The newest addition to the Antlion headphone offering is the Hifiman Edition S. Of course if we get a new pair of headphones I have to play with them a little. Unlike most Hifiman headphones, the Edition S comes with a dynamic driver instead of their trademark planar drivers, allowing them to come in at a modest $250 price point making them one of the most affordable in their line.
I wanted to compare these to another set of headphones in the same price range, but I can't find a pair that can stack up. The Edition S performs well above their price point, with superior full bodied sound that is both warm and bright, and build quality that is unmatched below $500. With an innovative, switchable, closed or open back design, and included inline hands free cell phone microphone, I see these replacing my everyday headphones in no time.
Now, I was extremely skeptical of the switchable back design, as it looked a bit gimmicky at first, so I decided to put it through its paces. I figured the most practical way to do so would be to jump in a Google Hangout with a group of my loudest friends while skipping through music at an inappropriate volume at the same time. While the music blared and the chat was at a roar I had no issue discerning what was being said without losing a note of the song, but that wasn't what I was after here. I decided to try to hold a conversation over the music while periodically removing and replacing the back caps to see if i could notice any difference. What we all noticed was quite interesting, with the caps on the volume of my voice raised dramatically like a child sticking their fingers in their ears. When removed I was easily able to regulate my volume, because I could hear my voice, and the T.V. in the other room, without adjusting the volume of of the chat or my music. So while riding the bus or in public you can easily switch to a functional open back design allowing you to be aware of your surroundings.
A match made in heaven?
Overall the Edition S' is something a little different from Hifiman, something that should have other manufactures a little scared. With amazing audio quality, superior metal construction, and included inline hands free cell phone microphone the Hifiman Edition S' have reset the bar for sub $300 headphones.