Review Work (Headphone)

Hifiman Arya: Our Favourite

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Arya or Ayra? I am still confusing now. Hifiman Arya is a Hi-Fi headphone that Hifiman released in late 2018, this review seems coming in a little late, but Arya is the headphone that I get super excited recently, not only because I have satisfied by most of the Hifiman’s headphone, but also because it is well priced at 1600 USD, for a headphone that inherits a lot from their higher tier HE1000 V2, this seems like a fair price. The market is quite saturated, and let’s see how Arya fared.

 

Hifiman Arya (1600USD)

Hifiman Arya sits in the mid-tier of Hifiman headphone ranges which for me can consider as flagship range, for record it is more or less the same price as Sennheiser HD800 (which is the previous dynamic driver flagship), saying Arya is a Mid-fi headphone seems awkward, but for today market people don’t see a 2000 USD as expensive as before anymore, blame those inflation rates, but for me, manufacturers can’t escape from the blame too. In the end, however, consumers always take the bait.

Arya is a very low profile headphone with the bold black color surface, the design is heavily inspired by their own Hifiman He1000 series, in fact, the drivers in the Arya seems to inherit from their HE1000 V2 (3500USD), so if you still think if Arya is really worth it, this might help. Build quality is average, but horrible for the price. The headbands are made from solid metal, but the yolk and the ear cup seem to made from so-called ‘high quality’ plastic. I don’t have a problem with this if it is reliable, but it creaks a little when you wearing the Arya, Damn! It creaked! This is unacceptable for me as a 1600 USD headphone, not even Sundara and Ananda will squeak although they are lower tier headphone, however, if you don’t have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), then you can simply ignored it because I can’t hear the creaking noise even if I move my head and shake it like a punk.

The technology is all good, this is a headphone heavily inherited from HE1000 V2 after all, Nanometer Thickness Diaphragm for distortion-free listening, the ‘Window Shade’ System design that leads to a superior open back design are all intact. The headphone is quite comfortable, and the earpad and headband certainly help a lot, the earpad is a hybrid style of consisting velour and cloth, which is quite proven now for a comfortable listening period, the headband is very effective to evenly spread the 440g of weight over your head, simply put, I can wear Arya for hours, it is quite remarkable. Looking back on the time when Hifiman HE500 will potentially break my neck with the heavyweight and mediocre comfort, it is either I have strengthened my neck after I became a dad, or the Planar Magnetic market really pushing their technology and implementation really far, good job. I can happily tell you that the Planar Magnetic headphone that came out in recent years are reasonably comfortable for long listening sessions.

Rated at 35 Ohm and 90 dB of sensitivity, you definitely need a headphone amplifier to make it shine, forget about the mobile phones, you need something more powerful, and not just any headphone amplifier dude, I have tried to drive it with my JDS Labs The Element. I will have to tune to 60 percent (approximately at a low gain) of the volume level for a decent volume level. While it is not particularly hard to drive headphones, but it needs a higher volume to reach average listening volume than the Sennheiser HD800 and Hifiman HE1000 SE, something to note. However, don’t let this put you off, and I believe most of the capable desktop amplifier can do the work, but you will need to be cautious if your current headphone amplifier has less power around and you don’t want to upgrade it soon.

The Arya, of course, comes with a replaceable cable, the included one is Single-Crystalline Copper Cable terminated in 6.35mm plug. The mechanism is a dual entry 3.5mm cable, which shared across various Hifiman and other manufacturers’ models. Searching for an aftermarket market will be at ease. At this price I actually think that Arya should come with a 4 Pin XLR cable as well, am I asking too much?

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Audio Quality

I have paired Hifiman Arya with

Disclaimer, Hifiman Arya is my favorite headphone.

I love Arya, this is for sure. The sound is what I will call ‘Hi-Fi,’ and ‘audiophile’ enough is a very well-tuned kind of sound signature. Let’s talk about the soundstage and imaging first, the soundstage is broad, deep and tall BUT not empty, it is those soundstages that with excellent level of realism, a soundstage that you can trust, a well-shaped soundstage with superior imaging that you can ‘see’ where the instrument come from, truly remarkable. There is always a pleasant and reasonable distance between you and music, but the distance is well defined, so nothing sounded forceful the best thing? You are having a sense of air between the space and soundstage, too, WOW! The open and spacious soundstage with sharp imaging performance is truly remarkable, but the good things didn’t just end here.

The tone is not forceful and natural to listen to, with sense of realism and you can even get excellent sense of musicality, Arya really get everything nicely intact and no real weakness to the sound, the tone is beautiful with some warmth, some will argue that there is some very slight roughness to the tone (not edgy, it is just the line of the music are a little more muscle), which is not worse than Sennheiser HD800 really, but definitely not how Hifiman HE1000 SE’s capability to define the edge of every notes and tone.

Arya is neutral and tends to be a little warm, sound reproduction is impressively balanced! Balanced but not in the sense of analytical, but quite musical instead. Bass is neutral and flat to my ears, without boominess, tight, deep, and with reasonable impact (but not ultra impactful), it doesn’t have the rumble that bass heads crave for. The bass is immaculate but ideally extended to the lowest octave. Cello and drums go to the very bottom and blessed with ample of details and layering, texture is excellent, and the decay is fast enough, the instrument go to the lowest octave and show the details and air in there, something that is very hard to achieve with majority of the headphones, the bass and sense of realism in my honest opinion, beat the Sennheiser HD800.

Midrange is a little forward in term of placing but balance in term of the tone, a very impressive mid-range performance with minimal sense of sibilant, vocal performance especially is quite open, coherent and nuanced but without edges, nuances are very well portrayed and I expected nothing less at this price range, the midrange is not colored to make it sounded nicer, instead it just shows you what is in it, the true beauty of music stunned you.

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Treble is well extended, detailed, and flat. I have a minimal trace of sibilant (if your music has it it will show), the treble is quite flat to my ears, maybe it has some slight enhance here but nothing really significant, it is not a headphone that I will describe anyway like bright sounding or dull, it is just perfect.

If anything, I found that the sound is not entirely clear, not that it is terrible but not that clean compared to the contender (although very textured), the transparency is excellent too, I will say on par with the HD800, so it is quite an achievement here. I have to say although the sound is not as clean, the musicality indeed excels here. Arya is a very dynamic headphone and seems to portray micro-dynamic, micro detail effortlessly, while didn’t sound bright and losing musicality. The speed is breakneck, and timing is precise, while not crazily speedy like the very top end headphone, it is swift enough that I don’t think anything delivered off the pace. The immersive and comfortable sound, combined with all the technicality and musicality, Arya is genuinely my favorite headphone, regardless of the price of what I have tried.

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Final Thought

While I think that it should build better and include more cable in the box, in term of sound quality however I have nothing to complain, I even slowed the process of the review (SorryStars Picker Audio Library, you can go to their shop if you want to try Hifiman headphone) intentionally so I can enjoyed it more, I just reviewed the HE1000 SE, and I thought Arya will be much inferior to the elder brother, but I am wrong, yes, in term of sheer technicality HE1000 SE beats it hands down, but I found that Arya suit me nicer with excellent level of technicality while still strive with superb musicality. Everything is always well balanced and neutral, the tuning is truly impressive, and I have not come across with something like this, as a whole package Arya is unbeatable, if you are looking for a headphone for 2000 USD, you definitely want to keep an eyes on this, if you’re going to spend below 1600 USD, you probably need to save more, because Arya is this good. Will I recommend Arya to my readers? Hell yeah, and I am saving for one myself!

 

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