Hifiman Edition XS planar magnetic, over ear, open back headphone.
An updated version of the excellent X, Edition XS uses two newer Hifiman technologies to improve the sound quality: Stealth magnets and Supernano diaphragms. Stealth magnets are curved on the outside surface to improve airflow and reduce back-wave interference - this improves clarity and makes for a more spacious soundstage.
Hifiman Edition XS super-nano diaphragms are 75% thinner than the original, with the thinner & lighter material improving clarity further. A low sensitivity means these still prefer a decently powerful amp and can produce very dynamic sound and excellent separation of instruments. Bass response is stronger with more power and depth than the Sundara.
Edition XS ear pads are thick, angled for comfort around the ear with tons of space for your ears and are very breathable. The headband has thick padding with no hot spots. Cable looks basic but feels durable, does not tangle or transmit noise - you do not notice it, which is what you want from the cable!
Edition XS sensitivity rating is low, so feed these a bit of power in order to experience their max performance (see review below).
Hifiman Edition XS review : Headfonics.com review, 8.9/10: The Edition XS really likes my iFi gear, starting with the GO blu, the Gryphon, especially off the balanced output, and even off the 16-core hip-dac2 .... I could easily wear these all day long.... The HIFIMAN Edition XS has a large soundstage, precise placement, and imaging, an almost true tonality only rivaled by its much higher tier cousins plus the bass has finally arrived at the HIFIMAN house sound signature.
For a matching dac/amp... Edition XS + 4.4mm cable + Hip Dac2 / Fiio K7 or K9 / Zen Dac2 all work great together, FYI. Sounds fantastic on the Aune S9c Pro dac/amp, for an ideal higher end option.
Hifiman Edition XS vs Sundara: Bass response, especially sub-bass, has better power, is more present and accurate with the XS. XS has an even larger feel to the sound. More spacious ear cups.
This was my first taste of planar magnetic headphones. After reading some very positive reviews I decided to take the leap and I can say this really is a wonderful sounding headphone. Great instrument separation, wide soundstage and a balanced low bass and treble sound. I’m very pleased with the purchase and thanks to Travis for recommending these to me. Very happy with my purchase.
I cannot fault the sound of these and would wholeheartedly recommend them - so long as you wear them for an hour continuously and make sure the top of your head doesn't start hurting. I repeatedly found the headband incredibly uncomfortable after 30-45 minutes or so, and unfortunately Hifiman does not make replacement / alternative headbands. I read that somebody had used a lambskin horse-bridle cover to make the headband less painful and considered the same; and also found putting a pair of socks on my head also stopped it hurting - but in the end returned them. Great service from headphone bar and don't regret a thing. I also note that many people haven't have this experience - so maybe I just have an unusually shaped head? In any case, try before you buy!