HiFiman Edition S review 
by Niyologist

(Originally posted on Head-fi, ported here at the request of Niyologist).

Have you ever wondered what type of headphones you need on the go? Tired of bringing oversized headphones wherever you go? Well if you got a large spending budget for on the go headphones. The HiFiman Edition S Headphones are definitely for you. Not enough information? Well it's about time I got to that.

Introduction: The HiFiman Edition S is an interesting set of headphones from years of engineering from HiFiman. The sole purpose of the Edition S is to provide high quality audio. While maintaining the portable size and with decent durability as well. Is it what it's meant to be? I'll explain that further as I analyze further into detail.

Build Quality/Design: The Edition S is made out of a tough plastic. Even though the headband is made out of hard plastic. It would be better if it were thicker and reinforced by metal. At the headband, it seems that the plastic is quite rigid. There are L and R markers on each side of the bottom headband. Below the headband is the metal housing, with the magnetic grills and the covers to keep it in open back or closed back modes. There's also a removable cable port on the left side of the headphone. The Edition S can be folded and stored in the Silver Headphone carrying case that is provided with the Edition S.




Fit: It's best to have flat hair. Having too much high hair doesn't do the fit any justice. It makes it harder to wear. As for comfort. I can wear this for hours with little to no fatigue because of the soft inner ear pads. It only gets hot in the ear pads when I'm running. I sweat a lot. So this may slightly differ with everyone else.



Isolation: Low to low-end Moderate. Not ideal for very noisy environments. Such as crowded trains and subways and Large social gatherings. This is for closed back mode. Open back mode is a no go. It's low isolation at best.
Source: OPUS #1 (EQ: OFF) (GAIN: MIDDLE) (VOLUME: 124/150)

Specifications:

Style: Open/Closed Back
Frequency Response: 15Hz-22kHz
Sensitivity: 113 dB
Impedance: 18 ohms
Weight: 8.74oz (248g)
Easy to drive?

Yes. With the 18 Ohm impedance and very powerful OPUS #1. It was quite easy. As for my ZTE Axon 7. Kind of. My Axon 7 isn't quite ideal for this analysis anyway.

Sound Characteristics:

We'll start with two separate modes because of their noticeable differences in sound characteristics.

Closed Back Mode:

Bass - There is enough quantity for Pop and Trap music. The interesting observation is that the midbass is limited on closed back mode. Although it's not quite deep. Based on my observations. The deepest Bass I heard from the Edition S on Closed Back Mode was 60 Hz. Although despite the semi deep Bass. The quality is very good. It sounds consistent and feels punchy. With a slight warm tilt. Along with decent slam and quick speed.

Mids - Due to the limited midbass. The lower Mids aren't overshadowed. So the female vocals aren't subdued. They aren't too forward either. I'd say they are inbetween. Moving up to the upper Mids. There's a slight upward tilt. Making it sound brighter with male vocals, most percussion instruments, brass and strings. Surprisingly, it doesn't sound artificial in anyway. The Mids aren't recessed in Closed Back Mode. It's strange how it differs from Open Back Mode.

Treble - I find the treble to be presented as slightly bright. Most of the time, the treble can liven things up. The sharpness of this frequency makes it a bit analytical in bass light soundtracks. Such as MDK's "Shinespark (Evan King Orchestral).The timbre is quite natural in that soundtrack and has no hint of artificial tonality in any way. Generally, the treble is refined and a bit sharp. Not ear pinching sharp.

Soundstage: It's average for an on-ear/over-ear headphones. The soundscape is pretty airy, despite the average soundstage. It's probably due to the somewhat energetic treble. The width is above average and the depth is a bit shallow. That all changed with Open Back Mode.

Accuracy/Imaging - Before I get to Open Back Mode. I should point out that the imaging and accuracy is impressive for a portable headphone like this. The accuracy is quite good. With the oval shaped soundstage. The placement of the instruments and vocals are distinguishable. Which makes the music quite easy to follow. The imaging is quite vivid and three dimensional sound. Which does make the music really pop out at you. That and along with the accuracy makes the Edition S an experience that makes your music come to life.

Open Back Mode:

Bass - This is a bit different. It's warmer. Much warmer. The bass seems to have a softer and slightly slower slam. The texture seems to be a deep layer of smooth clay, being trounced by a bouncing bowling ball. In other words. The bass feels and slams smoothly. Almost silky smooth. This is most likely the boosted mid bass. I find it very good for Trance, Dubstep and even Acid Music. What intrigues me is, how did the mid bass get a boost? I'm still figuring that out. Maybe the panels were acting as a dampening effect?

Mids - This part is a somewhat different than closed back mode. Continuing from the bass, Mids also sound warm. The lower vocals are slightly recessed. This is due to the enhanced midbass. So the female vocals are darker and the clarity seems to reduced a tiny bit. The upper Mids have been darkened a bit too. At this mode. It's perfect, for me at least. The problem is that the deets for the mid-range in general has taken a bit of a back seat. So this means that open back mode is not ideal to hear the distinguished details of the mid-range. Although it does sound more organic and musical than Closed Back mode. So it's more of a trade-off of sorts. Although this is because I prefer the reference type sound of Closed Back.

Treble - This part of the frequency is so smooth and a bit dark. Making the whole frequency average out to mostly neutral. The details aren't distinguished either. They are there. Just not obvious like in Closed Back Mode. Once again. This frequency also sounds organic and isn't recessed like the Mids. Instead it's balanced. One thing I noticed is the air. It pumps more air in open back mode. Probably with the help of the vents. So this prevents the music from sounding too dark and boring.

Soundstage - Due to the combination of the smooth and airy treble. Along with the vents, the soundstage almost doubles in size. It's more like 1.4x bigger. So yeah. The width is well above average. The depth is average and the soundstage is easily above average. The shape of the soundstage becomes more circular shaped. Yet still remains oval shaped. Pretty much like an enlarged oval.

Accuracy/Imaging - This part becomes a bit obscure. It depends on what you are listening to. If you are listening to bassier tracks, the placement of the cues can get a bit smeared. So the soundtrack will sound a bit jumbled. Slightly harder to follow, yet still very listenable. With light bass soundtracks, the sonic cues are still easy to read and it becomes quite a fascinating sound to experience. Like for example. Robert Miles soundtrack "Children (Dream Version) has a decent amount of bass, yet it's not smeared or jumbled up and the sonic cues are easy to follow. Despite all of this. The imaging is very much three dimensional and can be dynamic with soundtracks that demand for it.

Overall Sound Characteristics:

Closed Back - Neutral, Reference-Like and Energetic.

Open Back Mode - Musical, Emotional and Smooth.

Conclusion: I have enjoyed listening to the Edition S for the past 9 months. I'm glad I purchased it after testing it out at the Stereo Exchange last June. This seems to be the headphones for everyone. Although if you have too much hair. The fit may be an issue. Then if you go to noisy areas daily, then you won't find these enjoyable. Or if you want Closed Back Mode with the sound characteristics of Open Back Mode. You may not find this your cup of tea. Otherwise if none of those bother you, then go nuts.


Pros - Interesting and effective Interchangeable Sound Signature, Excellent Imaging, Portability.
Cons - Sub-par isolation, Average Build could be better, Sound is swapped between both modes for a truly ideal consumer sound experience.