HIFIMAN Ananda BT - Reviews
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.
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



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


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.
Pros: TOTL Technicalities, Precise imaging, Highly articulate sound, Great macro and micro resolution, Bass quality and separation, mature balanced sound, Holographic soundstage, smoothly detailed treble, stable connectivity, USB DAC, Nice quality protective case, Ldac compatibility
Cons: Slightly thin and recessed mids, dryish timbre, not the most comfortable for a long listening session, average battery life, inner DAC-AMP limitation (volume and audio quality or flavor)
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SOUND: 9/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 8.5/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSOIES: 8.5/10
FEATURES-INTERFACE: 7.5/10
VERSATILITY: 8/10
VALUE: 7/10 (do not really apply)
HIFIMAN knows how to do Planar headphones, they have made more than 13 models up to date, pushing both the boundaries of price value and sound excellence. We can say that Planar headphones are their specialty, and I can confirm the ones I had listen deliver incredible audio performance. I have a sweet spot for my SUNDARA lush and vivid sound but have been extremely impressed by clear accuracy as well as the ultimate versatility of the DEVA too.

Today I will review nothing less than ''the best sounding Bluetooth Headphones in the world''. This bold statement isn't from me but from Dr.Fang Bian himself, the founder of Hifiman.

Here, we go out from budget-minded audiophile purchase to enter the ultimate Wireless headphones luxury caprice. Priced at 1000$, the ANANDA BT is a decadent Bluetooth headphone with gigantic planar drivers. They are big, they are little heavy, they are intimidating to look at. Both the look and the sound cannot leave you indifferent.

The ''tour de force'' of Hifiman here is hidden inside the ANANDA BT, because it isn't an easy task to drive properly a full size planar headphones and they have to implement a balanced amping as well as a high-end DAC to fully exploit its sound potential.

Yes, the ANANDA BT is a fascinating anachronism, it isn't really portable outside your personal space, but it can achieve incredible connectivity distance. It isn't supposed to be driven by a mini DAC-AMP, but unlike the Sundara that need powerful amping, it's sound fully blossom nonetheless.

But did this wireless freedom and carefree audio source pairing justify to pay 300$ more than the cabled Hifiman Ananda BT? Apart from a minimal improvement in design and Bluetooth connectivity, my simple answer would be: it depend if you need this niche audiophile experience. A truly phenomenal wireless audio experience wasn't imaginable before the ANANDA BT headphones, because this isn't false promise: I can't imagine any other wireless headphones to deliver this level of high-end technicalities and resolution.

Let's find out in this review what kind of sound you can expect with this decadent wireless headphones.

SPECS
Frequency range: 8Hz-55KHz.
Weight: 460g (495g, including the microphone and cable)
Impedance: 35Ω
Sensitivity: 103dB.
Playback Time: 10hours.
Full charging time: 2.7 hours.
*Headphone case included.

PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES
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This is my third Hifiman Headphones that I unbox, the best presentation goes to SUNDARA due to it's beautifully crafted package, but it was lacking one thing: a protective case. While the box presentation of the ANANDA BT feels a little cheap because it's not a personalized one like the Sundara, it does include a great quality protective case that isn't too big for headphones of this size. The protective case feels sturdy and well made, it has a metal plate with Hifiman logo on it that gives it a fancy look. I love the fact that the case has a handle too, which makes it very easy to carry around. Other accessories included are one 2 meter long USB to USB-C nylon cable, one 2 meter USB-C to USB-C nylon cable and a detachable mic in a protective bag. I don't see what we can ask more.

CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN

The ANANDA BT are very big open-back planar headphones, with a hybrid headband design to improve the comfort of it's weighty construction made of metal and plastic. The ear cups are gigantic and have an asymmetrical shape thought to fit any ears size, should it be large our tall. These ear cups have a thick plastic body as well as a light aluminum window shade grill. Under the grill, their a tissue filter that avoids any dust to enter the drivers. The ear cups are swivelable to offer better ergonomic and sealing. The construction is quite complex and have numerous pieces put together, this can be a concern in term of durability and sturdiness because lot of these pieces are plastic. The Ananda BT overall craftmanship is average for its price, and this can be judged in little imperfection like small parts not perfectly stick together, questionable plastic solidity, earpads not fully integrated to the cups, cheap plastic button, squeaky noise when you move the cups or play with the headband. My suggestion is to take great care of this luxury product because one drop on the hard floor can surely be dramatic due to its consequent weight and overly plastic built.

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In term of design, the BT is a beautiful headphone to look at, with an elegant and sober esthetic that inspire high-end audio luxury. I love the mix of black and grey used as well as the grainy black earcups. The grey window shade grill is a great design choice that gives a distinctive appeal, as well as avoiding any risk of grill sound reflection due to a fully open design. The hybrid headband design sure improves a lot the comfort and the very thick leather ear pads permit a perfect seal, which is a big improvement over both DEVA and SUNDARA headphones. Still, the ear cups are very tall and will create a little pressure on your head temples, which can lead to slight discomfort for big-headed people like me. This pressure point seems to cancel the headband relief because I can wear the Sundara longer without discomfort issue.

INTERN
The Ananda BT use very same driver than Hifiman Ananda, which is a big rectangular planar driver with ultra-thin Neo ''supernano'' diaphragm that is 80% thinner than older models than Sundara. This type of driver has ultra-fast transient response that will inflict mostly on macro-resolution and attack.

Hifiman Ananda BT Review - Wireless Weekend | Headfonics


Another interesting aspect is the Bluetooth DAC-AMP implemented in the headphone's ear cups, it's super small yet super powerful because it uses balanced amplification. Their not alot of info about the DAC used, but it's certainly a great one and Hifiman says they use the same engineer for DAC filter and analog circuitry than those who create their 2500$ flagship R2R2000 DAP.

INTERFACE
The Ananda BT have 2 buttons, so don't expect lot of control features with those. You can Play-Pause and that's it, no volume or tracks control. This is sure a drawback in Bluetooth mode. As well, in USB mode you can't Play-Pause music.

So what is the use of these buttons then? Well, for connection as well as....charging. Yes, you need to press a button to charge the Ananda by bypassing USB audio mode. For connection, you need to hold the bigger button to open the Ananda and press 2 times to connect it for the first time. Once recognized by your phone or laptop it will connect to those automatically next time you open it.

To answer call it's quite simple, you press 2 times to answer and hold the button for 2 seconds to finish the call. Don't forget to hook up the 3.5mm microphone.

CONNECTIVITY
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I was very impressed by the signal reception range of the Hifiman TWS600 and DEVA, which can go up to 50 meters in open space. Well, I'm very happy to say the Ananda BT has the very same long-distance range, with stable connectivity that never encounters any sound cutting or clipping even when I'm on my front balcony while my phone is in my back balcony. If you've entered the home gardening craze that happens nowadays due to the pandemic and food insecurity, the Ananda BT is surely the greatest Bluetooth treat you can offer for this type of open-air activity, whatever you have a small backyard or big field, you will be able to enjoy total wireless freedom up to 50 meter. As a gardener myself, the Ananda BT is really an audiophile dream come true.

Unlike the Hifiman TWS600 wireless earphones, the Ananda BT is compatible with the highest quality Bluetooth codec. My favorite is Ldac, but you might prefer Aptx-HD or the mysterious ''Hi-res Wireless Audio'' (HWA).

BATTERY LIFE
Hifiman states the battery playback time to go up to 10H, but I listen to max volume with Ldac so it sure affects power consumption. In fact, I never got more than about 6H. This isn't an issue for Bluetooth purpose but it sure is when you use it connected through USB. I'm not sure, but I feel USB mode does drown the battery faster. Hifiman makes a big error by not having implemented charging mode while using the USB connection, this way you would have to charge the headphones way less often. As well, when the battery is low, their just a voice telling you that some minutes before it shut off completely, and if you play music this voice isn't loud enough so you get quite frustrated when the Ananda shut for good.

As if it wasn't enough, the charging time is quite long too. It takes between 2-3 hours for a complete charge. My advice here is to take the habits to put the Ananda BT on charge every time you don't use it. Don't wait for the battery to be completely drowned.

Another aspect concerning the battery-powered Ananda BT is: what will happen when the battery completely die? If you invest 1000$ for a pair of headphones, you want it to survive more than 2 years, which the battery wouldn't. It isn't user-replaceable, so you will have to rely on Hifiman repair service. I don't know the exact cost, but you're perhaps in for a bad surprise.

BLUETOOTH MODE VS USB MODE
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So, my easy answer about the sound difference between USB and Bluetooth connection is slightly blacker background when plugged USB and the possibility to play higher rate codec up to 24bit/192khz (against oversampled 24bit/96khz). But it's more complicated than this because I did not encounter the same sound experience when I plug it on my phone or laptop.

USB connection on my phone makes the music to play at a lower volume than when using the Bluetooth function. On my laptop, the volume is the same and this is where I can hear higher clarity in resolution, crisper instrument separation and slightly deeper soundstage. The timbre is a little more organic too, cleaner, and even more transparent than when using Bluetooth.

The very subtle sound difference might be due to better files quality from my Laptop, it might be a placebo effect too, because the whole tonality is the same, it's just a little hint of extra dynamic and cleanness. It's so subtle I only use the USB connection for practicality because unlike my phone, my old Surface Pro3 does not have Ldac.

About maximum VOLUME LIMIT, the Ananda BT play notably louder than Master&Dynamic MW60 and just a little lower than the DEVA. As somebody that listens to music quite loud, this is just enough for me at max volume. In fact, if the Ananada BT play louder, it would be risky for the ears, so this limitation is great for hearing safety but could still be a drawback for people that can just enjoy full music dynamic at a very high volume. Anyway, all other people that try my Ananda BT put the volume at around 3/4 and find the max volume too loud.



SOUND
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The overall sound signature of the Ananda BT has a crisp cinematic presentation to it, its near neutral with sharp resolution, gently bright tonality, and extremely accurate imaging. The timbre is on the thin and transparent side, with a detailed texture that isn't grainy or too saturated. The clarity is mind-blowing, the attack has a very fast pace and the soundstage is very immersively holographic. Bass is on the lean side, with great extension, a very life-like tone, and excellent control for proper separation. Mids being a little more recessed than rest of audio spectrum, we can think the Ananda BT have some V shape signature in it's DNA, and indeed, the bass is very lively, but neither vocal or mids instrument are veiled by bass, in fact, they are extra clear and accurate, with some distance to their centered presentation. We can say the Ananda BT is perhaps the only real high-end Wireless Headphones that deliver a mature reference tuned sound with a special twist to its cinematic spatiality. Both macro and micro resolution are out of this world for a Bluetooth codec fed headphones.

SOUNDSTAGE is grand and deep, not very wide it tends to surround you in a curved panoramic way, as if you were in a small room with big cinema screen stretching to the side walls but not the back of your body. You are placed close to the back wall and look at the sound by lifting your head. As a listener, you feel tiny in the strangely slimed-hall-like soundstage of Ananda BT. I've never lived any similar acoustic spatial experience with numerous headphones I try before.

IMAGING is one of the Ananda most impressive highlights, it's sharply precise in instrument placement and has a 3D presentation taking full advantage of every axis of spatial positioning. Every instrument has its own clear space, whatever the number is, they will be layered with great transparency.

TONALITY is smooth, slightly bright, with a flat to tamed V shape sound signature where the frequencies response curve gently climbs from low to highs so boost overall resolution.

TIMBRE is airy, transparent, very nuanced in texture in a realist way, more you go up in frequencies, more the texture is rich in details. It's delicate, light and superbly rounded.

The BASS is very talented, no just for a Planar but even compared to dynamic headphones it has a well-controlled extension that go deep. The sub-bass and mid-bass are surgically separated, never stepping on each other as if the Ananda BT have multiple drivers acting independently for low and mid-bass. More you enter critical listening mode, more the bass performance blows your mind, the kick drum and slap bass in a rock track are so well rendered, with energic impact and super fast attack, the accuracy of presentation is sincerely mesmerizing. Sure, this isn't basshead sounding at all, and the sub-bass isn't very thick and you're not in for big rumble session, but the quality is higher than quantity here, and it's shown in how clearly articulated is the low end. We have a slight boost in the mid-bass section that benefits kick drum, making the sound excitingly punchy and lively without sacrificing mid-range clarity. The kick drum tends to add extra fun with its very agile attack that is pushed forward and gains extra presence without unbalancing the neutral-ish signature. In a track like ''POZNAN'' from AUTORYNO jazz-rock band, the level of clarity is outstanding and it really feel like being in a concert blessed with absolute hearing, the slap bass, and kicks drum are ultra-fast in attack, precise in placement with great distance between each other. The slap bass line is at my left while the kick drum is in the middle of the stage with sharpened definition, the bass does not touch any of the instrument that is the star of the show and percussions is ultra-crisp. The bass presentation is more technical than musical, but due to rather smooth texture and extra bass punch, it have some addictive spectacularity to it.

The MIDS are flat and dead serious about their will to be clearly perceived, though sharp resolution enlightens their presence, they sound a little more recessed than the rest of audio spectrum, especially from low to highs treble. This do affect vocal rendering that sounds a little distant compared to all other instruments like violin, saxophone or guitar. I think the upper mids are tamed a bit too because female vocal tend to sound more distant than male vocal. Still, the mid-range is very detailed and rich in micro-resolution. It's mostly because of the vocal rendering that sometimes I consider the Ananda BT to have a hall like sound. If you search for forwards mids with wide presence and lush timbre, these headphones will perhaps not satisfy you. The mids are slightly cold and thin, but never dull or hollow due to the highly resolved presentation. Whatever the number of instruments playing at the same time in this range, the Ananda will deliver crisp imaging and never get congested. The tonality is very realist without sounding too bright or aggressive. In a track like ''WHEN WE FIGHT'' from THUS OWL indie-rock band, the female singing voice is extremely clear and we can perfectly hear the male singer that accompanied her in the background, the definition is edgy and accurate, but the other instrument sound more dynamic and lively than the voices, I'm suddenly more hooked by keyboards line and super snappy percussions than the singer, this isn't normal because with most other headphones the vocal tends to hook me first by taking first place in the stage. In the other hand, if we listen to instrumental jazz like the track ''Knee-Deep in the north sea'' from PORTICO QUARTET, we feel like listening to a live concert instead of a studio recording, the presentation is very holographic and every instrument a rendered with sharp resolution, the saxophone does sound a little thin and dry, but it does not affect emotional rendering as much as vocal. Anyway, to my ears the mid-range lack a bit of musicality and opened presence.

The TREBLE is my favorite part of the Ananda sound spectrum, it's both smooth and snappy, extremely rich in detail and perfectly balanced so it do not sound overly bright or forward. You have an edgy definition that will show you every micro-details of music but never sound artificial or harsh. It hit the unique sweet spot between organic and sharpness. The highs lightning-fast attack show how great is the transient response of this big Planar driver, it never gets overwhelmed by busy and complex percussions, and if you enter critical listening mode, your in for an utterly fascinating journey into infinite sound nuances, should it be the snap end of a percussion or transparent texture of xylophone. To test micro-details, the funny track ''BREAKING BREAD'' from MATMOS is a real drug-free psychedelic trip that shows how fast is the Ananda driver. I struggle to enjoy this album because either the presentation is too bright and aggressive or can't deal with the amount of sound info, showing the imaging limitation of my headphones or IEM. With the Ananda you are hit by an overwhelming amount of details without feeling it as aggression, everything is sharply resolved and layered, it came from every direction and timbre of every bit of sound is faithful to the mastering. No metallic or artificial high, and this track is a good test due to the use of field-recorded sound that is rendered with ultimate realism. It might feel contradictory to say this, but I consider the highs as smoothly analytical due to vivid treble that have teeth but never bite harshly. Effortless yet technically irreproachable, the highs have slightly more emphasis in the low and mid-treble sections and are more relaxed in the upper treble (pass 12khz), so you do not have lot of sparkle and decay but a thigh and fastly controlled attack instead with full realist timbre.

QUANTITYQUALITY
BASS: 7/108.5/10
MIDS: 7/108/10
TREBLE: 8.5/109/10
ATTACK-DECAY: 8/108.5/10
SOUNDSTAGE-IMAGING: 8/109/10


COMPARISONS
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VS HIFIMAN DEVA (300$)

The DEVA is lighter on the head, as well it has less clamping pressure than Ananda BT. The detachable Bluetooth module of DEVA do permit to scale up sound quality and volume with diverse audio source and amping, which is impossible with the Ananda. I compare these 2 using USB connection to take full advantage of inner DAC-AMP. The DEVA is easier to drive and can play at a higher volume than Ananda, as well, this add an extra dynamic to its attack as if it's more properly amped with Bluetooth dongle than the Ananda.

The DEVA has a more intimate soundstage with about the same wideness but less tallness and deepness than Ananda, making music more upfront. IMAGING is notably better with the Ananda, making it easier to pinpoint instrument placement than more congested and forwards sounding DEVA. BASS is more boosted with the DEVA, especially in sub-region, it's thicker and warmer, slightly boomier and less resolved than tighter Ananda low end that is more neutral and well-controlled with better-rounded mid-bass and faster attack. The MIDS are a little more upfront with the DEVA, making vocal nearer, but the definition isn't as clear as more accurate sounding ANANDA that keep mid-range resolution higher with crisper imaging. TREBLE is drier and less detailed with the DEVA, it's less snappy and accurate than the Ananda which shows all treble info effortlessly with an edgy definition.

All in all, the Ananda BT might not be able to play music as loud as the DEVA due to its inner DAC-AMP limitation, but it sure is the technical master here and the DEVA just can't compete with its highly accurate imaging and holographic soundstage. In term of value tough, the DEVA sure win.

VS HIFIMAN SUNDARA (350$)

The SUNDARA isn't a Bluetooth headphone and needs proper amping to fully shine. The construction is very similar to Ananda Bt, it uses the same metal+plastic headband with a thinner leather headband strap. The ear cups are fully metal while Ananda is fully plastic. In terms of comfort, the Ananda is a little heavier and have more clamping force, so you do feel more pressure on your head and pressure on the temples after long wear. To note that the ear cups of Ananda Bt are way bigger so even the biggest ears will have plenty of space, the Sundara tends to press some part of my big ears, not the Ananda.
The overall tonality of those 2 are very different, Sundara has warmer thicker sound while the Ananda is flatter-colder sounding and more analytical. SOUNDSTAGE is bigger and more hall like with the Ananda BT, it has notably more deepness to it as well as a more airy spatiality. IMAGING is more accurate and precise with the Ananda but sometimes it feels overly vertical in it's layering, pushing instrument far in the background, the Sundara tend to have a more vertical instrument placement, nearer to you. The BASS of Sundara is thicker, warmer, and weightier, it tends to embrace lower mids more than cleaner Ananda which offers a faster bass response, with dryer but more textured and realist timbre. Ananda has better low-end separation but lacks a bit of body. MIDS are crisper but colder and recessed with the Ananda, making the vocal-less natural and emotional than the Sundara which offers a wider presence to the mid-range instrument like piano and vocal but to the cost of not having as much edgy resolution than the more technical-sounding Ananda. The treble of Sundara is less linear and fully resolved than Ananda, in the sense it has extra upper highs boost that do offer snappier and more sparkly highs which affect overall balance, while the Ananda has more detailed treble from lows to highs that offer higher clarity and resolution.

All in all, the Ananda BT is technically superior and offer a vaster more neutral and analytical sound that isn't as musical and lush as the Sundara.

CONCLUSION
P1060174


If you want to convince a die-hard audiophile that is very skeptical about Bluetooth Headphones sound quality that high-end sound DO exist in a wireless format, make him listen to the Ananda BT so he will change his mind like I do.

The Ananda BT is nothing less than a revelation in terms of wireless sound quality, the sound experience it delivers is excitingly unique with its grand holographic musicality. I never heard such precise imaging even with expensive flagship headphones like my now gone Grado GS1000.

To have this high level of technicalities in a wireless format is the supreme audiophile caprice as well as a bold statement about no sound compromise.

While I would still suggest buying the DEVA to budget-minded people, I can see people like my father falling in love with a product like this because it do very well for movie watching or gaming too. In fact, I feel sad about him because he pays 400$ for a pair of Sony wireless headphones that sound very artificial.

Sure, at 1000$, a better package presentation would have been welcome as well as longer battery life and 3.5mm audio input, but as said before: the Ananda BT isn't for the budget-minded audiophile, it's more for the wealthy audio enthusiast that wanna enjoy ultimate music nirvana without having to plug a headphone and stress about the perfect DAC or AMP pairing.
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Pros: + Sound Quality
+ Comfort
+ HIFIMAN Support for their products
+ Build Quality
+ All the Bt Codecs in one headphone
+ Works as a USB DAC really well for me
+ Carrying case is awesome
+ Microphone quality beats my smartphone's mic quality
+ No lag, can be used for gaming / intense activities
+ Can be used for movies as well
Cons: - Really long charging times are not great
- Battery life isn't as good as some of the competitors, even some cheaper competitors have better bat life
- Not the most aesthetic headphone in the world
- No ANALOGUE mode is kinda sad, would have been curious to drive it from a different source as well
- Your source needs the BT codecsn as well to work, keep this in mind PLS.
- Leaks, does not isolate well, not idea for travel / public / oudtoors usage, which was the whole point of BT usually
BT Magnifique - HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth Headphones Review


HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth is the best, most expensive high-end bluetooth headphone out there, and it has LDAC, aptX HD, HWA, works as a USB DAC, is Planar Magnetic, has the same DAC design as the mighty R2R2000, and is priced at 1000 USD. This means it will get compared to HIFIMAN Arya, HIFIMAN HE6SE, Kennerton Thror, Rosson RAD-0, Beyerdynamic Amiron, and Sennheiser HD660S. This should cover all grounds, as there are no pairings possible, given it's unique Bluetooth design and the fact that it will sound pretty similar regardless what you're connecting it to.



Introduction

HIFIMAN describes their Ananda Bluetooth Headphone as being the world's highest audio quality Bluetooth headphone, and well, as we'll explore in this review, they are right. Those are the Bluetooth headphones with the best sonic quality in the entire world, at the moment of writing this review, which is about May 2020. HIFIMAN has always been bold with their products and pricing, and now they have something to back up their claims as well, since Ananda Bluetooth is probably the headphone with the best overall features as well, from all the fancy bluetooth codecs, all the way to a microphone, and everything in between. You should know that HIFIMAN is a highly trusted company, and they solve warranties really easily, although nowadays your chances of needing a warranty for one of their products is extremely low, as they are really well build.

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. I'd like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Rosson HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth find their next music companion.



About me

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/about.html



Packaging


First things first, let's get the packaging out of the way:



















Ananda Bluetooth is the first of a new Generation of HIFIMAN headphones and products that come with a rich package, and this time around they're throwing in some beautiful extras, starting with a really handy carrying case, all the way to the extra microphone, high-quality USB cable, and the manuals for using Ananda Bluetooth.

For a price this steep, you expect a nice package, and HIFIMAN doesn't disappoint, the case is high-quality, the cable as well, and since you can use Ananda Bluetooth realistically, and reliably to take phone calls, and to hold official meetings, you're going to have a ton of fun with the microphone they included.

Although the case included isn't exactly the top choice for those looking for rugged, it is perfect if you're a gamer, or if you want something rubbery, and it should offer excellent fall protection, as well as protection against pressing, as the case is pretty hard. It looks like I got only one cable, which is Type-C to Type-C, where the official package may include two, one from Type-A to Type-C as well.

The only thing that I feel may be missing from the package is an extra pair of earpads, but don't worry, the original earpads don't really get eaten quickly, and they hold well to actual real-life usage.



What to look in when purchasing a Flagship Bluetooth Headphone

https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/p/what-to-lookl.html



Build Quality/Aesthetics/Fit/Comfort


Ananda Bluetooth has pretty much the same build and comfort as the typical Ananda, but this time you don't need to have a cable attached to your headphones at all times, and although they are an open-back headphone, you can take them with you pretty much anywhere, and enjoy your music in the process.

The build quality is exceptional, and although they don't look like it, the headphones are actually one of the most comfortable headphones out there while being worn. I'm talking about the level of comfort that Arya brought me, which was, as I quote myself, even better than the comfort of Sennheiser HD800S. Indeed, Ananda Bluetooth is that type of comfortable headphone that you will be able to take with you anywhere, regardless what you're doing.



This being said, this won't be one of those headphones that you'll be able to jog with, thanks to the high levels of comfort, they don't have a very tight fit, so if you want to go for a run, a Master & Dynamic MW65, or an Ultrasone Signature DXP would be much more recommended.

The Aesthetics of Ananda Bluetooth are also nice, and although they don't have that gaming touch and flair in their build, like TWS600, they look sexy and sleek, elegant and modern. You could wear them with pretty much anything without looking odd, although, since they are open, you're not very likely to take them outdoors.



In terms of passive noise isolation, they isolate poorly from the outside noise, and this means you'll be able to hear pretty much anything that's going on outside, so although the bluetooth part would imply that they are a portable headphone, it is only if you don't mind hearing pretty much everything that's going on around you.

The tech inside Ananda is based on the NEO Supernano Diaphragm, a new driver membrane that's based on Planar magnetic drivers, but where the membrane is much thinner, having just 1-2 microns thickness. There's a Balanced amplifier inside, and the Bluetooth chip is CSR8675, capable of decoding LDAC, HWA, all at 24 Bit / 96 kHz. It can also send signals through the aptX, aptX Low Latency, and aptX HD codecs. You need to enable the HWA codec, and for this you have to use HIFIMAN's app, which works best on Android smartphones, and audiophile DAPs.



Having a DAC chip inside, Ananda Bluetooth can decode the signal received through the cable as well, so don't worry if you prefer a cabled connection, you can do that with Ananda BT, by using the Type-C provided cable, either with your smartphone, or Windows PC. Both Android and Windows see Ananda Bluetooth natively. The downside, if we can call it that way, is that there is no passive mode for the DAC/AMP that are onboard, and while this means that you get a very consistent performance from Ananda BT, you can't scale it with the source, like you can with HIFIMAN DEVA. Since Ananda BT and the simple Ananda should be similar, you can compare Ananda BT with a very properly driven Ananda, so although they are bluetooth, you're not missing on much by not being able to pair them with a better source, like iBasso DX160, DX220, FiiO M11, or Opus #3.

HIFIMAN Quotes about 10 hours of battery life at medium volumes, and I can confirm about 8-9 if listening to Ananda BT at really loud volumes, and if using them with the LDAC codec. There's also a button to engage charging, and this is because you can connect the type-C cable to a smartphone, and if you don't want Ananda BT to drain the battery, you just don't press the power button to engage charging. There are options with better battery life, like Sennheiser Momentum 3 Bluetooth, which averages 15-16 hours of battery life.



You have just one button for controlling them, which either turns them on / off, and puts them in the pairing mode. You can also answer calls with it, but that's pretty much it. A volume rocker is missing, and I would have liked it if they could have had a separate volume control from the smartphone / source's volume control.

The microphone is quite good actually, and it provides a really clean and clear performance, and although it won't replace the recorder I use for Audiophile-Heaven Youtube videos, it is more than perfect for gaming, and even for taking phone calls or doing a bit of a video conference. The person on the other side never complained about noise, even wind was cancelled by the small windscreen, and the microphone has a more natural, cleaner overall sound than my smartphone, Xiaomi Mi Max 3, being an upgrade in every way.



Sound Quality

The best bluetooth headphone I heard so far, this is simply the way to describe Ananda Bluetooth. There's simply no question about it, and the only headphone that comes even close is HIFIMAN's own Deva. There are some other exotic headphones that have bluetooth and make compelling competitors, like Master & Dynamic Mw65, or Sennheiser Momentum 3 Bluetooth, but the level of detail and clarity of the Ananda Bluetooth is really hard to match, even within its own price segment, as just like the Original Ananda, this one is a real winner.

The sonics could be described as deep, full, warm in the midrange, with a slightly forward and present midrange, a sparkly, well-extended treble, with a natural overall speed, slightly wet character, and with enough impact and dynamics to make us name it the best bluetooth headphone in the world. I borrowed an Ananda from a friend to draw some short comparisons between the Bluetooth and the Analog versions.



The bass is actually quite different from what most open-back headphones do, and it is nicely extended, closer to Verum One, or Brainwavz Alara than it is to HIFIMAN Arya, as Ananda BT has a fairly deep and hard-hitting bass, especially compared to the original Ananda. The extension is particularly exceptional, and it impressed me big time to see a headphone that's open back, wireless, having this kind of extension. The quantity itself is above neutral, but not quite that much. AnandaBT isn't a basshead headphone yet, so if you felt that most commercial bluetooth headphones are too heavy, too thick, veiled, muddy, or the bass was too much, don't worry, Ananda Bluetooth is tastefully tuned to have just the right amount of bass for an open-back, but which is also wireless. On songs like K/DA - Pop/Stars, the bass extends nicely in the lows, and there's a good amount of impact, even at the maximum volume of Ananda Bluetooth. No distortions I can describe, and the bass blends really nicely with the midrange and the treble.

Indeed, the midrange has a good amount of meat, it feels satisfying to listen both to pop, and classical, all timbres are exceptionally sweet, and there's enough weight for instruments to feel natural. This is much more like Arya than it was like the original Ananda, and I love this type of midrange presentation for Jazz and Country music as well. The midrange is a bit closer to the listener than most HIFIMAN Headphones, but it manages to be wide and holographic despite this type of presentation, making both EDM and Cabaret sound perfect. The mid can also be said to be rich, but it is also a bit wet. Just like Final B3, there's a little less emphasis on the low treble, so there's no listening fatigue possible with AnandaBluetooth, and although this turns the whole midrange sweet, and a bit on the musical side, it also takes some of the cymbal attack and impact for metal. I found that the extension in the treble makes up for this softer upper midrange presentation for Rock music, so Ananda Bluetooth works well for most general music styles, even more aggressive rock, and post-hardcore being just right. Songs like Dance Gavin Dance - That's What I Like sound sweet, the guitar notes in the background are clear and the whole presentation is very holographic. Even the percussion has the right speed and impact.



The treble is actually slightly less present and less sparkly than the original Ananda, or the Arya, and this is because both the upper midrange, and the lower treble has less presence. The upper treble extension is actually similar, and the air is similar as well, Ananda Bluetooth is really nicely extended and crisp up top, especially for a bluetooth headphone. The treble ends up having a natural character, not too dry, not too wet either. There are headphones that have a brighter top end with more sparkle, like Master & Dynamic MW65, but more presence doesn't always equal more detail or clarity. This being said, both Arya and the original Ananda are more analytic, and feel more revealing than Ananda BT. On songs like Falling In Reverse - The Drug In Me Is You, the cymbals are nicely extended, and thanks to the relaxed upper midrange and treble, the whole sound ends up being fairly sweet and the tonality is sweet - warm - but also has bright reflexions in the treble, especially nice in the upper treble.

The dynamics are also exceptionally good, for a bluetooth headphone. The raw dynamics are better on the Analog Ananda, especially if you're pairing it with a good source, but if you don't have a good source for the original Ananda, the Ananda BT ends up being even more dynamic. This is one of the first times I can't complain about the bluetooth, like I did on my video reviews of the FiiO BTR5, and BTR3K. If we're talking about the dynamics, Ananda Bluetooth does get more dynamic on wire than it is on bluetooth, but the differences are quite small, and I can happily enjoy them in Bluetooth.



Portable / Desktop Usage

You heard it right, those are dual-purpose headphones, that can be used both for desktop, and portably, because who doesn't want to have some sound leakage and a bit less isolation sometimes. I am actually pretty honest here, I found that the leakage is too high for using Ananda Bluetooth on public transportation, but it was pretty okay for taking a walk, especially if going through a park.



Of course, you can't really blast the music too loud, at least portably, but while you're at home, you'll be happy to know that Ananda Bluetooth works both in a Wireless mode, but also in a wired mode, so you can happily listen to music at the maximum quality they can push, and thankfully that is really loud. Ananda Bluetooth, despite being a headphone that has everything, the DAC, the AMP, and the receivers inside, is able to push extremely loud volumes, and they play well controlled even at their maximum volume.

They have better detail, better control, and a more dynamic sound, with better overall resolution on wired, than they have on wireless, but this shouldn't stop you from enjoying them in their Bluetooth mode, because the LDAC, and the HWA protocols can get really really close to the wired. aptX is lower in quality than the LDAC, and SBC / AAC won't make much sense for Ananda Bluetooth.

Despite having a battery, and all the tech inside, Ananda BT doesn't get hot during charging, and they are comfortable to wear for hours in a row, especially since the inner fabric used on the pads is of good quality, and it doesn't become itchy or uncomfortable after a while. This is true even if you have a beard, as a bearded man's worst fear is having your beard tangled with fabrics. To be more precise, in actual usage, tested by me, you can expect about 8-9 hours of usage at really loud volumes.



For movie watching, or gaming, you can always use the aptX LL, or low latency, and you'll have zero delay with Ananda Bluetooth. On Windows, I also noticed zero delay from the cabled mode. On the other hand, I noticed that the cable sounds better from my Xiaomi Mi Max 3 and Windows, but didn't have the chance to test with more phones.

When it comes to driving Ananda Bluetooth, anything will do, from the simplest of smartphones that's entry-level, but has fairly good bluetooth support, all the way to iBasso DX220, which has excellent bluetooth support as well.



Comparisons

The main comparison points for Ananda Bluetooth are HIFIMAN Arya, HIFIMAN HE6SE, Kennerton Thror, Rosson RAD-0, Beyerdynamic Amiron, and Sennheiser HD660S. This covers a wide selection of prices and different designs, helping you understand where Ananda Bluetooth is situated in both performance, and comfort, relative to many other popular offerings of this moment. Most bluetooth headphones I tested don't really come close enough to Ananda Bluetooth, so I've been trying to compare some of the wired headphones I have, and in the comparison I tried driving some of them from FiiO BTR5, Earmen TR-AMP, as portables, and used iBasso DX160, iBasso DX229, and FiiO M11 as DAPs.



HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs HIFIMAN Arya (1000 USD vs 1600 USD) - Arya is a big game headphone, but it has a similar build quality and concept to Ananda BT, so the biggest differences will be at the sonic levels. In terms of sonics, Arya is considerably more dynamic, has a larger soundstage, also has more separation between instruments, is more clear, has a more sparkly treble, and is cleaner, and more detailed. Of course, it is also 60% more expensive, and you need a source costing at least 250 USD to drive it (like Earmen TR-AMP, FiiO Q5s, iFi xDSD or Chord Mojo), so the whole package for a functioning Arya is at least 1850 USD. This being said, most people going for Arya will probably want to invest a bit more in the source, so it ends up costing more, but at the end of the day, it would be a bit of an upgrade over the Ananda Bluetooth, but also over the original Ananda, HIFIMAN having proven to have created a really nice balance of comfort, and sound in both those headphones. By direct comparison, Ananda Bluetooth sounds warmer in the midrange, leaner, but also has a smoother treble. Ananda BT has more overall thickness in the sound too.

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs HIFIMAN HE6SE (1000 USD vs 1800 USD) - This is where HIFIMAN Turned analytical, and I really have been enjoying the HE6Se a lot, having been one of my reference headphones, and a personal favorite of mine. This being said, it is quite hard to drive, and most people won't get away with a TR-AMP driving it, and will require something with more power, like Audio-GD Master 19, for which you need to get a DAC as well, and the least expensive good DAC I tested is a Topping E30, but there are better options out there, like Earmen TR-AMP, or even something like the Dac Box DS from Pro-Ject. At any rate, HE6Se ends up costing quite a bit more for a proper setup, compared to Ananda BT. The comfort is better on Ananda BT by a good margin, as HE6SE uses the same design as the older Sundara. Even Deva, a newly released headphone from HIFIMAN has better comfort, but Ananda BT has superb comfort. The sound is considerably more precise, more analytic, has better resolution, more clarity, more treble, with better extension, and if driven well, is more dynamic and more punchy from HE6SE. That's a big IF, because most of the amplifiers I tried below the 880 USD price mark, where I tested the Audio-GD Master 19, were not capable of driving HE6SE loud enough, or clear enough. On the other hand, with Ananda BT the operation is plug and play, once you get the headphones, you're set for a long time. The sound is warmer on Ananda BT, but also has a larger, more holographic soundstage, with more overall meat and thickness in the sound, and more bass. If driven properly, HE6SE is a real beast, but if you don't want to spend the resources on HE6SE, Ananda Bluetooth is an awesome experience, and does not cost quite that much.

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs Kennerton Thror (1000 USD vs 3000 USD) - You may be wondering why am I comparing a 3000-USD flagship, with an 1000 USD Bluetooth Headphone, but this has been requested many times, and people are wondering if Ananda stacks up to more expensive options. Thror is actually not quite as comfortable, it is configurable, but it is quite heavy, where Ananda Bluetooth doesn't just have nice large earcups, and comfy earpads, it is also fairly light for a Planar Magnetic Headphone. The sound is much more neutral on Thror, with more detail and clarity, where it is warmer, more sweet on Ananda BT. Thror is not the hardest to drive headphone, so getting a good matching source can be easy, even an iBasso DX120 can drive them, or a high-end DAP that has lower power, like Opus #2, can do just as good of a job. It may be a bit much for a BTR5 from FiiO though. If you want an absolute neutrality, and a really clean, revealing sound, Thror is still a top choice, but if you want a warmer, lighter listening experience, Ananda BT makes an excellent choice, and it has a pretty good price point as well.

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs Rosson RAD-0 (1000 USD vs 2600 USD) - Rosson RAD-0 has been a favorite of mine, but it is still considerably more expensive than Ananda BT. Somehow, it looks like Ananda BT has been stacking well to the competition, even to considerably more expensive options, so RAD-0 is another comparison point. In terms of overall comfort, RAD-0 is considerably more heavy, and from this entire comparison list only Amiron and Arya have similar comfort to Ananda BT, all of the others being less comfortable. RAD-0 has a much much thicker sound, with more impact in the lows, but less treble presence, a smoother overall sound, but with a wetter, more liquid character. RAD-0 is really easy to drive, a FiiO M3K, or iBasso DX120 can drive it just fine, but it is hard to master, so investing in a good matching AMP is a great idea, and I can recommend a few, but Aune S6 PRO was a favorite pairing of mine, because RAD-0 has a smaller soundstage, and adding an exceptionally wide DAC/AMP makes a great pairing in the end. Ananda has a wider soundstage, a more holographic presentation, a lighter, more snappy sound.

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs Beyerdynamic Amiron (1000 USD vs 700 USD) - Amiron has a wireless variant as well out there, and I have been waiting to review it for a while, but the stocks have been out for a while, so it must be selling well. On the other hand, the sound of Amiron was quite different from Ananda, Amiron has always been a beast hard to master, a bit too spiky in the treble, and the bass being a bit too neutral, unless you matched it with something that had good enough power, and good enough clarity / detail to make sense for you to purchase it. Indeed, although it costs about 700 USD, you need a source that is at least 400 USD (Pro-Ject Head Box DS being the most affordable source that can drive it fairly well), and to truly master it, you need something like the Audio-GD Master 19. On the other hand, Ananda BT can be used, and plays straight out of the box, and it does so with great quality, clarity and detail. Even better, Ananda BT is always a bit warmer and sweeter in the midrange, and the treble is not quite as hot. The bass has more substance, and the midrange has more meat, although Amiron has a magically wet character across the spectrum, which gives it a nice softness that pairs well with all music styles, including poorly recorded music.

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth vs Sennheiser HD660S (1000 USD vs 500 USD) - Sennheiser HD660S is only half the price of Ananda Bluetooth, so it makes sense that Ananda Bluetooth will sound better, but in what direction, and why, are questions I received, as many people wanted to upgrade from their HD660S to Ananda Bluetooth, thanks to convenience, and also to the better comfort of Ananda Bluetooth. Indeed, the high clamping force of the HD660 S, paired with the harder earpads, and the longer, harder to replace cables, made a lot of folks dive into HIFIMAN and their offerings, especially into Ananda and Arya. Where HD660S is fairly dry, detailed, but intimate, Ananda BT is fairly holographic, clean, open, and more liquid. HD660S has good impact and dynamics, Ananda BT is even better. There's excellent clarity and to HD660S, but Ananda BT manages to be even better, especially in the midrange, where there's better separation between instruments, and better definition for each instrument and musical note. For a properly driven HD660S, you need something like FiiO's M11, or DX160 from iBasso, or even DX220, which means that you're going to invest almost 1000 USD in a HD660S setup, so it makes sense to compare it to Ananda Bluetooth.



Value and Conclusion

I would say that Ananda Bluetooth is the most expensive Bluetooth headphone of the moment, but I feel that they have a good reason for being this pricey. They don't just ask for the money because it sounds good, they actually built a lot of features in it, and when you think that they managed to give the Bluetooth version, the sound of the original Ananda, but at the convenience of driving it fully from a smartphone, regardless whether you wanted to use it wired or wireless, I'm just blown away. The value can't be as good as Deva, which is 300 USD, but it is excellent, if you wanted the ultimate Bluetooth headphone in the whole world.



The build quality is outstanding, and although the design isn't quite as edgy or as fun as some of the other bluetooth headphones out there, if you like a simpler, modern and elegant-looking headphone, you'll fall in love with Ananda BT. Furthermore, they are made very well, and even survived a few crashes and accidental drops for me, so they're a really well built headphone. On the other hand, they didn't skip on comfort either, and are one of the most comfortable headphones in the whole world, and with Bluetooth 5.0, LDAC, HWA, aptX HD, and with 10 hours of battery life, after 2 and a half hours of charging, this is how you power a true planar from a bluetooth source. Not only do they sound great on Bluetooth, but they sound even better wired, so if you take the time to connect them wired, you'll have tons of fun with Ananda Bluetooth, as it should be recognized by any windows device, or smartphone.



The sound is warm, but romantic, airy, well-extended, and has a resolution and detail you won't believe is real. They even managed to employ a deep, clean and hard-hitting bass, paired with a soft, yet airy treble, and a romantic midrange that has one of the most musical presentations I have ever heard. This is one of the very few headphones, where I couldn't tell that I was using a Bluetooth connection, it looks like if a company really wants, they can optimise the sound of a headphone to sound so great in wireless that you won't know you don't have an expensive DAP driving it, because it will sound like you do.



Before the end of this review, I have to add the Ananda Bluetooth to Audiophile-Heaven's Hall Of Fame, for being simply put, the best bluetooth headphone in the whole world at the moment of making this review, and if you need some mobility, with one of the best headphones there are, you'll like Ananda Bluetooth quite a lot.



At the end of this review, if you don't mind that they're open back, and if you want what is currently the best bluetooth headphone in the entire world, HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth is not necessarily a steal, at 1000 USD, but will totally steal your heart with the convenience and romantic, airy, wide sound they have, along with the support for LDAC, HWA, aptX HD, and great battery life, as you'll even be able to use them wired if you'll need to.



Full Playlist used for this review

While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you're searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.

Youtube Playlist


Tidal Playlist

https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

Song List

Bats - Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy - Frances
Incubus - Summer Romance
Electric Six - Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult - High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir - Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin - I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch - The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom - Song Pong
Attack Attack - Kissed A Girl
Doctor P - Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone - Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie - Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate - Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD - Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp - Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy - Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne - I Don't Wanna Stop
Crow'sclaw - Loudness War
Eminem - Rap God
Stromae - Humain À L'eau
Sonata Arctica - My Selene
Justin Timberlake - Sexy Back
Metallica - Fuel
Veil Of Maya - Unbreakable
Masa Works - Golden Japang
REOL - Luvoratorrrrry
Dope - Addiction
Korn - Word Up!
Papa Roach - ... To be Loved
Fever The Ghost - Source
Fall Out Boy - Immortals
Green Day - Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence - London Bridge
A static Lullaby - Toxic
Royal Republic - Addictive
Astronautalis - The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans - My Love
Skillet - What I Believe
Man With A Mission - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei - Mirror
Mojo Juju - Must Be Desire
Falling Up - Falling In Love
Manafest - Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela - Paris
Zomboy - Lights Out
Muse - Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein - Mosaku
Grey Daze - Anything, Anything
Katy Perry - Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy - Killer Instinct
Pendulum - Propane Nightmares
Sirenia - Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel - Addicted
Hollywood Undead - Levitate
The Offspring - Special Delivery
Escape The Fate - Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment - One With The Universe
Dope - Rebel Yell
Crazy Town - Butterfly
Silverstein - My Heroine
Memphis May Fire - Not Over Yet
I hope my review is helpful to you!

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Identity Crisis
Pros: Best sounding BT headphone, for now
- Better build quality than wired Ananda
- BT connection is pretty stable/strong once connected
- Numerous codec support
Cons: Shouty upper-mids
- Treble can get sizzly on higher volumes
- No analog input, and USB-mode is useless (for now)
- HIFIMan mobile app is a hot mess
- Not suited for portable/on-the-go usage
- Clamp force can cause hotspot around the temple area
- Status LEDs are infuriatingly bright and distracting
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This review originally appeared on my blog.

Wireless audio thus far has been associated with “trading absolute quality for the sake of convenience”.

Most of them BT headphones are tuned in a consumer-friendly manner and won’t provide you with the highest resolving capability or technicalities to boot.

Enter HIFIMan Ananda BT.

HIFIMan have been one of the front runners when it comes planar magnetic headphones and the technology itself. Who can forget the legendary HE-6, or perhaps the now defunct yet absolutely awesome Edition X V2?

Despite being late to the Wireless headphone game, they are making up for the gap with the Ananda BT — a headphone that’s wireless, planar, full-size, and open-back. All of these while supporting a great deal of BT codecs including LDAC and boasting a decent battery life of ~10 hours (advertised). That’s a pretty rare combo and makes for a very interesting, potentially groundbreaking product. Who is this targeted towards? Is it the on-the-go audiophile? Is it the home-listeners who don’t wanna deal with wires? Is it for someone who’s looking for ultimate flexibility? And of course — will it sound good enough?

Hopefully all of those will be answered once we’ve gone through the review.

Note: the ratings given will be subjective to the price tier. Definitely the expectations from a $15 IEM won’t be the same as a $150 one, and that’s the approach taken while assigning scores. HIFIMan was kind enough to send me the Ananda BT as part of a review tour. Disclaimer
https://medium.com/@kmmbd/review-guidelines-disclaimers-and-some-random-ramblings-719b4f37376e

You can check the review out on my blog as well.

Sources used: LG G7 (forced LDAC, 96KHz, 32 bits/sample, 990/909 kbps), iPhone SE (AAC default)
Firmware version: 190929
Price, while reviewed: ~$1000. Can be bought from
Hifiman’s official website.


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Build: The overall build quality is a mixed bag. On the plus side, the yokes are made of metal and quite sturdy, which is already an improvement over certain previous high-end HIFIMan models (e.g. Arya). They’ve also added a helpful swivel mechanism that wasn’t there in the wired version of the Ananda. The earpads themselves are roomy enough even for larger ears and has a pleather outer/velour inner. This is a pretty good combo for comfort, though the foam inside felt a bit on the stiffer side. The headphones themselves have a polarizing look IMO, and I’m veering towards the negative pole. These look huge and ridiculous once you put them on and there’s nothing svelte about the design. Compare this to the Focal Elex for example, and this one doesn’t really win any beauty pageants amidst such competition. Then again, we are more focused on good sound rather than grandeur looks, so there’s still chance for redemption.

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At the bottom of the left ear-cup is a host of buttons and ports. First up is the type-C port (thank heavens) and then there is a 3.5mm port. Unfortunately, that 3.5mm port is not for aux-in, rather it’s only for the supplied (and third-party) microphone. That’s a bummer, but let’s move on. Next, we find two buttons, one elongated and another round button. The elongated one acts as the power/pairing mode/play-pause button as long-pressing it will start the pairing mode (denoted by the LED underneath the button pulsing in alternating colors). A note about the LED: it’s too bright and too distracting. I don’t know why HIFIMan chose to use such an obviously distracting level of brightness as using these headphones in the dark is a nuisance at times. If you don’t work in the dark much then perhaps you’d be spared, but even when you put them down with the earcups down and the BT connected on the table, the blinking LEDs are there letting you know of their existence.

Finally, let’s talk about the last button — it’s to make the headphones charge themselves. No, they don’t start charging if you only connect them to the outlet. You have to press and hold that circular button to get it into charging mode. I assume this was done to facilitate using it in USB mode (you can connect it to the PC via USB-C), but the ideal thing IMO would have been to make charging mode the default state, and pressing the button would take it into USB mode. It’s not even a behavior you can change so basically you’re stuck with this peculiarity. I do feel that a volume control button would have been great, but that’s a missed opportunity.

Moving up into the headband region, I am not a fan of the suspender for a number of reasons. Firstly, it feels cheap. Secondly, the padding underneath is minimal and doesn’t add much to comfort. Finally, the wire running through the headband can potentially be a point of failure in the long run. Aside from that, the headband adjustment mechanism is spot-on. I did have a niggle on my review unit where the right ear-cup had a very stiff rotation whereas the left one was just fine. Might as well be a unit variation but something to keep an eye on.
4/5

Comfort:
The Ananda BT is definitely on the heavier side at 460 grams. Fortunately the weight is handled well by the head-band and the slightly higher clamping force of the ear-cups. I did have a problem with the clamping force of the ear-cups as they tended to form a hot-spot around the temple region. Due to the oval shape of the earcups, the area surrounding the temple is larger than the one across the jaw, and this pressure buildup causes discomfort (for me) after about half an hour or so. So do audition them in person if possible to see if these caveats apply.
3.5/5

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Accessories: Barebones, in one word. For a $1000 headphone, the accessory pack is not really screaming luxury. You get a carrying case that barely fits the headphones and isn’t particularly premium, inside of which in a pouch you’d get the charging cable, a type-C to type-C cable (perhaps for desktop wired use) and a detachable mic. The mic is pretty poor and has a constant buzz when used via USB mode (I couldn’t get it to work in BT mode).

And that’s about it. It does have everything one may need, but the quality is just adequate and it seems it’s one of the areas where HIFIMan chose to cut corners.
3/5

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Now, on to the sound. HIFIMan is using their proprietary NsD (neo super-nano) planar diaphragms here to drastically reduce driver thickness. This apparently results in faster transient response and less distortion, along with a few other perks. The driver area is likely the same as the wired Ananda: 80*50mm, which is quite large indeed. These are still not as large as certain Audeze ones, but this is not a numbers game as driver size is only part of the equation.

Do note that the following impressions are based upon the BT mode of the headphones. I couldn’t get the USB mode to work on my PC/laptop or my phone, and from other impressions it seems to be a common problem. I won’t mind that much, however, since this is a wireless headphone first and foremost. Also, there will be two ratings:

  • one rating given on the basis of wired headphones in its price class (because let’s face it — there aren’t too many kilobuck BT headphones out there)
  • another rating compared to its meek BT brethren.
Bass: The bass response is mostly flat from the upper-bass to the mid-bass region. Such linear bass response is something HIFIMan has nailed down for quite a while so nothing surprising when compared to their other products, but when looking at other BT headphones a stark contrast arises. This is the most balanced “bass” that I’ve seen a BT headphone offer, period. No mid-bass hump or high sub-bass shelf like Bose/Sennheiser (I won’t mention Beats because that meme’s been overused). There’s zero mid-bass bleed and bass overall is clean, punchy, if a bit on the lighter side.

The problem area with the bass is the sub-bass region. The sub-bass starts a gradual roll-off around 60Hz, which turns into a sharp roll-off at around 30Hz. You won’t get ear-rattling sub-bass response, neither the sub rumbles will be noticeable. Given the open-back nature of the headphones though, quite understandable. The bass is enjoyable nonetheless, and rhythmic bass-tracks are replayed particularly well. Case in point: Polyphia’s Crush.
4/5 (all headphones in its price class)
4.5/5 ( only BT headphones)

Mids:
The mids are a bit on the thin side with a dip around 1.5KHz. This results in male (esp baritone vocals) losing their depth as the lower octaves are de-emphasized. This dip is then followed by a rather steep upper-mid boost. This leads to a over 15dB differential between the 1.5KHz and 3KHz range, resulting in female vocal prominence along with the sense of boosted “clarity”, which often leads to shoutiness and is not a pleasant experience. Many modern (female) Pop songs sounded too intense in the vocal range for example.

String instruments meanwhile often sound “too crisp”, but it can be beneficial depending on your inclinations and the track being played. Mid-range timbre is bit on the dry side, lacking any warmth or “lushness”. The overall tonality is bright, with that over-emphasized upper-mid being a particular sore spot for long term high SPL (volume) listening. In quieter volume levels these issues somewhat subsided, and the Ananda BT is particularly adept at lower SPL playback being able to fully reproduce the dynamics without needing to push the volume higher up. But for those who want to listen to normal/higher than normal SPL — the upper mid issues will be exacerbated.
3.5/5 (all headphones in its price class)
4.5/5 (only BT headphones)

Treble:
Treble is accentuated on the Ananda BT with the 8KHz peak being prominent. This leads to cymbal hits being highlighted with more presence than snares/pedals. Another thing it does is introduce the dreaded s word — sibilance. Listen to Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie, and the moment the opening lines come up you are hit by a train of ssssssssss. This emphasis also brings out the imperfections in mastering of certain metal tracks, so despite enjoying the forward cymbal strikes and ability to cope up with double bass pedals, I couldn’t use the Ananda BT as effortlessly for metal as I’ve had hoped. Other than that the treble extension was pretty good, with a bit of air added into the mix via a 15–16KHz peak. Overall microdetail retrieval is also at a high level with subtle amp buzzes being picked up in American Football’s Never Meant.
4/5 (all headphones in its price class)
5/5 (only BT headphones)

Soundstage:
The overall soundstage is just average in terms of height and width. Soundstage depth is above average which allows some space between instruments. However, sounds that should be very near to the listener are placed slightly farther away, which makes the overall rendition somewhat inaccurate.
3.5/5 (all headphones in its price class)
4/5 (only BT headphones)

Imaging:
HIFIMan usually nails down the imaging on their headphones and the Ananda BT is no exception. It has excellent imaging with no apparent “dead-zones”. Due to the limited sound-stage width and height some instruments may not be as far apart or as close as they should be, but their overall placement is spot-on. If you plan to game with them, however, there would be certain issues as trying to figure out enemy distance via footsteps won’t work as well as some other headphones due to the soundstage width limitation. Spatial cues are also rendered well but their distance is quite fuzzy, just as with the footsteps mentioned before. So these might not be the best option if you plan to play competitive fps games.
4/5 (all headphones in its price class)
5/5 (only BT headphones)


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Amplification: The headphone’s built-in amp was deafeningly loud for me at full volume. Due to Android’s poor native BT volume control (only 10 steps) it wasn’t possible for me to fine tune it. However, I didn’t face the volume issues that many reviewers have faced apparently. I can only guess that some of them might have had Android’s “Absolute Volume” set to on, which is easily fixable via turning developer options on and disabling it. On Windows via BT however fine-tuning the volume was a breeze.

Battery life: Battery life has been pretty good for me throughout the usage. I got about 7–8 hours of playback on average, and considering the type of product it is I’d give that a good grade. However, the recharge time is snail-paced. It takes approximately 3 hours to get fully charged so it’s best to charge it overnight.
4/5

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Select Comparisons

vs Sennheiser HD650:
less tight bass on Sennheiser, almost “wooly” bass. The mids definitely sound more balanced and has much better male vocal presentation. Midrange is similarly resolved on both but the Ananda has faster transients leading to them being better suited for electronic and fast-paced music. Treble is laid back more on the HD650 while it is far more up-front on the Ananda BT. So if you were planning to get these as a sort of upgrade to your reference wired headphones, I’m afraid it might not exactly serve that purpose.

vs HIFIMan Ananda: The wired version of Ananda has slightly inferior build quality, but superior sound by a margin. It doesn’t have any glaring upper-mid issues and also can provide some rumble-ridden sub-bass whenever needed. The soundstage is also slightly wider and imaging tad more precise. At $300 cheaper, it’s a great option, though the Sundara is a better value IMO. Moreover, if you absolutely need BT, these are a no-go, but this was a good point of reference to gauge the sound quality loss for going the BT route. It’s not a day and night difference, but it is a downgrade, no doubts there.

vs Bose QC35II: Bose’s wireless headphones have turned into modern classics. Their noise cancellation algorithm is one of the best, they are very comfortable and well-built, and generally has a tasteful V-shaped sound. They are also far more portable and lightweight. Basically, QC35II was custom built for on-the-go usage, and the Ananda BT is the exact opposite. In terms of overall sound quality, Ananda BT eats everything in its path for luncheon. Everything else is on the Ananda BT is undercooked at best.

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Other observations:
  • The HIFIMan app is unusable at this point. The volume control is completely detached from Android’s native volume control so expect your eardrums to be blown via sudden surge of insane loudness. The app itself is slow, crashes often and is very inconsistent in terms of… everything. This app needs a major overhaul.
  • BT signal is very strong overall. Didn’t lose connection even through multiple walls.
  • The lack of an analog pass-through is a huge missed opportunity and something I hope HIFIMan implements in the future revision/version of the product.
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Conclusion

The biggest issue that HIFIMan needs to address is the target audience. Who will be the potential customer for these? It won’t be the commuter type, as these are too heavy/cumbersome/non-isolating for that purpose. It won’t be for those who want the absolute best sound quality in general because the wired Ananda is quite a bit better.

The target audience perhaps is a niche within a niche — someone who absolutely needs the BT functionalities without sacrificing too much on the sonic front. It does somewhat deliver on that promise, but it is a rather unfinished product. It feels more like a proof-of-concept rather than a polished end-result.

My feedback to HIFIMan would be to at first rectify the tonal issues and bring it more aligned to the wired Ananda sound. There is also the newly released Deva that seems to cater to both wireless and wired crowd, so it again puts the Ananda BT in an odd spot due to its lack of analog input. The app is chaos digitized, and should be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch with performance and usability in mind. Also, I wouldn’t dare to wear the Ananda BT in public, and everyone that I’ve showed the headphones to wouldn’t want that either.

This is not a particularly fashionable piece of tech, it’s not portable, it’s not isolating, it’s expensive, and it’s not even as good as its wired brother in terms of sound. It is wireless though, and it is the best sound you can get out of a wireless pair of headphones. Pick your cherries.

Test tracks (as Tidal playlist): https://tidal.com/browse/playlist/04350ebe-1582-4785-9984-ff050d80d2b7
Test tracks (as YouTube playlist, often updated):

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLetb5RqtcrlXdSG4tSCjCJpvoszUb4OjG
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Pros: *
Impressive Resolution
Balanced signature
Performance scales with source
Good battery life
Cons: *
LHDC codec implementation missing for me
Build does not inspire confidence
Wired analogue input would be nice
No Mac OS support for firmware update
No track / volume control other than on/off
Many thanks to the HiFiMAN Team for allowing me this opportunity. The Ananda BT was a loan unit as part of a tour.

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This is my first pair of wireless circumaural phones. I have had wired Beyerdynamics, NADs and Shures in the past then transitioned exclusively to wired IEMs. I saw this as a chance to see if the grass is greener.

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My use case is primarily at a desk, whilst I am working in my office. I’m the only occupant, so I’m not worried about open-backs. It did make Voice Recognition dictation (a large part of my job) a little difficult as the VR headset would pick up the sound leakage. I also tried them driving top down (an interesting but bass-lite experience) and outside, walking the dog.

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Unboxing and Contents



A firm rubberised and micro-textured case opens to display the headphones in their glory. They seem imposing and heavy. I look and feel like a Cyberman when I wear them. They actually aren’t that heavy (460g) but picking them up reveals a sense of fragility that I wasn’t expecting.

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Included are 2 USB cables (A-C and C-C), a 3.5mm microphone dongle and a manual.

Design and Fit

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The cups and grilles are plastic, the forks and headband aluminium. There must have been a trade-off with the materials and overall weight but I found myself being seriously careful with putting them on a desk or even taking them on and off.

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Fitment is 2-way, with cups swivelling to accommodate the sides of your face. Adjusting the headband was stiff and felt very delicate. I was always waiting to hear a snap.

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Wearing big cans again took a little time to get used to but the ‘phones quickly became part of me, in terms of fit and comfort. I only really noticed them after maybe 3 hours, due to pressure from the pad along the mandibular ramus / parotid.

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Operation

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The interface on the underside of the left cup is simple - a button to charge when connected via a USB C socket, a multifunction button with LED indicator and a 3.5mm microphone socket. The Ananda connected first time to my DX228 and OnePlus 6 (OP6) with no issues whatsoever.

Developer options revealed an LDAC 32bit / 96kHz codec @660kbps. Interestingly the HiFiMAN website states a maximum of 24 bits. The 990kbps setting resulted in immediate and persistent stuttering with no useful output. Reading between the lines from a HiFiMAN email about this, I suspect that the DX220 SoC isn’t quite powerful enough for 990kbps. That said, my OP6 should be but I lost interest at this point.

I installed the HiFiMAN app for LHDC but the codec wasn’t available on my phone so it stuck with LDAC. I tried to update the firmware but the downloadable was Windows only. What about Mac OS users? HiFiMAN confirmed that the update was Windows only and that Mac users “need to find a Windows system.” Really?

BT was stable line-of-sight to 10 metres or so. There was drop out with 2 walls and 1 floor of separation.

The USB socket is flush with the cup so there is some protrusion of the cable when plugged in. That feels a little dangerous. Ideally it should be fully recessed to allow the entire plug to sit flush.

I don’t have large hands but even my little finger tended to cover the LED light when pressed. I probably got around 10 hours wireless operation on a full charge.

Hardware

iBasso DX228EX, OnePlus 6. Neutron Player installed on both with the exact same settings for playback. I used a generic OTG dongle for USB wired connection. I played a mixture of MP3, FLAC and DSD256.

Sound

The Anandas play plenty loud for me - I noticed that they were much louder on BT (67) than USB (90).

As you would expect, the DX228 had superior resolution, clarity and a blacker background. Vocals were projected front and centre compared to either side for the OP6. There was also a deeper and richer bass, which I hadn’t normally associated with the DX. OTG USB connection was instant (must enable OTG in System settings first, connect the Anandas to the OTG then the whole cable to the phone). I preferred the wired signature over the BT, with the signature sounding smoother and less grainy. This reflects the increased sample rate over USB (192kHz). Misses the point of the Anandas though!

Overall, the Anandas have a balanced sound with a touch of treble lift, probably as a consequence of the planar drivers. There was good quality sub and midbass, but not an overly large quantity. There is a little thump when called for with no detriment to the other registers. I added a low shelf filter to warm the sound a little bit, with good results.

The mids are musical, resolving and simply correct. I can’t think of a better way to describe them! Male and female vocals are treated with equal respect and care. I noticed piano (Jamie Cullum) and guitars (Kings X, Rodrigo & Gabriela) were particularly well represented.

The treble is crystal clear and detailed, an intrinsic function of the driver morphology. I reckon some tinnitus is developing as I found a few recordings a little piercing in the 5K and 8K bands which required a little parametric adjustment.

Soundstage was above average but not particularly wide, I would say just out of head. Everything felt like I was in the middle of the stage, or perhaps front row, rather than in the middle of the stalls. The outstanding feature for me was the separation. I could clearly distinguish multiple separate voice parts within Bjork’s Icelandic choir accompanying her on ‘Unison’. I heard previously hidden subtle keyboard and guitar refrains on an otherwise very familiar Level 42 live album.

Conclusion

I don’t know whether they represent value for money but I do like the Anandas and what they do. I would prefer them to be built more solidly though. They work well with my sources, proffer a musical and detailed sonic panorama and are comfortable for a good while. I heard better results with better sources. Axiomatic, I know. That isn’t to say that a mobile phone won’t give you a great experience that belies the Ananda’s wireless nature; it’s just that the better the source, the greater your enjoyment and appreciation of these solidly performing cans. This is what they deserve.
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Pros: Sound Quality
Build Quality
Bluetooth Codec Support
Battery Life
Comfortable to wear
Cons: Lack of volume and track control
No passive or active noise cancellation
No analog input for wired connection
Spotty USB wired connection
Received the Hifman Ananda BT a couple of weeks ago. Being unfamiliar with the Ananda BT’s I had to read the manual to learn how to pair it with my iPad. Once I found out how to pair it, the process was a breeze. The first song I heard was a reggae tune from Steel Pulse “Settle the Score”. To be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for the sound the Ananda BT’s were about to deliver, but more on that later.

Packaging

The Ananda BT’s arrived well packaged. They were double boxed and protected in the new Hifiman headphone travel case. For those interested in this case for other Hifiman headphones, my Susvara’s fit very nicely in the travel case. I may have to get one for myself.

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Inside you’ll find the Ananda BT’s, both a USB-A to USB-C and USB-C to USB-C charging cables, and a boom microphone. All in a nice carrying bag with Velcro backing to adhere to inside of the traveling case. The boom mic is a nice addition and will transform the Ananda BT’s into a premium gaming headset.

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Connectivity

The Ananda BT’s supports the latest codecs for lossless, wireless, and hi-res Bluetooth streaming. These include aptX, aptX-HD, LDAC, LHDC, AAC, and HWA (Hi-Res Wireless Audio). Using Bluetooth, the Ananda BT supports full range audio up to 24bit, 96kHz. When plugged in via USB the Ananda BT supports 24bit, 192kHz audio.

The Ananda BT is integrated with a custom designed amp and DAC filter. The DAC filter is the same one found in Hifiman’s top of the line DAP the R2R2000.

Specs (taken from the Hifiman’s website)

The frequency range is from 8Hz-55KHz. Weight is 460g (495g with microphone and cable attached. Impedance is 35 Ohms with a sensitivity of 103dB. Playback time is 10 hours with a charging time of 2.7 hours.

The drivers are planar magnetic featuring Hifiman’s Neo “supernano” Diaphragm (NsD).

Headphone and Buttons

The Ananda BT’s are full-sized headphones. They bear a striking resemblance to the Hifiman Edition X models but with the new style headband. They also look exactly like the original Ananda’s. If it wasn’t for the two buttons, 3.5 mm jack and USB port on left earcup it would be hard to tell them apart. The headband and yokes are made of aluminum. There’s a slight swivel to allow for a nice secure fit once on the head. The clamping pressure is nice and the earpads are comfortable. The earpads are fenestrated on the inside, soft polyester in the middle, with a pleather outer.

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The Ananda BT’s have two buttons on the left earcup. The larger button with LED is the power button. To power on the headphone you hold it down for 1 to 2 seconds. You’ll get a flashing blue light and a audible prompt letting you know the headphone is on. Once on, push the power button twice to enter pairing mode. The light will flash blue and green to indicate you’re in pairing mode. Once paired, the light will flash blue in intervals to let you know the Ananda BT’s are paired and working normally. When the battery gets low it will flash red. To turn off the Ananda BT’s, hold the power button for 5 seconds.

The smaller button is the charge button. To charge, connect the USB-C cable to the headphone. Then hold the charge button for 2 seconds. While charging the light will be red. Once fully charged the light will be green.

To enable USB playback, connect the supplied USB cable to your device and the Ananda BT’s. The light will be all white in this mode. If you want to charge and play at the same time, press the charge button for 2 seconds. The light will be solid white and flash red every 3 seconds. When charging has completed, the light will be white, then flash green every 3 seconds.

The Ananda BT’s feel sturdy in hand. The headphone itself is large but once on your head you don’t really notice. The Hifiman “window shade” earcups are pleasing to look at. The Ananda BT as a whole look and feels premium to me. Also, unlike other Bluetooth headphones, the Ananda BT’s do not have volume or track skip/forward buttons. You can play/pause music by pushing the power button once. It works in the same manner to answer and end phone calls.

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Sound


How do the Ananda BT’s sound? In a word, amazing. This is by far the best sounding Bluetooth headphone I’ve heard. Unseating my B&W P7 wireless for top honors. The Ananda BT’s are the first wireless headphone that doesn’t sound like a wireless headphone. I had it paired with my iPad Pro the entire time while in my possession.

The bass is extended, textured, and natural with nice depth. The bass is also fast with very little decay. It’s punchy, deep and is presented effortlessly by the Ananda BT’s. To my surprise, the Ananda BT's extends down to subbass levels. It doesn’t rumble like my Susvara’s in that region but it gets there. As a matter of fact, the bass on the Ananda BT’s is better than most headphones in this price range and below and some above it. This is outstanding performance from a Bluetooth headphone.

The mids are balanced and clear. Vocals sound natural, lifelike and are placed nicely in front of the instruments. Nothing seems elevated or bloated in the midrange. It’s not sweet and lush like my ZMF Auteurs but it blends very well with the rest to the frequency range. To me this means the midrange on the Ananda BT’s have a slight emphasis in the high midrange. I’m okay with this because it keeps the midrange from sounding muddy and congested.

The treble is extended and has nice clarity. Its detailed but it’s not as airy or transparent as my Susvara’s. But it’s very, very good and the best I’ve heard from a Bluetooth headphone. The treble is not sibilant or aggressive. I had no problem turning up the volume with these. At high volume, the Ananda BT’s never distorted. Again, superb performance from a Bluetooth headphone.

Conclusion

The Ananda BT’s are excellent Bluetooth headphones. They sound more like legitimate wired headphones. They are dynamic, nuanced, and natural sounding. Soundstage isn’t very wide but I don’t think this headphone is trying to be that. The sound is cohesive and instrument placement is fantastic.

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The Ananda BT’s sits below its upper tier siblings. The sound approaches what you would hear from a wired headphone. So, I think they are appropriately priced but some would disagree with that statement. The Ananda BT’s sit at the very top of other Bluetooth offerings as far pricing goes. For that, you get unequalled sound from a Bluetooth headphone. The Ananda BT’s easily best any other Bluetooth offering from a sound standpoint.

Some quibbles, there is no passive or active noise cancellation on the Ananda BT’s. These are best suited for home use. This is unfortunate, because these headphones deserve to taken outside based on its sound performance alone. There is also no analog input. The only choice for a wired connection is by USB. Other Bluetooth headphones that are priced much lower have this feature. Other than that, the Ananda BT’s come highly recommended!
Baten
Baten
Ananda gang
Pros: Amazing materials, construction and overall build quality
Very comfortable
Carry case
Soft pads
Cons: Sound quality under expected
Max volume very low
Led blinking with a strong light, very annoying if you use them on a dark room like for example, use them to watch tv on your bedroom
First first of all, this is my very first review so please, don't judge me at all. Then, I would like to thank to HiFiMAN for the opportunity to join me the loan and let me try these cans. Im gonna try to be very objective and put my real opinion, I don't want to be a gentleman just because they gave the opportunity to try them, period.

The package that I received was very good sealed and basically contains the package where the headphones were contained.



And another one of the rear with the specifications which basically are resumed to:

  1. Bluetooth connectivity (but wired too through USB-C)
  2. HWA certified (Hi-Res Wireless Audio)
  3. LDAC
  4. aptX and aptX HD
  5. AAC and SBC



Once you open the package you see the carry case which basically occupies all the box.



And then, the inside of the carry case with enough space for the headphones and a small bag with the cables:
  1. USB-A to USB-C
  2. USB-C to USB-C
  3. Small detachable microphone



(Sorry but I don't have a better one of the cans)

On top of that we will find an User manual and a Warranty Card to ensure the authenticity of the product.
________________________________________________________________________________

Told that, the gear that I used to test them is:

  1. On a portable side:
    1. iBasso DX220 on Android mode (Fidelizer Advanced rom)
    2. Fiio Q5
    3. iPhone X jailbroken (EQE app installed which allows you to EQ any app)
  2. On a desktop side
    1. iMac 27"
    2. LG TV
First, I just used them on a Bluetooth mode, avoiding to use them wired as I think that this kind of product are developed to be used on a wireless mode so just used them on this way. The main idea of this setup its to try the spirit of this cans, the mobility. Of course that all the tests were made at home because use this kind of headphones outside its a nonsense (at least for me) but that contradicts in fact with the portability of the equipment so I final state that this pair was made to stay at home and have some kind of freedom in somehow but that's all...

Once I pulled out of the package, I just pressed the button and I saw a blue light and listened an internal beep, signal that the cans were turned on. You need to press for a long (something like 3 seconds) to start the pair mode where the led blinks on a green and blue mode. My first attempt was with my iMac using Tidal Master and my first feel was related with the low volume and a low capacity of sound once you reach the max volume. I suppose that its more related with the power of the source more than the destination but im not a high expert on this technology so its just my impression.

Then I tried with the iBasso DX220 playing some local FLAC music (16 and 24 bits) and I noticed a big improvement but again I think its more related with the power of the iBasso more than the file played as I tried with a streaming radio app, TuneIn and the sound was improved too in comparison with the iMac but pretty disappointed again with the max volume which I think its very low, I don't know why, really, its a 1.000$ headphone, it should be able to reach more than what is offering but who knows, maybe im doing something wrong.

My next try was with my iPhone X but as I mentioned, mine is jailbroken and I have installed a tweak called EQE which basically allows you to apply EQ to any app and trust me, it improves the sound dramatically so with this third try I can state that the power source/balance/eq its very important to obtain a good result. On this try I played some local files, used the same streaming radio app as before (TuneIn) and some other platforms such as Spotify and Tidal Masters again. 3rd time disappointed with the max volume, very low even using the EQE tweak which is supposed to give to you more juice.

And the last try, my LG tv on my bedroom. Basically I wanted to test how can you use this setup to see your tv shows or movies. The most frustrating thing (and for me its a terrible point) its related with the led. It blinks every 3 to 4 seconds and oh god, it blinks so hard... that the room lights up whole. I was more attentive to the led blinking than the tv show/movie. Aaaaaaaand again, max volume on a very low side...

At this point maybe someone can think that im suffering some ears problems or hearing loss but its very ironic, I went the last Friday to make me an audition test and im perfect. I usually use the same setups but with my Andromeda S and a Fostex TH610. For my work (im an IT infrastructure architect working most of the times in the office but in some datacenter too and flying) so I have a pair of QC35 and Sony WH-1000XM3 and all of them are sounding better or worse but with a very good power and quality. With the HiFiMAN cans I was expecting a very good headphones but I should say that I was very disappointed and I would never buy them as I see that there are so many different options in the market that for me, they are not worth it...

So, on a explained resume

- The soundstage for me its inexistent on this kind of headphones
- Low bass/medium, noticeable highs and I fact I enjoyed this range but that's all
- Very very comfortable but the cans are very big, maybe someone with a small head/small ears can notice that are a little uncomfortable
- Very resistant and high quality construction materials
- Battery life its pretty good
- Carry bag as a very good quality

In any case, I would like to thank again to HiFiMAN for the opportunity, I just wanted to reflect my sincere opinion.

Thanks !

Miguel
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Pros: Great sound for a Bluetooth headphone, very good battery life considering the fidelity, good build quality, remembers last connected device and automatically reconnects, comfort, surprisingly low weight considering all the onboard tech
Cons: Issues, when used wired, concerning volume and microphone, too bright LEDs that sometimes become distracting, short Bluetooth range when using a computer, steep price
Disclaimer: I have received Ananda BTs as part of Hifiman’s loaner tour


Package contents: Headphone, a very nice carrying case with pleasing smooth zippering zippers, a well detailed manual booklet, a small bag with a USB-A - USB-C cable and another USB-C - USB-C cable and a stereo microphone.
I find the 2m length of the two supplied cables perfect for most of the usage, they have the same braiding of the HE-4 but slightly thinner diameter and are not too stiff.
The stereo microphone comes in a convenient 10cm length. It has a foam windscreen and a flexible mini gooseneck that stays in position to up to 30 degrees.
I was only able to test the microphone in Bluetooth mode as for some reason both on a Windows 10 and OSX Catalina it was not working in wired mode. When both input and output are transmitted the codec is switched to low-quality SCO, a limitation of Bluetooth’s bandwidth and the quality of transmission or lack of thereof, in this case, is beyond recommended use.

The pairing process is very simple; you turn the headphone on and it starts flashing between blue and green until you press and hold the power button for another two seconds. You only have to do this once when using the same device. If you want to use another device you need to repeat the procedure. The headphone will automatically connect to the last device used provided the Bluetooth connection is enabled on that device.

The headphone has a power indicator level in terms of a red LED on the charging button and also has an audio warning when only a few % of power is left. On a mac, there is no knowing of how much battery is still left until you actually get a warning, on an iPhone however using the default Batteries widget you can see approximate %. It shows status in 10% increments (90%, 80%,…). When the battery is at 10% you get two warnings “Battery low“ within a few seconds apart.

Bluetooth range using a MacBook is around 5m (no obstacles such as walls or other structures), there were some cases when the signal was breaking up at 3m, using an iPhone however the range is much extended and comparable to the Sony WH1000XM3. In this case, I was able to go 12m away from the phone with a few walls in between.
On a windows machine using a Broadcom wifi/Bluetooth card with 2 pairs of antennas for each protocol the range was not sufficient to properly test the wireless operation, the distance I had to have the computer to receive the signal was so close that made the testing inconvenient. I didn’t have any other Bluetooth dongle available. However, I was able to determine that the response time was excellent and minimal when gaming, much better than Sonys.

Charging takes about two hours and the battery lasts around seven hours when using the MacBook as a source. Using the phone the battery lasts over 10 hours. The more detailed setup below when I start describing sound.

The button and USB-C port placement are well thought out. The microphone is not obstructed by the cable when both are connected and the USB-C port has a nice angle so the cable doesn’t rub one's shoulders. My only gripe is with the flashing LEDs. While intuitive and easy to remember they are too bright for my taste. When the room is badly lit the LEDs reflect from my glass tabletop, MacBook display and from my shoulder when I am lying on the couch. It is not too bad but sometimes it is noticeable. If this was my headphone I would use a permanent black marker to make the indicator less transparent.

The headphone’s build quality is of a high level. The important parts like the yokes and headband are made of metal, the rest is made of plastic which reduces weight and doesn’t obscure the wireless connection like metal does. There is absolutely no squeaking or any other noise coming from the headphone, the cups do swivel and the pads are soft and comfortable albeit a bit itchy. My head is too small for the lowest headband setting as there is a gap in the lower portion of the pad which sits in the neck area and not where my chin is. Adding some foam in the thickness of a thumb would make it alright. So these are perfect for those with large or better yet elongated heads due to the headband and ear-cup design and a bit less perfect for those with smaller heads. Physical balance of the headphone considering it has an onboard D/A, A/D, amplification and Bluetooth module is quite an achievement! Not for a moment did I feel one side is heavier than the other.
The weight is very well distributed. It is almost as heavy as the HE-500 spec-wise but in actual use its night and day difference. Not heavy, doesn’t put pressure on any specific points and the clamping force is ideal for me. When I look down, the headphone stays in place, especially important for a wireless headphone as one usually moves quite a bit more when not restricted by a cable.

Onto the sound. First, you need to know my specific use with the headphones. All the evaluation was done with music streaming Apple music and Tidal Master/Audirvana with exclusive access (Mac, iPhone). Codecs used were AAC and AptX via Bluetooth 4.2 and 5.0 protocol respectively. Because of the volume issues, this headphone has when using wired (see the official Ananda BT thread) I will only evaluate its sound using Bluetooth.
When I remember that this is a wireless Bluetooth headphone I am very impressed by its output but considering its price point I must evaluate it as such. Making direct comparisons and volume matching to other headphones doesn’t work due to its completely digital nature. The sound is well balanced, highs are well pronounced and are rarely too in your face, mids remind me of the sound I get from Mojo, just slightly warmish. On the lower end, the bass is there, in decent quantity and sufficiently tight. But if there is something I miss in this headphone it has to be that smooth sound and meaty bass.
The soundstage is decently wide, definitely, you will not perceive it as congested and the sound is very open, airy. It sounds like an almost perfect headphone except it doesn’t have anything special but I’ll stop here as this goes into subjective territory too much. I must add that it doesn’t indicate at any point of listening that this is a Bluetooth headphone but like a high end wired headphone. Except when you are too far from the source and it starts losing connection.

The final thoughts are as follows. The older I get, the more I strive towards convenience, simplicity and am willing to make compromises, going wireless is one of those compromises. When I first put on this headphone I felt (still do) I have been released from my shackles that are in the form of a cable. I like and hate cables at the same time. Some say that this is a niche headphone. I understand their perspective, some use full-size Bluetooth headphones for traveling or commuting. I do too actually but only for traveling and for that I have the Sony WH1000XM3s which have state-of-the-art noise-canceling for sleeping on the plane, closed-back design for no leakage in either direction and volume controls. And you know its battery status at any given time by pressing the power button for a second. But what they don’t have is the high-quality sound that Ananda BT has. But no, combining the two into one would not make it a perfect headphone. You can’t have a closed-back design and expect a wide soundstage. The Ananda is perfect for my everyday use when I move around my living room and kitchen and do everyday stuff. I have instinctively danced a few times because the sound was so good and there was no cable restraining me like a puppy on a leash. I sit behind the desk, then I go check if the water has boiled yet, then I go lay down on the couch, all that without me having to pick or do anything. It is liberating!

Finally the price. Does it sound like a 1k headphone? Possibly, not immediately apparent. I understand the cost involved in an all-in-one system. Looking from that perspective I believe it is worth its asking price. However, Sony WH1000XM3s is 350€. They have the features mentioned above and offer an analog connection. The Anandas do sound three times better but they also offer three times fewer features. At the end of the day it all comes to your specific needs and if you want the best wireless sound then get the Ananda BT, there is nothing like it on the market.


My suggestions to Hifiman’s engineers for improvements and changes:


  • First of all the volume issue when used with a wired connection needs to be resolved (I posted a video concerning the issue in the official Ananda BT thread). Volume in this mode is also lower than when using Bluetooth. The volume, in general, is lacking steps for its adjustment.
  • Needs battery status like the XM3s have. Pressing the power button tells you the status. When I first powered on the headphone it didn’t show that the battery was low and I was not able to connect to them using Bluetooth even though the headphone was available in the settings as an audio device.
  • LEDs are too bright.
  • Bluetooth signal is weak when connected to desktop PCs or laptops, that is why the battery doesn’t last as advertised because it's constantly trying to find the signal.
  • Rename BT-Ananda to Ananda BT USB and HIFIMAN-BT-ANANDA to Ananda BT because it's confusing what is what when connecting to either.
  • Another issue I had when using Bluetooth and then connecting the cable was the volume would shift to the left side and the volume balance slider would disappear (OSX Catalina). I then had to disconnect the cable so the balance slider would reappear, readjust the slider, turn Bluetooth off then and connect the cable.
  • The microphone did not work in wired mode, it was detected in Windows and OSX regardless of whether I actually had it plugged into the headphone or not but no input was received. In Bluetooth mode, the microphone is very bad, worse than the phone’s internal microphone (have tested it using a phone and on Teamspeak 3) but that is mostly due to Bluetooth’s own limitation previously mentioned.
  • I would love to have an option of different pad materials in this price range. Just like people have differently shaped heads their skin also reacts differently to certain material. For an additional cost of course.
  • USB-C port on the headphone is too shallow, I tried different cables but they all go in only 2/3 of the connector. The cable wobbles a bit and I am concerned this input will not last long. The connector should go in all the way and should have some sort of retention or strain relief on the connector side where it is going into the headphone cup.

Lastly, I would like to thank Hifiman for including me on this tour, I really enjoyed listening and interacting with this headphone and writing my impressions. I foresee a great future for Hifiman and its wireless venture and will monitor its progress closely.
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Pros: -Fantastic sound quality and detail retrieval
-Light and comfortable for a wireless headphone
-Exemplary codec support
-Good battery life
-Daring concept
Cons: -Major design flaws and weird control scheme
-Poor Bluetooth range
-Glitchy USB-connection
-Probably underpowered built-in amp
-Not for bass-heads
Intro



Hifiman sent me the Ananda BT as part of a review tour and I want to thank them for taking the pains of making such a tour possible! You will notice that despite being granted the generous opportunity to try this headphone for two weeks, I will not hold back with any criticism and will be 100% honest with you. As I already stated in the review tour thread: I sincerely believe that niche-manufacturers like Hifiman strife to make the best products they can and give their customers the best experience possible. But in order to do so, they are dependent on honest and constructive criticism, so they have a few sticking points to work on, in order to improve their next products. That's why I'm persistently pointing out the flaws and oddities that I discovered.

Now let's get this started! :)

Build quality and design



If you're familiar with Hifiman products, there are no spectacular news for you. The Ananda BT is made from the classical mixture of stamped metal, plastic and leatherette. If you've never tried a Hifiman product before: Think lower-tier Beyerdynamic headphones. That's not super-impressive, especially for a 1200€ device. To get one thing out of the way, the Ananda (BT) doesn't feel flimsy or fragile in your hands. The construction offers a certain heft and the metal skeleton (outer headband and the forks holding the earcups) seems to be sturdy. Unfortunately, the rest of the construction and materials cannot keep up with high-end standards. The Earcups housing the valuable drivers and even the metallic looking grille on the outside are made of cheap plastic. That might be helpful to keep the overall weight low, but I've never had the impression of holding a premium product in my hands. The headband adjustment is very stiff, the screw on the left earcup of my review model was too tight and the vertical swivel mechanism makes plastic parts rub against each other, scratching them in the process. The accessory pouch containing the cables is laughable and the Velcro parts of the transport case look like they've been stitched on by a 5-year-old. Dear Team Hifiman, I know someone of you is reading this. I really like your products, but please improve your manufacturing process and build quality. Thousand imperial coins are big-boy territory, where premium build and materials can and must be expected. Most sub-500€ headphones are built like tanks and come with sturdy and well-crafted transport cases. Hell, I think I could breach a door with the DT1770, but I'm terribly afraid of accidentally dropping the Ananda BT on my desk from 10cm height.



At least they don't look cheap. Quite the contrary: The giant earcups and the bold metallic grille are simple, but straight design language that tells about price tag and quality. The Ananda's design is neither daring nor very modern, but unmistakeably a Hifiman product and actually looks quite nice on my desk. Thumbs up for that!

Accessory



The Ananda BT comes in rather unassuming rubberized transport case, which contains the headphone itself plus the aforementioned accessory bag. The despicable little bag is filled with everything you need: A USB-A to USB-C cable, a USB-C to USB-C and a microphone with a 3,5mm connector. Wait, a microphone? This might be going to be interesting. But more of that later. Let's get to the practical part!

Comfort



There is nothing bad I could say about the Ananda's comfort. The oversized earcups should be a delight for big-eared people but will feel quite strange if you're not used to wearing big planars on your head. Anyway, I got used to that kind of fit very quickly and wearing the Ananda BT for several hours shouldn't be an issue for most people. One thing I noticed is the uneven distribution of pressure. In my case (average-sized head, I would suppose), there is a lot more pressure around the upper parts of the earpads, which translates to pressure against my temples. That didn't turn out as a problem for me, but big-headed people should take notice.

Operation and connectivity



I feel bad for giving harsh criticism to a loaner unit, but it has to be said: The Ananda BT very much feels like an experimental product or a pre-production model at best. I've tried and owned quite a lot of wireless headphones, but the Ananda is the first device I've encountered that proved difficult to operate without reading the manual. The Bluetooth pairing process as well as the connection can only be described as fickle and usually need several attempts to work at all. The good news is that once you accomplished the task of pairing/connecting, reconnecting the device works reliably and snappy. Another flaw of Hifiman's design concept is the fact that you have to press the dedicated charge-button in order to charge the Ananda BT's battery while connected to USB-C. Another Head-Fi user pointed out that this might be a feature to prevent the headphone from draining the source device's battery. But then again, the only places where you could use an open headphone like this usually have a power source nearby. The outlandish design choices don't stop here: There is no volume control on the headphone itself and the Ananda BT cannot be connected to an amp or other audio gear via analogue connection. There is a 3,5mm jack, but that's only for the microphone, which by the way I couldn't get to work at all. That's a really baffling caveat that is beyond my understanding: You pay 1200 imperial coins for a big-ass planar magnetic headphone, but cannot connect it to your high-end audio system. Basically every wireless headphone can be connected to an analogue source, so why not this one? For people looking at the Ananda BT as more versatile alternative to the original Ananda that's a huge disappointment. Maybe if Hifiman would have built in a powerful enough amp, that wouldn't be a major problem. Unfortunately, the internal amplification is underpowered, which I will discuss further in the next section.

One good thing I can say about the Ananda BT's connectivity is the lavish support of Bluetooth Codecs. AptX HD, LDAC, AAC and even Huawei's obscure HWA codec are supported, so the quality of your signal is no concern at all. Next bummer, though: The connection is not stable. Entering the adjacent room (in my case that's 5 metres) already leads to dropouts and weird signal artefacts, which is unacceptable in 2020. My Sony TWS earbuds won't lose their signal even until I'm leaving the house and I'm absolutely expecting this kind of performance from a kilobuck full-size headphone.

Sound



The harsh criticism is over, now we're talking about the Ananda BT's main quality and that is the sound. It's slightly bright with a warm-ish timbre, a good sense of air and space and a very well-balanced overall sound signature. As mentioned before, I suspect the built-in amp to be slightly underpowered, which results in a few deviations of the BT's sound signature from the original wired Ananda. In short: Rolled-off bass und slightly shoutier upper mids & treble. Let's dive into the details!

As always, I'm starting with the low end and in this case this is a "bad news first"-situation. Probably due to the underpowered amp, there is no sub-bass to speak of. Don't get me wrong, the extension into the lowest registers is definitely there. It just lacks the presence to enjoy genres like EDM, soundtracks and modern Hiphop. The famous "wobble" in Hans Zimmer's "Why so Serious" is there, but certainly not in its intended room-shaking fashion. Listening to artists like Banks, Jay-Z, Nine Inch Nails and Deadmau5 is also quite a lean and bloodless experience, especially when you're used to that "oomph" from the lowest registers.

The rest of the Ananda's bass reproduction deserves nothing but praise. The mid-bass is slightly enhanced, reminiscent of the Sennheiser 600-series' hump, with all the speed and definition you would expect from an expensive planar. If you're not after that sub-bass wobble, the Ananda BT's bass will certainly make you happy. Modern Pop and Rock recordings, Metal, and even most Electronic music is reproduced with satisfying kick and a pleasant touch of warmth. Hell, I can even get over my sub-bass complaint every now and then and enjoy a round of Banks or Lorde with these.

The midrange is just as awesome. I cannot detect major enhancements or dips here, with exception of some added presence in the upper-mid region for that extra detail and sweetness for female vocals. Male vocals, guitars and cellos sound realistic with an ample amount of body and plasticity, greatly benefiting from the diaphragm's warm timbre. Female vocals, violins and guitar solos sound extra clear and detailed, but still sufficiently warm and organic, offering a stunningly hyper-realistic reproduction at times. One thing that the Ananda (BT) does particularly well is reproducing the sustain of electric guitars. It's probably one of the traits of big planar drivers to create this realistic sense of vibration and plasticity. Finally and unfortunately I have to point out a weakness: Probably again due to the slightly underpowered amplification, the upper midrange can sound slightly busy and compressed, if there is a lot of stuff going on there.



The slight loss of control continues in the treble, which sounds a little brighter and sharper than I would like. At this point I'm really curious to get my hands on the wired version of the Ananda, because its upper midrange as well as the treble seem to be a little more tame, at least on the measurement I've seen so far. Anyway, the Ananda BT's treble is good and I'm speaking of 1000-Dollar-tier good here. Drums, cymbals and percussion sound realistic, hit satisfyingly hard without ever sounding too artificial or metallic. The smacking of lips, hissing of air between teeth, screeching of guitar strings being pressed against the frets, everything is there in full splendour. The Ananda BT is a detail monster, serving everything on a silver plate without ever showing signs of sibilance or screechiness.

What it can become though, is strenuous over long listening sessions. Especially when you're enjoying a lot of poorly recorded Black Metal or other thinly produced music, the listening experience will become quite top-heavy over time and finally topple over, forcing you to exasperatedly put down the headphones.

Staging and imaging are very good. The stage isn't particularly wide or deep, but due to its very open construction and exemplary treble performance, the Ananda BT delivers a spacious, out-of-head listening experience. Instruments, vocals and effects all have their place in the stereo image with a good sense of air around them (with a few exceptions, when the upper mids get too crowded). However, imaging and spatial cues aren't remotely good enough for gaming, being easily outclassed by studio/gaming cans like the 139€ Tygr 300R.

Summarized, the Ananda BT is a slightly bright sounding headphone with a warm timbre, exceptional detail retrieval and very decent soundstage. It does have its quirks, but if you're asking yourself "does this sound like a 1000-dollar-headphone?", I can wholeheartedly answer with yes. I've been very critical towards many aspects of the Ananda BT, including a few parts of its sound signature.Higher price will always demand for higher expectations, after all. Nevertheless, the sound quality of this headphone is just short of convincing me to buy one and I'm awfully curious to find out what the wired Ananda can do.

Proof of concept



Wired headphones are a dying breed, although still here to stay for a long while. The Ananda BT is Hifiman's step into the future and it's an important one in my opinion. Due to current technical limitations and shortcomings, wireless HiFi headphones are still bound to a niche or dubbed "lifestyle products" at best. Hifiman's experiment clearly belongs to the former, revealing too many flaws and weaknesses in its construction, usability and design to be an easily recommendable product. However, there certainly is an audience for the Ananda BT who will appreciate the opportunity of using a high-end planar magnetic headphone around their house without dealing with wires and amps (don't stray to far away from your source, though). If Hifiman manages to improve on the aforementioned weaknesses, they might win this new market segment over in no time. I'm definitely curious and excited to see (and hear) more of them!

Conclusion



So should you buy the Hifiman Ananda BT? If you want the best sounding Bluetooth headphone on the market, yes you should. At the moment (February 2020), there simply is nothing on the market that comes close to the Ananda BT's sheer fidelity without using cables and amps. If you want a fully developed and well-rounded product offering intuitive controls, versatile connectivity and sturdy build quality, hold on to you wallets/kidneys and wait a little longer. The Ananda BT is still a couple of steps away from being a fully recommendable device.
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Pros: - Great audiophile sound
- Wireless
- Ease of use
Cons: - No analog cable connection
Important update

Hifiman released a firmware update addressing the max volume issue under USB connection.
Now this go pretty loud and without distortion.

Hifiman Ananda Bluetooth


Introduction


This review is part of the Ananda BT loaner tour made possible thanks to Hifiman.
Thank you for letting me be a part of it.
English is not my native language so please excuse any errors.

The impressions that follow are purely subjective and reflect only my personal view and sound taste.

IMG_20200120_174226614.jpg



As I have noted in my initial impressions the Ananda BT is identical to the original Ananda plus an extra weight of only 60gr in a total of 460gr pretty impressive considering the extra electronics inside the unit.
In daily use this extra weight isn't noticable at all and doesn't cause any comfort issues.
Build quality is the typical Hifiman with a combination of plastic and aluminium but this time extra care has been taken regarding assembly of the parts as everything is in place and there aren't any annoying cracking noises.
Quality control seems to be much improved as it should be regarding the price.
The pads are the known ones with asymmetrical design following ear shape made of velvet and leather easy replaceable by the user.
They are very roomy and fit my ears with enough space to breathe.
The headband is the same design as the original a hybrid one for even distribution of the weight.

Regarding the electronics inside there is no information available except that there is a Bluetooth receiver plus a dac chip split into two amplifiers for symmetrical amplification.
Hifiman claims that filter and analog circuit are from the same engineers who designed their top player R2R2000.
The Ananda BT is the first Bluetooth headphone in the market to support the new high resolution codec HWA LHDC offering 24/96 wireless transmission.
Of course a suitable transmitter is required and there are only a few available till now in the market.
For my part of the listening I used the usual aptx HD and LDAC protocols.
There is an extra wired USB type C dac connection with a PC or an Android device for true lossless transmission supporting up to 24/192.
Analog cable connection is NOT supported.
The headphone comes with a top quality traveling case , two USB cables the one type A-C and the other type C-C plus an extra microphone that can be plugged into the headphone for gaming and calls.

IMG_20200120_173949732.jpg




In use

The Ananda BT is an open back design so it will not block any outside noise and it is best suited for indoor use.
It does not offer any kind of noise cancelation , it is bulky and doesn't fold so this is not going to be your wireless commute headphone.
The two buttons at the left earpiece are only for powering and charging and you cannot control music playback and calls from the unit itself.
Portability aside this is a very comfortable headphone.
I used it for hours without any comfort issues regarding fit or weight , it clamps good without pressing your head and ears stay cool enough.
Battery life is lower than the one claimed by Hifiman but still good for such a headphone about 8 hours of wireless use.
When connected to a PC it has the ability to charge while playing music but the PC must be plugged to the mains.
Please note that battery must be charged for it to work with a PC connection and it will deplete your laptop / phone battery very fast.

IMG_20200120_173744228.jpg


Sound

I used the headphones mainly with my mobile phone , a Fiio M9 player and a mini PC.
The wireless protocol used was LDAC and as it is expected the wired USB connection yielded the best results by a fair margin.
The sound of the Ananda BT is more or less the same as the original wired one and even better as we are going to find out later.
This is one of the best tuned headphones in the market with a very natural timbre an even and cohesive presentation , clear and detailed reminding of a good speaker set.
All frequencies are treated equally with a slight peak at about 8khz which is audible but not overly offensive and doesn't cause any kind of fatigue.
It just adds an ethereal flavor to the overall sound presentation.

Bass extends very well down to sub bass region and it is of great quality and quantity.
It is not going to rattle you teeth and bass heads will find it lacking as this is the audiophile kind of bass.
Slam and dynamics are very good as is texture and speed.
This is not one note bass as it is very clear and tight you can hear bowings and plucking notes very easily making it for a very lifelike experience.
There is no bleeding to mid bass and transition to the mids is very even.
Mids region is crystal clear and detailed with a natural warmth and ease of presentation.
On certain recordings there is a very slight emphasis on male and female voices with the instruments just a step behind.
This is the kind of mid region that it is never forward resulting in a free flowing sound that is always sweet without fatigue.
Treble is very smooth despite the small 8khz bump and it is going to be loved by people which are sensitive in this region.
But don't be mistaken as the headphone isn't forgiving of poor quality and sometimes can get a little harsh.
There is enough detail and extension but this is the part where the wired original version excels at.
Or let me point it otherwise this is the Bluetooth connection week spot as treble extension gets a hit and becomes a little grainy and muted.
Let's not forget that despite the advertising of the opposite Bluetooth transmission is a loosy process no matter the codec used.
Wired USB connection can be a remedy to this but still the OG Ananda is the better performer.
Soundstage is the typical Ananda not overly wide but with top notch instruments separation , air and pinpoint positioning able to tackle the most complex orchestral recordings.
Now this is the part where things get very very interesting.
In my review of the original Ananda I found them a little lacking in overall dynamics and decay speed was very fast for my tastes especially in high pitched instruments resulting in a thin and very ethereal presentation with a little artificial sound.
This is not the case with the Bluetooth version as I am hearing them quite differently and improved at the above aspects.
Now the headphone is presenting ample dynamics especially in the bass region and overall decay is much more natural resulting in a fuller sounding headphone with better transients and proper notes fading over time.
It seems to me that Hifiman engineers have tailored the dac / amp sound in order to address that few shortcomings of the original headphone.

At the end

Hifiman Ananda Bluetooth is easily the best wireless headphone in the market with audiophile quality sound.
For my ears it is even better than the original and it can directly compete with a lot of wired headphones of the same category.
Soundwise there are no negatives especially when used with the USB cable it is one of the best presentations I have ever heard and will suit equally many music genres and tastes.
But the best part is the simplicity and the ease of use.
This is not a headphone only for the frequent traveller , but it is also a headphone for everyone who craves for big sound but doesn't have the budget or the mood or the spare time to deal with players , dacs , amps and other time and money consuming things.
With a very fair asking price you buy yourself great sound in a user friendly plug and play package.
This headphone can't get more recommend by me and needles to say that I bought the loaner unit.

Copyright by Petros (@Ichos)
Last edited:
Pros: Airy and detailed sound, comfortable, good battery life
Cons: Slight lack of extension up top, no analogue wired input
Firstly I would like to thank HiFiMan for sending me this sample for review.

*disclaimer: This sample was provided for the purpose of writing a review, no incentive was given to write a favourable review. All opinions expressed are my own subjective findings

Gear Used:

PC > USB > Ananda BT

Google Pixel 3a > Ananda BT

DSC_6057.JPG


Tech Specs:
Frequency Range - 8Hz - 55kHz
Impedance - 35 Ω
Sensitivity - 103dB
Playback Time - 10 hours
Full Charging Time - 2.7 hours
Weight - 460g (495g with microphone and cable)
MSRP - $999

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

Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
The Ananda BT come with the usual brown HiFiMan card box, inside this you'll find the retail packaging. A simple black box with the headphones pictured on the front, with specs on the back. Lift the front cover and you'll find the case with the headphones inside. The packaging is not as luxurious as some of their other models, but the box is usually thrown out anyway. They are well packaged and that is what counts.

Build quality is actually very good, sharing the same shape as the wired version, they have large pads and a comfortable headband that swivels and is easily adjustable. The headband isn't all that good for those with small heads though, on the smallest setting they are perfect for me, but if you have a smaller head you might have issues. The charging socket along with the microphone socket are both good, and the button feels well made. There is a small cable running through the headband strap, but I don't see this as a weak point and should hold up with time. The earpads are soft and replaceable, and overall I can't find any weak points.

Accessory wise you get a nice hardcase for them, a USB-C - USB-C charging cable and a small plug in boom microphone. There isn't really anything else they need to include, and the accessories are useful.

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Features:
The Ananda BT are first and foremost a wireless high-end headphone, and there really are not too many of those about. They can also be used with a PC via USB cable but cannot be used with an analogue source as they have no regular cabled input, which is a bit of a shame.

The Ananda BT come with a boom mic that works over USB and Bluetooth, which makes them a great PC Gaming headphone along with the ability to take calls when using them. They support all the latest high quality bluetooth codecs, so providing you're using a source that supports these you'll get great quality (more on this later). HiFiMan also have an app that supports their own bluetooth codec, but I have found that using them with an LDAC / AptxHD source is more reliable.

You'll get about 10hrs play time from them on a full charge, and it takes about 2.7hrs to charge them back up from empty. You have to press the charge button on the headphones to allow them to charge. The only playback control you have is play/pause, sadly you can't skip tracks or adjust volume on the headphones themselves.

I have found the connection to be very stable when using them with my Pixel 3a using LDAC and Qobuz streaming.

The earpads are big and spacious, the headband distributes weight well and they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

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Sound:
Lows: The Ananda BT are a pretty balanced sounding headphone, they won't emphasiZe any part of the spectrum but they are not lacking either. The lows are not as impactful as the HE6SE, yet they are not quite as lean as the Sundara. The Ananda BT have an airy sound, but with a good level of low end to back it up. They dig really deep when called for, with a precise and articulate low end that is always present. There is a warmth down low that adds a certain amount of body to the sound without ever sounding overblown or muddy, kicks have body to back up the impact. The controlled nature of the low end keeps them well separated from the midrange. Attack and decay of the lows is excellent, the driver is superbly controlled yet it is effortless and never lacking.

Midrange: Every instrument in the midrange occupies its own space, the centre image can sound a tiny bit diffuse sometimes, and is not quite as focused as some headphones but this does create a slightly more holographic sound. There is plenty of power behind guitars, yet plenty of nuance in vocal tracks. It doesn't matter how busy the track gets, the Ananda BT manages to keep everything separate yet coherent with an accurate tonality. Lower mids are not overly full, yet the upper midrange is not thin striking the perfect balance. Vocals sit a little in front of the instruments, but there is a great balance to the midrange that allows fine detail through with a natural presentation.

Highs: This is where bluetooth compression tends to show its flaws, but the Ananda BT manages to impress with the amount of clarity and extension on show. This is helped by using better codecs, this is a headphone that does rely on having a source that supports Aptx HD or LDAC and not just SBC and AAC. Yes they don't quite match the refinement, or extract quite as much detail as some of the wired models about, but they really are not that far off. The highs have good sparkle and roll off quite smoothly, whilst also being well presented when it comes to overall quantity. For a wireless model, HiFiMAN should be proud of this level of performance, outdoing some wired models around the same price with a refreshingly natural and effortless presentation only hindered by the extension, which is a bluetooth limitation. They don't have the sheer energy or foot tapping energy of the HE6SE, or the slightly colder presentation of the Sundara, they do have a bit of a forgiving nature up top which is quite pleasant.

Soundstaging and separation are both great, there is width and depth to the soundstage whilst having great separation throughout. Don't expect HD800 levels of soundstaging, but within reason and considering they are wireless they do a remarkable job here.

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Conclusion:
I have long been against bluetooth for pure "audiophile" reasons, yet the Ananda BT have made me rethink this position. What HiFiMAN have managed to do with bluetooth is really impressive, yet it does come at a cost. These are an incredibly natural and easy to enjoy headphone, yet they are backed up by great technical prowess too. Controlled yet slightly full low end, a detailed yet well balanced midrange and effortless highs that are only slightly hindered when it comes to extension. These really are the best wireless headphones I have heard to date, and are well worth a listen.

Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (The best wireless headphones I have heard to date)
ostewart
ostewart
I too would love a passive wired mode for these, however the sound quality really is something special when used with a source that supports the latest codecs. They have made me rethink my position on bluetooth, and I have been anti bluetooth for years.
FireLion
FireLion
HiFiman should have made something a bit less pretentious and done something like the panda as this makes no sense. If your going to where something this size it's gonna be hooked up to an amp.
.Sup
.Sup
Actually this type of headphone is perfect for me. Listening to music at home while doing various things and moving around between rooms.
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