Shangri-La, World’s Best Headphone?

Without a doubt, one of the benefits of attending CES is getting to listen to audio systems that reside way outside the realm of what is considered normal. Walking the hallways of the Venetian, it isn’t uncommon to pass suits demonstrating six-figure electronics and speaker systems. But when you enter the realm of mid-five-figure, cost-no-object, premium electrostatic headphone designs, then even the most jaded among us will stop to take a listen. Launching into this rarefied air and going after the title of “world’s ultimate headphone” is HIFIMAN’s new Shangri-La, a headphone system featuring virtual zero distortion and lightning fast response.

Shangri-La is a system, and includes a custom designed amplifier built to be the perfect companion for the electrostatic phones. The outboard amplifier is required to deliver the high voltage the headphones demand, and features a beautiful, eye-catching industrial design with a wonderfully smooth and detailed volume control. To deliver the ultimate in performance the amplifier employs four audiophile-grade 300b tubes, acknowledged to be among the finest available.

To realize his dream of creating the world’s best sounding headphones, HIFIMAN president and founder, Dr. Fang Bian, utilized his PhD in Nanotechnology to create a special ultra-thin, nano-coated sub-micrometer thick driver that at less than .001 mm in thickness, is invisible to the naked eye from the side yet delivers ultra-fast response and high frequency detail.

While large in size, the phones are surprisingly light, weight just over 13 ounces, and are also incredibly comfortable to wear; the ergonomically designed headband resting gently atop your head while the supple calf’s skin on the ear cups gently envelope your ears in a soft and loving embrace to provide a tight acoustic seal for ideal bass response.

So, how do they sound? Lightning fast, dynamic and utterly revealing. Unfortunately, the phones’ open back design – while yielding the best sound quality by helping to avoid unwanted distortion – is not the best for listening to in a demo suite as they provide virtually no noise isolation. The Shagri-La’s are definitely meant to be enjoyed in secluded comfort. Ideally while sipping on a dram of The Macallan 25 year. You can experience Shangri-La for yourself this spring. Just come up with the $50,000 and contact your local authorized HIFIMAN dealer.