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Article: HiFiMan Jade II Electrostatic Headphone System Full Review

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Be careful taking a step into the world of electrostatics. It is very addicting.  This coming from a BHSE/SR009/Voce owner. It is hard to get close to this level of detail with regular headphones. Very recommended. This setup looks to be very good for half the cost of just the Stax SR009.

 

Nice review, thanks!


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Nice review Sonis. This makes me want to get a pair of these or at least consider some other electrostatics. I've been looking for new speakers for several months. Recently I've been digging into electrostatic speakers and as of today I'm researching esl headphones. Perhaps going the esl headphone route will work best for me rather than the esl loudspeaker route. Not sure, but I'm looking forward to Axpona and Munich to listen to some of both hopefully. 

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@Soniswith the extension cable. I thought electrostatic hp work by having a high voltage charge between the plates, then the signal modulated on top of that voltage. Been a while but 600V was not uncommon.

 

If microphone cable is used, it’s not designed for this voltage and can easily breakdown. 

 

Unless HIFIMAN have made a low voltage version, do you know of the technique?

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34 minutes ago, One and a half said:

@Soniswith the extension cable. I thought electrostatic hp work by having a high voltage charge between the plates, then the signal modulated on top of that voltage. Been a while but 600V was not uncommon.

 

If microphone cable is used, it’s not designed for this voltage and can easily breakdown. 

 

Unless HIFIMAN have made a low voltage version, do you know of the technique?

He is using the mic cable terminated XLR for the audio signal to the Energizer. The extension mentioned was a STAX extension cable for the Energizer to headset connection.

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36 minutes ago, bobflood said:

He is using the mic cable terminated XLR for the audio signal to the Energizer. The extension mentioned was a STAX extension cable for the Energizer to headset connection.

That’s no problem at all.

 

Wonder where the extension cables are between the energiser and the hp, would need 3m. The connector is much the same on an old Marantz energiser from the mid 1970’s.

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2 hours ago, One and a half said:

@Soniswith the extension cable. I thought electrostatic hp work by having a high voltage charge between the plates, then the signal modulated on top of that voltage. Been a while but 600V was not uncommon.

 

If microphone cable is used, it’s not designed for this voltage and can easily breakdown. 

 

Unless HIFIMAN have made a low voltage version, do you know of the technique?

You are somewhat confused, I’m afraid. If I wasn’t clear in my explanation, I humbly apologize. We are talking about two different types of “extension cables”. The cables that Stax sells on Amazon for more than $100 go between the Jade II amplifier and the headset. It has 5 pins and, indeed carries the polarizing voltage of around 600volts as well as the audio signal. These extensions have the standard Stax pinout as do the HiFiMan Jade II’s. The XLRs to which I referred, on the other hand, carry only audio from my DAC to the input of the Jade II amplifier (it has both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced inputs (RCAs)on the back). I am using XLRs because the cable run from where my equipment is located to where my listening chair is located must, in the name of neatness, follow the walls around the periphery of my room, and is about 25 feet. It is unwise to run unbalanced audio for that long of a run (if, indeed, I had RCA cords that long -which I don’t), so balanced cables are indicated as they can run hundreds of feet without any high frequency roll-off (which RCAs cannot). I hope this clears up any confusion that you might have regarding the two types of “extension cables” that I referenced in my review.

 

Regards,

Sonis

 

 

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4 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

You are somewhat confused, I’m afraid. If I wasn’t clear in my explanation, I humbly apologize. We are talking about two different types of “extension cables”. The cables that Stax sells on Amazon for more than $100 go between the Jade II amplifier and the headset. It has 5 pins and, indeed carries the polarizing voltage of around 600volts as well as the audio signal. These extensions have the standard Stax pinout as do the HiFiMan Jade II’s. The XLRs to which I referred, on the other hand, carry only audio from my DAC to the input of the Jade II amplifier (it has both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced inputs (RCAs)on the back). I am using XLRs because the cable run from where my equipment is located to where my listening chair is located must, in the name of neatness, follow the walls around the periphery of my room, and is about 25 feet. It is unwise to run unbalanced audio for that long of a run (if, indeed, I had RCA cords that long -which I don’t), so balanced cables are indicated as they can run hundreds of feet without any high frequency roll-off (which RCAs cannot). I hope this clears up any confusion that you might have regarding the two types of “extension cables” that I referenced in my review.

 

Regards,

Sonis

 

 

Thanks for the post to clear that up, the 2.5m Stax cable for $125 at Amazon was what was in my head.

Makes sense to run standard XLR the longer distance, my immediate thought of RCA limitation would be 3m. From where the listening chair is requires the Stax type extension.

Would be interesting to compare the Jade 2 to HD800(s). Maybe toward the end the year for that project. New DAC first.

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1 hour ago, One and a half said:

Thanks for the post to clear that up, the 2.5m Stax cable for $125 at Amazon was what was in my head.

Makes sense to run standard XLR the longer distance, my immediate thought of RCA limitation would be 3m. From where the listening chair is requires the Stax type extension.

Would be interesting to compare the Jade 2 to HD800(s). Maybe toward the end the year for that project. New DAC first.

Well, I’ve done that comparison. The Jade IIs are far cleaner sounding than the dynamic Sennheiser HD 800s.

 

Sonis

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19 hours ago, gordec said:

The Jade 2 is a pretty amazing stat headphone at the asking price. It sounds better with Pro iCan and IESL. When I heard it at my friend's place, it's most impressive attribute is soundstage and imaging. The Susvara and Shangrila Jr beat it in all aspects except for soundstage. I think the Shangrila Sr give you the soundstage/out-of-the-head experience and Susvara's refinement. 

 

The biggest draw back of the Jade 2 is the build quality. The cable is just very poor quality and you can't replace it. 

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with either the build quality of the headphone set in general (that's 'phones and amplifier/energizer) or the headphone cable in particular. 

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52 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with either the build quality of the headphone set in general (that's 'phones and amplifier/energizer) or the headphone cable in particular. 

 

A non-detachable cable is this price category is a laugh..


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14 minutes ago, gmgraves said:

Not with electrostatic Headphones it's not. The cable carries ~600 volts of polarizing voltage and you don't want a detachable cable with that kind of voltage. It could come loose while one is listening and give the listener a nasty shock. The Koss ESP925s don't have detachable cables, neither do any of the Stax ES offerings including their flagship headset, the SR-009S at more than $4000 for the headset alone!. The Sonoma ES 'phones do have a detachable cable as do the Mr. Speakers ES phones, both of which are much more expensive than the Jade IIs, but I wouldn't want either due to to the possibility of shock. BTW, neither of HiFiMan's Shangra-la models, the $50,000 set nor the $8000 set have detachable cords. Believe me, it's not an economic issue with HiFiMan (after all, their cheapest planar magnetic offerings come with detachable cords), it's a safety and liability issue that does not exist with dynamic phones. 

Well stated. 

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1 hour ago, esldude said:

All it takes is a moment's thought in design.  If the headphone had protruding prongs of some sort, and the connecting cable was a female then accidentally detaching the cable leads to no nasty shock.  The headphone has no voltage source.  The cable has no exposed connectors.  You know something like the Stax extension cable design.  The headphone side has pins exposed, the powered side is always holes with no protruding metal. 

 

https://www.headamp.com/order/stax-sre-725h-extension-cable/

 

One could come up with a more compact connector, but the same ideas would suffice. 

Well, yes, but that Stax cable is an extension cable. It doesn’t go to the head of the listener, it just extends the length of the headphone cable.

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9 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Not with electrostatic Headphones it's not. The cable carries ~600 volts of polarizing voltage and you don't want a detachable cable with that kind of voltage. It could come loose while one is listening and give the listener a nasty shock. The Koss ESP925s don't have detachable cables, neither do any of the Stax ES offerings including their flagship headset, the SR-009S at more than $4000 for the headset alone!. The Sonoma ES 'phones do have a detachable cable as do the Mr. Speakers ES phones, both of which are much more expensive than the Jade IIs, but I wouldn't want either due to to the possibility of shock. BTW, neither of HiFiMan's Shangra-la models, the $50,000 set nor the $8000 set have detachable cords. Believe me, it's not an economic issue with HiFiMan (after all, their cheapest planar magnetic offerings come with detachable cords), it's a safety and liability issue that does not exist with dynamic phones. 

 

I agree with you that safety is very important. So care has to be taken into designing the connector for these higher voltages. Mr. Speakers for instance did and I would use their hp's without hesitation. Actually if it comes to build quality and quality control a lot can be said about Hifiman. A reviewer from Asia actually reported some kind of leakage from Jade II and this was acknowledged by Hifiman.

 

Headphone cables have to deal with a lot of movement during their lifespan and this can create wear and defects, especially close to the connectors. Same as with chargers for smartphones, laptops etc. A detachable cable makes easy replacement possible. And above that, most audiophiles care about experimenting and finetuning with different cables designs....!


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6 hours ago, gmgraves said:

Well, yes, but that Stax cable is an extension cable. It doesn’t go to the head of the listener, it just extends the length of the headphone cable.

But that kind of design could safely go to the head of the user.


To paraphrase Rick James, "sighted listening is a helluva drug".

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On 3/19/2019 at 2:14 PM, The Computer Audiophile said:

I'm looking forward to Axpona and Munich to listen to some of both hopefully. 

Chris - I invite you to stop by Linear Tube Audio's booth (#8415) at the Ear Gear Expo at AXPONA. We (yes, full disclosure, I work for LTA) will be debuting the Z10e, our first electrostatic headphone amp based on ZOTL technology. Probably not what you're looking for as an entry into the world of electrostatic, given its price, but it might help you understand what all the fuss is about. :)

 

More info: https://www.lineartubeaudio.com/products/z10e-electrostatic-headphone-amp-preamp-integrated-amp

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