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Hifiman Arya Review (headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 11 4.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 49 20.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 112 47.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 65 27.4%

  • Total voters
    237

Tachyon88

Active Member
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Apr 3, 2020
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Hi everyone,
I just bought the Arya (stealth magnet version) and I need some perspective because I'm actually rather disappointed.

My first "proper" headphone was a Sennheiser HD558 that I bought ca. 10 years ago, and back then it was an eye- or rather ear-opening experience, as it was an obvious improvement over everything I had heard so far. I still love them and use them every day, but having now a bit more disposable income and after reading forums such as this and Head-Fi every now and again, I decided to treat myself to something new and hopefully take my listening enjoyment to the next level. I initially wanted to get the Sennheiser HD660S, but after finding a deal to get a new Arya for more than 25% off, I decided to go for the "endgame" and never having to think about audio gear again.

I also got a Topping E50+L50 stack to properly drive the Arya, as I had so far plugged my Sennheisers directly into the headhpone outlet of my PC mainboard. I have now listened to the Arya for a couple of hours and I'm not sure what to think, because I don't really notice a difference. When I first listened to the Sennheisers 10 years ago, I felt like when I got my first pair of glasses, and only then realized how bad my vision had been without them. But now I don't have that at all. The Arya sounds good, but I don't think it sounds better or even different than the Sennheiser to me. I know sound quality does not increase proportionally to price, but surely a headphone that is 10x more expensive should still sound audibly better? I spend the last hour going back and forth between the two, but apart from having to adjust the volume on the headphone amp a bit because the Arya needs a bit more power, I'm not sure I can tell a difference. What is happening? Is my hearing that much worse than I thought? Does burn-in make that much of a difference? I would have thought that even if it does, the Arya should still sound better without it.

For some extra context, while I haven't listened to a lot of different headphones, I tried my dad's old Sennheisers a while back (not sure what model they are, but they are about 30 years old and have flat yellow foam pads), and I could hear a clear difference between them and my HD558.

I would love to get some input on what to do from someone with maybe a bit more experience than me. Do I have to get used to the Arya? Should I just return them and be happy with the HD558? I sadly don't have the option of going to a Hifi store and demoing a few different models. I would appreciate any advice!

You sound like me in the beginning. I think its expectations. You expect something to be so night and day especially for the price and how much people embellish their impressions. However its all nuanced and ALL headphones are overpriced, IMO. I was exclusively listening to my lcd2c and still pretty new to audio when I bought HD800s. As soon as I put the HD800s on I thought....sounds like a headphone.....I didn't even noticed the soundstage until after I listened to the HD800s exclusively for a few weeks and then went back to the lcd2c, then it was a massive difference. Now I can't unhear it. Bought a Diana v2 and after almost a year I never thought it sounded that much better than HD6xx. Got an arya and immediately could tell the how great the bass is and the soundstage was 2nd to the HD800s. In fact the arya doesn't make me want to listen to the HD6xx anymore, I never got that feeling with lcd2c and diana v2, both sold now.

IMO, you should listen to one headphone exclusively for a few weeks at least and then go back to the other headphone. I listen to everything with oratory1990 eq too just FYI.
 
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Audionoob5000

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You sound like me in the beginning. I think its expectations. You expect something to be so night and day especially for the price and how much people embellish their impressions. However its all nuanced and ALL headphones are overpriced, IMO. I was exclusively listening to my lcd2c and still pretty new to audio when I bought HD800s. As soon as I put the HD800s on I thought....sounds like a headphone.....I didn't even noticed the soundstage until after I listened to the HD800s exclusively for a few weeks and then went back to the lcd2c, then it was a massive difference. Now I can't unhear it. Bought a Diana v2 and after almost a year I never thought it sounded that much better than HD6xx. Got an arya and immediately could tell the how great the bass is and the soundstage was 2nd to the HD800s. In fact the arya doesn't make me want to listen to the HD6xx anymore, I never got that feeling with lcd2c and diana v2, both sold now.

IMO, you should listen to one headphone exclusively for a few weeks at least and then go back to the other headphone. I listen to everything with oratory1990 eq too just FYI.
Thank you for your input! It makes me feel better to hear that my experience is not uncommon and to be expected. I am listening to the Arya now and enjoying them, I'm just not sure how much more than my Sennheisers...
I hope I will be able to tell a difference when I go back to the HD558 in a couple of days.
 

Zenairis

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Jun 27, 2021
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5
I voted "Not Terrible" for this one, it's expensive and distortion and frequency response are not awesome. The subjective assessment of good soundstage is a positive though, but a little harder to hang your hat on that. (What's with photographing the earcup upsidedown, a bit unnecessary!)

I can't vouch for the Stealth edition or aka the V3. I love the Arya V2 which I own they are my personal favorite.

I've also heard the V3's sound stage was degraded in comparison to the V2. People also say the V3 is a lot easier to drive than the V2.

Another point I've also heard is the V3 has bad distortion after EQ. Where as the V2 doesn't struggle in this area.

Would love to see a detailed comparison between the V2 and V3
 
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Robbo99999

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I can't vouch for the Stealth edition or aka the V3. I love the Arya V2 which I own they are my personal favorite.

I've also heard the V3's sound stage was degraded in comparison to the V2. People also say the V3 is a lot easier to drive than the V2.

Another point I've also heard is the V3 has bad distortion after EQ. Where as the V2 doesn't struggle in this area.

Would love to see a detailed comparison between the V2 and V3
I'm not aware of the different versions, but any solid/reliable information showing the differences is useful information.
 

edahl

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Jan 18, 2021
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HEKse vs Arya v3 (pre and post EQ) is such an interesting question! (well to me anyway lol)
 

Paolo

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Hi everyone,
I just bought the Arya (stealth magnet version) and I need some perspective because I'm actually rather disappointed.

My first "proper" headphone was a Sennheiser HD558 that I bought ca. 10 years ago, and back then it was an eye- or rather ear-opening experience, as it was an obvious improvement over everything I had heard so far. I still love them and use them every day, but having now a bit more disposable income and after reading forums such as this and Head-Fi every now and again, I decided to treat myself to something new and hopefully take my listening enjoyment to the next level. I initially wanted to get the Sennheiser HD660S, but after finding a deal to get a new Arya for more than 25% off, I decided to go for the "endgame" and never having to think about audio gear again.

I also got a Topping E50+L50 stack to properly drive the Arya, as I had so far plugged my Sennheisers directly into the headhpone outlet of my PC mainboard. I have now listened to the Arya for a couple of hours and I'm not sure what to think, because I don't really notice a difference. When I first listened to the Sennheisers 10 years ago, I felt like when I got my first pair of glasses, and only then realized how bad my vision had been without them. But now I don't have that at all. The Arya sounds good, but I don't think it sounds better or even different than the Sennheiser to me. I know sound quality does not increase proportionally to price, but surely a headphone that is 10x more expensive should still sound audibly better? I spend the last hour going back and forth between the two, but apart from having to adjust the volume on the headphone amp a bit because the Arya needs a bit more power, I'm not sure I can tell a difference. What is happening? Is my hearing that much worse than I thought? Does burn-in make that much of a difference? I would have thought that even if it does, the Arya should still sound better without it.

For some extra context, while I haven't listened to a lot of different headphones, I tried my dad's old Sennheisers a while back (not sure what model they are, but they are about 30 years old and have flat yellow foam pads), and I could hear a clear difference between them and my HD558.

I would love to get some input on what to do from someone with maybe a bit more experience than me. Do I have to get used to the Arya? Should I just return them and be happy with the HD558? I sadly don't have the option of going to a Hifi store and demoing a few different models. I would appreciate any advice!
The HD558 was my first good headphone too :) I loved them and still use and like their successors. Give some time to the Arya, revisit old music you’ve always liked and try something new also, then go back to the HD558 after some days.

It is normal to get used to a specific sound signature, but please do not believe myths like the burn-in magic, even when something changes between a brand new driver and a well used one, it is not something even a well trained human can ear, it is just outside what’s possible, so you now have an alarm bell to listen for someone starts talking about burn-in, cables and different DACs, it is guaranteed that at best is being delusional, at worst is a real fraud, especially if it is a reviewer.

Anyway, what really surprises me in your experience is that, perceived quality apart, you find the planars so similar to the Sennheiser, when I was pretty sure that at least the openness of the Arya should feel very apparent compared to the pretty “intimate” sound of the HD558. Try to place your hands over the cups while listening on both headphones…
 

Robbo99999

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It looks like the differences between the V3 Stealth Magnet version in comparison to the other versions could be largely explained by the different frequency responses. In the last vid you linked it looks like he measured both V2 & V3 on a flatplate and there were some consistent differences. As for how effective the "stealth magnet" technology is, well it's supposedly supposed to allow for less interruption of the soundwaves from the drivers - the magnets don't get in the way as much, but I reckon most of the differences are really due to the different frequency response. The new stealth magnets do make them easier to drive though. So that's the information I gleaned from reading your links in terms of the differences between the latest V3 Stealth magnet version and the previous.
 

Ezees

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If your amps have been measured on this site and measured well, then they'll be audibly transparent, as in you won't be able to tell the difference between them if it were possible to do blind controlled testing on them......I don't know if your amps have been measured on here though nor whether they measured well, so I suppose it could be possible for you tell the difference if some of them measure badly, perhaps changing things like frequency response in a significant way but until they're all measured then we don't know. If you buy good measuring DACS and amps then the audio chain will have no effect, which is the whole point of buying good gear. Silly audiophile terms like "scaling with good components" are then only seen as ignorance in the form of placebo or having previously chosen equipment that measures poorly and was creating audible effects.
Scaling is only a myth to people that actually compare things under controlled conditions.
Scaling is not a myth to those that totally trust their ears and use sighted not controlled testing methods.

No point in debating this (nor silver cables) as there will never be any concensus.

I have tried to convince someone claiming silver cables sound brighter and even when he was proven there was no difference (and he is an electronics repair guy) to this day still is convinced he heard it in the past and considered it real despite not being able to tell in a blind test.

Maybe just a 'uh huh' is the best response to non provable claims ?
Both these comments are one or two ways to look at the topic, but there are also other experiences and paths to consider. You have stated a fact here: there is no consensus either way.
 

solderdude

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but there are also other experiences and paths to consider.

Yes of course there are.
One of them is the belief that 'scaling' is not a myth and that silver cables, somehow, without the slightest objective proof, acts as a tilted up tone control.
 

Ezees

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Hi everyone,
I just bought the Arya (stealth magnet version) and I need some perspective because I'm actually rather disappointed.

My first "proper" headphone was a Sennheiser HD558 that I bought ca. 10 years ago, and back then it was an eye- or rather ear-opening experience, as it was an obvious improvement over everything I had heard so far. I still love them and use them every day, but having now a bit more disposable income and after reading forums such as this and Head-Fi every now and again, I decided to treat myself to something new and hopefully take my listening enjoyment to the next level. I initially wanted to get the Sennheiser HD660S, but after finding a deal to get a new Arya for more than 25% off, I decided to go for the "endgame" and never having to think about audio gear again.

I also got a Topping E50+L50 stack to properly drive the Arya, as I had so far plugged my Sennheisers directly into the headhpone outlet of my PC mainboard. I have now listened to the Arya for a couple of hours and I'm not sure what to think, because I don't really notice a difference. When I first listened to the Sennheisers 10 years ago, I felt like when I got my first pair of glasses, and only then realized how bad my vision had been without them. But now I don't have that at all. The Arya sounds good, but I don't think it sounds better or even different than the Sennheiser to me. I know sound quality does not increase proportionally to price, but surely a headphone that is 10x more expensive should still sound audibly better? I spend the last hour going back and forth between the two, but apart from having to adjust the volume on the headphone amp a bit because the Arya needs a bit more power, I'm not sure I can tell a difference. What is happening? Is my hearing that much worse than I thought? Does burn-in make that much of a difference? I would have thought that even if it does, the Arya should still sound better without it.

For some extra context, while I haven't listened to a lot of different headphones, I tried my dad's old Sennheisers a while back (not sure what model they are, but they are about 30 years old and have flat yellow foam pads), and I could hear a clear difference between them and my HD558.

I would love to get some input on what to do from someone with maybe a bit more experience than me. Do I have to get used to the Arya? Should I just return them and be happy with the HD558? I sadly don't have the option of going to a Hifi store and demoing a few different models. I would appreciate any advice!
If they are new, they will take time to loosen up. Fresh out of the box they can be a little tite n brite, but after a week or two of listening (or pink noise overnights for quicker results), they tend to "bloom" and start to sound "wider and deeper", with a smoother sound and much better layering. Also, it may take some time to get used to a new and different sound signature. Listen to the Arya exclusively for about a week to ten days then switch back to your Senns. See if you notice a difference then.
 

Jimbob54

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If they are new, they will take time to loosen up. Fresh out of the box they can be a little tite n brite, but after a week or two of listening (or pink noise overnights for quicker results), they tend to "bloom" and start to sound "wider and deeper", with a smoother sound and much better layering. Also, it may take some time to get used to a new and different sound signature. Listen to the Arya exclusively for about a week to ten days then switch back to your Senns. See if you notice a difference then.
There are a couple of things I will agree on regarding new headphones. Brain burn in /adjustment and the lesser talked about issue of finding the right point on the volume dial.

The volume bit I've noticed really matters. I've thought some new headphones faulty because I'm driving them harder than my ears like. Makes them sound harsh even if it's not them distorting, but my ears.
 

Robbo99999

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There are a couple of things I will agree on regarding new headphones. Brain burn in /adjustment and the lesser talked about issue of finding the right point on the volume dial.

The volume bit I've noticed really matters. I've thought some new headphones faulty because I'm driving them harder than my ears like. Makes them sound harsh even if it's not them distorting, but my ears.
Holy Shmoly Scotty, that's too much power! Don't listen so loud that your ears distort! Start it off low with new headphones & listening session and fairly quickly & smoothly turn up the volume on your loud reference track until it sounds right (and don't turn it up too slow as your ears will adjust and you'll end up at a louder volume than necessary).
 

Jimbob54

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Holy Shmoly Scotty, that's too much power! Don't listen so loud that your ears distort! Start it off low with new headphones & listening session and fairly quickly & smoothly turn up the volume on your loud reference track until it sounds right - don't turn it up too slow as your ears will adjust and you'll end up at a louder volume than necessary.
Exactly, and with some cans , that loudness is harsh.
 

Robbo99999

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Exactly, and with some cans , that loudness is harsh.
Yeah, I'd say that if you've got your EQ (or headphone) right then it won't sound harsh at loud volumes when listening to most tracks, but there's no point running your headphones too loud even if they're not harsh at high volumes. We gotta look after our ears, and I especially feel that as I get older, as your body gets older you realise you need to look after all parts of it, ears included....and I'm sure there's folks around here and elsewhere that have realised that they've damaged their ears or body in the things they've done in the past - old injuries causing dodgy knees or back, loud jobs without adequate hearing protection, too much clubbing, god knows what...our bodies only repair so much. Let's not abuse our ears. Youngsters take heed, be kind to yourself, you're not invincible, but don't be a total snowflake, balance!
 

Ezees

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Yes of course there are.
One of them is the belief that 'scaling' is not a myth and that silver cables, somehow, without the slightest objective proof, acts as a tilted up tone control.
Potato, potato - tomato, tomato... some will, some won't - some do, some don't.... More to the perception of sound than frequency response, methinks...
 

GaryH

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If they are new, they will take time to loosen up. Fresh out of the box they can be a little tite n brite, but after a week or two of listening (or pink noise overnights for quicker results), they tend to "bloom" and start to sound "wider and deeper", with a smoother sound and much better layering.
More fairyland nonsense.
Also, it may take some time to get used to a new and different sound signature.
Bingo, that's all it is.
 

Ezees

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There are a couple of things I will agree on regarding new headphones. Brain burn in /adjustment and the lesser talked about issue of finding the right point on the volume dial.

The volume bit I've noticed really matters. I've thought some new headphones faulty because I'm driving them harder than my ears like. Makes them sound harsh even if it's not them distorting, but my ears.
That may be distortion from either your amp struggling to drive your cans to higher levels or distortion in the cans themselves at louder volumes. I don't get distortion from my Aryas at all, even at higher volumes (that is, until it becomes dangerously painful to put to my ears). These cans have low distortion and great control at volume.
 

Ezees

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More fairyland nonsense.

And that's all it is.
To you maybe. To me, no. Potato, potato; swsw, sdsd... What rubs you the wrong way about what I perceive - since, to you (and others), all amps, DACs, cables, etc. sound the same. To all others concerned, please give your Aryas time to play in before you commit to your final listening sessions and ultimately pass judgement (~50 - 75 hours at least). You may be pleasantly surprised and rewarded with better sound from them than when you first plugged them in. Either way, it's a free experiment and won't cost anything but a little time.
 

Robbo99999

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To you maybe. To me, no. Potato, potato; swsw, sdsd... What rubs you the wrong way about what I perceive - since, to you (and others), all amps, DACs, cables, etc. sound the same. To all others concerned, please give your Aryas time to play in before you commit to your final listening sessions and ultimately pass judgement (~50 - 75 hours at least). You may be pleasantly surprised and rewarded with better sound from them than when you first plugged them in. Either way, it's a free experiment and won't cost anything but a little time.
He's actually half agreeing with you though - that it takes time to get used to a different sound signature - that's brain burn-in. He's just saying that this is the real reason for your experience rather than driver burn-in. And he's right, the brain burn-in is many orders more significant than any driver burn-in that could happen. If you've ever flipped between different headphones or experimented with different EQ's then you'll know how easily your brain can adapt to a new sound......that's not to say you can't optimise the sound, just that your brain will get used to something with enough exposure, and that is brain burn-in.
 
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