by Warren Chi
Stepping into HiFiMAN‘s booth was like stepping into a personal audio clubhouse. Not only was it chock full of gear, but it seems that many of our friends descended upon them right around the same time.
Brian Hunter (Audio-Head), Ethan Opolion (Audio360.org) and I ran into Jamey Warren (HeadRoom) right away. Mike Mercer (Audio360.org) and Tyll Hertsens (InnerFidelity) were relatively nearby, followed by Drew Baird (Moon Audio) and Frank Iacone (Headphone.Guru) shortly thereafter.
I think it’s safe to say that we all made a beeline towards the HE1000. Jamey got there first.
The HE1000 rig on display consisted of HiFiMAN gear through-and-through, cables excepted. The source was an HM901s DAP, docked via a DOCK-1 to an EF-6 headphone amplifier, which in turn drove the HE1000. Next up was Ethan.
If you’re curious as to how the HE1000 will look on you, the photo above should be a decent indicator. Ethan has, in my opinion, a nominally-sized head. It’s neither too big, nor too small. As we can see, the HE1000 is a bit on the large side, due to the ginormous driver employed. This bodes well for our listening pleasure, even if it won’t get much play with the ladies.
Both Jamey and Ethan came away with very positive impressions of the HE1000’s sonic capability. And from what I could gather from others there, the sound quality was – by all accounts – absolutely brilliant. As for myself, I didn’t listen. I know that sounds crazy, but I just couldn’t imagine coming away with authoritative impressions due to CES noise levels.
A Brief Note About CES Noise Levels
The Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) is a fantastic venue in which to see and hear many things at once, a veritable and euphoric cornucopia of sensory input. It’s also a horrible place to gather impressions of open-backed headphones. The ebb and flow of traffic means that dB levels tend to vary throughout the day, but on average, here’s what it’s like in a nutshell:
Imagine that your neighbor’s kid has just discovered car audio, in the worst way possible. His only two priorities are loudness and bass. Now let’s add a few of his friends who are doing the same thing. And finally, let’s give each of them their own corner, in a CostCo, during the holiday shopping season.
There ya go.
Personally, I would only accept impressions of open-backed gear, gathered in such an environment, with a huge salt lick — including my own. This is why, more often than not, I decided to forego impressions on the LVCC show floor. Sorry to disappoint you guys, but I’ll make it up with detailed impressions gather from final production units in a controlled environment soon enough.
Luckily, HiFiMAN had also taken a suite at the Venetian, which is where I’d be spending Day Two. I resolved to gather some decent impressions there, so stay tuned for that report, which should be up shortly. But before we close out HiFiMAN at the LVCC, I did want to point out one thing that got me all wet. On a whim, I decided to take a look that the connectors on the HE1000, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fang went with 1/8″ mono mini jacks.
WOO HOO! Were I a lesser personal audiophile, I’d have spoodged right then and there. Like many of you, I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the mini-BNC connectors on my HiFiMAN cans, so I’m quite pleased that we don’t have to deal with those for the HE-1000. I’m also happy because this means I get to try out some other cables that just happen to be terminated in the same way… like the new Kimber cables made for Sony’s MDR-Z7.
Even without having heard it, the HiFiMAN HE-1000 was already looking quite promising indeed.
On a separate note, I am very pleased to report that HiFiMAN liberally offered complementary hand sanitizer to any and all who wished to partake. In my opinion, hand sanitizer should be found in abundance at every booth. Thanks HiFiMAN!