The Hifiman Ananda Bluetooth was one of the stars in CJ London, and for good reason. Very easy to connect, supports LDAC and instantly pairs with a smartphone.
In sound, there is plenty of detail and resolution. The staging is fine, the dynamism is beautiful. It plays very transparent. A little more warmth and fullness alone wouldn’t be bad. But of course that is my personal taste. The treble of the headphone is particularly successful and airy. The sound in general was very spacious as well. But I must say that I don’t find the depth very good. Although the headphone is a Bluetooth one, it offers a very high level of sound, which is highly appreciated by me. Such a great job from Hifiman.
On the floor above there was the famous Mysphere 3.2 for us to listen to. It is quite strange and sometimes difficult to put on the headphone, but it is very comfortable once “set”. I didn’t like its sound very much and I wasn’t really impressed to be honest. Although the staging and the feeling of spaciousness is hugely impressive, the cymbals sounded very veiled and not dynamic enough. Maybe it can play very well in a system tuned to it, but it’s not my style to be honest.
Last year the Meze Empyrean was almost finished for the market and we were very impressed. Lieven even give it an award. This year I’ve listened to it in more detail and what a headphone this is. First of all it’s very comfortable and the material quality is great. The design is just as impressive.
The sound of the headphone gives you a concert atmosphere in a large conference hall. What struck me most was the frequency separation. Indeed, the separation has been achieved at the highest level. Although the treble is quite pronounced, it’s very controlled, has good extension and does not stick. At the same time it does not cause any discomfort. The tonality in mids is like a studio reference so it’s exactly as it should be. Bass is quite controlled in the middle of the stage. Although there’s not a huge quantity, it is constantly felt in the recordings. I can clearly say that the headphone really deserves the praise in the market.
A lot of friends constantly asked questions about the all new Focal Stellia headphone and Focal didn’t disappoint. It offers a luxurious Bentley feel in terms of material and design. Impressive.
The treble extends and separates just like the Empyrean. The sound overall is very lively and airy. For a closed headphone, the stage is set up very well and there are realistic gaps between each instrument. The stereo image success of the headphone is very high. The texture of the bass is great and there is a bass response under constant control. I think the mids are slightly open and high in terms of tonality though. For me, there is a slight subtlety in them. But that didn’t set me down because all the other technicalities of the headphone are very impressive. It has great timbre as well, and I’m not sure what more can a closed headphone do more.
The Hifiman Arya was another impressive headphone for me in the show. It has a touching and beautiful vocal presentation. Tonality is very successful. The sound is quite controlled and relatively smooth and can be listened to for a long time. Traditional planar transparency, pace and resolution is present. Bass is a bit small and flat, but I don’t see any negativity here because the headphone overall performs with a reference approach. The vocals are particularly good. The width of the stage is ideal and the depth is not bad. Somehow it reminded me of the Stax headphones. I can’t say it’s amazing in terms of treble, but I think it’s normal because the price is not on crazy levels like some other headphones. I think this a very successful headphone from Hifiman. It also is light and comfortable. I liked it.
Audeze always have great headphones and I listened to the LCD4z once again this year. It was just as I remembered it. The treble offers high resolution and airiness. The stage was quite nice in width but I didn’t find the depth to be very good. The bass response is really great, it would’ve been wrong to expect different from Audeze anyway. The mid tones are slightly light but the transparency is very high. The headphone is also pretty quick in general. The separation performance is also very successful. The bass and treble performance is especially great.
The normal LCD-4 is a bit better in stage depth, but this time it is not as wide as the 4z. Nevertheless, I liked the LCD-4 more because it gives a warmer sound. But other than that I found them quite similar. The Audeze MX4 gives you a bit thicker treble. Mid tonality and general timbre to me were more pleasant and correct compared to the other two. The bass is spreading more towards the edges when compared. While the other two were better at treble, my choice would be the MX4 because of its tonality. I think it gives the feeling of depth a little better. Something Lieven also confirmed in his review.
And there’s the Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One with its incredible pace, resolution, transparency and soundstage. This headphone is simply one of the best already in my book. The model one is particularly a favorite among Headfonia writers, even against their fresher offering with triple the price. You can see Lieven and me while we were enjoying the Sonoma headphones inside their special listening room below.
The report continues with In Ear Monitors, DACs and Cables on the 3rd page HERE.