The HiFiMAN Edition X is Delightful from Portable Players

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HiFiMAN Edition X ($1799)
HiFiMAN touts this headphone as great for direct play from portable devices—and I'll agree, it does play very well directly from a tablet or phone. Pretty nice not to have the burden and expense of having to carry around a portable amp, but at $1800 it doesn't really seem like a more affordable solution. And then, it's an open headphone while most portable cans are sealed to get rid of environmental noise. So...this is a flagship headphone for use with portable devices indoors? I'm not sure what to think...let's work through the details.

The HiFiMAN Edition X is a full-sized, open acoustic, planar magnetic headphone, which share much the same basic shape and structure as it's much more expensive sibling, the $3000 HE-1000. The build materials, however, are quite different, trading metal, wood, and leather for synthetic materials all the way around. Though the plastics may be of high grade, I find the materials used underwhelming for a headphone at this price.

The Edition X comes with two pliant, grey fabric covered cables: a 1.5 meter cable terminated in a 90 degree angled 3.5mm TRS plug; and a 3 meter cable terminated with a straight 1/4" TRS plug. Both cables have a "Y" junction about 18" from the headphones and terminate in 2.5mm TRS plugs connecting to the ear capsules. Also included is a full-size presentation case. As the Edition X is advertised as a headphone ideal for use directly from smartphones and tablets, I would have preferred to see a mic/remote on the mobile cable, and a portable hard-side carry case rather than the presentation case.

I found the Edition X a supremely comfortable headphone. Ear pads are cavernously large and comfy with plush velour covered ear pads. At 399 grams this is a fairly light planar magnetic headphone; the pleather headband strap is adequately cushioned and distributes the weight broadly and evenly over the head.

Headband adjustment range is good for male heads, but may not have enough range for smaller heads. The ear pads are also so large that a significant portion of the lower part of the ear pads rests on the jaw and neck. While I didn't find this uncomfortable at all, I did find it a bit odd and some listeners might be bothered by it a bit.

With the broad headband and large ear pads contacting a large surface area of my head, I find the Edition X to be quite stable and secure on my head. Rising from a pillow they easily remain in place.

So, a very comfortable headphone, but light on build quality and accessories for a headphone at this price. Let's see if there's something special about the sound quality on the next page.