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Massdrop x HIFIMAN Edition XX Headphones

Massdrop x HIFIMAN Edition XX Headphones

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Product Description
For those seeking a first-rate pair of planar magnetics, “XX” marks the spot. Our fourth collaboration with HIFIMAN, the Edition XX is a full-size, open-back headphone with the same basic shape and structure as its more expensive siblings: the HE1000, Edition X V2, and Ananda Read More
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All of our reviews are from verified customers.
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46
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83%
would recommend to a friend
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Paddyirish234
57
Jul 17, 2019
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The BEST Value for money one can get
I'd like to start by first detailing what headphones i have owned and had experience with. Audio technica M50x, m70x, Hifiman 400S, Hifiman 400i, HD650, HE 4XX, Sundara's and now currently the HEX V2 and XX. I'm doing this so you get an idea of the sound style i prefer so if you are quite similar i can certainly recommend this headphone as essentially a end game headphone for most of you. After several years with closed back headphones such as the Audio Technica i started to become frustrated with how closed sounding they were and how everything just felt so congested. Also how piercing the highs were and the bloated over exaggerated bass started to annoy me aswell. I was seeking a more Open detailed sound while still being engaging and fun. The 400S were my beginning set and i loved them, how open and detailed they were alone was enough to justify moving to Open back headphones, later however as the dust settled i grew weary with the poor bass response and the highs would get quite sharp at times so i jumped on the 400i which i fell in love with and i knew from then there was no going back to a closed headphone. They were less sharp in the highs and smoother and also have a much meatier bass presence that made the sound feel alive. They later broke so i bought the 4XX which sounded identical to the 400i, i then bought the HD650 as they were hyped up to being one of THE best sounding headphone's for the price and to be honest i was kind of surprised, first in how similar they sounded to the 400i/4xx and second how it is still so hyped up with today's competition. The 400i/4xx does almost everything better, bass response is deeper and cleaner, vocals are more forward and present and sound-stage was much larger, the HD650's actually have quite a small soundstage for a open headphone. I then decided to purchase the Sundara's blindly without listening to them, when they arrived and i had a listen i was quite underwhelmed with some aspects while at the same time impressed with other aspects. The lacked in that mid bass punch which for house/techno was quite underwhelming while also having a much larger sound-stage giving an airy sense of space in the sound, imaging was the best i heard in this price range aswell as being the most detailed i had heard in this area. It just lacked that presence and fun sound the 400i/4xx had so i decided to bite the bullet and get the HEX V2, i was BLOWN away. They have deeper, punchier and cleaner bass than the 400i/4xx while having a slightly larger soundstage and air of the Sundara's. Forward and energetic sounding like the 400i/4xx although with better clarity and alot more detailed. I end up selling the Sundara's as i couldn't listen to them in comparison, they sounded like too much of a laid back over articulate non fun sounding headphone in comparison to the HEX V2 especially with house/techno and rock. I then decided to purchase the XX as a travel pair/backup to the endgame for me HEX V2 as i heard they were similar. After comparing both the XX and HEX V2 in terms of sound they are identical just as the 4xx is to the 400i. The XX require just a little bit more juice but apart from that they do everything just as good. If there is any differences it is MINOR and i couldn't hear it. Because of this you are getting a headphone for $600 that sounds as good and better than many headphones at $1000 and more. the sound here is certainly high end and what makes them so special is that they are an all rounder. People pay so much for headphones like the HD800 that apparently only do specific genres well. This headphone does all genres well. Bass is netural as if the song requires then it will extend very low, punch deep in a crisp and clean manner and doesn't bleed into the mid's. The sound is quite a warm, lush, forward presence while giving the sense of being in a spacious environment. The Sundara's felt like an alleyway whereas these are more of a club environment. I was seeking a larger soundstage from each upgrade and honestly these are the most open yet while still feeling quite warm. These are the second most comfortable headphone i have worn after the HEX V2, the only downside i can say is that the lead i feel is poor quality. It kinks and wraps up on itself constantly which is quite poor for the price. Other leads are easily purchased however. Apart from that you are getting a high end headphone for $600. When you look at the headphone market today which is 50% about what features is offered these blow all competition in this price range away in terms of sound. If you want a fun, energetic engaging, detailed airy sound then for this price you'll get no better. Highly recommend 
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Would recommend to a friend.
Pakalini
26
Dec 4, 2019
Paddyirish234So $500 now, why no hype around it if it's thaaat goood? Cause it isn't?
Paddyirish234
57
Dec 18, 2019
PakaliniHifiman isn't as well know among the casual listener as Sennheiser. For someone who is just looking to enter the audiophile market for a well priced headphone for quality sound the number of different brands can be a bit overwhelming so they tend to stick to the ones they know and the likes of Senneiser is up there. Hifiman just isn't as well known so there will be less people willing to risk the purchase unless they know exactly what they are looking for
LowFiMan
60
Jul 20, 2019
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Gne gne, they're ugly so they're bad. Please. So this is my first review, don't expect anything spectacular. Let's start with a bit of a history of my audio gear. My first pair of "legit" headphones were the V-Moda Crossfade M-100's and I enjoyed them a lot. V-shaped obviously, the construction was quite sturdy, wore them to and at school, clamping was great. The sound was quite detailed, liked the whole experience overall, haven't heard them in 2 years so unfortunately, I can't recall the experience that much. The screws holding the cliqfold mechanism started stripping and the piece holding the cups fell of the headband, never sent for warranty cause I'm a lazy fuck, anyways. 3 months after buying the V-Moda's, I learned about the TH-X00's and I loved the look, started looking into them and learned that they were a great bargain for the money, so I eventually bought them with a modi 2 uber dac. My amp is an old Sony STR-S255, does the trick but I'll be buying a Valhalla 2 soon (if you know a good tube amp that pairs nice with them post a comment, I'm always open for propositions). I'd qualify my THX-00's as my first "real" audiophile headphones. The bass is quite impressive, the driver slaps hard and goes deep down, low, mids were bit recessed for my liking at first. Why would I say at first you might ask, well, I modified them quite a bit. Bought some hm-5 sheepskin pads, made them detachable with 3.5 mm females and installed a tune-up from Lawton, made them less bass oriented, cleared up the mids and made them a more enjoyable headphones for my taste, very well balanced, bass doesn't overpower anything, they're are less sibilant, but still very detailed up there. So after enjoying them for a while, I tried the Hifiman Editon X V2's at an audio shop (was my first planar experience too) and trully admired the sound that came from them. They were paired to a cocktail audio dac and cayin ha-a1 mk2 amp, everything sounded great from this setup, sound was huge, bass hit hard and the detail was incredible. So after being biased by this experience, I knew I needed those, but at a 1800 cad price point, they were far from cheap. So when I saw the Edition XX's make an appearance, I knew I had to have them. After a year of waiting, I finally gave up and bought these. Will have to listen to the v2's to see if the sound compares. So after all that useless reading you might say, can you talk about the damn xx's? Yes, here it is. So I got them in the mail 12 days ago, first impression was great, packaging was cheap but I couldn't care less, I'm in for the phones not a damn box. Cable is utter trash, loops everywhere and feels weird, splitter is cheap plastic, but the plugs are nice, they feel sturdy and don't feel like breaking anytime soon (I destroy my cables but have no idea how, I just do). The build quality is very nice, they are heavy, but in a good way, they feel solid and don't feel like breaking like my damn X00's (you'll find many users break the screw off the piece holding the cup, it's way too tiny and I find the design mistake unacceptable for a headphone at that price point). So how was the sound at first? They were grainy and I got a lot of distortion at first, but after a few hours of breaking in they became bassier and sounded better as a whole. This review is written by a bass head, yes I'm young and I like bass, how impressive. I love the bass coming from these, thumps hard, goes way low, stays detailed and tight. I often listen to trap beats and rap/trap instrumentals and they still sound great and enjoyable on these. The mids are present, a bit recessed, but still present and detailed. I listen to Rap, Black Metal, Alternative Pop, Pop, Trap, Dubstep, Riddim, and many more genres and they all sound great on these. I don't think I found a song that sounds boring on these, the soundstage is immense, echoes sound infinite, voices stay clear and have more body than my TH-X00's. What surprised me the most about these headphones, is how the voices might sound recessed, but they stay extremely detailed and sharp. The treble on these headphones is exactly what I want from cans, it's very detailed, but never gets sibilant and I have very sensitive ears so some headphones give me a headache. To conclude my review, do I think they're worth the price? Yes, entirely, if you want a neutral and analytic sound, you're not buying the right headphones, but if you want a listening experience, well balanced nicely colored headphone that performs well and is soft to your ears, you're up for a treat. I'll leave this here, I think you guys have read enough. Edit: Bought me a Valhalla 2, mids are now more present, bass slaps way harder and the overall experience is more enjoyable. Get a good amp bois, they'll benefit from it a lot!
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LowFiMan
60
Jul 26, 2019
Appreciated ;)
acebb6
42
Aug 30, 2019
LowFiManParagraphs!
Socratease
191
May 29, 2019
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Really good, but not perfect. Doesn't have the "Wow!" effect of my HE-500, especially on female vocals, probably because of the roll-off of high frequencies. The imaging also seems to be down a notch, though that might just be because of what I'm used to hearing. On the plus side, detail is amazing, and the low end is great -- not emphasized at all, but it's just there, pretty much as low as you want to go. Non-fatiguing to listen to unlike the HE-500, could listen to it for hours, but with flatter response and more detail than an HD-600. Definitely feel like I got my money's worth.
FuckHead-Fi
429
Jun 21, 2019
SocrateaseThe treble is boosted, not rolled off.
MRphotographycom
71
Dec 10, 2019
Thanks this is what I was looking for!
Waynerey
100
May 25, 2019
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The sound of the Edition XX's is beyond the expectations I had for these phones when I entered the drop so long ago. It was a long wait for delivery but now I am so happy that I took the jump and waited patiently. In short, the HiFiMan Edition XXs are amazing, magnificent, a winning Grand Slam of a success for Massdrop. These will become legendary for the Drop. They are articulate, every sound well defined, clear, individual notes of music suspended in their own space. There is no smearing of the sound, just the clarity. These headphones are a bit lush sounding, rich, almost a bodily feel to the sound as if you could reach out and hug it. It spreads out in front of you in a huge space. The music just seems to emerge out of space, rising up and up into the ether and surrounds me. This is more of an experience than anything else. It sometimes seems that I am a participant in the musical creation rather than just an observer sitting in a hall or theater. This is uncanny. It is holographic, a virtual reality in which I am suspended. The sound just surrounds me. It goes behind my ears. it wraps around my head, sound almost seems to emerge behind my head. I am in the center and the sounds just swirl around me. I think it is this aspect that makes these phones so special. The bass on these phones is fast, tight, clear and bottomless. The treble is crystalline, sharp, shinning. It sparkles but it is not fatiguing, I listen for hours. The mid range is a bit recessed but not much, not much at all, just enough to give a sense of depth to the soundstage presented before you. It is very real sounding. That is another special plus of these phones, everything sounds so real, so alive, so palpable, to use that old audiophile chestnut of a word. I have not had this experience with headphones before. This is what makes these different, special from other phones. I am sure there are better phones out there, more expensive, more beautiful in appearance with more cache and pedigree, but I have not heard them and doubt I could even afford them. I will have to live happily ever after with these, an incredible bargain for $600. I love the HiFiMan Edition XXs.
ShawnP.Watson
154
Jun 4, 2019
Both the iSilencer and the iPurifier3 run off battery of the USB. The BL is not equipped with blue tooth. For that you would need the xDSD or the xCAN.
JUNNIOR
6
Jun 4, 2019
ShawnP.WatsonI intend to use with my Fiio M6 or my phone every once in a while, or on the notebook, both using USB.
ShawnP.Watson
154
May 25, 2019
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All that I expected and more. Fabulously spacious presentation with nice, full bodied macro dynamics--expecially in the low low end. Vocals are crystal clear, and highs are very nice without becoming sibilant at all. I do have good 55 year old hearing but am limited to 14kHz so bare this in mind. That said, by comparison..... Sundara's treble presentation, while smooth, was intollerable by comparison to XX for me. Sundara's high end sounded echoey and ghostly which became fatiguing and unnatural. Sundara suffers from compessed dynamics and weak low end. BUT, XX is in a whole other league above Sundara. No question. XX is extremely comforable even with it's large drivers. Headband works just fine. The sound signature is natural and dynamic with a spacious and relaxed (not too relaxed) presentation. It's a winner--a pure winner. P.S. The stock cable is kind of a rubbery coiling mess. I'd opt for the Periapt, Type 8 cable for like $50-65 I believe.
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ShawnP.Watson
154
Jun 15, 2019
Yes, the cable is a mess. Ananda, back 9 months ago when I ordered mine, was a firm $1000. I love my XX. Some don't like Ananada and many don't like Sundara including me. Don't need a booklet, box, etc. I checked my grills and they are metal I believe...I don't think that are "silver painted" but I could be wrong. Headband is robust enough for me and is pretty darn comfortable. I'm 55yrs old and don't detect any brightness at all. My hearing is limited to 14kHz. There might be just a smidge of "edge" to the treble but to me it's neglible. Ananda may in fact be a better deal NOW at around $850 than XX at $599. I made the best decision I could make 10 months ago and I have no regrets at all.
ShawnP.Watson
154
Jul 1, 2019
Wonderful, you've re-clarified yourself wonderfully. I've heard the Arya is really A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
FuckHead-Fi
429
Jun 11, 2019
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Yay, another bright and artificial sounding headphone I do not like, subjectively. Also, the cable is the worst quality headphone cable I have ever seen. This is not OK for a $600 headphone. Cheap Sennheisers sound better because they are more neutral.
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Would not recommend to a friend.
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robo24
130
Aug 6, 2019
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Very nice, 4.5 stars
While I'm not blown away by these, they are growing on me more, as did the Elex and I find them definitely worth the money. I'm no audiophile so can only describe in pretty limited terms. Pros--you're basically getting a slightly different Edition X V2 for less than those go used, at least according to what I've read by those who have owned both. The soundstage is very good, but not as wide as some others I own, which are known for their soundstage width. Details come through very well, they're pretty comfortable with just the right amount of clamp force, and they're quite a step up from the HE-4XX. Those were nice, and maybe had a wider soundstage, but seemed to lack oomph or something. I sold them and the 6XX to buy these. Got about half the cost of these by selling those and don't regret it at all. Unlike the Elex, I think of the Edition XX as a Super-6XX. They sound warmer than the treble heavy cans I own, like the Elex and HD700. I find them pretty versatile, and don't find myself thinking they sound worse with certain genres of music or specific songs. Cons-I think the headband, while functional and comfortable, looks cheap and unbalanced. It sort of has ridges to it on the top side, as did the HE-4XX. I find the headband on the Edition X, Arya, and such to at least look more modern and fancy. If you have a small head, these might be a problem fit. They came at the smallest setting, and I noticed Joshua Valour (who reviewed my pair) also wore them at that setting. These are the only cans I wear on the smallest setting. Another con is that while comfortable, they're sort of middling comfortable. The pressure in a couple spots gets annoying after a bit. The cord is awful, but with 3.5mm connectors, many aftermarket cables work fine. I use the same cables I used for the HE-4XX. I know there have been complaints about HiFiMan QC, but I've had no issues with either pair I've bought from Drop. I'd say if you know you like the sound of the Edition X, you'll be happy with these. I find they sound great with the DACs/Amps I own: Hugo2, Loxjie P20 & Woo WA7 (gen 1) via SMSL SU-8 as DAC. If they were slightly more comfortable, had an even wider soundstage, and cost $100 less they'd be a strong 5 stars, but I'd give them 4.5 if I could here. Overall I personally enjoy them more than the Elex, and far more than the two I sold off (which are 1/3 of the price).
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Would recommend to a friend.
shrimants
64
Oct 26, 2019
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Excellent headphone, just what I wanted. Cable is shockingly bad.
Dont really know what I can put, I auditioned these and PLENTY of others before I chose them. To be perfectly clear, I did not "settle" for these. As soon as I heard them, i was absolutely floored. It was the EXACT sound signature I was looking for. Lets get the negatives out of the way real quick. The box packaging is basically a shoe box. There is no quality or premium feeling to it. You get a cardboard box, no sleeve, with a cheap paper print glued on it. Inside you get an extremely thin foam piece that i believe is only tehre to prevent noise, because it will do nothing to protect the headphoens during shipping. You get a vacuum formed super thin plastic piece that VERY securely holds the headphone and cable in place. There is 0 movement, so the foam piece i think is unnecessary to begin with. This is not the kind of box that the HD650 comes in: solid high quality cardboard with some sort of fabricky finish, foam cut to shape inside, other thick foam, and a nice sleeve to hold it in place. The headband is hilariously bad. It feels as though it will come apart in your hands and crumble. It doesnt even feel like pleather. The "stitching", if you can call it that, basically seems to be soem sort of heat-activated glue. This headband will 100% come apart with usage and I dont expect it to last more than a few months before the surface texture finish of it starts peeling away. The part that holds the actual headphone cup in place is identical to what the old hifiman headbands used, it will never break. From my understanding, it is posisble to replace this headband if you so choose, but it is not entirely a straightforward process to do so and it will require opening the headphone cups, removing screw inserts, and sanding a hole. If you so choose to go that route. You can easily glue/tape the sennheiser nugget strap to this pad and/or cover it over with soemthing, you can also have a proper padded leather strap custom made, but that is entirely up to you. SEVERE cost cutting happened here. The cable is...i dont even know what they were thinking. I honestly truly wish they had included a cheapo amazon special 5 dollar cable because it would have been of higher quality than this dumpster fire of a cable. The part that goes into your amp is EXTERMELY solid, its a good part. It is a dual finish, which IMO is ugly af, but it is industrial/scientific grade solid metal. That is where the good part ends. The sleeve is 4 sizes too big for the thin little cables inside. It kinks really badly and comes pre-kinked from being shoved into a little depression in the box. It feels like a cheap landline phone cable and i have 0 doubts that they used exactly that to build it. The 3.5mm plugs that go into the headphone are made of that extremely brittle thin craptastic plastic. You can quite literally pick up a higher quality 3.5mm connector from a gas station aux cable. That being said, these were all cost cutting measures, and I have to assume that the entire cost of the heapdhone (minus obvously the profit part) went 100% into the earphone and driver because HOLY CRAP it is solid and sounds good. Its like an hd650 without the severe bass roll off. The bass is very VERY fast and solid. If yuo're listening to a droning noise (doin it right, solar sailor by daft punk) the bass has exactly the right quantity to make an initial impression and then get out of the way for the rest of the instrments. Mids are not too forward, I was getting a LOT of mid-forwardness and honestly mid harshness from fostex t50RP and its series of mods. Treble is not harsh or overdone. There are songs where I know the treble would hurt my ears but those songs did not have that quality. However, all of this is subjective and I highly recommend you try things out yourself instead of taking my word for it. I tried 15 step by radiohead to test soundstage and it was adequate. Not as good as it oculd be, definitely not HD800-level soundstage, but it was enough that I wouldnt feel the need to stop listening to these in favor of my home theater (5.1) if I was watching a movie. especially not if my downmixer was of good quality. The treble (cymbals, S noises) normally hurts my ears as I'm way too sensitive to treble, and I prefer a treble rolled off headphone. with this headphone the treble is right where it needs to be, and is helped by the bass to not be overly harsh. I usually play some pendulum, Nero (welcome reality album), and some Jay-Z (holy grail, tom ford) to test bass punchyness and response. It is not overdone, it is "just right" FOR ME. it might be overdone for others, I know a lot of people dont like the bass response that I do. These are not like Ety ER3 or HF5, these have a LOT of bass. They dont have as much as my massdrop plus, which i find occasionally overdone and leaking energy into the upper bass/lower mids for a warmer sound at times. Im not sure what more I can say. I sold my HD650 in hopes to upgrade. I was considering fostex tr-x00 but they sound extremely "closed", and the sound sort of beams into your head with 0 separation between instruments and no soundstage to speak of. Focal stellia/utopia/whatever sounded more or less how I wanted, A bit too much treble on those, but they are 100% not worth the price. I'd pay maybe a grand for those but they want something like 5 grand? hell no, they arent worth that in the slightest. HD650 had the exact presentation and sound sig I wanted EXCEPT the horrifically bad bass. I thought I had to go to a closed can to get the bass I wanted, but turns out I was wrong. I've tried audeze headphones too but i tried them so long ago (pre fazor) that my opinion on those is no longer valid. For the LCD-2, the previous "bass champ" (pre fazor), I found the bass quantity to eb perfect as was the overall sound signature. The pads were horrifically uncomfortable (which i know they've since fixed since the lCD3) and the bass had no impact or anything to it. The bass notes just "happened", and it wasnt fun to listen to. I wouldnt hesittate to mix/master using those but my god they were boring.
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Would recommend to a friend.
shrimantsNice review, will add that Hifiman really sucks at cables in general (own 4 of them, cable is awful on all). Also this a similar headband style as my 500 and its held up for almost 7 years. Much better than the issues they had with the swivel on the 560/400i
Reputator
16
Jan 10, 2020
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Can't ask for much more for the money
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In a way I envy those who are coming from a cheap planar or a thin, metallic sounding pair of dynamic headphones that get to experience these for the first time. In my mind this is exactly how magneplanars should sound. Full-bodied midrange, smooth extended highs, deep and unobtrusive bass that kicks when it needs to... Going back to the late '00s/early '10s, planars first started to re-emerge in the headphone community thanks largely to the efforts of HiFiMAN and their HE-5 (and family) of headphones. My first pair of planars (also known as orthodynamic) were the HE-5LE, an improved version of HiFiMAN's first effort. What I remember most about those headphones were the warm, forward mids, lively highs, and hefty (though somewhat soft hitting) bass without ever any hint of grain or distortion. In 2010 that was the best I had ever heard or owned, but five years later, it along with all the rest of my gear was sold for moving expenses. I've been yearning to go back to that sound ever since. In returning to the world of audiophile headphones, I could have gone for a popular, well-regarded dynamic headphone. But what I really wanted to experience again was that orthodynamic sound. That smooth, rich, creamy center with a sprinkling of spicy highs and a boisterous low-end foundation. When I got the Edition XX, what I ended up with was something even better. To be sure, it takes some time to settle into its character. The treble takes the most time to break in. To start with, I found it a bit grainy, but the bass was surprisingly slammy and the mids had a natural tonality. After many hours of use, the treble has sharpened to a smooth edge, and the bass has tightened. I liked what I heard, but there was no question the headphone had its list of strengths, and then the things it didn't do as well. Its strengths are that it's an excellent all-arounder. When the music is mastered for it, the bass can slam. It can go deeply low. When watching TV shows or movies with action scenes, you get that sub-bass and with enough power, it can really rumble. Impact is particularly enjoyable. The treble is smooth and natural sounding with adequate detail, but it won't extract tons of air out of all your acoustic recordings. No harsh peaks that I could pick up on. Very non-fatiguing and enjoyably balanced treble in my opinion. Where it doesn't shine as much is imaging and soundstaging. In fact it can be rather mediocre, or at least... That's what I thought at first. Your gear makes all the difference. These headphones sound really good out of humble sources like a smartphone. They sound even better with mid-fi $200 amps (such as the Schiit Asgard 3), but they explode with clarity and width when hooked up to highend gear. I moved from an Asgard 3 to a Meier Corda Classic, a discontinued but highend amp from 2014 (Modi Multibit for the DAC). The soundstage just about doubled in size. The imaging cleared up significantly. The natural tambre of the mids unfolded into a clear, shockingly real depiction of acoustic instruments, especially strings. Separation, which I found acceptable before, improved dramatically. The bass which was already good can hit even harder now (while still keeping tight). These are now far beyond what I've ever owned before. In two words, buy these. These are just about the most inscrutable headphones I've come across. There is virtually nothing they do wrong. They work for nearly every type of music you pipe through them, they're a touch warm, musical, smooth, and reasonably detailed with fantastic clarity and realism (again, with good gear). On top of that they're very well built, and very comfortable with the classic HiFiMAN headband which honestly still works well to this day (and IMO makes this headphone extremely attractive). Everyone mentions the cable, and yeah. It's not good. It's really not any worse than what HiFiMAN packs with most of their headphones these days, but a simple replacement is cheap to come by. The cable I have pictured above is a NewFantasia silver plated cable that cost me $40 on Amazon, and it looks and feels great. The cable issue is nothing to get hung up on (no pun intended). These are great headphones for the price (especially discounted, which they were when I made my purchase) and will satisfy the vast majority of headphone fanatics out there (except maybe the treble heads). The only thing you could ask for is more. More soundstage, more separation, more detail, more air.... But to get "more" you'll have to spend a LOT more. They get my solid recommendation!
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Jackula
1737
Dec 13, 2019
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Not so easy to drive
Introduction
Beware, this review is long as I try to cover everything. My search for the perfect reference has come to an end and the Edition XX isn't it, I have concluded that nothing will match my flagship reference loudspeakers. Instead, my attention is now turned to finding a bit of variety and color, which is why I purchased the Edition XX, as by some accounts it is warmer than neutral and will satisfy my Hifiman cravings before I start my search for the perfect colored headphone. About Me These days I rarely look at sub-$1000 anything, I don’t go out of my way to audition headphones that aren’t a flagship, or sub-flagship. I have listened to a lot of headphones over the years and the only type of sound I gravitate towards is the Hifiman house sound, as they go really well with the genres of music I listen to, which is a bit of everything, but mainly in the order of:
  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • Folk
  • Classical
  • Electronic
  • Alternative
I have a large head like Tom Welling but without the chiselled jawline. And my preferred listening volume ranges between 80dB and 85dB. Product Overview First of all, these headphones are only marketed as “easy-to-drive” so they can sell more units. The Edition XX have a low impedance of 20 ohms which makes them seem easy to drive, but impedance is only half the story. Their sensitivity is 93dB on the voltage scale (as opposed to efficiency), which is how Hifiman rates all their headphones. Doing the math, you would end up with approx. 8W required to drive these headphones to 115dB peak, as opposed to say the Hifiman Edition X V2 which only needs 634mW to reach the same volume at 1khz. Sure, you can get away with powering these out of your mobile due to their low impedance and get good levels of volume, but you won’t be able to drive them with good control.
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On my Galaxy S9+, these were warm and broke up at my usual listening volumes, on the single-ended output of my headphone amp, these were a more neutral with 3.5W @ 20 ohms, and using the 15W @ 20 ohms balanced output these were almost spot-on neutral and remained composed even at very high volumes, it was actually slightly disappointing since I expected a warm headphone! Build The headphones come in a very basic cardboard box with a cheap plastic holder to keep the headphones in place, understandable for cost-cutting reasons.
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  The build quality (or at least the unit I got) is not bad, the full plastic construction feels solid in the hand, while on the head it feels as comfortable as my HD6XX, the leather headband does a good job at evenly distributing the weight across your head and the earpads do not clamp like a mint HD6XX, it feels roomy and has good ventilation. In extended listening sessions over an hour, I do start to feel a slight tension in behind my lower neck. These headphones also leak a lot, a lot more than open headphones I’m used to. It feels like there is as much sound going outwards than inwards into your ears. The cable isn't great, but my biggest problem with it is the Y adapter that sits direct under my keyboard tray, when I turn my head the Y adapter often gets caught and pops right out of the headphone. The Overall Sound
For this review, I will focus on SE 3.5W output since it’s likely more realistic to the target Massdrop audience, however, I will summarize differences at full power 15W balanced. (Technically it’s 4.5W in class A + 10.5W in class AB, the AB uses a diamond cross output design that removes distortion to sound like class A, I haven’t been able to tell the difference in listening tests). A lot of people have reported this headphone as warm and grainy, I can confirm this however it is not overly done and still much more neutral than the Audeze LCD-2C. The midrange sounds natural with a heavy bass that bleeds into the midrange making it sound warmer than it is. This is quite obvious on the track "You and Your Friend" - Dire Straits where the bass is a jumbled mess.
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When played over balanced, the bass no longer distorts and the whole presentation moves towards an even and neutral tonality. And while it is slightly grainy, it is no grainier than the Hifiman Edition X V2. Low-level details come through very clearly on this headphone, almost too clearly that feels unnatural at times. It is unforgiving with some older recordings like "Killing Me Softly With This Song" - Roberta Flack, this issue is less obvious over 15W but still audible. Breakdown

Treble Treble is light and expressive, with plenty of air. No complaints here, it's a fine presentation. Doesn’t seem to change much between 3.5W and 15W. Midrange The midrange of this headphone sounds slightly suffocating, it’s the reason why I absolutely hate the Hifiman He400i, although it’s certainly not as bad. This type of midrange suffocation does not exist on the Edition X, He1000 V2 nor my trusty HD6XX. With proper amplification, the suffocation is lifted completely and I’m able to thoroughly enjoy the midrange presentation. I can’t call the midrange completely accurate, on track "The Raven" - Rebecca Pidgeon, Pidgeon’s voice comes through quite clearly with all the necessary nuances however the headphone’s ability accentuate low-level noise makes the grains in her voice uneven and huskier than it should sound. With instrumentals, it is an absolute joy, such as in "Sokkaki" - Stavros Lantsias the piano grain is accurate with flawless decay of each instrument in the piece. Bass This headphone is bass-heavy, no question about it, even after an initial burn-in period the bass eased off only so slightly. While brilliantly extended, with a great slam for a headphone, the bass is hard and lingers around for longer than it should. On the track "Pacific Rim" - Ramin Djawadi, all the excitement is lost starting around 45s due to the slow and gooey bass. With 15W of power, sudden complete control is gained on the bass lines, with a brilliant portrayal of deep drum and bass guitar textures. It is fast and articulate; the excitement is back with Pacific Rim! Although some impact is lost, it is now tonally accurate across the frequency spectrum. Dynamics Macrodynamics is there but lacks control in the bass (see the Bass section for further details on this). Microdynamics isn’t up to scratch compared to dynamic headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX, as it lacks the speed and sharpness on the leading edge of acoustic guitars. Listening to the album "Gravity" - Jesse Cook, there is a certain flare missing and makes me wanting more. However, some people may prefer this, as it makes the headphone sound more laidback. Soundstage and Imaging If I could describe the Sennheiser HD6XX like a globe inside your head, the soundstage on the Edition XX is like a figure 8 outside your head. The soundstage is expansive to the left and right side of your head, however as the sound moves towards the centre, the soundstage flattens. On the track "Show Biz Kids" - Rickie Lee Jones, it was difficult to separate the male and female voices during passages when they were stacked on top of each other in the centre image. In addition, akin to my past experiences with planars in general, headphones or speakers, the centre voice is never as pinpoint as dynamic headphones. It’s a wishy-washy centerstage overall. With 15W of power, the depth of the centre image is much improved, and with it the ability to hear the different depth of instruments and voices in the centerstage. Voices are still blurry which is not a fault of the headphone, just the inherent weakness of traditional planar diaphragms. Conclusion Initially, I thought this headphone was difficult to recommend at the $600 price point, as there are quite a few headphones I would consider better more coherent sounding at lower price points, such as the Sennheiser HD6XX, Beyerdynamic DT1770 (perhaps the rebranded DT177x), and the Focal Elex isn’t so far away. However powering these on 15W changed my opinion of them completely, they are categorically better with more power and well worth the $600 asking price. I would place them just shy of the HEX V2 $1,299 MSRP, the reason being the HEX V2 is much easier to drive and is just a tad more open.
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Massdrop has done an outstanding job with the Hifiman Edition XX collaboration, they are a fantastic value proposition for those with very powerful amplification. For those without, wait for a bigger discount or buy something else.
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Would recommend to a friend.
(Edited)
Cavva
19
Jun 3, 2020
JackulaHi, I found the review extremely helpful, but I'm wondering if you'd be kind enough to help me a little further. I'm a total newbie who's been using a pair of Hifiman 4XX for years with just a FiioE10k DAC. However, while I loved the pair, it never seemed to flash out the vocals enough for my liking. This is when I came by a pair of old Hifiman EditionXX from a friend. I thought this would be an amazing upgrade, but I ended up not enjoying its sound all that much, and my problem is uncannily exactly as you described… The "figure 8" soundstage combined with heavy bass and suffocated midrange meant that the vocals felt very unnatural and faint, drowning in the instrumentals. Cheesy as it sounds, my ideal headphone experience (which 4XX is very close to providing me so far) is this sense of being transported into the world of the studio and seeing/hearing the musician sitting right in front, singing to me-- and this fancy was completely lost when I used the EditionXX. When I found your review I was excited to hear that most of these issues would be much improved if the headphones are properly powered, and that (getting rid of) my little E10k is the key to utilising these big-boi headphones. All that is really just to ask: would you be able to recommend some (budget!!) Amp/DAC combo or stack options that would specifically be able to drive the Edition XX well? (I really need to emphasise the budget part because being an Australian means that, esp with the current exchange rates, even the most "value" audio gear for US still ends up going up a whole notch price-wise when purchased down under…) Would really appreciate the help!
(Edited)
CavvaBurson is an Aussie brand that makes good gear, take a look at their offerings.
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