HIFIMAN Ananda BT

General Information

Using the latest in Bluetooth technology, Ananda BT captures the digital signal as it arrives for a level of audio quality never before heard in any Bluetooth headset. The signal is then processed through a 196/24 DAC over 900kbps allowing 96/24 over the Bluetooth band.

The Ananda BT also has a USB connection for charging and to be able to run a digital signal up to 196/24 into the Ananda. The best of both worlds. The Ananda BT comes with its own carrying case and charging cable.

Latest reviews

SenyorC

Head-Fier
Ananda BT - It's easy to forget that it's bluetooth
Pros: Detail
SQ
Low and mid ranges
Cons: Harshness and sibilant at times
Charging activation
This review was originally posted, along with all my reviews in English and Spanish, on AchoReviews.com , it is also available in Spanish on YouTube: Ep.36 - Hifiman Ananda BT

My apologies for the terrible photo quality in this review!

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Let me start out by saying that Hifiman have very kindly sent me both the Ananda BT and the regular Ananda for me to test and review. They have not requested anything in return for these reviews, nor have I received anything for them.


Preface…

As I just said, Hifiman have been very kind, sending me both of these headphones to test. To be honest, I have been wanting to try the Ananda for quite some time now but had never really thought about trying the Bluetooth version. I have read about it but more as a coincidence when reading about the regular version.

As I received both at the same time, I decided that I wanted to put the Ananda BT through its paces before I even tested out the wired version, I want to review it on its own merits rather than comparing it straight away. Therefore, in this review, I will not be making comparisons with the wired Ananda as I have not heard it. If I feel I need to make comparisons, I will do so at a later date.

Intro…

The Hifiman Ananda BT is an over-ear planar magnetic headphone that comes in around 999€. I am not going to go deep into the specs as I hope that someone that is interested in spending 1k on such a niche product will do their research before pressing “buy”.

The reason I say that it is such a niche product is because I have spent days trying to figure out exactly at who, or at what situation, this headphone is aimed. I am not saying this to be detrimental, I am actually curious.

First I will say that I am a person who favours wires over wireless, not just on headphones, which may mean that I am already looking at it from the wrong point of view, but… When I think of using Bluetooth headphones, I am looking at them as a solution to a problem, be it of convenience or of a noise-cancelling nature.

About a year ago, I spent some time going through all of the BT ANC headphones I could lay my hands on, the reason being that I fly a lot for my job (or I did until things changed last year) and I needed something noise cancelling. I tried the usual offerings from Sony, Bose, JBL, Sennheiser etc. along with some lower priced stuff such as MPOW and Taotronics. After trying all of them, the ones that sounded the best to my ears were the Sony WH-1000XM3 but they still didn’t sound good enough to convince me to spend the >300€ they cost at the time.

Obviously the Ananda BT are not aimed at competing with those as they are completely open-back, so there isn’t even any noise reduction, never mind cancellation.

I also own various sets of TWS IEMs, none of them with ANC, which I use for convenience when working on things that are not desk related. In this case, I am not really focusing on the music, I am focusing on whatever I am doing at the time. I have worn the Ananda BT a few times for this over the past weeks and I enjoyed the quality of music over the IEM alternatives while soldering a few cables. However, most of the time, I am doing something that includes physical movement, meaning that the Ananda BT are a little cumbersome. I am also someone who sweats quite a bit, so, even though the Ananda are very breathable, they do add a little extra heat that IEMs don’t.

So, that leaves me with the times that I am sitting at my desk, either at home or in the office. Luckily I don’t share an office so open-back is not an issue, however, I can see it being an issue for a lot of people. Also, when I am at my desk, either at home or in the office, I have no issues using a wired set up, so Bluetooth doesn’t really give me any benefit (personally).

That brings me back around to the beginning, I feel that the situations at which these headphones are aimed, at least in my case, are minimal.

Anyway, enough rambling about what people may or may not use them for, anyone who is going to spend this much on a set of bluetooth headphones will already know why they want them!

On to the product…

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Presentation…

The Hifiman Ananda BT arrives in a box that is very similar to the Deva, except for the fact that the Ananda BT are packed inside a transport case in the box rather than a fabric covered cutout.

The transport case is actually very nice, being rigid and taking the shape of the headphones, it also contains a small drawstring back, affixed by velcro, which holds the 2 usb cables that are included, along with a microphone that can be plugged into the cup, turning them into a headset for calling (or maybe gaming also?).

Also included in the box is a user manual that is more than the usual brief booklet. Along with the usual brief instructions (which you need to read if you know nothing about these headphones), it also includes some nice information about the headphones and the company.

There is not much else to say about the presentation, so let’s move on to the important bits…

Build and aesthetics…

Starting with the build quality, I personally don’t see any issues, at least during the brief time I have been using these headphones. A combination of metal, plastic and imitation leather are used to create this headphone that is easily identified as Hifiman. I don’t think that this headphone is something that could be abused as much as other BT alternatives, such as the Sony options, but again, I don’t think that is the aim of this headphone. It is not built to be thrown in a bag every day and tossed around while travelling, but the hard case does protect the headphones pretty well.

As far as aesthetics, as I said, it is easily identified as Hifiman. Everyone has their own tastes as far as looks, in my case, I am a fan of this style of Hifiman headphones and find it to look like something that fits in its price bracket.

I will say that the headphones are large, again, especially in comparison to the great majority of BT headphones that are aimed at portability. I have received a few comments on how large they are while wearing them over the past weeks but I will also say that the size of the cups is something that adds to the comfort in my case. For people with smaller heads, it may prove to be a little on the large size, especially the length of the cups towards the jaw bone, however, as always, comfort and aesthetics are something that each person needs to decide for themselves.

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Functionality…

The Ananda BT are a set of headphones that I find both simple and complex at the same time. While there is hardly any functionality through the two buttons that are on the left cup, I still found myself confused at times.

Of the two buttons that these headphones have, one is used to turn on and off, enter pairing mode and also play/pause the track. The second button is used to activate charging mode.

Although the headphones connected pretty quickly when only connected to my phone, automatically defaulting to LDAC, I had issues when switching between devices or even when using multiple BT headphones. I honestly couldn’t say what these issues were as I found that when they did connect, I hadn’t done anything differently to when they didn’t. I also found that sometimes the headphones would turn on with just a 2 second press of the button, other times it would take holding it for 5 or 6 seconds.

When I first received the Ananda BT, I plugged it in to charge. After connecting, I found it only had 60% battery. Once I had run down the battery, I plugged them in to charge again, only to find they didn’t charge. Finally I opened the user manual (which is something I should have done first) and found that for the headphones to charge, you need to press the charge button. This seems to be so that you can use the headphones via USB without them draining the battery of the device they are connected to (i.e: cell phone, DAP etc.).

Being able to use them via USB is a good idea, however, there is no analog input, meaning that the headphones are always dependent upon their internal DAC and Amplifier.

None of this is deal breaking for me but seeing that, to me personally, wireless is all about convenience, I would have liked next/last track and volume control on the headphones themselves, saving me from having to use my phone or DAP to control them. For example, on the Hifiman TWS800, there is volume control on the IEMs that is totally independent from the device volume, allowing much better control of volume levels than the normal Android volume control.

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Sound…

Straight away, I can quite confidently say, without a doubt, that these are the best sounding bluetooth headphones I have ever heard.

Are they perfect? No.

They do have a few issues for my personal taste, but these are issues that I will mention only because I am reviewing this item and want to cover the good and the bad (if these details can even be called “bad” rather than just “not excellent”). It is also impossible not to focus on small things when we are speaking about a 1000€ set of Bluetooth headphones.

Please remember that I started off by saying that my favourite Bluettoth headphones until now have been the Sony WH-1000XM3, which were not perfect by a long shot but were my preference after trying out 15 or 20 different models, all of which were sub 400€. However, it is functionality that plays a large part with the Sony’s.

As far as sound, in comparison to the Ananda BT, the Sony’s sound like there is a blanket over the drivers. I guess this is not a fair comparison, as the Sony’s now cost 20% of the Ananda BT and are aimed at a completely different audience/scenario, but it was still amazing to switch back and forth between them, there literally is no comparison.

But anyway, enough about other models, let’s break down the Ananda BT and treat it as what it is, unique.

The sub-bass extension of the Ananda BT is fairly well extended, however, there is a roll off once reaching under 60Hz which means that lovers of a lot of rumble may find it lacking down there. For my tastes, the Ananda BT don’t inspire me to listen to dubstep and other sub-bass centered EDM.

However, the extension is there and, although reduced, it is very well controlled and defined, as are the rest of the bass frequencies. In fact, the rest of the bass frequencies are very good, both in quantity and quality. The tuning of the lower mids and higher bass regions is great and added to the amazing detail, speed and instrument separation of these planar-magnetic Bluetooth headphones, I find them to be almost perfect for my tastes.

There is just enough in the lows as they meet the mids to give acoustic guitars and basses a beautiful warmth without losing detail, but they do just as well on electric guitars and basses.

I could list endless songs that I have enjoyed this part of the spectrum on, from Paul Simon to AC/DC, with everything between. Only when moving over to electronic music did I not enjoy them as much, preferring instruments over digitally produced sounds.

Throughout the mids, these remain flat and present lush vocals with plenty of detail and without anything blending together. I can honestly say that from around 60Hz all the way to 1kHz, these headphones are nothing short of great.

Moving up to the top of the midrange, heading towards the treble is where things are not quite perfect. There is enough of a peak around 3kHz to keep the presence of the voices intact, and the same great detail is there, however, this presence either extends a little too far or there is another peak close to it. This results in sibilance being a little too present, along with a slight harshness that is created by this peak along with another peak a little higher (around 10 to 12kHz), making certain notes come across as piercing. This especially affects cymbals and some of the higher pitched wind instruments.

Now, while these are noticeable, these are not horrendous, the sound of these headphones is still miles above anything Bluetooth I have listened to, but they are 1000€ which means you focus on all kinds of nuances.

I also think that, due to these headphones being so detailed and revealing, they actually highlight their own issues, making them stand out more than they would on a less capable headphone with the same tuning.

Because there is no doubt, at least in my mind, that the detail, definition and speed that these headphones are capable of is amazing. No matter what kind of music I have thrown at the Ananda BT, it has not seemed to suffer in the slightest. Even on some of the most complex slap bass lines, not once did I feel that I missed anything, it is even capable of presenting nuances of playing while the notes being played are almost too fast to follow.

As far as soundstage, there is plenty, almost too much at times. These certainly give the sensation of having speakers placed way off to the sides, they are not intimate in any way.

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Conclusion…

I will say once more that these are the best bluetooth headphones I have ever heard, by a long way, and I want a set, I just can’t think of a reason to own them.

If I could get this sound quality, or even just relatively close, in a set of Bluetooth headphones with ANC, I would be 100% sold. Even just in a closed back BT without ANC. However, the completely open design really limits the places where I could enjoy these headphones and in each of those places I have the possibility of using wired headphones.

Another thing is the price. I am not saying these are overpriced but the price is something that makes me think more about the investment and the use I will give it. At the price of 1000€, there are a lot of wired options to choose from.

I have mentioned a couple of things that don’t quite sound right to me and others have commented on the differences between the Bluetooth and regular version of the Ananda (which I have not yet heard and am excited to do so once I complete this review). I think that is something worth noting also, these headphones are of a quality that makes it easy to forget they are Bluetooth. The majority of comparisons of these headphones are against wired alternatives because there just isn’t anything that really competes with the Ananda BT, it is quite a unique product.

I can really say that I have enjoyed the time I have spent with the Hifiman Ananda BT, it is a great headphone that has some quirks but has totally changed my expectations of Bluetooth headphones and what they really could do.

SenyorC

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martin778

Head-Fier
Has it's ups and downs
Pros: - Overall sense of air
- Detail
- Soundstage
- LDAC support
- Good fit
- Overall still the best sounding BT headphone available in 2020
Cons: - Very poor battery life including a weird charging system
- Pairing issues
- Lackluster lower end, it's fast and tight but lacks weight
- Can sound tiresome, not suitable for higher volume levels, the mids and highs will start to get shouty
- Severely underpowered, runs out of steam at about 50-60% volume, too much gain?
- No analog input
- (Nitpicking) very bright status LED
- No controls on the HP itself!
- Fragile, QC issues
The perfect headphone for vocals, jazz and lighter classical music. Amazing clarity, soundstage and sense of realism.

Not suitable for rock / electronic due to light lower end, shifting the overall sound signature to mid/treble as well due to a serious lack of amp power. Hard rock and metal tracks tend to turn into a mess.
If listen mostly to the before mentioned genres, the cheaper Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless with custom earpads shall provide you with a more powerful and engaging sound.

For me the Ananda BT exactly resembles a pair of Magnepan loudspeakers, with exactly the same pros and cons

Who at Hifiman thought it's a good idea to have to press a separate button each time to enable charging? The HP then also loses it's BT connection, making it useless for the time of charging. Why?

The Ananda BT really needs a V2 revision with bigger battery, more powerful amplifier and most important - better controls and ergonomics.
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migo
Hi, to press a separate button each time to enable charging is very good when you listen with USB connected to mobile phone and don't want to discharge phone battery. For me it is welcome feature.
martin778
martin778
Good point Migo, haven't thought of that. My Amiron Wireless have a separate 3.5mm jack input for that, the built in amplifier is then skipped.
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migo
Yes I know, I've booth Ananda BT and Amiron Wireless too :) But Amiron also works fine with usb connection as a digital headphones so it has all connection options :) analog, BT and usb audio, this is rare.

audioblog18

New Head-Fier
Pros: -Best Sounding Bluetooth Headphone
-Smooth yet Detailed Midrange
-Fast Transient Response
-Very Open Sounding
-Goes Pretty Loud with every Source that I've tried
-Resolving Treble
-Quality Carrying Case
Cons: -Okay-ish box/packaging
-Long charging time
-So-so Battery life
-Modest Bass (varies with preference)
-DAC & AMP limitations
-No True Analog Option (Type C only)
Thank you Mr. Paul of HIFIMAN Electronics for letting us give our honest take towards the HIFIMAN ANANDA BT. Given that the review unit is from them and is free of charge, it doesn’t affect the honesty and integrity of this review.

Shop Links:

HIFIMAN:

https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/ananda-bt.html



eBay:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HIFIMAN-AN...=d7c9d59a-8511-4929-9cf4-7cc5f9bdcffb15145598



Amazon:


The Company

Logo


HIFIMAN has been one if not the best headphone maker out there, they specialized in producing headphones with unconventional drivers, they used Planar Magnetic drivers as the owner, Dr. Fang actually has researches regarding the technology behind Planar Magnetic drivers. Up until now they are very popular in the audiophile realm with several awards and positive feedback. HIFIMAN ANANDA and SUNDARA are few of their new lineups and it is quite popular in audiophile groups. HIFIMAN continues to be one of the top brands in headphone class and it is my personal favorite.

The HIFIMAN ANANDA BT

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The HIFIMAN ANANDA BT, is obviously the Bluetooth version of their hit HIFIMAN ANANDA, it’s quite odd but you can get both of the device at 50, 000 Php (1000 USD) which means they didn’t charge anything for the innovation the did which is quite generous in my opinion. At first I doubt the idea when Mr. Paul of hifiman told me about this but once you used it there’s no going back, well unless you’re a full pledged audiophile who already invested huge amount of money in DACs and Amplifiers.

The specification of the ANANDA BT is quite promising, it uses the same DAC filter design of their flagship Digital Audio Player (DAP), the R2R2000 which is sonically praised by users and reviewers and priced at 120,000 Php (2500 USD). They also used a custom made amplifier since it is a planar magnetic driver that is known to be fond of power despite having a low impedance. Well, based on my user experience, the amplification inside of the ANANDA BT is definitely great as advertised (50 percent of the volume is more than enough, thickness accross the frequency is quite nice as well).

Technical Specifications:

  • Frequency Response: 8 Hz to 55 kHz
  • Weight: 460 g (includes the cable and microphone)
  • Impedance: 35 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 103 dB
  • Playback time: 10 hours
  • Charging time: 2.7 hours
Packaging

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The box of Ananda isn’t that “premium” for a 50,000 Php (1000 USD) audio device, maybe I’m expecting more but when you’re spending that amount of money, it is normal to expect a nice and luxurious device. Luckily they included a high quality carrying case which feels and looks tough and premium at the same time. You’ll also get a microphone, a type C to type C cable which is the only way to use it conventionally (wired) and a USB to type C for charging.
Fit, Comfort and Build

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The build of this device is a mix of plastic and metal which is better than the ARYA but slightly inferior than the all metal SUNDARA nonetheless it feels slightly lighter than the latter. The grills and the body is made out of plastic material while the hanger and the headband is made out of metal (which is a crucial part because it acts as a hinge and there’s a good amount of force on it when being used). Just like the SUNDARA, there’s a leather headband that is being supported by a metal one. There’s a type C female input, charging button, a power button that also acts as pairing button and lastly a 3.5mm jack for microphone in.

The earpads used here is the same with the SUNDARA which is very comfortable for as long as you’re in a well conditioned place cause if it’s hot and humid, you’ll get sweaty in just 30 mins.

Connectivity

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The Hifiman Ananda supports the two best Bluetooth codec at the moment which are Sony’s LDAC and Qualcomm’s aptX HD. My LG G7 THINQ automatically chooses LDAC and I’ve got no problem playing DSD and MQA tracks (of course it is limited to 990 Kbps at 24 bits/96 KHz). It also supports bluetooth 5.1 which is the most common version now. I have no problem at all in terms of pairing, I can walk freely when my source is placed at 2nd floor of our house without any problem in connection. You’ll have to double click the power button to pair it, but you’ll only do this once per Bluetooth source, after that it will be a breeze to connect it with paired devices.

Sound
I love gears with midcentric to flat sound signature as I really love listening to vocals rather than instruments. My genre ranges from heavy rock, alternative rock, pop rock, acoustic, pop, jazz and folk. Majority of my test tracks are in 16 bit – 44 khz and 24 bit – 48 khz FLAC file and here is the list of my commom test tracks.

  1. Reese Lansangan – For the Fickle (Background, female vocals and upper mids)
  2. Billie Eilish – wish you were gay (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Micro details)
  3. Rex Orange County – Untitled (Mid Bass, Mids)
  4. Ed Sheeran – Dive (Mid bass, Lower Mids)
  5. Reese Lansangan– My Sweet Hometown (Upper Mids and Instruments)
  6. Polyphia – Goose (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  7. Utada Hikaru ft. Skrillex – Face My Fears (Imaging Layering, Bass, Mids, Treble, Coherence, Quickness)
  8. Polyphia – 40 oz. (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  9. Polyphia – GOAT (Imaging, Layering, Coherence, Sub bass and Mid bass, Mids, Treble)
  10. Ariana Grande – Raindrops (Background, Upper mids)
Bass
Sub bass feels there but not prominent at all, it sounds neutral and it packs great amount of texture and details. Playing “Goose” by Polyphia which is my new go to track to test from sub bass to treble, rumbles and faint drum rolls sounded really good since it decays quite fast as expected from a planar magnetic headphone. Mid bass sounded quick, yet packs enough punch of course I won’t recommend it to bass-head folks out there cause it is far from being bassy, what it offer is a refined and quick bass. Solo bass from “GOAT” by Polyphia is positioned neither forward nor recessed and it decays quickly with plenty of details and texture. The bass of Ananda has good body, texture and quite agile but it isn’t forward and boomy, just enough to tackle any genre that I played.

Midrange
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Lower mid range, is placed neutrally just like the bass, there’s no bias or whatsoever. Playing “Yesterday” by The Beatles, there’s a decent body on the lower midrange but it’s not that full sounding and I’d say that it may even sound a bit too thin for some. I tried playing “Conversations in the dark” by John Legend, the trend seems to be consistent, it is clean and detailed but some would say that it lacks fullness. Upper mids is quite forward, female vocals sounded sweet, clean and detailed. Playing the new song of Reese Lansangan “My Sweet Hometown”, her vocals never sounded this clean, tonality feels natural and there’s just enough body as I also played some of my favorite Norah Jones tracks. I know some will say that Planar Magnetic Headphones sounds odd (tonality) but I beg to disagree, vocals may slightly lack in terms of thickness/fullness but I always loved how they present mid range in a clean and refined.

Treble
Treble is not that prominent compared to upper mid range, peaks aren’t that noticeable. I also used “GOAT” and “40 oz.” by Polyphia and treble sounded airy enough though it isn’t as airy as AKG K712 pro for example buy I can surely say that the Ananda BT sounded cleaner and has more extension up there. Decay is quite fast as well which makes the Ananda a nice pair with pacey and complex tracks, no signs of congestion at all. I’m not a treble person but I’m quite impressed with this from cymbals to electric guitar, it never sounded too harsh which is one of the most important thing to me since I’m a bit sensitive with peaky treble.

Soundstage and imaging.
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Starting with the width, it is pretty wide especially when I play live tracks of Sara Bareilles and Jason Mraz which usually sound too intimate. It has more depth than width thus, listening to tracks that has much instruments in it will sound nice because the depth helped the layering to be more accurate and natural. Talking about the headroom, Ananda BT doesn’t offer much of that there’s just enough headroom but definitely not its strongest point. Due to its open back design and good depth and width, layering and imaging sounded nice, separation is definitely top notch and it’s a good upgrade from the Sundaras (yes, even when plugged with Ifi micro iDSD).

Pairing
I don’t have much source as of now since I left my DAP at my office due to ECQ, luckily I have my LG G7 with me which supports LDAC and APTX HD, it is Bluetooth 5.0 which is more than enough to be used as a source for a Bluetooth Headphone. There’s not much to talk about sources, what I can say is that when paired with either my Huawei P20 or LG G7, I usually place the volume at 50 or 60 and it’s enough even when the surrounding is quite noisy, both my smartphone chooses LDAC and I played DSD and MQA files without a problem. Pairing it is quite easy too, hold the power button then double click it for it to pair with new device, once it paired it’s a breeze to connect it with any of your Bluetooth source.

Conclusion
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I was able to hear the Sony WH-1000XM3 and I think there are some advantages for both device. But frankly speaking, if we’re talking about sound quality alone I highly doubt that even Audeze Mobius can take the Ananda BT head on, there’s no contest with the WH-1000XM3. Battery life is more than decent, tho I wish it can charge a bit faster. Build is nice and my unit doesn’t have any issues. I highly recommend this Ananda for audiophiles out there, because is will definitely save you money from buying DACs and AMPs as well as cables, the absence of hassle is just a bonus for me.

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