Hifiman Ananda Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones - Official Thread

I’ve been trying out the Ananda-BT, and both through the wireless (bluetooth) and the wired USB type C connection it immediately sounded nothing like the original wired Ananda I reviewed. I don’t have the wired version on hand so it’s just from memory, but the BT version sounds considerably more sibilant and harsh in the consonant range to me, and also something odd in the lower treble that throws off snare drums and cymbals a bit. So I had to see how it compared to my existing measurements of the original.


This is how the the Ananda-BT (in blue) with the USB type C connection measures relative to the original wired version (brown) using the HEQ compensation on the EARS rig, so grain of salt and all

Both hearing it, and looking at this I can confidently say that the Ananda BT is an Ananda in name only, and it sounds like a very different headphone - especially for the treble. These measurements were also position averaged because that’s all I have for the wired Ananda (consistency). The individual measurements where I think I got the position most accurate looked even more dramatically different with an even less gradual elevation to 9.5khz.

Still, it’s not hard to understand why they called it the Ananda-BT. It does have a similar shape overall, and really quite decent technical ability, and while it’s not as much of a benchmark headphone as the wired version is, it’s on the whole still reasonably pleasing - apart from distinctly more sibilance. As far as proof of concept goes, I wouldn’t say this is entirely a swing and a miss, but it’s definitely not something I’d be able to recommend over the wired version. Things may eventually go this way, but it seems like we’re not there yet. DAC, amp and cable enthusiasts rejoice. :slight_smile:

Video review here:

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puhhh - good to know Andrew, thanks

the build quality was identical?

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The build is actually a bit different. Clamp force on the BT is tighter, the headband is shorter and less comfortable (less room?), but thankfully there’s now a small bit of cup swivel with the addition of two side grooves for the yokes, similar to what Focal does.

One step forward, one step back. I weirdly prefer the comfort of the wired version because of less clamp force - but on the BT it may improve as it gets used or stretched (I’m not going to attempt that manually).

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yes :slight_smile:

did not miss the swivel on the wired version

FYI,

I have a set of the Anada’s thanks to the Community Loaner Program. Just got them today and am listening right now…took some pix and will spend a few days and post my review experience shortly after.

Thanks to the folks at Headphone.com for the loaner program!!

Alex

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This is a review or experience I have had with a set of HIFIMAN Ananda headphones courtesy of the Headphone Community Preview Program.

Announcing the new HEADPHONE Community Preview Program

When I was going through Officers Candidate School in the US Army many years ago, some things stood out and even today still stick in my mind. One is “First Impressions are a Lasting One”…and my first impression with the Ananda’s was well “ho-hum”…and I have read all the many great reviews about this headphone. I really wanted to really like these headphones.

Having a set of LCD2’s for year or so I tried to compare these to what I remember when I had these and of course with what I have now, the Focal Clears and the T1’s, T90’s, HD600’s, ATH MSR7’s, AKG701/2’s, Grado 325is.

First the packaging: Impressive!

Very well packed in a very nice leather like case, with an instruction manual and two sets of neat looking silicon wrapped cables.

They seem to be silicon based to me, very flexible and translucent so you see the inner wires. Very high quality looking adapters on both of them. A nice hefty right angle on one of them for those needing this.

Opening the box you see the cans resting to a very plush looking bed of satin type fabric, very nice packaging.

First impression here was well packed, nice touch with the manual and the accessory cables. Not so good IMO was the missing rotating adjustments for the ear pads and the overall fit on my head at the smallest size turned out to be a bit loose on my big head…almost seemed like I needed to put on a hat then the headphones to make them fit better for me. At the smallest headband adjustment it feels like they are too low on my ears and even though they didn’t move around, it felt like the clamping force was just a tad too little. I explain this is like getting into a motel bed with a thin sheet feeling vs getting into a bed with a thick duvet cover and satin sheets!! :>)

That said they are very light and very comfortable…

Cosmetically the design and look are nice, the large elongated ear openings are very nicely designed, the planar elements you can see thru the window blind shield. I never felt really uncomfortable these are so much lighter than the Focal Clears. You can wear these for hours on end…

When you first pick them up and look at them they don’t quite look like a $999 headphone. But these can be had for $699 out in the wild. So are they worth it at this price for a set of decent planars?

The headphone that sets the bar form me in overall tonality is the Focal Clears…IMO I agree with Tyll when he was at Innerfidelity that these are some of the most perfect headphones when it comes to reproducing music as it originally sounds.

That is piano sounds like a real “piano” and strings sound like strings, etc…

These headphones are supposed to be easy to drive at 25 ohms and a sensitivity of 103 dB. I often found myself turning up the volume more on these to get a satisfying sound to me…more so than the Focal Clears. Using high voltage and high current amps the high current amps I have seem to work best with the Anandas.

My first impression was “hey these are really thin sounding” seems to be missing the heft and warmth I am used to with the Clears. A nice thing with so many amps I can easily compare two sets of headphones quickly and get a good idea on how the compare…

Thin, yes and Resolve in his review mentioned that the Anandas are “neutral-bright” and I agree very much. Where I disagree is for me these are too light overall for my taste…Some tunes like Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis’s Play the Blues, “The Last Time” is full of trumpet, clarinet, bass and overall the presentation is great but very bright…almost too bright…

Put on the Clears and its back to tonal perfection or close to it.

Richard Souther Cross Currents The Last Roundup. very ethereal open depth and tonality…good.

These cans sound thinner or drier than the clears…I think the clears have more control over the overall sound reproduction…they Anandas go deep but less controlled…at times they sound a bit peaky to me…a bit too bright…not as bad as some Beyers. This first impression reminded me of the Beyer T90’s and there high end…some hate etc…not as bad, but piano seems like the tone is just too brittle for me…It may be due to their 8 kHz peak?

Resolve mentioned the timbre was on the somewhat dry quality…and again I agree whole heartedly.

The really nice positive thing with these Anandas to me is the soundstage, really nice and wide like the HD800 series, but soundstage isn’t everything. Another nice trait of these is there ability to detect and produce minute details…very fast transients like with the Sheffield Labs Drum CD are handled with aplomb…the tone here seems really good…the instruments sound life like and accurate. Which is a bit confusing when your looking at the whole sonic spectrum…its like when all the instruments are playing the tone is again not as nice as I like it and not as lifelike sounding. So individual instruments played separately are good, but together???

Open, spacious, wide soundstage…more so than the Clears for sure. Does well with acoustic guitar sounds…IE Chet Atkins, Mr. Guitar from The Day Finger Pickers Took Over The World and Richard Souther Cross Currents, The last roundup. very ethereal open depth and tonality…good.

Ben Harpers fight for your mind and the song Fight for your mind is very realistic due to this soundstage…Ben Vaughn Designs in Music and Smoketree Sernade is very well presented… lifelike and you hear to whole soundstage as it was mic’d…something that more closed in sound of the Clears that is missing a bit…again ethereal sounding…with great depth to help with the illusion of being there…

Vocals seem like the singer is wider in the soundstage and placed more in back versus a more focused singer with the clears…

It seems like the Anandas are much like the wide open soundstage of the Senn 800 series. This can be good or not so good depending on your music and liking.

The most positive thing here is their staging and imaging…with symphonic or orchestral material its really a very nice representation of the real thing…the weakness IMO is the tonality of these cans and a lack of coherence. I never heard earlier versions of HIFIMAN’s planars so I can opine on how far Dr Fang has come with the technology.

After a few days of listening when I do put back on the Clears, I fins myself missing that wide soundstage…this is one thing I really do like about these Ananda’s…

So perfection for me might be a blending of this type of soundstage with the tonality that the Clears present.

If your looking for a good starting point for $699 this could be a nice starting point, but as always you need to try and listen for yourself.

Alex

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Hey Alex @lost33 thanks for sharing your impressions vs. the Clears! Out of curiosity what amps did you use with the Ananda’s

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I used the Monprice THX AAA 889. on gain 2 and gain 3.
Bottlehead Mainline.
Schitt Magni 3.
AGDR ODA, high current design of the original O2, 3x current of the O2…fantastic amp…will drive HE6’s.
Burson Fun with Vivid V6 Op Amps.

The DIY AGDR DIY seemed to pair the best with them…others were ok, but there was something magically with the high current amp.

Alex

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it would be nice to hear a comparison of these to the earlier versions of the H series…

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One thing I might have not explained very well is when I hear a vocal with the Clears the voice was very much centered and focused in the middle of the soundstage, very natural as far as the “width” of the vocal or person’s voice…with the Anandas the same recording the vocal was spread wider than with the Clears. Sometimes this makes the voicing a bit wide and not as natural sounding…its like the old addage in the 2ch stereo setups when speakers spread apart too much causes that “27 Foot” piano image…

Wonder if the HD800s also exhibit this observed behavior?

Alex

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Great review Alex @lost33!

I am still burning in my pair, but had a short listen today and so far I am really liking the Ananda’s, it’s a different ‘flavor’ of sound and Alex and Andrew are correct in that the sound signature is on the “neutral-bright” and yes somewhat thin sounding. However I might have a better seal on mine, as I am getting a reasonably good amount of bass, less then some of my other headphones, but so far nothing that is “lacking” for me personally.

For “our” hobby, I have always found it interesting to read other people’s perspective on headphones, as it truly shows that none of us really “hear” the same way, with all of the different aspects(physical, range of hearing, etc.)

I will have a review of the Ananda’s after I have had a chance to spend some time with them.

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With the lack of swivel adjustment, I wouldn’t be surprised if seal varies more than usual with the Ananda.

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Absolutely agree, I still can’t believe a well know company made a headphone without cup swivel.

I am lucky that it has ‘fit’ me reasonably well. As I really am enjoying the sound of these.

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I am with you man, they fit me pretty well as I have a medium sized head so haven’t really had any issues needing a swivel. I think the low end sounds pretty decent with them. Of course not as much punch as with my Elear’s or A2C but enough to still sound good for most tracks. Love their tonality, detail retrieval, speed and soundstage. I am feeding them with a decent amount of power with my amps, even though they are supposed to be one of the easier to drive planar headphones. In my limited experience with only owning two planar headphones now, the Aeon2C and the Ananda the more powerful the amp I feed them the better they tend to sound.

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I ‘hear ya’ Marcello @MRphotography
I too enjoy their tonality, detail retrieval, speed and soundstage.

Its still to early for me to give detailed feedback. But I am really enjoying these. For testing today I fed them through my 789 using the Mojo in line out mode. When I have a chance I am going to run them through my other amps, the Soundaware P1, Schiit Mjolnir 2 and Cavalli Liquid Platinum, also through my other dacs, the SMSL SU8 and the Airist R2R.

I can say that I am glad I purchased these and will be enjoying them.

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Excellent writeup Alex. Great comparisons and it was easy to follow. I enjoyed it.

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Thanks, I am a simple man!! :grinning: Aunt Sandy would be proud!!

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I am enjoying the Ananda, I picked one up two weeks ago. First want to thank the comunity for clear impressions of the headset. After reading Resolve’s review and a few others and seeing the price drop on Amazon $699 it made it an easy decsion to get one.

It is still early but I have been comparing them against the Focal Elex and Dan Clarks Aeon X Open ( a Flow with new pads).

The Ananda meets rock, blues, and Jazz head-on with rich authority and clarity. As you can see this is just few of my tunes I like to run through to see if the instrument sound right. I play guitar and some piano, they are instruments I am most sensitive too.

Harmonica’s and Brass instruments I have soft spot for since first came to Austin you walk into Joe’ Generic Bar or Antones to watch some lay down there soul with Harmonica, Then there was Salsa club with band with full brass section, which wife introduced me to when were first dating. Of the brass instruments, it is the Trumpet that can reach its full dynamism or even mellow and moody.

  • Gary Clark Jr “Bright Lights” Some time you need start with a modern Austin hero, and the drum right there tight on you, with rich fuzz, textured guitars
  • Ke Mo “The Itch” Opens with a bright resonator guitar and then drop to deep vocals
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers “Memphis Exorcism” Love the trumpets in this one.
  • Elmore James “Dust My Blues” One Blues Guitarist Greats before BB King.
  • John Lee Hooker “Jesse James” down to the basic John Lee Hooker, toe tap, and guitar.
  • Eta James “Dust My Broom” Harmonica Opening, with a drone of guitar laying down a rhythm, Then into Eta vocals.
  • Diana Krall “Fly Me to the Moon” Opening piano to her beautiful vocals
  • Ray Hargrove "Another Time’

One thing I do find the Ananda can reach down lower bass region with detail with the right amp, First 30 sec of Han Zimmer’s “2049”. It is one on Focal with too much volume you have to watch since you overdrive the driver. But Ananda with the right gain set will shake your head. The song is not loud 71 db-A , It is a peak SPL around here 46 Hz -42 dB with its peak at 93 Hz -32 dB but rolling down into 33 Hz about -55 dB.

One thing I love to see in the review is with the planner headset is looking at current and peak currents against Impulse frequencies. Aeon I find is more current sensitive then voltage-sensitive. Even the Ananda has these characteristics.

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You and I like a LOT of the same music. (I’m a metal head covert to the Blues.)

Nice review. = ) Thanks!

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Great impressions @angstorms I am loving my Ananda’s too! I picked up mine from headphones.com Taron did a great job :+1: helping me pick them out and for the $699 Sale price when they were still priced $999 on Amazon. Love Amazon for tons of stuff but when it comes to headphones, headphones.com is always my favorite place . What amps/dacs are you using with your set of Ananda headphones?

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