Planar magnetic headphones are a favorite among audio enthusiasts, but it’s still rare to find them in a Bluetooth headphone. HIFIMAN surprised us last year with the original Deva, delivering excellent sound quality for music with a big soundstage perfect for music and gaming alike. HIFIMAN has just released its successor, the Deva Pro, with a brand new Bluemini R2R Bluetooth DAC/amp and a new Stealth Magnet design. These improvements bring the total price to $329. Is it worth a buy this holiday season? Find out in our review!
- Current Price: $329 (Amazon)
HIFIMAN Deva Pro - First Impressions and Key Features
The Deva Pro are the successor to the original Deva headphones, which I reviewed around this time last year. At the time, I hadn’t heard other HIFIMAN headphones and was pretty pleased with them. This time around, the company has changed things up and I think it’s mostly for the better. This starts with the new color scheme, which is silver and black, and should be less polarizing than the tan and black of the OG Deva (though I really liked it).
Like the original, the Deva Pro is a hybrid headphone. It can be connected with a cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth using the included Bluemini R2R adapter. Also like the original, it’s this adapter that really puts the price point into perspective: what you’re getting here isn’t just a great headphone, it’s a great headphone and a powerful, high-quality DAC/amp, that you would usually have to purchase separately. Unlike last time, it doesn’t seem that you can purchase the headphone separately at a reduced cost, so it’s the full package or nothing.
The Deva Pro is a planar magnetic headphone and a strong case for while audiophiles love them so much. Unlike a traditional dynamic driver, planar magnetics use a flat sheet lined with electrical traces. This plane is held taut with magnets and when electricity passes through it, it vibrates creating sound. Planars are known for their exceptional detail and low distortion. Depending on how they’re tuned, they can be powerful bass cannons, bright and detail-rich, or somewhere in between. The Deva Pros are on the brighter side but aren’t harsh and have enough low end to fill out music and games.
The Deva Pros are the latest headphone in HIFIMAN’s line-up to get the “Stealth Magnet” treatment. Previously only available on its higher-end models, this new design aims to reduce distortion even further than HIFIMAN’s classic magnet design. It accomplishes this using rounded magnets positioned so as not to interrupt the sound field, reducing turbulence between sound waves. It’s good to see these designs trickle down to more affordable price points, but as users are reporting with the Arya Stealth Edition (review coming soon), it can result in subtle changes to the overall sound.
Planar magnetic headphones can be difficult to drive, which is where the Bluemini R2R comes in. With an impedance of 18 ohms and a low sensitivity of 93.5dB, they require a good amount of power to drive. Though HIFIMAN doesn’t report the exact power output of the new Bluemini, it is more than enough to drive the Deva Pros to their full potential and sound great doing it.
The Bluemini R2R is similar to the original in that it’s designed for as close to sacrifice-free audiophile listening as a Bluetooth receiver can get. It uses a transistor ladder for its audio conversion, which is a relatively novel design for a wireless device, and supports most of the major high-resolution codecs: LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, in addition to standard AAC and SBC. It has a somewhat low battery life of only eight hours, which is disappointing (I took to charging it every night). At the same time, it remains quite light and doesn’t make the headphones feel unbalanced.
The Deva Pro is aimed at being reasonably affordable for what’s on offer here. The bulk of the cost is in the drivers and the Bluemini R2R. The earcups are plastic and we have the simpler headband design of the HE-400SE instead of the leather suspension band of the Sundara or Ananda. The yokes and headband are metal and there’s no undue creaking when flexed and adjusted (the leather headband does squeak but not in normal use).
I also liked that HIFIMAN used great cushions on the earpads, too. They’re hybrid, with leather outer and inner rings and fabric where they touch your face. They’re comfortable to wear and don’t build up heat, which brings us to our next section.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro - Fit and Comfort
HIFIMAN is a brand that designs its headphones differently. It really offers two designs, the circular shape earcup found here and the egg-shaped design of the Ananda. Both of these designs are large and tend to offer a loose fit.
This can be a pro and a con: the cushions are comfortable for hours at a time but they hand a tendency to move around on your head with anything more than a gentle head shake. This usually isn’t an issue, but does crop up if you need to bend over to pick something up. That’s not typically an issue, but since they are made to be worn on the go, I did find myself needing to readjust more often as I was out and about, and my glasses as a result.
As a heavier headphone, the headband is especially important. It needs to balance and distribute the weight evenly across your head or sore “hotspots” will develop. This is something I encountered after about 90 minutes of listening. A simple readjustment was usually enough to alleviate it for another hour, but if you’re planning on listening for 3 hours or more, it might be necessary to invest in extra padding with a set of Dekoni Nuggets.
HIFIMAN Deva Pro - Listening Impressions and Daily Use
What’s most important with any headphone is how they sound, so let’s get into what the Deva Pros have to offer with the new Stealth Magnet design and Bluemini R2R.
Let’s start with that Bluemini, shall we? First off, this a great little DAC/amp in its own right. I did all of my listening with it connected over LDAC, but it also supports aptX and aptX HD, as well as AAC and SBC Apple devices and those that don’t offer support for the available high-res codecs. Over LDAC, though, it absolutely sung.
Like the original Bluemini, the new R2R could trick you into thinking you’re listening over a wired connection. While there might be a fraction less detail, it’s not perceptible without really critically listening to tracks you know by heart and perhaps not even then for some listeners. For a device made with portability at heart, you aren’t likely to be listening in that way. Instead, what you will hear is wired-like performance is power, soundstage, and imaging.
The DEVA Pro’s require a good amount of power to sound their best and the Bluemini has it in spades. I found myself listening at about 30% volume before when my other Bluetooth headphones are usually turned up to more than double that level. Even at 30%, however, the sound quality was outstanding. Separation between instruments was great, really bringing out the sense of space compared to most other portable headphones I’ve listened to. The R2R is ahead of the original Bluemini and Deva, which was very good in its own right.
Bass: Compared to the original Deva, the bass here is similarly tuned. These aren’t a bass-heavy headphone, but delivers enough to fill out songs and provide them with solid body. Instead, the improvements here are about quality instead of quantity. The speed and texture of the bass is improved, so though there isn’t more than the Deva, it’s more fun to listen to.
Eminem’s “The Monster” is great example of the improved speed and texture on offer. There’s a lot of starting and stopping throughout the song and layers in the bass regions that are all delivered with clarity and detail. This is bass you can feel, not in powerful thump, but as it washes over you.
For gaming, the bass here is able to deliver a realistic sound. You’ll notice that higher frequency sound effects step ahead, like gunshots and footsteps in Battlefield 2042 or the sound of wildlife in Elwynn Forest.
Mids: The mids on the Deva Pro are very well done. Vocals are somewhat relaxed and aren’t biting, even as the singer leans into aggression. The upper mids pop out more, so female vocalists do tend to rise a bit higher than male singers. There’s tons of detail and excellent timbre in the midrange, making singers, and instruments, sound musical and natural.
It’s the mids that really make the Deva Pro come to life. For rock, pop, metal, and many other genres, this is where the bulk of the instruments live. The same is true for gaming. The Deva Pro pulls apart layers in a way that’s similar to the Sundara, if not quite as far and with as much analytical detail. That’s perfect for a headphone of this type because it’s enough to impress and show some of the unique character and presentation of HIFIMAN headphones.
The tuning of the mids definitely emphasizes the higher frequencies. Lower mids are a touch more recessed, whereas the higher strings on acoustic and electric guitars pop out and sparkle. The tuning of the mids, in combination with the slightly reduced bass, makes these a brighter headphone overall without treading into harshness.
It also means that important audio cues, like those footsteps I mentioned before, will come forward and be easier to hear. Compared to a gaming headset, you will simply hear more, and more clearly.
Treble: The highs on the Deva Pro have a great extension but aren’t harsh. Instead, cymbals and high-hats pop forward — like the original Deva, percussion is a highlight of this set. You might think that a brighter set like this wouldn’t be great for hip-hop, but if you’re a fan of percussion, these can be great. The treble tuning caps off the bright tuning, but is overall an improvement versus the Deva with how smooth it is. They stop just short of being too bright which the Deva was sometimes guilty of.
Soundstage/Imaging: As an open-back HIFIMAN headphone, you expect good soundstage and imaging and the Deva Pro delivers, if a bit more intimately than the original Deva. Things haven’t gotten wider here, instead, vocals are closer in. Instruments are a step beyond that. Instead, the improvement comes in the overall sense of space that surrounds what you’re listening to. The word that comes to mind is “chambered,” as you’re closer to the singers, musicians, or in-game elements but it’s as if you’re listening in a larger chamber.
Daily Use Impressions: As a portable headphone, I initially planned on wearing these whenever I was out and about, but that’s more difficult to do due to their open-back design. They don’t isolate you from surrounding noise well and also let anyone around you hear what you’re listening to. If you’re on a bus, the other commuters probably won’t hear much from you but you will absolutely be battling all of the noise around you to enjoy your music.
Instead, I found these to be a much better fit to use when I actually arrived. They’re great for listening at a desk or at home. You have the freedom to get up and move around without being tethered to your phone or PC. That’s freeing and if the rise of portable DACs and amps is an indication, the future of mainstream HiFi.
After a couple of weeks with the Deva Pros, I can confidently say that I prefer them to the originals. They improved bass and presentation throughout the spectrum trumps, for me, the shift in the soundstage. I wouldn’t recommend these to anyone who really loves powerful bass, but for fans of rock, metal, folk, and really any genre steeped in tiny details for realism, they’re a great choice.
At $329, the Deva Pros don’t come cheap but if you’re used to “normal” Bluetooth headphones, these are set to be a revelation. The improved space, detail, and soundstage compared to mainstream BT headphones are multiple steps above. As a first HiFi wireless headphone, these are a great choice. Compared to the original Deva, the upgrades are noticeable but may not be worth a complete upgrade for. At only $30 more, however, I consider them the hands-down better pick.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.