It is not typically we award 5 stars to a product. The final pair of headphones to earn this distinction have been the Grado GS1000 in 2007. Earlier than you get too excited in regards to the score on the high of the web page, nonetheless, take into account the HiFiMan Ananda headphones reviewed right here price $999. That is no typo—three 9s. Their planar magnetic drivers and open design present an outstanding sense of area and element all through the frequency vary. In my testing, it felt like I used to be listening to some tracks I’ve listened to for years for the very first time. Merely put, the headphones sound astonishingly good, and be a part of an elite five-star membership—and clearly earn our Editors’ selection award, as properly.

Design

From the second you open the cardboard transport field, every little thing seems like an opulent expertise befitting the excessive value. The precise field inside is a factor of magnificence, with grain leather-based protecting and white stitching on the perimeters. Flip the lid and push the included paperwork apart, and you will find the headphones sitting in stabilizing cushions lined in black satin.

The Ananda’s design is good-looking and smooth, with large, ear-shaped circumaural earcups with leather-based earpads. Grilles on the outer panels are harking back to the form of design prospers you see on Ferraris. The match is snug virtually to the purpose of feeling unusual—the earcups contact your jawline, temples, and above and behind your ears, however are giant sufficient the hardly make contact together with your ear itself, whereas the drivers are recessed. This, mixed with the open design, can create the sense that you simply’re carrying headphones with hole earcups, as if the drivers aren’t there and there is nothing blocking out the noise. The scarf match is safe and likewise fairly snug, with a skinny leather-based strap that rests atop your head whereas the matte black band rises excessive, by no means making contact with you.

Internally, the earcups home planar magentic drivers, that are light-weight, environment friendly drivers which are truly splendid to be used with cellular gadgets. In the event you’re not conversant in the idea of planar magnetic drivers, the fundamental concept is that they’re extra delicate and environment friendly than typical dynamic drivers, and thus they’ve a quicker response when triggered, leading to a extra detailed, correct sound signature. In fact, that every one is dependent upon how the drivers are tuned by the producer.

The earcups of the Ananda have an open-back design, permitting audio to flee by means of the grilles and offering a greater sense of area and depth than most closed headphone designs can provide. The sound leakage is kind of outstanding, so clearly these are usually not appropriate for live-room monitoring, although they could possibly be fairly helpful for checking mixes and mix-room overdubs. HiFiMan claims the frequency vary to be 8Hz to 55kHz, with an impedance of 25 ohms.

The cabling is translucent, revealing copper and pink wiring beneath its floor. Some may discover this look scientific, actually, prefer it resembles hospital tools, however I discover it refreshingly authentic. Two cables are included—one is lengthy, terminating in a zero.75-inch headphone jack, and one is shorter and terminates in a three.5mm jack (there is a zero.75-inch adapter included for this cable). The Y-style cables terminate in three.5mm at every earcup.

If I’ve one grievance, it is that neither cable has an inline distant and mic. I get it—hi-fi cabling is supposed for hi-fi listening, and you can also make your calls one other time. Or maybe a mic can be problematic with the open design, however why no distant? That mentioned, the cables in any other case look like of outstanding high quality.

Apart from the field, which is good sufficient to be thought-about a case, there isn’t any included carrying pouch for journey. It must be famous that these headphones don’t fold down flat into your baggage—this isn’t travel-friendly gear.

Efficiency

We examined the Ananda utilizing each cables, and utilizing an iPhone 6s and an Apogee Symphony I/O linked to a Mac Professional as our sound sources. The efficiency didn’t appear to range a lot between the 2 cables or sound sources—the iPhone 6s nonetheless supplied a full-sounding audio expertise, however clearly the Apogee can push the headphones to greater quantity ranges.

On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones ship highly effective, correct bass that appears to have bottomless depth. That is to not say the bass is pumped to ridiculous ranges, it is simply that you simply get the uncommon feeling of listening to the entire bass with out it being boosted wildly. The lows do not outshine the highs right here, however you definitely get a way of rumble when the combination requires it. These looking for highly effective bass may discover the Ananda barely refined on this class, however nobody will argue with the readability, stability, and element. And in the event you actually do need slightly additional thump, that’s what EQ knobs are for.

Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, offers us a greater sense of the Ananda’s general sound signature. The drums on this observe sound incredible by means of the planar drivers and the open-back design—you hear them as in case you are within the room with them, sensing the dimensions of the drums, the dimensions of the room, the roundness and fullness of the kick drum maintain, and but issues by no means sound overly boosted within the lows. It is an correct, clear image of the decrease frequencies. Callahan’s baritone vocals obtain the best mixture of low-mid richness and high-mid readability, giving his voice some treble edge to lend contour to the lows. The acoustic guitar strums sound incredible, as in the event you can truly sense how distant the guitar is out of your ears. There is a beautiful crispness to the strumming, and your complete frequency vary is imbued with crystal clear element and very good spatial depth.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum will get the best degree of high-mid presence accentuating its sharp assault, whereas its maintain will get a pleasantly strong low frequency end. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with highly effective depth, however once more, they don’t seem to be boosted to extremes like we frequently hear on this bass-forward period. The frequency response is correct and exhibits restraint within the sub-bass realm, with out denying the sub-bass parts their area within the combine. The vocals and the refined vinyl crackle within the background all have their area, the truth is, and there is not a touch of added sibilance.

House, as one would hope from an open headphone design of this value, is certainly the Ananda’s specialty. The opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In keeping with the Different Mary, an orchestral observe I’ve heard a whole bunch of instances at this level, gave me goosebumps within the first few seconds listening to it right here. The decrease register instrumentation is alive. The reflections from the brass stabs, the refined echo of the vocals, every little thing right here sounds pure, attractive, balanced, and actual. In actual fact, every little thing I listened to, whether or not it was Marvin Gaye or PJ Harvey, or Ligeti or Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain, impressed me in a method I have never been in an extended, very long time.

Conclusions

I suppose the very best praise I may give the HiFiMan Ananda is that this: Generally after I’m goofing round at my testing area, I am going to put on headphones and neglect that the audio I am monitoring by means of the Apogee Symphony can also be being fed by means of my desktop audio system. I am going to hear the audio in my headphones, and if the audio system are pumped, I am going to additionally hear this secondary supply together with the audio within the headphones, and it creates this magical sense of area. It sounds superior, like no pair of headphones can truly sound, and I am at all times bummed after I understand I simply had the audio system going, too. Besides, after I was testing the Ananda, twice I went to ensure I had turned my desktop audio system off, as issues merely sounded too full and actual. The audio system have been at all times muted—the Ananda’s drivers merely create an area to your ears like few headphones do.

If $999 is past your price range, welcome to the membership. However there are some great and (comparatively) inexpensive planar magnetic and/or open-style headphones that we have examined. Contemplate the open Audeze EL-8 and Blue Ella. The Sennheiser HD 598 can also be a great-sounding pair for a lot lower than another mannequin talked about on this evaluation. On this normal value vary, the one headphones I’ve had the pleasure of testing that come near this listening expertise are all fairly expensive—the five-star Grado GS1000 come to thoughts, they usually have since been up to date. But when your price range permits and the open design matches your wants, the HiFiMan Ananda is not going to disappoint, and earns our Editors’ Selection.

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