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Review: HiFiMan Susvara headphones, assault on the state of the art

by Panagiotis Karavitis in Headphones

This is not for the faint of heart, or wallet. If you think headphones have reached overwhelmingly high prices spare your time and don’t read this review. You have been warned. Walking down the Munich High End corridors Bumped upon Riccardo Yeh, talented musician, opera lover and HiFiMan’s international sales director. Come in he said, we have both Susvara and Shangri La playing side by side. I was sold. Fast-forward a couple of months Early summer, I couldn’t get those lush [...]

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  • Shinola launches new Canfield Headphone Collection

    November 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

    The good people in Detroit at Shinola are keeping very busy indeed. The hand built leather goods, watchmaker, lifestyle products, and high fidelity stereo company has just announced they are entering the headphone market with four new models to choose from in the Canfield Collection. Following the great success of their Runwell turntable, and  Runwell Bookshelf loudspeakers, Shinola is swinging for the fence once again in the audiophile/lifestyle market with two new over-ear headphones, and [...]
  • Review: Fostex TE100 IEM headphones

    July 15, 2017 // 1 Comment

    IEMs? Where would we be without their high propensity for mobility and discreet listening sessions? It’s like a personal private eye, hired for some deep investigative work. In the case of the masses vs. Fostex TE100 ($1,200 USD) the undiscovered back story is a fairly rich one. Fostex is known for its OEM work as well as a myriad of partnerships over the years (you can check out some more of their history from our other review HERE), and one of the more recent meet ups came at a crossroads [...]
  • by Brian Hunter Fostex has a long history in the audio business. The company was founded in 1973, but its parent company Foster Electric Co., Ltd was formed way back in 1949. The company was originally a mass producer of OEM speaker and transducer products, but broke into pro and hi-fi facing mini monitors in 1978 with the Fostex 6301B and then into the growing category of home recording with a line of multitrack recording devices in ‘81. This was actually my first interaction with the brand [...]
  • Review: SPL Phonitor X headphone amplifier

    March 17, 2017 // 7 Comments

    I’ve got a somewhat complicated relationship status with headphone listening. It’s something we’re working through, and perhaps I’m being too needy. The thing is I feel that I’m getting shortchanged on the big listening experience I’m used to from my two-channel rig. In an effort to address this emotional attachment to my loudspeakers I dipped my toe into the head-fidelity pool, and committed to a couple of headphone amps for a month to see if I was [...]
  • So I get an email from Kostas Metaxas of Metaxas and Sins in which I am asked if I would care to listen to the new Marquis Memento Mori headphone amplifier (lets call it the Skull from now on). I would do almost anything to get my hands on that piece of sculpture, so I try to play cool, hold my breath and reply in an appropriate fashion. Yes Kostas, why not (as in hellyeah, asap) But I don’t want to get greedy, many friends would like to see, touch, hear the Skull. Instead of bringing the [...]
  • Review: Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier

    February 5, 2017 // 3 Comments

    by John Grandberg Have you ever waited and waited and waited for something to show up? And then when it does, it actually manages to exceed your admittedly over-inflated expectations? I’m not talking about impatiently sitting by the window watching for the FedEx truck. I mean things that don’t exactly exist yet. An upcoming album by a favorite band. That new movie from the relatively obscure director that you’ve been following for years. It could be a new speaker, a new craft [...]
  • Review: Cayin HA-1A MK2 tube headphone amp

    January 29, 2017 // 5 Comments

    By John Grandberg More audiophiles these days are embracing the pleasures of headphone listening. There’s an ever-growing selection to choose from, but enthusiasts soon learn that a key factor in achieving the ultimate sound quality from their cans rests with the dedicated amplifier they choose. Having spent time with dozens of headphone amps over the last couple of years, I have some observations that I feel are worth sharing. First, what is it that makes an amplifier compelling? The sound [...]
  • Just an update of what’s in the headphone queue. I know we traditionally don’t do a lot of headphone reviews, or headphone amplifier/DAC reviews. But we want to change that, so look for more can coverage in the future. I’ve received some lovely headphone amps/DACs for review courtesy of Edward Ku at Element Acoustics over the weekend. The SPL Phonitor X ($2,500 USD), and the Naim DAC-V1 ($1,800 USD). These will also help with comparisons for my upcoming Part II review of Roon [...]
  • Noble Audio knows upside and down how to make an in-ear monitor look good and sound even better. And with the help of the audiophile retailing entrepreneurs at Massdrop, their new little marvel is available at the lowest price I’ve ever seen a Noble product that wasn’t heavily chewed on by Brian Hunter’s cat. Say hello to the $249 the Noble X Universal. $249? For a Noble? That is a flipping steal, my friends. Get in line and get in fast because I’m pretty sure Brannan [...]
  • Massdrop and Noble Audio

    December 1, 2016 // 1 Comment

    New product announcement Press release from Noble Audio and Massdrop. NOBLE AUDIO’S MOST AFFORDABLE IEM AVAILABLE, EXCLUSIVELY FOR A LIMITED PERIOD ON MASSDROP Just 2,000 proprietary-driver Noble X IEMs available on this first run at $249/c.£200 and time is running out! 1st December 2016, Santa Barbara, USA — Noble Audio, the world’s leading high-performance in-ear monitor (IEM) specialist, has launched the Noble X exclusively on Massdrop, a special limited edition in-ear monitor [...]
  • AudioQuest NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon

    November 3, 2016 // 0 Comments

    Just got the word that AudioQuest is refreshing their headphone line. NightHawk isn’t all that long-in-the-tooth, but advances and refinements wait for no … something something something. Ahem. Long story short — they’ve went ahead and made them and made them better. Score one for the Californians! The most notable — and obvious — change is that NightHawk is no longer alone in the AudioQuest headphone lineup. NightOwl will be the name for the fully [...]
  • Brannan Mason is the co-owner of Noble Audio, and in Denver at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival he was able to spend some time talking with Part-Time Audiophile about Nobel’s current lineup, company philosophy, manufacturing details, aural design, and what’s in the pipeline for the company. “What do I know about diamonds? I’m a boxing promoter. I was a happy boxing promoter until a week ago, and then: What do I know about diamonds?” – Turkish, from the film [...]
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time with personal audio systems of late, portable and not-portable alike. Even as I wandered the paths of dynamic and planar, in-ear and over-ear, a bogie remained on the horizon. One that remained staunchly as “outlier”. Then, this past Fall, I explored and secured my first pair of electrostatic loudspeakers, some rebuilt Quads from E-Stat Solutions. Shortly thereafter, their analogs on the headphone space were on their way to chez moi. I’m [...]
  • Review: Cardas A8 Inner Ear Monitors

    May 1, 2016 // 1 Comment

    My Blue Heaven Right now I’m typing this on a Delta flight to Madison, Wisconsin in early February. Yep, Wisconsin in early February! Yet there’s a big smile on my face, at least while I am sitting here, listening to Frank Sinatra’s Swingin Session. You see, the lovely folks at Cardas sent me a review pair of their new blue A8s, the newest earbud from cable wizards in Bandon, Oregon. I’ve been playing with these buds for several weeks and — spoiler alert — these are superb [...]
  • Mini-Review: RHA T20 in-ear headphones

    March 18, 2016 // 0 Comments

    Reid Heath Acoustics, better known as RHA Audio, makes in-ear headphones … but then, you probably know that. These in-ear headphones, specifically the T10 ($189, $199 for the ones with the inline microphone and volume controls), earned all manner of respect from the personal audio crowd — and a boatload of reviews (a Google search returns something like 90k pages for “RHA T10i review”). Those reviews — mostly raves — were interesting. There’s a lot of [...]
  •   Brannan Mason, in a fit of perversity, sent me another set of Noble Audio Kaiser K-10 in-ear speakers. The difference? The universal fit. Yes, ten drivers per side, in something the size of the tears of joy you’ll be weeping when listening to them. These things are absurdly compact. By contrast, my custom K-10’s are nearly twice as large. How do they do that? Tipping The voicing for this variation on a Kaiser theme is pretty much identical to the custom. Pretty [...]
  • Luke Skywalker: She’s rich. Han Solo: Rich? Luke Skywalker: Rich, powerful. Listen, if you were to rescue her, the reward would be… Han Solo: What? Luke Skywalker: Well, more wealth than you can imagine! Han Solo: I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit. I feel a bit like Han Solo, at least when it comes to money. It’s a failing, I’m sure. But it’s there. It’s why I play Powerball and Megamillions. Not often, to be fair, but I do play. Because: I can [...]
  • Review: B.M.C. Audio PureMedia, PureUSB1, UltraDAC

    January 16, 2016 // 11 Comments

    By John Grandberg Think back for a second: when was the last time you actually played music directly from a CD, DVD-A, or SACD? Some readers may still be actively spinning, but I have a hunch the number is rather small these days. Based on what I’ve seen from friends and forum dwellers, physical digital media is decidedly old-school by now, and becoming more so with each passing year. Most audio enthusiasts have moved on to some type of file-based solution, and/or a vinyl based setup, or [...]
  • This is the story about doing the impossible. This is a story about overcoming the Friend Zone. I received the OPPO HA-1 headphone amp ($1199) and PM-1 headphones ($1099) for review along with a pretty large shipment of other review gear. I unboxed everything immediately and tried it all out. “Not bad,” my notes read. “The HA-1 is a really nifty Swiss Army knife.” And it seriously is. This headphone amp will handle everything from mp3s to quad DSD. It’ll work with pretty much [...]
  • Welcome to your completely unnecessary and wholly unsolicited Part-Time Audiophile guide to the holidays, Part 1 of a bazillion. You’re welcome. Headphones This category is something of a cheat — there’s quite a lot of “portable/personal audio” that falls under this arbitrary threshold. So, that’s why I’m gonna focus on not just the good stuff, but the stuff that screams value. Massdrop AKG K7XX: $199 I wanted to love the AKG K701 that Stereophile [...]