HifiMan Arya Review

When I was just starting in the hobby one of the early headphones I aspired to own was the HifiMan HE-400. I never did own one, but I recall being enchanted with it.

Shortly after that the HE-400i and HE-560 came out, which didn’t quite speak to me in the same way, they had a different, faster, but less dynamic presentation. The HE-1000 came out and never did much for me, and this started a period in HifiMan’s history where they fell off my radar for a couple years.

Much was written about the quickly escalating prices of some of their flagships and there was some feeling that the company had begun to price itself out of the reach of the average North American enthusiast. My tastes tend to be rather egalitarian in all things, and stratospherically-priced products in any industry just generally don’t hold my interest, no matter how good they might be. It was with this admittedly biased mindset I stopped by the HifiMan booth at AXPONA this past year.

I’m glad that I checked by bias enough to do so, because I heard some very promising things at the table. While the high-priced offerings didn’t move me at all, the more attainably-priced Sundara and Arya caught my interest. Seeing as Innerfidelity has already reviewed the Sundara, I opted to give the Arya a shot, and here we are. The headphones came in a modest, but nicely furnished box, with a soft-padded insert for the headphone and a little foam insert that when removed revealed the cable and some literature. Nice simple packaging.

Build-wise the criticism HifiMan has received over the years on construction quality has obviously been taken to heart. They aren’t to the level of some Focal headphones, but these are solid, hefty metal headphones. The screws, yolks and assembly pieces seem generally well put together and I had no issues with the construction of the headphones. They aren’t stunning pieces of industrial design, but they’re sturdy and don’t feel cheap. Color-wise they’re black. Ear pads have a sort of stretchy, mesh-nylon type material on the inside with leather on the outside. I know some folks dislike this kind of material, preferring velour or all leather pads, but the material didn’t bother me, and other than the headphones being a little heavier than previous HifiMan’s I’m used to, these were fairly comfortable.

The head strap design they’ve used for a while is generally pretty decent in that department in my experience. The detents on the headband adjustor even on a much larger than average head don’t go all the way up to the largest setting, so you should be covered there. The ear cups are huge and I can’t imagine anyone having issues with the width of them – these are pretty comfortable. Aesthetically the design is pretty much the ‘variation on HE-1000’ look we’ve come to know from the company, you’ll love it or hate it. Connectors are simple 3.5mm plugs into each ear cup. User experience things out of the way, let’s get down to the sound.

For those who remember the kind of softened-transient sound and super open, almost dramatically-diffuse sound stage of the original HE-1000, this reminds me a lot of that. The first thing most people noticed when I handed these to them was the huge, yet pleasingly focused sound stage. Image precision and solidity is good despite the perception of the large sound stage. There’s a very nice balance between transient attack and tonal richness. The frequency response is fairly balanced, I’m hearing fairly flat bass (which to my taste could have been elevated a few dB and been perfect). Amp matching will help with that a lot, and it’s certainly not a deal breaker because the dynamics and texture are excellent. There’s a nice sense of scale to the bass that blends well with the upper ranges. Midrange is neutral though there is a slight roughness in the lower-mids which I suspect to be a series of resonant peaks and dips. These are decently well-controlled though and I think contribute to the sense of openness the Arya project, which has to do with some of the peculiar psychoacoustic phenomena of the lower midrange.


Richter Di's picture

I own the Hifiman Ananda and I am very happy with them. I use them with Jan Meiers Corda Soul which allows via a notch filter to get rid of resonance frequencies. Very helpful.
BTW, you got yourself a little typo right at the start of the review:
„When I was just starting in the hobby one of the early headphones I aspired to own was the HiifiMan HE-400.“
The Hifiman has to „ii“.

KennyR's picture

Hi Grover, first off I enjoyed reading your review of the Arya and previously your review of the Ether 2. I was wondering if you would mind providing a top line comparison between the two since they are both planar headphones in relatively close price range. I would greatly appreciate it.