HiFiMan Susvara
Apr 15, 2020 at 4:16 PM Post #3,496 of 11,896

koven

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Just got the HPA4 yesterday. It took all of 30 hours from the point I sent my first email inquiry to Benchmark to the point I received delivery. Amazing!

I owned the AHB2 for a short time last year, which I used with the Susvara and SR1a, so the HPA4 sounds very familiar to me. And when I heard the HPA4 at Canjam in February, I immediately realized I needed to have a Benchmark amp back in my system. All the observations I had made back when I had the AHB2 still hold with the HPA4, so it's not hard for me to articulate them even after a short period of time. Almost all my listening over these last hours has been with the Susvara:

- Detail, above all other things! Detail, separation, clarity, space, all that. It really rewards close/active/critical listening.

Relatedly -- or maybe this is part of the same point, but -- the amp draws out so much texture. The specific, sandy grit of a sustained, distorted electric guitar note makes me go, "Oh wow, so they really were doing something interesting there. Nice!" And similar kind of moments with synthesizers and electronic music, for instance.

Also, I notice ambient recording noise for the first time on a few recordings using the HPA4 and the AHB2 before it, which is kind of interesting.

Interestingly, I find that the level of detail and texture makes compressed material sound better rather than worse (which is what people usually complain about). It's like I can manage to hear and appreciate what's going on better with this amp, even when the musical bits are compressed into a bloody pulp.

- It makes the Susvara sound more forward than I'm used to. I believe this is not so much a function of soundstage size as it is one of outstanding clarity and intelligibility in its presentation.

- Tones sound so "true", up and down the spectrum, and so notably in the bass. Among other things, this makes polyphony/harmony sound especially satisfying. To my ears, this quality is fairly unique to the Benchmark amps.

Also worth noting is that the treble, despite the amp's neutrality and resolution, is always controlled sounding and unfatiguing with the Susvara.

- Imaging is as sharp as anything I've heard with the Susvara, especially when it comes to subtleties of left-to-right placement. Also, I need to use this opportunity to emphasize how much better imaging is on the Susvara compared to the Phi TC. Not sure what's up with anyone who says any different (ke ke).

- "PRaT": Somehow, this amp persuades me that this hand-wavey and semi-bogus concept possibly isn't. This was my biggest surprise when listening to the AHB2 and now the HPA4. I get a conscious sense of propulsion and drive that I wasn't necessarily even looking for.

- On dynamics: Very fast leading edges (of course). But also overall on the polite side, can't lie. This can be a plus or a minus depending on your predisposition or mood. So, counter-intuitively, simultaneously very detailed and kind of "laid back" in a way. I found this to be the case with all headphones on the AHB2, and not just with the Susvara on the HPA4.

Anyway, that's a quick enumeration of the various distinguishing characteristics I find with this amp. To call it simply the most "transparent" or "realistic" because of its low distortion is kind of simple-minded, and ultimately un-useful. It really does have its own distinctive sound signature.

Also, on other headphones: I did only a quick sanity check with the Utopia, just enough to confirm that I'll be very much looking forward to hours of quality time with that pairing into the future. And I was not taken by the Abyss Phi TC pairing. It's safe to conclude at this point that I just don't care for the TC with solid state amps in general as a matter of personal preference.

Good choice! Coincidentally I was about to get the HA-300 to pair w/ Susvara before pivoting to HPA4 last minute. I see you have both. :)
 
Apr 15, 2020 at 7:56 PM Post #3,497 of 11,896

jlbrach

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I use the formula s/powerman combo with my susvara and formula s has the same power rating as the hpa4 so I am not surprised people like the combo....I also agree that the susvara imaging is fabulous but I also will add the TC is a remarkable HP...I rank the susvara and TC and 1a and 1b with neither better but just different
 
Apr 15, 2020 at 8:06 PM Post #3,498 of 11,896

koven

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I use the formula s/powerman combo with my susvara and formula s has the same power rating as the hpa4 so I am not surprised people like the combo....I also agree that the susvara imaging is fabulous but I also will add the TC is a remarkable HP...I rank the susvara and TC and 1a and 1b with neither better but just different

Been around the flagship block SR1a and 009 were memorable one night stands but alas Susvara has my heart. Totally agree on 1a and 1b w/ TC certainly a toss-up depending on what genres you prioritize. Would have a TC complement but can't get onboard with the ergonomics/comfort sadly.

P.S. I recall at e-earphones in Japan they specifically have that XI Audio stack to demo all high end cans, and it sure sounded great w/ both.
 
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Apr 15, 2020 at 11:05 PM Post #3,499 of 11,896

jlbrach

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yes the xi audio stack is terrific with both....I must say though that I find the TC to actually be quite comfortable...you dont have the freedom of movement you do with the susvara but if you sitting in a chair or in bed propped up you can listen comfortably for hours because of the way it sits suspended on your head....both these HP's are the very best of the HP world IMHO
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 6:01 AM Post #3,500 of 11,896

cladane

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Hi,

When you are considering amping for the Susvara, you always notice that those headphones are very inefficient and when you decide to settle definitely this aspect you end up using a speakers amp.
That first point accepted, when you listen to headphones, any headphone, considering acoustical instruments, ok that’s a prerequisite but no system is universal, you find that in the chain, somewhere, you have to put some tubes.

Actually, for me, since we are speaking of no cost option, the best choice for Susvara amplification has been the VIVA Solista. In Classical listening, when huge forte are played, you don’t look at 2W-5W into 60 ohms (tech specs) but you need 10A into your cans in a peak.
The Solista (only 25w into 8 ohms spec techs) with its big 845 flowing into the two beasts of output transformers has this ability to provide such A just those millisec needed. What makes the difference.
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 3:37 PM Post #3,502 of 11,896

ajaipuriyar

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I think it is 1 year out of the box extendable by 3 months through online registration at Hifiman.

At least that was the case 2 yrs ago when I bought mine.
 
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Apr 18, 2020 at 7:12 PM Post #3,503 of 11,896

jlbrach

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power ratings are misleading in terms of the susvara...I have used several amps more powerful than my formula s/powerman combo that have not sounded anywhere near as good as the formula s.....I have heard speaker amps that I found harsh and frankly less than acceptable to me.....obviously you cannot listen to the susvara through your phone and there is a certain threshold you must pass but after that some amps despite power ratings simply sound better than others in my experience
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 8:45 PM Post #3,504 of 11,896

GU1DO

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Is the warranty 1 year or 3 years on these? Is it transferable? I see 1 year a lot of places and that surprises me. Even hifiman store lists 1 year.
only HE1000 models has 3 years warranty
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 9:33 PM Post #3,505 of 11,896
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power ratings are misleading in terms of the susvara...I have used several amps more powerful than my formula s/powerman combo that have not sounded anywhere near as good as the formula s.....I have heard speaker amps that I found harsh and frankly less than acceptable to me.....obviously you cannot listen to the susvara through your phone and there is a certain threshold you must pass but after that some amps despite power ratings simply sound better than others in my experience
I still haven’t picked up a 240V -> 100V step transformer 9 months after migrating countries and as such my MC275 is still in its box. I picked up a Woo Audio WA11 and is so far the only portable amp that can drive it. I also tried the now-extinct Cypherlabs Duet and almost had sufficient power but just falls short. The WA11 is definitely not to the calibre of my MC275 but it drives it decently enough to listen and enjoy. The MC275 is naturally more satisfying.

From memory in testing different amps with the Susvara, the Formula S did pretty well in driving the Susvara, however to -my- ears I felt lack of a sense of finesse especially in comparing it to the other headphone amps I had access to. The other amps which did well, unfortunately, is difficult to access outside of Japan. They were the OjiSpecial BDI-DC-24 and BDI-DC-44, and Mass Kobo 406. I felt they were able to drive the Susvara with finesse however these amps were really expensive, as such settling for my MC275 which was cheaper than all the aforementioned headphone amps including the Formula S.
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 9:39 PM Post #3,506 of 11,896

sahmen

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Isn't it weirdly ironic though, that one of Hifiman's most expensive flagships would only have a one year warranty, whereas my HekSE has a three year warranty? Are the parts of the Susvara not too expensive, as compared to other Hifiman cans, to have such a short-term warranty? Does anyone know how much it might cost to send a Susvara that is out of warranty back to Hifiman for the replacement of a dead driver, for example? If one driver of a Susvara were to die on me after 14 months of purchase, how much am I going need to pay in order to have it fixed?
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 10:19 PM Post #3,508 of 11,896

sahmen

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@sahmen $2000 + shipping. Better start saving

Thanks for letting me know, and I sincerely hope you're not kidding me. I can think of several other flagships that I can buy for a cool $2000, especially, if I am taking the used market and B-stock offers into account, so I confess that this price tag sounds quite simply obscene to me, although I am very curious about the Susvara, and have been dreaming about owning one myself for a long while now, because of all the glowing reviews it has received. With that said, I also have to say that I find this price tag for repairs quite intimidating, if not outright discouraging, although I have never really needed any major repairs on any of the cans i have owned in the past decade or so, which include several flagships, incidentally.

There is of course, always a first, and I'd really hate the idea of my first needing major repairs (without a warranty) to be a susvara...That's just too bad for a pair of cans that I have thought of as a genuine and legitimate contender for endgame status in any collection... just saying.
 
Apr 18, 2020 at 10:32 PM Post #3,509 of 11,896

jlbrach

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HIFIMAN warrants this product to be free of defects in material or workmanship for a period of three years from the date of original retail purchase.

this is from the hifiman susvara manual
 

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