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HiFiMAN HE-1000 headphones review

The HE-1000 headphones (US$3000) are to music what the Oculus Rift is to computer gaming.
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DAR-KO award.

darko_award_2013

Further information: HiFiMAN Electronics

 

Hifiman_HE-1000 - 5

 

Hifiman_HE-1000 - 3

 

Hifiman_HE-1000 - 4

 

Hifiman_HE-1000 - 2

 

Hifiman_HE-1000 - 1

 

Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

65 Comments

  1. Eagerly awaiting your Audioquest Nighthawk review, which may be more accessible price wise to a larger percentage of audio enthusiasts unlike these, which are the price of an overseas trip for two!!!!

  2. Hi John,
    I am kind of hoping I do not have to purchase the Oculus Rift in order to read the review;-)
    Keep up the good work you are doing here. Always enjoy your insight & reviews

  3. Hi John,

    A heads up (and if you delete this post I’d be happy) I’ve looked on two browsers, my iPhone and my desktop PC (Windows with ie11) I can’t see any text beyond the first sentence. Then I see a bunch of photos, and your ‘Knocked out’ logo. I assume your review has more than 10 or 12 words?
    Maybe it’s just my phone / PC, but this is the first this has happened.

    Cheers,

    Bob

    Keep up the good work, great website.

    • “I assume your review has more than 10 or 12 words?”

      You assume incorrectly my friend. 😀

  4. Bold review John :). Oculus Rift (and others VR systems too) is still “technology preview” – like in 2-5 years it could be really something (gamechanger), but not right now…so Hifiman HE 3000? 🙂

  5. Short but sweet… Iguess the only problem is that not a lot of us have experienced oculus gaming, nor this headphone?

  6. same problem for me no words all pictures. bullet points appear down the left side but all the text is missing

  7. So, in other words, your speechless:-) I’ll just assume you really really like them.
    Should I forsake all other headphone investments and save up for these?

  8. Sometimes you just don’t need that many words. Just look at the recommendation letter for John Nash to Princeton.

    “Mr. Nash is nineteen years old and is graduating from Carnegie Tech in June. He is a mathematical genius.”

  9. Ha! This pretty much mirrors my thoughts as well. I just wish I could have gotten away with being so pithy! 🙂

  10. This cracks me up because I got my pair last week and was thinking of this EXACT same metaphor!

  11. OK, because you seem to be a generally thoughtful chap I will give you a free hit on this post but don’t make a habit of it.

    You enjoy writing and I enjoy reading your writing, we have such a good thing going here why would you want to ruin it by publishing a non sequitur anti review?
    I know I am inching closer to “grumpy old man” territory each day but this just appears (prima facie) a little bit sophomoric by your standards. The barely contained titters in your responses to perplexed readers in the comments section does nothing to allay the sense this is all a very ‘meta’ in joke.

    I look forward to reading more on this and learning what you are really trying to say.

    Regards David

    • David.

      There are no barely concealed titters. This review was written like this because a) What I wrote encapsulated *perfectly* what I wanted to say about these headphones and b) It raises the questions of how long *should* a review should be AND *who* decides on that length.

      “I will give you a free hit on this post but don’t make a habit of it.”

      If you don’t mind me pointing this out but your comment come across as though you fee entitled to more? *You’ll* ‘give me a free hit’ on this and I shouldn’t make a habit of it? This site provides insightful content (I hope) for free – no subscription, no paywall.

      I’m delighted if people read my stuff and I always strike a balance between what I wanna write about and what readers would like to know. I think five years of doing exactly that gives mea little leeway to do my own thing (readers be damned!) everyone in a while. It’s me who makes these choices – no permission required. 🙂

  12. Mr. John Darko I just want to thank you for all your reviews whether written/released in a series or summarized in a single sentence. This sight is very much appreciated. Great photos by the way!

  13. John,

    It’s your blog so you can write whatever you please and if that occasionally means ‘readers be damned’ that is also fine by me. Although I don’t feel ‘entitled’ to a more accessible review I have developed an ‘expectation’ of what a Darko review looks like. Loquacious. Florid. Playful. Serious. This review missed a couple of those boxes.

    The “free hit” comment had nothing to do with paywalls or such. I was trying to make the point that because you have done a great job of maintaining my keen interest in what you have to say (and because its your blog) I am happy to indulge the impulse to do something ‘different’. If you chose to limit your output to similarly gnomic commentary for weeks or months I think that would become tedious so I sincerely hope that this doesn’t mark a new editorial policy. Do blogs even have an editorial policy?

    If you feel that you have said everything you need to say in the posted review, great, I am just saying in reply that I am none the wiser after reading it. I have even had the opportunty to play with an Oculus Rift headset and i still cant imagine what parallel you are trying to draw. My bad. I stand by opinion that your post is a non sequitur.

    Your No1 Fan

    David

    • David – I sincerely appreciate you engaging me on this matter. No, this it definitely NOT a turn in editorial policy. This review’s one sentence delivery is more for me (the publisher) than it is for readers. You can expect the loquaciousness, floridity, playfulness and seriousness to resume next week.

      I appreciate your kind words of support.

  14. I suppose there are times when things can leave you speechless and the HE-1000 is one of them. Now I want to make a trip to A2A and have a listen.

  15. Well, not having heard an Occulas Rift or played with the He-1000, I guess I’m none the wiser, but at least I’m no worse off.

  16. Are you gonna tell these guys or not? -:)

    Turns out John bought these outright, for his own pleasurement. Saying *anything* about ’em already veers into the 3rd kind of job (where on the first, you get paid, on the second, you work for free and on the third, you pay to work).

    Against that perspective, saying less actually makes perfect sense…

    • Not only that but my purchasing the HE-1000 wasn’t foreseen. I stopped by my local store to hear a coupla new headphone amplifier arrivals and was offered MrSpeakers Ether and the top-flight HiFiMAN as hookup devices. Two headphones that I’d previously heard back to back at the Schiit stand in Newport at the end of May. I came away from that brief comparo not believing there to be too much difference between ’em. I’d given the edge to the HE-1000 but only by a nose. How wrong I was…thus underscoring the perils of calling out SQ in show reports. It was only by spending longer in-store, away from the high ambient noise levels of a show that I could truly appreciate some quite significant differences between Ether and HE-1000. The headstage show put on by Dr Fang is quite spectacular – like stepping into a another world. The Ether don’t do that anyway near as well in my book but neither are they anyway near as costly. In doubling the spend for the HiFiMAN ‘phones one nets far more than the common-or-garden diminishing returns found elsewhere in audio.

  17. Well in all fairness, if we wanted to read a convoluted mess of verbal diaharrea involving the HE1k’s and porn, there is always 6loons.

    • Getting down to the bone with detail takes effort on the part of the reader. One man’s Ulysses is another man’s Buzzfeed (and vice versa).

  18. As an experiment in how short a review can be (or how long it *should* be)…

    If I came across this as my first encounter with the HE1000, I’d know *nothing* more about it than its mere existence and that it floated your boat; nor whether whatever amp I owned was adequate or not. Or whether, in fact, it was anywhere within my budget. And as regards the award, what is it for, exactly? With a usual review, one knows exactly – be it novel tech, price/performance, just performance, whatever exact confluence of factors were the case. Here one knows nothing. And it begs the question, doesn’t this devalue the award? What meaning does it hold? Isn’t it completely empty? And is that what a DAR KnockOut is supposed to mean?

    Just sayin’…

    • You’re absolutely correct on all accounts, Srajan. Sometimes ya gotta get experimental in spite of the consequences or implications. It’s a one-off on the back of five years’ reviewing so I don’t think it really devalues the award. Habitually pulling this kind of stunt would do that for sure.

      For a little clarification: the KO is for price/performance which is downright superb in spite of the US$3K entry fee (which is high for headphones).

      At 90db they might not be the most sensitive beasts around but I don’t find them beastly to get going but they’re not portable friendly without third party support. Amps wise, I’ve been gettin’ A1 results from both Chord Hugos and the VR LIO. Ditto ALO CDM.

  19. Being utterly unfamiliar with the Rift in particular, and vr and gaming in general, this review told me exactly nothing. Maybe conveying information is not one of your goals, which is OK. I assume entertainment is also one of your goals, but after coming back to your site numerous times to see if what I incorrectly thought was a problem had been fixed, I wasn’t likely to be entertained by the sleight of hand. Then again it’s not like there are not a shedload of reviews out there of these ‘phones, so be it. While I didn’t really “get” this one, I do generally enjoy the site. Cheers.

    • Information conveyance was not the goal of this review, no. I was hoping to strike more of an emotional chord. Besides, I also wanted readers to consider their expectations of a review/er, the time taken to listen and write a review and that it is piped to their screens completely free of charge. The HE-1000 provided an opportunity to maximise the intensity of reader reflection.

      Re. Oculus Rift: I’d assumed that even those yet to experience it would be able to conjure sufficient mental imagery to approximate the feeling of stepping into a virtual world.

  20. Thank you John for giving out more of the desired info that I believe most viewers would have liked here. I had initially dismissed this headphone as perhaps not worth the substantial amount asked but am now reconsidering this. The Oculus Rift tag now makes a whole lot more sense to me now.

    • That’s the thing: this headphone for me IS absolutely worth the additional dollars. I find it more resolving that even the Beyerdynamic T1 (my previous fav) but meatier with mass and with far better with the illusion of out-of-head staging. As mentioned previously, I also prefer ’em to Dan Clark’s Ether. Going back to the LCD-X after the HE-1000 also feels like a significant backwards step. With these HiFiMAN ‘phones you really do get what you pay for.

  21. The only way this review could have been better is if you had thrown in a nugget about hearing these through your Schiit Loki.

    #golfclap

    • Ask yourself this: are you reacting with a personal insult because you feel entitled to MORE words? If so, why?

  22. Whoa Mark!!!

    Steady on mate. You may be able to carry on like that in other parts of the interwebs but I would prefer we keep this little corner civil and friendly. It is perfectly OK to disagree and if you do I think you will find John will give you a (generous) hearing but you really need to lift your game when it comes to expressing whatever point you want to make.

    For John: Kia Kaha

    “It doesn’t matter what they call you, it’s what you answer to that counts” WC Fields

  23. what if I didn’t know what is Oculus Rift ??
    you really failed me in this one … is He 1000 better than other flagship Hp or not !!

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