Compendium updated March 17th, 2021.
The HiFiMAN Ananda marks something of a midway point in HiFiMAN's climb from the basecamp of the Sundara to the summit of the Arya. Of course, HiFiMAN climbs much higher than the Arya's $1,599 price tag, but let's restrict our mountain-climbing analogy to regularish budgets.
What does one gain from climbing halfway up the mountain? Better views, for sure, but are they worth the effort? And if so, wouldn't it be better to just keep climbing to the summit?
(Okay, I think we've spread this analogy thin enough. Let's drag some specs in here.)The Ananda are an open-back planar magnetic headphone with a frequency response of 8Hz-55KHz and an impedance of 25Ω.
We’ve compiled reviews from across the web for your reference. What you’ll find here are the TLDR versions of the full reviews (which you can access with the provided links). We’ll continue updating this compendium as reviews come in.
From Headphones.com's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on April 29th, 2020:
"I went into this review wondering if there were any secret revisions or differences between this unit and the one that I had previously evaluated, and I can report that nothing jumped out at me to indicate noticeable changes. It looks like if anything was improved, it was merely cosmetic, and this didn't impact the frequency response or the way it fits. And so just like my previous evaluation, it's my pleasure to thoroughly recommend the HiFiMAN Ananda. It was great at $1000 and it's just as good on sale now at $700. In my mind, the Ananda is so good that I consider it a bit of a benchmark headphone at this sale price - if indeed it stays there.
Weighted score: 8.6/10"
From RTINGS.com's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on August 31st, 2018:
"8.3/10 Neutral Sound
"Great for neutral listening. The HiFiMan Ananda are one of the best sounding headphones we've tested so far. They have a well-balanced sound that caters to all genres, with a good amount of bass and an accurate representation of the instruments and vocals in the mid-range. They also have an excellent soundstage that will feel large and open. Additionally, they're comfortable to wear for hours, although they're not quite as breathable as other open back over-ears. They're a great choice for any neutral listener. If you do not mind a bit less bass then check out our review of the Stax SR-L300. They have a similar performance for neutral listening and some may prefer their sound thanks to their Electrostatic drivers although the slight lack of bass does men they won't be ideal for all listeners and genres."
From Headfonics.com's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on December 30th, 2018:
"With the Ananda, slow but surely the new Hifiman house sound is beginning to take shape. With a little of the previous Edition X V2 musicality shaved off in favor of a more balanced and dare I say it, slightly more reference type sound the Ananda represents possibly one of the companies most mature offerings to date.
"The enhanced build quality also seems to suggest that this new form factor will be here for some time also in a lot fo the newer Hifiman headphones. Possibly not all given the Arya has the old headband edition but a substantial majority at least. You do lose a little in terms of absolute fit but the large cups seem to negate any battles nicely for a sweet spot on your head.
"And yes. $999 is a welcome price drop, very welcome indeed. Sub-$1000 has become a much more competitive territory these days for planar designers with just about everyone trying to reclaim it in the last 18 months or so. The Ananda may very well be one of the best sounding ones yet and well worth a demo if you are shopping on that budget."
From The Headphone Show's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on April 28th, 2020:
From Joshua Valour's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on April 16th, 2019:
From PCMag's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on July 2nd, 2018:
- Phenomenal audio performance with superb sense of space, accurate bass, and lovely detail throughout frequency range.
- Comfortable over long listening sessions.
- Ships with two detachable cables.
- Open design leaks audio.
- Cables lack inline remote control or mic.
"The Bottom Line: The HiFiMan Ananda headphones deliver stunning audio performance, providing a superb sense of space and detail."
From Headfonia's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on June 12th, 2018:
"The Ananda is great and looking purely at sound quality and the level of technicalities it is the best headphone of the Edition X series. Forget about it being a successor of the HE-560 cause it is not. Comfort wise I somewhat feel the Edition X V2 is the better one, so I personally for my head, would love to see the Ananda drivers on the HE-1000 headband. (DIY anyone?)
"Driveability wise the Ananda is as promised: easy. The Ananda will sound different with every amplifier or source you try it with, but that doesn’t mean a simple DAP can’t drive it. What you do get from the bigger amps is the special sense of power and control and the better sound stage/spaciousness/ separation.
"The Ananda is very easy to like and I’m sure most of you will love its smooth delivery, musical mids and engaging bass. For $999 you get a lot in return and if the Edition X V2 at $1299 got an award then you just know how special the Ananda at $999 is.
"The Ananda is an incredibly nice headphone with an excellent price-quality ratio and it’s certainly one of the headphones you should listen to if you’re on the market for a set in the $1K price range. Hifiman, you did well!"
From Moonstar reviews' review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on November 25th, 2020:
"The HiFiMAN Ananda is an impressive sounding full sized open back headphone that offers a top of the line detail retrieval with an excellent frequency response. The bass of this headphones is fast and accurate, while the midrange shows a warm and lush character with decent amount of detail retrieval. Finally, the treble range offers you a good level of extension and definition along with decent amount of airiness and sparkle. All of these sound features have been implemented in a headphone that is visually impressive and that shows an acceptable build quality.
"Pros & Cons:
- + Tonality & Timbre
- + Overall Detail Retrieval & Frequency Response
- + Soundstage & Imaging
- + Design & Comfort
- – Stock cables don fit the quality of those headphones
- – No Protective Storage Case"
From Audio Monkeys' review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on January 17th, 2021:
"The packaging and appearance are the ones of a premium headphone, but the cable is definitely not. Nevertheless, Ananda immediately recover from this slip, delivering very high quality in terms of comfort and, first and first of all, sound. Their sound must be described as never tiring, always exciting, able to involve and amaze with every musical genre. The excellent presence and control of bass and sub-bass make them great candidates for more modern genres music lovers that share the desire for faithful, natural and never excessive bass reproduction. The excellent tone of medium and medium-high makes them fantastic headphones for listening to pop, vocal, classical guitar, jazz, etc. while the good soundstage, with perfectly balanced detail vs crispness highs, allow you to enjoy also classical music, rock, or tracks with not too well-done masters. I found, in fact, these headphones decidedly “forgiving” to be high-end headphones (often known to play very well on well-recorded tracks, and in an almost annoying way for poorly recorded tracks). Here of course the phenomenon remains similar, but not at the levels, for example, of an HD800 or similar.
"In conclusion, a headset that met every one of my needs and every request. Promoted with flying colours and recommended to anyone who loves music, without having to think about better genres to pair it with, or the quality of the recordings. Really, I found my hi-fi parsley in these Ananda! (too bad for the stock cable…)
- – Excellent bass and sub-bass reproduction for open-back headphones
- – Premium quality and feel
- – Astonishingly good timbre and natural sound
- – Very good soundstage, never artificial nor too intimate
- – Very comfortable, even after many hours
- – Cables are really bad for this price segment
- – Pads do not rotate on the vertical axis (as all HiFiMAN’s headphones), but since they are so big, they still remain very comfortable"
From AudioFi's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on January 13th, 2020:
"Balanced – that is the word that comes to mind if asked to describe the Ananda in one word. You can play any type of music you want through it and the Ananda doesn’t falter.It gives you everything you want to hear from your music, and always in the right doses. While I really like the overall presentation of the Ananda, its even-handedness may not be to everyone’s liking.
"If you are seeking absolute detail retrieval, deep thumping bass or a wide open soundstage, there are other designs that could do it better, but if you want something of everything, the Ananda will do it for you.
"For the asking price, HiFiMAN has served up a very delectable pair of headphones indeed. Highly recommended."
From The Headphoneer's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on February 18th, 2019:
"The Ananda is a great sounding headphone that holds up very well against more expensive competition. It has an open soundstage and high resolution. The bass is tight and deep the highs are nice and liquid. It has a delicious midrange presence. As with all headphones, preference is subjective: If you hate the forward sounding midrange presentation of e.g. the Sennheiser HD650 or the Oppo PM1, you might not be as happy about the Ananda as I am. But for me, having a sweet, slightly pronounced midrange reminiscent of the HD650, but with more resolution, wider and deeper soundstage as well as great bass- and treble extension, is a fabulous thing.
"There are headphones that dig even a bit deeper in the bass, there are headphones that feel even a bit more snappy and dynamic. No headphone does it all perfect.
"However, there isn’t much for me to dislike with the Ananda, except that Hifiman didn´t keep the swivel action on the headband they used to have on previous designs. The more expensive Arya has it, but in the previous generation, even the least expensive headphones like the HE400S had swivel-action headbands. Of course, how much this will be a drawback, will vary from user to user., and for most users it would not be a deal breaker.
"With regards to amplification, the Ananda sure scales with the amplifier, but seems to not require a lot of power – which is a good thing. I did not test it, but would be surprised if the Ananda will not sound great from a good portable amp.
"All in all, the Ananda is an open sounding headphone that performs very well across the board – with a dose of extra charm in midrange."
From Headpie's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on March 17th, 2021:
"Pros: Great soundstage and imaging, near neutral performance with a couple elevations for increased musicality.
"Cons: Cable not the same quality as the headphones, no travel case."
From Soundstage!Solo's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on October 20th, 2018:
"As anyone who’s read a few of my headphone reviews knows, I’ve generally enjoyed the sound of HiFiMan’s open-back planar-magnetic headphones, and some of them have ranked among my all-time favorites. But the Anandas don’t work as well for me (or my outside listeners), and my guess is that the issue is that the lack of a swivel makes the seal of the large earpieces on the listener’s head less predictable and reliable. These headphones will likely work great for some listeners, depending on their head shape, but if you’re looking for the big, spacious HiFiMan sound, I think you stand a better chance of getting what you want with one of the models that has swiveling earpieces."
From MajorHiFi's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on July 3rd, 2018:
"At $999, Hifiman again bats it out of the park with the Ananda. Characterized by a clean, neutral sound, there’s a ton of space and depth to this stylish headphone. For seasoned audiophiles and newcomers alike, the Ananda offers a stunning option that cannot fail to please."
From Porta.fi's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on July 21st, 2019:
"I liked Ananda a lot. To my ears it is the most universal HiFiMan model that I have ever heard that combines emotions, drive and technical ability. I think engineers understand this as well because they are willing to use Ananda technologies to release their first over ear Bluetooth model."
From The Abso!ute Sound's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on March 29th, 2019:
"As its Sanskrit name implies, Ananda produces sonic “bliss.” With its advanced planar-magnetic technology and ultra-thin diaphragm, the Ananda sounds similar in many respects to the company’s more expensive offerings. Better still, it can be used “on-the-go” with a smartphone or portable audio device. The Ananda is a top performer in its price class and a great value."
From Home Theater and HiFi's review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on December 19th, 2018:
- Excellent Construction
- Clean sound with robust bass
- Easily replaceable cables
- Comprehensive manual for setup
- The HIFIMAN Ananda is very comfortable and can be worn for long listening sessions.
"At U.S. $999.00 the ANANDA HEADPHONES are not an impulse purchase. Still, the sound is impeccable on very high quality program material and they are easy to drive. I would rate the HIFIMAN ANANDA HEADPHONES as an excellent buy."
From Home Studio Basics' review of the HiFiMAN Ananda, first published on December 28th, 2018:
"Besides the minor discomfort behind my ear, and the connection issue (which can be remedied), there’s nothing about this headphone that I don’t like.
"It’s an all-purpose piece that can be used with your phone, with an amp, with your home system, with your hi-res portable player or DAP, and anything in between.
"Is this headphone overpriced? In the case of other headphones, I would say probably, but this one hits all the marks: It’s comfortable, durable, has a near-perfect sound signature, fantastic Imaging, and Soundstage, works with all genres, and doesn’t even need an amp!
"What more could you ask for?"
Editor's note: Emphases ours.