The HEDDphone is not a “traditional” headphone in the sense that it does not use dynamic or planar or electrostatic drivers, but AMT (Air Motion Transformer) elements that have been used in speakers for a few decades. I only know 2 other (and rather old) headphones using AMT technology : ESS Mark 1 in 1977 and Ergo AMT in 1999.
The HEDDphone has been released a few months ago, and it’s made by HEDD, a German company already known for their AMT tweeters. I would say build quality isn’t luxurious, but it feels sturdy in the hands. Sensitivity is a bit low (87 db/mW) while impedance is 42 Ohm, so not very easy to power. At $1800, it’s competing against the Hifiman Arya, Focal Clear, ZMF Auteur, Audeze LCD-X / LCD-3 and Sennheiser HD800S.
Comfort can be an issue since they are very heavy, weighing more than 700g. Headband used to put pressure on my head after 30 minutes, but after a few days of use, “headband break-in” seems to have some effect and I have less pain. Pads are plush but can get sweaty – it’s pleather. Headband adjustment is a bit on the small side, and clamping force is a bit elevated but becomes looser out after a few weeks. The comfort is definitely average at best, if not poor for most people.
○ Release : 2020
○ Current status : In Production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 728g
○ Impedance : 42 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~87 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $1600-1800
My impressions (after a few weeks of listening) are quite positive. The HEDDphone is one of the rare instances where good technicalities can be found along with good frequency response.
I enjoy the tonality. I think it’s one of the best among many high-end headphones. I would say it’s a tad on the warm side of neutral, with good timbre but not as natural sounding as the Sennheiser HD580 (my absolute reference for timbre/tone) and some of the ZMF headphones.
Bass extension is respectable, better than most dynamic headphones but not as great as a good planar. I hear less impact at 25-30 hz (I don’t really pay attention to the range below that) than 40 hz. It’s a minor recession of the sub-bass only bested by planars. The bass lacks a bit of impact, compared to an Arya or Focal Clear.
Midrange and treble are in my opinion more impressive than the bass. Very “balanced”, if not for a light touch of energy in the mid-treble and “air” region, after 10 khz. The midrange is pretty relaxed in the upper-mids region. It reminds me of a L700 midrange with less emphasis around 1 khz. The midrange is ever so slightly unnatural in the middle section.
Technicalities are quite good for 1700€ ($1900). Certainly one of the most competent headphones in that price segment. Resolution and speed are top notch, and I would even say they compete well with the HD800 ; definitely faster, the decay reminds me of electrostatic headphone, and the HD800 (and other top-tier dynamic/planar headphones) can’t reach the HEDDphone speed and precision.
I would say it’s a tie in pure microdetails extraction between the HD800 and the HEDD. The latter one often sounds a bit cleaner on most track, and I attribute this to its quicker decay and smoother low-treble region. The 6 khz peak of the HD800 can often mask some detail.
The staging is not incredibely wide or tall, the HD800 and the oval cup Hifiman variants offer more height. It is large enough for me, and I’m not usually seeking big soundstage to the detriment of other aspects of the sound. All headphones sounds narrow next to any decent pair of speakers.
The HEDDphone, purely in terms of sound, is one of my favorite headphones in the $1000-2000 range. Flagships headphones such as the LCD-4, Susvara, Utopia or Abyss 1266 will have a good edge in resolution and dynamics. In my opinion, it competes well with a ZMF Auteur, Focal Clear or Hifiman Arya / HE-1000, besting them in technicalities and speed. Unfortunately, the poor comfort and ergonomics can turn off many people, including me.
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