A Closed-Back HE1000?
HiFiMan is bringing their award-winning stealth magnets tech to pretty much all their headphones at this point, and that's a great thing. The Stealth Magnets are HiFiMan's special sauce, and when it comes to the 11 herbs and spices, well, that's all I need to know. The HE1000 is one of their most popular headphones, so it's no surprise that they brought the stealth magnets to it this year. So the obvious next choice was to put a closed-back design on the ear cups, right? Yep.
Introducing the Audivina - a high-end closed-back planar magnetic headphone designed for studio pros and hobbyists. Is it simply a closed-back HE1000? Let's find out.
- Great bass response
- The closed-back planar design retains energy, fun & exciting sound
- Awesome soundstage
- Large (but comfortable)
- Top-end sparkle might be too much for non-analytical listeners at first - will need burn-in time
Materials, Quality, & Comfort
Like all Hifiman headphones, they use large planar magnetic drivers, and thus the headphones are large as well. The other thing to consider is that they're extremely light given the metal materials and large wooden ear cups. HiFiman has some great cushioning on the Audivina and I find them crazy comfortable for long listening sessions.
The headband and headrest design is pretty common - as seen in their HE series and others - it's a tried-and-true design. The ear cups are reminiscent of their R10 series, although I have to admit I like the Audivina's design much better than the R10 and Sundara cup designs. It's taller and slimmer - the R10 design from an acoustic performance is phenomenal, I just didn't like the amount of horizontal accentuation it did for my facial structure. Like the Sundara and R10 series, I wonder about the durability of the wooden earcups - they're strikingly beautiful and light, but I wouldn't dare try dropping them or scraping them across the ground.
The Audivina also implements more CNC aluminum, greatly cutting down on the weight of the overall headphone. It feels good. Like all Hifiman headphones, the clamping force is superb - just enough resistance without fatigue for long periods of time. The earpads are plush, though I was surprised at how much sound bleeds for a closed-back design. This is pretty common with the Hifiman R10 series and Hifiman Sundara as well - the ear cups are great for the soundstage and space, but they're also quite thin and not able to suppress the sound very well. I'll happily take the trade-off of the larger soundstage, but we'll get to that more in a bit.
The aluminum has a brushed or textured finish to it adding a nice silvery shine to contrast against the wood grain on the ear cups. You'll find a lone "H" logo in the center of the cup. The light brown color of the padding and the headrest complement the silver and grain nicely, and it's a sharp-looking headphone on the whole. A super small gripe of mine is that I wish they would have used a brown or silver headphone connector to complete the scheme, but I suppose the black jacks are easier to see against the silver. Oh well. You win some and lose some.
The Audivina features HiFiMan's proprietary Stealth Magnet System. The name Stealth is a nod to the fact that stealthiness involves a "disappearance" of sorts. In the Audivina, the magnet design is intended to be as invisible -- or as acoustically transparent -- as possible.
In a conventional planar magnetic headphone, magnets can get in the way of sound waves, degrading sound quality.
But the special shape of the Stealth Magnets enables waves to pass through the magnet without generating interference, so sonic purity is maintained.
HiFiMan's stealth magnets technology is known for its great detail retrieval and balanced response. The Audivina is no different - it has excellent bass response - I wouldn't say it has slam, but it's a lot better than what I've heard in other closed-back planar magnet headphones, especially for Hifiman.
Detail is through the roof - clarity and nuances are exposed and unveiled. I would actually argue that if you are not of the analytical persuasion then the Audivina might be a little much at first* unless you paired it with a Black Dragon or warmer audio gear like a tube amplifier. I'm a detail freak, especially when it comes to classical music, so combined with the amazing soundstage, it's an impressive sound for a headphone at this price range.
The real star of the Audiavana show for me was the soundstage. These headphones are impressive, to say the least. They're expansive, providing an enormous amount of room for the performances to be expressive, lively, and dynamic. As most people already know, I'm a big fan of closed -back planar magnetic drivers because they retain so much of the energy of the drivers. This translates to more exciting listening sessions. You can tell when a headphone is unremarkable because it doesn't make you feel anything. The Audivina is a remarkable headphone from this perspective.
Classical music is superb on the Audivina - the expansive soundstage helps the orchestral ensembles sound absolutely huge. It's like you're sitting in the first five rows - you have the entire periphery being filled by sound (almost like a 180-degree semicircle of sound). The stealth magnets do a great job of accurately representing the lower frequencies with the basses and cellos sounding robust and weighty. The drivers really excel with brass, however, with trumpets vibrant and triumphant. The sparkle of the Audivina really comes out in the shine of the brass; the hard metallic sound coming to the forefront for fans of fanfares.
Rock music benefits greatly from the closed-back design. Mids are difficult to define sometimes in a closed-back planar, but the Audivina doesn't run into too many issues with this thankfully. I like to chalk it up to the wooden acoustics in the ear cups which add a nice warmth and natural resonance to the presentation. The cushioning and dampening also play a role in how your ear will receive the frequency range of the headphone, so in this respect, the Audivina excels compared to the competition. Rock guitars and vocals aren't necessarily in your face like other smaller soundstaged headphones, but they are far from recessed. They might be a touch quieter for my preference, but that's traded off with the top end sparkle and tight lows. The Audivina is tailored especially well for classical, jazz, folk, and classic rock.
*Quick Note: I will say that I expect some of the perceived "harshness" of the top-end sparkle to simmer down a bit after some substantial burn-in time. [Update] After 72 hours of burn-in time there is a noticeable difference in the top end - slightly smoother and no perceived harshness whatsoever. Detail and clarity are still present, and they're still definitely a forward-sounding headphone, but much more enjoyable to listen to after the burn-in.
Overall, I'm pleased with the sound of the Audivina. Lots of sparkle in the top-end, the bass is well-represented and tight, though not particularly thumpy. The mids are okay and depending on the song selection or genre the lower mids could certainly benefit from a small boost (see Black Dragon cables). The soundstage is simply incredible, and that is where these headphones really shine. The closed-back planar design retains that energy from the driver and makes for some lively and exciting listening sessions. From a studio pro perspective, these headphones will work as expected, giving the engineer the soundstage they're looking for - with plenty of separation for instruments to make mixing a breeze. The Audivina certainly has the detail and clarity required for the task at hand. There are some nuances however to consider when comparing to other headphones in the same price range, and that's where decision making can be a little tough.
This Is Your Life
(The Beautiful Letdown)
The Astroid Field
by John Williams
(Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)
by Elton John
(Rock of the Westies)
by The Beatles
(Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band)
Meze Audio Liric
The Liric: Neutral-sounding / warm-leaning. Fast and tight bass response, clear and detailed mids and highs. Soundstage is close but feels wider with the implementation of Phase-X and the great high fidelity Isodynamic Hybrid Array driver. Imaging and transients are phenomenal. Great for Rock, Folk, Classical, Jazz, Alternative, Synthwave, Classic Rock, and Blues.
The Liric is one of our favorite headphones at Moon Audio. Meze has made an absolute gem of a headphone, and the Liric not only has some of the best stylings for a closed-back planar magnetic, but it sports Meze's hard-to-beat drivers which sound absolutely stellar. When comparing it to the Audivina, the Liric has a smoother top-end, still clear and detailed, but more roll-off than the Audivina. It's also a lot more mid-forward, resulting in more intimacy and proximity in performances. The soundstage isn't nearly as wide on the Liric as the Audivina, but there's also better noise isolation on the Liric. The clamping is more snug on the Liric, although I would say the comfort level is pretty similar between the two. Personally, I prefer the frequency response on the Liric, but the Audivina is going to certainly be the choice here for those who want a lot of top-end sparkle and energy in their music. The Audivina is much more forward in this regard.
HIFIMAN HE1000V2 Stealth Magnets
The revamped HE1000V2 with stealth magnets is a sonic improvement over the previous iteration. You're going to get more detail, more transparency, and better textures all around - something that the stealth magnets tech is known for. There's no denying that the stealth magnets tech brings more definition and richness to the music than HIFIMAN's non-stealth planars. They're also easier to drive than their predecessors. Compared to the Audivina, the HE1000V2 Stealth Magnets sounds a bit more refined, offering a smoother presentation, airier performances, and a touch more rumble. The shine of brass is still impactful in classical music but balanced a little better with the mids. Soundstage is certainly comparable, offering a wide wall of sound for the listener. The stealth magnets do a great job here with delivering the same great detail and clarity as the Audivina, but the HE1000V2 takes it one step further with better low mid representation and lower frequency slam. It never sounds bloated, but the bass response is just better. Noise isolation is pretty on par with the Audivina (which is undesirable for a closed-back headphone), but since the HE1000V2 is open-back, at least it's expected. The Audivina's isolation just isn't that great, but that's partially why they have such a great soundstage as well. The Audivina has the airiness of an open-back in many ways. The comfort level is similar as well since both headphones use a pretty identical headband design. When it comes to the sound, however, for me there is no comparison. The HE1000V2 Stealth Magnets just have a more balanced and refined sound. The Audivina is certainly the choice however for detail freaks and more analytically-preferenced audiophiles.
For my testing session, I paired the HIFIMAN Audivina headphone with the Black Dragon Premium Headphone Cable for HIFIMAN Headphones and the Cayin N7 DAP Music Player. I used a balanced 4.4mm connection for the headphone cable.
The Black Dragon is a perfect pairing for the Audivina for a number of reasons. There's a lot of sparkle on the top-end of the headphone, so firstly the Black Dragon helped tame some of the energy in the higher frequencies that non-analytical listeners might find troublesome. It doesn't take any energy away, but rather helps to distribute it throughout the excellent soundstage. Secondly, the Audivina has decent low end for a planar magnetic headphone - especially for the stealth magnets. The Black Dragon added a little more on the bottom - tightening up and filling out the lower frequencies without making it bloated. The nice thing about the combined copper and silver strands is that it doesn't accentuate the lower frequencies at the expense of the highs. I can't think of a better cable to pair with these headphones.
Generally, stock audio cables are manufactured with subpar materials, metals with impurities, poor geometries, and an overabundance of layers to make them look and feel like a fire hose. Inconsistency and lack of quality control in stock cables can lead to poor sound quality and a veiled sound vs what the musician intended for you to hear and feel from the music. Dragon cables are handcrafted with the highest standards and made to order according to your specific needs. At Moon Audio, we create a custom cable for you using the highest quality UP-OCC silver or copper conductors that can be manufactured. UP-OCC metals are void of impurities and are optimized for signal transfer and sound quality. We have one of the largest collections of audio and headphone connection options available online and we create limitless audio cable options depending on your specific gear and needs.
Why Dragon Cables?
You’ve heard the saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, right? Well, the same applies to your brand-new audiophile-grade headphone or other audio components. The weakest link, in this case, is your stock cable or the cheap interconnects the manufacturer threw in the box just to get you up and running. Why is the cable always an afterthought, when it’s just as important as the rest of your system? At Moon Audio, we use the best raw materials in our cables to unveil your music. We believe the materials matter and your audio cables should have the same care and craftsmanship that manufacturers put into their audio components and headphones. Audio cables are ultimately the connection to your music. The fact remains that cabling is often considered the last priority to that of the main product and a means to cut down the overall production costs. It’s as simple as that.
The Audivina is a work of art, both from a design and acoustical standpoint. For fans of a more forward presentation who like a lot of energy, the Audivina is a must-buy. The soundstage is impressive for a closed-back headphone, even if the term "closed-back" from a noise-bleed point-of-view is debatable. One thing is for sure: from the outside, these headphones do not sound like a closed-back. There is not a lot of isolation. You'll get a lot of top-end sparkle, but keep in mind you'll need at least some burn in time to tame that sparkle a bit. It was a touch hot for me when I first started listening to the headphones, but after letting them burn in over a weekend it's a lot smoother - still retaining some great detail and energy in the higher frequencies however.
The Audivina offers a lot to the audiophile or engineer looking for quality listening or studio headphones in the two-thousand dollar range. The best thing to me about the headphone is the excellent soundstage. Featuring a wide and vivacious field of sound, the Audivina outperforms some open-back headphones in this regard. However, the closed-back nature of the design and cups retains a lot of the energy from the drivers, delivering exciting listening experiences for long periods of time. There's not much to complain about the Audivina after the initial burn-in period. HiFiMan knocks another one out of the park.
What's in the Box
- Hifiman Audivina Headphone
- Single-ended 3.5mm cable (1.5m) *1
- XLR balanced cable (3m) *1
- Single-ended 6.35mm cable (3m) *1
- Warrenty and Info
- Frequency response: 5Hz-55kHz
- Impedance: 20Ω
- Sensitivity: 97dB
- Weight: 470 grams/16.57 ounces