Home Open Back Headphone Reviews HIFIMAN Edition XS Review – The New Step-Up From Mid-Fi?

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review – The New Step-Up From Mid-Fi?

I recommended the Ananda as THE step-up from Mid-Fi for many years; is the Edition XS the one that finally dethrones it?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Big thank you to John @ Apos Audio for the Edition XS loaner!

If you landed here from the original Edition X/Edition X V2 review, fret not! We’ll cover the differences between all of them today.

Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

This will be a very important article because I’ll be once and for all deciding if my “step-up from mid-fi” Ananda recommendation finally gets dethroned.

Who better than HIFIMAN themselves to perform the deed?

So,

is the XS a better overall value than the Ananda and worth your money?

Today we’ll cover the Edition XS in depth by going over everything you need to know before making that final determination, and I’ll base my impressions and opinions on over 5 years worth of experience demoing HIFIMAN products.

By the end of this article, you should absolutely be ready to make a decision, and a … sound one at that.

I’ll see myself out.

With that, let’s dive in!

HIFIMAN Edition XS

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Apos!

In The Box

HIFIMAN Edition XS Headphone

3.5mm cable

User Manual

Warranty Card

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Specifications

Introduction

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

I honestly can’t believe I first demoed the original Edition X all the way back in 2017.

Times were a lot different, that much is certain.

Not only have prices for headphones in the mid-fi range dropped considerably since then, but HIFIMAN themselves have adjusted their own prices rather significantly if you can believe it.

For instance,

Their original Edition X retailed at around $1,200!

Seems kind of silly now, doesn’t it?

I didn’t recommend it then for that reason, but is the XS an entirely different story?

Let’s take a look at its build first.

Build

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

The Edition XS picks up right where the DEVA, DEVA Pro, and 400se left off by basically mimicking those updated designs while still retaining the general look and feel of the original Edition X and Arya.

In other words,

The headband, bale structure, adjustment blocks, and overall DUMMY THICC aesthetic is back, only the XS still retains the famous window shade grille present in the earlier versions.

That is to say that the Edition X, Ananda, Arya, and XS all basically share the same profile.

The cups continue in the vein of the Faux leather/Polyester combo, and the headphones themselves sport a bit of metal with high-grade plastic throughout.

You may remember that the very first iteration of the Edition X boasted Velour for the part of the earcups that rested against your head, but the V2 version, and every headphone in this line that’s come after, utilize the Polyester mentioned above.

HIFIMAN Edition XS ReviewHIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Speaking of the cups,

They mimic the general shape of a human ear, with plenty of room for even the biggest of auricles.

So if you have ears the size of Wyoming, you’re in luck!

There’s plenty of real estate in there and I’m never feeling my ears touch the cloth covering the driver either.

Heck, my ear doesn’t really touch any part of the earcup, and most folks will fall in love with this aspect of the headphones.

Rounding out the build are dual 3.5mm terminations into each earcup, and the cups move a little side to side in order to get a good fit on your melon.

They don’t fold or rotate, but the cups do fold up and down for a bit of added flexibility.

The wire terminates in a 3.5mm jack at the business end and comes with a snap-on 1/4″ adapter.

Comfort

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Comfort on this lineup has always been excellent, with really only one small caveat:

The earcup may dig a little into that ridge behind your earlobe where the bone is, but other than that, clamping force on the sides and top of your head is exemplary.

“That’s BONE.”

^Share this if you caught that reference.

I can pretty much wear these indefinitely without making any adjustments, and it’s in large part why I find them so valuable.

For being larger-than-average-sized headphones, I still don’t find them overly bulky.

In other words,

they don’t protrude much at all, and though you might get some strange looks from your local bully, he’s probably not going to stuff you in a trashcan this time around.

So get excited, friend!

Sound

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

The sound of HIFIMAN’s step-up-from-the-400-series has always been quite astonishing to me, and I’ll never forget the first time I heard an Ananda. 

I was in the parking lot of some hotel listening to Minus the Bear’s “Pachuca Sunrise.”

 

It was as if I’d never actually heard it before, even despite hearing it hundreds of times over the years.

It was a brand-spankin’ new experience, I’ll tell you HWAT. *Hank Hill voice*

The most notable aspect that jumped out at me was the headphone’s sense of decay – the way instruments trailed off and sounded infinitely more realistic.

The other was the instrument’s timbre; or its unique tone.

I like to think of timbre as how an instrument may sound in real life vs. the way it sounds through headphone drivers.

It almost felt like the guitars were under a microscope – that you could feel and hear their every subtle nuance.

Suddenly,

the electric guitar became an entity all its own.

As far as the Edition XS?

It simply continues in this same exact vein, only now it’s cheaper and doesn’t have any treble bite or sibilance.

As much as I enjoyed the Ananda (and it is a fantastic headphone), it can get a bit essy at times which is probably my only complaint.

The XS does not.

Across the board, it’s an almost perfect sound signature in every way.

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Bass

If the 400se’s bass rolls off somewhat considerably below 100Hz (to the tune of roughly 10dB), the Edition XS’s does not.

At most, it’s a gradual 5dB decline into the lowest registers to about 20Hz.

In other words,

This mostly acts as a “flat-line” bass and is just about the closest you’ll get to an Audeze type of tuning.

HIFIMAN headphones generally respond to EQ very well, so if you’re looking for that Audeze-type bass, +5dB at 20Hz, around +4 at 30, +3 at 40, etc. seems about right.

You get the idea. Just play around with it.

The actual sound of the bass is smooth, textured, and hits just right.

If there were ever a bass response that sounds exactly right in the mix, it’s a HIFIMAN bass.

It sits down where it’s supposed to be, doesn’t unnecessarily draw attention to itself, but still somehow remains prominent enough to let you know that it’s indeed there – present, accounted for, and hardcore YEAH! WOO!

^This is what you’ll probably look like listening to an XS.

Likewise,

the mid-bass is handled perfectly and doesn’t suffer from the bloat issue that most companies fall victim to.

It’s the chef’s kiss, with around 2dB presence in that 100-200Hz region which, after demoing 120+ headphones, is just about exactly right.

Mid-Range

Mid accuracy from 200Hz to about 900 is just about perfect: male vocals, lower to mid piano note registers, organs, and general baritone-type sounds are all rendered exactly as they should be.

The one small caveat to almost any HIFIMAN headphones is the gradual decline after 1kHz, which can sometimes make the signature sound a bit too laid back and dare I say dull.

I do think the XS mitigates this issue a tad more than a 400 series headphone, but the sentiment still remains.

Fortunately,

it comes back up around 3kHz which gives vocals and instruments a nice amount of presence and zip.

In other words,

if I was turning the volume up a bit more on the 400se to compensate for that dip, I’m hardly doing so at all for the Ananda, Edition XS, etc. 

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Treble

As alluded to earlier, the treble here is just about perfect in my estimation.

The bite/hiss that the Ananda suffered from is gone, but the headphones don’t come across as dull as in the case of the original Edition X.

Edition X vs. XS

Speaking of,

Both of these have a couple of notable differences to speak of:

  1. The original Edition X wasn’t tuned quite right and had the “dull” issue we just talked about. It lacked energy, as well as a bit of detail and the resolution wasn’t quite where it should be for the price.
  2. The original Edition X boasted faux leather and velour (for the part of the earcups that rested on your head), but the Edition X V2 and every headphone since then utilize a faux leather/polyester combo.

While we’re on the subject,

Long ago, HIFIMAN claimed that “The more breathable Polyester increases sound transparency.”

This sounds a bit more like market speak to me, but they’ve stuck with the same cup material for a number of years now so take that for what it’s worth.

I won’t personally say it makes much of a difference, but I could be wrong.

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Soundstage and Instrument Separation

In short, it’s phenomenal on these headphones.

I’m not going to claim they’re as wide or open as a K702, but the Soundstage is above average and you’ll be getting frequent out-of-your-head moments, to the point of taking the headphones off and wondering if there’s something going on outside.

In the past, I talked at length about how this phenomenon can have a lot to do with the track, and that’s certainly true.

But,

Headphones that emphasize a wider, more 3D image (due to the driver type, construction, tuning, what have you) tend to be out of your head more often than not regardless of the track,

while cheaper headphones that do a poor job tend to only sound like this if the artist specifically did everything in his power to make the song (or aspects of it) sound out of your head.

Does that make sense?

Put another way,

even the crappiest of headphones like my Skull Candy Uproar Wireless gym cans can give off the illusion of a “good” Soundstage, but that’s only because of the artist, not the headphones themselves.

In any event,

along with its timbre and overall superior resolution, HIFIMAN’s spacing and the air around the instruments also tend to be better than most lower-tiered stuff and that sentiment has continued with the XS.

Instruments, sounds, etc. all have room to breathe which contributes to its exemplary sense of decay.

You’ll notice that not only can you make out what an instrument is doing better, but you may finally piece together those lyrics or adlibs that you could never decipher before.

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Example:

I was listening to Biggie’s “Sky’s The Limit” and never noticed all of 112’s little adlibs in verse 2.

 

You know, those R&B “Uhhs”, and “Ooh Yeaahs.”

It almost sounds like.. never mind.

Every little utterance was heard, let’s just put it that way.

In the past, I noticed some of them, but the XS certainly highlights almost everything going on in a track, to the point where you’re like “How did I miss that before?”

Well, the reason is simple:

It’s because all that low-grade drug-store dog food could never properly replicate the track in question, thus the missing puzzle pieces you’re now hearing with better headphones and a better amplifier.

This is only one of many instances where the XS will put a big ‘ol stupid smile on your face and is just another reason why it’s such a great product.

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Example 2:

Built to Spill’s “The Plan”.

 

This is a song I’ve heard hundreds of times but also happens to be a perfect example of why a headphone like the Edition XS outperforms the majority of others and separates itself.

With those other dog food headphones, the song sometimes just feels like a wall of sound.

In other words,

you may have a hard time making out what’s going on.

With the XS, you’re getting phenomenal separation of sounds which results in much better overall detail, clarity, and resolution.

I also talk at length about this in the Arya review and it’s super mega important.

It’s a “discovery” in every sense of the word if you’re new to headphones like this.

At 0:38 seconds I can clearly hear each sound as separate and distinct from one another, and it’s just another reason to get excited and wet yourself with delight.

Example 3:

Fallout’s “Metallic Monks” composed by Mark Morgan.

In this amazing composition, I heard a weird Robot Demon-sounding voice in the background that I had never noticed before.

You can also hear some subtle voices/talking. Starts at around 11:00. This is what you can expect when listening to headphones like the Edition XS.

You’ll start to hear all sorts of strange sounds and artifacts that really jump out at you in the most subtle way possible.

Example 4:

Nipsey Hussle – Picture Me Rollin’

I’ve been listening to this song for a while now, and at 1:45 I never noticed the extra “ah ahs”.

I talk about these sorts of sensations quite a bit in the Arya article as well, and this is just another example of the XS revealing things that cheaper headphones simply don’t pick up on.

It has a lot to do with superior resolution, but also the spacing of voices and instruments is much better than headphones in lower-tiered price brackets.

So if you’re on the fence about these, don’t be. They’re actually priced like mid-fi headphones but perform above that!

  • See what others are saying on Amazon.

Amplification

As far as amps go, the XS ain’t easy to drive, but I still wouldn’t recommend you mortgage away your kidney for an amp; unless of course, that’s what you’re into.

Hey, we all have our fetishes. Mine is cuddling with my headphones before bed.

At a glance:

  • Edition X – 25 Ohm, 103dB, not very hard to drive, can be used with a mobile phone.
  • Ananda – 27 Ohm, 103dB, not very hard to drive, can be used with a mobile phone.
  • Arya – 32 Ohm, 94dB Sensitivity, harder to drive than the Ananda and Edition X. Will take a smidgen more juice but don’t freak out about it.
  • Edition XS – 18 Ohm, 92dB, Similar to the Arya.

If you were wondering,

I used the iFi xDSD Gryphon, FiiO’s K9 Pro, K5 Pro, K7, the iFi Zen paired with an xDuoo MT-604, ATOM Hevi, as well as Universal Audio’s Volt 2.

If I had to suggest a good pair, keep it simple and snag an ATOM Amp + ATOM DAC for your desktop and maybe a FiiO BTR5 if you want to listen portable but also have the option for 2.5mm balanced.

If you’re looking for a balanced desktop solution, I like the K7 but only if you plan to run balanced the majority of the time. If not, just get a K5 Pro.

Wanna go balls to the wall, YOLO style?

The K9 Pro is my top overall recommendation.

FiiO K9 Pro Review

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

Balanced impressions

Well, I’ve been doing quite a lot of listening this way and though it may be my imagination and/or a placebo, I do think balanced is going to result in a slightly cleaner presentation with a tad better resolution and detail.

Timbre also seems to have improved somewhat.

Again, this may be all in my head so take it for what it’s worth.

Outside of those subtle differences, listening balanced isn’t really a grand revelation.

If anything,

it’s a lot more convenient because you’re always going to have more power at your disposal.

Genre

These excel with pretty much everything due to their open nature, above average Soundstage, and excellent placement and separation of sounds – yet another reason why I highly value this lineup and believe it to be an excellent step up from Mid-Fi.

So whatever you listen to will sound pretty rad on these: Rock, Metal, Pop, Indie, Rap, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Classical, Ambient, Folk, it doesn’t matter.

It’s all gravy.

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Final Verdict

HIFIMAN Edition XS Review

The Edition XS is certainly a fantastic headphone.

For all of HIFIMAN’s faults/past mistakes, I have always felt like they truly care about improving their product line.

I say that with over 6 years of experience demoing their headphones dating back to 2017.

The Edition XS to me represents another leap forward for them, both in terms of value, build, and sound quality.

I think they have done an incredible job over the years of fine-tuning their sound but also realizing that perhaps they were a bit overzealous in pricing some of the earlier models.

Both the 400se and XS represent what I believe to be the end result of a years-long maturation process.

In other words,

the value and price you’re paying perfectly match what you’re getting.

In the XS, not only are you receiving essentially the same sound for $200-300 less than an Ananda, but it’s an improved sound, meaning, it’s less sibilant, less harsh/brash, and overall sounds smoother and more fluid while still remaining ultra-detailed and awesome.

So what more is there left to say?

Learn More:

 

If you frequent the blog or have been reading a bunch of other posts where I recommend the Ananda, stick with me as I go back and update those articles to reflect the change. 🙂

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN Edition XS Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Is the XS a great value? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Photo Gallery

HIFIMAN Edition XS

4.85

Build

4.9/5

Comfort

4.9/5

Sound

4.8/5

Pros

  • Fantastic Bass Response
  • Sound quality improved over Ananda/Edition X
  • Excellent updated build and comfort is phenomenal
  • Soundstage/Separation is great
  • Extremely good value over the others in the line

Cons

  • Mid-range can be a bit dull and lack zest

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33 comments

Святослав November 11, 2022 - 4:33 pm

Have you had a chance to listen to Ananda v2( stealth), I wonder if xs will still come first for you?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 11, 2022 - 4:45 pm

I will have to ask my friend if the version he let me borrow is the Stealth, but I will still tell you that for me, it comes down to value. If I can get the same sound signature in the XS for cheaper than the Ananda, I’m always going to choose the lowest price first – regardless of if it’s stealth. Right now I have the Arya, 400se, XS, and Ananda here. The first 3 are the stealth models.

Reply
Marcos November 24, 2022 - 6:40 pm

Very interesting. How do you would compare the bass and midrange of Edition XS against any focal headphones? I know that the XS bass is very extended, but it lacks impact against Focal Headphones? Thanks man, very good reviews. Quality reviews.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 25, 2022 - 3:54 pm

Hey man, thank you for the nice comment! Very very similar though I’d say Focal provides a bit more thump and slightly less roll-off. It’s pretty close though. Both share a fairly flat response from roughly 50Hz – 200 and it sounds marvelous. But to answer your question, yes, something like an XS isn’t quite as impactful but it’s still fairly subtle of a difference.

As far as the mids are concerned, With a HIFIMAN (Ananda for example) you’ll likely be compensating for that decline after 1kHz by turning up the volume; something I don’t think is a problem on a Focal (Utopia for example). That is to say that overall I think the mid-range on Focal headphones is handled quite beautifully though the Elegia is just awful all around IMO. As far as I’m concerned, you should stay away from that one at all costs as the mids are basically non-existent. No idea what they were thinking.

I think the Clear is better than an Elear, but the Elear has some grain issues and I’d never tell someone to drop a bunch of money on that. It’s such an overrated headphone and certainly was overpriced even in 2018. The Clear was handled a bit better, but to me, the Utopia is what most folks should go after if they’re going to invest in a Focal. It’s the best out of the line by far (out of what I’ve heard) and represents a true pinnacle of dynamic driver sound.

Hope that helps! Let me know.

-Stu

Reply
Marcos November 28, 2022 - 8:48 pm

Thanks for the response, gentleman! I’m with the amazing Edition Xs right now. I think after listening to this with a bit of EQ, i don’t know how to get even better. The sound is SO grand and beautifully done. You’re right about that 1-2k dip. And i did EQ like this: +3db in 1khz and +4db in 40HZ and it’s just… beautiful. That ”veil” of that 1k dip completelly disapeared and they sounded very full in the midrange and i can hear detail a lot better. I think it don’t even need any 2k rise. And that +4 db in 40hz just did something amazing punch and ground. I was listening to ”Heart Attack – Senses, Nosgov” and the punch was incredible. How much i do love headphones. I watch all your videos, i like your way of presenting music and gear at the same time ;). Great soundstage and timbre with Coltrane too.
But hey, after doing this EQ, i listened to ”Best Binaural Recording – Sileypud (Jazzband) HQ” In youtube, and i COULDN’t TELL what was real or not. Cheers man!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 30, 2022 - 6:07 pm

Yes! Yes! I generally EQ up the low bass a tad on HIFIMAN headphones though I also think it’s pretty awesome without it. I just know some people want that extra thump in the sub regions and sometimes I do as well.

That’s what I also love about HIFIMAN headphones – the timbre and resolution are really a cut above like Vinny’s Steakhouse lol.

So glad you’re enjoying! May have to try out your EQ preset on the XS.

Reply
Derrik January 3, 2023 - 12:45 am

hi, i have a Matrix M-stage HP1 with 60 ohm output impedance ….is this wrong for edition xs?
Thanks

Reply
Stuart Charles Black January 3, 2023 - 4:12 pm

Hey man!

Yeah, I’m not sure I’d use that with the XS’s low impedance. An amp like the HP1 is something you’ll want to pair with higher impedance headphones (300 Ohm, etc.) What you’ll notice is varying degrees of inconsistency in sound output and it’s just generally not a good idea. I discuss this more here.

Reply
José María October 23, 2023 - 4:30 pm

Hola Stu!!
Qué tal con un Fiio KA5?
Gracias!!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 24, 2023 - 7:29 pm

José,

¡Gracias por el comentario! Aún no he escuchado ese amplificador, ¡pero espero que sea pronto!

-Stu

Reply
Attila January 6, 2023 - 7:50 pm

Hi Stuart,
Thank you for all the reviews and comparisons on Hifiman cans!
I’ve been using the old HE400 from like 2013, and now I’ve started to think about an upgrade.
At first the Sundara came to mind, but after reading your 400 series comparison, I got a little uncertain about that one.
I’m also not too sure how big of a difference would there be, hence I turned my head towards the Ananada / XS models.
After reading this one, you’ve seem to come down to the conclusion I had formed in my mind, and the potential hissiness and sibilance would point me towards the XS between those two.
In your opinion, would there be a justifiable upgrade if I went for the Sundara, or I should just jump to the XS?
Thank you!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black January 8, 2023 - 2:44 pm

Hey Atilla!

Thank you for your kind words, and my pleasure! I would bypass the Sundara as 1) It’s overpriced now, and 2) It’s not going to be a real upgrade from what you have. The Edition XS on the other hand is and it’s not that much more than a SUndara at retail figures ($349 vs. $499). The XS is absolutely worth that extra $150 imo. Keep in mind my previous recommendation before the XS came around was the Ananda for many years and that headphone started out at around $1000.

Keep me posted on your thoughts and if you have questions!

-Stu

Reply
Stefan February 13, 2023 - 6:59 pm

Hi Stu, I am enjoying my Ananda OG a year now but am curious how the new Stealth Magnet Edition of Ananda sounds. Do you have more information or have you compared the new XS and Ananda v2 yet?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black February 15, 2023 - 2:26 am

I still need to get my hands on a V2!! I will look into it for ya.

Reply
Lonelyboy June 10, 2023 - 12:06 pm

Thank you for your review! I’ve decided to get Hifiman Edition XS for future upgrade from Sennheiser HD560s. I’m currently using Fiio K5 Pro ESS to feed my headphone and I’m happy with current combo. However, could I ask if K5 Pro ESS could utilize most of the potentials out of Hifiman? What I’m having in mind is to buy a Topping DX5 Pro to pair with Edition XS to have a better soundstage and detail retrieval. I will be very please if I could hear your opinion! Thank you in advance!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black June 10, 2023 - 1:24 pm

Hey there! Thanks for the comment. I think the K5 Pro ESS is perfectly fine. I’m not a huge fan of Topping so I’m probably not the guy to ask lol. Also, I wouldn’t go buying amps and dacs thinking they are going to improve the things you mention. Those elements like detail retrieval and Soundstage are byproducts of the recording itself, and to some extent, the headphones can improve those things to a degree, but it’s mostly how the track was engineered. The DAC itself has almost nothing to do with it. Please keep me posted. -Stu

Reply
lonelyboy June 10, 2023 - 2:36 pm

Thank you so much for explaining, Stu! Now I understand why there are many songs sound like I’m in middle of a stage and others don’t. I have very little experience with audio equipment which makes very uncertain about what I hear from other guys. I think I’ll keep Fiio K7 in mind for a full balanced experience with Hifiman rather than buying a Topping DX5 for75% more expensive. Again, thank you and please keep up your good work!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black June 12, 2023 - 12:18 pm

My pleasure man! Keep me posted on everything and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you may have.

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
Richard Williams July 16, 2023 - 7:09 pm

Another great review, thank you! I am intrigued by the Edition XS but as always it is a bit of a gamble when having to buy online. I currently have the DEVA Pro and a set of Beyer DT880s (250 ohm). I like the DEVA sound a lot but the DT880 seems better for some tracks (e.g. anything by Chvrches – high female vocals with some bass beats), and it has a more solid fit. Both seem to lack a bit of resolution in the lows or lower mids to my ears (the Sen HD6XX seems to reveal more detail like male backing vocals, although I am not a fan of its overall sound profile – too warm, not neutral). I like the idea of having more separation across the range but would not want anything that is ‘warmer’ than the DEVA or DT880, if that makes sense. I can return the DT880 but would it make sense to own both a DEVA and Edition XS (other than bluetooth capability of the former)? In other words, is the XS a straight forward upgrade to the DEVA or are the sound profiles different enough to complent each other? I listen mostly to rock, indie, classical and some pop. Strings, guitars, drums, synths, etc…maybe no cans are perfect for everything but is the XS (+/- the DEVA) going to get close? Currently using a Fiio BTR5-2021 (wired mode) for phone and laptop, but occasionally play CDS through a dedicated player and a NAD amplifier. Would appreciate any insights. Thanks!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black July 26, 2023 - 1:18 pm

Richard,

My pleasure! Thank you for the nice comment.

Your first question: Would it make sense to own both the DEVA and Edition XS?

Tough question, but probably not. I would take the XS over DEVA although I really do like the DEVA for gaming. As for an upgrade, yes, I would say the XS is. The XS is just a better-handled sound signature and its tuning is superior to the DEVA in my opinion.

The XS is about as close to perfect as it gets for a headphone that can handle pretty much every genre. The DEVA is close-ish, but the treble has that essy bite which kind of annoys me. I never EQ headphones and I ended up EQ’ing that down a bit.

Hope that helps! The XS is just an insane value especially considering the Ananda (a beloved favorite of mine) used to retail at around $1000.

And apologies for the late reply! I was out of town and still trying to get back in the swing of things.

Keep me posted with any questions.

Cheers,

-Stu

Reply
Ahmed September 16, 2023 - 5:19 am

Im against balanced for lowimpedance headphones
U basically give more voltage than needed..
And less current than required .

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 16, 2023 - 11:32 am

👍

Reply
Daniel December 5, 2023 - 11:12 pm

Great review! I recently purchased these headphones and love them but I can’t help but feel I need an amp with them and I don’t really want something bulky on a desktop size as I would also like to drive them off my phone (iPhone 14 Pro) so was wondering if there are any portable USB amp/DACs that will be able to do that while being able to connect via USB A, USB C and lightning cables? I’m not even sure on a budget at this point.

Thanks

Reply
Stuart Charles Black December 8, 2023 - 6:04 pm

Daniel,

Thank you so much! It’s a great question. I think based on what you asked, the hip-dac or BTR5 would be good but neither comes with a lightning cable which is irritating as I too have an iPhone (11).

I think iFi’s Go Link would be perfect as it is compact in size, has a USB-C cable with lightning adapter, but doesn’t have a USB-A since it’s very small. The hip-dac 1 and 2 had the USB-A slot, but the hip-dac 3 (I’m still writing the review) has dual USB-C (one for charging and one for data).

So my rec would either be buy one of the hip-dacs and use a separate lightning adapter (which is what I did with mine + the Arya with my phone for demoing the hip-dac 3), Get a BTR5 + separate adapter, or just get a Go Link which has one included.

The Go link is fantastic and will work really well with the XS as the XS has a low impedance (18Ohm). Yeah, the Sensitivity is a bit low (92dB) but I still think you’ll probably be okay. Speaking of, the one caveat to the Go Link is that it’s admittedly under powered but again, you probably won’t have issues. I don’t have one here, but I do have an Arya with similar numbers (32Ohm/94dB) and it drove the headphones fine. I’m going to test it again for you and let you know what I think (as a memory refresh) so hang tight.

All of these happen to be in my top portable options list, so definitely check that out in the meantime and hit me with any questions you may have.

-Stu

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Stuart Charles Black December 9, 2023 - 11:06 am

As promised, I did some testing last night with the Arya/Go Link for a couple hours and the Go Link drives it really well with some headroom leftover. Expect to be around 80-85%. Anything more than that is overkill and unnecessary. Again, these types of HIFIMAN headphones make a great pair with the GO Link because they’re extremely easy to drive and super convenient with an iPhone.

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Daniel December 10, 2023 - 3:03 am

Thanks so much for taking the time to test this. After seeing your comments last night, I took a look at the ifi go link and decided to buy one for myself as it definitely sounds the sort of thing I was looking for so thanks again! 🙂

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Stuart Charles Black December 11, 2023 - 1:04 pm

Daniel,

My pleasure! Please keep me posted on your findings. 🙂
-Stu

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Daniel December 15, 2023 - 8:45 am

Hi Stuart,
I got the ifi go link and what I’ve been listening to so far on my Edition XS sounds great! Very happy with it so far though when testing on Windows I found after installing ifi’s driver the volume had to be turned up quite a bit when compared with Microsoft’s default driver and just wondering if you experienced similar and I don’t quite understand ifi’s claims about not relying on software based volume controls from the connected device (phone, laptop, computer etc) instead using hardware based controls from the DAC itself and was wondering if you know how that is done etc? (sorry for somewhat derailing the subject as it was meant to be for the Edition XS, haha)

Many thanks once again,
Daniel 🙂

Stuart Charles Black December 22, 2023 - 3:15 pm

Daniel,

Yeah, the power output on the Go Link is a bit low but for the Arya it’s really good imo as the Arya is pretty easy to drive. I definitely wouldn’t rely on it for high impedance and/or low sensitivity. I will test again on PC for you and let you know what I think. I’ve been using it a lot lately with my phone and having a swell time.

I have not experienced that issue, no.

As for iFi, I didn’t know they said/claimed that. AFAIK, using hardware based volume controls with DACS basically ensures a more direct and potentially higher-quality signal path due to operating independently of the software-driven controls of the device.

That said, if there are differences or some sort of improvement, I personally haven’t experienced it. The general concept to me is sort of like Asynchronous USB. Does it make a difference? Eh, maybe slightly.

And no worries man! I hope it helps. Let me know and keep me posted on everything.

-Stu

Christian March 11, 2024 - 1:46 am

Hi Stuart, I want an upgrade or something different to compliment my HD6XX, Will the Edition XS be a good choice? I’ve tried the Sundaras for a bit and I liked them, sounded really different to the 6xx. I’d use them with a K3 and a btr5, do you think Its worth it?

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Stuart Charles Black March 13, 2024 - 4:01 pm

Christian,

Perfect choice, fantastic value, totally worth it. I wouldn’t hesitate! The only thing I’ll say is do you prefer a brighter sound or a more subdued one? Brighter? Go with the Ananda. More subdued? Edition XS. Fortunately they are priced pretty similarly nowadays so it’s a good trade off. Please keep me posted with any questions.

Cheers,

-Stu

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Christian March 14, 2024 - 1:06 am

Thanks Stu, I think I prefer the subdued sound, sorry another question, where I live Id have to import the XS, if there is a problem it’d be really difficult to get a refund or a replacement, is the Fiio FT5 a good alternative (only planar at the price point in a store here)? Dont know of you tried it yet, some say is warmer, but I dont know if that means it’ll sound similar to the 6xx.

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Stuart Charles Black March 15, 2024 - 8:29 pm

Christian,

Sorry to say that no I haven’t heard that one. From what I’ve read, the FT3 is actually a better headphone, but don’t take my word as gospel. May have to try and get one / both here.

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