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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
- 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
The build of the Ananda is very impressive.
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.
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.
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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?
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.
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.
Here I compare the big 4: The Arya, Ananda, Edition X, and Edition XS.
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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.
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