Susvara's low sensitivity is partly due to using gold traces on its membrane as did the HE-6 before it. With higher Ω/resistance for gold than copper or aluminium, this also meant a shorter aka lighter trace pattern to not exceed the 60Ω input impedance. The preference for gold was its lower weight. And that led to fabulous new lows for Susvara's moving mass. The combined weight of its stretched film and conductive coils is lower than anything HifiMan have done before. According to Fang, this has led to "much wider bandwidth, faster response and a larger soundstage". Keeping his conductive traces well below 5 microns also meant that a completely smooth finish of the coils exceeded current technology to control. Very close inspection thus might detect a few micro ripples on the gold.

These stock photos document the material transitions between metal, wood and leather where the price sets very high expectations. In fact it's hard to know what potential buyers will expect in this league when it comes to build, fit'n'finish and exotic materials. Those not enamoured with the HE-1000's luxury level won't find anything new. It'll really be down to listening. Like the notoriously inefficient HifiMan HE-6, ultimate sonics should be predicated upon superior amplification of sufficient power and current. My alternate set to the COS H1 would be two Questyle CMA800R in high-current mono balanced drive. Incidentally, susvara is sanskrit for beautiful sound.

Susvara's CNC-machined rather than cast metal parts are "seven times costlier to make" than the HE-1000's. This accounts for some of the cost differential. Like the HE-1000 and its later v2 version, Susvara uses a two-sided motor. Unlike theirs however, it's not asymmetrical. With both 1000s, the ear-facing magnets were much narrower/weaker than the outer array to create a smaller physical barrier. Susvara's revised 'stealth' aka 'wind-slippery' shape of the bar magnets made this asymmetrical scheme unnecessary. This raised magnetic field strength and with it, ultimate sensitivity. As to cables, "nobody acquires Susvara as their first-ever headphone. Experience shows us how at this exotic level, users invariably roll their own cables. They never use ours. Hence for Susvara, we bundle again the ¼" and 4-pin XLR cables which already accompanied the HE-1000 v2. Our wire is actually based on premium mono-crystal silver-plated copper sourced from China (the Taiwanese and Japanese mills have closed). We use a low strand count for probably the lowest capacitance in the headfi cable business. Aftermarket suppliers tend to approach headphone cables like speaker cables. This leads to more massive multi-strand constructions. Those will boost the bass and lower midrange but due to far higher capacitance, screw up the treble." The cable connectors are made by Swiss firm Neutrik but through an Asian subsidiary to be branded differently.

On the subject of maintaining proper film tension, think of a planar membrane as a miniature drum skin. The longer and harder you bang on a drum, the quicker it will lower its pitch because it loosens up to require retightening. Ditto for planars that were played for just 100 hours versus 1'000. Higher mileage slightly relaxes their tension to boost efficiency and dynamics because the diaphragm can now move a bit more. This also softens the treble and slightly enlarges the soundstage.

Fang explained that across the first 20 hours, their planars sound very bad indeed. It's why the factory has a powerful burn-in station where about 100 units at a time get a 24-48hr workout depending on model. The improvement across those first hours is far more serious than anything which happens between 100-200 hours or later. But the upshot is plain. Comparisons between planar units of dissimilar usage time should always net different tension. "The true test is to compare left and right channels of individual units. Proper manufacturing will show no variance between them."

As to how Susvara compares to their electrostatic flagship, I would get my own op after the London CanJam event where a Shangri-La sample would exhibit to make onward tracks to Ireland afterwards. Fang explained that due to their 50µm thin stator mesh, those could pass even a 1MHz signal without reflections to offer the most supreme treble imaginable. Conversely, a stat's limited excursion potential means less bass than a properly designed planar. To compensate, he collaborated with the Full Music tube factory which is only a 20-minute drive from HifiMan's China HQ (they now also have an office in Tokyo).

Fang personally spent a few days sorting through 15 different tube combinations before settling on the one for the Shangri-La driver amplifier. That now optimally augments the electrostatic response curve for genre-defying bass though here the Susvara remains superior. With Shangri-La as his in-house reference for ultimate treble and midrange refinement, Fang also promised that Susvara's R&D was constantly informed by the electrostat to come unreasonably close for a planarmagnetic. Finally, for those predicting that a PRC brand wouldn't do well in its own homeland, 40% of HifiMan's annual sales are domestic. That includes Shangri-La sales because "people here feel that we better Sennheiser's Orpheus 2."