Review: Hifiman Ananda – The saga continues

Specs

 

Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 55 kHz

Sensitivity: 103 dB

Impedance: 25 Ω

Weight: 14.07 Oz (399g)

Accessories

Next to the beautiful box in which you can store the headphones, you get two sets of copper & silver cables. One longer one terminated with a 6.3mm plug for at home, and another shorter one with a 90° angled 3.5mm plug. You also get an extra adapter to 6.3mm for that last cable. The Ananda doesn’t come with a balanced cable and that’s a bit of a shame.

According to Hifiman, the Ananda’s 3.5mm headphone connector is the company’s strongest yet, ensuring years of secure, trouble-free performance.

The Ananda also comes with an owner’s guide and a warranty card.

Sound

The part on sound was done with the following setup: Roon laptop – Project Audio Streambox S2 Ultra – Violectric V850 – Auris Audio Nirvana.

It’s safe to say I’m a fan of the Edition X series and even the HE-560, so it won’t come as a surprise that I also like this brand new Ananda. I listened to it the first time at he High End Show in Munich at Hifiman’s booth, in combination with the brand new R2R2000 streamer/DAP (which I almost dropped on the floor it fell on my foot. Phew!)

The advantage of Hifiman’s continuous drive to improve, makes it so that you get an even better sounding headphone for less money. The Ananda at $999 scores big, there’s no doubt about that.

The Ananda still has a softer, more laid back character and it has pleasant warmth creating a very enjoyable, fun, yet qualitative sound signature. No matter what type of music you throw at it (from classical to rap to country to techno), the Edition-X with its soft treble, smooth rich mids and entertaining bass plays everything effortless. Its sound is easy to love and that combined with its easy drivability and good comfort make it an easy to use and even more addictive headphone than the Edition X V2.

The sound signature is in between neutral and warm but it for sure is tilting more to the warmer side with its smooth presentation.. Like all the Edition X’s, the Ananda has a very black background, good separation and the typical orthodynamic clear/clean sound. The Ananda has a good balance but the focus is mostly on the upper midrange. Bass and treble are reasonably easygoing but easy to like and very engaging. Compared to the previous Edition X-versions there is even more focus on the mids which are still more forward sounding. You could say the Ananda, like the Edition X V2 is a mid-centric headphone but an very good one for that.

From the Edition X versions, this Ananda has the lightest bass in impact but it is the most qualitative one with the best depth, precision and layering. The X V2 only gives the impression of going lower but that’s because of the bigger amplitude in its delivery.

The Ananda mids also have lighter body than in the previous versions and especially the lower mids. That also, again, results in somewhat more forward sounding upper mids, and especially the vocals. This however is not disturbing in any way and it just works at it’s just such a qualitative midrange.

You can easily use a specific amplifier to change the impact of the bass and the full bodyness of the mids if you would want that. If you’re into big bass and thick mids you might want to track down an Edition X V1 or V2 but if it’s quality that you want, then the Ananda is the one to go for.

Treble, like with the previous models, is soft yet energetic enough. Treble will never be harsh or aggressive, it’s easygoing and easy to like. It doesn’t have to be extra energetic either as it would create to much contrast with the bass, and right now they’re perfectly in balance. Treble is extended, detailed and spacious enough, don’t worry about it.

More on sound in the next chapters!

The Family (Comparisons)

All these comparison were done with the same setup: Roon laptop – Project Audio Streambox S2 Ultra – Violectric V850 – Auris Audio Nirvana.

The Hifiman Sundara ($499) shares more or less the same head band with the Ananda but he Sundara is less comfortable even though it’s lighter in weight (372g). Ananda’s drivers, ear pads and ear pads are round and as a result they always touch your ear. The Ananda is just so much more comfy to wear. Sound wise the Sundara is more neutral and sounds lighter. Both bass and mids have less body and impact. The Ananda sounds smoother and warmer and has the better layering, width and extension. The Ananda both technically and musically is the best headphone but the sound signature is very different and switching between both models is a world of difference. I can see some people preferring the more flat, light, neutral presentation of the Sundara over that of the warmer and thicker sounding Ananda, but that’s a personal choice. Personally the Sundara isn’t in my list of favorite Hifiman headphones.

The “old” HE-560 ($899) is still for sale and it’s a headphone I hold really high. Too bad it has the old screw-on cable connectors. I wouldn’t say the Ananda is the successor of this headphone at all as they also have a very different tuning and the HE-560 is far harder to drive. The HE-560’s comfort is better than that of the Sundara but it isn’t as comfortable as the Ananda yet (round earpads again, 375g). Sound wise the HE-560 is more balanced and more neutral, though it has a soft smooth delivery at the same time. Bass and mid body of the HE-560 is also smaller than that of the Ananda, and you get less impact. Bass and mids aren’t as full or present in the HE-560 and it shows less warmth and smoothness. The upper mids and voices in the Ananda are also more forward and aggressive compared to the lighter, flatter ones of the He-560. The Ananda has the better extension and decay but the HE-560 has a much cleaner presentation. It’s Ananda’s smoothness, body and warmth vs the HE-560’s clarity, linearity and precision. Again very different but both great.

The Edition X V1 has the same look and feel as the Ananda but it has the other head band system. Comfort wise I find it to be just a little less comfy as the Ananda even though they weigh exactly the same (399g). The original headphone to me has slightly bigger bass and mid impact and it doesn’t sound as extended and tight/precise as the Ananda does. The upper mid and treble section of the Ananda are a few steps ahead of the Edition X V1’s and they show more clarity where the upper mids of the V1 have a smoother and softer touch. The Ananda technically is the best of both headphones but if you want a thicker, bass heavier headphone, than the original is the one for you. Both are very musical and have really good layering but for me the Ananda is the better and higher end one overall.

The Edition X V2 is the most comfortable of the series and that’s mostly because it used the former headband system where the pads could move over two axes, and not one as it is now. Looking at their sound, the Ananda’s bass goes lower and has more precision, detail and tightness. The Edition X V2’s bass and mids are thicker and they have more impact and presence. The Edition X V2 has slightly more focus on the vocals but the tuning is similar in that region. I’d say the layering of the Edition X V2 is the best though, but it just could be more easy to notice because of the thickness. Overall the Edition X V2 is warmer, thicker and smoother sounding, the Ananda more precise, balanced and more detailed.

The Hifiman HE-1000SE is the third version of their award winning HE-1000 and it is my favorite version so far. Compared to the Ananda it is more comfortable even though it weighs just a little bit more (440g), but again the double axis ear cups make it more comfortable to use. Sound wise the HE-1000SE, which is 2.5 times the price of the Ananda, is the better technical headphone. It’s more balanced and linear from bass to treble and has better extension, spaciousness and decay. Bass reaches down low in both headphones but the Ananda’s bass impact is bigger. The HE-1000SE’s lower mids are also fuller than those of the Ananda and the mid range just sounds more complete because of this. Overall the control and layering of the HE-1000SE is the better one and the flagship SE is the more complete, natural and easier headphone to listen to.

Both headphones are really great but once you’ve been listening to the SE, it actually is rather hard to go back to the Ananda or any of the previously mentioned models. But at he price it’s selling for ($3500) it’s no wonder it is the better headphone. It’s up to you though to decide if the price difference corresponds with the improvement in sound. To me it does, though $3K might be a little more fair.

If there are any specific non Hifiman headphone comparisons you want to see, let me know in the comments.

The review continues on Page three of this article with more on “Sound”. 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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