HiFiMAN Ananda Review: Puzzling But Precious

I’m no stranger to HiFiMAN gear, I use the HiFiMAN DEVAs practically daily, I recently reviewed the HE-R10P and HE-R10D high-end cans and a little while ago reviewed the TWS600 true wireless earbuds, so when they reached out and asked if I wanted to try something in the middle, the Ananda’s, I said yes, are they worth your time and money?

HiFiMAN Ananda
+ FOR
  • Beautiful sound signature
  • Wide sound stage
  • Detatchable cables (standard tips)
  • Can be run from almost anything
  • Comfortable for long listening sessions
- AGAINST
  • Bass not as pronounced as Highs
  • $999 is tough sell
  • No Bluemini option

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Disclaimer

HiFiMAN have provided these Ananda sample headphones to me for the purposes of review, they have not seen this content before it goes live nor will they be able to ask for changes. No money has exchanged hands between either entity, these words are my own. The Anandas were used on my desktop computer with a Logitech Z150 speaker setup, as well as my Huawei Matebook 13.

HiFiMAN Ananda Review

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Overview

It seems weird to call $999 headphones “midrange” but in the grand scheme of open back, planar magnetic headphones from HiFiMAN, these are those, slotting in above the $350 DEVAs and below the $1299 of the HE-R10Ds. With a 3.5mm audio jack in each ear cup, the detachable cables allow you to use the standard 3.5mm connector or the larger 6.25mm cable, but in the future, if HiFiMAN decided, they could release a cable with 3.5mm jacks to the earcups, a small DAC in the cable (like where the Y-splitter is) and terminate in a USB-C cable, that gives them total control of the power and audio characteristics. It also means that if you somehow break one of these cables it is not the end of the road for your $999 headphones. except however, for the last few months, these have steadily been on sale at $699, which makes the value proposition very interesting.

Spec Sheet

  •  HiFiMAN Neo Super Diaphragm
    • 2 micron thick diaphragm
  • Dual 3.5mm audio jacks
  • Hybrid leather and steel headband
  • 25Ω of Impedence 
  • 103dBa max volume
  • 8Hz – 55Khz frequency response
  • 399g
  • 3.5mm cable and 6.25mm cables included

Audio & Use

The Anandas continue the HiFiMAN tradition of being beautifully balanced from an audio standpoint, I wouldn’t call these reference or flat, they’re definitely more sparkly in the high ends than I expected, but they sound lovely with my music, whether that be classical FLACs or YouTube music K-pop.

Starting with the bass and low end, it is definitely there, but by the fact they are open back there will never be headshaking bass here, but it is tight, something classic like Basshunter’s “now you’re gone” or Skrillex’s “bangarang” are definitely bass present and sound lovely, but they don’t have quite the same body feeling as some closed backs can deliver. I still love listening to such tracks, but it is not quite “headbanging on the tube” kind of bass.

HiFiMAN Ananda Review

One of my favourite soundtracks to listen to on headphones to test is Hamilton, it’s something I’ve listened to over and over so I can discern when others are showing me things I’ve never heard before, or are entirely missing parts of the music, on the Anandas, I wasn’t hearing anything that I wasn’t hearing on the DEVAs but it just felt… wider, I’m not sure if this is a change in diaphragm size, or dimensions, or just the way the ear cups are designed to channel sound, but the soundstage of these is noticeably wider, with properly mastered tracks hearing someone click behind your head with a slight bias to the right would make you turn your head to the right. Listening to some 2CELLOs tracks, the mids are beautifully tight and crisp, whilst not being overtly louder than everything else, they really do show this is where these cans are most comfortable.

I noted that the highs here are particularly sparkly, anything with cymbals or lighter woodwind instruments does send shivers down my spine, I happen to quite like this, but I know some people would rather the curve be reversed and have more pronounced bass and a less forward high end, but that is the beauty of audio, there is always something for you, even if it isn’t these particular ones.

I want to talk about the power requirements of these… it is basically nothing. I was running these from the built-in headphone jack on my laptop, the headphone jack on the rear of my motherboard and even from the headphone out on my desktop speakers (which themselves only cost £25), with just 25Ω (Ohms) of impedance these can be powered by practically anything, even phones, not that I would recommend taking a pair of $699/$999 open-back planar magnetic cans to the cafe, you could do that here and these would sound just as great.

Final Thoughts

As you can tell, I very much like these, but there isn’t much in it for me over the DEVAs, these are 3.5x more expensive at MSRP, and just over twice as expensive given their current discount, and whilst they do sound better, I find the DEVAs more comfortable, and the option of the blueMini DAC, which isn’t available for the Ananda (though you can buy a BT version with a USB-DAC)

HiFiMAN Ananda Review

So I am slightly puzzled, the pricing of these makes little to no sense for me personally, maybe they are due for a refresh though. But these are precious, the sound signature is beautifully matched for my listening habits, and it didn’t matter if I was listening to the highest quality tracks or some danky MP3s I might or might not have found on Limewire back in the day, these are fancy headphones that the unfancy listener can enjoy.

About Domenico Lamberti

Technology has been a big part of my life for years, whether it be ripping the family computer apart to see how it worked, playing with the new phones that Dad brought home from work. Senior Reviewer for MTT.

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