Fresh from the folks at Hifiman, the HE1000se now sits on my review desk, beckoning me, calling me, begging for a review. I am helpless before its powers. This new Hifiman headphone is based on the highly successful HE1000 and HE1000 V2. However, the HE1000se offers a thinner driver, higher sound pressure, and a lower nominal impedance for use with mobile devices. But is this $3499 headphone really hifi heaven, or hollow hype?
Hifiman HE1000se Review
The Hifiman HE1000se comes in your standard stately Hifiman box. Covered in a tan leather with a metal clasp, a luxurious case holds the headphones and two 5 ft (1.5 m) cables – one terminating in a standard 3.5 mm single-ended connection, and another terminating in a 4.4 mm balanced pentacon plug. A 6.3 mm adapter is also included, as is a user manual and a warranty card.
In terms of design, the biggest innovation in the Hifiman HE1000se comes in the form of a thinner planar magnetic driver. This translates to lower power requirements, leading to a Hifiman headphone that is easier to drive and more mobile-friendly.
The headband and earpads have also recieved an update, with a larger fit on the suspension-style headband (now made from a soft sueded leather) and angled earpads.
Once situated on my ears, I find the HE1000se incredibly comfortable – even if that large steel headband makes me look like a Dr. Who villain. That being said, those with smaller heads may find the oversized earcups a tad bit large – though the sound of this headphone still demands a demo.
Frequency Response: 8-65,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 35 ohms
Sound Pressure Level: 96 dB
These specifications reveal a classic, insanely wide frequency range like most Hifiman headphones. Whether you can hear anything beyond 22,000 Hz remains a matter of debate, but it remains evident that the manufacturer has paid extra attention to the highs. Nominal impedance is rated at a meager 35 ohms – and surprisingly, from my own listening sessions, this figure seems fairly accurate. Shockingly, my iPhone-and-FiiO-Q5-setup was able to drive the HE1000se with relative ease. The sound pressure level on the HE1000se also delivers more volume than its predecessors, making it a shoe-in for audiophiles using lower-output sources.
Lows on the HE1000se appear lifelike and natural with good detail. Despite sporting an infectious energy, the lows never seem overpowered or overwhelming. Good control keeps bleed to a minimum, complimenting a subdued bass. That bass response provides gravity in the lows, punctuated with steady, precise impact. In essence, this is a very tempered, fine-tuned low end – not as emphasized or as intense as the Edition X or HE6se, but rich and accurate to an eye-opening (or ear-opening?) degree.
Here the HE1000se delivers a good, strong sense of fidelity. Beautiful for vocals or instrumentation, the mids undulate with complete tonal accuracy, and the sound morphs into a heady, detail-rich listening experience that nails every note. Like the Ananda in terms of accuracy, but amplified to an astounding degree, this midrange appears incredibly competent and near-perfect.
The high end hosts sparkling high-end detail that seems only slightly bright at times; like the low end the highs remain well-tempered and well-controlled. Never too harsh or uncomfortable, the HE1000se delivers plenty of nuance where required. Female vocals and strings seem to leap out at you, brought to new life by this immaculate high end.
Hifiman has gone all-out with the HE1000se, crafting an airy and precise soundstage with a good feeling of placement. In any given track, everything seems located at a precise point around you. This feeling of space and depth extends to anything I throw at it, whether I am listening to Johann Strauss or Jimmy Eat World. Coupled with the 4.4mm balanced cable, the sound is an intoxicating reverie you will never forget – so demo with caution, fellow audiophiles.
The HE1000se packs an amazing sound. Pure and simple, these headphones deliver a near-perfect performance for folks who want sheer audio quality without any extraneous bells and whistles. Clear and precise, this intoxicating sound quality will draw you in and envelop you in a world of sound.
If you want the most accurate sound available below four grand, the Hifiman HE1000se should sit at the top of your list. Those preferring a more dynamic sound might gravitate more towards the Audeze LCD4, while fans of a brighter overall sound will dig the Focal Utopia. The closest comparison may come down to the Final Audio D8000 vs the Hifiman HE1000se – and while the D8000 might be a tad bit more neutral in character, the HE1000se will sound slightly less clinical and more lively.
At $3499, the Hifiman HE1000se offers an enchanting listening experience that overwhelms your senses with detail, space, and comfort. This is the kind of headphone an audiophile dreams about, with no hangups or letdowns. Should you buy it? Oh yeah. But for those on the fence, a short demo will confirm as much; the HE1000se is an incomparable headphone with true value for the discerning listener.
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