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HIFIMAN Ananda Headphones – Sweet Mids, Huge Stage

HIFIMAN Ananda Headphones – Sweet Mids, Huge Stage

HIFIMAN Ananda is the headphone I took the most photos of for the past 3 months, and it is a high-end planar magnetic design priced at 1000 USD, sometimes going on sale for 700 USD. They have been the culmination of price / performance ratio for HIFIMAN, and they will be compared to other high-end headphones, including Crosszone CZ-10 Dynamic Headphones (900 USD), LSA HP-1 (1400 USD), Sivga Peacock Planar Magnetic Headphones (1500 USD), HIFIMAN Arya Stealth (1600 USD), and Audeze LCD-XC 2021 (1800 USD). For this special headphone, I will also be including pairings with Astell & Kern SP2000T (2500 USD), Cyrus One Cast (2000 USD), and Lotoo PAW 6000 (1200 USD). 

 

Introduction

HIFIMAN doesn’t need much of an introduction to music lovers, as they’ve been delivering awesome audio products, especially headphones and IEMS for years now, and their technology includes both dynamic drivers, planar magnetic drivers, but also DAPs, even with R2R tech inside. They are reliable, in fact being in top 3 most reliable companies from around the world right now, with offices in both Asia, Europe and USA, solving any problem that may appear with their products quickly, and offering a really satisfying customer experience. Even better, Ananda is one of their best seller headphones, with what can be called the best price / performance ratio that can be found out there, especially around the 700 USD price point it typically sells at.  

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I’d like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in HIFIMAN Ananda find their next music companion. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3o5v97c

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3H7NCYc

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3G4njRq

 

Packaging

First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

You may remember that I reviewed the Ananda Bluetooth a while ago, so I was impressed to see that the normal Ananda has the same package as HE6SE, rather than the Arya Stealth package. They come with the large wooden HIFIMAN package, with two HIFIMAN high-end cables, one in a 6.3mm termination, for desktop amplifiers, and one that’s shorter and ends in a single ended 3.5mm jack. 

If you need a separate balanced cable, you’ll have to source one yourself, but the two cables included are 1.5 meters in length for the one with a 3.5mm jack, and 3 meters in length for the one with a 6.3mm jack. 

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort

You have to admit that they look like Arya and Arya Stealth, and even like Ananda Bluetooth, HIFIMAN having applied the same design to all those headphones, but you also need to learn that this helps keep the costs low for them, and provide better sonics for lower price, so while it is tricky for us to take better photos every time, HIFIMAN actually has a good reason to stick to this design for their headphones. The window shade grill design helps reduce the sonic reflections coming from the driver and helps towards a good sound, so I’m happy to see it implemented as often as possible in HIFIMAN’s models. 

HIFIMAN mentions that Ananda has higher sensitivity than other planars, and that is entirely correct, but you still need a fairly strong source to drive them, like Astell & Kern SE180, iBasso DX300 and Lotoo PAW 6000, and Dethonray DTR1+. I also had excellent experience driving Ananda from budget sources like iFi’s hip-dac2, iBasso DX160, and Palab M1 Mini DAC/AMP. Please keep in mind that I have reviewed and still have all of the competitors and pairing sources to offer the info, and that you can click on them to check out that review as well. 

The headband of Ananda is made of leather, or at least imitates it very well, and looks pretty sleek. Having the leather part beneath the harder metallic skeleton is helpful for comfort and allows you to wear Ananda for many hours in a row, but the headband attaches to the earcups in such a way that it doesn’t swivel much in any direction, especially laterally. 

The earpads are of the highest quality, pretty much the same as the ones that can be found on HIFIMAN Arya Stealth, and this means that your ears will have tons of real estate, and Ananda is the most comfortable headphone you can find around this price point, with the oval ergonomic shape for the earpads, good ear pad thickness, soft-ish earpads that create a good seal, and great overall comfort. Ananda also has very common 3.5mm sockets at the earcup level, for connecting the cables, so it will be extremely easy to find aftermarket cables if you want to go balanced. The earpads follow an asymmetrical shape with thicker padding at the back of the ear, and thinner padding at the front, to fit better with the natural shape of the human head and ears. This works well for me and I get a great seal with them. 

There is a good amount of data available on Ananda if you read the manual that’s included with them, including their low weight, of 399g, 25 OHMs of impedance, and medium sensitivity of 103dB. They also used a high-end NsD diaphragm for Ananda, a thinner design than older designs, being 1 to 2 microns thick. In fact, this is a statement to their easier to drive nature, since HIFIMAN even managed to make a Bluetooth version of it, similar to how they made Deva pro sound amazing with the Bluetooth adapter, even though Deva Pro is otherwise quite hard to drive. 

Ananda leaks a bit, similar to how Arya Stealth and Arya, and even Ananda Bluetooth leak, and they all have pretty much about the same amount of passive noise isolation, around 10 dB. You won’t be able to blast metal in a library, but you won’t wake the neighbors or someone sleeping in a different room if you pump volume in Ananda. You need some power to get them loud, so I would not skimp on the source, and I would go for desktop amplifiers where possible, like Violectric HPA V340, Burson Funk, or Keces S3.  

 

Sound Quality

We need to start by mentioning all of the sources that I’ve been using to power and drive the Ananda, so you know where I’m coming from. It was basically all high-end DAPs like DTR1+ from Dethonray, Lotoo PAW 6000, iBasso DX240, Astell & Kern SE180, and Cyrus One Cast. I took the sonic impressions over the course of a few days to avoid personal bias, volume matching was done at a 1dB level using a SPL meter (for comparisons too), and I have allowed the Ananda to burn-in for 100  hours before taking the sound quality notes, to make sure they are given their fair time to settle in.

Ananda has a really natural sound, relaxed, smooth, with a warm and rich midrange that you could enjoy for hours without ever wanting to stop, a deep and punchy bass that goes hand in hand with the midrange, and has a natural balance in relation to it. The treble of Ananda is sweet, slightly wet in character and splashy rather than harsh or fatiguing, and the whole sound is simply sweet, musical and huge in the stage, even with very compressed metal and rock. The Rock Cat agrees with the performance of Ananda with both rock and metal. 

The bass of Ananda is really snappy and quick, deep and punchy, but is not the sub-bass that will take the highlight, but how naturally the bass combines with the midrange and how it has a really natural sound to it. The bass character is natural, with a natural speed decay, but natural quantity too. This means that the bass is not presented forward, and all of the warmth and thickness that I talk about and that people talk about when presenting the sound of Ananda is strictly the midrange being sweet. The bass of Ananda can be said to be close to neutral, but if you’re listening to rap, house or EDM in general, they can punch fairly deep and Virtual Riot doesn’t sound bland or flat on Ananda, having enough depth and impact to be true to their typical style. 

The midrange of Ananda is where all the magic happens, and they have a really sweet, dynamic, wide and airy midrange. The midrange has a certain harmonic resonance to it, that makes you go “man, those sound musical”. Ananda also has the largest soundstage you can expect to find around 1000 USD, and they present music with outstanding detail and instrument separation, but everything blends naturally, so they don’t come off as analytical and music is presented as a whole, with a rich and warm tonality to it. Instruments don’t get cut from each other, and Ananda is a master of naturalness even in the mids, where even more expensive headphones fail to deliver this kind of natural presentation. Ananda is great with both tube and solid state tech, inheriting the organic and sweetness of tubes if you use an amplifier like Feliks Euforia or Feliks Echo to drive them, but also inheriting the precision, clarity and depth of sources like Astell & Kern SE180, or iBasso DX240. Ananda can be said to have outstanding dynamics, and all music will sound natural, even extremely compressed metal and rock, from the post loudness wars era. 

The treble of Ananda is clean, slightly wet in character, like most of their sound, and they present music enjoyable, the treble is natural in balance to the bass and the midrange, never being too much, making them natural rather than bright or hot headed. The treble is the best part for a headphone as well balanced as Ananda, and it helps give contour to the musical and sweet presentation they give to music. This is one of my favorite headphones for sure, and it is worthy to consider if you can’t afford the Arya Stealth which is a bit more detailed and precise, or if you want a sweeter and richer sound than Arya Stealth. The sound of Arya is more upbeat, while the sound of Ananda is relaxed and smoother, and those are words that you can use to generally describe Ananda, smooth and relaxed. 

 

Comparisons 

HIFIMAN Ananda vs Audeze LCD-XC 2021 (1000 USD vs 1800 USD) – It is a good idea to start with the most expensive comparison, because LCD-XC is the most expensive headphone that I will be comparing the Ananda to today. Starting with the package, Audeze uses a much more solid package for this version of LCD-XC, and they also come with a really nice cable, but no 4.4mm balanced cables here either. The overall comfort is slightly better on Ananda, as they are lighter. LCD-XC has much thicker and softer earpads, and they also provide an excellent seal, but the overall comfort takes a hit on LCD-XC solely due to their weight, which is higher than that of the Ananda. The overall sonic presentation is, shockingly, warmer, sweeter and more thick on Ananda. Although Audeze is known for providing a fairly thick and deep sound, LCD-XC is tuned for music mastering and production and it sounds much more neutral, cleaner and more bright than Ananda does. Ananda, by comparison is warmer, has a richer midrange, with better bass depth and impact, less midrange impact and less treble impact. The dynamics are comparable between the two, and the soundstage is comparable in size, although Ananda is more wide than it is deep, while LCD-XC 2021 has a similar width to depth ratio. The rule here is that the more you enjoy a wide and airy presentation with a rich and warm / sweet midrange, the more you should lean towards Ananda, while if you enjoy a more analytical sound and dead point precision, you should go for LCD-XC.  

HIFIMAN Ananda vs Sivga Peacock (1000 USD vs 1500 USD) – Peacock has been a personal favorite for a really long time now, so I can mention that the package for Peacock includes a carrying case, and a balanced cable, although it comes with a single cable, but with adapters to other terminations. Peacock has circular earpads, so it is a bit harder to find the perfect seal with it, while Ananda has a more fair fit at the earpad level. Peacock swivels in more directions at the earcup level. The weight is slightly lower on Ananda. Both have good and similar headband designs. The sound is more punchy, more warm, more thick, but also emphasized in the upper midrange on Peacock, which sounds more dynamic, but also more V-Shaped than Ananda. Ananda is sweeter in the midrange, has a wider midrange, more air between instruments and presents music in a wider space, compared to Peacock which is a bit more intimate and more focused. The more atmospheric and wider you like your music, the more you should go for Ananda, while the more punchy and direct, raw and live you like your music, the more you should lean towards the peacock. 

HIFIMAN Ananda vs HIFIMAN Arya Stealth (1000 USD vs 1600 USD) – Naturally, Arya stealth is a better headphone, with everything being better than Ananda, minus the package, which is better on Ananda. Well, they are from the same company, and there is no competition between models, and no reason for them to make Ananda better than Arya Stealth, but based on your request I would like to mention that the headband mechanism and the earpads are slightly better on Arya Stealth, HIFIMAN having shown improvement on those, and that HIFIMAN has been also improving the sound, Arya stealth sounding exactly like an upgraded Ananda. Everything is better on Arya stealth, it sounds richer, more open, wider, deeper, more dynamic and more punchy, but it is also harder to drive, and requires a stronger source to sound good, although the maximum loudness will be comparable with the same source. If you can splurge on Arya Stealth, it is recommended, but Ananda will offer an excellent price / performance point and you don’t need to go for Arya Stealth from the get go to enjoy your music. 

HIFIMAN Ananda vs Crosszone CZ-10 (1000 USD vs 900 USD) – CZ-10 is a unique take on sound and music, going for multiple driver setups, rather than a large planar magnetic or dynamic driver. The general comfort is comparable, because the CZ10 has really thick and soft earpads, but the pad size is much larger on Ananda, and they offer better space for my ears to sit in. Ananda also offers better overall aftermarket cable compatibility as they use typical 3-pole 3.5mm cables, so you won’t have trouble finding aftermarket cables for them. The sound is thicker, warmer and more impactful on CZ-10, also smoother and better rounded. Ananda ends up sounding more airy, lighter and snappier, but with less bass and warmth, and Ananda ends up focusing more on instrument separation and soundstage width, where CZ-10 is deeper and provides a more rich sound. If you listen a lot to atmospheric music, or if you like your music wide and airy, Ananda is the way to go, while if you enjoy your music more impactful and direct, more raw and more punchy, then CZ-10 would be the natural option here. The headbands will be similar in comfort, and CZ-10 has more lateral swivel for their earcups. 

HIFIMAN Ananda vs LSA HP-1 (1000 USD vs 1400 USD) – I left this comparison for the last, because I also stated that HP-1 has excellent price / performance ratio, and it has been purchased a lot based on my initial review, with many of you guys coming back to thank me for the advice, so you would naturally expect that HP-1 is pretty much double the value of Ananda. Well, things get a bit complicated here, because while the LSA HP-1 has great performance for the price, Ananda is more comfortable in design, and the overall comfort is better on Ananda most of the time. The sound is more neutral on HP-1, with less sweetness and less warmth, but more precision in the midrange. Ananda is more punchy in the bass, and has better dynamics, with better overall soundstage width, but HP-1 has a bit better instrument separation. Both work well with all music styles, but the more bass the music style has, the more I am leaning towards HIFIMAN Ananda. 

 

Pairings

HIFIMAN Ananda + Lotoo PAW 6000 (100 USD + 1200 USD) – This is the kind of DAP you get when you want a softer, more musical and more nuanced presentation from your headphones. PAW6K is perfect if you also want to EQ and can become, from a softer sounding DAP to the hardest hitting piece-de-resistance out there, especially if you match the EQ profile with the headphone perfect. I never felt like Ananda needs any kind of EQ, but it is always fun to play with PAW6000’s default profiles, and their ATE setting of Sweet and 701 and 990 works well with Ananda giving a new perspective about their sound. At any rate, PAW6000 has more than enough power and dynamic for Ananda, and especially if you grab an aftermarket balanced cable, you’ll be delighted to hear the punchiness and control that such a tiny DAP with a good battery life can exhibit over Ananda, a large planar magnetic headphone. 

HIFIMAN Ananda + Cyrus One Cast  (100 USD + 2000 USD) – One Cast is an awesome do-it-all DAC/AMP for desktop that I’ve been using lately, and it has more than enough power to drive Ananda, and blow your head off if you’re not paying attention to how quickly you’re turning the volume knob. The overall sound is also detailed, clean and punchy, with a good sense of warmth in the dynamics, and excellent detail. Compared to most pairings, One Cast seems to have a really beautiful midrange, but at times you can hear the limitations of the DAC compared to the DAC that can be found in portables like PAW 6000 and SP2000T

HIFIMAN Ananda + Astell & Kern SP2000T (100 USD + 2500 USD) – The overall pairing between Ananda and SP2000T is superb, with excellent depth and impact, but also that organic, smooth midrange that SP2000T is known to offer. This pairing has one of the best overall dynamics and impact that you can expect to squeeze from Ananda using a portable music player, the only other DAP that’s close to this presentation being also an Astell & Kern, the SE180. Overall, Ananda has a huge soundstage, but with excellent instrument separation, and great overall punchiness, to the point where you sometimes forget you’re wearing a headphone, and think you’re right there in a concert hall, when listening to a live piece. 

 

Value and Conclusion

At the end of the day, HIFIMAN is known to deliver excellent value every single time they release a headphone, but Ananda is the best of the best, it is that kind of value you rarely see nowadays, and I am happy to report that if you decide to go for it, especially with the current price reduction from 1000 USD to 700 USD. What’s even better, the build quality is great, and Ananda comes with two cables, and every component is easy to service and replace in case something goes wrong, plus HIFIMAN’s reliable customer service makes working with them and purchasing their products a real pleasure. 

The overall comfort is excellent with Ananda, and while you can see the improvements in HIFIMAN’s build quality in the new Arya Stealth, Ananda is no slouch and has huge earpads where most ears will have enough space to relax. Speaking of relaxing, the sound of Ananda is really enjoyable, slightly warm, but airy, wide and well separated, with outstanding amounts of detail, so you are getting excellent performance for the price paid. 

Ananda convinced me of HIFIMAN’s ability to deliver a really well rounded headphone for a lower than the market price, so I am going to be adding it to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, as one of the best headphones I have ever heard, and a headphone I can easily recommend to anyone, both beginners in this hobby, and seasoned music lovers, both those looking for something high-end and flagship in sound, and those who’re looking to stay on a more limited budget. 

At the end of the day, Ananda meets the best characteristics and strengths found in every HIFIMAN Headphone released to date, it is affordable, but it is well made, it has good comfort, but it is pretty sleek in aesthetics, it sounds sweet, but has a wide soundstage, has good impact and bass depth, but has a good instrument separation and detail, being really easy to recommend to anyone looking for what the perfect open back headphone with a sweet signature priced at 999 USD should sound like. 

 

Product Link

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3o5v97c

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3H7NCYc

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3G4njRq

 



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Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_cjBXGmwSHSdGcwuc_bKbBDGHL4QvYBu

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22 Comments

  1. Kokomo Mark

    Noice review! Love it!

  2. Andrew

    Just received my pair, loving them! Thank you so much for all your help, George!

  3. Rodney Rakk

    Very enjoyable review, with super neat photos!

  4. Raymon

    Super nice review, those are some good headphones! Thanks a lot for your help! I’ve ordered a pair using your Amazon links, happy with the decision! Keep up the amazing work!

  5. Siju Shenoy

    Hey George
    I have read your reviews in edition XS and Ananda, but can you please tell how the stealth version is Ananda compared to edition XS. Which one is better.
    As you’ve mentioned the sounds to be warmer how does it compare to Audeze LCD2 classic 2021

    1. George Dobrescu

      Heeey there ,

      I have not heard a Stealth version of Ananda yet, will look into it, and will try to review it, this has been the traditional ananda.

      They are not better or worse, they are different. LCD2 is considwerably thicker, warmer, darker, and has more bass slam. Ananda is lighter and wider, has a more snappy sound.

  6. Andrew

    Man, how cool is your work! I love the review, and you just convinced me to order one using the Amazon link in the review, hope you get some and it helps you toward future reviewsss

  7. Andfrews

    Eyyy, I came here after watching your video review, excellent work on both!

  8. Sen hero

    Awesome! I ordered a bunch of planar headphones with the plan to keep just one, seems that you were correct in your reviews, and Ananda is the one I’ll be keeping. Keep up the awesome work!

  9. Kevin

    Great work! I’m curious to read your full review on HIFIMAN Edition XS when you publish it, I’m still deciding between the two, Ananda or Edition XS.

  10. Von Josh

    Love the pairings and comparisons. Great overall review, and it is the only that convinced me to give a chance to Ananda. Glad I did, sounds pretty good!

  11. Matt

    This has to be the best, most accurate review on the Ananda! Thanks a lot for the awesome write-up!

  12. Ray

    Such an interesting review, love it! Love the photos too!

  13. Shane

    Hey George! I’m really happy to see that the quality of your reviews has been constantly improving, can’t wait to read your thoughts on the new HE-R9, the only closed back that attracted me over the past few weeks.

  14. Peter

    Neat! I ordered a pair after I finished reading your review, hope they’ll be as awesome as you describe them!

  15. Stevie

    Excellent article, great shots, and superb comparisons! Thanks a lot!

  16. Pretty Boii

    If you wish to get the best out of them, better have a strong source, they don’t work so well with cheapos, needs some big power, boiii.

  17. Kalis

    Ordered a pair after I read your review. Don’t know why, but no one else convinced me to try those before, but I always seem to be on the same page as you, George. Love the review style and photos!

    Can’t wait for Ananda to arrive!

  18. Teshan

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

  19. Eddie

    Amazingly well written!

  20. ruff

    Incredible review man! very detailed and comprehensive. Loved the comparisons.
    Appreciate your work and time.!

    1. George Dobrescu

      Thanks a lot and really happy to help!

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George Dobrescu

George Dobrescu

Hello, and welcome to Audiophile-Heaven! I am George, the Creator of Audiophile-Heaven, and I love music! I will be sharing insights and comparisons of audio products with you. I invite you to join me in the exciting journey of discovering joy through music!!

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