Design & Build –
Despite being the company’s first headphone, the HEDDphone impresses in many regards and represents a strong understanding of how to provide a positive user experience – especially given the challenges with weight the company had to contend with. Of course, the size and weight cannot be avoided and will likely make the strongest first impression; this is clearly an audio-focused product for the passionate enthusiast or professional rather than a fashion statement. For the HEDDphone is a tank coming in at 718g with a bold, masculine yet professional-leaning aesthetic to match. Nonetheless, it is a clean and subjectively handsome realisation with visible AMT drivers adding heaps of visual intrigue. With that weight also comes a rather opulent in-hand feel, aided by well-engineered mechanisms that enhance the experience during daily use. The hinges feel smooth and sturdy, with a metal construction and bolstering around each point of articulation.
My unit has no squeaks or creaks and, similarly, good tolerances that is not so easy to achieve on such a large headphone. Compared to more robust designs such as those from Audeze or Sennheiser, they do feel a little wobblier and more bottom-heavy, however, the frame feels solid and sturdy with a tactile matte finish and unyielding solidity. Still, as others have noted, the silver hangers are somewhat prone to scratches due to their painted finish so I would suggest placing them on a headphone stand or desk mat when not in use to avoid this. The earpads and top of the headband are coated in faux leather that feels soft yet relatively hard-wearing. The insides of the pads are fenestrated while the bottom of the headband is Alcantara to aid breathability during long listening sessions.
What I’m less enthusiastic about is the included cable that feels tough albeit quite stiff. The HEDDphone has a 2.2m cable connecting via mini-XLR and terminating with a ¼” plug. The connectors feel high-quality with excellent strain-relief that should keep a reliable connection even with daily use. There’s a tight braided jacket that feels hard-wearing and relieves tension on the actual wires though, alongside a tight twisted braid, the cable feels very stiff and transmits more microphonic noise than most. The cable also has a lot of memory which means removing kinks and bends after storage is especially irksome. It would also have been good to see a balanced XLR cable included in the box, however, HEDD do offer an OEM unit for $189 USD. The experience here is not too obtrusive during listening but is a little disappointing coming from most competitors.
Fit & Comfort –
Weight & Comfort
I will go into detail here as this was one of the most frequently asked questions about the HEDDphone when I first announced it was in for review. For the HEDDphone crafts no illusion of portability with its hulking dimensions and hefty weight just over 700g. And yet, I found them surprisingly tolerable; like many, they were a shock to the system out of the box, however, unless you experience severe discomfort during audition, I would posit that most would acclimatize over the first few days of use. After this period, I was able to wear them for about 3-4 hours at a time before requiring a short break and could listen longer while tolerating mild discomfort. Of course, weight is weight, and this is always felt by the user, especially when tipping or turning your head when combined with the width of the earcups. HEDD have implemented a few techniques to distributed this as evenly as possible as I’ll touch on below. I think those coming from other full-size headphones, especially planars with their heavy magnet structures, will find the experience surprisingly familiar here.
Headband & Earpads
The headband has been contoured to spread the load evenly over the side of the head and avoid hotspot formation at the very top. You can feel this during wear, the fit is stable and solid, especially with the breathable and tactile Alcantara lining, yet I did still find the top of my head to throb after some hours. In turn, I wouldn’t say the HEDDphone provides all-day comfort for professional use, though I have seen plenty of professionals using these – so perhaps that is due to my head shape as I struggle with a lot of headphones in the same way. Clamp force is also on the higher side though again, I felt this was intentional and well-managed by the spacious and exceedingly plush earpads. The earpads also offer ample room to fully envelop even larger ears and heaps of super soft memory foam padding that conforms to individual head shape. The pleather is soft and a little grippy, further aiding stability. Though the interior is fenestrated, they aren’t an especially breathable headphone and can get a little toasty on warm days especially combined with the tight clamp. The earpads attach via clip mechanism and can be easily removed and replaced.
A prime area of complaint online has been the headband sliders on the HEDDphone that offer notoriously limited adjustment. Actually, I’ve been told by HEDD that these have been slightly elongated relative to preproduction units reviewed prior, yet they still offer fairly limited adjustment due to the angle of the headband and I personally have to max out the setting to achieve a comfortable fit. I wouldn’t wish for more length and would advise that those who are able to fit most portable headphones will have no issue here. However, those that struggle with other headphones may want to demo the HEDDphone before committing to purchase. Otherwise, the ball-bearing mechanism is smooth and it retains its position well with defined feedback.
Issues & Quirks
The HEDDphone is the company’s first headphone and a rather unconventional product in general. When first worn, the driver diaphragm emits a loud, almost alarming crinkle – basically, the AMT equivalent of driver flex. The documentation assures this is normal and, similar to flex, pressure equalises during wear so it doesn’t disturb during listening. Though it is not something most headphones suffer from, I haven’t experienced any damage or degradation to performance during my months of testing as a result of this.
The HEDDphone is hand-built in Germany which gives HEDD better control over tolerances but also opens up an avenue for some small niggles on a unit to unit basis. In the case of my unit, the headband slider covers cracked during photographing due to over-tightening of the screws – though admittedly I was bending them in ways most users would not in order to achieve particular angles. HEDD support was prompt and helpful with the repairs, which simply involved sending out replacement covers and screws.
After replacement, it seems over-tightening was indeed the case on my unit as I haven’t experienced an issue with the replacement covers nor had HEDD experienced similar issues from other users. I do appreciate the modularity of the HEDDphone as well, the repair process was very simple and each part that may be subject to wear and tear is very easy to replace. This speaks well for their longevity in a professional setting so long as they remain supported by HEDD themselves.
Next Page: Sound & Source Pairings