HIFIMAN is constantly improving its line of headphones. The Arya is perhaps one of the more popular headphone series from the company. The Stealth Magnet version is the 3rd iteration of the Arya headphone. The first Arya was released in 2018, followed by the Arya v2 in 2020 with improved design. The Arya v3 features HIFIMAN’s new Stealth Magnets design, offering transparent sound and better audio quality. There’s also a lot of hype surrounding this headphone. Today, let’s find out if the hype is real. Please continue reading our HIFIMAN Arya (Stealth Magnet) review below and find out if this planar headphone is for you.
HIFIMAN Arya v3 (Stealth Magnet) Headphone Review
The Arya v3, a.k.a. Arya 2021, is an open-back planar magnetic headphone that has a similar design and looks to its predecessor. It has the same suspension headband design, large tear-shape ear cups, and an all-black color scheme. However, the new version features HIFIMAN’s newly developed Stealth Magnets, something you can’t see from the outside.
The new Stealth Magnets have a convex shape that enables the waves to pass through the magnets without generating interference. It also reduces the wave diffraction turbulence that degrades the integrity of the sound waves. As a result, it produces a clean, detailed, and transparent sound.
In the previous version, the shape of the magnets was rectangular, with sharp edges. Meanwhile, the new Stealth Magnets have curved surfaces or convexed.
In addition to the Stealth Magnets, the diaphragm of the Hifiman Arya is extremely thin, nanometer in thickness; while its conductor is in submicron thickness. I can’t find any material or source specifying exactly how thin the diaphragm is, nor did Hifiman mention it in its marketing materials.
HIFIMAN Arya (Stealth Magnet) Specifications
|Arya v3 (2021)||Arya v2 (2020)|
|Magnet Type||Stealth Magnets||Advanced Asymmetrical Magnetic Circuit|
|Frequency Response||8Hz-65kHz||8Hz - 65KHz|
|Impedance||32 Ω||35 Ω|
|Weight||404g (14.3oz)||404g (14.3oz)|
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The HIFIMAN Araya Stealth Magnet version is available on Amazon.com here
Packaging and Closer Look
The Arya came in with a rectangular box as its retail packaging. A photo of the Arya is printed on the front portion. There’s also a sticker just below the name “Ayra” indicating that it is the new Stealth Magnet version. I think the previous version has a similar packaging.
Honestly, the retail packaging was a bit underwhelming for me considering the price of the headphone. I was expecting that it would be a little bit flashier or something luxurious. The HE-R10, a headphone that is a bit cheaper, has a more “luxurious” retail packaging than the Arya. Although when you open the box and remove the (upper) cover, you will be greeted with a nice presentation (below).
Aside from the reading materials, you only get a single braided cable with a 6.35mm plug. According to Hifiman, it’s a single crystalline copper cable with a jet-black woven exterior. On the other side of the cable are two 3.5mm TRS plugs for the left and right channels. The cable measures approximately 61-inches or 155cm from tip to tip.
The stock cable is serviceable and works as expected. Its length is also decent for a desktop setup, assuming that the DAC/AMP is on the table. However, I am not a fan of the stock cable as it’s a bit stiff and prone to tangling. The good thing is the cable can be replaced with a compatible third-party or aftermarket cable. From there, you’ll be able to use a cable with a 3.5mm termination or even a 4.4mm balanced termination.
The Window Shade System And Earcup Design
The Arya v3 borrows the design of the flagship HE1000. It features Hifiman’s patented Window Shade system that not only protects the driver but is also optimized for the open-back design. Depending on the size of your head, the tear-shape ear cup design may look big. For me, the lower portion almost touches my jawline. But it is comfortable despite its size since the pressure is distributed evenly.
There are tabs, on both sides, that can be slid to adjust the height of the suspension. The yoke of the driver can also be rotated since there is a hinge connecting the yoke and the headband.
I’m not sure what type of metal was used for the headband. But according to Hifiman, it is created via CNC milling and hand polishing. I don’t have an issue with the headband and the suspension system, but I wish Hifiman used real leather for the headband strap instead of pleather. For a $1,600 headphone, I expect better materials to be used. The pleather will not last long, and it will start to peel and crack maybe after several months or after a year from now.
The Arya uses a standard 3.5mm TRS connector for the left and right channels. It doesn’t have a lock, but it doesn’t feel loose and the 3.5mm plug clips in properly. If ever the cable is accidentally pulled, the plugs will just be pulled without damaging the headphone themselves. Not unless the cable is pulled from a certain angle.
Pads, Diaphragm and Stealth Magnets
Another thing that is detachable and replaceable is the Arya’s ear pads. The ear pads have an asymmetrical shape and design that follows the form of the ear. It is also beveled, meaning the back portion is thicker than the front portion. I also noticed that the foam is covered in different types of surfaces. The outer one is pleather, while the inner portion is fenestrated pleather. Meanwhile, the surface that contacts your head is polyester.
While the pads feel comfortable and the foam padding is sufficient, again, I am a bit disappointed with the choice of materials. Even a lifestyle headphone that costs a fraction of the Arya uses real leather or sheepskin cover. Fortunately, the pads are replaceable. There are better aftermarket ear pads that use real leather or better materials, like earpads from Dekoni. But that would entail additional cost.
I didn’t dismantle the driver even though it uses a standard Phillips screw. Some parts in the driver area are plastic, and I don’t want to damage the driver. I put a light on the other side of the driver and you can see the magnets through the screen covering. The driver inside measures 65mm x 100mm, and it is said to be larger than the driver used on the Sundara or Ananda.
Overall Build Quality and Comfort
Built quality-wise, I think the Hifiman Arya v3 is designed and built with quality in mind. While I am not a fan of some of the materials used on the headphone, like the plastic parts. I think it was necessary to keep its weight down. Though, I don’t think it will add a noticeable amount of weight if Hifiman used real leather instead of pleather.
Yes, I don’t like pleather, especially if one is paying more than a thousand dollars for a headphone. I’ve been using headphones and other peripherals for several years and I know what will happen to pleather after quite some time.
The stock ear pads are okay and good enough. But again, I am not a fan of the material used. I will change the stock pads as soon as they show some peeling or cracks. Personally, I prefer the feel and texture of sheepskin leather to the polyester on the stock pads.
Even though the Arya has a large tear-shape driver design, I am not bothered by it since it is not that thick and it does help with the distribution of the clamping force. Speaking of the clamping force, I think it is just enough; not too strong and not too weak. Combine that with the suspension-type headband, which I prefer, the Hifiman Arya is one of the most comfortable headphones I have used. I can wear the Arya for hours without fatigue or neck strain.
HIFIMAN Arya v3 Subjective Listening Experience
I have not listened to any Hifiman headphones for quite some time now. The last Hifiman I listened to was the HE400s, and that was more than 5 years ago. So, this is a “fresh start” for me with the company’s newer headphones. I also didn’t get a chance to test the Arya v2 or the v1.
I got the Arya late last year, so I have more than a month to break it in and listen to. But right out of the box, I immediately noticed that the Arya Stealth is bright-sounding. It’s the opposite of what I experienced when I first listened to the LCD-X, which for me is a bit dark-sounding headphone. To my ears, the Arya Stealth sounds energetic and lively, but without being sibilant and maintains its overall neutral tonality.
It is also an incredibly detailed headphone as it can pick up nuances that I don’t usually notice when using other (planar) headphones. Perhaps this is due to the bump in the presence region around the 5KHz in the frequency graph.
It also sounds spacious, open, and wide, with great instrument separation and layering. However, I don’t think the height and width are not that (far) extended, which for me is good. I don’t want the music to sound (artificially) 3D-like.
It Does Have Bass
When it comes to its bass performance, the Arya Stealth delivers quite well with a good amount of extension all the way down to the sub-bass region. However, the bass on the Arya is not for the bassheads. I think it sounds clean and precise but without the (over) emphasis that we usually hear on some warm-sounding headphones or bassy headphones. The good thing is, you can give the bass region a little bit of a bump using an EQ to suit your taste.
Mids and Highs Are Its Forte
To my ears, I think the Hifiman Arya Stealth shines best when it comes to its mid to treble region. The mids and highs sound neutral and natural, and I think they sound immaculate with excellent detail and clarity. I may be exaggerating when I say immaculate, but they do, at least to my ears. The mids don’t sound forward-leaning nor laid back. There is also a bump or slight emphasis on the upper mid-range or around the 3KHz frequency.
While the Arya Stealth is generally a bright-leaning and lively-sounding headphone, it doesn’t sound sibilant, harsh, or ear piercing. But again, it depends on the track and your tolerance. If you are used to warm-sounding headphones or bassy headphones, the Arya may be (too) bright or a bit sibilant for you.
However, since I prefer neutral-sounding headphones, whether it’s warm-leaning or a bit bright, I don’t think the Arya is overly bright. To my ears, it has a good amount of treble extension, without being sibilant or too edgy or too analytical. After a slight bump on its 8Khz frequency, it drops to 9Khz. I think this is why it doesn’t get too “hot” or fatiguing to the ears.
Arya vs LCD-X
When I reviewed the Audeze LCD-X (2021) version, I described it as a natural but dark-sounding and warm-leaning headphone. The Arya Stealth is somewhat of the opposite. While both the Arya Stealth and LCD-X are natural-sounding for me, the Arya is noticeably bright-leaning and sounds more lively than the LCD-X. The Arya also has better details or detail retrieval. The LCD-X’s presence region is not as pronounced compared to the Arya’s and the LCD-X sounds a bit smoother as well.
I like both the Arya and LCD-X. They have their own strengths and weaknesses. But I’ve been using the Arya more since it is more comfortable to wear. Sometimes I switch between the two depending on the music I listen to or the mood.
Arya vs LCD-GX
The Audeze LCD-GX is the company’s “gaming headphone”. While the LCD-GX is lighter than the LCD-X, the Arya is still lighter than the GX. When it comes to details and clarity, Arya wins in this category. However, the LCD-GX has a noticeably wider soundstage, I guess this is due to the fact that this headphone was designed for gaming use. The GX also sounds smoother and the mids sound a bit laid back or veiled compared to the Arya.
Arya vs Ether Flow
The MrSpeakers (now Dan Clark Audio) Ether Flow was my first experience with high-end or top-of-the-line audiophile planar headphones. I was so impressed with the Ether Flow back then. It was very comfortable to wear, despite its size and the sound quality was spot-on for me.
Fast forward today, although the Ether Flow is still considered a high-end planar headphone, there are now “better-sounding” or more competitive headphones in the market. And I think the Hifiman Arya is one of them. The Arya has better details, clarity, and transparency than the Ether Flow. But to my ears, the Ether Flow has more bass presence and sounds fuller, warmer than the Arya Stealth.
Price and Availability
The Hifiman Arya (Stealth Magnets) version is now available and comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,599 USD. If I am not mistaken, I think Hifiman offers a 1-year warranty for the said headphone. For the latest pricing and availability, kindly follow the link below.
UPDATE: The Arya Stealth Magnet version currently retails for $1,300 only. That’s around 19% less than its original retail price. At this price, it’s even more attractive and competitive!
UPDATE 2: HiFiMAN recently ran a clearance sale, bringing the Arya Stealth to only $999. That’s around a 38% price reduction from its original MSRP. I think the company is clearing out its stocks to make way for new ones, like the Arya Organic, etc. I don’t know if this is just a temporary price drop or permanent, but after HiFiMAN marked it down to $1,300, it never went up again. Hopefully, the Arya Stealth will stay below $1,000 from here on.
Check the latest pricing and availability: (#ad)
The HIFIMAN Araya Stealth Magnet version is available on Amazon.com here
HIFIMAN Arya Stealth Magnet Review Conclusion
Let’s start off with the things I think Hifiman should improve with the Arya, or perhaps some of their top-tier headphones in general. I think the Arya has an excellent design overall and it looks aesthetically pleasing and a head-turner. I like how it looks and the color. However, I wish Hifiman also used a leather headband support instead of pleather. Similar to what they use on the HE1000 V2 or Susvara. The perforated headband support would look nice on the Arya in my opinion.
I can forgive the other parts being plastic since Hifiman may be targeting a certain weight and comfort. And yes, it is undeniably one of the most comfortable headphones I have tried. Not only in weight, but the clamping force and feel on the head as well, minus the polyester surface of the ear pads. The good thing is the earpads are replaceable. Although I can’t find a leather replacement for the headband suspension (yet). I hope the company would sell its leather headband suspension as well.
The retail packaging of the Arya Stealth is decent but it could be improved. It’s somewhat difficult to insert the headphone once you pull it out from the box. The included cable is okay and sturdy, however, it tends to coil in circles. Thankfully, Hifiman uses a standard 3.5mm port for the left and right channels. So, it is very easy to replace and upgrade the cable.
When it comes to audio quality, hands down, the Arya Stealth sounds fantastic overall. You’ll have to backread a bit if you skip to this portion. It’s generally neutral-sounding that leans towards the bright side. Not only that it excels in audio quality, but it is also very comfortable to wear. I can wear the Arya for hours without any fatigue.
Who is the Arya Stealth For?
While I think the Hifiman Arya is great for all types of genres or what I call an all-around headphone, some people may not prefer it. The Arya is lively and bright-leaning. If you are sensitive to treble or you prefer warm or bassy headphones, this may not be for you.
But if you are not a basshead, or would like to explore or listen to your music from a different perspective, you might want to try the Arya. It’s revealing, and you may hear tones, nuances, and minute details that you haven’t noticed before with other headphones.
Finally, if you’re looking for an open-back planar headphone that excels in detail, clarity, and transparency; a headphone that is neutral-sounding, lively, and energetic without being too bright, I think the HiFiMAN Arya Stealth Magnet version is a must-try/must-have headphone.