Review: Hifiman Ananda – The saga continues

In this article we’re looking at the Hifiman Ananda, the Edition X V2’s successor.

 

Disclaimer: Hifiman sent us the Hifiman Ananda free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t have to be returned as far as I know. The picture in this article are both ours as well as the official Hifiman ones.

Hifiman

Hifiman over the last years has quickly become a personal audio brand everyone knows and talks about. They offer a whole range of products for every budget and they strive to continuously extend, improve and update their product line-up.

Hifiman is on full speed and they recently have released a series of new models such as the HE-1000SE, HE6-SE, the R2R2000 DAP/streamer, the Arya and the Ananda. The latter is the one we’re looking at today.

I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Hifiman sound and they have produced fantastic sounding headphones over the years such as the HE-500, HE-6, HE-1000, HE-560, HE-400i, Edition X, etc etc etc. I couldn’t possible choose only one favourite Hifiman.

Ananda

The Ananda is one of Hifiman’s latest open-back planar headphones and it is designed to maximize the performance of any personal audio source, especially smartphones and tablets. To do so the open-back Ananda features a high sensitivity, ultra-thin diaphragm. Ananda’s rating of 103dB guarantees that it will provide consistently low distortion high-fidelity output when used with a smartphone, let alone current and upcoming high-resolution digital audio players and home audio systems.

“The NEO Supernano Diapraghm (NsD), 80% thinner than previous designs while retaining lush musicality. resulting in a faster more detailed response.”

According to Dr. Fang Bian, the Ananda is designed for music lovers who want one high-performance, extraordinarily comfortable headphone for all personal listening, whether it’s a home system, high-resolution portable player, or an everyday smartphone”

The word ‘Ananda’ is derived from the Sanskrit term for ‘bliss,’ which according to Hifiman is what this headphone will bring to anybody who enjoys audiophile-grade performance, no matter the source.

Updates

Some say the Ananda is the successor to the successful Edition X V2 and others say it replaces the wonderful HE-560 headphone. Personally I’d say it replaces the discontinued Edition X V2, as the sound signature follows more their design than the one of the neutral tuned HE-560.

The Edition X V2 actually is one of my favourite headphones and back in 2016 it received my award for best open headphone of the year. When the Edition X was first launched around December 2015, its price was $1799 (MSRP). The new Edition X V2 that was announced in August 2016, sold for $1299 after it was permanently discounted. So over the years Hifiman has managed to reduce the price to $999, which is what the Ananda is going for nowadays. The difference with the reference HE-1000SE now is $2500USD (and $2000 compared to the HE-1000 V2), and that’s where the new Arya comes in with its $1599 price tag.

The new Ananda, like the other new models, now comes with 3.5mm connectors in the cups (before it were the smaller ones). The headband system used is also that of the one used in the Sundara and the new HE6SE headphone.

Next to that the biggest update of course are the Neo Supernano Diapraghms, and it is wonderful to see how Hifiman keeps coming up with better sounding and easier to drive, well euh, drivers each single time.

Comfort, Design & Build Quality

The Ananda, just like its predecessors and the other high end Hifiman headphones, comes delivered in a beautiful box you can store the headphone in when you’re not using it. In my case it rests on a Sieveking stand and the box goes to the attic but you seriously could leave the box in plain sight, it’s well built with top quality materials and it’s a pretty box all together.

If you quickly look at the Ananda’s and the Edition X’s grill/ear cups you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart right of the bat, but the headband system of course is different. The build quality of my unit is very good and the grills still look very sexy. We (and a lot of other audiophiles) in the past haven’t always been pleased with the Hifiman build quality but I really can’t say anything bad about the headphone finish at all: everything fits and matches up, as it should.

The new headband system, just like the older one (which is still used by the HE-1000 models), feels good and solid. While it sticks out a bit over the head because of the double headband system (also used by the Empyrean) it is extremely comfortable even during long listening sessions. The swiveling (1 axis) asymmetrical ear cups make sure the large ear cups perfectly fit over your ears (no touching) and the pressure is just right to keep them in place while delivering the best comfort (and sound quality). The material used for the pads are leather and velvet, and they feel soft and very comfy.

The 3.5mm headphone connecters sit perfectly flush in the ear cup and detaching and connecting cables couldn’t be easier. Just make sure you plug it directly in the 3.5mm hole or you might find some scratches around the headphone connector after a few weeks of use.

The cables in the Edition X V1 had a grey sleeve finish and with the V2 they had a white see-through plastic “sleeve” finish. The new Ananda’s cables also have the white see-through plastic sleeves. Personally I don’t really like their looks but audio and build quality-wise they’re perfectly fine.

The Hifiman Ananda weighs 399gr which is perfectly normal (and not heavy) for a full sized headphone. As it isn’t the smallest headphone, that actually is pretty impressive. At the same time however the old Edition X V2 only weighed 300gr.

All in all, it’s very good in all possible ways.

The review continues on Page two of this article. CLICK HERE or use the jump below.

Review: Hifiman Ananda – The saga continues
3.9 (78.54%) 41 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

17 Comments

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Ahmed

    You think $3k is fair for the 1000SE???

    • Reply December 6, 2018

      Lieven

      Looking at today’s economy and the flagship prices, I said the HE-1KSE would be more fair at $3K and not $3.5K

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Wills

    Hi Lieven, how would you compare this with hd660s or even hd800?

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      HD800 is analytic, neutral, superb sound stage, very precise. Extremely different from the Ananda.
      The HD660 also sounds very different but mainly as it’s a dynamic headphone. The 660 is the perfect mix of the 650 and 700 and it’s just a very different kind of tuning compared to the ortho Ananda, both headphones are complementary, that’s how different they are.

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Ben

    What about a comparison with the LCD2 (fazor)? I’d be curious, as they are in the same price range.

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      I’m sorry, but I only have no fazor LCD2 (imo they’re better sounding)

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Jack

    comparison against LCD X! since the creator package is around the same price.

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      Good question. I don’t have the X here (it’s the one that got away) but I remember the X as being tighter, faster and more linear. It’s more neutral yet musical, Personally I’d go for the X, but I just have a thing for that headphone

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Kevin

    Was going to get the Edition X v2. Should I just get the Ananda instead and save the money?

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      Only if you feel the sound signature suites you more, if not the V2 has the better comfort, so I’d stick to it.

  • Reply December 6, 2018

    Mateo F

    I think the Arya is supposed to be the HEKV2 drivers in the Ananda frame; any chance you guys will compare the two? Also a comparison of the HEKv2 and the Ananda would be great.

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      It’s not confirmed at this stage

  • Reply December 7, 2018

    Tom

    Unfortunately this seems like a advertisement to hifiman. If this unit is perfect then is far from what I’ve seen in stores. The grill on the inside had edges coming out, drivers misaligned, the headband seems hard cheap plastic and is uncomfortable, sound wise they seem thin and don’t have the sense of detail and space that the 1000 v1 has. They charge 1000 usd for this, world has gone crazy and 3k for the SE when in two months they will release another iteration for what 4K? They are crazy

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      yourmumgeytom

      been using it since july and had no problems whatsoever. its pretty comfortable actually I can wear it for long hours without any problems. The mids are thicker than the v2 but the bass is not as strong in the Ananda. 1000 usd for this earphone hits the sweet spot for this headphone .

  • Reply December 8, 2018

    Andres

    And what about the Bayerdynamic T1 2nd gen vs Ananda?

    • Reply December 8, 2018

      Lieven

      That’s also a very neutral, fast and brighter Dynamic. World of difference. I never really liked the T1’s

  • Reply December 10, 2018

    Folkert

    and on more… versus the Focal Clear? i think the Clear is more neutral and analytical but still warm and engaging enough

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