Back to the Hifiman Jade. The headphones have a driver with a thickness of less than 0.001mm. The design is recognizable Hifiman; a oval shaped auricle and an open-back structure. Striking is the color of the driver which is clearly visible through the open back of the headset; a kind of turquoise that alternates with other colors depending on the incidence of light. Also striking is the low weight, 365 grams only. Because of this we hardly feel the Jade II, once placed on the head and properly adjusted. Furthermore, the Jade has been kept sober. The ABS plastic is black; no metal bling, no leather and light metal accents as can be seen in the more pricey Hifiman models. This is not to say that the Jade II feels cheap; we think that the low weight is due to the sobriety in design and we see that as a big advantage. The cable is attached to the headphones and is finished in a kind of transparent mesh.
The amplifier has a very special appearance; it is made of black aviation grade aluminium. The interior is surrounded by rounded corners and around it, like a kind of aluminium fence. Ahum, it’s kind of hard to put this design into words. Take a look at the pictures and please see for yourself. On the front we see from left to right the on/off button, two 5-pin outputs for the headphones, a switch for balanced and RCA inputs and a volume knob. Rear XLR and RCA audio inputs. At 6.5 kg, the amplifier feels robust.
The test setup
As source we have the Mytek Manhattan II streamer/DAC which we use as Roon endpoint. Two long XLR cables go from the balanced output to the Jade II set. We did this because the cable of the Jade II headphones is rather short. It is more convenient to put the amplifier and headphones on a cabinet near the couch to sit comfortably. As a comparison we have the Stax set which in terms of price is comparable to the Jade combination: the Stax 407 Lambda Signature headphones and the Stax 006t tube amp.