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8/18/20. Article Posted.
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At A Glance
HIFIMAN Deva Over-Ear Full-Size Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphone with Bluetooth Dongle/Receiver, Balanced Input, Easily Switch to Wireless, USB/Wireless/Wired
HIFIMAN SUNDARA Over-ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones with High Fidelity Design Easy to Drive by iPhone /Android Comfortable Headband Open-Back Design Easy Cable Swapping Black
Open Back, Planar Magnetic
Open Back, Planar Magnetic
20Hz - 20kHz
6Hz - 75kHz
Rock, Hip-Hop, EDM, Indie, Pop, Metal
Rock, Hip-Hop, EDM, Indie, Pop
Jazz, Classical, Gaming, Film
Jazz, Classical, Gaming, Film
Protein Leather, Memory Foam, Cloth
Spring Steel, Synthetic Leather, Anodized Aluminum, and OFC Copper
Bluemini BT Adapter & Amp/DAC, 3.5mm balanced cable, USB charging cable, 1/4" adapter, User Manual, Warranty Card
Before we get started, all links to these products, as well as any articles related will be here in this post. Check out my Gear Recommendations below as well for most of my top picks, all in one place!
If you do purchase through one of my Drop or Amazon links, I will get a small kickback depending on where you live. Your continued support of the blog and channel means everything to me, so thank you!
First, we’ll discuss build, which has changed a bit since the Sundara’s introduction back in 2018. That
headphone represented the second generation revision of the line and improved many aspects of the 1st
gen 400i, 400S, and the original Edition X. Related:HiFiMan HE4XX vs. 400i vs. 400S vs. Sundara
The build of the Sundara was much improved over its predecessors, and even though you could move the cups up and down vertically, you couldn’t rotate them front to back like you could with the others.
HIFIMAN has continued this switch moving into the 3rd generation DEVA and 2020 400i, but the build has been tweaked yet again in some other notable ways.
The honeycomb configuration present in the early 400i and 400S models has returned, but the headphone is now thicker than the others.
IT’S DUMMY THICC!!
While both the DEVA and Sundara feel very robust and durable, the DEVA’s headband adjustments are much easier to move up and down this time around, even despite the mechanisms themselves feeling
and looking considerably blockier.
“The next screw that falls out, is gonna be YOU.” -Principal Vernon
The other difference is that the headphone bale resembles that of the Drop collaboration 4XX’s bale, but it’s attached to the ear cups properly this time, and the screws don’t feel like they’re going to fall out.
Unlike the 4XX, the materials here are very consistent and the headphone feels well made when you’re holding it in your hands.
Aesthetically, the DEVA looks a bit more elegant than the Sundara, which is hard to achieve considering
how beautiful the Sundara was. The font on the adjustments has also been upgraded, which you may or may not care about.
The ear cups on both are mostly the same, though you’ll notice that the DEVA’s outer covering hearkens
back to the Ananda’s. It’s a breathable type of cloth/fabric material, but still combines a mix of protein
leather and memory foam for the inside. Related: HIFIMAN Ananda vs. Sundara [In Depth Guide]
Instead of 2 1/8″ TRS cables connecting into each of the Sundara’s ear cups, we now have one 3.5mm balanced cable that inserts into the left side of the DEVA. I haven’t had issues with sound cutting out on the Sundara, but others have.
Do note that the DEVA seems to have rectified this issue, which I personally experienced with the Ananda during my time with it.
What about comfort?
The HIFIMAN DEVA is perhaps the single most comfortable headphone I’ve ever worn, and even more comfy than its older brother Sundara.
Everything about it is perfect: It doesn’t dig into your skull, the clamp is just right for extended listening
sessions, there’s ample room for your ears inside, and there’s plenty of dummy thick padding to go around.
The one caveat here is that you will notice the headphones slide a bit, and it does need a re-adjustment from time to time as far as where it sits on your head. You’ll also notice that this will affect the way it sounds due to HIFIMAN’s famed angled drivers, but a simple adjustment is all that’s needed.
The Sundara isn’t far behind in terms of comfort, but I think the dummy thicker headband pad on the DEVA is the game-changer here. The cups on the DEVA also seem a tad wider in diameter, and perhaps a smidgen deeper.
All in all, the DEVA is a true upgrade in terms of build and comfort, but you may still have glue issues
depending on how often you swap pads. I really hope HIFIMAN fixes this down the road.
How do they sound in relation to one another though?
Glad you asked my nizzle.
The DEVA’s sound is similar to that of the original 400i and the more recent 4XX. It’s much more crisp and lively than that of the Sundara.
There’s a peak around 8-10kHz, but it’s not quite as pronounced as the 4XX’s from what I remember. You will notice it on the DEVA quite a bit at first, but it does tend to mellow out the longer you listen.
Hey, MELLOW OUT MAN!
Originally I EQ’d the area down by about 5dB, but around 2 decibels down works fine now.
It ensures the headphone still has some air without sounding essy or sibilant, but I prefer to continue rolling the treble off after 10k as well due to personal preference.
The Sundara’s treble doesn’t need any EQ, and the overall sound is a lot smoother and more mellow by contrast, almost to a fault. It’s warmer, more laid back, and more relaxed sounding, but both headphones take to EQ quite well if you want to mess around.
You’ll find that both start to gradually roll off after about 200Hz, and each can sometimes lack the weight and impact that something like an Ananda provides in spades.
With the DEVA, I find that:
+1dB at 125Hz
+2dB at 100
+4dB at 60
+5dB at 30Hz
works extremely well.
This gives you some nice sub-bass extension and adds some meat on the DEVA if you’re feeling like you wanna be an obnoxious, out of control bass head.
Go ahead, gas up Majid Jordan – Gave Your Love Away and tell me I’m wrong. 😛
I’ve always found HIFIMAN’s mid-range to be mostly spot on, so I wouldn’t really mess with it too much.
The soundstage on both the DEVA and Sundara is above average, as you’ll sometimes get the sense that things are happening around you rather than from the headphones. Related:What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation]
Still, the stage isn’t quite as wide as something like a K702, but imaging and instrument separation on both is exemplary.
You’ll start to notice smaller details and subtle textures going on in the background. Attack, sustain, and decay is especially noteworthy on tracks like Martha My Dear from The Beatles – and songs you’ve heard hundreds of times (if not thousands) take on new life as if a veil was lifted and the sound was set free.
Think of these headphones like flowers, after they’ve opened up and bloomed completely. You’ll often wonder to yourself:
“How did I miss that subtle breathy sound in the vocal passage so many times previously?”
“The background instrumentation sounds so incredibly clear.”
“I can make out what the instruments are doing much better than I could before.
I can hear each individual bass note and exactly how it relates to the composition as a whole”
“The vocals sound more present and lively, but still sit in the mix rather nicely.”
All of these things and more are reactions you’re likely to have when listening to either headphone.
Interestingly enough, the main differences between them come in the form of features.
The DEVA is a Bluetooth headphone with an included Amp/DAC that doubles as the adapter that can be used with your phone, but you can also use it with the supplied 3.5mm headphone cable into a separate Amp/DAC, which you may prefer if you’re anything like me.
The Sundara is about as plain Jane as it gets, and isn’t quite as good of a value as the DEVA, truth be told.
Will you need an amp?
Amplification & Genre Pairing
As far as amplification is concerned, the DEVA has an even lower impedance than the original 400S, coming in at 18 Ohms vs. 37 for the Sundara. The 400S’ was 22.
Neither headphone is particularly efficient at 93.5dB and 94dB respectively, and I’d plan on investing in something for the Sundara right away. As far as the DEVA, I would go ahead and try the Amp/DAC that it comes with first, determine if you’re satisfied with it, and then consider upgrading LATER.
A perfect combo that I’m currently rockin’ right now is ifi’s hip-dac with the DEVA. With this setup, the DEVA needs minimal to no EQ. The hip is a warmer sounding DAC for sure, and it helps to balance out the somewhat essy treble area while providing a really lush, relaxed type of sound that pairs extremely well with the DEVA.
Genre wise? Everything. Both of these headphones are extremely versatile with a lot of different music and will sound great regardless of what you’re into. This is one of the main assets of a HIFIMAN, but also of planars in general.
They tend to provide a better representation of music, but also cover a wider range of genres and
musical styles. For clarification’s sake, I listen to Rock, Hip-Hop, Indie and Indie Pop, Metal, Jazz, Classical, Ambient, Acoustic, R&B and I watch a lot of films and game on my PS4. The DEVA is pretty much perfect for all of this.
The Sundara is as well, but I may not rely on it for Metal as metal needs a livelier sounding representation.
If you’re a kick back and relax typa homie, and don’t really care about Bluetooth and extra features and extra amp/dacs and extra cables and you just wanna be a legit audiophile and not be all extra, go with the Sundara and call it a day fam.
If you’re the typa homie looking for a sick value, the DEVA is incredibly hard to beat at $300 considering
its sound, build, comfort + everything you’re getting in the package. I fully believe it’s the best value in audio right now, and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. It’s the type of headphones that’s going to make you reconsider music long since forgotten about, and will re-invigorate your love for good sound.
Just the other day I listened to Aphex Twin’s “Windowlicker”, a song I’ve been analyzing and examining for the past 15 years since I first heard it in 2005. There was a moment towards the end of the piece that I swear to you I’ve never heard in all the years prior, and it completely blew me away considering how many times I’ve played the song since then. The DEVA was able to effortlessly render that part of the composition, and draw attention to it without distracting from the main rhythm.
It’s these moments that make the hobby worth investing in, and the DEVA is a perfect first foray into that.
Even with that said, here are some important points to also keep in mind:
Alternatively, you could go with either the wired version of the DEVA (same headphone, just more affordable than the deluxe but no extras), or just go with a 2020 revision 400i, which mimics the incredible build/comfort of the DEVA, but in all black. Looks sexy and it’s cheap asf. I will likely be buying one for the studio.
There’s no point in investing in a 4XX anymore because of what I just said. The 4XX also has build issues and I wouldn’t personally buy it given what I know about it – having held it in my hands, etc. It just doesn’t feel like it’s going to hold up well over time and the materials are mismatched in my opinion.
To re-iterate, you are taking a gamble purchasing a Sundara, but not everyone is going to have issues with the connections/driver imbalance. It’s just a roll of the dice type of thing that you have to accept if you prefer that warmer flavor. By and large, the Sundara is an extremely well-built headphone overall.
Check my Gear recommendations. I have a great set up for both the DEVA and Sundara if you’re just getting started. 🙂
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN DEVA vs. Sundara comparison, and now understand the main differences between them!
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Which of these headphones sounds like YOU? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.