The HiFiMan Ananda are great critical listening headphones and a good redesign of the Edition X. They sound practically the same as the Edition X but with a tad better mid-range and harmonic distortion. They also have the headband design and metal yokes of the Sundara, so they have a lower profile, and should be a bit more durable. Unfortunately, HiFiMan does not have the best track record with durability and like most open-back over-ears, they're only designed for critical listening.
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.
Not suitable for commuting. The open-back ear cups do not block any ambient noise and leak a lot. Also, they're not portable and do not have a control scheme for mobile devices.
Not meant for sports. They're heavy, bulky and not designed for physical activity.
Sub-par for office use. Unless you work alone or in an isolated office, the leakage level will be too bothersome for those around you. Also, the open-back design does not block any noise so you will hear your environment fairly easily even when listening to music at higher-than-average volumes.
Mediocre for gaming. They're comfortable, they sound great and have a low latency wired design. However, they do not have a microphone for voice chat and no customization options, which are typical for most gaming headsets. Also, they do not have the convenience of a wireless design or multiple connection options for an optimized experience on Xbox One or PS4.
The HiFiMan Ananda have the same look and feel as the Edition X, but with the same yoke redesign as the HiFiMan Sundara. This gives them a lower profile since the headband does not protrude as much as the Edition X's headband. They also look a bit more premium, since the yokes are now a solid metal frame that feels more durable but lacks swiveling joints. However, like most critical listening headphones of this caliber, they are somewhat cumbersome to wear even if you're just walking around in your house. They're also not meant or designed to use outdoors.
The HiFiMan Ananda are about as comfortable as the Edition X but have a slightly different yoke design that makes them feel a bit tighter on the head. They still have large, well-padded ear cups that will easily fit around all ear sizes and since the cups have a fairly large surface area, they somewhat reduce the clamping effect of the tight headband. Unfortunately, they are still fairly heavy and bulky headphones, and the cups will be a bit too large for some heads and will extend past the jaw, which may become uncomfortable for some during longer listening sessions.
These headphones do not come with any control schemes, which is to be expected for an open-back critical listening headphone.
The HiFiMan Ananda are open-back headphones that should be a bit more breathable than most closed-back over-ears. However, the larger size of their planar magnetic drivers obstructs airflow quite a bit, which means the HiFiMan will make your ears warmer during long listening sessions than similarly designed open-back models. The large ear cups are spacious enough that your ears do have a little breathing room, but they won't be the ideal headphones to listen in really warm conditions or for very long continuous listening sessions. They are also not made or designed for physical activity and will not be suitable for that use case.
The HiFiMan Ananda are slightly more compact than the Edition X. The redesigned headband does not protrude as much as on the previous model which saves a bit of space. However, like most open back critical listening over-ears, these headphones are not meant to be portable and are still too bulky to carry around on your person. They also do not come with a dedicated carrying case although the packaging box is well made and could be a good substitute.
Unfortunately, like the Edition X, the Anandas do not come with a dedicated case. However, you can use the box that they are packaged in as a case, but it adds a lot of bulk and won't be practical to carry around unless you have a really big bag or suitcase. As expected though, these are not headphones that you will be carrying around often.
The build quality of the HiFiMan Ananda is a little better than that of the similarly designed Edition X. They have the same dense and durable ear cups with a metal grill for the open-back design. The rest of the build, however, is a little different. The headband especially is now more similar to that of the HiFiMan Sundara, with metal yokes that should be a lot more durable than the plastic ones of the previous model. The cables provided are also different. The new cables are transparent and coated with a rubber-like sleeve that should be sturdy enough for most use cases but does not feel as durable as the braided ones of the Edition X. Also, as previously mentioned on other HiFiMan headphones we've tested, quality control is not always the best, so we will be monitoring these headphones for any significant issues that may require a score change. However, for now, they are one of the better built open-back headphones we've tested so far. They're made with premium materials and look very high-end.
These headphones are not designed to be most stable for physical activity. The ear cups have a large enough surface area that they will maintain their position during casual listening sessions and the redesign of the yokes, without swiveling hinges, makes them slightly more stable on the head than the Edition X. However, they are not meant and will not be suitable for sports or any use case that involves a lot of movement. On the upside, their audio cable is detachable but will most likely yank the headphones off your head if hooked by something.
The frequency response consistency is great. In the bass range, we measured less than 3dB of deviation in delivery across our human subjects, including our subject who wears glasses. This is subtle but noticeable, but a lot more consistent than the bass of some closed-back headphones like the HD 820. In the treble range, there's barely any deviation in their response below 10KHz, which is excellent.
The bass is great. The LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Low-bass, which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music and sound effects, is within 3dB of our neutral target. This lack won't be very audible since sub-bass frequencies are mostly felt and are hard to hear. Overall, their low-bass performance is quite good especially considering these are open-back headphones, and producing low-bass is one of the more difficult things for open-back headphones. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, is flat and balanced. High-bass, responsible for warmth, is overemphasized by 1.4dB, adding a tad of muddiness to the overall sound on some tracks. If you're looking for a pair of audiophile headphones that have better bass accuracy, try the HiFiMan Arya.
The mid-range of the HiFiMan Ananda is great. The response throughout the range is noticeably more even than the mid-range of the Edition X. Their mid-range is also very well-balanced which results in a clear an accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, the subtle overemphasis in low-mid could add a bit of muddiness to the sound on certain tracks.
The treble performance of the Ananda is great. The response throughout the range is decently even and very well-balanced. The small narrow dip around 5.5KHz will have a subtle negative effect on the detail of vocals and lead instruments, and the small bump between 6KHz and 10KHz bring a little bit of overemphasis to sibilances (S and T sounds).
The HiFiMan Ananda have excellent imaging performance. Weighted group delay is at 0.13, which is very low. Also, the GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This results in a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were exceptionally well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response, which results in an accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo field.
The soundstage performance of the Ananda is great. Just like the Edition X, these headphones show a high and accurate amount of interaction with the pinna. This results in a natural and large soundstage. Also, the notch at 10KHz is quite deep, which helps with bringing the soundstage out of the listener's head and to the front. Additionally, the open-back design of these headphones contributes to them having a more open-sounding soundstage compared to closed-back headphones.
The isolation provided by the HiFiMan Ananda is poor. Just like the Edition X, these headphones barely provide any isolation, which is expected and part of their open-back design. Therefore, they don't provide any isolation in the bass and mid ranges, and achieve only about 4dB of isolation in the treble range which is barely noticeable.
The leakage performance of the Ananda is poor. This is expected of open-back planar magnetic headphones and part of their design. Just like the Edition X, the drivers of the Ananda perform more like bi-directional speakers and leak sound at a high intensity even up to 20KHz. The significant portion of their leakage, therefore, is spread between 200Hz and 20KHz, which is a very broad range. The overall level of their leakage is quite loud too. With the music at 100dB SPL, their leakage at 1 foot away averages at 71dB SPL and peaks at 92dB SPL. These headphones are as loud and leaky as headphones come.
The HiFiMan Ananda do not have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.
The Hifiman Ananda do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.
These headphones do not have any active components and do not require a battery.
The HiFiMan Ananda do not come with an app or software for added customization options. However, if your audio source has an EQ, then you can customize them that way.
These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good-sounding wireless headset, then consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or the wireless version of these headphones, the HiFiMan ANANDA-BT Wireless.
The wired connection of these headphones has negligible latency which is suitable for gaming and home-theater use.
The HiFiMan Ananda have a simple 1/8" TRS audio cable with no in-line remote/microphone, so they will only provide audio when connected to your PS4, Xbox One or PC.
These headphones do not have a base, dock or dongle since they are completely passive. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
The HiFiMan Ananda are an excellent option for critical listeners and deliver a balanced and satisfying sound quality. They're a redesign of the Edition X and measure slightly better overall for sound, although it's not really noticeable even for trained ears. On the upside, they have the new yoke design of the recent HifiMan lineup, so they should be a bit more durable. They're great sounding critical listening headphones but they are pricier than some of the models compared below which may be a better value for some. See our recommendations for the best studio headphones, the best open-back headphones, the best wired headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.
The HiFiMan Arya are better planar magnetic headphones for neutral sound than the HiFiMan Ananda. While both headphones have a similarly great build and feel comfortable, the Arya are a bit more neutral-sounding and deliver bass and treble more consistently. However, the Ananda are still a great pair of headphones for neutral sound.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the Focal Elear. Their sound quality follows more our target curve with excellent mid and treble ranges. They also interact more with the pinna and create a more open soundstage than the Focal. On the other hand, the Focal are better-built headphones and feel sturdier.
The HiFiMan Ananda are slightly better critical listening headphones than the HiFiMan Edition X, although they sound practically the same for most listeners. The Ananda benefit from the new HiFiMan headband design, so they have stronger metal yokes that should be more durable. They also have a slightly better-measured performance in bass, mid, and harmonic distortion, although it's not very distinguishable even for trained ears. On the other hand, the Edition X have a slightly better treble response, but it's above 20KHz and won't be audible to most. The Edition X are also slightly more comfortable for some since they have swiveling hinges but since the ear cups and pads are practically the same on the Ananda, there isn't much difference in the overall comfort level.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better headphones for neutral sound than the HiFiMan ANANDA-BT Wireless. The wired Ananda have a more neutral sound profile out-of-the-box and a better peaks and dips performance. Their soundstage is more elevated, too, and so audio sounds more like it's coming from all around you instead of inside your head. That said, the wireless Ananda-BT are more versatile headphones. They're Bluetooth 5.0-compatible, they have a detachable boom mic, and they have on-ear controls and a carrying case, unlike the wired Ananda.
The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 and the HiFiMan Ananda have different strengths, and you may prefer either one, depending on your needs. The Sundara have a slightly more neutral sound profile, which some listeners may like. On the other hand, the Ananda are much more breathable, have significantly better build quality, and come with an extra audio cable. They also have a much better passive soundstage performance.
The HiFiMan Ananda are very close in performance to the Sennheiser HD 800 S. The Sennheiser have a better, more durable build quality, although not by much. They also look a bit more premium and deliver a slightly more open-sounding audio reproduction, but that may also be because they sound a tad brighter. On the other hand, the HiFiMan have a good, well-balanced sound, with a bit more bass than the Sennheiser, thanks to their planar magnetic drivers. They also offer a slightly better value than the Sennheiser, but HiFiMan headphones are somewhat prone to durability issues.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the Audeze LCD2-Classic/LC2C. The Audeze look and feel more durable than the HiFiMan. They're a bit more compact, with thicker, softer pads, and are more forward on instruments and vocals. This is something some may prefer, although it may get a bit fatiguing during longer listening sessions. The HiFiMan, on the other hand, have slightly better bass, a more neutral mid-range, and a better soundstage. They're also slightly lighter despite their bulkier design.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO. They deliver a much more immersive soundstage thanks to their planar magnetic drivers. They're also slightly more comfortable than the Beyerdynamic and deliver a more balanced frequency response throughout, which will not sound as sharp on S and T sounds as the Beyerdynamic. On the upside, the Beyerdynamic have a better more durable build quality that feels premium and come with more extra accessories. They also have a bit more bass overall.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the HiFiMan Sundara 2018, although not by much. The Ananda have a slightly more premium design and feel a bit more durable. However, the Sundara are a bit more compact and the price tag is noticeably lower, which offers a better overall value for most. The Sundara also have a slightly more accurate mid-range reproduction, although it's barely noticeable. These headphones are very similar overall, but there are multiple reports of quality control issues with the Sundara drivers.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation 2016. The HiFiMan open-back, planar magnetic headphones are very comfortable but slightly bulkier than the Beyerdynamic. Their sound quality is also more accurate, and they have a remarkable soundstage. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a case like the Beyerdynamics to protect them while you’re on the move.
The HiFiMan Ananda are better critical listening headphones than the Stax SR-L300. These planar magnetic headphones are more comfortable and have a great sturdy design. The HiFiMan also pack more bass while still having great mid and treble ranges. They also seem to be more open-sounding. On the other hand, the Stax are more lightweight and have less distortion, for a cleaner audio reproduction.