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.
That’s not to say the 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 the 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..
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 clamp 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 for 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.
This phenomena 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?
Some folks will tell you that the Edition X and Ananda sound the same.
I would tend to disagree.
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, more crisp, and more brisk 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?
Anyways, the Ananda certainly delivers the goods in terms of sound quality. There’s a nice amount of bass, but it’s not overpowering. It’s got a ton of class and knows it’s 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. It’s buttery smooth and natural, and does remind me a lot of like an LCD2 or LCD-X.
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, over bearing, or irritating in the slightest.
There’s a bump around 2-3k, but it doesn’t ever get irritating 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 stuff.
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.
Before we get into that..
Let’s take a break shall we?
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Now back to Imaging..
Imaging on the Ananda is one of it’s greatest strengths.
You’ll start to hear sounds in all directions, with some great detail emerging from the back as well!
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, but overall the Soundstage isn’t incredibly wide or anything. It’s wide, but it’s not humongous if that makes sense. What is Soundstage?
Overall the Imaging here is fantastic and you’re going to get this incredible sense of spacing and air. The music has a ton of room to breathe and express itself. The attack, sustain, and decay here are all top notch.
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.
But will you need an amp?
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!
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.
The only other thing that holds it back a little is the fact that it is very bulky and is only meant for the studio. Still, if you’re in the market for this headphone, you’re not going to be looking for something portable.
What you will be looking for is the absolute best sound around. Is this headphone overpriced? Normally I would say yes, 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? Nothing, that’s what!
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.