Hey guys! Before we get started, check out Apos Audio. They are a great up and coming distributor with a phenomenal looking website and excellent customer service. They also offer free shipping, the lowest price guarantee, a 2-year warranty, and a 30-day return.
1,672-word post, approx. 3-4 min. read
- 2/23/20. Added Video Shootout and updates to the 400 series as a whole.
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Small Disclaimer before we get into things: HiFiMan has been having ongoing quality control issues for quite some time now, mostly with the cable connection. My video shootout goes into much depth about my overall impressions of the big 4, including Drop’s HE-4XX, the original 400i, the 400S, and the Sundara. It should also be noted that Audio Advice (a store I frequent to demo these models) has stopped carrying HiFiMan products due to said issues. Your mileage may vary. More in the video below!
Also, all of my final impressions of the big 4 can be found here in the HiFiMan 400 Series Shootout!
Before we get into the HIFIMAN Sundara Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
I’m Here to Help!!
Image Coming Soon!
What I will bring you in this review
- Build Quality
- Video Review
- Genre Pairing
- Final Grade
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
Sundara (सुन्दर) is a Sanskrit term meaning “beautiful, lovely”, or generally “noble; well, right”. As a personal name, it may refer to: Maravarman Sundara Pandya, Pandyan king, who ruled regions of South India between 1216 and 1238.
- Check Apos Audio! | Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
- Type: Open Back.
- Driver: Planar Magnetic.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Impedance: 37 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 94dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Frequency Response: 6Hz – 75kHz.
- Color: Matte Black.
- Weight: 379g.
My oh my. HIFIMAN really stepped it up with these. The build on both the 400S and 400i was a tad questionable (400S especially), but by and large I would say the 400i was relatively solid. The headband adjustment is really the only thing that stood out to me as being somewhat poor. It was awkward as all get out to adjust, and the material seemed kind of sparse and vulnerable. Learn more: HIFIMAN HE400i Review!
The 400S felt even more flimsy, and housed way too much plastic for it’s price. I still enjoyed the sound however. Learn more: HIFIMAN 400S Review!
Luckily, the Sundara improved upon both of it’s predecessors 10 fold.
No longer is the headband shaped like a deformed Ostrich. It’s now round, sound, and won’t make you frown. 😀 In other words, it actually resembles a headband this time around. 😛
The adjustment itself is much more rugged, and the piece used to move the ear cups up and down has been given more heft and length, while staying roughly the same diameter across.
It’s also NOT made of plastic this time around, which is a welcome surprise.
The actual material of the headband itself hasn’t changed, which is fine.
It feels good on your head, and with these headphones padding isn’t of the utmost importance. They rest comfortably on your melon without digging in.
The grills are also a bit different and supposedly protect the driver more. What is a headphone driver?
The chord is more solid as well, and feels more durable overall. It still splits off into a Y into both ear-cups, and terminates in dual 2.5mm jacks. The other end is a gold plated L-shaped 3.5mm that can be fitted with a 1/4″ adapter.
The cups are still a protein leather with a thin layer of velour on top, and are still circular. They fit my ears well, but still do tend to flatten out over time like most cups.
Luckily they are replaceable though.
Build Quality Score: A NUMBAH 1!
Verbage used to describe Sundara’s build:
(Feel free to add to this in the comments below!)
How about comfort?
I guess the best way to describe it is that they feel more secure, and more sure of themselves.
The 400i tends to slide downwards onto your ear lobes if you don’t get the adjustment right, and though the same applies here, I just felt like the fit was more solid overall.
It’s snug like a bug in a rug 🙂
Clamp force is exemplary as well, and they hug your dome piece with just the right amount of force. Not like the HD600’s vice grip, but not on the looser side like a 9500.
I would say a slight adjustment will be made from time to time, but for the majority of time you won’t need to take these off.
COMFORT Score: A
What about the Sound?
Sound quality is phenomenal.
I would describe it as a cross between the brighter, grainier sound of the 400S, and the warmer sound of the 400i.
It’s got a nice amount of bass impact.
Not too much, not too little.
It doesn’t roll off like an HD600, but it’s also not real heavy like an M100 or a 50/50x.
The bass has texture and character, to the point of being able to hear individual notes rather than simply feel them.
The bass also doesn’t get in the way of the mid-range.
The mid-range here is balanced for the most part. It does start to take a dip at around 1-2k, which renders these a bit less exciting than an HD600.
The difference is subtle though.
While the 600’s are more forward in that area, they still take a dip.
But that dip is less gradual, and contributes to that snappier sound.
The Sundara is a mix of warm and cool, while the HD600 is a very sterile/clinical (all cool) headphone with a squeaky clean sound.
The Sundara tends to be more of a kick back and relax type of headphone, while the 600 would be a bit better for your mixing, mastering, and reference needs.
The treble is a bit hotter than a 400i, but less sizzle than a 400S.
The 400S is a bit too grainy for my liking, and overall is brighter than both the S and I. It’s got a more metallic character, and can come across as too bright at times.
It’s also worth noting that this brightness also shows up around 1k, which makes sense given the 400i and Sundara both are a bit more pushed back in this area.
All in all?
SOUND SCORE: A/A-
The slightly pushed back mid-range can render these a tad dull at times, but it’s a slight nitpick.
Here I compiled all of my impressions of the big 4 since 2017!
Click to see the Sundara!
Imaging is wonderful on the Sundara, to be sure.
These definitely have a wider Soundstage/Image than an HD600, but I would say the separation and clarity is roughly the same. What is Soundstage?
That said, I think because the HD600 tends to be on the more clinical side, there’s a bit more clarity but it may just be my “imagin”-ation.
Get it? Eh lame attempt at humor.
All in all, the Imaging here is spot on and if you’re coming from a lesser headphone like Beats or even a better bass head type of can, you’re going to be amazed.
IMAGING SCORE: A NUMBAH 1!
Will you need an amp?
They don’t need a lot of power, but aren’t very sensitive at 94dB. What this basically means is that they’ll have trouble getting loud enough out of your standard mobile device/Laptop.
Learn more about how this stuff works:
You can try them out without one first, but I would go with something like an Audioquest Dragonfly Red, or a Schiit Stack if you want a desktop solution. Learn more: Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review.
What types of music will these do well for?
I would recommend them for nearly all genres.
They have enough bass to satisfy a bass head…
They’re balanced enough to be good for reference…
They’re warm enough for genres like Jazz and Classical..
And they’re exciting enough for Rock and Metal..
It’s really a jack of all trades type of headphone. If I had to list out some genres:
and the list goes on..
So what’s the Final Grade?
I would give the Sundara an A, bordering on A+. It’s not perfect, but the model I got was darn near close.
As mentioned in the video, you may or may not have issues with the cable connection. I personally didn’t, but I’ve read read reviews that have.
Drop’s (Formely Massdrop’s) newer iteration 4XX doesn’t seem to have those connection issues, and is an incredible value at the price.
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve gotten some valuable information out of my HIFIMAN Sundara Review!
Marvin, what do you make of all this? Be sure to let me know!!
If you have any other questions, or feel I’ve missed the mark on something, leave a comment down below or Contact me!
I very much look forward to speaking with you..
All the best and God bless,