"You go to my head
With a smile that makes my temperature rise
Like a summer with a thousand Julys
You intoxicate my soul with your eyes.."
In fact, I really want to limit this review to the epigraph that you just read. These heartfelt lines from Billie Holiday's "You Go To My Head" basically have everything I would like to say about the incredible HEDDphone ONE headphones that stole my peace and sleep and now will never go out of my head. The only thing, for the utmost accuracy, I would replace a couple of letters in the lyrics of this song: "You go to my HEDD". However, I understand that such brevity will seem too much to many, so there will still be a full review, don't worry.
So, our guest is HEDD Audio company from Germany with their first model of full-size headphones HEDDphone ONE! And for me this acquaintance was, without exaggeration, a revelation. As a great connoisseur of high-quality music, I have long broken the “fence” in my head between the concepts of Hi-Fi, Hi-END and PRO AUDIO. For all these terms apply to the distribution of audio equipment: for listeners, audiophiles and for musicians / sound engineers. For me, there are only two concepts: bad sound and good. And today we'll talk about excellent sound, sound in the highest degree!
HEDDphone ONE can satisfy both the true connoisseur of sound and the professional. Since its release in 2020, these headphones have made a lot of noise in the audiophile environment and have received a bunch of awards from the world's most prestigious audio publications. And no wonder, ONE is the first full-size headphones based on an AMT (Air Motion Transformer) driver that reproduces the entire frequency range!
Here it would be appropriate to conduct a brief digression into the history of the HEDD Audio brand, which appeared in Berlin in 2015. Heinz Electrodynamic Design (HEDD) was founded by physicist Klaus Heinz and his son, musicologist Dr. Frederik Knop. "HEDD products demonstrate what can be achieved today both in audio quality and control versatility. We believe that we have set a new benchmark in the industry and beyond." - Klaus Heinz, Founder of HEDD Audio says.
As a student of the famous Oskar Heil who invented the Air Motion Transformer (AMT), Klaus Heinz improved on the original Heil AMT design, making it more compact, reliable and efficient.
To understand Klaus Heinz's big contribution to the audio industry, suffice it to say that he is the founder of Adam Audio, which has made a name for itself by creating studio speakers and monitors used by top recording studios. And of course, at the moment, his new company HEDD Audio is making a big contribution to the world of sound. HEDD’s mission has been to build products aiming for complete accuracy and outstanding signal fidelity in Germany, that can accommodate a diverse range of sounds and eclectic spectrum of musical tastes. Judging by the HEDDphone ONE headphones, the company copes with its mission brilliantly! Well, now the promised review of "You go to my HEDD".
Text: Alexey Kashirskey
Design: open-back over-ear headphone
Driver: AMT with full-range VVT® technology
Frequency Response: 10 Hz - 40 kHz
Efficiency: 87 dB SPL at 1 mW
Impedance: 42 Ω flat
Connection: symmetric 4-pin mini-XLR
Weight: 718 g
Appearance, kit and ergonomics
A large black box with excellent printing, in which the headphones are placed, by its very appearance promises us a meeting with even more wonderful content. On the front side, a stylish brand logo is located on top, a highly artistic photo of the headphones is in the center, and the “Made in Germany” marking is indicated below.
We remove the printing wrapper and take out the box-folio with the designation of the model in the center. Inside we find the headphones themselves, carefully placed in a protective foam base, and another small black package with a detachable cable and Velcro strap. Here we also find a beautiful insert, on the one hand a drawing that exactly repeats the cover of the package, on the other - a detailed description of the headphones and their technical characteristics.
And it seems that there is nothing special in all this, but at the same time you get real pleasure from unpacking, and also there is an understanding that you have a first-class product in front of you.
Let's extend this pleasure and admire the headphones themselves. Silver cups (once again I note the open acoustic design of the headphones), headband attachment elements and retractable headband arms are made of aluminum and upholstered in soft, extremely comfortable eco-leather.
The outer side of the cups is securely covered with a black metal mesh, and under it you can see an AMT emitter: a longitudinal grille through which the same yellow harmonica peeps out. Below are mini XLR connectors for cable connection.
Rectangular-shaped ear pads, voluminous and unusually soft, simply airy, are made of artificial leather with perforations throughout the inner surface. They are quite easy to remove, which allows you to replace them in case of wear.
Thanks to the ergonomic design and the softness of the ear cushions, the headphones sit quite comfortably on the head, despite their weight (718 grams). The design as a whole is quite comfortable, with a slight adjustment in headband height and limited rotation of the ear cups.
Yes, some users consider HEDDphone ONE quite heavy, but for my part I did not experience any discomfort. I will say this, I also met noticeably less weighty headphones in which I could not sit for more than an hour. And here, as for me, there is a competent balancing, and you just need to conveniently position the structure on your head. If the position is chosen correctly, then the head will be cozy and warm, you don’t even want to take off the headphones once again.
The quality of materials and assembly is beyond praise: everything is fitted extremely accurately and clearly, without backlash and gaps.
The headphones are equipped with a solid detachable branded HEDD cable made of pure copper, dressed in a black fabric braid. Jack 6.3 mm on one side, a pair of mini XLR "REAN" on the other, the length is 2.2 meters. The connectors are quite common, and you can easily choose another option for the headphones if you want. This cable did not cause any problems for me.
As we mentioned earlier, the HEDDphone ONE has an in-house developed emitter inside. Engineers led by Klaus Heinz have managed to turn the AMT tweeter into a full-range ribbon driver.
AMT is an electrodynamic transducer developed by Oskar Heil. The folded diaphragm (accordion) of the tweeter allows you to move air at a much higher speed than conventional speaker voice coils, planar and electrostatic systems. The diaphragm expels air four times faster during "breathing", which contributes to accurate and detailed reproduction of the sound signal without delay.
If you wish, you can easily find a more detailed description of this technology and its advantages on the Internet. Well, it's time for us to sum up the intermediate results.
The remarkable external and outstanding internal content of HEDDphone ONE deserves, in my opinion, five plus, but the most interesting, of course, is ahead!
Before listening, the headphones were burn-in for 70 hours.
Sound equipment: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, QLS DA9.1 Melokin, iFi iDSD Diablo, Lotoo paw Gold, QLS QA-361, iBasso DX300 & iBasso DX220 MAX+ iFi ZEN Can.
I want to warn you right away that HEDDphone ONE are quite demanding on the path and amplification and, therefore, show themselves in all their glory only with a good powerful device. But, nevertheless, the headphones played quite adequately with all the listed sound sources. With the exception of the iBasso DX220 MAX, which had connected to the iFi ZEN Can amplifier.
Using the site reference-audio-analyzer.pro, I made a comparison graph comparing the measurements of HEDDphone ONE with my Beyerdynamic DT 250/250 ohm and Hifiman HE-4. The overall picture of the frequency response of these three models is quite similar, if you do not take into account some minor differences, and it immediately becomes clear why I liked HEDDphone ONE so much. I could add here a comparison with another of my favorites - Hifiman HE-6, but I think there is no particular need for this, because their tonal balance is similar to HE-4.
Despite the fact that the tonal balance of the above models of headphones is some similar, the sound manner is still different. Moreover, it seems to me that HEDDphone ONE has absorbed all the best, both from the dynamic DT 250/250 and from the isodynamic HE-4/HE-6, and in this "competition" they are the absolute winner!
From the very first minutes of listening, ONE demonstrates amazing smoothness, informativeness and extraordinary naturalness of sound. This is an absolutely neutral, lively and very comfortable manner of sound delivery. Here, no register dominates the other, the entire frequency range is played out measuredly, cleanly and at the same time unusually expressive.
It is also worth noting the wide dynamic range, excellent speed characteristics and commensurate work with both macrodynamics and microcontrast.
HEDDphone ONE doesn't try to make it too small, sticking out all the "beads" of the composition, but they present the whole picture, lively and at the same time very carefully, correctly and accurately lay out the palette of sounds. And the headphones work out the dynamics (attacks and decays) simply at the highest level!
The audio canvas is drawn widely, with contrast, with excellent timbre reproduction and elaboration of all the details of the composition. Headphones are able to convey all the richness of sound coloring and reverberations in an unusually naturalistic way.
HEDDphone ONE impresses with excellent resolution and a fairly spreading stereo panorama with precise localization of apparent sound sources in space, where every musical instrument and every note played is exactly in its place. Here, every sound, its movement, as well as the force of impact, are clearly distinguishable. The breath of sound is felt, the way the air, together with the sound wave, moves, creating a unique feeling of realism.
When listening to music, the effect of immersion is created such that sometimes it seems that you can touch this or that musical instrument and even the sound itself flowing from the instrument. Musical images line up so picturesquely, as if in a hyperrealist painting, realistically and thoroughly, with an amazing transfer of volume.
This sound, like the nectar of the gods of Olympus, flows into the listener, fills him with a noble plastic substance and becomes one with him. This is a very comfortable, delicate and unusually lively manner of sounding, unlike anything else.
Such a style of sound presentation cannot be called dry or boring, not at all, on the contrary, it has a charming engaging power, harmonious and unusually melodic. This is supremely intelligent sounding!
The "sound stage" is spacious, it harmoniously and proportionately builds both in width and in depth.
Low frequencies are transmitted tightly, accurately and quickly, with good elaboration of textures and excellent articulation. There is a clear clap here, and a tight, biting beat, and a textured, articulated and agile bass. It is presented correctly, neutrally and quite correctly.
I will try, as an example, to convey my feelings from listening to Brian Bromberg's "Freedom jazz dance". The extremely accurate transmission of playing the bass guitar is simply amazing! You do not even hear the reproduced audio signal with your ears, but feel it, feeling the tension of the string, its beating against the pickup, plunging into the bewitching timbre variety and richness of overtones.
This is extremely accurate, fast and high-quality register transmission, combined with excellent balance.
The sub-bass region smoothly and harmoniously passes to the mid-bass, which, in turn, life-givingly complements the middle, filling it with depth and bodily substance.
It should be noted, however, that bassheads are likely to say that Lows is "not enough" for them. I will not enter into a correspondence discussion with them, but I will only emphasize that for me personally everything here is impeccable.
The mids are clean, smooth, rich in timbre, detailed and as natural as possible. This is a lively, beautiful and extremely reliable sound picture that harmoniously lines up before your eyes. Each sound, each instrument breathes, has its own weight, volume and texture. The positioning of tools in space is verified and realistic. Everything is in its place.
The delivery of the midrange register is smooth and completely neutral. The vocal parts do not excite the ear with sharp bursts and do not upset the failures, they are pure, natural and unconstrained. The emotional component of the composition is wonderfully conveyed. Guitar riffs smoothly cut through the air, keyboards richly saturate the timbre palette - everything is beautiful, relaxed and with the proper shade of expression. A truly live sound, and the thoroughness of its drawing is simply amazing! The presence effect is overwhelming.
High frequencies are reproduced remarkably cleanly, smoothly, clearly and harmoniously with good extension and precise attenuation. Quantitatively, they are not many and not few - more is not needed. The register is transmitted quite distinctly, comfortably, without excessive sharpness and distortion. He diligently contributes to the overall work, exactly matching the entire sound canvas.
Pure harmony and nothing more. Such extreme naturalness, accuracy and diligence for such a capricious register is worth a lot. There is no excessive brightness here, but there is an excellent development of this range and an unusually natural sound without harshness and distortion. You can immediately hear that the AMT driver is working!
In fact, the sound of HEDDphone ONE does not want to be divided into separate frequency ranges, it is so coherent, proportionate and harmonious.
In terms of genre preferences, ONE confidently show their universalism. In my opinion, they play quite interestingly both instrumental music, jazz, electronics, rock, and brutal genres.
And now, when I held on to the last and tried to still test, and not uncontrollably admire, I can finally say frankly: in my opinion, HEDDphone ONE is one of the best headphones in the world! Applause, turning into a long and stormy ovation, HEDD Audio for such a creation!
HEDDphone ONE receives five stars and "Audio-Ph Recommended" status. And mind you, despite a bunch of great headphones and audio gadgets that go through our testing, we give out stars very infrequently.
Not only did HEDD Audio hit the target right from the first shot, but, using sports terminology, set a new record that other manufacturers should now be guided by. HEDDphone ONE is a real masterpiece without any reservations, top-class headphones designed not just for listening to music, but for admiring and living this very music, getting deep and powerful experiences of an almost sacred order.
If I try to calm the poetic delights and return to the path of analytical prose, then everything is perfect with HEDDphone ONE: superbly balanced, clear and genuine sound that causes a storm of emotions, excellent design, the highest build quality (hand-assembled in Germany) and good ergonomics. Without a doubt, these headphones will be one of the most revered in the field of PRO Audio, as well as among audiophiles - true connoisseurs of high-quality sound.
At the time of writing, the suggested retail price for HEDDphone ONE is €1479. What can I say, if the price tag was € 2500, I would still recommend forking out for such an exquisite and high-quality sound.
Sound, design, workmanship, price.
No (a little heavy but acceptable)