The Hifiman Arya is arguably one of the most-loved headphones in the sub $2,000 range which is saying something considering the headphone has been out since 2018 and have even gone a couple of minor revisions.
I had to pleasure to keep these headphones for more than 3 months which afforded me to produce an initial sound impressions writeup and now, a full review. Alright, let’s jump right into it.
The Hifiman Arya is a full-size open-back planar magnetic headphone that costs $1,600 (local availability via Egghead here). It is in the middle of Hifiman’s line of high-end headphones above the Ananda and below the HE1000se/V2, and their flagship Susvara.
This is also NOT the Stealth version which is their latest iteration. This was the V2 model that came out sometime last year if I’m not mistaken. Despite the Stealth’s availability, the V2 is still being sold which means you have two Aryas to choose from if you’ve set your sight into purchasing these headphones.
Here’s the headphone in all its glory.
I touched upon the unboxing experience in the impressions video so I’m not gonna repeat the same information. In summary, you get a pretty plain but functional cardboard box without any additional accessories such as a cable or carry case. I would’ve liked to see an XLR cable at the very least here.
The headphone’s build is fairly good. It’s mostly a plastic construction which I think is not too common for a headphone this expensive. Another one that comes to mind is the Sennheiser HD800s. Despite that, the plastic here is pretty dense, and holding the headphone, I do not feel it to be flimsy or something that would break down after some time. The benefit of a plastic build is the weight. The headphone weighs 400g and it actually feels lighter than that while wearing them.
The pads are also made of synthetic materials with some velour-like texture at the top. They call this SerenityPads. No real leather or lambskin here but it does feel ok and I did not really have any issues with the pad materials after some long listening sessions.
The headband uses a suspension strap which helps distribute the headphone’s weight evenly, while the adjustment makes use of clicks and indicators so you can easily match one side from the other. One thing I don’t like about this is how it just scratches the headband the moment you make the adjustment which is pretty silly.
Both sides accept a 3.5mm plug and there’s no special indentation or locking mechanism here so you can easily replace the stock cable with an aftermarket one should you choose to do it.
The cup swivels horizontally and vertically and combining that with the uber large cups, there’s no way one would be having seal or fit problems with this headphone.
Comfort is almost very good for a headphone of this type. As mentioned above, the headphone is light. I did not have any discomfort either with the suspension strap, I felt it helped distribute the weight evenly. If anything, it’s the huge cups that I had some minor issues with. My jaw and neck part begins to feel the pressure after hours. It’s not painful or anything, it’s just something that I begin to notice more and more the longer I use it.
Having said that, your experience may be different if you’re mostly used to wearing light portable headphones. 400 grams is still a sizeable jump from say, the WH1000xm4, which sits closer to 250 grams.
Source & Amplification
In this test, I’ve mostly used the Monoprice THX 887 and Schiit Modius stack, but I did have some hours spent with the Ragnarok 1 from Schiit as well.
I wanted to point out right off the bat that the Arya scales with the Schiit Ragnarok 1, and will probably sound lean and not nearly as good with the wrong pairing. The THX 887 which was my most used pairing prior to getting the Raggy didn’t sound nearly as good as a whole. I won’t say the pairing was horrible but definitely left something to be desired. Also, this was using the balanced connection. I find the single-ended of the Raggy to be more or less similar to what the THX 887 has.
What this means for the sound review is I would be commenting on any perceptible subjective differences between the amplifier pairings. As a whole, the sound character of Arya is mostly the same so moving from one to the other does not make it a completely different headphone.