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Hifiman Edition XS - poor highs?

PH14

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I have a Hifiman Edition XS here, with the return window at Amazon closing soon.

I really want to like these. Comfort is great (most headphones don't fit my head, these do, although I do need to remove my glasses). Very nice wide and open soundstage. On my Topping headphone amp lows and mids are nice. The highs however are sharp as glass. Sibilance hell.

And it also sounds a bit distorted in highs at times. For instance, Simon and Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson song, very sibilant voices, but at times there's a cymbal sound to the left, almost timed with the 's' sounds from the singers. I could barely make out it was a cymbal. My Sennheiser HD560s while less detailed overall does properly sound like a cymbal there.

Is this the normal sound characteristic of the Edition XS? Or did I catch a defective pair?
 

staticV3

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oratory's measurement of the Edition XS shows a headphone that's likely to sound somewhat sharp/edgy:
Screenshot_20230324-140313_Drive.png
(problem areas marked blue)

So I'd say your impressions aren't unexpected.

Have you tried EQing your headphones using oratory's preset?
If that fixes the issue, then it'd be a solid indication for your pair being not defective.
 
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PH14

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Thanks for your input! I normally don't EQ (except for a bit of rough tuning, like lowering bass on my Elegia with Foobar's built in EQ)

I installed the Headphone EQ Foobar plugin, and used Oratory's settings, and using the bypass function compared both. Very easy to hear the difference.

Firstly: Mr Oratory's tastes definitely don't match mine. For instance, the bass is perfect at default, I see no reason to elevate it.

Secondly: this does not change the issues I experience, if at all it makes the distortion impression I get on the cymbal worse. Also, voices in the Mrs Robinson track now slightly sound like they're played through a telephone. It's definitely not to my taste, it feels as if the sound gets slightly muffled/veiled by these EQ settings. The sibilance also is only very slightly reduced, it is still painful. Yes, this is a very sibilant recording, but it's unlistenable on these cans, vs my other headphones.

After listening to more tracks, and a YT political commentator's voice I know very well, I am now confident that some particular frequency - a very narrow band - is distorted. Like there's an overlaid buzzing. It's very particular to just that frequency range, all other parts sound great. Really weird thing. I can't imagine what kind of defect could cause such behavior, so I wonder if this is not some kind of resonance between parts of the headphone?
 

IAtaman

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Maybe a typo while entering the filter values that turned 2.5db to 25db?
 
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PH14

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Nope, double checked, all's like Oratory states on the Github page.
 

majingotan

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Return the Edition XS and get the Drop Dan Clark Aeon X Open. ZERO sibilance, extremely resolving, concert hall depth and imaging due to vanishing distortion figures. BEST Subjectively and Objectively HEADPHONE EVER for the price

 
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PH14

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Unfortunately, I'm in the EU, and Drop has lousy service and return policies for EU. No representation here. Is there a non-Drop model that you would recommend?
 

Zensō

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I have a Hifiman Edition XS here, with the return window at Amazon closing soon.

I really want to like these. Comfort is great (most headphones don't fit my head, these do, although I do need to remove my glasses). Very nice wide and open soundstage. On my Topping headphone amp lows and mids are nice. The highs however are sharp as glass. Sibilance hell.

And it also sounds a bit distorted in highs at times. For instance, Simon and Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson song, very sibilant voices, but at times there's a cymbal sound to the left, almost timed with the 's' sounds from the singers. I could barely make out it was a cymbal. My Sennheiser HD560s while less detailed overall does properly sound like a cymbal there.

Is this the normal sound characteristic of the Edition XS? Or did I catch a defective pair?
There are some who theorize that a "very nice wide and open soundstage" is at least partially a function of specific boosted high frequencies. In my experience mixing ambient music (in which you're often trying to create a broad soundstage), this seems to be the case. I think you may find that many headphones that give the impression of a wide soundstage are also somewhat sibilant (the HD800S immediately comes to mind). When I EQ my HD800S to the Harman target (which tames the highs), the soundstage closes in a fair amount.
 
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Rayman30

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Unfortunately, I'm in the EU, and Drop has lousy service and return policies for EU. No representation here. Is there a non-Drop model that you would recommend?

You may be looking for a smoother presentation overall, I would take a good look at Audeze LCD2 used. Similar resolution, warmer sound signature, a more cohesive image but less soundstage, better bass.
 

bodhi

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I have seen time and time again that Hifiman customers, especially ones with the Edition XS, move to Audeze after a while. There is just something in the highs that starts to get on your nerves after a while. Unfortunately not something that is easily noticed with short term listening in store. Did it myself after a week.
 
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PH14

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I'm told the Audeze are very uncomfortable/very heavy. True?
 

bodhi

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I'm told the Audeze are very uncomfortable/very heavy. True?

They feel extremely nice but are undeniably very heavy. Some people, like myself, are not bothered at all and some can't stand the weight. Wouldn't by blind.
 

Rayman30

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I'm told the Audeze are very uncomfortable/very heavy. True?

This is entirely subjective, I used to wear LCD2 Closed back at work for long periods, it wasn’t a bother for me, but switched to Austrian Audio closed backs and the lower weight was definitely welcomed. But yes they are heavier, rather or not that will bother you is difficult to say.
 

markanini

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I have seen time and time again that Hifiman customers, especially ones with the Edition XS, move to Audeze after a while. There is just something in the highs that starts to get on your nerves after a while. Unfortunately not something that is easily noticed with short term listening in store. Did it myself after a week.
I also hear many moving back to DD after trying planar. Just saying.
 

majingotan

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Unfortunately, I'm in the EU, and Drop has lousy service and return policies for EU. No representation here. Is there a non-Drop model that you would recommend?

DCA Aeon 2 Noires

I also hear many moving back to DD after trying planar. Just saying.

I enjoy both types immensely! Planar for the lowest distortion and highest fidelity (most realistic sounding headphone driver tech ever) while dynamic for on the go listening (dynamic drivers sound more unnatural in general compared to planars due to worse distortion performance)
 

Rayman30

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DCA Aeon 2 Noires



I enjoy both types immensely! Planar for the lowest distortion and highest fidelity (most realistic sounding headphone driver tech ever) while dynamic for on the go listening (dynamic drivers sound more unnatural in general compared to planars due to worse distortion performance)
DCA Aeon 2 Noires



I enjoy both types immensely! Planar for the lowest distortion and highest fidelity (most realistic sounding headphone driver tech ever) while dynamic for on the go listening (dynamic drivers sound more unnatural in general compared to planars due to worse distortion performance)


Planars lowest distortion, most realistic, dd drivers unrealistic, worst distortion?

What f#% drugs are you consuming?
 

majingotan

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Planars lowest distortion, most realistic, dd drivers unrealistic, worst distortion?

What f#% drugs are you consuming?

Caffeine? No drugs here. Hate to alter my hearing by not being sober.

Yes the Drop DCA Aeon X Open (planar) is one of the most realistic sounding headphones ever and is proven objectively by its low distortion performance. Only other headphones that I see that beats the X Open in terms of “realism” (subjective) is the Warwick Aperio and Hifiiman Susvara (I haven’t heard the Sennheiser HE-1 though).

Never heard a DD headphone driver sound truly realistic. Planars and some E-stats have achieved this realistic, life-like, spooky good tonality/timbre etc. that it gives me goosebumps on how crazy realistic they sound to me, as if the singers are singing in front of me, the old cliche “speakers diasappear” from being perceived, a perfect sonic illusion. HD 600/650/6XX, AKG headphones have fake sounding bass due to high distortion in the bass, Focal Clear/Utopia and HD800S can sometimes sound fake in the treble (resonance) and bass still sounds anemic compared to Planars. Measurements clearly show that lowest distortion = most realistic sounding
 

paudio

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Thomann carries actual DCA stuff. I've only heard the Aeon Noire Closed and it's not very fatiguing at all. From your impressions the XS sounds very fatiguing. Have you tried switching to mono and comparing and both sides one at a time? If it's a driver issue I doubt both sides would have the same issue.
 
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