HiFiMAN Arya measurements and impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by Vtory, Feb 20, 2019.

  1. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    I’ve played with my friend’s Arya for nearly half a week. Will return them this Friday.

    My overall impression is very positive so far. Honestly amazed. HFM successfully souped good parts of previous generations of HEK and HEX maybe even adding some lessons learned during Susvara developments.

    Some highlights of subjective impressions
    • Arya tonality reminded me of hex v1 (no ab, just from my memory). Very pleasing and well-balanced. A little bright (indeed a tad brighter than hex 1 if I recall correctly) but still within what I consider neutral (maybe “least upper-bound” of my neutrality zone). Easily love tastefully tuned mild W-tonality -- nevertheless to my ears sound quite coherent and continuous from bottom to top.
    • I have a certain set of criteria regarding showstoppers -- boring bass, muddy or honky midrange, and piercing or sibilant high treble -- but arya failed in none of these.
    • Vocals occasionally sound harsh or too edged but not as problematic as stock hd800 or focals.
    • Slightly plastic-ish, hollow, and/or artificial timbre -- a lot better than hex v1/2 but still worse than susvara-- might bother some. For this reason, arya might work better with something complementary (meatier and fuller sounding headphones).
    • Ignoring minor improvements (mostly regarding presentation), driver-related technicalities (plankton, micro- and macro- details/dynamics, transience) are nearly at the same ballpark of HEK v2. If you’re familiar with focal open trio, imagine a distance bw clear and elex. But to much less extent for arya-hek2.
    • Articulate is the best word to describe arya. Both HEK 1 and 2 did surprisingly well in this regard, but arya is a bit more improved on top of them. Making me revisit the favorite tracks to find something hidden (at least less evident before).
    • Bass is equivalently satisfying compared to my current go-to ether 2. Main difference is that Arya is more articulate and E2 is tighter and punchier. Both well match to the detail level of bass reproduced by convert-2 -- only bested by susvara. DTPed 800 is also great but too dry by comparison.
    • Ether 2 has fuller, better, and more resolving midrange but arya’s mid and high mid have better sense of reverberation. Very engaging and life-like.
    • Transience and delineation are all very good with Arya. It still is on the “softer” (or “gradual” at least) side but less so than heks. Sounds faster than any other HFMs I experienced except classic line and susvara.
    • Treble sounds artificial but enjoyably controlled. Reminded me of some colored compression drivers (couldn’t exactly remember which though).
    • I need to emphasize this. Like other hek variants, arya scales very, very much -- potentially bad if good signal is not fed. Tested with various configurations: mbp (as dac amp), topping d10+fiio q1, even d10+ec bw (god please forgive my curiosity).. It didn’t take long to understand why the owner was meh about arya -- he uses topping dac worshiped somewhere else. No wonder. In addition, arya taught me that convert-2 still had potential to pull out. Good thing in my book.
    • Headband is largely identical with hex -- it can swivel. Comfort guaranteed, but build quality isn’t as good as hek v2 or susvara (haven’t seen hek se yet). For 1.6k product, I wanted to see better bq.
    • Cable is not as weirdly-looking as hex or hek but inflexible (like elex cable) and cheap-ish.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  2. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Here are MiniDSP EARS measurements. See more in this and related threads: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...g-sbaf-compensations-from-minidsp-files.7067/

    Measurements are done with 95db [email protected] unless specified.

    upload_2019-2-20_19-53-28.png

    FR are interesting in three aspects:
    1. I thought I hated 2k dips (on sbaf-compensated plots). But I begin to think 2k dip is actually favorable if (1) not excessive and (2) very gradual bw (lower Q).
    2. Repeating small dips in mids might be the result of internal reflections and relevant cancellations. Graph-wise they look ugly and rough, but I am suspecting they’re associated with some of positive impressions.
    3. 10k is noticeably peaked (possibly causing brightness) but sibilance range (6-8k) is fairly well-controlled. This likely explains why I thought arya had the best treble tonality among hek variants.
    It’s worth reporting that while LR channels seem perfectly matched, with each set of measurements, I observed small amount of imbalances (see the below). Averaging five different positions mysteriously offset error.

    upload_2019-2-20_19-54-6.png

    Bass response is very solid (= of little variance), no matter how arya is positioned or even with imperfect seals. Possibly due to combinations of low-mass and non-stiff membrane, extremely open structure, and other factors, resulting in low acoustic impedance. Positioning affected higher frequencies rather than bass responses.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  3. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    upload_2019-2-20_19-55-12.png

    Arya sound pretty close to auteur (with auteur pads) in tonality. Arya is more edged while auteur is a little zingier. Slight peak around 1k of auteur bother more to my liking than 2k dip of arya.


    upload_2019-2-20_19-55-33.png

    (Both measurably and perceptually) Arya take the opposite approach compared with ether 2, staring from 1k hz. I like both, and indeed they define my “comfort” zone with brighter and darker limits.

    I am also attaching comparison plots with senn hd600 (new pads), hd800 (stock), and elex.

    upload_2019-2-20_19-55-57.png
    upload_2019-2-20_19-55-50.png
    upload_2019-2-20_19-56-12.png
     
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  4. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    upload_2019-2-20_19-56-37.png

    Note that harmonic levels measured by minidsp ears tend to be higher than other measurement rigs (much higher than most flat couplers, and also remarkably higher than commercial hats). That said, arya distortion results are surprisingly low for my rig and environment, except noticeable peak at 4.7k. Although 4.7k peaks are commonly shown in my other EARS measurements (probably related with EARS resonance character), but they’re more evident this time around (other results typically <0.5%). No idea why. Scratching my head.


    upload_2019-2-20_19-57-16.png

    Step response shows both good sub-bass response and seemingly problematic? lasting ringing. Calculating from consecutive two peaks of ringing, it’s around 4.6 khz. That’s exactly shown in the 1/12 wavelet spectrogram, too.

    upload_2019-2-20_19-58-1.png

    Minidsp tends to report more energy aroung 4-5khz (see hd800 result attached below). The difference is that arya has longer-lasting “green” area (-16 to -22db to peak) -- typically called as “ortho-wall”. I believe this phenomenon is associated with some of positive perceptions like room-feeling reverb (so, I don’t think this necessarily bad), but need to collect more thoughts.

    upload_2019-2-20_19-58-9.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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  5. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Closing thoughts, I am seriously considering to get a pair of arya for myself. Maybe should talk to the owner to make a good deal.

    PS. Black is always right.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Re-posting these for better (personal) consistency

    My measurements from now on will adhere to the following protocol:
    1. Left and right channel frequency response, sbaf-compensated, 1/24 octave smoothing, averaged at 5 different positions (old-IF-ish approach)
    2. 2nd to 5th harmonic distortions including noise floor
    3. Step responses with overshoot [1] and settling time [2]
    4. 1/12 octave wavelet spectrogram (both normalized to peak and non-normalized)
    All measured with 95db SPL at 300hz signal

    [1] Overshoot is calculated as the percentage of the 1st peak minus the 1st dip -- mainly for operational convenience
    [2] Settling is calculated as the time required for the response curve to reach and stay within ±5%FS

    -------

    upload_2019-2-23_13-44-43.png

    upload_2019-2-23_13-46-58.png

    upload_2019-2-23_13-47-7.png

    upload_2019-2-23_13-47-17.png

    upload_2019-2-23_13-47-25.png
     
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  7. dubharmonic

    dubharmonic Wow, I made it this far without being a friend?

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    Did you try them at all with tubes? I was expecting it to be a terrible match, but the HEKV2 paired with a Valhalla 2 took me by surprise. The treble lost most of the metallic sheen.
     
  8. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    For Arya, haven't yet. But it's not difficult to imagine how treble can be tamed a bit with tubes. Indeed one of the setups I heard hek2 was with allnic totl otl tube. Not bad by any means. From my experience with lyr 3, can expect good synergy bw arya and lyr 3, too. Btw, to me arya is less problematic in treble tonality. Less splashing and less sparkling. It's somewhere between heks and susvara.

    I am also excited to hear a pairing bw arya and 3f (expecting to receive 3f by march), because I speculate better current driving ability would benefit current-hungry planars.
     
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  9. jazztherapist

    jazztherapist analrapist

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    @Vtory By chance have you heard the Ananda and have a sense of how it stacks up to the Arya? Noticing the prices on the Ananda are coming down a bit to almost half Arya MSRP.
     
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  10. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    No I haven't. My bet is that ananda is renamed hex and arya is renamed (and cost-reduced) hek with some changes each. HEX-HEK difference varies depending on how to value imo.

    Btw headband structure of sundara was a huge off for me. Ananda seems to share the same frame. By comparison, arya is more in line with hek and previous hex's.

    If I want a budget-friendly hfm planar, I'd go for massdrop hexx instead of ananda. Just speculation.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    3k, 5k bumps and and 10kHz spike.. 5kHz distortion spike. Hmmm. 98% chance this drives @Hands crazy.
     
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  12. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I mean, if it's a renamed HE-1000, yeah, I won't like it.
     
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  13. AstralStorm

    AstralStorm Friend

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    So this is the new HE-500 tonality for quadruple the money on HEK frame and driver, but much more articulate and clean in bass?

    (Yes I'm facetious, but it seems to share the signature based on the measurements. It is likely almost the same design as HEK but tighter membrane.)

    This means no win vs HE6SE modded. Pity.
     
  14. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Two things.

    1. HEK vs HE6 is really a matter of preference. Either these may be preferred. Or neither. Without modding I can live with the former, but never with the latter. ymmv.

    2. And I honestly think it very inappropriate to involve modding into "generalized" vs discussions. Except universally-approved ones -- including detailed recipes, pre-post measurements confirmed by many, and proven effects. So in my book, hd650 kiss mods or something like hd800 sdr may suffice. But I don't think he6 mods have that level of reliability.
     
  15. AstralStorm

    AstralStorm Friend

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    I find HE6 mods very reliably resulting in a good headphone. I think MrSpeakers also does, given he made Code-X on that base. That said, HE6 are extremely demanding on the amplifier and expose issues in them such as current clipping.

    The question is not of sufficiency but comparable quality. HEK tonality can be preferable but from what I read this does not have that tonality being much brighter and having those "fun" CSD peaks. It might have the quality and clarity though. Could use a listen to be sure.
     
  16. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Of course some mods can make a good result. I don't disagree.

    What I am saying is that 'modding' per se is VERY broad (and loosely-defined) concept.

    Speaking of reliability, I would like to require overall consistency. A mod can be said to have a high reliability if it produces similar results under consistent conditions. Remember how KISS mod was documented and how many times it was repeated by a number of people resulting in consistent experience. However, without knowing "details" of a specific mod, and without knowing how thoroughly that mod was validated (e.g., measurements from compatible rigs, comparative subjective evaluations from many),I still remain doubtful.

    Products from skillful modders like LFF (or Eshaaf in the foreseeable future?) may have some benefits in this regard. But introduce other issues. For example, total costs. HE6SE has nearly the same price tag as Arya (let alone he6se has fucked headband structure/frame..). Modding via known experts adds additional cost which I guess isn't cheap -- likely 500-1000 usd. Now overall cost is placed in totally different price category.

    Even if we can ignore such issues, like you said, he6 and hek (hek v1, hek v2, arya all sounded a bit different but they're "hek-sounding" as a group) need very different amplification -- also with different level of safety caution. I don't see any value in comparing two things that differ this drastically.

    PS. That said, I always welcome a kind loan of code-x/6/.. or other verified modded he6(se) from friends or semi-friends, for measurement and evaluation purposes ;).
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  17. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    Attaching waterfall plot.

    I thought this super-open design would fast dissipate internal energy to outside -- this doesn't seem to the case. Even more complicated than similar open planars like ether 2 or lcd3f. Maybe need to collect my thoughts more about how to interpret this.

    upload_2019-5-16_22-10-48.png
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019

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