The Hifiman HE1000 retails at $2999. It’s Hifiman’s most concerted effort at summit hifi, but how good is this Hifiman at hifi, man? We investigate.
The HE1000 comes in a big ‘ole leather-covered case with a metal plate on the front that reads “Hifiman.” It’s a luxury statement regarding the luxury innards, comprised of the headphones proper, as well as three cables – one with a 3.5 mm plug, one with a 1/4” plug, and one with an XLR plug.
The headphones themselves are well-machined, with a metal frame and extenders, and a rawhide-ish leather pad that adjusts to fit even the largest of heads. The cables are dual entry, with 2.5 mm plugs. The cables are covered in nylon jackets that cover their entirety.
Comfort-wise, the HE1000 is farily lightweight, although the earcups are ponderously large. The fit requires a little adjustment, but once the headphones are set properly, they aren’t going anywhere, and the weight feels almost negligible.
|8 Hz to 65 kHz
|35 ±3 ohms
|16.9 oz (480 g)
As we can see from the specifications, this headphone offers a staggeringly wide frequency range, as well as fairly low sensitivity. The impedance, for a headphone of this caliber, seems unnaturally low, but during my testing sessions I noticed that it seemed much harder to drive than even a 38 ohm headphone – so take the official impedance with a grain of salt.
The low end on the Hifiman HE1000 is fairly deep, with a rich and full bass. While delivering a certain level of punch to bassier tracks, it doesn’t devolve into muddy soup when juxtaposed with low-frequency male vocals (think Nick Drake on “Pink Moon”). Put simply, there’s good, strong definition and contrast that doesn’t just stay in the low end, but covers all of the frequency range.
The mids are fantastic. I don’t know what else to tell you. Everything that mids should be, you’ll find in the HE1000. They’re smooth yet articulate, grandiose if also a bit recessed – leading me to the impression that the overall sound is flat-leaning-dynamic.
When it comes to the high end, I usually find planar-magnetic ‘phones lacking a certain zest, but the Hifiman HE1000 probably has the best-sounding high end compared to any other planar magnetic headphone I’ve tried so far. There’s a certain quality to it – not quite rolled-off, but just a tad bit relaxed. It’s never harsh or overbearing, even in tracks where I’m almost certain it should be (Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Damien Rice’s “Amie”). Where other luxury headphones might offer even a hint of a squeak to those ascending violins, the Hifiman locks it down so your ears don’t hurt.
I both love and hate this high end. I know it isn’t 100% accurate (and that irks me), but I’m shamed by the fact that I actually prefer the sound of the HE1000 over what I know is a more accurate sound. Do I love that high end? Yeah, but I hate that I love it.
There’s a definite, almost-tangible sense of space and placement to instruments. When other people talk about soundstage, I want to know if they’ve ever tried the HE1000. I’m sure you’re Sony VR8s or whatever have what you think is soundstage. And I’m sure I’ve used the same term in a review about the Audio Technica M50X. But, ladies and gentlemen, if you haven’t tried the HE1000, then you don’t know soundstage.
Their price and craftsman ship allow the Hifiman HE1000 headphones to assume a certain kind of reverence and position in any headphone pyramid, and this assumption is only reinforced by the sound. Indeed, these easily best flagship models from other manufacturers. They’re wider and more detailed than the HD800s (sorry Reddit fanboys), they’ve got more punch and contrast than the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation (sorry Germany). Hell, the only company actually giving this headphone a run for its money might be Audeze. Maybe. Possibly.
This is one bad headphone. It looks sick, feels light, sounds great – it screams luxury hifi. It’s not a sure bet for everyone, sure. No headphone is ever meant for everyone. But that being said, when it comes to top-of-the-line models duking it out over which one should crown your ears, the HE1000 puts forward a very compelling case indeed. It excels at all types of music, it delivers an exacting level of detail. And the soundstage, by God!
It’s an impressive headphone. It’s worth the money. But if you can’t necessarily afford it, is there a less expensive alternative?
If you’re on a budget, don’t listen to my review and do not try them out. They will contaminate your poor ears with their juicy sound. Instead, consider the Sennheiser HD800s ($1699) for a slightly-similar-if-slightly-less-fantastic headphone. Or, if you’ve already tried the HE1000 and you can’t get the delicious notes out of your head, consider the HE560 ($895) for a smaller sound and identical approach that lands just south of a thousand bucks.
Of course, few headphones will compare to the HE1000 in terms of detail and soundstage. Hell, few headphones will compare to it in terms of almost anything except price. So, if you have the money, buy it. You won’t be disappointed. It’s just that simple.
You can get these cans for the best price here: