HiFiMAN Svanar Review
Today, I finally get the chance to sit down and review a fairly new IEM release: the HiFiMAN Svanar. I had a fleeting listen with the Svanar at CanJam NYC this year, and was generally pretty happy with what I heard – that’s really all I can fairly say based on a 5 minute listen. Now that I’ve had a day with the Svanar, let’s dig a little deeper into its accessories, physical and technical design, and sonic character. Does the HiFiMAN Svanar pull the weight behind its $2000 price tag?
What’s In the Box?
- HiFiMAN Svanar In-Ear Monitors
- Hard Carrying Case
- 2 Pin 0.78mm to 3.5mm Cable with Silver-Coated Crystalline Copper Wire
- 4 Pairs of Silicone Ear Tips (2 Double Flanged, 2 Triple Flanged)
- Ear Hooks
- Owner’s Guide
- Warranty/Registration Card
Look and Feel
The Svanar’s most iconic feature is its housing, which is composed of aluminum alloy on its faceplate and a brass chamber with 24 karat gold plating. I’ll get into the technical relevance of these materials in the next section, but for now, it will suffice to say that they give the HiFiMAN Svanar a chic, minimalist, and timelessly cool look.
When it comes to fit and comfort, the Svanar gets top marks. It’s distinctly concha shaped, and slipped into my ears as if it was molded for them. The seal is great, and further complimented by the palpable firmness offered in its all metal housing. HiFiMAN notes that they designed the Svanar to have a center of gravity that points towards the pinna, which they generalize as “the visible portion of outside ear.” They attribute this characteristic, along with its ergonomic shape, to the IEM’s very apparent comfort.
HiFiMAN offers two pairs of of double flanged and triple flanged tips with the Svanar. The utterly monstrous pair of large-sized triple flange invite in-ear sadists like myself to, quite literally, dig in. The ear hooks that come with the IEM are a welcome addition, as the included cable is a bit lightweight and formless. However, I didn’t find them entirely necessary so long as the cable clip was secured close to my jaw. Lastly, the carrying case is stylish, small, and very durable, which is good to see included with a pair of $2,000 IEMs.
Technical Design and Specs
Brass was used in the HiFiMAN Svanar’s chamber design for its resonant qualities and density, which provide even and accurate vibrations within the housing.
The meat and potatoes of the technical design lies in the acoustic cavity and the topology diaphragm in the 9.2mm dynamic driver. HiFiMAN characterizes the cavity design as being “phase conducting,” and says it was inspired by acoustic design elements of the Moscow State Theater. As for the topology diaphragm in the driver, this refers to a nano particle coating on its surface. This allows for variation within the surface pattern and thickness and leads to highly dynamic and precise driver movements.
Last thing I want to mention here is the Svanar’s 60 ohm impedance, which is curiously high for an IEM. While DACs, phones, and general consumer devices won’t really struggle to power the Svanar, I was surprised to find myself pushing the power on my iBasso DC06 DAC/dongle just a little past where it would be for an average pair of over-ear headphones.
|Topology Diaphragm 9.2mm DD
|5 Hz – 35 kHz
I was a bit surprised to hear the stage present so close to the head – more so, on-the-face. The Svanar presents stereo images in a mostly linear, left-right fashion, but has a few tricks up its sleeve. For one, I frequently felt its 2D movements shift across the back of my head. And while depth isn’t a particular strong suit for the IEM, it popped into the image when dealing with high frequency details in cymbals and reverbs. It’s also worth noting that there was a light slam present in the low end, which offered an internal 3D quality directed towards the back of my skull.
Though I would have liked to hear a little more spatial character from the IEM, I’ll concede that the somewhat flat stage is nonetheless well done and offered a precise clarity in its linear separation of parts.
The HiFiMAN Svanar is a bit a cautious here, offering what almost sounds like a reference-grade low end response. Though it’s not particularly powerful, it offers a firm clarity and a light smattering of mid bass slam. I’ll admit that this low end left me feeling a little teased when taken in context with the IEMs overall balance. Kick drums found crisp transient expression in their treble, detailed body in their low mids, but came in just a little light on power in their subs. That said, what the Svanar might lack in amplitude is made up for in detail. Bass parts come through with their distinct timbres vividly and tastefully in tact.
While I’m basing this review on my experience wearing the triple flange silicone tips that come with the Svanar, I will say that that wearing foams gave me some of the extra low end heft that I was looking for.
Do you like your mids? Do you love your mids? If yes, the Svanar is likely up your alley. The strong prominence of its center frequencies was the first characteristic I noticed, and is still with me several hours of listening later. The balance here seems to swing towards low mids that extend off of the high bass. This imparted a full, meaty quality that may be the most defining feature of its balance. The fundamentals on vocals, guitars, and snare drums were brought into prominence and took on more driving textures. In tandem with its modest and detailed low end, I would venture to say that the Svanar is geared more towards warm, analytical listens than fun, artistic coloration.
I found the HiFiMAN Svanar performed best in its higher frequencies. High treble extension seems to take a sharp roll off on the earlier side of things, while low and mid treble sound as though they reside just a touch below a standard ear gain curve. Despite the light attenuation we find in its treble, there was no shortage of articulate and even spacious detail in the IEM’s high end. As I previously mentioned, higher frequency parts like reverbs and cymbals were among the few components capable of breaking out of the Svanar’s otherwise flat stage. It possesses the unique quality of being a semi-dark IEM with an impressively resolving treble balance.
On the one hand, I found the HiFiMAN Svanar to be a very eclectic IEM that could handle just about any genre thrown at it. On the other hand, I think it has a niche appeal with its small stage, light bass, and dominant mids. If you want a fun and colorful IEM, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere. If a firm and analytical balance with a face-covering image is what your after, well, the Svanar is a pretty respectable contender. Though it doesn’t really conform to my personal preferences, there’s a unique appeal to be had here for the right kind of listener.
|Firm and detailed low end
Articulate and warm mids
Gentle yet detailed treble
Lacks sub bass power