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Before we get into the HiFiMan Ananda Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
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Table of Contents
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- Type: Planar Magnetic, Open Back.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Frequency Response: 8Hz – 55kHz.
- Impedance: 25 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 103dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Weight: 14.07 Oz. (399g).
- Cable Detachable: Yes.
- Cable Length: 1.5m
How’s the build on this puppy?
The build of the Ananda is very impressive.
This headphone closely resembles the older Edition X and newer Arya.
Both of those headphones sport the same design, which is strange considering HIFIMAN basically went back to the original build when constructing the Arya.
The Ananda is the middle brother here and sports a somewhat different look – similar to the Sundara which came out around the same time.
The headband yokes are now made of a more rugged material (I believe Metal), and overall the headphone feels more durable in your hand.
HiFiMan has also since updated the headband/yoke issue present in all of their older models, including the 400i, 400S, Edition X, etc.
It’s now made out of a robust metal instead of plastic and feels a lot less prone to breaking down over time.
That’s not to say Edition X had a bad build, but it’s not quite as good as the Ananda or the Arya.
The Ananda’s headband also feels nicer in your hand when you run your fingers over it.
The only issue I’ve had with Ananda is the terminations to the ear cups.
I’m not sure if this is just the model I was demoing, but the sound was cutting out every so often as if the connection was no good.
I let the guys at Audio Advice know about it. I will update this article as I get more info.
12/1/21 Update: There’s always a good reason to go back and update these, but I’ve talked ad-nausea about HIFIMAN’s build issues over the last few years. Thankfully, they’ve mostly been rectified since Audio Advice stopped carrying their products.
The padding is very good and is made of leather and velvet.
The headband is made of metal and sports a matte black finish which seemed to reject fingerprints and other undesirables pretty well.
The Window Shade Grill apparently “reduces sonic reflections for a clearer sound” according to HIFIMAN.
I would say that statement is pretty accurate considering the actual sound quality, but we’ll get into that in a bit.
The only other difference is that the Ananda’s cups don’t rotate around like the Arya’s or Edition X’s.
It bothered some, which is perhaps why HIFIMAN reverted back to the original design in the Arya.
The Ananda is also extremely comfortable for the most part.
The headphone is light enough that it’s not going to dig into your head, and the clamping force is just right.
The only issue I had was that the cups seemed to want to dig into that bone/general area behind my ear.
This caused some minor fatigue but for the most part, this is a headphone that you’ll put on your head and completely forget about.
As mentioned in the video, I like them pushed forward so the backs of the ear cups are just touching the backs of my ears, and the tops are just touching the tops of my ear lobes.
Situating them in this way allows you to take advantage of HIFIMAN’s angled planar magnetic drivers.
- Related: What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
This little hack opens up the Soundstage, gives the music even more room to breathe and pulsate, and it really helps increase intimacy between you and the sounds.
You’ll start to kind of feel like things are surrounding you rather than just being fed into your ear.
This phenomenon is something that HIFIMAN excels at, though there are some Audeze headphones that do a pretty good job of it as well.
Other than that,
the headphone is a bit bulky, but it’s not too heavy and never feels overbearing on your melon. There’s a nice balance and they seem to rest very comfortably on my head.
Some folks will tell you that the Edition X and Ananda sound the same.
I would tend to disagree, to an extent.
It may be my imagination, but the Edition X seemed more laid back to me, and perhaps a bit warmer overall.
It has this smooth character to it and kind of reminds me of an HD650.
The Ananda seems fresher, crisper, and brisker – like that Lipton Lemonade Iced Tea that everyone used to drink back in the day.
You remember your business partner, Lipton Iced Tea drink, don’t you Brett?
Lol. It’s so cool that people literally sell unopened cans of it.
Yeah, my childhood was awesome.
The best way to describe the Ananda is that it feels like you’re chewing Winterfresh gum while skiing down a mountain in January with an open Lipton Brisk in hand.
It’s brisk, cool, open, and airy. The perfect sound signature really.
Anyways, the Ananda certainly delivers the goods in terms of the low end.
There’s a nice amount of bass, but it’s not overpowering.
It’s got a ton of class and knows its place in the mix.
I would liken this bass to something from the Audeze LCD line.
In other words, perfect.
You’ll find yourself astonished at what these headphones are capable of in terms of articulation and texture.
They reach down super deep and hit all those sub-bass notes with ease.
I think you’ll prefer this type of bass to a more rolled-off one.
Do keep in mind that there is some slight roll-off here, but by and large, it still functions as a mostly flat-line bass would.
Put another way,
it still has some really nice impact and hits just hard enough to keep me satisfied and engaged without being overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
It’s buttery smooth and natural and does remind me a lot of an LCD-2 or LCD-X.
The mid-range is fantastic and doesn’t get out of line at all.
I believe this to be an almost perfect sound signature.
There’s just the right amount of presence with regard to vocals and instruments, and I don’t find any part of the music fatiguing, overbearing, or irritating in the slightest.
There’s a rise around 3k, but it doesn’t ever get annoying or shouty like that of the HD600. It just sounds crisp and fresh like grocery store produce.
I would describe the Ananda like morning dew. It’s frosty and refreshing.
Start your day right with a big bowl of Ananda! Part of this complete breakfast. 😛
The treble at first seemed a bit hot, but kind of mellowed out the more I listened.
I don’t really believe in “Burn-In”, but it certainly exists to the extent that your brain sort of conjures it up.
In other words,
you get used to how a specific headphone sounds and it then becomes a barometer for comparing future headphones until you get used to the new stimulus again, and on and on.
In simpler terms, the headphones’ sound signature itself doesn’t change, basically. You do.
The treble here does have a bit of brightness around 8-10kHz, but it mostly stays in line.
As with the Arya, I’d classify it as bright-neutral, meaning it’s not overly peaky but also doesn’t lack sparkle.
Still, at times, you’ll notice an ever so slight bit of hiss which your brain will likely become accustomed to over time.
it’s not a big deal at the start but also doesn’t present issues down the road.
I also think it comes down to how the track was recorded, mixed, and mastered.
There are some songs that will just sound too bright, but it’s not really the headphones themselves.
Well-recorded music is always going to sound sublime with an Ananda.
The overall sound of the Ananda is sort of relaxed yet still exciting and lively.
I do think the treble on the Arya is done slightly better, but by and large, they are extremely similar headphones at the end of the day.
With these, you’re going to find yourself dissecting the song without really even trying.
Such was the case listening to Minus the Bear’s “Pachuca Sunrise.“
All sorts of minute details tend to emerge and jump out at you in the most pleasant of ways from some of the most unique angles, lending themselves to some amazing imagery and soundscapes.
I found some great detail coming from the back of the headphones and behind me, providing an excellent sense of depth.
This resulted in a very nice and open Soundstage.
Before we talk a bit more about that, check out my videos below!
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More to come! I found these on my Hard Drive and forgot to upload them months back.
Imaging on the Ananda is one of its greatest strengths.
You’ll start to hear sounds in all directions, with some great detail emerging from the back as well!
The Soundstage is equally as impressive, with some nice width and spacing between instruments.
The Ananda’s do provide a semi-out-of-your-head feeling, and the overall staging is such that it never feels unnaturally wide, though it does open up quite nicely. What is Soundstage?
the Imaging here is fantastic and you’re going to get an incredible sense of spacing and air.
The music has a ton of room to breathe and express itself, with the attack, sustain, and decay here all nearly perfect.
I was finding instruments and vocals fully and completely fleshed out.
You could hear them in their absolute entirety, trailing off beautifully and revealing so much about the character of the artist.
The Timbre of the instruments is so natural that it almost feels like you’re listening in a live setting. What is Timbre?
What kinds of genres work best though?
I think you’ll find that the Ananda’s will work well for nearly any genre.
They have an excellent bass response that’s neither rolled off nor boosted, a great mid-range for female vocals and instruments, a perfect treble for Rock and Metal, and plenty of air and spacing for stuff like Jazz and Classical.
There’s really nothing the Ananda won’t work for.
I enjoyed them with Indie Pop, Rock, and some Hip-Hop during my time demoing.
In short, no.
At 25 Ohm Impedance and 103dB/mW of Sensitivity, the Ananda is very efficient and needs hardly any power at all to reach a good listening level.
You can plug this baby right into your phone and it’s going to be plenty loud enough.
I did use my demo model with a JDS Labs Element, which I found to be a great pairing.
If you do fancy a go at an amp, I would go with something equally as efficient and sensible as the Ananda.
If you’re just starting out and need something for your desktop, I’d probably go with an ATOM or K5 Pro.
With that, what’s my final grade for Ananda?
A for sure.
Besides the minor discomfort behind my ear, and the connection issue (which has since been fixed), there’s nothing about this headphone that I don’t like.
It’s an all-purpose piece that can be used with your phone, with an amp, with your home system, with your hi-res portable player or DAP, and anything in between.
Is this headphone overpriced?
At its initial asking price of around $1000, I thought it was bordering on overpriced but still worth a purchase as a true upgrade from mid-fi back in 2019.
It was close,
but I still leaned towards yes and have recommended it ever since.
As of now, it’s come down over the last few years, and at around $600-700, I think this is a perfect value and priced just right like Bob Barker.
It hits all the marks: It’s comfortable, durable, has a near-perfect sound signature, fantastic Imaging and Soundstage, works with all genres, and doesn’t technically need an amp though investing in something is recommended.
2023 And Beyond Update
That said, is there an even better option to consider in 2023 and beyond? Something even more affordable?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN Ananda Review.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please leave them down below or Contact me!!
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What do you think about these bad boys? Worth the price? Too expensive? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
Great review! And it helped me make a final decision of getting my ananda which I received just a few days ago. Well, it took me some time to decide whether I should purchase Ananda given the fact that I have already owned HD650, DT 1990 pro, even a closed-back DIY piece.
I also completely agree with you that it is almost impossible to find another piece comparable to Ananda, especially at the current price range ($699).
Currently I am using dragonfly red and K5 pro to drive the Ananda. As you can tell, I opt for dac/amp combo rather than a classic desktop stack. My question is, from your expereince, for Hifiman Ananda do we have another portable dac/amp combo that can be named as an upgrade from Dragonfly Red? I am thinking about ifi micro idsd black label, but not 100% sure… Mojo can be a good candidate but the model is a bit old… Also, Ananda is very efficient so probably I can not hear any notable difference from these amps.
As another note, in a few days I will get SMSL m500 as my first desktop setup! I will keep you updated about how that matches Ananda (also HD650 and 1990 pro).
Look forward to hearing from you.
My pleasure! So glad to hear you’re enjoying the Ananda! How’s the cable on it by the way?
I don’t really see anything that I’ve listened to as a true “upgrade”, though maybe a Mojo would make the Ananda sound amazing. Haven’t tried the pairing, but the Mojo is personally my favorite sound out of an Amp/DAC.
Like you pointed out, the Ananda is super efficient and has a low impedance so I’ve been telling people not to go over board and purchase something super expensive because it’s likely overkill. I like your set up now actually! I have both the Red and K5 Pro and have been using them with the DEVA. 🙂
Black Label is overkill for the Ananda for sure.
How’s the SMSL? Keep me posted on your impressions!
Many thanks for the reply. A few quick feedbacks also some personal thoughts:
1, I have seen some reviews claiming that many issues associated with Ananda were caused by the cable. So I bought a replacement one on Amazon.
I would say that its (build) quality is much better compared to the original one. Regarding audiophile quality, frankly I did not notice much difference.
2, I also echo your thought on Ananda being a bit fatiguing because the ear tends to “dig into” the back of your ear. For me, it is the sound that digs into the back of my ear. And that makes the listening a bit fatiguing. Some old-school cans like HD650 or 598 will make you forget you are wearing a headphone.
3, DAC/AMP for Ananda.
My personal preference is SMSL M500> Dragonfly red> K5 Pro.
The very reason is that SMAL M500 is able to “decode” MQA (which is my primary audio source). Some reviews claim that DF red can only “render” (rather than decode) MQA. My personal understanding is that when dealing with MQA file, the “decoding” process might take some capacity inside the chip of DF red. That means, DF red has less capacity in fulfilling its DAC function.
Frankly the difference is just subtle, but I do note that the amount of details, instrument separation, also sound stage get improved (again the difference is subtle… It might just be my personal perception). Overall, the sound signatures of M500 and DF red are highly comparable. There are some differences between SMSL M500/DF red and K5 pro. But frankly the difference is so subtle that I am not sure whether it is just my illusion.
Also, based on my research M500 is the cheapest DAC/AMP (or just DAC) which is able to “decode” MQA. Another interesting fact is that, when comparing M500 with K5 pro, we can argue M500 has an outstanding DAC and an OK AMP; while K5 Pro has an OK DAC but has excellent power as an amp. For me, if I decide to get a separate AMP, I can always couple it with M500.
Hey man! My pleasure!
Great to hear about the Ananda. I’ve been talking with some folks and it seems like the issues have pretty much been rectified so that’s great news. Cheers on going ahead and replacing the cable. Probably saved you a lot of headache!
I agree about the Ananda. I’m finding the newer DEVA to be just about the most comfortable can I’ve ever worn, similar to the feeling of an HD600/650 like you point out. The only problem I have is it tends to slide a bit, but I’ll gladly take that trade-off considering I haven’t once had to adjust or take it off my head due to discomfort. And I’ve been demoing it for months now! Absolutely incredible.
Interesting about the SMSL. I will have to look into that one. Kind of getting burnt out on dacs though. XD
Great to hear from you! Stay in touch.
Hello, I discovered you on YouTube trying to see headphone comparisons, I am Spanish and my English is not very good haha, so I translated them but sometimes I did not find out much. and now I have discovered your blog, it is being very useful to me and your language is very relevant.Thank you very much.
Right now after several weeks of buying an x2hr for about 92 dollars here in amazon Spain I have also received a dap fiio m11. Both systems are heard in great equipment, but I would like to have a more top headset in the future.
i have thought about the hd 660s, sundara, and ananda. i really want a real difference that says wow. and i think the hd660s and sundara may be similar to the x2hr? In case you recommend the ananda, is it worth it? Here on offer I can get it for about 600 dollars yours. I lose myself for my English again
Hey man! Thank you so much for stopping by! I think the Ananda is a great step up from an X2HR. The 660/6XX and Sundara are a bit differnet sounding than an X2HR as well. You may not think of it in terms of something “better” per se, but the presentation of sound is definitely more professional and neutral if that makes sense. The X2HR places more emphasis on bass, and to an extent treble, while the mid-range isn’t quite as good. The 600 series is more mid-range focused, while the Sundara gives you better low end clarity and slam while also sounding more relaxed in the treble. Sundara is a bit too laid back sounding at times, but the Ananda is crisp and lively.
I truly believe the Ananda is a great value for $600 and I would go for it!
Keep me posted with any other questions!!
Cheers for the review. I’m in the market for a $500-$1000-ish (maybe a bit higher if warranted) range headphone and have been using Crinacle’s list to explore further. Much of what you’ve written on the Ananda I like, including lack of amp requirement. However, I do like a bit of sparkle in my treble and you were a little vague on your treble description. Could you elaborate? I probably won’t fork out for a second hand Utopia just yet…maybe down the road somewhere.
I have been more of an IEM guy to date and my fav ever is the ATH-CK10 (long discontinued) for it’s laser focused detail, speed, space, punchy bass (that doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the music), and a unique treble sparkle that seems to make it a bit of a unicorn in the world of IEMs (according to Head-Fi at least). So just wanted to drop that in there in case you have heard those and could see where I was coming from.
Thanks for the heads up. I went back and edited the treble section for ya. Let me know if that clears it up. 🙂 The Ananda is my go-to for an upgrade above mid-fi, so you’re definitely in the right place. I think it’s the headphone to get in that price range of $500-1000. Let me know what you think!
Hello, can you tell me please. Hifiman edition xs is a big jump in sound quality, after akg k702?
I also use akg for many years, I want to buy something higher level. Read your post hifiman , and understood the price-quality hifiman edition xs.
Is it worth switching from akg to edition xs; ananda?
Hey man! It’s a jump, yes. A huge jump? I don’t know about huge, but the resolution, decay, and timbre are most certainly improved. Ananda is going to be a bit brighter and a tad essy. I like that the Edition XS is priced more affordable without the slight sibilance issue.
Thank you very much, Stuart.
I trust your opinion as I buy blind. And in general my likes are the same as yours.
Have you listened to the ananda v2 (stealth), has the hiss problem been solved on it?
Hey man you’re welcome! I think the model I was lent recently is the regular version.
Can you please tell me, in comparison Ananda is much easier to pump from the amp than the k702?
Thank you for your question!
Ananda is def going to be a bit easier to drive, but in doing an A/B comparison for you, I found that the discrepancy gap wasn’t nearly as big as I was anticipating. The K702 is certainly much more inefficient and has double the impedance and then some of the Ananda (62 Ohm vs. 25).
Theoretically, you can run an Ananda out of a phone, but I would almost never do the same with the 702.
In short, the K702 requires a bit more dial turning, but nothing too crazy. I used teh Universal Audio Volt 2 which I’m demoing, and with the Ananda, I reach comfortably loud levels at around 9, and with the K702 10-11.
Please understand that the K702 is in no way “power hungry” as has been parroted on the internet for years now. It’s a bit inefficient but def not hard to drive in my opinion.
Hope that helps! Let me know.
Thanks for the reply.
Tomorrow I am receiving a package with ananda stealth, I will compare it with my akg k702. I will write my comparison here.
You’re welcome 🙂 Keep me posted! I’m listening to my K702 right now actually.
Comparing several hours of Akg k702 with Ananda Stealth showed that both Akg k702 are very good headphones, which in some refinement with perforated ear cushions and oyaide hpc-22w cable can look in the direction of decent sound. Ananda with ivipQ cable 1.5m(4.9Ft)-3.5mm
Akg k702 listening to source moden zishan dsd 4495 (slavalun) + takstar ha101
Ananda stealth listen to zishan dsd 4495 (slavalun), without an amplifier. Not required.
The sound character of both headphones is very similar, they certainly sound similar, both in stage and detail. In a direct comparison you can hear the difference in different accents, and k702 it is in the direction of high frequencies, ananda stealth in the direction of a more pleasant middle and more elaborated bass. But if you just sit and listen to one earphone blindly for 5 minutes you will not understand which earphone you are wearing.
Yes, Ananda sounds nicer, more professional and a bit more accurate and solid in everything.
In a few words, the akg kind of has all the same sounds, but as if with a little shudder, as if choked (a little overloaded). But it doesn’t sound overloaded, it’s a figurative comparison exactly when comparing headphones directly.
It’s the same with the native cables, but they sound more muddy, but softer. I, on the other hand, like more air and monitoring, which a change of cable gives.
Hey man, thank you for your impressions! Did you notice anything specific with regard to the mid-range?
I know exactly what you mean by that little shudder. Seems like the K702 isn’t quite as fast as far as transients go, but it’s subtle and I think a lot of it depends on the track. I say this because I recently put the 702 back on my apple head and fell in love all over again. It’s one of those “everything just sounds right” headphones but certainly it isn’t perfect.
I do think the Ananda outperforms but as I was listening, I couldn’t help but notice, again, how well the 702 portrays the entire soundscape. It truly does provide those missing puzzle pieces and the stuff in the backdrop that you may have never noticed before. The sounds that tend to be 2 doors back from the ones you hear in the forefront. Does this make sense? It’s those things that add an incredible amount of subtle detail and the resolution is so good – almost on par with a planar which I’ve discussed many times.
Love both headphones!
If I can recall the track I will mention it.
A few more words about the comparison of Ananda stealth with akg k702. I will compare on light music, jazz, classical without voice. Where there are cymbals, drum brushes, guitar, trumpet, saxophone.
As for the treble and the stage. The akg has them more clearly audible, so the stage seems a little wider. The akg has a more analytical and subtle sound, while the ananda is more dynamic, deep and soft in the middle. The bass, of course, is denser in the ananda.
Light genres sound equally good in both perceptions, I even like the Akg better because I like more analytical sound in light music than dynamic and soft. Watching movies and playing games in Akg will probably be more interesting than in Ananda.
If you take other genres where there is voice, drive (hip-hop, rock, etc.), the Ananda will be more comfortable in everything, they are more versatile headphones because they have balanced dynamics.
Male and female voice on the Ananda in general is a separate topic, a hackneyed one.
I also think that the Ananda has more versatility from different sources, amplifiers, DACs.
Yes! Yes! My thoughts exactly. The K702 is one of those headphones where you go “Man, everything is so delicate but articulate.” Very very subtle, which is what makes it so incredible with light jazz hits. You can basically hear everything in such fine detail that it’s just amazing to dissect songs and discover things you never knew about before.
The Ananda, to me, (and I think you’d agree) basically kind of takes this 702 sentiment and makes everything just sound livelier and a bit more exciting. I think if the Ananda were a person, it would be really upbeat and high on coke or something. xD You’re getting a more thumpy bass, but with some added sparkle and to me a bit of extra essiness/sibilance in the high regions – not enough to ruin the experience, but it’s definitely brighter to me than a 702.
I also agree that it’s a bit more dynamic and smooth. Transients on the Ananda tend to be a bit faster but I don’t think this is a knock on the 702 per se. It’s just a bit outclassed in that regard.
Mid-range is where I actually think the 702 is slightly better because it’s much flatter (and doesn’t roll off) but also adds that nice presence bump around 2-3kHz – in my mind just about the perfect amount. It’s not over the top like a Grado but also isn’t not enough like a K612.
About the highs and excessive sibilance in Ananda. I did not notice any problems, probably because I listen to the stealth version. Here they are very soft and comfortable to the ear.
In a week the perforated ear cushions for Ananda from AliExpress should come, they say that they still improve sound a little. I will definitely write about it.
Thank you for your feedback! I need to try the Stealth version of the Ananda, though I’d still probably recommend the more affordable XS at the end of the day. Keep me posted!
The other day I received perforated ear cushions from AliExpress for my ananda. I did not like the sound and quality, poorly glued, I had to fix one ear piece, but it was not as good as for the right ear.
The sound has changed for the worse, lost the bass and treble clarity, probably paralon is too soft, does not have the right elasticity. I will put back the original ear cushions. The purchase of perforated ear cushions for the Ananda was not worth it.
With akg k702 on the contrary, the perforated ear cushions from AliExpress sounded even better than those from Dekoni. But you need to find exactly the same ones as I have because there are now buyers of different quality, it has changed recently, you need to find past versions. If anyone needs any advice, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All in all, I’m convinced buying ananda basically makes no sense if you listen to quiet genres, instrumental or jazz. The headphones sound very similar, but k702 in these genres sound even more interesting because of the slightly wider stage.
Thank you for your impressions man! Sorry it didn’t go well for you. I agree; changing out pads can be very volatile. Are you just going to stick with a 702?
For now, the main headphones will be Ananda, yet I like it better.
K702 will not sell, because I like them too.
Yee. Love it. I don’t think I’ll ever sell my HD600, K702, or 9500.
I’ve tried both, XS and Ananda Stealth, Ananda is so MUCH better for me, in every aspect
1. Bass, it’s more tight on Ananda with better punch, XS bass is overpowering and lazy (though it goes deeper)
2. Mid’s are slightly laid back on Ananda, but well controlled, with good balance and energy, on the other side, XS have awful mid’s because they are too V-shaped, high-mids are rolled-off, some vocal sounds bad and quiet\inexpressively, instruments haven’t enough energy
3. Highs. Slightly elevated on Ananda and shouty on XS, Ananda has no sibilance and XS has it with many tracks i’ve listened to, silver\metallic timbre is definitely there, while Ananda Stealth timbre is almost perfect
4. Imaging and scene, better on Ananda, wider, deeper, taller
5. Resolution, better with Ananda, not by much though
6. Comfort. Much better with Ananda (for my head)
7. Price, i’ve bought them from Chinese market, XS are about 400-420 bucks there, and Ananda is about 450. So i see no reason to go for XS . Sold out my XS on aftermarket
After six months of experience with the Ananda, now I can clearly hear a big difference in sound with the k702. Ananda is noticeably better in everything, another level. Perhaps the warming up. Perhaps my brain adapted to its sound, now the k702 seems bright, with strong accents in the highs.
Nice! Are you noticing any treble bite on the Ananda? Which version do you have?