By Richard / $1000+, HIFIMAN, Review, Planars / April 24, 2023

HIFIMAN HE1000se Review

HIFIMAN HE1000se Review's image

The reviewer is giving his honest experience with the product and was not paid to write a favorable article. The gear was purchased due to interest and enjoyment in quality of sound.

Tonal Balance / Neutrality10
Price / Performance Ratio10
Sound Fidelity10
Build Quality9.9
Bass Extension10
Bass Balance10
Treble Balance9.8
Treble Extension9.9
Bass Control10
Tone Density10
Macro Dynamics9.8
Micro Dynamics10
Sound Stage Width9.9
Sound Stage Depth9.9

The HIFIMAN HE1000se is a multi-award-winning, stealth magnet, breakthrough technology headphone introduced in September 2018. Working with the highly challenging, advanced material, “Nanometer Thickness Diaphragm”, HIFIMAN created a first-of-its-kind headphone with the incorporation of this film as the HE1000se’s planar driver.

The HIFIMAN HE1000se also uses acoustically invisible stealth magnets, which act on the headphone to make it acoustically transparent and reduce wave diffraction turbulence which degrades the integrity of the sound waves. The result is that distortion is reduced, and produces a purer, more harmonious sound.

I decided on the HIFIMAN HE1000se while trying to find a headphone that could go with the ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2. Since the HE1000se was also a recommendation to me from a professional in the industry and since I wanted to experience a top-of-the-line headphone, I picked up the HE1000se.

HIFIMAN HE1000se on a Woo Audio headphone stand next to a garden with pink flowers

During this time when I was still trying out what I could, I also picked up different headphones like the HIFIMAN HE-560 V4, the HIFIMAN HE6SE, and the ZMF Vérité Open Stabilized.

I enjoyed all these headphones and appreciated what they provided for my listening experience, but being a consumer who appreciates price to performance value, I ranked the headphones according to the price and the sound quality. I found that I like the HE-560 V4 a lot for its lightweight for extended use compared with to HE6se V2, along with its wide imaging, instrument separation, and timbre. The Vérité Open was a headphone in which I had previously owned both the Camphor Burl and the Camphor Burl Stabilized, but unfortunately, had to offload both for my monetary situation, but I enjoyed them for their deep timbre, which I haven't heard in any headphone. Speaking from memory, the Vérité Open had a unique, layered presentation to the sound, but the Stabilized and Non-stabilized versions are different headphones altogether to me.

The HE-560 V4 is a great, resolving headphone. The Arya is also a great headphone, but there was some missing clarity and resolution, and I ultimately didn’t find it to be a good all-rounder, that something was lacking.

The HE1000se is actually ten-fold the price of the HE-560 V4, however, over time, after comparing different headphones, I’ve found that it’s a headphone that I’ve decided I want to keep as part of my stable, although it's not one I go to for casual listening, it's not a headphone I want to put on when I wake up due to it's more neutral nature, it's not a warm-cozy feel. I feel like the Sennheiser HD 600 is a perfect mix of technicality and fun; it's a little less exacting, and for those like me who might have treble sensitivity, my opinion is that it's the perfect headphone; some of the edge of the HE1000se is taken off, though this might be changed with your sources and cabling.

The HIFIMAN HE1000se is constructed using a metal frame with wood mixed in toward the inner side of the cup. It’s a beautiful headphone with a unique look and definitely makes a statement. It has a solid construction, and its sonic qualities are somewhat intimated through the appearance of the metal frame.

The HE1000se is one of the most accurate headphones I've heard to date. It's a neutral headphone with a lot of details within the pace, rhythm, and timing (PRaT), but it also has nuanced bass quality, the most excellent slam I've heard in a headphone, and clarity that sparks engagement while being highly resolving. I found that it's not as fast as the Sennheiser HD 600, however, the quality and defined bass is quick on the timing and add to the musicality.

HIFIMAN HE1000se on a Woo Audio headphone stand next to a garden with pink flowers

In other headphones like the HIFIMAN HE6se V2, you get a lot of detail and a more tamed treble, which allows it to be listened to for extended periods, whereas the HE1000se, I feel, is not so casual if you're sensitive to treble like me. The HE1000se gives fuller clarity and presents a more intricate and dynamic sound, retrieving more details in its presentation. The HIFIMAN HE6se V2 is a beast that actually complements the HE1000se with its softer take on neutral, however, the HE1000se is also a definitive upgrade from the HE6se V2 because of its clarity and musical, cleanness in detail.

The result of the clean notes and how they attack in the HE1000se is a headphone that delivers an incredibly accurate listening experience that gives the music a more lively character. The notes have a lean and crisp quality which cannot be seen in the HIFIMAN HE6se V2. Though the HE6se V2 has excellent bass quality and extension; after spending some time with the HE1000se, the HE6se V2 doesn't get into full nuance like the former.

The HIFIMAN HE1000se has a classic, reference sound. The technology that the HE1000se uses is wholly reflected in the sound playback. The way the notes mix with each other creates an elegant, life-like sound that is characterized by quality and delicacy.

The highs are crisp, snappy, and extended; the lows are super impactful, defined, and layered; the mids are clear and have a clean, thorough presence; and the instruments are spaced and placed distinctly.

It's a 3D playback-like experience because the notes have the body and the space helps to create a beautiful scenery. The resolution is also top-notch and is one of the best qualities of the HE1000se. 

The bass quality and bass quantity make the music very engaging. The bass quality also has the inherent resolution of the HE1000se. The playback collectively is very special because the bass meshes with the highs and mids with authority and definition.

HIFIMAN HE1000se on a Woo Audio headphone stand next to a garden with pink flowers

I would recommend the HIFIMAN HE1000se to anyone who wants to experience a top-of-the-line headphone. If you're more value-conscious and are making a first-time headphone purchase, the HE-560 V4 and HE6se V2 are excellent headphones, with the HE6se V2 being the more resolving headphones with better bass quality and extension. Both the HE-560 V4 and HE6se V2 are similar to the HE1000se as far as having the HIFIMAN house-sound resolution and dynamics, however, of the three, the HE1000se has the most accurate, life-like presentation.

The HE1000se is a live and direct headphone. Because of the HE1000se's pace and resolution, the sound can be more toe-tapping for those who like pure detail with a more refined, luxurious-sounding neutrality. When comparing headphones, I've found that the delivery HE1000se would give me chills through the change of style and resolution. 

The sources I used were the Topping D90SE, Audio GD HE-7 MK I, and the amplifiers were ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 and ampsandsound Nautilus. I found that no matter the gear, the HE1000se managed to sound great, however, the more powerful the equipment, the more the HE1000se scaled to changes in the equipment being used. 

The HE1000se is a remarkable headphone for serious listeners who want a life-like, yet fun and accurate sound. At $3,400 MSRP price point, to me, it's not really an attractive offering. I've seen the price recently dip to $2,000 on Amazon, which I believe is a great value. I do find myself gravitating towards price/value purchases like the technical and resolving HD 600, or the spacious and ambient HE-560 V4 their more laid-back sound, to where I can still comfortably say that I get a thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable, hi-fi listening experience. When I switch back to the HE1000se, though, the degree of fidelity, nuance, detail, and hi-fi quality sound is definitely noticeable and completely on another level, and I appreciate the sheer quality of its sound; I haven't heard anything quite like it.

Product link:

Cables: Worlds Best Cables (RCA Neutrik, RCA Amphenol)

Sources: Audio-GD HE-7 MK I, Schiit Modi Multibit, Topping D90SE

Amplifiers: ampsandsound Nautilus, ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2

USB: Matrix Audio X-SPDIF 2, Singxer SU-6


About the Author


Software Engineer by trade, always loved music, but discovered Hi-Fi in 2012. Decided that since interest in sound quality was growing, could share experience with different products.


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