Announced at CES and shipping next month, the new Edition S from HiFiMan is able to transform from a closed-back on-ear headphone to an open-back on-ear headphone, quickly and easily.
Interesting and useful. I got a brief hands-on at the show. Here’s what I found.
Before we get going, if you’re curious about the value of high-end headphones, or have questions about headphones in general, first check out There’s No Such Thing As A Perfect Headphone (So Save Your Money), Are Expensive Headphones Worth It?, What Are The Best Headphones?, Glossary of Headphone Terms, Best Headphone Test Tracks, and Noise Cancelling Vs. Noise Isolating Headphones.
If you haven’t heard of HiFIMan, they’re a fairly new company that has become the darling of the headphone enthusiast community. They make $300 headphones and $3,000 headphones, and many more.
The Edition S’s are slick-looking on-ear headphones. To be honest, I’m not normally a fan of on-ears. I don’t find them particularly comfortable, and their sound quality is usually sub-par when compared to like-priced over-ear headphones.
And while I love open-back headphones, they’re not nearly as practical as closed-back. With open, you’re able to hear the world around you, and the world around you can hear your Starland Vocal Band playlist.
So I wasn’t expecting much when I tried on the Edition S at CES. They were very comfortable, which was surprising, and I thought they looked pretty good too. Inside is a 50mm dynamic driver, which is the common driver size in many over-ear headphones.
The real trick is in the removable earcup panels. Remove them, and closed-back becomes open-back. In the prototype I tried, these were held on by magnets. Their fit was a little loose, but HiFiMan said the production versions will be more secure.
I only had a few minutes with the Edition S, though the room was fairly quiet. So definitely count this towards “initial impression” not “review.” The overall sound with the caps on is a touch bass-heavy, which I typically like. The highs were smooth. My first thoughts were “Wow, nice.” Removing the caps and the soundstage definitely widened, sounding far more “open”’ typical of those types of headphones. I look forward to checking them out in a more controlled test.
Larger than many on-ears, but smaller than most over-ears the Edition Ss also fold up small for more convenient carrying.
The Edition S is shipping next month for $250.
Edition S: $250