I have listened to numerous HiFiMAN models over the last few years; from the very expensive Jade system to the HE-R10P & RE2000. I’ve also noticed a trend with all of them; consistent excellent sonic performance and build quality that can be somewhat indifferent at times.
I was able to look past the middling build quality of the R10P because of how good it sounds. $5,500 is a lot of money for any audio product and I can see how that one aspect would bother some prospective buyers.
I rate that headphone in the top tier that I have ever heard sonically.
I was taken aback by the fluidity and breathtaking clarity of the sound; it rivals anything I’ve heard from other manufacturers in that regard — and it should considering the price.
If only HiFiMAN could bottle that kind of sonic magic for a fraction of the price, they would sell thousands of units outside of the audiophile community; which would be a game-changer for a smaller, premium brand.
The affordable Sundara ($349) and Ananda ($999, which I have also reviewed) have a near cult-like following and for good reasons. I thoroughly enjoyed the Ananda and count it among my favorites at the price; it does almost everything well and that creates a benchmark for the HiFiMAN Deva Pro to either meet or surpass.
With such a lofty target — just how well did the Deva Pro fare?
The Deva Pro comes in a sturdy black box, with a modicum of informative material printed on the outside. Opening the clamshell lid, you are met with soft velvety material set around formed hard foam inserts, which secures the headphones in pace.
Included besides the Deva and R2R is a charging cable for the R2R and the headphone cable when not using the Bluetooth option.
Interestingly, if you desire to run these single ended (non-balanced) you hook the 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable into both left and right headphone jacks. By utilizing only the left headphone jack, you run the headphone as 3.5mm balanced. That means that you have three options for running the headphones right from the box; both cables are included which was the right move by HiFiMAN.
The Deva Pro doesn’t deviate that far from the HiFiMan playbook on the aesthetic side and that’s perfectly fine. It’s an attractive looking headphone that looks identical to the original Deva; EIC Ian White spent some time with the Deva Pro, Edition XS, and and HE-R9 and came away very impressed with the Pro and Edition XS.
Holding the unit in my hand for the first time, I underestimated how light it would be. The thin diaphragm and magnetic material of the planar driver (see below for more details) are amongst the lightest utilizing planar technology that I have tried.
The entirety of the back is an aluminum honeycomb grille, except for a flare at the bottom of each cup. The pads remove easily with a bit of effort to expose the magnetic array and the diaphragm hidden below.
With ample tilt from top to bottom, a proper fit was easily attained on my head. The indented headband strap, which goes into the padded headband moves securely, allowing for a good fit.
The top of the yoke, which inserts into the headband moves fore/aft with enough give to allow for a proper fit on your head. Some might find it somewhat loose but I found that I was able to secure a proper fit and maintain enough tension to listen for hours without issue.
The plush, padded headband applies a slight amount of pressure, with a near form-fitting presence on my head; those looking for a vise-like grip on their head will take issue with the headband but I found it be very comfortable.
Planar technology has advanced a lot in recent years; the drivers are lighter, faster, and can be driven with less power which is a very positive step in the right direction.
The Deva Pro comes with an NsD (NEO supernano diaphragm) driver, which is 80% thinner than previous designs. This thin character transfers into quick response time to the audio signals, lending to a tighter sound and a more vibrant tonality.
Coupled with the stealth magnetic array, the Deva Pro is said to provide an uninterrupted sound path to your ear; the semi-circle shape of the magnetic array allows the sound to travel more smoothly around the curvature, with less interference. The net result is a more accurate sounding headphone.
Every manufacturer has their own theory on how magnet shape, coupled with different shaped diaphragms helps to reduce potential distortion. Reducing lag time (to my ears) creates a more open sounding headphone with more accurate tonality and detail.
I suggest you read up on Kennerton and how they developed their arrays/diaphragms for a better understanding overall. That said, HiFiMAN has produced an affordable unit, with Bluetooth technology and a new driver design, which works well.
The Himalaya R2R DAC technology delivers a high signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio, which delivers a black background with all genres of music. The R2R paired very quickly to any wireless device that I tried using the Bluetooth 5.0 codec.
I did have to do the soft-connect by holding the power button (after turning on) for two seconds for it to be recognized on my iPhone 13 Pro Max, but that is normal with that phone in my experience. I was able to verify the 8 hours of playing time; the test was conducted three times to make sure it was consistent
The button layout is rather straight-forward and I didn’t have a lot of difficult learning how to operate the Deva Pro. The phone call quality was above average for a high-end wireless headphone and while I can’t imagine too many people using the Deva Pro for that purpose (as opposed to a pair of wireless IEMs) — it does work well enough to be usable.
What’s interesting to me is the HiFiMAN Deva Pro does not sound like a typical HiFiMAN headphone; if you are familiar with the sonic signature of their more affordable models like the Sundara or anything below $1,000 — prepare to be quite surprised and very impressed.
The Deva Pro offers a very neutral sound with surprisingly deep bass for a lower-priced planar magnetic headphone; the bass never overpowers the rest of the range and there is no bleed into the midrange which keeps the overall sound very clear.
The midrange is slightly forward sounding which pushes vocals ahead of the mix and keeps things quite lively; both male and female voices have enormous presence and texture which keeps the sound quite natural.
The soundstage is of course expansive for an open back, but not cavernous where you lose detail or presence; that aspect of some planar designs loses its charm when musicians feel like they are in a huge performance hall — when the recording was made in a very small one or studio.
When I compared the sound quality using either the R2R BT module or 3.5mm cable, I was rather surprised by the similarities with some exceptions; the wired connection had a richer sounding tonal balance and a slight increase in detail.
There was also more space (air) between notes and everything felt more ethereal with a wonderful sense of texture.
The Bluetooth operation loses little pieces of that performance but it is still one of the best sounding wireless headphones I’ve heard to date. from anyone.
The treble is never splashy; you get more than enough extension and detail without the sound ever becoming strident.
The forward sounding midrange is the only wart if you don’t like vocals being pushed far forward into the mix; if you love your vocalists front and center, the Deva Pro will be your cup of tea with their vibrancy and presence.
The HiFiMAN Deva Pro succeeds where many other headphones in the category fail; it even exceeds in my opinion, more costly options including ones offered by the manufacturer. As much I love the sound quality of the HiFiMAN R10P, I would tell you that the Deva Pro is a better deal and even better made. The R10P offers a lot more sonically, but it really needs to.
When one looks at where the HiFiMAN Deva Pro (including the Bluemini R2R) is priced within the headphone segment, it’s almost impossible to not view it as one of the best of its kind.
I finish this while listening to the live version of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” from the Hell Freezes Over album; looking outside at the very cold morning here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A hot coffee warms my hands, as Don Henley starts the day off right through the Deva Pro. Headphone listening has taken huge strides in recent years and HiFiMAN have been a huge part of that progress.