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HiFiMan Deva headphones review

Audiophile headphones on an imported beer budget

HiFiMan Deva headphones review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

The HiFiMan Deva headphones offer premium design and audiophile sound performance for an incredibly affordable price.

For

  • Elegant, comfortable design
  • Great audio performance
  • Enclosed Bluetooth module
  • Affordable

Against

  • Not a lot of controls on the module
  • Companion app lacks standard features

With planar magnetic drivers, custom diaphragms, a premium build and a $299 price tag, the HiFiMan Deva headphones are a budget audiophile’s dream. The open back, circumaural cans are packed with quality components designed to deliver deep lows, rich mids and clear highs. They’re just the kind of headphones you’d expect to see in one of those old Maxell commercials right before the guy gets blown away. 

While your first and very correct inclination would be to hook the Deva up to an amplifier and sit back in your favorite comfy chair, the Deva can also go wireless thanks to the BlueMini, an attachable Bluetooth accessory that allows you to make the concert mobile. If you’re looking for your first pair of hi-fi headphones and don’t want to blow a car payment, the HiFiMan Deva headphones are the way to go. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones pricing and configurations

The HiFiMan Deva is competitively priced at $299 and is available in only one color, a soft caramel. Despite targeting audiophiles, the headphones are noticeably cheaper than some of the premium active noise cancelling headphones, including the $329 Bose Noise Cancelling 700 and the $349 Sony WH-1000xM4 headphones.

HiFiMan Deva headphones design

Looking at the HiFiMan Deva headphones, I immediately feel the urge to pour myself a glass of scotch neat and light a cigar; these cans are just that fancy. The Deva are an amalgamation of caramel leatherette and anodized aluminum. And although I’d like to say there’s no plastic whatsoever in the mix, there are the two gray matte clamps with Deva and HiFiMan stamped on either side of the band, connecting the metal connectors to the headband. 

The upper and bottom portions of the headband and the outer portion of the earcups are made of surprisingly supple memory foam-wrapped leatherette. The interior portion of the cups are made from fabric that looks like it was part of one of the comfiest sweaters I’ve ever seen. The exterior earcups are made of that beautiful silvery aluminum with an open grate that shows off the shape of the Neo supernano diaphragm. The only port on the headphones is the 3.5mm audio port. 

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The 4.7 x 4.1 x 2.8-inch Deva weigh 12.7 ounces. They’re rather large, which is to be expected from a pair of hi-fi headphones. The Bose and Sony weigh 9 oz and 8.9 oz, respectively, for comparison. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones comfort

For all the premium trappings and how big the Deva are, they also feel incredibly lightweight. I wore them for an entire 8-hour workday and the whole time it felt like my ears were surrounded by fluffy pillows. I really appreciate that the part of the earcups that actually comes in contact with your ears is made of fabric instead of leatherette. It cuts down on any potential sweating that might occur during the warmer months. 

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Due to their size, the Deva had no problem fitting over my colorful mass of locs which are currently in a poofy updo. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones accessories

Similar to most headphones, the HiFiMan Deva ships with a 3.5mm audio cable in case you want to plug into a laptop or maybe a DAC (digital-to-analog converter) or amp. There’s also a USB Type-C charging cable. But the star of the Deva ensemble (outside of the headphones) is the BlueMini. 

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Made of matte black plastic, the BlueMini is a Bluetooth module that allows you to use the Deva wirelessly. Using the USB Type-C port, you can use the BlueMini’s DAC, which can stream high-fidelity audio up to a 24-bit/192kHz bitrate. The dongle also has an internal amplifier and supports AAC, LDAC, AptX, and SBC Bluetooth codecs.

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The attachment connects via the 3.5mm audio input. You’ll find a few ports and buttons along the bottom of the device including a USB Type-C port, a power button and a charging button. It’s a bit of an eyesore when attached to the Deva, but it’s worth the trade-off to enjoy my music sans cables. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones setup

Once you’ve plugged the BlueMini into the Deva, it’s time for you to connect the headphones to a compatible Bluetooth device. To initiate the pairing process, I simply pressed and held down the power button for a few seconds. From there, I went into my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s Bluetooth menu and selected headphones. The whole process took about 5 seconds. It was the same process connecting the cans to my MacBook Pro

HiFiMan Deva headphones controls

Due to its few buttons, the BlueMini doesn’t offer much in the way of controls. The power button pulls double duty as the wireless pairing button when pressed twice. To play and pause whatever you’re listening to requires a quick press of the power button as does answering and ending calls. When the BlueMini is plugged into your computer, smartphone or tablet, it can draw power. To prevent this, just press and hold the charging button for two seconds. 

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Unfortunately, you will need to interact with your device in order to adjust the volume or skip tracks. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones app

HiFiMan has a free companion app available for both iOS and Android. But unlike other headphone companion apps, you won’t find any digital equalizers, find my headphones or other fancy features. Instead, HiFiMan’s app allows you to access your phone’s Spotify or Tidal playlists in one convenient place. Also, you can change the default language and check for firmware updates.

HiFiMan Deva headphones audio performance

Ah, open-backed headphones. When you want to hear every single piece of a musical arrangement, accept no substitutes. The reason many audiophiles rave over open-back cans is that, with nothing to block air flowing into the enclosure, you don’t get that pesky pressure that allows for echoes and distortions to creep into your precious soundscape. With the air flowing freely, you get a more natural sound that’s ideal for critical listening. 

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And while open-ear headphones are great for detailed listening, they are by their very design not great for keeping the sound in. There is noticeable audio bleed at mid-volume and up so anyone in close proximity can hear what you’re listening to, which is not good for the New York City subway commute life. That also means any outside noise will penetrate your soundscape. Closed-back cans are designed for solo enjoyment in a quiet environment. 

In addition to the open-backed design, the HiFiMan Deva utilizes planar magnetic drivers which use a rather large surface area to deliver audio. It was an absolute pleasure listening to the seductive tones of Silk Sonic. Details were fine enough on “Leave The Door Open” to hear the rain effects at the beginning of the track and the delicate triangle throughout. I had no problems differentiating the gentle violin strings from the fuller piano performance and strong drums. Plus, Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars were just as silky-smooth as the band’s name. And throughout it all, the drums, and particularly the cymbals, stood out against the robust instrumental accompaniment. 

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The Deva were just as capable of handling the synthy etherealness of Chloe x Halle’s “Ungodly Hour.” Separation between the deep 808s and the synthesized keyboard let the sisters’ vocals float alongside the upbeat bop with handclaps. The headphones did a superb job with the low end, delivering that deep dank sound without diffusing anything. 

The mids were the star of the show when I listened to Louder Than Quiet’s “Ain’t Nobody.” The headphones delivered every strum and scratch of the electric guitars. The percussion was nice and dynamic which, together with the guitars, made those juicy vocals shine even brighter.

HiFiMan Deva headphones battery life and Bluetooth

HiFiMan estimates that the BlueMini will last about 10 hours of battery life depending on the volume level. I managed to get 9 hours and 16 minutes at medium volume out of the module before it was time for a recharge.

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The BlueMini has a range of 50 feet. That meant I could leave my phone on the dining room table and walk around the top floor of my apartment without incident. However, going downstairs or into the backyard would cause music to sputter until it finally cut out. 

HiFiMan Deva headphones call quality

Taking calls on the HiFiMan Deva sounds just as good as listening to my favorite jams. Throughout all of my calls, people’s voices were clean and precise with great volume. And when I asked my dad how I sounded, he stated that he didn’t realize I was using a pair of headphones until I started asking questions about the audio quality. He also said my voice was really clear and sounded great. On my end, the audio was so sharp, I heard his wife laughing in the background. 

Bottom line

Audiophile tastes on an imported beer budget: that’s what you’re getting with the HiFiMan Deva headphones. For $299, you get the elegant good looks and great sound that you’d expect from a pair of hi-fi headphones that cost three times as much. Plus, if you’re so inclined, the BlueMini module lets you enjoy those Masters and high-fidelity tracks wirelessly. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it gets the job done effectively. Overall, the HiFiMan Deva headphones are a great way to splurge without putting a dent in your wallet.