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HiFiMan Sundara 2020 Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Reviewed May 28, 2021 at 09:53 am
HiFiMan Sundara 2020 Picture
8.5
Neutral Sound
3.7
Commute/Travel
5.3
Sports/Fitness
4.5
Office
4.7
Wireless Gaming
6.7
Wired Gaming
1.6
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic No
Transducer Planar Magnetic

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are open-back, planar magnetic headphones designed for neutral sound. They're the next generation of the HiFiMan Sundara 2018 and are advertised to have redesigned ear cup padding. They're very comfortable, although they trap more heat against your ears than the 2018 edition. They have a well-balanced sound profile, a wide and spacious soundstage, and a very consistent audio delivery. However, like most open-back headphones, they're only intended for use in quiet environments, like at home or in a studio.

Our Verdict

8.5 Neutral Sound

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are great for neutral sound. Their sound profile is very neutral and well-balanced, although lacking a bit of thump and rumble due to their open-back design. Their soundstage is perceived as wide and spacious, which helps them create an immersive audio experience. They also deliver sound consistently, so you shouldn't need to readjust them constantly.

Pros
  • Well-built and comfortable.
  • Great passive soundstage.
  • Very consistent sound delivery.
Cons
  • No EQ or presets.
3.7 Commute/Travel

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are poor for commuting and traveling. They have a very comfortable fit, but their open-back design means they don't isolate you from any background noise, including the rumble of bus and plane engines. Their bulky size makes them a bit inconvenient to carry around, and they don't come with any case or pouch to protect them.

Pros
  • Well-built and comfortable.
Cons
  • Bad passive noise isolation performance.
  • No protective case or pouch.
5.3 Sports/Fitness

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are inadequate for sports and fitness use. While they have a very comfortable fit, they aren't for this purpose. They trap a lot of heat against your ears, which may make you sweat more. They don't have a very stable fit and may fall off your head during workouts. They're also quite bulky and lack an IP rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.

Pros
  • Well-built and comfortable.
Cons
  • No IP rating for dust and water resistance.
  • Bad passive noise isolation performance.
4.5 Office

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are poor for office use. They're well-built and comfortable, and their wired design means you don't need to worry about running out of battery. However, they don't block out any ambient noise, so they don't isolate you from distractions like background conversations. They also leak a lot of audio, so people sitting nearby will hear your music if you use these headphones at the office.

Pros
  • Well-built and comfortable.
Cons
  • Bad passive noise isolation performance.
  • Leak a lot of audio.
4.7 Wireless Gaming

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are wired-only headphones and can't be used for wireless gaming.

6.7 Wired Gaming

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are okay for wired gaming. You can connect them to your PC or plug them into an Xbox or PlayStation console. However, since they lack a microphone, you can only receive audio with these headphones. They're very comfortable, although they trap quite a bit of heat against your ears, so you may want to take breaks every once in a while during long gaming sessions.

Pros
  • Well-built and comfortable.
Cons
  • No microphone.
1.6 Phone Calls

The HiFiMan Sundara don't have a microphone and aren't suitable for making phone calls.

  • 8.5 Neutral Sound
  • 3.7 Commute/Travel
  • 5.3 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.5 Office
  • 4.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.7 Wired Gaming
  • 1.6 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jun 29, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Updated May 28, 2021: Review published.
  3. Updated May 21, 2021: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have a similar design to the previous edition HiFiMan Sundara 2018. They have a premium-looking all-black finish, with big round ear cups. Their padding and ski-band headband are faux leather, and they have a screen-like design on the outsides of their ear cups.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.87 lbs
Clamping Force
1.6 lbs

These are very comfortable headphones. They feel light on your head. However, they can make your ears feel hot after a while. They also fit a bit more tightly on your head than the HiFiMan Sundara 2018, but it doesn't feel overwhelming.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No
5.6
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 7.9 ยฐC

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have sub-par breathability. Despite having a very similar open-back design, they trap more heat against your ears than the HiFiMan Sundara 2018. This could be because they fit more tightly on your head. Their ear cup padding also fits against your head at a different angle than the previous generation, which could also contribute to the difference. They can make you sweat more, so you may want to take breaks during long listening sessions with these headphones.

5.3
Design
Portability
L 8.3" (21.1 cm)
W 5.8" (14.7 cm)
H 4.6" (11.7 cm)
Volume 221.00 inยณ (3,621.53 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

These are bulky headphones that aren't intended for outdoor use or carrying around with you regularly. Their ear cups don't swivel to lay flat, unlike the HiFiMan HE-400i, and they take up a good amount of space in a backpack or large bag. They also don't come with a protective case or pouch.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A
7.5
Design
Build Quality

These headphones have a good build quality. They're similar to the HiFiMan Sundara 2018, except that the ear cup padding fits against your head at a different angle compared to the 2018 version. The hinges, ear cups, and yokes are made of metal and feel solid. The cable feels good too, and the padding is of faux leather and cloth. However, the rigid headband feels like a weak point in the build. Overall, they don't feel as sturdy or premium as models like the Sennheiser HD 800 S. As usual for audiophile headphones, they don't have an IP rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't currently test for it.

6.5
Design
Stability

These headphones have okay stability. They should stay in place during casual listening sessions. However, they aren't intended for sports use and tend to slip around a lot during high-intensity movements.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • HiFiMan Sundara 2020 headphones
  • 1/8" TRS to L/R 1/8" TRS cable
  • 1/4" TRS to 1/8" adapter
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-3.65 dB
Treble Amount
-1.12 dB

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have a very neutral sound profile. They lack some low-bass because of their open-back design, but the rest of the response is very well-balanced and should be suitable for lots of content and genres. Unfortunately, they don't come with any sound customization features like an EQ or presets.

8.5
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.3 dB

These headphones have great frequency response consistency. Their treble delivery can vary depending on fit and positioning, but it may not be too noticeable to most listeners. If you take the time to adjust them, you should get consistent audio delivery every time.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.15 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
54.17 Hz
Low-Bass
-6.21 dB
Mid-Bass
-2.07 dB
High-Bass
0.55 dB

These headphones have good bass accuracy. They have an underemphasized low-bass range, so mixes may not have enough thump and rumble for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. The mid-bass range is also slightly underemphasized, so your music may lack a bit of body and punch. The high bass is well-balanced and flat, ensuring your audio has the right amount of warmth and fullness.

9.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.02 dB
Low-Mid
0.55 dB
Mid-Mid
0.48 dB
High-Mid
-0.62 dB

These headphones have incredible mid-accuracy. The entire range is very flat and well-balanced, which results in a clear and accurate reproduction of vocals and instruments.

8.5
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.34 dB
Mid-Treble
0.17 dB
Low-Treble
-1.16 dB
High-Treble
-5.18 dB

These headphones have great treble accuracy. The low-treble is a bit underemphasized, which slightly veils instruments and lead vocals, but it shouldn't be too noticeable for most listeners. The mid-treble range is well-balanced, so sibilants should sound bright without being piercing.

8.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.26 dB
Dips
0.64 dB

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have great peaks and dips performance. There are several peaks and dips, but they're all minor. There's a shallow peak in the low-bass range, which adds thump and rumble. There's another similar peak in the high-bass, which adds some boominess. A peak in the mid-mid makes vocals and lead instruments sound a bit forward, while a shallow dip across the high-mid to low-treble weakens those same elements. The mid-treble is uneven, so sibilants like S and T sounds can be alternately piercing and dull.

8.9
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.16
Weighted Phase Mismatch
5.44
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.28
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.48

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have an excellent imaging performance. The group delay falls below the audibility threshold for most of the range, except for a minor peak in the low-bass range, indicating mostly tight bass and transparent treble reproduction. Also, the L/R drivers of our unit are very well-matched in terms of frequency, amplitude, and phase response, which ensures the accurate placement of objects (like footsteps and voices) in the stereo image.

8.4
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.36 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
4.77 dB
PRTF Distance
9.84 dB
Openness
9.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
9.1

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 have a great passive soundstage performance. Their soundstage is perceived as big and wide, but their sound seems to be coming from inside your head rather than from speakers in the room around you, which is similar to the HiFiMan Sundara 2018. Because of their open-back design, the soundstage seems more open compared with that of closed-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.342
WHD @ 100
0.084

These headphones have a very good weighted harmonic distortion performance. There's some distortion present at normal listening volumes, particularly with the right driver. However, it can be hard to hear with real-life content. All other frequencies fall under acceptable limits, resulting in mostly clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
No Microphone

These are the settings used to test these headphones, and our results are only valid when used in this configuration.

Isolation
0.8
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.31 dB
Bass
-0.31 dB
Mid
0.84 dB
Treble
-4.24 dB

These headphones have a bad noise isolation performance, which is normal for open-back headphones. They block out virtually no ambient noise by design, so you hear ambient noise like bus engine rumbles or office chatter around you.

0.9
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
66.5 dB

These headphones have a bad leakage performance, which is typical of open-back headphones. By design, they leak a lot of audio. People around you can easily hear your music if you listen at a high volume in an environment like an office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
N/A
LFE
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
N/A
HFE
N/A
Weighted THD
N/A
Gain
N/A
0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
N/A
Noise Gate
No
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample N/A
Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None
0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No
Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.80 ft (1.46 m)
Connection
1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

These headphones come with a TRS cable with a 1/8" connector on one end and a 1/8" connector for each ear cup on the other end. There's also a 1/8" to 1/4" TRS adapter. However, they don't have an in-line mic, and so they can only receive audio.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio Only
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio Only
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio Only
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No

You can use these headphones wired on Xbox if you plug their 1/8" TRS cable into a controller. However, you can only receive audio.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 come in one color, 'Black', which we tested. They're an updated version of the HiFiMan Sundara 2018, which we also tested. If you come across another variant or yours is different, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are planar magnetic headphones meant for audiophiles. Their performance is similar to the previous generation HiFiMan Sundara 2018, although the manufacturer advertises that they've made changes to the ear cup padding. That said, they have a similarly neutral sound profile and a wide, spacious soundstage. Like most over-ear, open-back headphones, they aren't ideal for use outside quiet environments since they don't block out ambient sound and leak a lot of audio.

Check out our lists of the best over-ear headphones, the best headphones for music, and the best audiophile headphones.

Sennheiser HD 560S

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 560S. The HiFiMan deliver audio more consistently and have a better passive soundstage performance. They also have a much better build quality. However, the Sennheiser have significantly better bass accuracy, so they may be more suitable for genres like EDM and hip-hop. They also have a more stable fit.

HiFiMan 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.

Sennheiser HD 600

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 600. The HiFiMan are more comfortable, deliver audio more consistently, and have a significantly better passive soundstage performance. While their sound profile lacks bass, they deliver more thump and rumble than the Sennheiser. On the other hand, the Sennheiser trap much less heat against your ears. They're also much more stable and should stay in place during mild physical activities like walks, although they aren't intended for workouts.

Sennheiser HD 6XX

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 6XX. Both have similarly well-balanced sound profiles, but the HiFiMan have better treble accuracy, and their passive soundstage is perceived as being larger. They're also much more comfortable.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO. The HiFiMan have a much more neutral treble response, which some listeners may prefer. They have a better passive soundstage performance and much better frequency response consistency. They're also more comfortable. On the other hand, while both pairs have an open-back design, the Beyerdynamic's sound profile has a much more accurate bass response, which some may prefer. They also trap less heat against your ears.

Sennheiser HD 660 S

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 660 S. The HiFiMan have a more well-balanced sound profile, which some listeners may prefer. They also have a significantly better soundstage performance and more consistent audio delivery. They're also much more comfortable. However, the Sennheiser are much more breathable.

Philips Fidelio X2HR

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Philips Fidelio X2HR. The HiFiMan have a more immersive passive soundstage and deliver sound more consistently across users. However, while both headphones lack thump and rumble because of their open-back design, the Philips do a better job of reproducing low-bass, which some listeners may prefer. They also come with a long, 10-foot audio cable.

HiFiMan HE-400i

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the HiFiMan HE-400i. The HiFiMan have better build quality, a more stable fit, and deliver sound more consistently. They also have a more accurate bass response, which some listeners may prefer. However, the HE-400i have a better passive soundstage performance. They also come with a longer, 10-foot audio cable.

HiFiMan Sundara 2018

The HiFiMan Sundara 2018 and the HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are over-ear headphones that have nearly identical performance. They're both well-built, comfortable, and are great for neutral sound. The 2020 have redesigned ear cup padding. However, they trap more heat against your ears, which may be because of changes to the padding. If you find that over-ear headphones make your ears feel warm during long listening sessions, you may prefer the 2018 version for this reason.

HiFiMan Arya

The HiFiMan Arya are better for most purposes than the HiFiMan Sundara 2020. Both models have an open-back design and very neutral sound profiles, but the Arya do a better job reproducing low-bass, giving them a more thumpy, rumbly sound that some listeners may prefer. They also have more consistent audio delivery and a much better build quality, with faux-leather padding and a different hinge design. On the other hand, the Sundara come with a 1/8" TRS cable, while the Arya come with a 1/4" TRS cable, so you need an adapter to use them on devices like smartphones or consoles.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. Both pairs have very neutral sound profiles, but the HiFiMan are more comfortable and have a more accurate treble response, which some listeners may prefer. They also have a much better passive soundstage performance and deliver audio more consistently. However, the Beyerdynamic are better-built, more breathable, and come with a pouch that should protect the headphones from minor scratches and splashes.

Sennheiser HD 800 S

The Sennheiser HD 800S are better for neutral sound than the HiFiMan Sundara 2020. The headphones have similar, well-balanced sound profiles, but the Sennheiser have a significantly better soundstage performance. They're also much more breathable, more comfortable, and they have a better build quality. However, the HiFiMan come with a 1/8" TRS audio cable, while the Sennheiser come with a 1/4" cable, meaning you need an adaptor to use them with devices like smartphones and consoles.

Sennheiser HD 650

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 650. The HiFiMan are more comfortable and have a more neutral, well-balanced sound profile, which some listeners may prefer. They deliver sound more consistently, and their passive soundstage is perceived as larger. However, the Sennheiser have a more stable fit and don't trap as much heat against your ears.

Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. The HiFiMan are more comfortable, deliver sound more consistently, and have a much better passive soundstage performance. The Sennheiser are more stable and breathable, however.

AKG K712 PRO

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the AKG K712 PRO. The HiFiMan have a more neutral, well-balanced sound profile, which some listeners may prefer. Their passive soundstage is also perceived as bigger and more open. On the other hand, the AKG come with a longer, 10-foot audio cable. They're also much more breathable.

Sennheiser HD 599

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Sennheiser HD 599. The HiFiMan have better build quality, deliver sound more consistently, and have a better passive soundstage performance. However, the Sennheiser are significantly more comfortable and breathable.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. The HiFiMan have an open-back design. They're more comfortable, deliver sound much more consistently, and have a much more open, spacious soundstage. On the other hand, the Beyerdynamic are closed-back headphones with fantastic bass accuracy, so your music has more thump and rumble, which some may prefer. They're also more breathable and have a better build quality.

Philips SHP9500

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are somewhat better for neutral sound than the Philips SHP9500. The HiFiMan deliver audio more consistently. They have a better passive soundstage performance and better bass accuracy, so your mixes have more thump and rumble. They also have a significantly better build quality. On the other hand, the Philips are much more comfortable and very breathable.

Focal Celestee

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better headphones for neutral sound than the Focal Celestee. While both headphones are comfortable, the HiFiMan are open-back, planar magnetic headphones. They have more consistent audio reproduction, a more accurate treble response, and a larger, more spacious passive soundstage. However, the Focal Celestee are closed-back headphones with a dynamic transducer and a significantly better build quality.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better than the Beats Solo Pro Wireless for neutral sound. The HiFiMan deliver sound more consistently, have a much better passive soundstage performance, and have a more neutral sound profile, which some listeners may prefer. On the other hand, the Beats are more versatile headphones with a closed-back design. They have a better build quality, an ANC feature that blocks out an impressive amount of noise, and good onboard controls.

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