2000 - 5000 euro
Hifiman Jade II
The Jade II is an example of how nowadays electrostatic states can sound; fast, open, precise and also with more than enough bass punch. In a sober jacket and stripped of bling, the Jade II does what it’s supposed to do: play music the way it’s meant to do. It invites you to listen and enjoy for hours. We hear the music around our heads, in some pieces as much as a meter. And what is also special: the bass punch is there. We hear and feel the kick drum and the bass. This in combination with the speed of the electrostates is an experience that is downright addictive.
The asking price will seem high at first sight, but we dare to claim that you won’t find a better combination of headphones and amplifier for this money.
The HE1000se is beautifully finished with aluminum, wood and leather. The fit is excellent. Technically it is the same as the Arya, and yet the Hifiman HE1000se sounds different. It’s more analytical, and that’s also reflected in the measurements. A more pronounced character in the midrange. The material of these headphones may very well be to blame. As in speakers, the material used affects the sound, frequency response and resonance. And at this level almost everything affects the end result.
FIR is a young American brand (2018) that makes ear monitors with multiple balanced armature drivers. The M2 has two, top model M5 has, you guessed it, five. With FIR, the housing acts as a sound box; the entire chassis is the instrument that converts energy into sound. If you find the FIR’s some resemblance to 64Audio, then that’s right; the founder of FIR, Bogdan Belonozhko, used to work at 64Audio.
The FIR in ear monitors actually need to be custom made. Then the fit is perfect and so is the sound. We had to do it with silicone tips and then the M5 doesn’t reveal its full potential. Yet we heard that this is really high end. The sound is spacious, stands around us and is very natural.
The sensation of a high end in ear monitor cannot be compared to an over ear. It is perhaps best compared to putting on 3D glasses. You are part of the sound, even more so than with headphones. Also because we don’t have a device on the head which gives a free feeling. The measurements confirm the impression that this is a real high-end pair of in-ears. Also special that the five drivers are largely reflected in the measurements.
The Rinaro-designed planar driver has a double voice coil; one is spiral-shaped, and the other has a zigzag shape. This should improve the timing and differentiation of the high and low frequencies. Our impression is that there is a bit of colouring in it, a bit warmer than we would expect from a planar. But certainly not unpleasant, on the contrary. We get sucked into the music, we hear details we didn’t hear before. The measurements confirm the impression that this really is a top-end product. Everything is correct. Sound, measurements… very impressive.
What lovely headphones these are. The fit is more than excellent. And the sound characteristics are sublime; we’re impressed.