Note: This article is based upon the video "☆ HiFiMan Edition XS || _(Z Reviews)_ Feat ANANDA" made by Z Reviews on his YouTube channel and is printed here in partnership with Z Reviews. The review was originally posted on January 31st, 2022. Edits have been made for clarity and length. The HiFiMAN Edition Xs are on sale at Apos Audio.
Phil Collins’ “Take Me Home” brought a tear to my eye, but only on the Xs, not the Ananda. I think the biggest difference between the two is soundstage. The Xs has it. The Anandas don’t.
And if you know me, you know I like a wide, kind of soft sound. I want to feel comfortable listening to music. I don’t want it to feel like walking into a biker bar and judging the biker bar by how stinging the blows are to my face. I’m not interested in that. I want to walk into a bar and just be lulled by the cigar smoke and music and ambiance. That said, the Xs here does a better job for me.
The Anandas feel like I put on a brand new set of jeans: crisp, cool, a little bit hard to zipper. The Xs feel like five or six-year-old jeans. They’re immediately comfortable. They just disappear. That’s the sound difference between the two.
The only difference between the Xs and the Ananda is that the Xs sounds like it’s further away. It’s not physically farther away, but whatever they’ve done to tune it differently has worked. It could be the back stepping, it could be that they have physically moved it a millimeter away, but it just sounds farther away.
All right, so now the question is going to be: Zeos, since the sound is farther away, have they lost detail? That’s usually the case. 99% of the time if you make something sound farther away–bigger, broader, better sound stage–you have to give up detail, because it’s like taking a speaker and moving it ten feet back. If you move it ten feet away, you’re ten feet farther from the tweeter. The tweeter is what provides the detail, and the detail is not going to be as prevalent. It’s going to sort of blend in with the background noise. While I think the Ananda do have better detail than the Xs, it almost feels unnaturally close. So yeah, the Anandas will show you every minute string rip on a guitar, but I’d rather hear 90% of every string rip on a guitar and be placed better in a space and have it sound more natural, which is what the Xs are doing.
I remember liking the Anandas, but now that I’m sitting here with the Xs, which is cheaper, and the exact same build except for the headband, I’m wondering if I really did like them or if they were just good at the time.
I’m thinking that I might be selling my Anandas.