HIFIMAN Audivina Closed-Back Headphones – Audio Pleasure Maxima
HIFIMAN Audivina is a $1999 USD pair of over-the-ear closed-back planar magnetic headphones designed by HIFIMAN for Studio and Home usage. They come with the new Acoustically Invisible Stealth Magnet, Neo Supernano Diaphragm (NsD), and with superb ergonomics to redefine what kind of fun can be had with a closed-back can. Today we’ll be reviewing it together, but also compare them to other flagship headphones including HIFIMAN HE1000 Stealth (1400 USD), Audeze MM-500 (1699 USD), Crosszone CZ-8a (1700 USD), Sendy Audio Peacock (1500 USD), and Spirit Torino Audio Super Leggera (2000 USD). We will also be doing pairings between HIFIMAN Audivina and FiiO K9 PRO ESS (799 USD), SMSL DO400 (475 USD), iBasso DX320 MAX TI (3499 USD), and Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000T (2299 USD).
HIFIMAN is likely the most popular name in the audiophile headphone industry nowadays thanks to the way they managed to design and create something for everyone, from super high performance but entry-level priced headphones, such as Sundara, which most readers have heard at least once, all the way to the flagships like the Svanar, HE1000 Stealth, or Susvara. They also are the makers of the wireless bluetooth earphones that I am using right now for gym, namely the Svanar Wireless. HIFIMAN provides excellent service and support for their products, and you can safely order from their website and shop, but their products are also available on Amazon, which should be comfortable for most readers to use. The level of customer support that HIFIMAN has right now is hard to match and they are in the top 5 companies that I could easily recommend anyone to order from, knowing you’re likely to have an excellent experience with both their products and the service afterwards. Although the name Audivina seems an overachiever for most English speaking music fans, it is actually a combination of the word Audi which means listening in Sanskrit, and Vina meaning sitar. A sitar is a South Asian Traditional stringed instrument that allows the musician to adjust the position of the frets according to the song that’s being played, and HIFIMAN also suggests that Audivina will be able to sound just right to any piece that will be played on it. To be honest, my Romanian speaking mind actually suggested something like Divine Audio when I read its name, so it will be interesting to learn if it reaches such a point acoustically.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in the HIFIMAN Audivina Planar Magnetic Headphones find their next music companion.
You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3LUTsAJ
If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/45qRTRV
And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3txwMzR
Starting with the package, we have a really cool transport case, and finally higher quality cables with the Audivina, as HIFIMAN has been listening to customers, and providing them with better and better experience all across the board. The best part is the comfort, and HIFIMAN surely knows how to make a comfortable headphone. The earpads of the Audivina are as thick and soft as possible, even thicker, larger and deeper than the earpads of the HE1000 Stealth and other HIFIMAN Flagships. The earcups are also a bit larger than all of the other HIFIMAN Headphones, and those headphones look physically large, but the orange wood is super nice, and it seems like they’ve been reading my reviews, because Audivina is actually matchy, coming in two shades of brown and silver, instead of using more colors.
The inner resonance chamber is inspired by the Bayreuth Festival Theater in Germany, and it takes elements from the multi-stage attenuation that offers the listener a wide, well separated soundstage in a really small space. The trick is that the chamber doesn’t just offer a simple resonance of the soundwaves, but it has an actual acoustic design that forces the sound to take a circuitous route through the chamber, allowing for a signature that is far wider and deeper than what is typically possible with headphones.
This wouldn’t be a HIFIMAN Headphone if we wouldn’t have Acoustically Stealthy Magnets, which are the creation of HIFIMAN, a special kind of magnets for the Planar Magnetic drivers that are acoustically transparent, so while the ear cup in the back will reflect the sound and create the soundstage as designed, the sound waves do not bounce off the magnet, and this allows for the cleanest possible sound with the lowest level of distortion. The key was to reduce to the point of absolution the wave diffraction turbulence that degrades the integrity of the sound waves.
We also have the Neo SuperNano Diaphragm NsD that we previously saw on Ananda Nano and other flagships, and this is a diaphragm that is 80% thinner than all of the previous design, which leads to a much faster response, better transients, and at 1 to 2 microns of thickness, this is one of the lightest, thinnest sound diaphragms that exist out there. The beauty of those headphones is unmatched and I can only hope our photos will do it justice, as the hardwood is lacquered to the point where it feels super hard, like jade to the touch. It is pleasing to hold in hands and on your head, and my ears have enough real estate inside those headphones that I can actually find a sweet spot so comfortable that I literally didn’t feel the need to take them off after 8 hours of continuous wear. The headband is also super ergonomic, the same as the one we’ve seen on HE1000 Stealth, and it has high-precision CNC metal that is hand polished to give it that clean look.
The package includes the headphones, the transport case, and three cables in total, one that is ended in a 3.5mm single ended connector and is 1.5 meters in length, one that is ended in a 6.35mm single ended jack connector and is 3 meters in length, and an XLR Balanced cable that is 3 meters in length. Those cables are premium in sound, but the build is very standard, so for those who want an upgrade, Audivina uses the same 3.5mm stereo connectors at the earcup side that all of the other HIFIMAN Headphones use.
Naturally, you’d want to keep this headphone for many years to come, so you’ll be happy to hear that the earpads are made from silky leatherette with high-end fabrics on the inside. The best part is that they are easily replaceable, and you can replace most parts of the Audivina if something would be to break, HIFIMAN having a very friendly and capable PR and Aftersales team that can help you if you run into any issues.
The frequency response of the Audivina is quoted to be between 5 Hz and 55 kHz, and the sensitivity is quoted to be 97 dB, which is on the low side. The impedance is low too, at 20 OHMs, but I did not notice any kind of hissing or any other problems. The default cables are a touch microphonic, but that can easily be solved by using aftermarket cables, and you won’t hear any noise from Audivina if you’ll be seated at your computer rather than taking those outdoors. One thing that I did not notice is the weight, and Audivina is quoted to be heavy, at 470 grams being close to Audeze MM-500, but in my personal experience they feel light as a feather, and my head doesn’t feel them, as the clamping force is just right, and the weight is very evenly distributed around the head, so that there is no hotspot or any place where they would feel uncomfortable. All in all, it is one of the most comfortable, best built headphones that I’ve ever seen and I have the pleasure to enjoy every day.
Starting with the driving part, Audivina needs quite a bit of power, and a high quality source to sounds its best, so I’ve been pairing it mostly with high-end sources, including iBasso DX320 MAX TI, Aune S9C PRO, SMSL DO400, Matrix Mini-i PRO 4, HIFIMAN EF400, iFi Go Bar and HIFIMAN EF600. Overall, HIFIMAN’s own EF600 is the best sounding source for Audivina, and despite those being some balanced / neutral sounding headphones with excellent extension, EF600 builds the best extension and control in the bass, the most treble sparkle and the widest soundstage with the best dynamics, and overall resolution. Indeed, the matching is so important that I didn’t click much before plugging the Audivina in the EF600, and even though iFi Go Bar can drive them well in terms of loudness and they get a low distortion with it, the dynamics, and bass impact only gets to the best point when driven properly. Naturally, a high-end source like Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000T will do a really good job, but I think EF600 is the bare minimum you owe to Audivina if you want to get to the sound I am describing in today’s review. The key is that they are not the most efficient, but efficient enough, they can get loud, but need something with a strong backbone to sound proper.
The overall signature can be described as balanced, natural, with a straight-line response, if not for a slight emphasis towards the top end, which gives them a tasteful bright tuning. Somehow, HIFIMAN managed to pull the hardest card to deal, and made Audivina sound large, larger than most of their own Open-Back headphones, not to mention larger than most open-back headphones and closed-back headphones out there, and the resonance chamber they designed for Audivina works really well, as this is a headphone that can expand far beyond the confines of your head. To make things even better, the bass can deliver a really full and satisfying blow then Audivina is driven properly, but it usually stays in line, allowing all music to shine through, giving music the kind of tuning you’d hear in real life, weight, tonality, texture, and especially instrument separation are all perfect.
The bass is an important element in the sound of the Audivina, despite it not being the central element of their sound. This is a headphone that can totally deliver impact and punch, slam and depth, despite the bass usually being linear, and tuned to be natural in sound. The bass is fast, it has a fast decay, reacts fast to impulse, and this makes the whole sound of the Audivina move nimbly, they make you jump, and they make you feel alive. The bass allows for all kinds of instruments to have their natural intended weight and texture, Audivina brings the music to life, and is a transparent headphone that does not impose a certain character on the sound. In fact, this is true for all their sound, not just the bass, and transparency sure is a strong point for them. Happily, if you prefer a beefier bottom end, you can totally add 5-7dB of bass 100 Hz and below, to mix in some mid bass punch, and some low end impact. I could hear bass down to 30 Hz, below which it softly dips in response, and the drivers have the ability to stay very linear, with no peaks or dips, judging from a tone sweep.
The midrange does not inherit any extra thickness or warmth from the bass, as there’s no uplift, but we do have the magic here, Audivina managing to create the promised soundstage and ten times over what I was expecting them to. HIFIMAN already makes some of the widest sounding open-back headphones in the whole world, including the Arya Stealth and HE1000 Stealth, and even Ananda Nano, so we are used to hearing a wide stage and good instrument separation from them, but Audivina actually can match blows with all three of the above, and still manage to have a special charm to its sound, they are wide, precise, well layered and well, wider than most headphones out there. The beauty is that HIFIMAN always had good tonality, but Audivina is really spot-on, both male and female voices are perfect, guitars are perfect, and so are trumpets and synths. The texture is really bright, vivid and detailed, but it is never too edgy or fatiguing, and that applies to all instruments, Audivina has an extreme sense of detail and resolution, yet they’re never harsh or sound too sharp. HIFIMAN managed to obtain something rare here, a really detailed sounding headphone that doesn’t end up being too analytical. There is a slight tendency for the upper midrange to be ever so slightly presented more forward than the lower midrange, but the two areas of focus are between 1 and 2 kHz, to give volume and presence to voices, and there’s also a bit of a forward presentation around 6.5 kHz, but those are so soft and smoothly uplifted that you will only notice them if you know what you’re looking for. Just like in the bass, the midrange reacts super quickly to the impulse it is being fed, and this creates a feeling of impact, resolution, speed and precision for Audivina, which sounds far more responsive than most closed-back headphone that I heard, and there’s no echo to the sound, the inner chamber being designed so that it creates soundstage in an acoustically meaningful way, rather than just reflect everything and hope it will sound like width to listeners.
Speaking of which, the soundstage has both excellent width and depth, we get a rounded expansion that’s natural and pleasing with all music, and Audivina is truly capable of presenting that holographic feeling we always rave about when looking at flagship headphones. The trick is that the staging goes both wide and deep, and they have a pinpoint precision placement, easily showing when a sound is coming from a specific direction, be it in front or behind the listener. HIFIMAN had the highest level of dedication to give Audivina an inner hall of its own, a space to play music and for music to happen. The sound also is rich, harmonic and pleasing, with nuanced presentations for all acoustic instruments. Going from most headphones to Audivina shows just how far technology came today, and just how good the dynamics of a headphone can be, I am willing to say that Audivina single handedly beats every stereo system that I heard, regardless of the room treatment and cost, Audivina is literally perfect.
We have an open, bright, well extended and airy treble, but somehow they circumvented all harshness and fatigue from the sound of the Audivina. The super lightweight diaphragm allows Audivina to sound as open, clean and controlled as possible, and if you appreciate a well defined top end, with a really tangible impact for all drums and acoustic instruments, you’ll love the Audivina. The sense of forwardness in the treble is not extreme by any means, Audivina sounds just right, but it is clearly not a dark or overly smooth sounding headphone, and with synths, you will notice the micro textures and micro details in those saw waves, giving music a really detailed presentation, without making it fatiguing. It is just now that I am focusing on the treble that I am noticing just how good the bass is at giving contrast to the whole sound, Audivina makes EDM, Pop and Metal music really shine. In fact, there’s not a single musical style that I don’t like with Audivina and they really rub me the right way when it comes to the presentation, they sound literally perfect for all music out there, with Metal, Orchestral and EDM generally being my favorite styles played through the Audivina. Since those are my favorite music styles in general, you can see how Audivina is one of my favorite headphones sonically.
HIFIMAN Audivina vs Crosszone CZ-8a (1999 USD vs 1700 USD) – Crosszone has finished making a new version of their most popular headphones, but it is not yet on the market, so CZ-8a is a good starter for comparisons for Audivina, not just because it has a similar price, but because both are well made, closed back headphones with excellent comfort. The default cable looks very normal and basic for CZ-8a, while Audivina comes with XLR cables in the package, and the cables are of a slightly better quality. The sound is actually quite different, and while both try to sound as wide and holographic as possible, Audivina is more realistic in the midrange, has a more natural tuning, and it also has a deeper bass with more impact, and an airier treble with more sparkle. CZ-8a is more relaxed sounding, it has a smoother treble, and lower amounts of bass, being a laid-back headphone in comparison to the Audivina, and while CZ-8a is not as focused on the dynamics and engagement, it does have a good level of detail and resolution, just like Audivina. All in all, both are quite great, but Audivina sounds more natural and is easier to get used to. CZ-8a is much easier to drive, but also leaks less and isolates better from the outside noise, while Audivina has a larger earcup and larger earpads, being more comfortable for long periods of wear.
HIFIMAN Audivina vs Sendy Audio Peacock (1999 USD vs 1500 USD) – The peacock is a headphone I have used extensively, and it is beautiful in design, having those golden earcups, with the superb aesthetic, while Audvina looks more traditional and classy, having a more comfortable earpad and ear cup design. The default cable of the Peacock is of a higher quality, while Audivina has more cables to satisfy everyone and their needs, including XLR cables for HIFIMAN EF600. Peacock is fully rounded which makes them less comfy and easier to lose seal with, but they are also open-back, with just a tiny bit of passive noise isolation. Audivina leaks much less, but it also has very low passive noise isolation, so neither wasn’t designed to be used in a very noisy environment. The overall sound is actually similar in detail and dynamics / punchiness, but Audivina has slightly better extension in the bass, yet the sound isn’t as thick as with the Peacock. Sendy Audio made their bird flagship sound quite midrange centric, while Audivina is brighter and more neutral, with more sparkle in the treble, and a wider, deeper soundstage, resulting in a more holographic presentation. All in all, Peacock is made for those who prefer a focused, more intimate sound with a strong emphasis on voices, and for those who want a warmer, thicker sounding midrange that has mid bass emphasis, while Audivina is made for those who prefer a more neutral, brighter sound, with more space in between instruments, and more space for music to play in. While both are somewhat hard to drive, Peacock requires less power, and is easier to carry around, but both come with a nice transport case.
HIFIMAN Audivina vs Spirit Torino Super Leggera (1999 USD vs 2000 USD) – Since those two have exactly the same launch price, it is good to mention that both are well made, and Super Leggera is actually made by hand, in Italy, and it looks the part, but the almost on-ear design of the Super Leggera means that Audivina is more comfortable, somewhat lighter, with much larger earcups, deeper and softer earpads, and with a better design for long hours of wear. Audivina is made for those who don’t want to be bothered while listening to music, but both headphones come with good cables in the package, Super Leggera leaks your music to others more and offers less passive noise isolation than Audivina. The overall driving power required for the Super Leggera to play properly is low, but it is also tricky to drive it properly as it does require a good source. We have a more mid centric, more romantic sound coming from the Super Leggera, which has a more intimate soundstage, and a more relaxed treble too. The sound of Audivina is much richer in the bass, where it has a better extension, it has a brighter and punchier treble, more detail and better dynamics, also the midrange is more natural, with less extra thickness and a more pleasing overall tuning. Super Leggera makes a stand for the idea that Italy is a country of romance, while Audivina has the precision of a studio monitor, but the soundstage of an orchestra hall, drawing in advantages from both and being the more technically capable performer.
HIFIMAN Audivina vs Audeze MM-500 (1999 USD vs 1699 USD) – We have two very nice headphones here, but the size and shape is really different. Audivina is a much larger headphone with a much larger ear cup and ear pad, with a softer headband and better overall comfort and ergonomics, less tightness on the head, and yet, it is lighter despite being larger. MM-500 cannot be recommended if you have a larger head or if you want something comfy, although they do seek to stay as tightly and as fixed on your head as possible for studio work. MM-500 is really easy to drive and will sound good out of most sources, while Audivina requires a good source to sound their best, but both headphones come with pretty basic cables included in the package and you will need upgraded ones for both, although Audivina comes with all the cables, including those for balanced sources in the package. The sonic presentation is very different, with MM-500 being smoother, thicker and heavier sounding than the Audivina, but also sounding more intimate and focused. Although Audivina is a bit pricier, it is not much pricier, so it is super nice to see that it actually has better staging, a wider, more holographic presentation, more details and clarity, and better technical ability, being more revealing than MM-500 which have always been recommended for their resolution. Audivina has a more neutral bass, and a brighter treble that has more air and sparkle, sounding brighter and more open than MM-500 which sounds darker and smoother. Both are very enjoyable for their sound, but even for studio work, I would recommend and use Audivina more myself, because it is lighter and comfier in the long run.
HIFIMAN Audivina vs HIFIMAN HE1000 Stealth (1999 USD vs 1400 USD) – HIFIMAN always knew how to make a nice headphone with excellent build quality, and HE1000 Stealth is no exceptional, so we can safely start by saying that both HE1000 Stealth and Audivina are comfortable, both have large earcups, large and deep earpads, and both will feel light and well balanced on your head. Both are about as heavy to drive and both sound best out of HIFIMAN EF600, being excellent for similar styles of music, including rock, metal and pop, and EDM. The differences are in the design, where HE1000 Stealth is an open-back headphone and will leak much more and isolate less from the outside noise than Audivina, drawing in more effect from the acoustics of the room they’re in. Audivina sounds deeper, the bass goes deeper in the sub bass, there’s more impact and better dynamics, with a better sense of space and width. Despite being closed back, the soundstage is more holographic as presented by Audivina, but you need to remember than both are incredibly good and neither shouldn’t be taken lightly, both are really enjoyable. HE1000 Stealth will be brighter with less bass, Audivina will sound deeper with more bass. The midrange is really awesome as presented by both, but I am having an easier time listening to Audivina at quieter volumes, as it is closed back and micro details shine in a bit more, and it has a slightly better sense of detail.
HIFIMAN Audivina + SMSL DO400 (1999 USD + 475 USD) – If you have a very limited budget, SMSL did so well for themselves that I had to include their DO400 in the pairing list for Audivina. First off, the driving power is more than enough for Audivina, and it also gives those headphones a deep, powerful sound with good treble extension and great detail too. The overall sense of soundstage is excellent, DO400 makes the Audivina extend well in width, although slightly less in depth, resulting in a very holographic image that’s very hyped up. All in all, if you have the most limited of budgets, this might be the best source, besides HIFIMAN EF400 which is also rather excellent for the money it costs.
HIFIMAN Audivina + iBasso DX320 MAX TI (1999 USD + 3499 USD) – DX320 MAX TI reminds me that iBasso managed to pull off something that even Apple couldn’t do, and that is use Titanium in the build of their products properly, but even more important, they made a DAP or digital audio player that actually has the power to drive those headphones better than most full-sized desktop sources. Although I did a bit part of my testing with EF600, DX320 MAX TI is about the best sounding source for Audivina, at least relative to my tastes, it has the most punch, best overall dynamics and best detail / resolution. This being said, as EF600 is below 1000 USD, and DX320 MAX TI is above 3000 USD, I wanted to offer everyone a good budget option too, but DX320 MAX TI is about the best source you could power the Audivina from, and the source that would make you the happiest sonically, with the widest, deepest soundstage, thickest yet most controlled bass, most impactful overall low end, and with the cleanest midrange. This is literally a perfect DAP in every way possible sonically, it is pure addiction to music in my ears.
HIFIMAN Audivina + Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000T (1999 USD + 2299 USD) – CA1000T is the kind of source that brings Audivina to warmer shores, giving it a linear sound, but richer in the midrange, warmer in the midrange, although the bass is quite linear, and the treble is on the slightly tamer side of things. This gives the sound a less dynamic, but more mid centric presentation, taking away some of the power in the treble that Audivina has with EF600, but giving voices more presence. The soundstage tends to be slightly more intimate with CA1000T, and the dynamics are on the natural side, but overall it is a pleasing, more laid back signature than with most sources.
HIFIMAN Audivina + FiiO K9 PRO ESS (1999 USD + 799 USD) – FiiO K9 PRO will be perfect as a source for those who want to tone down the treble of Audivina, and for those who want to also make them more linear in the bass. Compared to most of the other sources, K9 PRO ESS tends to make Audivina flatter, to tame them and their sound, which is a take that’s quite unique, making Audivina smoother and more relaxed, and giving them a slightly slower sound too. It is interesting to note all of this, because K9 PRO does not have the same effect with all headphones and IEMs, and the volume is more than enough, but quite different from the other sources.
Value and Conclusion
While we’ve seen exceptional performance from HIFIMAN Headphones in general, Audivina is not just another great headphone, this one’s closing too much to perfection, it offers everything we ever wanted from HIFIMAN and headphones in general, both the resolution, soundstage, but also the bass to back up the sound, exceptional comfort, and build quality to match the price tag. It is basically not just well priced for the performance, it actually is totally worth its money despite costing quite a bit, HIFIMAN delivering a headphone that you can comfortably purchase to own and use as your endgame, especially if you want pinpoint precise instrument placement, staging and separation.
Before the end of today’s review, HIFIMAN Audivina earned a place in the Audiophile-Heaven Hall Of Fame for their exceptional sonic performance, outstanding dynamics, a punchy sound, and the build and comfort to match all of those, being a package that’s well rounded and offers exactly what we always desired, balance and performance in everything.
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a headphone that can play and place an instrument not just out of your head, but in a really specific spot, being the cure for the itch in every possible audiophile way, and providing the kind of performance that you only dreamed about in the past, HIFIMAN Audivina has a divine sound, with a soundstage that can only be described as perfection, a deep and powerful bass to match, and the refinement / detail that can make you forget other headphones exist, and make you focus on it and it only.
You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3LUTsAJ
If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/45qRTRV
And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3txwMzR
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Full Playlist used for this review
We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature. I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!
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