Flat magnetic headphones are a favorite among audiophiles, but they’re still rare to find in Bluetooth headphones. Last year, HIFIMAN surprised us with the original Deva, which delivers superb sound quality for music with a large soundstage that’s perfect for both listening to music and gaming. HIFIMAN just launched Deva Pro successor with brand new Bluemini R2R Bluetooth DAC/amp and new Stealth Magnet design. These improvements bring the total price to $329. Is it worth buying this holiday season? Find in our review!
- Current price: $329 (Amazon)
HIFIMAN Deva Pro – First impressions and key features
Deva Pro is the successor of the original Deva headphones, which I has reviewed around this time last year. At that time, I had not heard other HIFIMAN headphones and was quite satisfied with them. This time, the company changed things up and I think it’s mostly for the better. This starts with a new color scheme, which is silver and black, and will be less polarizing than the tan and black of the OG Deva (though I really like it).
Like the original, the Deva Pro is a hybrid headset. It can be connected by cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth using the included Bluemini R2R adapter. Just like the original, this adapter really puts the price point into perspective: what you get here isn’t just a great headset, it’s a great headphone and a DAC/ The powerful, high-quality amp you normally make must be purchased separately. Unlike last time, it looks like you can’t buy the headphones separately at a reduced cost, so it’s a full package or nothing at all.
The Deva Pro is a flat magnetic headset and has a sturdy case while audiophiles love them so much. Unlike traditional dynamic drivers, planar magnetics use a flat plate lined with electrical traces. This plane is held taut by a magnet, and when an electric current is passed through it, it vibrates creating a sound. Flat panels are known for their exceptional detail and low distortion. Depending on how they are tuned, they can be powerful bass cannons that are bright and rich in detail or in the middle. The Deva’s pros are on the brighter side but aren’t too harsh, and there’s enough lows to fill music and games.
Deva Pro is the latest headset in HIFIMAN’s lineup to get the “Invisibility Magnet” treatment. Previously only available on the firm’s higher-end models, this new design aims to reduce distortion even further compared to HIFIMAN’s classic magnet design. It does this by using circular magnets positioned so as not to disrupt the sound field, reducing disturbances between the sound waves. It’s good to see these designs drop to a more affordable price point, but as users are reporting to the Arya Stealth Edition (review coming soon), it can lead to subtle changes to the overall sound .
Flat magnetic headphones can be difficult to drive, which is where the Bluemini R2R came in. With an impedance of 18 ohms and a low sensitivity of 93.5dB, they require a good amount of power to drive. While HIFIMAN doesn’t report the exact power output of the new Bluemini, it’s more than enough to push the Deva Pro to their full potential and sound great doing so.
The Bluemini R2R is similar to the original in that it is designed to be as close to sacrificing audiophile listening as a Bluetooth receiver can be. It uses a semiconductor scale for audio conversion, which is a relatively new design for wireless devices, and supports most of the major high-resolution codecs: LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, in addition to standard AAC and SBC standard. It has a bit of a low battery life, at just eight hours, which is disappointing (I had to charge it nightly). At the same time, it is still quite light and does not make the headset feel unbalanced.
Deva Pro aims to be reasonably affordable for what is on offer here. Much of the cost lies with the driver and the Bluemini R2R. Plastic earcups and we have a simpler headband design HE-400SE instead of Sundara or Ananda. The spokes and headband are metal and there is no excessive creaking when bent and adjusted (the leather headband does creak but not during normal use).
I also love that HIFIMAN also uses great cushioning on the earpads. They’re hybrid, with leather and fabric outer and inner rings where they come into contact with your face. They are comfortable to wear and do not accumulate heat, which brings us to the next section.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro – Fit and Comfort
HIFIMAN is a brand that designs its headphones differently. It actually offers two designs, the circular earcups found here and the egg-shaped design of Ananda. Both of these designs are large and tend to provide a snug fit.
This can be a pro and a scam: the cushions are comfortable for hours on end but they tend to move over your head with just a gentle shake of the head. This isn’t usually a problem, but it does if you need to bend over to pick something up. That’s usually not an issue, but since they’re made to be worn on the go, I’ve found myself needing to adjust more often when out and about and my glasses as a result.
As a heavier headset, the headband is especially important. It needs to balance and distribute the weight evenly across your head or pain “hot spots” will develop. This is what I came across after about 90 minutes of listening. A simple adjustment is usually enough to reduce it for another hour, but if you plan to listen for 3 hours or more, it may be necessary to invest in additional accompaniment with a set. Dekoni Nuggets.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro – Impressive Listening and Daily Use
The most important thing with any headset is how they sound, so let’s find out what the Deva Pro has to offer with the new Stealth Magnet design and the Bluemini R2R.
Let’s start with that Bluemini, shall we? First of all, this is a great little DAC/amp in its own right. I did all my listening with it connected via LDAC, but it also supports aptX and aptX HD, as well as Apple AAC and SBC devices and those that don’t support the resolution codec high available. On LDAC, however, it’s completely sung.
Like the original Bluemini, the new R2R can fool you into thinking you’re listening over a wired connection. While there may be a little less detail, you can’t feel it without really seriously listening to music you know by heart and perhaps not even then for some listeners. For a device built on mobility, you’re not likely to listen that way. Instead, what you will Listening is performance just like wired is power, soundstage and picture.
DEVA Pro require a good amount of power to sound their best, and the Bluemini has that very little. I found myself listening at about 30% volume before when my other Bluetooth headphones were usually more than double that. However, even at 30%, the sound quality is outstanding. The separation between the instruments is very good, really giving a sense of space compared to most other portable headphones I’ve heard. The R2R is ahead of the original Bluemini and Deva, which are very good in their own right.
Bass sound: Compared to the original Deva, the bass here is similarly adjusted. These aren’t bass-heavy headphones, but deliver enough to fill tracks and give them a solid body. Instead, the improvements here are about quality rather than quantity. The speed and texture of the bass are improved, so while not more than Deva, it’s more enjoyable to listen to.
“The Monster” by Eminem is a great example of the speed and improved textures in the proposal. There are plenty of start and stop points throughout the song, and the layers in the bass areas are delivered with clarity and detail. This is the bass you can feel, not in the pounding but when it bounces through you.
For gaming, the bass here can deliver realistic sound. You’ll notice that higher frequency sound effects come first, like gunfire and footsteps in Battlefield 2042 or the sounds of wildlife in Elwynn Forest.
Help: The midsection on the Deva Pro is very well done. Vocals are somewhat relaxed and unrestricted, even if the singer tends to be aggressive. The upper mids pop out more, so female singers tend to be slightly taller than male singers. There’s plenty of detail and great tonality in the midrange, making singers and instruments sound musical and natural.
It’s the middle that really brings the Deva Pro to life. For rock, pop, metal and more, this is where most of the instruments live. The same is true for gaming. Deva Pro separates the layers in much the same way as Sundara, if not quite far and with a lot of analytical detail. That’s perfect for a headset of its kind as it’s enough to impress and showcase some of the unique personality and presentation of the HIFIMAN headphones.
The midrange tuning definitely emphasizes the higher frequencies. The lower mids are more recessed, while the higher strings on acoustic and electric guitars pop out and sparkle. The midrange tuning, combined with the slightly reduced bass, makes these headphones brighter overall without being jarring.
It also means that important audio cues, like the footsteps I mentioned before, will appear and be easier to hear. Compared to a gaming headset, you simply hear more and more clearly.
Treble: The highs on the Deva Pro have a great extension but aren’t too harsh. Instead, the cymbals and high hat pop to the front – like the original Deva, percussion is the highlight of this set. You might think that a brighter set like this wouldn’t be suitable for hip-hop, but if you’re a percussion lover, these could be great. Treble adjustment mutes the brightness adjustment, but overall an improvement over Deva in terms of its smoothness. They just stop at too bright that Deva is sometimes guilty.
Soundstage / Image: As a back-end HIFIMAN headset, you expect good soundstage and imaging, and the Deva Pro delivers, if a bit closer, than the original Deva. Here things have not yet become wider, instead, the vocals have become closer. Instruments go a step further than that. Instead, the improvement comes in the overall sense of space surrounding what you’re listening to. The word that comes to mind is “separation,” as you get closer to the singers, musicians, or game elements but as if you were listening in a larger room.
Daily usage impressions: As a portable headset, I originally planned to wear them whenever I went out, but that was more difficult to do due to their open back design. They don’t isolate you from background noise and also allow anyone around you to hear what you’re hearing. If you’re on the bus, other commuters probably won’t hear much from you, but you’ll be completely out of the way to enjoy your music.
Instead, I find these much more suitable to use when I actually arrive. They are great for listening at your desk or at home. You are free to get up and move around without being tied to your phone or PC. It’s liberating and if the proliferation of portable DACs and amps is a sign of the future of mainstream HiFi.
After a few weeks with Deva Pros, I can confidently say that I like them better than the original. They have improved the bass and presentation throughout the aces, for me, the change in soundstage. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who really loves punchy bass, but for fans of rock, metal, folk and really any genre that has a lot of little details for modernism. Indeed, they are a great choice.
At $329, the Deva Pro isn’t cheap but if you’re used to “normal” Bluetooth headphones, this should be a revelation. The space, detail and improved soundstage compared to mainstream BT headphones are many steps above. As a first-of-its-kind HiFi wireless headset, this is a great choice. Compared to the original Deva, the upgrades are noticeable but may not be worth the full upgrade. However, at just over $30, I consider them the better option.
The product described in this article is provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
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