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Hifiman Arya Review (headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 5.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 45 21.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 102 48.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 54 25.5%

  • Total voters
    212

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Hifiman Arya (2021 edition) planar magnetic open back headphone. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $1,299.

This is a very large headphone:
Hifiman Arya Review Planar Magnetic Headphone.jpg


It is also on the heavy side:

lightest planar magnetic headphone tested.png


Yet it provided very good comfort. It actually feels "light" on my head given that suspension headband.

It comes with a stiff and short headphone cord that kept its coiled shape which I found annoying. But it uses standard 3.5mm plugs for each cup so you can replace it.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was very good/easy due to large cups.

Hifiman Arya Home Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:

Hifiman Arya Measurements Frequency Response Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


We have good compliance here from 80 Hz up to 1 kHz and still close to 3 kHz. From then on, the envelop exceeds our preference curve fair bit so could sound bright. Bass response is better than many that droop but it is still deficient compared to out preference curve (dashed blue).

I noticed that kink in the response around 80 Hz. So I manually stepped the frequency and it completely corresponded with vibrations/resonances of each cup which travelled up to the headband. It persists for good rage up to a few hundred hertz.

In relative terms, the response is above average:
Hifiman Arya Measurements Relative Frequency Response Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


I was hoping for less bass distortion given the massive drivers but still good:


Hifiman Arya Measurements Relative Distortion Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Hifiman Arya Measurements THD Distortion Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


One thing I didn't like was the peaking around 4.2 kHz which also sucks out the frequency response. So something untoward is happening there. We will see more evidence of this when we look at our impedance curve:
Hifiman Arya Measurements Impedance Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


You can barely see some variations there. If I zoom in, we can see the issues quite clearly:


Hifiman Arya Measurements Impedance Zoomed Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Sensitivity is a bit less than average:

Most sensitive planar magnetic headphpone review.png


Group delay is messy and also shows some of the resonances:

Hifiman Arya Measurements Group Delay Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Hifiman Arya Listening Tests and Equalization
I always start with my female vocals and it did not take more than a few seconds for the higher frequency boost/resonances to bother me. It extracts every bit of zinginess (yes, technical term) out of the female voices making it hard for me to listen. Mind you, it is not an overly elevated response like we get out of some headphones and can come across as "more detail" but it is wrong. Outside of this, the sound is actually decent and good. But this is not our standard. We want excellence so I went after correcting the response with EQ in my Roon player:

Hifiman Arya Equalization EQ Parametric Planar Magnetic Headphone.png


Transformation was incredible. Some of the easiest EQ jobs with great improvement. Once in place, the tonality was excellent as was the spatial capabilities. You almost felt like the band was miniaturized and your head was placed inside it! Kind of neat the way everything separated to the sides and back of my head (I never get forward projection). Remind me of when I reviewed the Sennheiser HD800s.

FYI my RME ADI-2 DAC V2 had no trouble driving it to ear deafening levels.

Conclusions
The Arya is a comfortable headphone and out of box has good tonality but the highs got to me. So need a bit of EQ to bring out its excellence in enjoyable sound that requires such large drivers often to deliver. And deliver it does.

I can't recommend the Hifiman Arya out of the box. With EQ however, it becomes a very good performer and one that I can easily recommend.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Hifiman Arya Frequency Response Measurements.zip
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sweetchaos

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To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -5.0 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 20 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 290 Hz Gain -2.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1630 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4970 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 6.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 8000 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 7.0
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 

Ra1zel

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I generally prefer bass response more akin to Harman OE 2013 rather than 2018 target, and the added brilliance doesn't bother me that much on music I usually listen to so I find their tonality almost flawless, tho that massive distortion spike/resonance at 4.2 kHz is unexpected.
 

YSC

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How can that happen… in such an expensive unit
 

tomtrp

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The performance of the big planar driver itself is actually quite disappointing but this headphone has one of the best spatial quality (according to rtings PRTF model and many subjective reviews), so overall acceptable.
 

GaryH

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Is it just me or is the right cup upside down in the photo?
I'm used to aftermarket pads voiding measurements at this point, but a review invalidated by upside-down earcups? Now I've seen everything...
How can that happen… in such an expensive unit
The earcups can swivel 360 degrees horizontally, and rotate 360 degrees vertically, so either the factory, owner or Amir have oriented the right-hand cup the wrong way round. And this is even worse because the Arya has angled pads, so the headphone has been tested with the left driver angled back towards the ear (as it should), but the right angled forward away from the ear, so one cup is not only upside-down but back-to-front too.

Edit: False alarm, it was just a photoshoot gone wrong (still not sure why one cup was oriented upside-down even for this), so this post is bollocks :)
 
Last edited:

tothereIwent

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I just tried to replicate the wrong orientation on my unit. It is possible to reverse - first you flip the earcup left-to-right, and then upside-down, but it is a very awkward procedure. I imagine this must have happened at the factory
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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I just tried to replicate the wrong orientation on my unit. It is possible to reverse - first you flip the earcup left-to-right, and then upside-down, but it is a very awkward procedure.
Not at all. It is smooth as silk in this sample which is what happened before I took the picture. It was measured and tested in the proper orientation or the headphone wire would shoot up, not down.
 

Maiky76

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French, leaving in China
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Hifiman Arya (2021 edition) planar magnetic open back headphone. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $1,299.

This is a very large headphone:
View attachment 163269

It is also on the heavy side:

View attachment 163270

Yet it provided very good comfort. It actually feels "light" on my head given that suspension headband.

It comes with a stiff and short headphone cord that kept its coiled shape which I found annoying. But it uses standard 3.5mm plugs for each cup so you can replace it.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the fixture was very good/easy due to large cups.

Hifiman Arya Home Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response:

View attachment 163271

We have good compliance here from 80 Hz up to 1 kHz and still close to 3 kHz. From then on, the envelop exceeds our preference curve fair bit so could sound bright. Bass response is better than many that droop but it is still deficient compared to out preference curve (dashed blue).

I noticed that kink in the response around 80 Hz. So I manually stepped the frequency and it completely corresponded with vibrations/resonances of each cup which travelled up to the headband. It persists for good rage up to a few hundred hertz.

In relative terms, the response is above average:
View attachment 163272

I was hoping for less bass distortion given the massive drivers but still good:


View attachment 163273

View attachment 163274

One thing I didn't like was the peaking around 4.2 kHz which also sucks out the frequency response. So something untoward is happening there. We will see more evidence of this when we look at our impedance curve:
View attachment 163275

You can barely see some variations there. If I zoom in, we can see the issues quite clearly:


View attachment 163276

Sensitivity is a bit less than average:

View attachment 163279

Group delay is messy and also shows some of the resonances:

View attachment 163277

Hifiman Arya Listening Tests and Equalization
I always start with my female vocals and it did not take more than a few seconds for the higher frequency boost/resonances to bother me. It extracts every bit of zinginess (yes, technical term) out of the female voices making it hard for me to listen. Mind you, it is not an overly elevated response like we get out of some headphones and can come across as "more detail" but it is wrong. Outside of this, the sound is actually decent and good. But this is not our standard. We want excellence so I went after correcting the response with EQ in my Roon player:

View attachment 163278

Transformation was incredible. Some of the easiest EQ jobs with great improvement. Once in place, the tonality was excellent as was the spatial capabilities. You almost felt like the band was miniaturized and your head was placed inside it! Kind of neat the way everything separated to the sides and back of my head (I never get forward projection). Remind me of when I reviewed the Sennheiser HD800s.

FYI my RME ADI-2 DAC V2 had no trouble driving it to ear deafening levels.

Conclusions
The Arya is a comfortable headphone and out of box has good tonality but the highs got to me. So need a bit of EQ to bring out its excellence in enjoyable sound that requires such large drivers often to deliver. And deliver it does.

I can't recommend the Hifiman Arya out of the box. With EQ however, it becomes a very good performer and one that I can easily recommend.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Here are some thoughts about the EQ.

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo the boosts and preamp gain need to be carefully considered to avoid issues
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit.
  • YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.

Excellent L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.

Score no EQ: 73.1
Score Armirm: 76.1-> not full LF compensation make the slope of error shallower
Score with EQ: 73.2 -> full LF compensation + deep Through at @10kHz results in a steeper slope of the error

Code:
Hifiman Arya APO EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
November052021-101405

Preamp: -4.8 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 22.03 Hz Gain 4.87 dB Q 0.36
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 212.47 Hz Gain -1.92 dB Q 0.51
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1736.13 Hz Gain 3.96 dB Q 1.43
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2891.01 Hz Gain -2.88 dB Q 4.49
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4896.94 Hz Gain -4.72 dB Q 5.93
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 7936.36 Hz Gain -1.44 dB Q 5.97 -> could be changed to -4dB for podcast listening
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 12399.61 Hz Gain -10.04 dB Q 5.96
Hifiman Arya APO EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz Dashboard.png
 

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abdo123

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Thanks for the review! Looks like a decent performer!

But frankly too much money for something that still needs EQ. I hope some sensibly priced diamond in the rough is in your backlog somewhere!
 

xarkkon

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May 26, 2019
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Nice! FR looks like Sundara + Ananda = Arya

Which tells me that one should just stick to the Sundara instead...
 
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