HE1000 Headphone Review
Luxury open-back headphones live up to the hype.
THE HIGH NOTES
- Nanometer Mylar Driver
- Best-in-Class Sound
- Maximum Comfort
Company & Product Overview
HIFIMAN is a relative newcomer to the headphone marketplace (founded in 2007 by Dr. Fang), yet this hasn’t stopped them from dominating the world of headphone reviews and winning accolades across the globe for their impressive sound quality. Prices range from $49 for the in-ear RE300 series all the way up to what we’re reviewing today: the $2,400 HE1000, which many believe are the best headphones in the world.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
From the minute the HIFIMAN HE1000 arrives it’s evident you are dealing with something special. They’re packaged in a large, leather-covered box with a lightly engraved aluminum top plate. Once you peruse the owner’s manual, which is printed with as much care as if it were created for a luxury car, you’ll see a stunning pair of headphones and three separate connector cables set amidst dark, plush fabric.
The HE1000 is a large over-the-ear, open-back headphone that uses the world’s thinnest mylar driver (only one nanometer thick). The oversized earpads, which can be replaced if needed, are made of soft leather and microfiber. Each earcup has a wooden band and plug at the bottom for the connecting cable. HIFIMAN invokes their “window shade” design for the back of the cups, which protects the driver while providing a very acoustic transparent open back design.
To be honest, we didn’t expect the leather headband to be as comfortable as the Edition X which is slightly more padded. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to discover the band was hardly noticeable once on your head. Perfectly adjusting the HE1000 takes zero guesswork as the headband simply adjusts up or down on the brushed aluminum extrusion with firm clicks. Rest assured that once you find the perfect spot, it’s going to stay there.
For those who have previously used HIFIMAN models with round earcups, you’ll appreciate the way the HE1000’s asymmetrical earcups allow the nanometer-thick driver to perfectly align with your ear, delivering maximum comfort and perfect sound. While the extra large earcups may not be the most fashion forward, they do provide superior comfort for extended listening.
Overall, the HE1000 delivers sound more effortlessly than anything we have heard before. Nothing is over-emphasized yet every instrument is reproduced with blazing speed with the harmonic information you would expect out of a $50,000 speaker.
The imaging the HE1000 produces is simply stunning and three-dimensional as it not only goes wide left-to-right, but also top-to-bottom. Their impedance is around 35 ohms with a sensitivity of only 90 dB, meaning they are capable of playing with a portable device but volume level will be extremely limited. To achieve the best performance it’s necessary to use a separate headphone amp or a portable device much more capable than a phone. The HE1000’s quality is so outstanding that as you drive them with a better source, you will clearly hear the improvement.
As a trial we tested driving them with an iPhone, Bluesound Node, Astel & Kern AK340, and Bryston headphone amp. Hi-resolution audio sources also made a big difference. While a typical music player like a Sonos or Bluesound is good, when connecting the HE1000 to a higher performing digital to analog convertor, you’ll appreciate the difference.
Our headphone testing playlist is about 30 songs and almost three hours long. We looped through it’s entirety, pausing multiple times in amazement. Great sound, comfort, and not a trace of fatigue.
We love to use Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for testing headphones because the song is just so spacious. In testing the HE1000 we picked up on vocal overdubs on top of overdubs we never even knew existed. On Hans Theessink’s song “Call Me” we discovered a gravelly sound to his voice that was completely new. “Axel F” from Beverly Hills Cop by Harold Faltermeyer had us tapping our feet to the music.
If you’re in the market for best-in-class sound and have the means to purchase the HE1000 headphones along with a high-end amp and source, be prepared for an infinite measure of listening pleasure.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Nanometer Mylar Driver
Speed is lightening fast and sound is silky smooth with unbeatable bass extension
Without question, these headphones will bring you closer to the sound your favorite artist intended than anything we have heard yet.
Perfectly adjusts to fit any size head and designed specifically for long term comfort.