite all the hardships happening to the world, passion for art and music will eventually win. 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS vs HIFIMAN Ananda (499 USD vs 999 USD) – Ananda is a superb headphone through and through, highly acclaimed, but in terms of comfort and build quality, Edition XS is an instant winner for me, as it has a better headband (the same as the one seen on Deva PRO), which has lateral swivel and more adjustment, where Ananda’s headband does not swivel laterally. The drive factor is slightly better on Ananda, which is slightly easier to drive than Edition XS. The overall sonic presentation has slightly more bass on Ananda, with more depth and impact, while it is wider in the soundstage, with more impact and dynamics on Edition XS, and the new HIFIMAN Stealth Magnet and Super Nano diaphragm shines here, leading to an improved sound for Edition XS, provided you have what it takes to drive them, and you like a slightly more mid centric, brighter tuned sound, compared to Ananda, which has a slightly more natural overall sound. Ananda has a slightly thicker midrange, where Edition XS has a quicker sound, in bass, midrange and treble. In many ways, Edition XS feels like a veritable upgrade over Ananda, especially speed, details and overall resolution, but Ananda is more lush, where Edition XS trades some of that midrange thickness for some extra transparency. 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS vs Sendy Audio Apollo (499 USD vs 500 USD) – I actually thought about this comparison a lot because both are recent headphones, and both are planar magnetic headphones, both having a really similar sound. I actually do not have one I prefer over the other here, both being excellent through and through, both are super comfortable and equal as far as comfort and weight handling goes, both have a superb build quality, but Sendy Audio Apollo comes with balanced cables from the factory too, while you have to outsource one for Edition XS. The raw detail is higher on Edition XS, and so is the overall impact, as it provides more bass, and a more punchy sound, but both headphones have a huge soundstage, both are super musical, and Apollo is more relaxed, more mellow, softer and more gentle. Both show about the same amount of nuance in music, and similar levels of details. Apollo handles extremely high volumes a bit better and is easier to drive, which is a bonus if you’re mainly using DAPs and less powerful sources, where a well powered Edition XS can be better in impact, width, details and resolution but you can expect investing at least 500 – 1000 USD more in the source for this proper power. 

 

HIFIMAN Edition XS vs iBasso SR-2 (499 USD vs 500 USD) – We have two headphones that both seem relaxing and somewhat midrange focused here, but the actual sonic presentation is rather different. SR-2 is slightly easier to drive than Edition XS, but both are fairly hard to drive and need a high quality source for the best user experience. The biggest difference between them, build wise, is that Edition XS has ovoid earcups, which may help some folks get better comfort, but the earpads of SR2 are slightly harder in nature, but have a softer padding. The sonic presentation has slightly more bass on Edition XS, with more focus on details, and more treble extension, also a wider soundstage. SR2 has a thicker, slower midrange, which can come through as more natural, whereas Edition XS has a brighter tuning, having a quicker overall sound. All in all, both are great for acoustic music, and both headphones can play some well with the proper source, and choosing between them should be done based on whether you price more thickness to the sound, SR2, or if you want more detail, wider stage, and a quicker sound, Edition XS. 

 

 

 

Value and Conclusion

 

At the end of the day, HIFIMAN Edition XS has an outstanding value, and it is one of the best priced headphones ever released into the wild, so I just hope that HIFIMAN has enough stocks and supply to cover the demand. I am sure I will not be the only one reviewing them, and I will not be the only one who’s enthusiastic about them, so if you’re looking for a headphone that has a good value, then Edition XS is simply superb.

 

 

The build quality of Edition XS is great, the ergonomics and comfort is excellent, and besides the fact that they’re an open window with no passive noise isolation, that leaks your music to your surroundings, there is absolutely nothing that I could complain about. In fact, they sound so amazing that I am actually willing to name Edition XS one of the best headphones ever created, especially for those who want a relaxing, clean, and midrange – centric – natural sound, so I will be adding them to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, right next to Sendy Audio Apollo, which goes for a similar signature, but ends up being rather different, as I’ve highlighted in the comparisons part above. 

 

 

At the end of today’s written review, if you’re looking for outstanding dynamics, a really open soundstage, superb instrument separation, and excellent comfort, HIFIMAN Edition XS is one of the headphones to look forward to, they are simply that great, and I feel like we discovered a real jewel here, so I suggest being on the lookout, they are a steal at 500 USD, especially relative to the market and other headphones. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3ueykf9

 

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3q2jOpn

 

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3MO3jXx

 

 

 



 

 

 

— Please remember to stay safe, and always have fun while listening to music!—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Playlist used for this review

 

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!

 

If you have a dime to spare (donate), it would make my day much brighter, as it would help me improve things around the website and increase the frequency of my posts.

 

Youtube Playlist

 

 

Tidal Playlist

 

https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

 

 

 

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5 Comments

  1. Super well written review, and this is exactly what I thought when I heard them! I wonder why other people are reporting on an increased quantity of bass, maybe they are copying from each other. In truth, they sound exactly as you describe, and I wish more people could check out Audiophile-Heaven to get their dose of honesty online

  2. Mayank Bhargava

    If one owns Edition XS and a Lotto Paw S1 DAC and is on a very tight budget, then would a XDuoo MT 602 be sufficient to drive Edition XS?

    Setup:

    Tidal on PC > Lotto Paw S1 > XDuoo MT 602 via 3.5 mm to RCA cable > Edition XS

    1. George Dobrescu

      Hi, it should work fine, although you could consider hip-dac2 as well, it should have better sonics. MT602 might hold back Edition XS, detail and clarity wise

  3. I really love your channel. You should have done a video on this review. Your photos are also excellent in lighting and Boka effects. I just got these headphones and am on my honeymoon stage. Have the Sundara too but returning it as this makes it useless to me because it’s almost double in sound quality thanks to its scale. I was concerned over the size of the unit over my head but that quickly died off and now I’m pretty hooked.

    1. George Dobrescu

      Hii friend, I’m really happy to help!!

      Also, I am working on the video review of Edition XS, trying to push through a fairly full schedule, but I promise to give it high priority and post it as soon as possible!

      Happy to hear you found a fun place with Edition XS. The next upgrade to get the same level of improvement will probably be Arya Stealth, but you can put that back for after you grow bored of what you already have, you should take the time to enjoy XS to the max before going to the next big step!

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