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Hifiman Edition XS - poor highs?

Doing a tone sweep and messing with eq, it seems to me the sharpness/sibilance on mine comes from around 9khz. But all the measurements I see have a big dip there. Is this likely to be due to personal sensitivity or unit variance? If anyone hasa chance to try the songs I mentioned above and see whether they find the same sharpness I'd be very curious!
On my gear the Supremes songs sounded like a treble assault, just awful. The Oasis song sounded ok. An extended discussion about songs that sound sibilant or not would be interesting. Does such a thread exist, or does someone want to start one?
 
Hi, thanks for checking! What about Sour Times by Portishead or She Said She Said (2022 mix) by The Beatles?

The Supremes songs were for sure the worst case for me.
 
Doing a tone sweep and messing with eq, it seems to me the sharpness/sibilance on mine comes from around 9khz. But all the measurements I see have a big dip there. Is this likely to be due to personal sensitivity or unit variance? If anyone hasa chance to try the songs I mentioned above and see whether they find the same sharpness I'd be very curious!

Your HRTF probably gets a 9Khz resonance peak while others have less peak at frequency. While I don’t have the Edition XS, I have my Sony MDR 7506 (BT) and listened to your test tracks. Of course, I never EQ my headphones because they’re tonally perfect to me

ZERO sibilance Zero sharpness whatsoever on any of the tracks you mentioned. The tracks are bright but NEVER piercing

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After using the HD 600 for seven long years in a row, some days ago I found the XS at an incredible price (320€) so I decided to try them. My first impression was... they sounded terrible! The sound was piercing, way too sharp and lacking mids. I tried to get used to the sound signature but I noticed real discomfort (even pain) in my ears. I'm sensitive to treble and I already had some issues in the past with headphones like the DT 880 and the ATH-M40x.

I searched online about how to equalize them, and I tried several EQs, including Oratory's and AutoEQ (based on Oratory's measurements). I went with a mix of them and tuned it a little bit afterwards while using a sine wave generator and also listening to some music.

This equalization has improved the experience A LOT for me, although it has taken away part of the "fun factor" and "characterization" of the headphones, but there's no more discomfort or pain! Even with equalization I don't feel the smoothness of the Sennheiser's treble... but the bass, resolution, instrument separation and soundstage of the Hifiman are better and makes them worth owning.

I'm writing here my settings just in case anybody wants to give them a try and I'm also attaching a picture of the graph. If you apply the equalization while using the headphones it can sound quite weird at first but give it a couple of hours... after that, at least to my ears, the Hifiman acquires the sweet tonal balance of the HD 600 but with improved capabilities.

Preamp: -3.8 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 950.0 Hz Gain -2.1 dB Q 1.80
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 1900.0 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 0.80
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2960.0 Hz Gain -5.2 dB Q 2.20
Filter 4: ON HSC Fc 9000.0 Hz Gain -6.0 dB Q 0.70
Preamp: -4.7 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 68.0 Hz Gain -2.7 dB Q 0.50
Filter 2: ON LSC Fc 105.0 Hz Gain 5.5 dB Q 0.71
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 300.0 Hz Gain -1.0 dB Q 1.40
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 950.0 Hz Gain -2.1 dB Q 1.80
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1900.0 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 0.80
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 2960.0 Hz Gain -5.2 dB Q 2.20
Filter 7: ON HSC Fc 9000.0 Hz Gain -6.0 dB Q 0.70
 

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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?
I have the same experience - EXS are sharp and fatiguing in highs. Example: in Miles Davis Sketches of Spain his trumpet is like drilling your ears. The same piece with Dan Clark Aeon 2 Noire - smooth and sweet. Try EQ. BTW, I find Simon and Garfunkel most music on Qobuz recorded / mixed with rather poor quality. Cheers...
 
majingotan, do you have a theory as to why Dan Clark Aeon X Open sound perfect to you WITHOUT EQ yet their preference rating before EQ is only 62. (After EQ though it goes up to 100). It looks like Harman curve may need a special planar over-ear version if such a bass boost over Harman target feels just right.
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personal preference ?

Not all people have the same preference and Harman target only satisfies the majority of listeners. So Majingotan may not fall in that majority.
And even within the majority of people that prefer Harman target I am sure you will find a lot of people that want a dB more or less bass boost.

The closed DCA version does not have the lower mids hump b.t.w.
 
The high treble sibilant issue is sure there, you are not imagining it!
No amount of EQ cures it either.
Try something for fun :
- the back grill hasthin metal bars across , give the larger one a little pluck with your finger nail - like a guitar - then watch it ring like a bell! at about the same frequency of your detected issue.
Coincidence ? I don't think so.
 
Basically all Hifiman has sibilant issue and boosted treble, this is their "house sound". Cheaper versions are so-so, but their bigger cans are painful even for the less sensitive guys, so imagine how bad they are for the normal people, especially if someone used to the more natural sounding cans.
 
Basically all Hifiman has sibilant issue and boosted treble, this is their "house sound". Cheaper versions are so-so, but their bigger cans are painful even for the less sensitive guys, so imagine how bad they are for the normal people, especially if someone used to the more natural sounding cans.

Having heard all Hifiman models, the egg shape ones have the most treble and "sss" vocal boost while the circular ones have the perfect treble tuning. Basically, if you're not willing to EQ, I can only recommend either the Sundara or Susvara. Susvara is their only true "house sound". The rest of their lineup are inferior versions of their house sound which is a deliberate move to splurge up to their flagship model. Susvara fits my head more than most headphones out there except for DCA Expanse and Stealth (these two headphones are unbeatable in comfort). I was debating whether to get Expanse, Stealh, Utopia, LCD-5 or Susvara, but after extensive A/Bing for 2 hours, I ultimately prefer Susvara for its overall sonics without any glaring faults. To my subjective listening experience, Expanse lacked the upper treble for me (it should be at least 2-3 dB boosted linearly from 4KHz to 20KHz or equivalent of the Steatlh, Stealth couldn't match the details of Susvara. LCD-5 matches Susvara in details but has tonality issues while Utopia's redeeming factor is only the dynamic driver "slam and punch" traits. Susvara is the easiest to drive out of all the planar flagships as well while DCA Expanse is the hardest to drive.

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Having heard all Hifiman models, the egg shape ones have the most treble and "sss" vocal boost while the circular ones have the perfect treble tuning. Basically, if you're not willing to EQ, I can only recommend either the Sundara or Susvara. Susvara is their only true "house sound". The rest of their lineup are inferior versions of their house sound which is a deliberate move to splurge up to their flagship model. Susvara fits my head more than most headphones out there except for DCA Expanse and Stealth (these two headphones are unbeatable in comfort). I was debating whether to get Expanse, Stealh, Utopia, LCD-5 or Susvara, but after extensive A/Bing for 2 hours, I ultimately prefer Susvara for its overall sonics without any glaring faults. To my subjective listening experience, Expanse lacked the upper treble for me (it should be at least 2-3 dB boosted linearly from 4KHz to 20KHz or equivalent of the Steatlh, Stealth couldn't match the details of Susvara. LCD-5 matches Susvara in details but has tonality issues while Utopia's redeeming factor is only the dynamic driver "slam and punch" traits. Susvara is the easiest to drive out of all the planar flagships as well while DCA Expanse is the hardest to drive.
All good.
But for the rest of us paupers where money does not grow on trees! The XS is a very good compromise (that's what we need to do).
The XS is light, comfy, reasonably priced, and can be driven with 0.5W of power happily. On sound quality, within price bracket, I haven't heard better, though not perfect.
But if money was no object, I take LCD5 or Susvara.
 
Having heard all Hifiman models, the egg shape ones have the most treble and "sss" vocal boost while the circular ones have the perfect treble tuning. Basically, if you're not willing to EQ, I can only recommend either the Sundara or Susvara. Susvara is their only true "house sound". The rest of their lineup are inferior versions of their house sound which is a deliberate move to splurge up to their flagship model. Susvara fits my head more than most headphones out there except for DCA Expanse and Stealth (these two headphones are unbeatable in comfort). I was debating whether to get Expanse, Stealh, Utopia, LCD-5 or Susvara, but after extensive A/Bing for 2 hours, I ultimately prefer Susvara for its overall sonics without any glaring faults. To my subjective listening experience, Expanse lacked the upper treble for me (it should be at least 2-3 dB boosted linearly from 4KHz to 20KHz or equivalent of the Steatlh, Stealth couldn't match the details of Susvara. LCD-5 matches Susvara in details but has tonality issues while Utopia's redeeming factor is only the dynamic driver "slam and punch" traits. Susvara is the easiest to drive out of all the planar flagships as well while DCA Expanse is the hardest to drive.

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I'd be interested to know how the Ananda nano is with these sharp sss.. sounds. I had a chance to have a quick demo and I did try a few tracks - I had the impression it was much better (I tried a few of the problem tracks I called out earlier on the thread). But I certainly wouldn't say I had the chance to form a complete impression.
 
I'd be interested to know how the Ananda nano is with these sharp sss.. sounds. I had a chance to have a quick demo and I did try a few tracks - I had the impression it was much better (I tried a few of the problem tracks I called out earlier on the thread). But I certainly wouldn't say I had the chance to form a complete impression.

If I were to rank treble boost vs treble tonality (or refinement) between the hifiman models based on my memory last week, this would be the case in my subjective opinion:

Treble boost from worst to least (in terms of sibilance "sss")

1) Arya Organic
2) HE1000se
3) Ananda Nano
4) Arya Stealth = Ananda Stealth = HE1000v2
5) Edition XS
6) Susvara
7) Sundara = HE-6se

Treble tonality, refinement and clarity worst to least

1) Edition XS
2) Sundara
3) Ananda Stealth = Ananda Nano = HE-6se
4) Arya Stealth = Arya Organic
5) HE1000se
6) Susvara

When those two traits are combined, these are my rankings from worst to least:

1) Arya Organic = HE1000SE
2) Edition XS
3) Ananda Nano = Arya Stealth
4) HE-6se
5) Sundara
6) Susvara
 
If I were to rank treble boost vs treble tonality (or refinement) between the hifiman models based on my memory last week, this would be the case in my subjective opinion:

Treble boost from worst to least (in terms of sibilance "sss")

1) Arya Organic
2) HE1000se
3) Ananda Nano
4) Arya Stealth = Ananda Stealth = HE1000v2
5) Edition XS
6) Susvara
7) Sundara = HE-6se

Treble tonality, refinement and clarity worst to least

1) Edition XS
2) Sundara
3) Ananda Stealth = Ananda Nano = HE-6se
4) Arya Stealth = Arya Organic
5) HE1000se
6) Susvara

When those two traits are combined, these are my rankings from worst to least:

1) Arya Organic = HE1000SE
2) Edition XS
3) Ananda Nano = Arya Stealth
4) HE-6se
5) Sundara
6) Susvara

Then it seems like the HE6se is really a bang for the buck at the usual discounted price. Tahts is the only Hifiman stuff im interested in, so i guess im lucky.
 
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

You are objectively wrong, though.

AKGs and HDs don't have audible distorsion. Where the distorsion on the XS is very audible and really bad.

Here is the comparison with AKG K702. A very old pair of headphones that I personally enjoy pretty much.
 

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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?
Trying to EQ frequencies above 3000Hz is often pointless. Sound wavelengths at these frequencies are so small that your headphone fit significantly affects how you perceive tone. Moreover, your HRTF changes the headphones' output significantly above 5000Hz based on your ear canal anatomy. A practical approach is to run a frequency sweep above 5000Hz with your headphones on in the most stable and repeatable position, identify any peaks, and adjust your EQ accordingly. However, if you alter the way you wear your headphones, these EQ adjustments may no longer apply. Despite this, finding and adjusting for these peaks is still preferable to randomly EQing your headphones to meet a standard target. Generally, trying to EQ headphones above 3000~5000Hz doesn't work well in most situations.
 
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Another source where the old AKG K702 destroys the XS at distortion.

I don't understand how the XS harmonic distortion can be viewed as acceptable or surpassing dynamic drivers.

The AKG are 14 years old and you can find them for 100€ on sale.

I think you are wrong here, @majingotan.
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