Home Open Back Headphone Reviews HIFIMAN Ananda Review: Best $1k Planar?

HIFIMAN Ananda Review: Best $1k Planar?

by Stuart Charles Black

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Updates:

  • 9/9/19.
  • 9/28/19. Link/article cleanup.
  • 1/22/20. Added some images and a Table of Contents.
  • 1/30/21. Article/link cleanup.

1,897-word post, approx. 3-4 min. read

Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the HiFiMan Ananda Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

I’m Here to Help!!

HiFiMan Ananda Review

Table of Contents

Specifications
Build
Comfort
Sound
Video Reviews
Photo Gallery
Imaging
Amplification
Genre Pairing
Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!

HiFiMan Ananda

  1. Price: Check Apos Audio! | Check Amazon!
  2. Type: Planar Magnetic, Open Back.
  3. Fit: Circumaural.
  4. Frequency Response: 8Hz – 55kHz.
  5. Impedance: 25 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  6. Sensitivity: 103dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
  7. Weight: 14.07 Oz. (399g).
  8. Cable Detachable: Yes.
  9. Cable Length: 1.5m

How’s the build on this puppy?


Build

The build of the Ananda is very impressive.

This headphone closely resembles the older model Edition X, but it’s built better. 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.

Related: HIFIMAN Edition X Review!

HIFIMAN Edition X

That’s not to say Edition X had a bad build, but it’s not quite as good as this updated version. The 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.

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.

Let’s talk about comfort…


Comfort


The Ananda is also extremely comfortable for the most part. The headphone is light enough where 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 really opens up the Soundstage and 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.

If you have Dumbo-sized ears, the Ananda is perfect for you!

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 where it feels overbearing on your melon. There’s a nice balance and they seem to rest very comfortably on my head.

The ear cups are also gigantic so even if you have ears like Dumbo you’ll be set for life!

Cheers big ears!

How does the Ananda sound?


Sound


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.

The best way to describe the Ananda is that it feels like you’re chewing Winterfresh gum while skiing down a mountain in January. It’s brisk, cool, open, and airy. The perfect sound signature really.

Bass

Anyways, the Ananda certainly delivers the goods in terms of 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. It’s just more fun!

It’s buttery smooth and natural and does remind me a lot of an LCD-2 or LCD-X.

HiFiMan Ananda Review

Here I was measuring its frequency response via the miniDSP EARS.

Mid-range

The mid-range is fantastic and doesn’t get out of line at all. In fact, 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 bump around 2-3k, 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. 😛

Treble

The treble at first seemed a bit hot, but that was due to me being the first to demo the headphone at my local Audio Advice. It took some burn-in, which is kind of a real thing although it can be a tad over-exaggerated at times. Related: Do Headphones Need to be Burned In?

The overall sound of the headphone is sort of relaxed but yet still exciting. You’re going to find yourself dissecting the song without really even trying. Details tend to emerge and jump out at you in the most pleasant of ways from some of the most unique angles, lending itself 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!

First Impressions

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. Any support is much appreciated! 🙂

Official Review!

Photos…

Photo Gallery

More to come! I found these on my Hard Drive and forgot to upload them months back.

HiFiMan Ananda ReviewHIFIMAN Ananda vs. Sundara

Now back to Imaging…


Imaging


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?

Overall, 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?


Genre Pairing


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 it with Indie Pop, Rock, and some Hip-Hop during my time with them.

Will you need an amp?


Amplification


In short, no.

At 25 Ohms 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. Related: JDS Labs Element Review!

If you do fancy a go at an amp, I would go with something equally as efficient and sensible as the Ananda.

How about a Dragonfly Red? It will improve dynamics, instrument timbre, and everything else that makes the Ananda a great headphone. And you can use it with your phone or PC!

Learn more: Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review!

The Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review

It’s so fly.

 

With that, what’s my final grade for Ananda?


Final Grade


A for sure.

Besides the minor discomfort behind my ear, and the connection issue (which can be remedied), 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? In the case of other headphones, I would say probably, but this one 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 even need an amp!

What more could you ask for?

 

 

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!!

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,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

 

HIFIMAN Ananda

4.75

Build Quality

4.8/5

Sound Quality

5.0/5

Comfort

4.5/5

Soundstage

4.9/5

Pros

  • Almost perfect sound
  • Excellent Bass Response
  • Good Comfort Overall
  • Great Build
  • Great Soundstage

Cons

  • Treble sometimes a tad harsh
  • Cups dig into the backs of ears

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6 comments

Chevey F. August 6, 2020 - 6:35 am

Hey Stu,

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.

Chevy

Reply
Stuart Charles Black August 10, 2020 - 1:22 pm

Hey Chevy!

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!

-Stu

Reply
Chevy F August 12, 2020 - 9:46 am

Hey Stu,

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.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F9PZKFT/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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.

-Chevy

Reply
Stuart Charles Black August 20, 2020 - 8:56 pm

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.

-Stu

Reply
Carlos December 13, 2020 - 12:47 am

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

Reply
Stuart Charles Black December 13, 2020 - 6:09 pm

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!!

Reply

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