Today we review the Hifiman Svanar, the all-new flagship IEM from the Chinese brand. A new model available for $1,999 USD.
Disclaimer: the Hifiman Svanar was sent to us free of charge by the brand, in exchange for our honest opinion.
Founded in 2007 by Dr. Fang Bian, Hifiman has become, throughout the years, one of the most renowned hi-fi brands – pretty much like FiiO, which began around the same time.
An unexpected success, as the manufacturer succeeded in the audacious challenge of bringing orthodynamic transducers, back to the forefront of the scene. A real challenge, taken up in less than a quarter of a century, especially since Hifiman did not benefit from the aura of a BeyerDynamic, or AKG, true secular institution.
If the brand was located in New York during its beginnings, it quickly moved to China, and more precisely to TianJin, to be closer to its production plants. A choice that allowed Fang and his team to expand their catalogue, while fixing some early mistakes – hello HiFiman HE-400!
But, before headphones, HiFiman also produced DAP – who remembers the HM-801 and HM-601? – followed pretty quickly by DAC. The quirk? Almost all of them used R2R DAC at the beginning, instead of the traditional delta-sigma setup favored by… everyone else? A difference nurtured by the brand that recently gave us the amazing Hifiman EF400, a desktop DAC/Headphone-Amplifier that I found so good, it earned my personal recommendation.
Yet today, I won’t be reviewing a DAC, nor a headphone, but an IEM. And not any in-ear but the Hifiman Svanar, the brand’s new TOTL IEM – sold for no less than $1999 price-tag – packing the same “Topology Dynamic Driver” introduced in the previous RE2000, fitted in a fancy gold-plated chamber(!)
Enough to play in the big league? That’s what we’ll find out today.
The Hifiman RE-Series
As usual, I’ll do a quick presentation of the brand’s actual line-up, but if you prefer getting straight into the review, just click here!
Hifiman RE400 / RE600
Launched in 2013, the Hifiman RE400 and RE-600 were the first IEMs of the brand. They were released conjointly with the HM-901, the awaited upgrade to the HM-901 which looked bulky and outdated in comparison to newcomers. They were dynamic IEMs in an aluminium shell, that alone set them apart from the crowd, quality IEMs (under 100€) were not the norm back then.
Sound-wise, the RE-400 and RE-600 had a lot in common, mostly because the drivers were the same, as was the shell. If the RE-600 were harder to drive due to its lower sensibility, once you had them hooked to a good player, their prowess was obvious. Terrific highs, great sound stage, precise vocals, you could only ask for more bass… but that was it!
The catch? You could have the same sound, same performances and same design (colour aside) for one-third of the price if you got the Hifiman RE-400. Moreover, both had a fixed cable so it made the choice easier: 99€ (19.99€ nowadays) for an easy-to-drive bang-for-buck IEM? Or 299€ (64,99€ today) for the same IEM, in black?
Produced by Unique Melody and tuned by Hifiman, the RE-1000 is the only CIEM of the brand. Where 99% of CIEMs use balanced armatures or balanced+dynamic drivers to boost the low-end, Hifiman decided to go full dynamic. Not with one full-range driver, no, but with two dynamic drivers (9mm+8.5mm).
Unfortunately, I have never tried them, and may never will, so I can’t give any advice, positively or negatively. Even so, Unique Melody is one of the top brands of CIEMs and Hifiman knows how to make great products like the HE-1000, so what could be wrong?
Hifiman RE800 (Silver and Gold)
Released conjointly with the RE-2000, the Hifiman RE800 was the brand’s take on the premium market. Sort of a shoehorned version of the RE-200 – or an upscale one of the RE600 – the IEM shares the same Topology driver found in its higher-end sibling.
Sound-wise, it fell right between the RE2000 and… RE400, which share many of the same visual specifications (casing, overall design or even the signature). But, with an introductory price of $699, the IEM was competing with many more endowed solutions, like BGVP, Fearless or even FiiO.
Fortunately, over time, the price was slashed and you can now get a pair of brand-new Hifiman RE800 Silver for less than $100!
Hifiman RE2000 Pro (Silver / Gold)
Replacing the previous RE2000, the Hifiman RE2000 Pro is an enhanced version of the brand’s TOTL IEM, launched in 2017. Same Topology Diaphgram, promising distortion-free performances, with none of Amature’s inadequacies, but new housing offering improved ergonomics and overall comfort, thanks to a better CNC machining process. And, best of all, if the new RE2000 Pro Gold remain a $2000 IEM, the silver version will cost you a fraction of that price – $349 at the time of writing – for the same sonic performance.
Speaking of that, sound-wise, I’ll quote my previous review:
The RE-2000 gives you an amazing experience with its extensive dynamics and richness in every aspect of the sound, but the size of the shell may be a limitation for some listeners. Still, for those who can fit the IEM correctly, it’ll be a blissful momentum and aside from the golden plating, it’s exactly the same as before… for 500€.
The review continues on the next page, click here or below.
Page 2: Bundle, specifications
Page 3: Sound Performances