Frequency Response: 8 Hz – 55 kHz
Sensitivity: 103 dB
Impedance: 25 Ω
Weight: 14.07 Oz (399g)
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.
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.