TFB Short Clips
The Crazy Futuristic HIFIMAN SUSVARA Over-Ear Full-Size Planar Magnetic Headphone
- sweetly Voiced,Harmonious Sound
- Acoustically Invisible Stealth Magnets
- Nanometer Grade
- Sonic Serenity
- A special ergonomic design offering superb comfort for extended listening.
As with all top-tier headphones, Susvara came double boxed with an absurd amount of bubble wrap and soft-foam for a better protection during shipping. You can never be too careful, especially with high-end headphones and I can only congratulate the Hifiman team for an excellent packaging. The headphones themselves are coming in a huge leathery-like box that has a metallic top cover. The company logo and model name are laser engraved on it, adding just a splash of uniqueness and taste. In it, you’ll find a velvety-like material that surrounds the cans and some extra foam that protects its detachable cables. It was surprising seeing 2 headphone cables instead of 3 cables as it was the case with HE1000SE, but it makes sense dropping the 3.5mm cable, as Susvara cannot be driven by portable devices. I’m not a huge fan of those cables, mainly for their outer jackets and color scheme…but it’s still amazing having high-purity copper and pure silver conductors that are ensuring a low resistance, never compromising signal transmission. There’s a 4-pin XLR balanced cable and a regular 6.35mm (¼”) one that should cover all your needs.
Build Quality & Looks
As their best headphone ever made, it was natural putting a higher accent on the build-quality this time around. You can find plastics and pleather on Arya, but you won’t find on Susvara and HE1000SE, that use more metal parts, a stronger headband, deeper and comfier earpads and some wooden accents that are adding refinement and class. At 450 grams (exactly a pound) I find them lightweight and super comfortable long term. These aren’t applying a lot of pressure on top of my head or around my ears, making them some of the most comfortable planar headphones. These are considerably smaller than HE1000SE, but a little heavier as Susvara uses bigger and stronger magnets to anything they’ve done before.
Hifiman went with the same Window Shade System that was applied to their HE1000SE, Arya and Jade II, making them as open, as headphones could ever be. You can easily see its magnet structure, planar-magnetic driver assembly and there is nothing stopping those acoustic waves behind the driver from going outside. People around you should prepare some ear-plugs, as these will be leaking a good deal of noise outside their cups, more so than regular open-back headphones are doing. This clever design unlocked an extraordinarily open and acoustically transparent sound, boosting their soundstaging capabilities to the next level.
The hybrid earpads with leather on the outside and soft fabric where skin is being touched isn’t a novelty anymore, but I really enjoy extra padding that could potentially increase the soundstage size. These are asymmetric and are following the shape of the human ear, comfortably distributing the weight evenly, yet offering a nice grip once commencing a listening session. Interestingly enough, they seem to have the deepest earpads I’ve seen on Hifiman headphones, and it seems that the latest iteration has them exactly as thick as those found on HE1000SE.
With everything out of the way, lets focus on the most important part on this review. I was mostly driving them with two AHB2 / S300 and sometimes I was swapping them with the Flux Volot and Ferrum OOR. Susvara are one of those headphones that will accelerate and decelerate in an instant, very much how electrostatic headphones are working and if I would never know all the tech behind those grills, I could swear that some e-stats hopped on my head. I’ve heard lightning-fast transients and the best slam I’ve faced so far. If you think Audeze LCD-4 are punching hard in the sub-bass, Susvara were on another (higher) level altogether, painful at times, extremely dynamic and impactful, like constantly sitting in between the hammer and the anvil. I’m into all kinds of music, from soft to aggressive, from old and new, everything is right up my alley. With Susvara on my head I’m sure that transients are perfectly preserved and that there aren’t additional micro-details hiding behind my tracks. I was experiencing the best my source and amplifiers were capable of. These are my truth tellers, never trying to beautify or alter the final outcome and the gap between them and the second-best headphone is bigger than anticipated.
The amount of micro-details that came forward was so big, that the rest of the flock that I have on my wall felt muddy and mid-fi sounding, including things like Audeze LCD-4, Kennerton Wodan, Erzetich Phobos V2021 and to a lower degree compared to Meze Elite and Hifiman HE1000SE. This shouldn’t be a novelty to anyone, as I’m testing the most expensive non-electrostatic headphone out there. What’s more interesting is that all that information wasn’t coming in an aggressive way towards me, as it happens with HE1000SE for example. Susvara are adding some organic matter on top of a colder sounding headphone (HE1000SE), making them easier to listen to in longer listening sessions. I didn’t try every Hifiman headphone out there, but from the ones I’ve tried, Susvara were easily the most organic and life-like sounding cans, with notes appearing two meters away in a tender and pleasant way. If their Arya Stealth and HE1000SE provided a somewhat narrower stage, that is no longer the case with Susvara that stretched wider its wings and portrayed a bigger soundstage, that was more impressive horizontally than vertically. There were more sounds to my left and right, even coming from behind my back, enveloping me fully and letting me choose the focus points. With Susvara it isn’t a mind game anymore, as I was picking up notes from air, listening to them individually even in crowded tracks. For me, Susvara also worked as an essential tool when evaluating DACs, headphone amplifiers and speaker amplifiers of all sorts, as they were showing me the smallest details and everything that was changing in the acoustic chain.