Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1 & H1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi Formula, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Questyle QP1R, Soundaware Esther Pro, Soundaware D100 Pro SD card reader
Headphone amps: COS Engineering H1, Vinnie Rossi LIO, Questyle CMA-800R (x2), Bakoon AMP-12R, Eversound Essence, Metrum Acoustics Amethyst [on review]
Headphones: Final Sonorous X, VI & III; HifiMan HE-1000 & HE-6; Sennheiser HD800; Audeze LCD-XC and LCD-2v1
Power delivery:
Vibex Granada/Alhambra or Furutech RTp-6
Review component retail: $6'000

Do $6'000 headphones make you dizzy? Stop reading right now. Sit down. Take a few deep breaths. Feel better? Vertigo gone? Good. Go back to what you were doing before. Don't come back here. No amount of Spicer spin can make that number go away. It's virtual guarantee for heated arguments or worse. They'd take Better Call Saul not to go nuclear. Having accepted the assignment, I had to do a number on my own de-escalation. Ahh. The meltdown was pure curiosity. HifiMan's planarmagnetic HE-1000 were very good. The Susvara's positioning at twice their coin had to eclipse them also sonically. Would it be a lunar eclipse? That I had to hear for myself. Sticker shock acknowledged and easily survived—just don't buy 'em—we're at liberty to look more closely. It'll be entertaining. So what if it causes the occasional twitch of jealousy that, as always, some folk can acquire such luxury goods without blinking even once? Reading about how the percenters live can still be loads of vicarious fun. If even this Saul spiel hasn't settled down your spleen... then you best move on as well. Because we are; moving on from the how much into everything else there is to these statement efforts.

Susvara leverages company leader Fang Bian's decade of R&D into planarmagnetics whose renewed popularity he helped spearhead in parallel to US competitors Audeze. The Susvara features an ultra-thin diaphragm of just 0.001mm, i.e. edge-on it's invisible to the naked eye. For extra strength, it's coated with nano particles. Nanotech is the field Fang's formal studies in the US specialized in before he had the entrepreneurial idea to apply it to headphones. The family tree shows how the Susvara didn't just fall off the turnip truck but incorporates evolutionary refinements and lessons learnt from 11 earlier models.

This time line also shows just how prolific this firm have been to author new models - too many too quickly as detractors believe. Keeping up is harder than with the Joneses. Where the Susvara begs to differ is with a new 'stealth' magnet structure. If you've grilled meat or veg, you know how they end up striped like zebra, being slightly burnt wherever they touched a hot metal bar. Similarly, a planar's stretched thin-film diaphragm gets virtually striped/shaded wherever it faces the prison bars of its magnet system. Even a one-sided motor whose in-facing membrane sees no barrier will still suffer pressure differentials and reflections from the bars across the far side. All makers of planar headphones struggle with this. Hence all (eventually) come up with their own wrinkles to minimize the effects. Call it optimized air-flow management.

HifiMan call their grill a window shade for obvious reasons. It looks like half-opened blinds. Trimming the reflective turbulence-inducing fat also benefitted weight, here 374g or 13oz. What hasn't gone up where it would have been nice is sensitivity. It remains an unorthodox low 83dB to want studly amplification. At $15'000, HifiMan naturally have their own EF1000 but I'd use our COS Engineering H1, a combined DAC and dual-differential headfi amp with fully balanced outputs for a third of the sticker. Claimed frequency response is 6Hz-75kHz, impedance is 60Ω. The black/silver/veneer three-tone look of the HE-1000 remains but its slightly pointy oval form factor has rounded out some.