HifiMan recently released a new, upgraded version of their legendary Arya headphone, the Arya Stealth. Running for $1,599, the Arya Stealth contains some key upgrades along with a retouched tuning to improve upon some of the original Arya’s potential shortcomings. Today we’ll look into the Arya Stealth both in how it stands on its own and how it compares to its predecessor.
What’s in the Box
– Arya Stealth
– Crystalline Copper Cable with 6.3mm Termination
Look and Feel
The Arya Stealth looks exactly like the original Arya, and is essentially impossible to tell apart. It’s got the signature elongated HifiMan earcups, and a flexible leather head band beneath its large metal frame. My only complaint is that it takes a bit of a push to elongate the earcups, and I don’t like applying any kind of pressure to headphones of this price if I can avoid it. The Arya Stealth’s comfort is like the original, they’re big and hug your head without gripping too tight, and your ears are given heaps of room with the huge cups and pads.
The Arya Stealth has almost an identical design to the original, with a few key differences. First of course is the implementation of the new stealth magnets. The next, equally major change is that the Stealth is far less amp dependent than the original. I’d estimate it’s about 50% louder, and while I’d still recommend pairing it with an amp, it will need much less power to get it to a satisfactory volume. Finally, the pads have been subtly updated with a bit of a softer, less artificial feel on the skin.
The Arya Stealth aims for hyperrealism, a theme I’ll be coming back to throughout this review. The soundstage is expansive and immediately explorable. You’re able to engage with music at a very intimate level, even the smallest intricacies and textures clearly on display. The width of the Arya Stealth doesn’t feel impossibly wide, it seems to reach far enough to create a considerably spacious image, but not to the extent that music is completely reimagined or restructured. The soundstage on these is very appreciable, but it may not be the vocal point of their performance at all times.
The lows on the Arya Stealth are punchy but tight and careful to not overstep their boundaries. These are not a bass-heads headphone, but lows are captured with a highly natural timbre and character. I never felt like songs were being deprived of essential low end leveling, more so just given a very controlled performance. The Arya Stealth prioritizes impact and believability over pure intensity in its low end, and this tradeoff works in their favor.
The Arya Stealth’s mids further build upon its organic, lifelike sound, capturing a ton of detail without being absurdly boosted or rigidly defined. The low mids are fairly neutral and nondescript, they blend into the rest of the tuning and don’t call much attention to themselves. Similar to the original Arya, the high mids are a tad bit of a departure from the overall balance of this headphone, having a bit of a bite to them and some slight resonance, which at higher volumes carries some added intensity.
The highs on the Arya Stealth may be my favorite thing about them. While these are quite bright, their high end feels so delicate and lightened. Its brightness is beautifully offset by a crispness that has its edges tamed and softened. This makes for a very easy listening experience, packed with detail without the cost of added fatigue. The Arya Stealth is a natural high end done right, not over coloring these frequencies or overshooting warmth, but locking everything into a type of subtlety that never breaks the sense of immersion.
Compared to the original Arya:
The Arya Stealth has a more realistic high mid and treble, that feel less metallic and stuffy than those on the original. It’s not a drastic difference, but it is audible. There’s more impact throughout their sound, a snappier top end with a punchier bottom end. This was the greatest improvement in my opinion. The new Arya Stealth’s soundstage has a bit more blend to it than the original does, and some may prefer the more feathery format of the original. Other’s may feel the improved tuning of the Arya Stealth pairs well with its reimagined, more integrated soundstage.
The Arya Stealth did not disappoint when it comes to delivering all the charm of the original version with some added finishing touches. The original Arya is still available, so if the new one doesn’t suit your palette, there’s always the other option. However, I think the Arya Stealth may convert some listeners who may have had some qualms about the original model.
You can purchase the HifiMan Arya Stealth here.