The Hifiman Arya was released at the end of 2018 and is basically an HE-1000 with cheaper build (plastic, lower quality headband) but very similar drivers. Price is almost cut by half compared to the $3000 MSRP of the HE-1000. The Arya is mostly competing against the HD800S, HEDDphone, Focal Clear, ZMF Auteur and Mrspeakers Ether 2.
The difference in price is reflected in the lower-cost build, but also in the packaging. You only get a single-ended cable with the Arya, and a poor cardboard box (for that price). The HE-1000 comes in a leather box with 3 set of cables.
Just like most oval cup Hifiman models, the comfort is excellent : pads are large and plush, the headband doesnt put any pressure. Weight is reasonable at 405g. Fit can be hit or miss depending on your head shape ; the tall ear pads aren’t easy to position well on the head, especially at the botttom. They require a good amount of current in order to be properly driven.
○ Release : 2018
○ Current status : In Production
○ Type : Over-ear / Open-back
○ Measured weight : 405g
○ Impedance : 35 Ohms
○ Sensitivity : ~90 dB/mW
○ Average used price : $1000-1200
The Arya tonality and presentation reminds me of a mix between the HE-560 and the HE-1000 v1. The HE-560 was on the bright side, with some elevation around 3-5 khz that could be sometimes harsh. The HE-1000 v1 was smoother in the upper-mids/low-treble section, but with more mid-treble energy.
I actually quite enjoy the Arya. The bass is very similar to the HE-1000 : not the hardest hitting, a bit soft but very spacious and “big”. Extension is excellent, it reaches 20hz without any issue. The midrange has my preference over the HE-1000 midrange, which I found not so engaging and a bit too recessed around 1-4 khz. I still easily hear the 2 khz dip present on most Hifiman headphones (and other planars), which isnt exactly to my tastes but the rest of the midrange is pretty solid.
The treble is decent and not -too- sharp. The 3-7 khz area is a tad elevated but doesn’t bother me as much as the HD800 (6 khz peak) and the HE-6 (which is, in stock form, very bright compared to the Arya). Air extension above 10 khz is pretty good.
Technicalities are solid but not amazing for a $1600 pair of headphones. One of the strengths of the higher-end Hifiman is staging and overall presentation of the sound : quite tall, spacious and immersive. I definitely enjoy that presentation, a bit reminiscent of the Stax L700.
Dynamics are on the softer side, like the others oval cup Hifimans I have heard. It can be a huge turn off for many people. I personally like dynamic and slamming headphones more but the Arya and HE-1000 have good aspects to their sounds so that I am okay with the weak dynamics. It doesnt hit as hard (across all the frequency response) as a Focal or ZMF headphone. It’s also quite fast, although a bit below an HD800 on that aspect.
I think the Arya is a pretty good value considering the used prices it goes for (1000-1200$). The major downside is the build quality, especially the yokes that look fragile, and that was an issue on that headband design since the early days of the HE400i / HE560. I like a lot the Arya, as well as the HE-1000 v1, but I still prefer the HE-6, which is a totally different kind of sound, much punchier and forward.
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