Setup and sound
We tested the Hifiman Arya on different headphone amplifiers; the Sennheiser HDVD800, the Fostex HPV1 tube headphone amplifier and the Metrum Amethyst. Playback application VOX for Mac OSX or Roon via the Metrum Ambre as Roon endpoint.
Immediately we notice that this Arya performs one class higher than the Sundara. It is mainly the control in the low, middle and high that impresses. The Arya can be low and let’s hear it. However, it remains a ‘fast’ layer; it does not displace the other frequency regions, the layer is light and airy. Fans of pumping sub-bass against the ear canal are not the primary target group of planars and electrostats.
That doesn’t mean that electronic music or EDM are a ‘no go area’ for the Arya. On the contrary, we like not to be blown over by the bass, but to hear the layering of a Deep House track.
The soundstage is also impressive. If the recording is good, we can hear the acoustics of the room. All freaks and frills in gray twisted tracks are audible and spatially placed. The ultimate ear-candy is the Ultimate Headphone CD from Chessky. This album contains recordings recorded with a binaural system; two Bruel & Kjaer omni microphones at ear height. We hear “When The Saints Go Marching In” as we walk in between the marching band, in the open air of New Orleans. Impressive how the Arya manages to capture the atmosphere of the recording.
In the Alpha-Audio studio we connect the Hifiman Arya to the Metrum Amethyst. This HifiMan sounds significantly different from the Sennheiser. The opinion of colleague Jaap: “How relaxed and sweet this Arya sounds. Very nice lowland and a good mid-high to follow.”
Our neighbour in the building is of the same opinion: “everything is audible, every detail and detail. And so even!”
On the Sennheiser HDVD800, the Arya has more punch; the Fostex tube amp does a little more on top of that. It is just like with good speakers, the combination with the amplifier makes a difference. The fact is, the Hifiman Arya requires a lot of power from the amplifier. We’ve got to turn on the faucet. If you are interested in the Arya, make sure you have a good match with the amplifier.