When it comes to audio playback, most music lovers would probably opt for traditional systems that include a source which nowadays might be a network player or turntable, amplifier and speakers. If sound quality is essential, then the bill for such equipment (including the cost of cables, interconnects and audio racks) could easily run into five, maybe even six, figures.
Enter Hifiman’s ultimate, cost-no-object Shangri-La electrostatic headphones, which cost an eye-watering $80,000 and promise “virtually no distortion and lightning fast response”.
Dyed-in-the-wool audiophiles might be sceptical but there’s no denying the convenience and absence of clutter that headphones offer. In the case of the Shangri-La, China’s HiFiMAN uses nanotechnology to make a driver that is less than 0.001mm in thickness (or thinness, if you prefer).
Included in the package is a tube amplifier. Why tubes? “Electrostatic headphones require high voltage. Solid state circuits cannot provide sufficient high voltage so the transformer has to boost the voltage to 500-600 V,” says Hifiman in a press release.
“This process introduces distortion. The vacuum tube is the perfect solution as the regular output voltage is high… Hifiman uses four of the most famous 300B vacuum tubes, widely acknowledged to be the finest available.”
For those interested, the Shangri-La, together with new digital products made by renowned UK manufacturer Chord Electronics, will be exhibited by local audio company AV One at Canjam Global, a headphone exhibition to be held on March 11 at Pan Pacific Hotel.
Adapted from The Business Times.