HiFiMAN HE-1000 v2: unboxing and first impressions

Getting the HE-1000 v2 required some skill, bad luck and good luck. In the recent HiFiMAN HE-1000 International Photo Contest our photo took top place, which won us an EF-6 amplifier. We were stoked.

However, when that EF-6 came, there was something wrong with it. It is also the case that HiFiMAN didn’t have an EF-6 to replace it—I think it is actually discontinued and they are waiting to announce the replacement. So I was left without a prize, momentarily.

The customer service folks at HiFiMAN swung into action and offered me an exchange, so I’ve ended up with a former demo HE-1000 v2 instead of an EF-6 amplifier. Good trade. Very good trade. I’m crapping my pants that trade is so good. Of course there is the stipulation that I have to review it. No problem there.

 

This post will give some early impressions and some sexy unboxing photos. This headphone is £2599 and looks every bit of it.

Pictures, then impressions.

HiFiMAN boxes are famously plain. Most products don’t have a retail sleeve, per se. I’ve previously bought the HE-560 and the box looks basically the same. Inside, however there is fancy-looking storage box. The box is exactly the same box that the HE-1000 v1 came with.

The HE-1000 v2 comes with three springy cables, a 3m balanced 4-pin XLR cable, and single-ended cables with 6.3mm (3m) and 3.5mm (1.2m) terminations. The cables look durable but not exceptionally well-built. This kind of headphone calls for a nicer looking cable, I’m hoping to have one soon.

This is all of the contents of the non-descript box. Except the toys and erasers at the top. Those are all me.

First impressions:

  • Big cubical stage, basically equal height/width/depth. Stage is not huge but is large and well defined.
  • Layering is spectacular
  • There are in-ears that have as big a soundstage—Effect Audio Arthur comes to mind
  • I’ll be doing volume matched comparisons to Noble Kaiser Encore when I formally review, we’ll see how the soundstage keeps up then
  • Extraordinarily detailed. I’m hearing tiny details that I’ve not noticed before. Little fret motions deep in the stage, etc…
  • Details are easily represented at the periphery of the stage
  • The bass is beefier than the HE-1000 v1, but it doesn’t appear quite as linear and I’m still figuring out which I prefer more. This is definitely not reference bass.
  • There is more energy to the sound than the v1. The v1 was an easy going headphone, some thought lazily easy-going–I wasn’t one of them.
  • The headphone is comfortable, but the cups are big, so you will feel it on your chin if you don’t have a humongous head. I have a large head, and I used the second the third smallest size out of seven. If your head is akin to Jack Skellington, this sucker still might fit you.
  • I’ve tried to put a lot of headphones on my toddler’s head. These are the first headphones she has loved. We threw on some Dire Straits (Money for Nothing, fitting first track on the new headphones) and ELO and she kept asking for more.

The intro for Densha Otoko above using ELO – Twilight off of Time. It’s a great Japanese show about defying norms and star-crossed romance with an assist from wonderful people on the internet. The show is goofy and wonderful and more than a little sappy. The closing music with Sambomaster is pretty excellent too.

This is what listening to these songs did for my daughter.

“More.”

This is her intense excitement face

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