Boxing Day? Traditionally 'twas December 26th, the day after. Servants and tradesmen received their gifts from bosses and employers. Those were known as Christmas boxes. VoilĂ , Boxing Day. Today it happens whenever manufacturers of very expensive 'phones (or cables!) dispatch their wares in ever more ostentatious presentation boxes. That could mean wood, lacquer, metal corners, Chinese locks and almost certainly velour or satin liners. It could even mean flight cases, against nuclear attacks and other suburban disasters. That such excesses or frills impact price is plain as day. Ditto for doing absolutely nothing for sonics. If you view it as a sad silly trend, so do Enigma. Safe and sound, their Dharma D1000 arrive in a sturdy black cardboard box. It does what it's supposed to do, then disappears in the garage/basement; or wherever one hoards sundry hifi cartons for that next move or repair/upgrade trip back to the maker. If such packaging really ends up in the land fill, Enigma's is recyclable. Cheers to common sense! Exotic headphones are used stationary or on the move, single-ended or balanced. The latter is a four-pole wire harness with discrete grounds per channel. It traditionally ends in a 4-pin XLR, dual 3-pin XLR, dual 3.5mm or a repurposed 4-pin mini. The $2'990 HE1000 from HifiMan thus arrives prepped for the lot with three different leashes: 3.5mm angled; 6.3mm straight; single XLR.

In my wife's writing room which doubles as workout and hifi storage room. 160GB iPod, Cambridge dock, Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII, Crayon Audio CFA-1.2, German Physiks HRS-120, Eximus DP1 as headfi amp.

Rather than having to order specialty cable from an aftermarketeer like ALO, Forza or Moon, the new owner is ready to roll out of the box, no adaptors required. Intrinsic to such schemes are cable ends detachable at the ear cups. Here terminations could be 2.5mm mono, 3.5mm stereo, mini XLR or proprietary. Whatever kind they are, they break the old curse of hard-wired. The user can easily change out the wiring as one does with speakers. That's because just as with loudspeakers, cable quality impacts the sound. What headphone maker supplies a NordOst Odin 2 or Crystal Cable Dream calibre loom standard? None! EnigmAcoustics chose a single 6.3mm woven-copper leash in a black textile sleeve with very secure HD800-type 1/4" ends. Plugged in, they exit in the back of the ear cups aiming forward/down to avoid cable tangles with your jaw or chin. The next photo with the head enigmatic shows how. A 3.5/6.3mm adaptor is included.

Enigma's Wei Chang amassing good dharma.
Inside the band of my felted Hamilton rabbit-fur hat, it says 61|75/8|XL. Just as bling boxes don't spruce up sonics, hat size doesn't for brains. But it gives you my noggin girth for comfort context. In hifi, that aspect is exclusive to 'phones. They're wearables. If bear to wear (too heavy, too big, excessive clamp pressure, insufficient force to wobble/slip with every bop), they're dead weights. Second, their wearable aspect can move them outdoors, to be judged by complete strangers. Who cares what those think? Really? No wonder 'phones became fashion items. Beyond comfort, they must compete on looks like any other fashion accessory. The average hifi maker gets a cheap pass with bent sheet metal, exposed screw heads and optics as long in the tooth as a leathery rhino.

Particularly portafi going on the tube or town demands a lot more of its designers. It's judged on its Dolce Gabbana cool. What has Enigma's track record for luxo finishes and classy cosmetics done here where it more easily becomes about wearer stylishness; and an object of desire only if its looks don't mess with long-term cushiness?

Mostly ultra stealthy noir, company name embossed across the padded bridge and barely visible on the cups, the only silvery elements are the trim rings; and stationary posts. Even the l/r identifiers on the cable ends are tiny black mold markers. Stealth is the wealth. How about plastic, metal, leather, synthetics? Posh luxury or budget wonder status are judged on it but also bought with more or less weight.

Channel identifiers are concealed on the inside of the head band; the driver assembly is concealed behind a contoured black perf mesh just like the Sennheiser HD800.

To get at the actual ingredients—modern synthetic leathers could easily fool this inspector—I asked Wei. He tells us that the D1000 use high-grade matte aluminium alloy for their perforated cup covers, C-shaped swivels and bridge; hand-stitched genuine leather for the headband; protein PU leather and memory foam for the ear pads. To remove the latter requires "a gentle pull and un-tuck". On optics, the D1000 play it elegant and conservative. They look neither futuristic/macho like Sennheiser's HD800; loudly striped like the three-tone HE1000; domesticated like a wooden Audio-Technica Maestoso; nor deafeningly flashy like Final Audio Design's $8'000/850g stainless-steel Muramasa VIII (neck brace extra). If you like it low-key black staring back at your bad self from the mirror, the Dharma has your number. If you want it blingtastic, Dr. Dre or adolescent, look elsewhere. The Dharma is far more mature and seasoned. But then, kids don't spend $1'200 on headphones; and, these aren't really the outdoorsy types. Check out Furutech's version of the Dharma connector in luxury Rhodium/carbon-fibre called the CF-H800R at right. Enigma's use meant that I could repurpose my Forza Audio Works Noir leash made especially to tame the hot treble of my Sennheisers and try it on the D1000; and swap the Dharma leash to the HD800. Talking comfort, remember my swollen header. On that, clamp pressure was perfect for a tight seal. I could shake my head like an Indian's wobbly yes and not shift things. Weight felt evenly distributed, the pads nicely firm if slightly small to sweat quickly. No ultra-plush maxi MrSpeakers versions here.

Talking perceived quality which considers fit'n'finish and movable actions of lateral swivel and vertical adjustment, the Dharma feels substantial, tight and expensive; concomitant with its cost.