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 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.
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.
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.