Hifiman is one of those brands that keep coming up with new headphones each year. Most of the time that’s a good thing and we’ve seen a lot of great Hifiman products over the last few years like the Edition X, the HE-400s, the EF100, the reference HE-1000 and so much more. They also just released the new HE-350 via Massdrop and the Supermini DAP which we’ll of course be featuring on HFN.
Hifiman, just like Fiio, doesn’t only bring new products to the market and they are also constantly updating or upgrading the existing product line. Examples of these are the HE-400 of which we now also have the HE-400i and HE-400s versions. Not everyone is happy when companies upgrade an existing product and I can fully understand why one wouldn’t be in the best of moods when a new version is released the week after you bought the “old one”. I’m pretty sure a lot of people felt that way when Hifiman a week or two ago announced they were releasing a second version of their Edition X and HE-1000 headphones. From what I hear though, they are working on a kind of upgrade project for the existing customers but that does seem to be open only to a limited number of customers.
Today however we’ll be looking at one of the completely new Hifiman headphones, the Edition S.
The Edition S is part of Hifiman’s Premium product line-up and it’s a completely new headphone which goes for $249USD, making it the cheapest Hifiman headphone up to date.
The Edition S is both an open and a closed headphone and switching from one to the other only takes a few seconds. To do this Hifiman uses magnetic “faceplates” that either open up or close the 50mm dynamic driver. Most people think of orthodynamic/planar technology when Hifiman is involved but this actually is a dynamic driven headphone, like the “old” HE-300 was.
The headphone itself is made in Asia but it was designed in Boston, USA.
The Edition S has a frequency response of 15Hz-22kHz with a sensitivity of 113dB and an 18Ohm impedance. That makes it an easy to drive headphone that will work perfectly fine straight out of your DAP or phone, an amplifier isn’t really needed in this case. It only weighs 248g (8.74oz) making it extremely light and portable.
Why an Edition S? Good question. Hifiman already has two easy to drive full size headphones with the $299 orthodynamic HE-400S and the $269 dynamic driven HE-300 but the unique selling points here are that the Edition S is easier to use on the go as it is foldable and smaller and that it’s both an open and closed headphone. And all of that for only $249.
The portable Edition S is iOS and Android compatible and the removable 1.2m OFC cable comes with a clip, an integrated mic and easy to use controls. Other accessories supplied with the Edition S are: a carrying pouch, the shirt clip, an airplane adapter and a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter.
Design, Fit & Comfort
Hifiman decide not to follow their latest design trend and they came with a completely new design. Forget the headband system and oval pads of the HE-560/400i/400S or even the HE1000/Edition x, the new design is smaller, foldable and a lot more portable and light.
To keep the Edition S light (248gr) of course everything had to be trimmed down. The ear pads are a lot smaller now and they’re somewhere in between over and on ear. The small ear cups depending on the size of your ears will go over or partially on your ear. I don’t have big ears and they fit perfectly inside the cup but they are touching the pleather at all times. Those with big ears better consider it to be an on ear headphone.
The pads itself are really soft and they again are hybrid pads made out of pleather on the outside and velour on the inside, as we’ve seen with Hifiman before: pleather + velour on the inside. In theory the asymmetrical ear pads follow the contours of your ear. The depth of the ear pads is limited but my ears aren’t touching the driver. The headband system is the classic one you find on almost all headphones but the weight distribution on top of your head is very good. Because of all these aspects the Edition S is extremely comfortably and long listening sessions of six hours and more are no problem at all. Those with bigger ears might disagree though.
Overall the Edition S does look like it can take a beating but it mostly is made out of matte plastic. Because of the small ear cups and it being foldable I can easily see people using this as a headphone for on the go. Even I have used it on the train ride home and nobody looked at me weirder than they normally do. The Edition S’ cable is removable cable like on all of Hifiman’s recent headphones. The OFC cable is terminated with a 3.5mm plug that goes in to the left ear cup. The cable itself is rather thin but I think it’ll last long. It can be replaced anyway and using aftermarket cables or those of different headphones such as the Fidelio X2 is no problem.
The system used to open or close the Edition S is as simple as it gets: the plastic Hifiman logo plates have a metal square glued to the inside. This plate automatically gets attracted by the dynamic driver’s magnet and installing it takes only a few seconds, if even that. While there is an obvious difference in sound signature, the plates don’t fully “close” the Edition S. Sound and noise will always leak in and out and as a result, my train test wasn’t very positive sound quality and isolation wise.