Today is a special day my friends. Today you’re going to be reading my first impressions of gear I never thought in a million years I would see in person, let alone spend time reviewing.
While I have been lucky enough to cover some flagship products, such as the RHA CL1 and Accutone Pisces BA, what HiFiMan sent over is a whole new ballgame. I cannot thank them enough for the opportunity to review their gear, and especially for the trust they have placed in me to do so. I’m still in awe, even after having these products in my possession since late last week.
If you’re not familiar with the Susvara, that is HiFiMan’s new 6,000 USD flagship planar magnetic headphone. I strongly recommend checking out their product page here for an interesting read on the technology going into this beast. It’s a seriously impressive piece of equipment, so much so that I had to buy a new headphone amp (TEAC HA-501) just to run it properly. I needed to upgrade my gear eventually and the Susvara gave me the perfect excuse, so thank you HiFiMan!
Next up is the RE2000. Whereas most flagships are using some form of BA tech, either in a hybrid configuration or with pure Balanced Armatures (BA), HiFiMan went with a single dynamic dynamic (DD) driver per side. These drivers feature Dr. Fang Bian’s ‘Topology Diaphragm’ which uses nano materials of differing structures to shape the sound and overall performance of the earphone. Be sure to check out the product page for more info on this unique tech. Most of my favorite earphones run a single or dual-dynamic configuration so I was quite excited to hear what could be done at the somewhat elevated price the RE2000 commands (2,000 USD). It’s safe to say that after my first listen with the RE2000, I wasn’t left wanting for anything except more ear time. Or a shot at it’s baby brother, the RE800.
The RE800 is another single dynamic wonder that utilizes HiFiMan’s ‘Topology Diaphragm’ tech. I was pretty shocked at how well it held it’s own against the RE2000. Hearing sound that massive from such a tiny earphone is always a pleasant surprise. If you want to see this little guy in greater detail, go check it out here.
Lastly, we have the MegaMini. HiFiMan isn’t all about headphones and earphones. Actually, you could argue they are and that the Mini series of media players are there to supplement those products. Whatever the case, I’m glad the MegaMini exists because it’s a very nice little unit. The design is modern and sleek, the UI is just as intuitive as they claim, and it supports a trillion file types, many of which are lossless, so it sound pretty awesome too.
Okay, enough jabbering. Scroll down for the good stuff.
*All these products were sent over by HiFiMan for the purposes of review. Once done, I’m assuming they’ll have to go back, though I hope not as my heart will shatter into a thousand pieces upon their departure.*
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
The Susvara is by far and away the best listening experience I have had. No question. Nothing even comes close. The bass is punchy with seemingly endless extension. The mid-range is so natural and detailed, grabbing my attention and pulling me in. The Susvara’s treble is tight and crisp, free of sibilance, yet with amazing extension. Clarity top to bottom is intense, a word that I could apply to the entire auditory experience. It’s such an engaging and entertaining sound that it makes going back to the rest of my gear all that more disappointing.
The soundstage is immense. Listening to King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black, one of my favorite tracks of all time, brought with it a new level of immersion that just isn’t possible with any of my existing headphones or earphones. The Susvara provides an impressive level of space and air between each instrument and the vocalist. When I sit back and close by eyes, I can easily imagine myself sitting a few rows from the stage while they perform.
The Susvara is also the most interesting and beautiful headphone I’ve had the honor of holding and wearing. I love the shape of the cups and the way light softens as it hits the brushed steel. The drivers are a work of art, on show behind the specially designed grill. Even the headband exceeds expectations with ample ventilation that lets me wear the Susvara for hours, something made even more pleasant by the way the weight spreads so evenly across my head.
While they are beautifully built and both look and feel immaculate, not all is perfect. The first time I picked them up and twisted the ear cups to put them on my head I was greeted by a very prominent and unpleasant squeak that has yet to go away. Huh…
While being worn, the Susvara’s hinge on the right ear cup ticks with small movements. If I’m bobbing my head to a particularly entertaining track and move at the wrong angle, ‘tick’. If I shift my jaw, ‘tick’. When I’m listening to Starless and Bible Black and make it to the explosive jazz rock finish, those little ticks remind me I’m wearing a headphone. A God-tier one, but a headphone nonetheless. I’m sure over time these little quirks will work themselves out as the hinges wear in, but at the price the Susvara goes for they should be buttery smooth and noise free out of the box.
There is no denying the love and effort that went into crafting the Susvara. The couple negatives noted do seem out of place on such a premium product, but they are overshadowed by the pleasure gleaned from actually using the Susvara. I’ll thoroughly enjoy reveling in the glorious noise it produces for the next little while.
Passion and elegance. For the first album played I had to go with a classic; Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. Like many, I have listened to this album cover to cover countless times and through the RE800 is the best it’s ever been. From the registers ringing in the album opener ‘Speak to Me’, to Clare Torry’s emotionally stirring presence on ‘Great Gig in the Sky’, to the synth and guitar masterpiece that is ‘Any Colour You Like’, it was easy to lose myself in the album again as if I were listening to it for the first time.
Next up was my personal favorite in the progressive rock genre, Supertramp’s ‘Crime of the Century’. This time I skipped right to ‘Rudy’ where Davies and Hodgson’s vocals were re-created flawlessly. Every key of the piano sounded just right and the orchestral pieces had the right body, playing on their own clearly defined and spacious stage. It was awesome.
In terms of fit, everyone has already gushed over how small and comfortable they are so I’m not going to say much beyond “I agree.” While I quite like the design and cable, just like on the RE2000 the lack of proper strain relief sticks out. On the RE2000 I can almost forgive it because that model uses removable cables, but the RE800 doesn’t have that luxury. Let’s just hope this plush, microphonic free cable can stand the test of time.
Overall first impressions of the RE800 are quite positive I’d say. They handle two of my favorite progressive rock albums with aplomb and do a great job of hiding their presence through impressive comfort and ergonomics. Plus, they look classy while they’re at it.
This is further proof that a well-tuned single dynamic earphone can be amazing. It has everything; clean, smooth treble; a lush pronounced mid-range; deep, thumpy bass; a sound stage rivaling the best I’ve heard in the ear bud realm (i.e. wowtacular for an iem); and laser precise imaging. I’m going to have to spend some serious time analyzing these to find a flaw in their presentation. Despite being warm and a little colored, unlike other earphones I’ve tried with this presentation they don’t seem to sacrifice clarity and separation. Everything remains crisp and accurate. It’s pretty impressive.
Despite being quite large, the RE2000 is light and proved to be very ergonomic. I was able to wear them for a couple hours without any discomfort whatsoever. The smooth sound they produce certainly helps with marathon listening sessions too.
In terms of design and build, I don’t think everyone will enjoy the black and gold coloring but I think it was tastefully applied. It’s not attention grabbing and garish, but subtle and attractive. In terms of build, I honestly was expecting more for the price. They certainly don’t feel cheap and use quality materials, but they don’t ooze durability or show the same attention to detail as RHA’s new flagship the CL1, or even the lower end CL750 for that matter.
The cable above the y-split is also a bit thin for my preferences and the lack of effective strain relief brings up a pet peeve. It frustrates me to no end when this basic feature is omitted. Since the RE2000 is an over-ear design, I would love to see a built in, formed ear guide (no memory wire) that doubles as strain relief.
Minor pet peeve aside, the RE2000 sounds every bit the flagship it is. If you get the chance to listen to them, do it. Don’t think, just go. Listen.
*Oh yeah! Despite being 60 ohms and not particularly sensitive at 103 dB, they’re quite easy to drive. My LG G5 could power it to silly volumes no problem, though sound quality was better through a proper DAC/amp like the MegaMini or my snazzy new TEAC.*
*Note that I’m using it as it came straight out of the box. I haven’t looked for firmware updates or snooped through any documentation…yet.*
The initial unboxing of the MegaMini is a really nice experience. The simple white packaging and clear plastic sheet protecting the device upon lifting off the lid is oddly comforting. Seeing the device itself revealed a very mature, clean design. My friend who designs GUI for medical devices and loves Apple products was there during the initial opening and dropped comments like “That’s an MP3 player!?” and “That would make for one good looking cell phone.” The design has elicited only positive responses from those I’ve shown it to and I understand why. It’s a sharp looking piece of equipment.
When it comes to actually using the MegaMini, I was a little worried the button layout would be an issue. Not the case thankfully. It’s simple and intuitive. I find the GUI somewhat sluggish in reacting to inputs, but it is far from unusable and really only comes into play when cycling through a long list of tracks.
When it comes to sound quality, the MegaMini it quite nice; warm and detailed with an open presentation. I found it similar in tone to the XDuoo X3 but without the stuffiness that player can display at times. I also found it plenty powerful enough to drive any of my gear, through I generally listen at very low volumes. Briefly testing at dangerously high volumes showed the MegaMini to lose some of the excellent separation and clarity it displays at more normal/reasonable volumes, but it wasn’t terrible by any means. This is a player I think I’ll be pairing with neutral to bright earphones/headphones.
Overall first impressions are good. I like the physical design and the ease of moving through the GUI, plus it sounds pretty nice. Definitely looking forward to spending more time with the MegaMini.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
And that’s it for now. To those who made it this far, thank you for coming to visit my blog and for reading my content. I hope you find it helpful, or at the very least entertaining or interesting. I hope to continue to write reviews and cover interesting gear for you for a long time to come.
And finally, a huge thank you once again to HiFiMan and Mark especially since he was the one that reached out to see if I was interested in reviewing their gear. This has been an awesome experience so far, and I can’t wait to release some full reviews!
Thanks for reading!