My $1699 Audeze LCD-X headphones are heavy, and although their headband distributes their weight fairly comfortably, their weight makes using them for long periods a bit of an ordeal. I didn’t know how much of an ordeal until I tried the V2s. The Audezes were harder to adjust for a good fit, although once I found the ideal setting, it stayed set.
The Liner Tube Audio amplifier was clearly the best sounding amp I had available, so I used it for the comparison. It could drive the Audeze headphones louder than the V2s, which is what I expected given the Audeze’s 20-ohm impedance and 103dB sensitivity. On the Haydn symphonies, the highs were not as prominent—not missing, just slightly rolled off. Both were acceptable to my taste, though I liked the V2’s highs a little better. I heard a little of the strange low-level noise on the Haydn symphonies, but less than with the V2s, which was probably due to the V2’s more extended high frequencies.
On “Folia Rodrigo Martinez,” the Audezes had somewhat deeper bass, with more impact—more like what I hear with my subwoofer. The guitar and harp were equally distinguishable, although the harp seemed better separated from the other instruments. Percussion transients seemed more prominent. Savall’s viola da gamba sounded more like it normally does—hardly a surprise, since this is how I normally listen to it.
On “Miserere,” highs were less extended, though not absent. The spatial qualities of the recording were perhaps a smidgen less well defined than with the V2s, but still good. The tenor soloist’s vocal phrasing was equally well defined through the Audezes, although his voice sounded just a little different.
On If You Love for Beauty Vol. II, the Audezes spread the soundstage out precisely, and the voices were heavenly. The highs were slightly less emphasized, but nothing was missing in that part of the spectrum.
To sum up, the Audeze sound was skewed slightly more towards the bass end of the audio spectrum, and had excellent detail, but not the glorious highs of the V2s. And although the Audezes are respectable in the area of soundstaging (better than most ’phones I’ve heard), the V2s are even better—both better than I would expect to hear from headphones. The most significant difference was comfort: After wearing the V2s, it was almost unpleasant to go back to the Audezes. And the longer I wore them, the stronger that impression became. The V2s looked far better than the rather utilitarian Audezes—not that I could see them while listening, but if you’re shelling out big bucks, it’s not goofy to want a headphone with looks to match.
My headphone collection includes several other models: AKG K712s and K701s, HiFiMan HE400, and NAD Viso HP50s, which are great ’phones for their price. If I got paid by the word, I’d probably compare each of these to the V2s. But in fact, only the Audezes came close to the V2s in price or sound.
A lot of my audio buddies cringe when I tell them how much the HiFiMan HE1000 V2s cost. To which I reply, “Find a better headphone at its price. Or better still, find better speakers at its price, or at five times its price.” Like every headphone I’ve heard, they have strengths and weaknesses. Their strengths are many; their weaknesses, few and slight. They are beautifully made, comfortable to wear, come with cables that should assure their usability with virtually any source, and reveal the character of whatever amplifier they are used with. Most importantly, they provided more musically meaningful information than virtually any transducer I’ve heard at any price. Let’s face it: You can get far better sound for your money with headphones than with speakers. The HE1000 V2s are truly good headphones. That’s really all that needs to be said.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Open-back planar-magnetic
Impedance: 35 ohms
Weight: 420 grams
2602 Beltagh Avenue
Bellmore, NY 11710
Source: exaSound Audio Design PlayPoint Network Audio Player using Roon music playback software. Music files are stored on a QNAP T-251 network attached storage drive.
Digital: exaSound e22 Mark 2 DAC
Amplifiers: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0 Deluxe, exaSound e22 Mark 2 DAC
Headphones: Audeze LCD-X
Cables: Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable, Crimson Audio Crimson RM Music Link interconnect cables, Blue Marble Audio Lightning power cord, Clarity Cables Vortex power cord
Power strip: Isotek Sirius