Superlative extension and resolving power, Endgame imaging, Well-balanced yet non-fatiguing tuning, Outstanding soundstage depth
Mostly large and heavy design, Note presentation can sound unorthodox relative to competitors
The HEDDphone offers summit-fi performance at high-end pricing, I applaud HEDD for perfectly balancing long-term listenability and huge resolving power in their modern masterpiece.
When it comes to premium products, story often precedes performance and Heinz Electrodynamic Designs (HEDD) has such a wonderful inception. Founder and CTO Klaus Heinz is more than a successful entrepreneur, he’s a physicist who designed and built the first commercial units of Oskar Heil’s Air Motion Transformer under ADAM Audio – where it has been a staple in their high-end studio monitors to the current day.
We’ve seen this technology pop up in other speakers such as the Kanto TUK and many of oBravo’s ultra-premium designs. By freeing up his focus from expanding ADAM’s line-up, Klaus was able to further his innovations at HEDD with his son Dr. Knop, where the team was inspired to build the HEDDphone. There’s been a lot of noise surrounding this model recently, not only due to its pricing, but also since it represents a world first in two regards – the first headphone sporting an AMT driver, and the first full-range AMT driver design. In fact, the full-range nature of the driver here has netted it another name, the variable velocity transformer (VVT) representing an evolutionary step in geometry over the tweeters built before. The HEDDphone is a true statement product, yet also a piece of innovation at a price point that remains attainable to a wide range of enthusiasts.
The HEDDphone is available for $1899 USD. You can read more about the HEDDphone and its technologies and treat yourself to a set on HEDD’s website here.
I would like to thank Klaus from HEDD very much for his quick communication and for providing me with the HEDDphone for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
- Page 1: Intro, BTD, Unboxing
- Page 2: Design, Build & Fit
- Page 3: Sound & Source Pairings
- Page 4: Comparisons & Verdict
Behind the Design –
Klaus has extensive experience with Oskar Heil’s (1908-1994) air motion transformer designs under his previous company Adam Audio. This driver type was adopted and is desirable due to the velocity of the sound output. Traditional speaker designs, including DD, Estat and Planar drivers operate like a piston and therefore, move sound at the same velocity as the diaphragm itself. AMT drivers differ in that they employ pleated mylar folds that permit the driver to accelerate sound output up to four times higher in an accordian-like fashion. This is significant since it results in a higher efficiency driver, substantially faster transient response and higher fine detail retrieval and resolution. When considering the full-range implementation utilised within the HEDDphone itself, the AMT driver also poses benefits for bass response due to its space-efficient pleated design that means the effective surface area of the driver is up to five times higher than what may otherwise be permitted in a headphone design. You can read more about the AMT driver and its benefits here and here.
The AMT to VVT Evolution
AMT drivers are conventionally able to extend down to 650Hz and are, therefore, mostly implemented for their ability to provide accurate high frequency reproduction as tweeters. Headphone design presents different challenges than studio montitors, but also some desirable traits such as a more efficient seal aiding bass reproduction. HEDD have approached this by altering the geometry of the AMT driver folds. Rather than sporting consistent width, the VVT driver features larger and deeper ripples for the low-end and smaller for highs. In so doing, the VVT driver is able to reproduce a full-range frequency response, alow greater flexibility over the desired sound signature and still uphold the desirable characteristics of a traditional AMT driver. Though the HEDDphone is not truly the first headphone using AMT technology, it is the first to solely use an AMT driver (others such as oBravo’s HAMT range being hybrids).
Like many at this price, the HEDDphone comes in an enormous hard box that reinforces its premium status. Within is a card information page providing insight into AMT technology and usage instructions. The HEDDphone itself is snugged within a laser cut foam inlet with the cable in a separate hard box below. No other accessories are included such as a pouch or case, nor balanced cable. Still, perhaps especially at this price point, many headphones do not include these accessories as they are not intended for portable use – though I would say it would be a reasonable expectation for them to include a balanced cable. HEDD sell their OEM balanced cable at an additional $189 USD. It should also be noted that though the HEDDphone uses mini-XLR connectors, the wiring pattern is reversed so cables for other headphones will have inverted phase. This should not be audible to the vast majority though the OEM HEDD cables are most recommended for this headphone as a result.
Next Page: Design, Build & Fit
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
The HEDDphone has been well-reviewed online and from a tonality and overall sound signature point of view, I would agree with most of the content already out there. This is a very well-balanced headphone with an uptick of body in the lower-midrange, a sizeable 6k dip and an upper-treble boost. The result is a superb sense of smoothness and general refinement set to great energy and headroom while avoiding intensity and sharpness. Elsewhere, it represents a very even and coherent presentation. I will say that, looking at measurements, I was expecting a much smoother and perhaps boxier sound. However, in listening, the very agile note presentation means that the HEDDphone comes across as nowhere near as coloured as measurements may suggest. It retains an impressively accurate timbre and a very clean tone throughout, a powerful expression and truly summit-fi level technical performance. Notes are characterised by ultra-concise attack that grants almost unparalleled definition. This is surely a double-edged sword, as the HEDDphone does sound a little less natural than most in this regard, but with huge benefit to fine detail retrieval that makes it well worthwhile to my lucky ears.
The HEDDphone strikes a good balance in the lows, offering a balanced quantity with the mids and treble but also enough extension and power to satiate those with a hunger for a bit more oomph. Sub-bass offers excellent deep-reaching extension, especially for an open-back. Some competitors a bit more guttural, but most also have more bass emphasis in general and do not strike the same balance as the HEDDphone. There remains an uptick of quantity in the sub-bass that provides a clear and highly-defined rumble alongside tight, powerful slam and a satisfying pressure. The mid-bass is even and the upper-bass feeds smoothly into the midrange creating a natural timbre and tone in addition to laying the foundation for a clean midrange presentation.
Due to the uptick of sub-bass, notes come across slightly thicker and bolder than neutral so don’t let descriptors such as neutral or accurate scare you off, this isn’t a thin or bass deficient headphone in the slightest. As aforementioned, the note presentation is very agile and concise, providing an immensely well-defined and separated bass presentation. It also helps to aid engagement, delivering excellent pace and organisation in addition to a little more punch than one might expect given the mostly flat tuning. Attack is quick and aggressive while decay is agile, both contributing to a presentation that some may consider to prioritises timing over body and texture.
In turn, it doesn’t offer the huge dynamics and mid-bass texture you might see on something like Fostex’s Biodyna headphones; but you do get excellent detail retrieval even on fast-paced and complex tracks and a robust note structure instigated by the sub-bass lift. I have heard some dynamics and planars that offer a more visceral response here, but the appeal of the HEDDphone is undoubtedly its ability to balance both accuracy and engagement. It doesn’t pound the head with pressure or emphasis, but also doesn’t skimp on extension or note weight either. Rather, the HEDDphone presents an even and natural tuning expressed in a highly tactile manner.
Besides the hump around 700Hz and the 6k dip, the midrange appears to me quite balanced and linear. I also don’t find the upper-midrange remotely recessed and wouldn’t personally want more quantity here as I would already consider this to err slightly on the revealing and intimate side. However, a thin and bright headphone this is not, the HEDDphone benefits from a balanced bass with zero spill or tonal colouration and similarly, strong separation and definition. However, due to the lower-midrange hump, vocals are brought a touch forward and are presented with enhanced size, power and body.
Accordingly, clarity is imbued by the agile note presentation rather than any form of brightness, so midrange definition and clarity remain superb despite a reasonably progressive and smooth top-end. Compared to the Focal Clear that many regard to be the gold-standard of linearity, the HEDD’s individual note presentation and positioning aren’t quite as natural, but it also sounds more coherent with a fuller and more wholly resolved note structure. The Clear sounds a touch strained by comparison, with smaller vocal size and a sharper articulation. The HEDD benefits from gossamer smooth articulation that I feel was an intentional decision.
For the HEDDphone beautifully balances a superlative, revealing presentation with all-day listenability. There is no edge or sharpness in its portrayal, no sibilance nor overt forwardness or glare. The HEDDphone doesn’t strike as bright in any sense, simply highly revealing, resolving and slightly forward. Again, better timbre can be found, there is colouration here most obvious under direct comparison to market leaders in this segment, and the note presentation is markedly different to most as well. Still, few are able to balance so superbly tri-frequency balance, coherence and clarity as the HEDDphone. It is a sound that can be enjoyed for hours with zero fatigue whilst simultaneously picking apart every minute detail present in the track.
Most would consider the top-end to characterise the HEDDphone, but really, its unique style of note presentation manifests throughout. Still, it is surely most overtly apparent here. I will preface that I’m no stranger to high-end audio, I’ve personally purchased and reviewed some of the best in the business. But the technical performance on the HEDDphone still left me floored. Indeed, the HEDDphone exudes an electrostatic-like quality, superficially with its lighter note weight, and the godly quick and clean transient response that makes Estats so sought after. You also get first-class top-octave extension in addition to a progressive upper-treble lift that makes the HEDDphone a paragon of air, sparkle and resolution. Perhaps most importantly, it isn’t a bright headphone and treble never left my ears ringing or fatigued. In fact, the foreground is rather smooth and refined, with a sharp 6k dip taking the edge off percussion and note attack. These qualities together grant a slightly unconventional presentation.
For instance, you get a harder-edged and perhaps slightly more focused note on the more traditional 6k focused Clear, TH909 and HD800S. Meanwhile, the HEDDphone’s portrayal is more subject to its agile note presentation and upper-harmonic lift granting a lighter note weight and greater shimmer. In turn, it is far from a blunted presentation, detail presentation is well-defined in the foreground with excellent separation and fine detail retrieval in the background. The HEDDphone surgically deconstructs every intricacy albeit to the detriment of timbre in the sense that the presentation does not resemble most others – like the midrange. Instrumentation is quite thin and definitely misses some of that organic texture and smoothness provided by some high-end DD implementations. To me, this did not detract from what is otherwise a highly enjoyable and involving listen. The HEDDphone is abound with shimmer and sparkle, it crafts a highly holographic and involving presentation that listeners wanting to hear every detail won’t want to miss.
The HEDDphone provides well-above-average width combined with excellent depth for an open-back headphone. Width stretches wide and easily beyond the head, though not so obviously to the extent of the famous HD800S. What defines the HEDDphone is its terrific portrayal of depth, with its powerful, extended bass and generally balanced tuning otherwise. It conveys a superb sense of space and position. As vocals are powerful and slightly forward, they maintain a strong and focused centre image, never coming across as distant or veiled. Imaging is tack sharp, just about the sharpest I’ve heard from a non-electrostatic headphone; and the bass is surely more robust than any estat I’ve heard. The presentation is holographic with lightning-quick transients and highly defined directional cues. Separation is another high-point, a result of a balanced tuning combined with their uber clean transient response. The HEDDphone is able to pick out fine details and the listener is easily able to isolate and locate each element in the stage. This is especially noticeable on guitar strums, where each string seems to have an almost palpable quality, that the vast majority of other headphones blend together. I can see why these have become such an invaluable tool for music professionals.
The HEDDphone has a reasonable 42ohm impedance and lower 87dB sensitivity that means it needs a bit more power to reach optimal listening volumes. In turn, it is pickier than your average dynamic driver headphone with regards to source pairings but overall, I didn’t find it too difficult to drive. This works to its favour since the HEDDphone can be enjoyed from a wider range of sources and more budget can be allocated to the headphone itself for those investing in an entirely new audio setup.
Output Impedance Sensitivity
Comparing between the Shanling M2X (1-ohm) and Hiby R6 (10-ohm) revealed an almost identical sound signature. Though I was unable to test from even higher output impedances often offered by tube amplifiers, it appears that the HEDDphone has a relatively flat impedance curve – meaning the sound signature will stay consistent between most sources. The Hiby did provide a slightly softer and smoother bass, however, this may be attributed to the colouration of the source itself as this is commonly the case even on flat-impedance gear. In summation, the HEDDphone is not too critical of output impedance so long as there is ample driving power.
Using my in-line switcher and SPL meter, I did a volume matched AB between my desktop THX789 and Shanling M2X (high gain). I felt there was ample headroom on both, using volume 36/120 on the Shanling and 1/4 dial on the THX789 albeit, I do personally prefer to listen at lower volumes. I found the HEDDphone to sound pleasing from both; there wasn’t a huge drop in quality or change in sound signature as with a lot of full-size headphones. Under scrutiny, it was clear the desktop amplifier sounded better, the presentation was more spacious and took much better advantage of the HEDDphone’s depth, where the portable DAP sounded much more intimate. Bass remained balanced in quantity on the Shanling, however, sub-bass slam was noticeably tighter on the THX789 and mid-definition was much higher. In fact, the THX789 generally provided higher note definition throughout for a more resolving and immersive sound though again, this can be hard to appreciate in isolation as the signature remains balanced on both. These benefits persisted even with the considerably cheaps JDS Labs Atom and Topping L30, albeit with a lesser extent to soundstage and imaging. So while portable sources certainly do in a pinch, the HEDDphone is still best enjoyed from a clean desktop stack with ample power output.
Suggested Pair Ups
The HEDDphone is highly resolving and does require a fair amount of power to reach optimal listening volumes. In turn, I found a decent desktop source provides the best experience. As the impedance isn’t too high, it isn’t nearly as demanding as some competitors and was well-served even by cheaper amplifiers such as the JDS Labs Atom or Topping L30. On the flip side, the HEDDphone isn’t especially susceptible to hiss or source noise nor output impedance. I did enjoy the THX789 and SMSL SU-9 combo best out of what I had on hand as it offered the most immersive imaging and soundstage. Portable sources offer a pleasing experience but are not recommended as even more powerful units did not provide the same level of note definition and space as the cheaper desktop sources. Source tonality also will be a matter of preference. I did enjoy them from the smoother SU-9 personally, it helps a little with the timbre and generally thinner note structure of the HEDDphone, creating a more natural listen. As the HEDDphone isn’t especially bright, I can still see some springing for something more open and perhaps, resolving up top.
Next Page: Comparisons & Verdict
I will take a departure from my usual structure and adopt a more freeform stance here as I feel it is more representative of the HEDDphone’s position in the current market. Currently, on hand, I have 2 direct and esteemed competitors, the Fostex TH909 ($1799) and the Focal Clear ($1499).
Design & Comfort
Upon trying out each headphone, the Focals and Fostex’s strike as much more traditional in terms of usability. They are both smaller, the Fostex especially is much lighter and lower-profile than the HEDD. Over time, these models wear less on the top of the head and offer sound, all-day comfort in my testing, the Fostex especially. The Alcantara lined Clear is also especially breathable and best for hot days while the HEDDphone and more semi-open Fostex came across as slightly stuffier especially with their less breathable pleather pads. None fold for storage, but even amongst full-size headphones, the HEDDphone is noticeably larger than the competition.
All headphones also target some form of balance with regards to their sound tuning, the TH909 a looser definition, being the most coloured and engaging. In turn, all pose some value to a variety of different consumers. The Clear is objectively the most balanced and will likely have the most widespread appeal in terms of its raw sound signature, it is very easy to like and I also do not find it boring in the slightest, albeit it is the least engaging of the three. The TH909 is the most engaging of the bunch with the biggest, deepest bass and subjectively the most natural tonality. Meanwhile, the HEDDphone is noticeably more resolving than either with the sharpest, most holographic and most layered presentation.
I love the low-end on the TH909, taking inspiration from the bombastic closed-back TH900, it introduces a more balanced expression whilst upholding sensational sub-bass drive and dynamics. It is has the most bass, sub-bass especially, in addition to the best extension and pressure forming a fun and immensely engaging listen. The TH909 has the most physical bass and its quality is superb too, not the highest separation but great texture through the mid-bass and not an ounce of smear or bloat in so doing; this is a great choice for electronic, pop and those that love good bass without overwhelming quantity. The Clear is probably the least involving here though this isn’t a bad thing for those wanting a more linear and natural presentation.
The tuning is lightly warm leaning with a lick of mid and sub-bass emphasis. The voicing and note presentation are the most accurate and bass is well-controlled to boot, about on par with the TH909 with slightly higher separation on account of its more balanced tuning. The HEDDphone’s low end does not deviate too far from the balanced and natural tuning of the Clear but introduces a slightly more robust note structure with a bit more sub-bass bias. It has a stronger, tighter slam and also higher note definition than the Focal, delivering the best separation and timing of the bunch. Again, I would not consider the Clear to be a bad performer, it is simply surrounded by the exceptional.
The midrange is where these models noticeably diverge, the TH909 once again stands out with the most colouration, albeit not to the extent that it sounds off-timbre in any way. Indeed, the TH909 is very naturally voiced and its vocals are lavished with a beautiful light warm tone, inviting clarity and delicate but never sibilant articulation. It is slightly laid-back but without an iota of veil or congestion. It has high coherence with the uptick of warmth and body from the bass balancing out a subtle lift in the upper-midrange and treble. The Clear is pretty darn neutral here according to the headphone Harman-curve but, like most, I personally find the tuning a touch bright-leaning with lifted clarity in exchange for slightly diminished vocal size that I am not a fan of.
Vocals are the best balanced with instruments on the Clear and its positioning is the most accurate that said. The light warmth from the bass imbues a hint of colouration that makes the Clear pleasant and inviting despite its focus on balance and accuracy otherwise. The HEDDphone again provides a slightly more powerful voicing than the Clear with greater vocal body and noticeably smoother articulation. It has the highest definition and separation, being the most revealing of the bunch despite also being the smoothest. The HEDDphone has the most forward and largest vocals but achieves similar coherence to the TH909, putting it above the Clear in this regard.
It’s the high-end where the HEDD really steals the show. Both the Clear and TH909 implement similar voicings, with mild 6k emphasis that brings details to the fore and enhances treble clarity. The HEDDphone rather has a dip here, so it is a much smoother headphone and its detail presentation isn’t as forward as the competitors either. And yet, it easily has the best detail retrieval and resolution of the bunch, its treble has the highest separation, the most sparkle and the cleanest transient response. The Clear follows up with a slightly sharper note attack, it has more crunch and bite to cymbals and percussion in general. The same goes for the Fostex, it sounds the most aggressive and forward here, but it also slightly warmer and more organic so I didn’t find it to lack texture.
The Clear has the best timbre subjectively, with more instrument body and texture than either competitor, the TH909 is a little splashy but follows up with the darkest background for higher contrast and layering. The HEDD is the thinnest of the bunch, it sounds more atmospheric with its top-octave emphasis but isn’t intense since its presentation is smooth over sharp. The Clear and HEDD both offer more air than the Fostex with slightly more open tuning, the HEDD especially has the most headroom of the bunch. The differences can be stark when switching between them due to the inverted 6k tuning that can either make the HEDD sound over-smooth or the Clear and TH909 over-emphasised, I would highly recommend trying them out as treble seems to be most subject to personal preference, especially the 6k region.
The soundstage is interesting, again the HEDD having some unique qualities that differentiate it from the competition. The Clears have the widest stage and it’s fairly well-rounded with good depth too. The TH909 has the least width but also a bit more depth than the Clear and it has slightly better layering than the Clear too with more contrast between foreground and background. The HEDDphone’s stage width is between the two but closer to the more spacious Clear, however, it has by far the most depth. The HEDD also has the sharpest imaging, the best layering and the best separation, its ability to position and isolate every minutiae is its raison d’etre.
The Heddphone is surely a romantic product as the first of its kind, yet it also harkens back to a legacy of acoustic design in the studio monitor space. This is a highly ambitious product from Klaus and Dr. Frederik whose meticulous realisation equally rewards in real-world performance as in theoretical design. Furthermore, despite being a premium product, relative to the modern high-end headphone market, the price is par for course while the performance is far from it. The HEDDphone is a technical achievement and in this sense, can be said to represent a strong value proposition. It’s head to toe extension dwarfs the majority, crafting a highly involving, immersive and simply impressive presentation. This is executed without much weirdness in the tuning, it isn’t perfectly flat nor as traditionally coloured as competitors like the Focal Clear and even the TH909. However, so too is its note presentation unique and I find the smooth and full presentation almost a necessity to rein in its quick and sharp note delivery. The experience does come with some caveats, namely the large and heavy housings that will not find so many fans. Similarly, those wanting the deepest, most dynamic bass and a rich, analogue or organic timbre will not find it here. If you don’t mind the weight, this is surely a case of high-end pricing, summit-fi performance. For that, I applaud HEDD for perfectly balancing long-term listenability and huge resolving power in their modern masterpiece.
The HEDDphone is available from HEDD Audio (International) for 1699 EUR at the time of writing. I am not affiliated with HEDD and receive no earnings from purchases through this link.
Track List –
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Childish Gambino – Kauai EP
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Dirty Loops – Next To You
John Legend – Get Lifted
H.E.R – I Used To Know Her
Kehlani – While We Wait
Jim Croce – You Don’t Mess Around With Jim
John Legend – Get LIfted
John Mayer – New Light
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
Missy Higgins – The Sound of White
Nature TV – Emotion Sickness EP
Nirvana – Nevermind
Radiohead – Pablo honey
Steely Dan – Aja
Stephen Speaks – Passenger Seat
The Cranberries – No Need To Argue
Tori Kelly – Solitude
Weezer – Weezer
Vaundy – strobo
ZICO – THINKING Part.2