Hifiman HE1000 Stealth Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by PacoTaco, Nov 27, 2023.

  1. PacoTaco

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    Edit: I've added something to the end to reflect my experience after nearly a month with it.

    Recently, I bought @jexby 's Schiit Piety and mentioned I was pairing it with an Arya Organic (which I ended up not getting because the HE1000 Stealth was only a hundred dollars more and I never had a good experience with any Arya I've tried.) He brought up that there aren't real impressions of the Arya Organic (or any of the Hifiman thousand dollar tier of headphones.)

    And honestly, I could see why. I have a very varied history of trying Hifiman egg-shaped headphones and absolutely hating them for one reason or another. The only ones I liked were the original HE1000 and the HE-X - All the Anandas, the Aryas (minus Organic,) and Edition XS all had SOMETHING in the treble that ruined the timbre completely and I couldn't listen to them long. Or, in the Ananda's case, the dynamics being so bad that everything sounded like it was all the same volume and there wasn't any real nuance to it (I.e., the wall of sound.)

    I had heard the Arya Organic (and the HE1000s) had fixed a lot of these issues, but...well, that was from a few youtubers. Then I looked a bit deeper (and watched Resolve's review) and came to the realization that the treble was probably entirely too hot and spikey in the FR for me to enjoy. The HE1000 Stealth, however, had a very similar FR except for higher lower-mids and a lot smoother treble.

    For reference, I call it the HE1000 Stealth because that is what is suppose to officially go by. It also goes by HE1000 v2 Stealth (as it's just a V2 with stealth magnets and most places list it as that,) HE1000 v3, and, on the shipping label, HE1000 v4. Hifiman's naming is all over the f'ing place, but just know I mean the HE1000 v2 with Stealth Magnets.

    All impressions are done on a Modi Multibit 2 and Schiit Piety. Most of my music listening is done in rock and metal, which some orchestral and stuff with female focals (like Taylor Swift [I blame my daughter for that one] and Billie Eilish [I blame my late wife for that one.] I don't feel the HE1000 Stealth is held back much by the Piety (as it's pretty easy to drive,) but it does sound like I'd be able to get a bit more out of it with a beefier amp.

    Small note about the build quality: It's sturdier than the Arya, and looks better in person than the Arya did. Arya always felt a bit cheap and fragile, and, while incredibly light, the HE1000 Stealth does feel more premium and sturdier. The bar is set pretty low in that area for Hifiman, so take that as you will.

    Overall Sound Signature

    The sound signature of the HE1000 Stealth is, overall, a very, very mild U-shape. The bass (particularly the subbass) is slightly elevated and the treble is on the bright side.

    Bass

    Egg-shape Hifimans have this weird tendency that I'll expand in the dynamics section of having "large" bass that hits like a pool noodle (though that pool noodle has more texture than I'd fine on an Arya or Ananda, tbh.) Like the other HE1000s, the HE1000 Stealth doesn't have this problem. While it can sound bass light in some songs (Flying Whales from Gojira comes to mind,) it's sticking to what it's given as opposed to making it more bombastic (like a Focal would.) This kind of trait ends up blindsiding me when I listen to something that actually hits the bass hard. But the biggest thing I can emphasis is how damn clean the bass is. Drums sounds accurate, well textured, well detailed, and aren't a bloaty mess like other bass-emphasized Hifiman's (Edition XS) get.


    Mids

    Despite being a mild-U shaped signature, the mids are incredibly clear and well presented. While vocals and guitars sound better on something like a Autuer or a HD650, they are still enjoyable on the HE1000 Stealth. I will say they don't stand out other than how well detailed they are, but, honestly, compared to other Hifiman's I've tried, that's better than I expected. I will say female vocals sound better on the HE1000 Stealth than male vocals. They stand out a little more. Overall though, it's incredibly detailed in the mids.


    Treble

    This is probably the weirdest part of the headphone's sound for me to describe. Like the HD800 SDR, it's undeniably bright and airy. However, the weird part comes in that, unlike the other egg-shaped Hifiman headphones, it's not fatiguing. It's incredibly smooth and nothing in the treble has any huge spikes. Spikes in the treble (lower or high end) are usually what get me to get rid of a Hifiman, whether it be the Arya's bizarre ones, the Organics FR showing a decently aggressive one, or the Edition XS's metallic twinge/sibilance in some thing (which I'll detail in another section.)

    It's incredibly detailed in the treble, but it's presented in a way that I don't get tired of listening to it even after a couple of hours. It could just be me aging. I found it a lot more livelier than the past HE1000s, which may or may not turn some people off. It might even be just be more out-right detailed than the HD800 SDR, but I don't have one to compare anymore and I'm going off memory.


    Soundstage/Imaging

    Soundstage has always been a weird thing with me ever since I've heard competent speakers. You're either noticeably closed-in with it (Focal Clear, HD650,) or noticeably large (HD800.) The HE1000 Stealth leans more towards the "noticeably large" side of things, though it's not quite a large as the HD800. However, it has incredibly depth to it. A surprising amount, in fact.

    Another good comparison with the HD800 is in the imaging. The imaging of the HD800, while really precise, does sound pretty diffuse. On the HE1000 stealth, it's incredibly precise and things are well separated.


    Dynamics

    I'm not normally a fan of how macrodynamics are presented on most orthos. My baseline for acceptable was the LCD-X, and even that just seems to be on the "average" side of things for me. A lot of the cheaper egg-shaped Hifimans had huge issues in this department: Where as microdynamics were done fairly competently, the macro-dynamics suffered to the point where everything just sounded like a wall. The more money you sunk into a Hifiman, the better it would do this department, which seems to be the case with the HE1000 Stealth. The macro--dynamics on the HE1000 Stealth are excellent for an planar, but they're still fairly far from something like a Focal Clear/Utopia/Elex. Like the LCD-X, they are simply slightly above average and not a glaring weakness. Compared to the other Hifiman's I've heard in the past few years, that may as well be a glowing praise towards it. This isn't something I noticed at first though...I changed back to the Audeze Maxwell for something else and noticed how compressed that sounded immediately compared to the HE1000.

    The microdynamics are where this headphone shines though. It does subtle detail and volume changes incredibly well. Things build up appropriately (and accurately,) and there is detail that I wouldn't normally hear on something like an Audeze Maxwell that is JUST outside loud enough to hear over everything else. I noticed this in the two Dream Theater songs, "Panic Attack" and "As I am." It reminded me why I spend entirely too much money on this hobby at times.


    Timbre and other small things

    This is another thing I've had issues with regarding most Hifiman headphones. Ananda, Arya, Edition XS, and even the original HE1000 suffered of this to some various degrees: There's always something slightly plastic, polite or even aggressively metallic about the overall sound. Things sounded "good" but never "right." As far as Hifiman goes, The HE1000 Stealth is probably the best timbre I've heard out of any of them. There's still that slight bit of plastic in the sound at times, but it doesn't really crop up as much as you'd think. Don't misunderstand me - this isn't something like a HD650 in timbre - but the timbre is enjoyable enough that everything else about the headphone outweighs the averageness of it.

    As far as speed is concerned, this is a very, very fast headphone. Shit resolves, decays accurately, and it moves on. That does make it not as "romantic" as something like a good ZMF, but does do things accurately (without making it sound inorganic or artificial.) However, at the same time, that makes the instrument separation top f'ing notch, and it handles normally claustrophobic music (which, let's be real, is most of what I listen to with the metal genre) excellently.


    Gaming

    I don't normally make this a category because...anything that images well does well with this. If you got the detail of a Maxwell and the imaging of one, you're basically good. I do think good headphones elevate gaming quite a bit for immersion, but it's not needed.

    The reason I made this a category is because HIfiman's always have a flaw that fucks that part up. With the Ananda, it was the "wall of sound" dynamics that removed any ability to detect any subtle nuances in the sound. I literally could not tell the distance of things because the differences in volume were not nuanced at all, and it would get loss in the sea of chaotic nonsense. The HE1000 Stealth doesn't have that issue. Another problem (mostly with the Edition XS) is the metallic treble making certain noises unlistenable and annoying as f**k. Take Judgement or a Yakuza game, for instance. Opening, closing, or choosing any menu item triggered the most glarey ass chime known to man. It made things like the Edition XS unlistenable for that purpose because it was just so damn sharp and jarring. HE1000 Stealth, however? The treble is actually smooth so, despite being slightly elevated, this isn't a problem. Another headphone that shares this "bright, but smooth enough to not be annoying" trait was the HD800 SDR.


    Summary

    To wrap this all up, I actually really like this headphone. I haven't tried the Susvara or the HE1000SE (and probably won't try the latter due to how bright it looks,) but this is the best modern-day headphone I've heard from Hifiman. It's actually a good all-arounder that I could use with everything, and be disappointed. However, it is a bright headphone with its weakest part being the timbre (which isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, just average,) which might drive people else where. I'd encourage people give it a shot since it is way down in price ($1399) compared to what it launched it (and I might it consider it worth it at that original two grand price tag,) as it's now the only egg-shaped Hifiman on the market that I like.

    Final Post-Month Thoughts:

    So all my thoughts of the headphone still apply: It's the least fucked timbre-wise out of all the Hifiman's. It's fantastic at its price point, especially for people who lean for brighter headphones, like a mild-U shape, or want to go for all-out detail. The problem is, for me at least, is that I love listening to it, but it gets very tiring after an hour. If I take a couple days away from it and come back to listen to it, it's fine. I can listen to it for awhile. But, f**k me, its fatiguing/tiring/too much after a couple days of listening for a couple hours at a time. I'm not even exactly sure why. Even EQing the treble down doesn't solve this issue and I just get tired of it. Maybe it's just age, maybe there's something I'm not hearing that is elevated/wrong with the sound that is bugging me but I can't explain it...I don't f'ing know. But I wanted to make sure this was added for complete transparently: I like the headphone, but after a month of listening to it, it is tiring as all hell. I had the same problem with the Thieaudio tri-brids (like the Monarch V1/V2) where, while the treble sounded fine and I liked it, something bugged me about it long term that I couldn't point to.


    20231127_132826.jpg
     
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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2023
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    Unacceptable! Hard to drive high-end orthos require massive current and the most powerful amps! Oh, wait, HE1000 isn't TOTL anymore. Carry on.

    Now this is intriguing. I've felt that the OG HE1K had potential and generally the highs weren't horribad with at least half the samples. @Bill-P for instance was able to snag what I could call one with class A highs. The one I had wasn't that great. I would assume that by now, HiFiMan, like Audeze has tightened down their production processes to produce consistent sounding units.

    My deal with the OG HE1K and a few units of the V2 (this was still years ago) was that the highs exhibited that I would term a spashy timbre. Metallic, like the splash of cymbals or pots and pans. There was nothing in the measurements that really explained this, but it was there, at least on most samples. Thanks for the heads up. I am definitely interested now. I thought I was weird because it seemed I was only the one who heard either plastic, soft, polite on the mid-end and splashy on the high-end of HFM cans.
     
  3. Tchoupitoulas

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    I snagged a v2 HE1k last year thanks to the new, lower price - and a deal on an open box unit, which made it even cheaper - and it had the splashy treble and soft, bouncy bass. Worse, the mid-range suffered from some suckout. Worst of all, the headstage was super weird. There was decent depth and height but a weak center image, which with the mid suckout combined to make for a hollow sound with much of the essential musical information missing.

    I wouldn't put much faith in HiFiMan having improved their production processes, especially not for the ones being sold off for 50% off their original price. I wonder how many of them are just old stock.

    Oh, and there was also some of the plasticky timbre.

    Edit: the Stealth version, being a more recent model, may well have benefited from better production processes.
     
  4. PacoTaco

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    I got that metallic timbre with all the Hifimans too. It was at its worse with the Edition XS. This isn't near as bad as any of those were, but I'm not going to say it's completely gone or anything. I get the metallic tang on a couple of things on occasion, and it seems a lot more dependent on the song than it was with the other ones.

    Measurements are weird with these. Looking at the Edition XS vs the HE1000 Stealth, they should be fairly similar sound, yet I'm completely appalled by the Edition XS's timbre. Wonder if it's something to do with how the treble past 10khz is handled (as it seems a lot smoother on the Stealth than I've heard on the rest of them.)

    Edit past this:

    I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. They've dropped the price severely for these, and it's $1200 refurbed with full warranty. There's some recession in the mids (2khz I think?) that comes from it being a U-shaped. Just what I can gather from the internet (since I haven't heard the V2 non-stealth, just the V1,) the Stealth has better bass, more detail and the soundstage is a lot less diffuse (but smaller.) The actual bass measurements are barely different between the two in the bass regions, so it makes me wonder if the stealth magnets just made it a lot cleaner in distortion and that's why it doesn't sound like it's trying to hard to sound big in the bass.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2023
  5. HeyWaj10

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    This is what makes it so hard to figure out whether I'd be auditioning (or buying) the quintessential HE1000 v2. I feel like it's so hard to know for sure, and to this day, I can't seem to find any reference/cheat sheet on which version is the right one you're aiming for. I want to hear this version of the HE1000, as it's the one I see referenced for anyone who wants to hear Hifimans without the aggressive treble peaks.

    I have heard both the HE1000 SE and the Arya Organic. The HE1000 SE was absolutely rip-off-my-head immediately class. The treble was absolutely egregious and unlistenable - plus the soundstage (for me) was too big and diffuse. It was distracting. However, the Arya Organic was really freaking good overall, except for still some treble spikes that seemed to bother me.

    Are you saying, from your experience, that the notorious HE1000 v2 has better treble response/smoothness than the Arya Organic, while still having the bass impact, sound stage, and tone/timbre of the Organic (just a bit better)? If so, then I am even more interested in hearing the true HE1000 v2 than ever.
     
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  6. PacoTaco

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    I should specify that the V2 Stealth and the V2 are two different headphones. The V2 Stealth has a less diffuse soundstage than the original V2, better detail and better bass (from what I've gathered from several impressions.) Going off measurements alone, however, the Stealth seems to be a lot less bright than the V2 original or SE. Going off measurements only (as I haven't heard the SE,) the HE1000 Stealth is not near as bright as the SE in lower/mid treble or past 10khz (where the SE looks like it's going f'ing off the wall on every measurement I see of it past 10khz.) As far as V2 original vs V2 Stealth (and going off Oratory1990s measurements,) the V2 Stealth is a lot smoother and not near as bright as the V2 original while still having more air. I would try both if you can, as some people swear by the original V2. My review is specifically on the V2 Stealth.

    I skipped the Arya Organic because I already disliked the Arya and Arya Stealth...and the Organic had more treble spikes than either of those two. In contrast to the HE1000 Stealth, who had a smoother treble region than the Arya Stealth already.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    It's confusing. Is there any official literature that explains the differences between Stealth and V2? And what's HE1000SE?
     
  8. Huhnkopf

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    2015:

    HE1000v1 aka OG the very first edition with nanoanal diaphragm releases. Warmer than the successor, less clean, softer. Thicker shape of the cups which lead to a few interactions along the way thus even more diffuse. A few mods appeared to accomodate for this. Overall kinda lovely tonality (at least the version I had), not greatly resolving or great timbre but still a fun headphone. Strong fanbase still if the headphone isn't dead yet. Yes, build issues....


    2016:

    HE1000v2, improved version, cups are not as deep, everything tighter, more seamless in build, thus less interactions on the way out, more "window shade", still soft and diffuse but cleaner and better attack. I still have that version and still like it. No real treble problems for me or flinches of death. Sometime in 2022 a 3.5mm revision appeared for the final units. EOL now.

    Very popular model. Hits like a pillow. Definitely a departure from the old world (HE-4, 5, 6)


    2018:

    HE1000SE aka Special Edition. Has the strongest magnets of all HEK variants and is the second Hifiman headphone to feature stealth magnets. Best resolve, technicalities, dynamics. Hits way harder than HE1000v1 and v2 and is more sensitive too. Build, material a good class above any HEK variant.

    Absolutely horrific treble (peaks above 10k even) which was fixed greatly with the revision sometime in 2020. I owned both versions (still own the latest). Many people still don't believe it but never compared themselves though.
    Actually the first revision felt like a broken headphone to me and mine wasn't an outlier. Empyah had the same issues like me. If the HD 800 is a facetweeter to some this one definitely is a tweethugger, never letting go.

    When Passion for Sound reviewed HE1000 Stealth vs HE1000SE some were perplexed about his HE1000SE impressions as it didn't mention any of this. Few users confirmed what I experienced with the revision. Majority of impressions of Special Edition vs Stealth Edition favor the former in terms of technicalities too.

    I believe it but as I have a HE1000 Stealth Edition incoming (just a loaner, no, I'm not Netflixing these) I will check this out for myself to see how the latest model fares against mine.


    2023:

    HE1000 Stealth Edition
    releases, internally it was called both V2 Stealth and V3. In the end it was just left at HE1000 Stealth Edition. Supposedly the driver appears emerald green under specific light. Probably hidden Lapislazuli layers after the Chinese started dealing with the Taliban.

    Everytime you attempt to call this edition the HE1000SE a random driver in one of these HEK variants will die somewhere on the planet and affect an innocent owner. Don't do it.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 28, 2023
  9. PacoTaco

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    I've never been able to find it, but, from what I understand, it's basically a new magnet design that's meant to be transparent and reduce wave diffraction turbulence (in order to reduce distortion caused by that.) It was introduced when the Susvara came out. As @Huhnkopf said, they basically took a V2, put stealth magnets in it and called it the HE1000 Stealth. The HE1000SE is its own thing.

    I would believe it, because Hifiman does stealth renditions without telling people constantly. They aren't small, minor changes like Audeze does, but entire sound signature revisions. I still remember they did that to the Sundara at least twice.

    That said, I watched that review....I'm not entirely sure about it. I wonder if he got a bad HE1000Stealth, because mine is a lot less bright (still f'ing bright though - just not to that extreme) than his measurements showed, and every other measurement of it has smooth treble from 3-5khz. Mine sounds more inline with other measurements of smooth trebles with a bit of elevation past 10khz than the measurements he's shown.
     
  10. HeyWaj10

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    The only thing that helps at all about the identification is that the HE1000SE actually says this on the headphone's ear yolk label, clear as day. There is no such indicator on any of the other versions of the HE1000, that I'm aware. When I went to audition the HE1000v2 (my request/words) at Moon Audio, they brought out the HE1000SE (maybe that's all they had on hand). Never again.

    THANK YOU
     
  11. HeyWaj10

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    I remember watching this review following my auditioning of the HE1000SE, and was completely confused how there was zero mention of the overt brightness of its sound signature. It was a great example of how you really cannot rely on the Youtube reviewers' impressions very much - clearly he has very different ears than I do (and other reviewers tend to gloss over any major concern with the HE1000SE treble in their reviews too). Makes me feel like a crazy person!
     
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  12. PacoTaco

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    Normally, I'd agree, but his measurements are so different from the older measurements of it that I err towards "his unit is a silent revision" since we have another person in this thread with a similar impression. Hifiman does that shit constantly.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    HiFiMan should have made it easier for consumers: HE1000, HE1001, HE1002, HE1003. Especially given that the majority of models are simultaneously available.
     
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  14. nishan99

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    I agree I have the HE1000se purchased I think 2019 and the air region is best described as splashy if you're younger than 60.
    I EQ that by -3dB and pump the 2khz by 2dB and also -2dB on 190hz.

    The headphone is a resolution beast even compared to the he1000v2, and it didn't have the pillowy bass that egg shaped hifiman have. (I heard the stealth magnet versions of those fixes the bass tactility).
     
  15. Empyah

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    Our senior Hifiman correspondent is right about the SE.
    I owned two pairs of them hairy buggers, utterly unfixable, broken sounding. Tried everything to kill that trebble and the plasticky timbre. Amps, DACs, pads, tubes, cables, even EQ, software and hardware!

    Resolution and Bass punch (for an Eggfiman) were insane tho. Such a shame. Maybe 3rd time's a charm?
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2023
  16. PacoTaco

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    Just a forewarning that the plastic timbre is still there, just way, way, way more reduced than the other eggfiman headphones. And it's brighter than neutral. The timbre is in the "well, it's acceptable" range like the Focal Clear is to me.
     
  17. PacoTaco

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    So I applied a minor EQ to bring up the uppers mids. Keeps the rest of it intact

    1000 hz; -2 gain; 1.8 Q
    1950 hz; 4 gain; 1.4 Q
    2900 hz; -5 gain; 2 Q

    Edit: I did some playing with it to get the treble a bit down if someone found it too fatiguing/bright. Last two are optional; I didn't really find a need for them, but it can help.

    1000 hz; -2 gain; 1.8 Q
    1950 hz; 4 gain;. 1.4 Q
    2900 hz; -4 gain; 2 Q
    5200 hz; -1.5 gain; 1 Q
    7900 hz; -2 gain; 4 Q (Optional)
    10000hz; -1.5 gain; 1Q (High Shelf; Optional)
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2023
  18. dubharmonic

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    The splashy treble and feathery bass become very evident when swapping HE1000 models with Susvara.

    I’ve found that tubes can help smooth out HE1000se treble. Mine are from 2019, probably the “peaky” iteration. HE1000se / Stellaris is magical.
     
  19. PacoTaco

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    So, after listening to it for nearly a month now, I've adjusted to the sound a bit more.

    Basically, this headphone has a lot going for it. Great soundstage, fantastic imaging, top-tier resolution, not-completely-fucked-tuning, ect.

    The biggest problem I have with it now is that it kind of suffers by itself. Listening to it as the only thing for weeks on end has become fatiguing and I'm not entirely sure why. Despite liking the headphone a lot, I end up just kind of burnt-out on listening to it fairly quickly. I'm not even sure why. I never had this issue with the HD800, Focal Clear, LCD X, ZMF Auteur, ect. If I had anything else to listen to with it, I would definitely keep it, as it is a pretty awesome experience.

    It's to the point where I'm just going return it. I always pick weird timing for this - I have a Peitus coming in Friday and I'm not going to have this to test with it. Ah well.

    I added these thoughts to the end of the original review, just so people that wander in on it actually see it as opposed to digging to the end of this thread chain.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2023

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