HIFIMAN SUNDARA

General Information

The HIFIMAN SUNDARA is an open backed headphone with a specially designed planar magnetic driver. The connection to which is made via the supplied cable with socketed connectors which oers a secure and sturdy connection yet allow for easy cable swapping. The headphone's relatively high sensitivity is higher than is typical in a planar magnetic headphone and allows it to be driven with some ease by conventional headphone amplifiers and even many mobile phones. The SUNDARA also oers an impressive frequency response range, from 6-75kHz and with all the dynamic realism that HIFIMAN headphones are renowned for.

Latest reviews

Pros: Comfortable Headband/Earpads
Light
Removable Cable/Earpads
angled 3.5mm /w 6.3mm adapter
Cons: No Hard headphone case for protection
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I was in the market for a new headphone after my ATH-R70X left driver getting damage, I thought long and hard on my next headphone and decided to returning back a Hifiman headphone after missing the sound of planar's. I was a little worried after seeing some people having QC issues with their Sundara. But never less I took the chance. Mine was perfectly fine with no issues at all.

When you open it up, they give you the manual and the warranty card, which has the info you need to register your headphone's which gets you extended 3 month warranty on top of the one year warranty. As well as the included cable of course.
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After receiving it, the first thing I notice after putting it on my head was how light it was. The last Hifiman I had was the HE-500 and man that was heavy. I was happy that this wasn't the case with the Sundara, even the headband design is comfortable, I didn't even feel the headphones on my head, same with the ear pads, which are nice and big around my ears. The stock ear-pads feels really good. I believe they are the Focus ear-pads. My ear is far away from the drivers which is a good thing.
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I so glad that they went with 3.5mm connectors on the headphones over the SMC connectors that the HE-500 had,Since the cables stay in place on the headphone's. The headphone size adjuster took a little force to change, but that's not really a problem. The grill's on the rear of the headphone's are in correction position. I seen people mention that there's was slant instead of straight.
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After handing the headphone's they felt very durable to me,with the headphone's construction including Metal and hard plastic. Stock cable feels sturdy as well.


While they didn't come with a carry case, I doubt you would want to take these any where, the box they came in, has a velvet cloth which you can set the headphone's back in. But I much rather they included a hard case for protection instead of using the headphone box.
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So far I been using the Sundara for nearly 3 months, so far I been enjoying these headphone's a lot,more then my R70X's that I had prior to these. Every thing sounds so wonderful including games and movies.


The Setup

SMSL SU-8 V2 ran into the SMSL SH-8 with a pair of balanced cables, with the Hifiman Sundara plugged into the SH-8 Balanced Headphone jack. The software that I will be using is Spotify with the streaming quality set to very high, which is the highest setting you can set.


Highs


Franz – Sims (Jazz)

what I noticed right away was the drum kits are clean, as I can hear the snare's and the light drum kit easy. They do not blend together and the separation between is very good as I have no problems at hearing any of the other instruments as they don't bump into each other and are in there own space. Even the tambourine can be heard from among the faint piano and high voice notes.


Meds


MonstaX – Hero (K-pop)


Wow I can really hear them as if I'm sitting in front row and they are in front of me spread out on the stage, separated heard from each other. Including the background voices that's going on along side the main singers. There voices are not drown out in the rest of the beat. Each with right amount of weight behind there voices, its not too much or too little, its right. Really feels like I'm there, that's how well it sounds.


Same results when I listen to EXO – Monster, only that the voice's in this song comes off as having a echo but in a good way.


Lows

Katashi Kaito – Beach life (Jazz)


Bass sounds great, it's not muddy and it's clean. It doesn't blend into any of the other instruments in the song, It Sundara has no issues with deep bass. I'm hearing all of the different bass notes of the bass guitar and the bass drum of the drum kit. The bass guitar and the hard hitting drums and bass are heard apart from each other with ease, they do not drown each other out which is good.



Ricci – Bang

I picked this song due to it having a lot of bass and hard hitting bass. Which does really hits hard, and go deep, The sundara's handle this song without any issues in the bass freq. There is no muddiness any where, I can hear it very clear. Like the other song the bass does not blend into each other. I can even hear the sound from ammo being dropped on the floor in the song along the bass.



Sound Stage

The size of the sound field to me seems to be large as all of the songs I been listening to, including ones not mentioned, the audio was outside my head and felt like it was very open, I would say Medium to large in the size of the sound stage. Some songs even felt like the audio expended around and above me if that makes sense. I don't know any other way to put it.




I love these headphone's a lot more then the Audio Technica R70X's that I had before them, due to the fact that these are more comfortable in the headband pads,ear-pads and weight, I hardly feel the headphones on my head. Plus It was easily to get the cables that I wanted due to the connection on the headphones being more common. Where the R70X's it was harder due to Audio Technica special lock function on the headphone.

The headphone adjustment could be better but other then that I had no issues at all.

Attachments

S
Sandiego77
Saw sundara review on youtube with sound samples and it was not good, today I join in the forum and fresh reviews about sundara are very good and in page bottom I saw sundara advertisements. I make conclusions how much rewies can be trusted
Pros: Clean, crisp sound
Cons: Slightly lacking body, cable is average at best
Firstly I would like to thank Mark at HiFiMan for sending me this sample to 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:
YULONG DA10 / DAART Aquila / Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ > Sundara

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Tech Specs:
Frequency Response: 6Hz – 75kHz
Impedance: 37 ohms
Sensitivity: 94 dB
Weight: 372 g

http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/sundara.html

Packaging, Build quality and Accessories:
The Sundara come in a classy 2 part box, the front has a picture of the headphones on along with the model name, the back has the basic specs and company info. Slide the top off and you will find the Sundara neatly nestled in a fabric coated tray, along with the cable. No frills here, just nice, neat packaging that protects the headphones along with providing a storage solution (as no pouch or case is included) along with protecting them in shipping.

Build quality is very good overall, with a mainly metal construction and 3.5mm mono sockets on each cup, there are no noticeable weak spots. The pads clip on like most other HiFiMan models, so changing them is easy and the headband adjustment is nice and tight. The stock cable is fine in terms of thickness, but it retains too much memory from being wound in the box that is wants to curl up all the time. The cable is a minor inconvenience, and one that is easy to replace at least. The Sundara may not look particularly fancy, but they are built well and should last well if looked after.

Accessory wise all you get is the standard stock cable along with a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter. To be fair these really don’t need anything else, but it would have been nice of HiFiMan to include a basic pouch at least.

Comfort and Efficiency:
The new headband is very comfortable for my head, the strap distributes weight perfectly and the adjustments are tight. It also doesn’t look as silly as their previous square design, but there is one minor problem, the cups go up and down in adjustment but do not pivot at all there the arms meet the top of the headband. For me, with the angled pads, this does not create an issue but I do think having a pivot point tends to make them fit better and more comfortably for the masses.

The Sundara, whilst being a planar magnetic design, are not that power hungry compared to some. You can quite easily get good listening volumes out of a portable player or smartphone, but of course they are more at home when fed a signal from a nice desktop setup. When paired with a good solid state amp they come alive in terms of soundstaging and bass weight/impact.

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Sound:
Lows: The lows on the Sundara do not stand out and grab your attention upon first listen, they are more at home plodding along in the background and adding a reserved amount of body and punch to the sound. Where they stand out is when you throw some fast paced music at them, and just hear them keep up with every beat, they have truly astonishing transient response. The lows are not thin, and impact is backed up with rumble but they are not boosted and the impact is not overly strong. They have a more reference quality to them, never becoming the focus but providing a nice level of punch along with nice flat extension down to the sub-bass region.

Midrange: The midrange is well balanced between the lows and highs, with superb detail and layering. The tonality may come across a little cool for some, but the openness and transparency is worth the trade off in my opinion. Unlike some, the Sundara handles both male and female vocals with ease, there is no noticeable peaks that favour the lower or upper midrange. There is a small rise in the upper midrange but it doesn’t stick out and the midrange never becomes too up front. In some ways it has a very easy going and smooth presentation without lacking detail.

Highs: Now these are the kind of highs that a lot of headphones should aspire to have, excellent detail and clarity with effortless extension and speed, All without being artificially boosted. Those most sensitive to treble may find these to lean a little towards a brighter signature, but I find them to be spot on with a very refined top end response that never becomes grating or fatiguing. The treble response has excellent resolution yet it is so refined, with plenty of speed to keep up with complex mixes without becoming congested or splashy. I am really impressed by the clarity yet refinement in the treble of the Sundara, comparing them to some of the competition these just sound right, being less peaky and artificial.

Soundstaging is good overall, with slightly better height than width, but the separation and spatial imaging is excellent allowing plenty of air around instruments without losing coherency.

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Conclusion:
If you favour a more reference tuning you will enjoy the Sundara a lot, they have excellent resolution and detail all wrapped up in a relatively refined and smooth presentation. Yes they may lack a little sheer impact down low and have a slightly cooler tonality but pair them with the right equipment and they are a joy to listen to. My HE-500’s hit harder and have a little more sparkle, the HE-500 are more energetic and fun, but the Sundara is more refined and I enjoy both for different reasons. Suffice to say the Sundara do a lot right for me, and I find myself grabbing them over the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation (one of my all time favourites) a lot recently.

Sound Perfection Rating: 9/10 (Class leading resolution and detail, refined sound, but the cups don’t swivel and they are quite basic looking)
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Pros: Lightning fast transient response, Incredible Imaging, Transparency, Tonal Balance, Realist timbre, Well-controlled bass, High resolution and details, Neutral yet musical, Sturdy construction, Good Value at 350$
Cons: No carrying case, cheap cable, attack lack a bit of snap and definition a bit of edge and bass a bit of extension (even if already incredible for a planar), was too expensive at 500$
HIFIMAN SUNDARA REVIEW

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SOUND: 9/10
CONSTRUCTION-DESIGN: 8.5/10
ACCESSORIES: 7.5/10
VALUE: 8.5/10
Hifiman has a special place in my heart, not in the sense I’m a hysterical fanboi that loves everything they launch, but in the sense they have been part of my audiophile quest since a very long time. In fact, my first ‘’serious’’ DAP was an Hifiman HM601 and while it’s far from reference sounding with its warm bassy analogish sound signature, I was extremely impressed by its power output as well as open lively sound, it was the only DAP I own that can inject life to my headphones collection of the time (Grado Sr325i and GS1000, Fostex T50rp, Sennheiser HD590 etc). Then, Hifiman begins to launch earphones and sometime after they begin to launch their first Dynamic Headphones. I do own their HE300 and again, like the HM601 DAP, it was far from perfect and feel more like a prototype product than accomplished one. So, a love-hate affair begins with this company and extends further when I test their RE800 Gold which I found underwhelming again. Then, I test the extremely pricey RE2000 iem, and yes, I was blown away by its lush musicality. This is when I understand they earn a lot of experience in audio engineering and tend to try to push sound boundaries with new technology as used with topology drivers of RE2000 Gold and Silver.

11 years ago, the Hifiman revolution begins with their entering into high-end Full-Size Open Planar Headphones with the first HE5 model and then follow the HE6, HE5LE, and HE4 models. In 2012, price value was pushed to their limit with the launch of the mythical HE400 series. At first, this model was priced 400$ but fastly go lower with a new version, to finally stay in the 200$ zone. Now, the Massdrop version of HD400 calls H4XX is selling as low as 145$, which is just insane unbeatable value. Since this time, Hifiman never stops launching new ortho-dynamic full-sized headphones, perfecting this sound technology with every new models. In total, they have at least 13 Planar Headphones but the one I decide to review today is second most budget-friendly model call SUNDARA.
Résultat de recherche d'images pour the evolution of hifiman technology

As soon as the SUNDARA go down from 500$ to 350$, I know this can be the cheapest Planar headphones eng game some were waiting for. The fact that it has a sturdy metal construction, looks more comfortable than other models (including infamously uncomfy HE300) and most of all use a NSD orthodynamic diaphragm 80% thinner than all past models really make me obsess to test those.

Indeed, my expectation was incredibly high, but realist too, because I own a pair of Magnepan Planar speakers and know to some extend the particular sound transmission this technology offers. Until now, I was very unsatisfied with planar earphones compared to speakers, so what I wish to get with the SUNDARA was an open, detailed and delicate sound with a fast transient response that avoid any type of congestion, as well, I cross my finger that it does not sound too clinical or thin in timbre and have some proper bass response.


Let’s see in this review if my Planar dreams come true.


The Hifiman Sundara can be bought for 350$ from Hifiman Official EBAY store HERE.

SPECS

Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home usage
Driver type: orthodynamic
Pads: replaceable, slanted hybrid pleather/polyester cloth
Inner pad dimensions: depth: 20mm rear, 25mm front side, Diameter: 55mm
Collapsable: No.
Headphone connector: 3.5mm TRS (marked L and R)
Cable entry: double sided
Cable: replaceable, 1.6m. 3.5mm TRS with 6.3mm adapter
Nom. power rating: not specified (assumed 1W)
Max. voltage: 6 Vrms (assumed 1W)
Max. current: 160 mA (assumed 1W)
Max. S.P.L. 122 dB (assumed 1W)
Frequency Response: : 6Hz-65KHz.
Impedance: 37 Ω
Efficiency: 94 dB/1mW (108 dB/1V)
Weight: 372 g.
Clamping force: low/medium
Accessories: 1.6m. cable with 3.5mm TRS jack and 6.3mm adapter, booklet.

INTERN

The SUNDARA has a very big orthodynamic driver of about 9-10cm diameter, it’s take the full space of headphones cups and have a square shape. It’s among the thinner planar diaphragm ever created with only 1 to 2 micron of thickness. This technology call ”Neo super-nano diaphragm” is stated to be 80% thinner than all previous Hifiman headphones. This ”NSD” diaphragm promess extremely fast and detailed transient response.


SUNDARA


PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES

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The SUNDARA come in a luxury box, lying in a bed of black silky fabric like a precious diva. It does not have any carrying case included, which is a little disappointing if we wanna protect this diva. Apart from the cable and the 3.5mm to 6.5mm jack, their an instruction manual and the warranty cards.

CONSTRUCTION




These Headphones are real full-size open-back with big cups that will fit even biggest ears. This is quite big and heavy headphones, with its 90% metal construction, it has a weight of near a pound (372g), but due to its weight spreading headband, the heavyweight isn’t felt and make these comfortable for long listen. Quality of construction is very impressive for an Hifiman product, it feels well crafted with good attention to details, the metal parts are smooth and the thick metal cups have a special black painting that isn’t prompt to easy scratching. After 2 months of use, I have nothing to report about headphones durability, but I read some people have an issue with the planar driver behavior, perhaps I’m lucky, but they work as well as the very first day for me. These are 100% open-back, and the big metal grill is both beautiful and sturdy. Only part of construction I feel might be fragile is the plastic covering of metal headband, the type of plastic reminds me old Sennheiser Headphones which were easy to break, anyway, their no pressure on this plastic, just be cautious to don’t drop them on a hard floor or hit this part.


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CABLE is about average, it’s a step up from the HE-300 in terms of flexibility and softness, but not in terms of component because HE-300 has a Silver plated braided cable. It looks similar to the HE4XX cable. We talk about a basic copper cable with inner wires that feel loose in its thick rubber body. What worry me with the durability of this cable is the two 3.5mm plugs that bent dangerously when you sit the Headphones on its cups, this surely can lead to cable damage.


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COMFORT is really nice, while the headband diffuses the weight and form to your head for an ergonomic fit, it will not cancel totally it’s weight, perhaps this will be a problem for people with very fragile neck but personally, I never feel any long term discomfort with them. The ears cups are very big and the ears pads quite thick so you do not feel any pressure on your ears, in fact, perhaps it will lack some for smaller heads because as say, the SUNDARA is large and big headphones. About the pads, it would have been even better if a little thicker and softer so it seals perfectly around your ears, which is important to get the best sound possible. One thing certain, the SUNDARA aren’t portable headphones.

DRIVEABILITY

These are capricious headphones to drive, not the most difficult on the market, but even with a rather low impedance of 37ohm, their very low 94db sensitivity as well as demanding orthodynamic drivers made them harder to drive than lot of higher impedance Dynamic Headphones. To be safe, I would say you need a minimum of 2000mW@32ohm to push their dynamic range at full potential. Lower than 1000mW@32ohm amping will not do them justice and create a more closed sound lacking in bass impact and imaging accuracy. Read the PAIRING section for more info about different amplifier’s synergy.

SOUND

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Enjoying the SUNDARA is some kind of sacred audiophile experience that needs a meditative critical listening devotion. The unsaturated layers of nuances in musicality is like learning a new language, once well translated, with the help of best amplifier pairing possible, you discover the truth within its musical language which is an Elegy poem about the waves of transparent layers of sound. This isn’t your typical Planar headphones, this one knows how to sign with gradation, this one extends in both low and highs end effortlessly. Subtly balanced dynamic range, smooth breezy timbre, floatings mids as light and complex as feathers, delicate treble with otherwordly brilliance, the SUNDARA deliver a translucid ocean of sounds where we can contemplate for hours musical marine life. Even after 2 months of daily usage, these headphones still amaze me and learn me something new about timbre, tonality or imaging due to its fascinating articulation. In more rudimentary terms, the SUNDARA sound signature is airy, neutral with slight V shape bass, a hint of warmth in timbre, extremely transparent and fast in transient response but though the attack is ultra fast, it’s not too edgy, but rather soft in low and mids with some extra crispness in the treble.

SOUNDSTAGE is really unique, very tall and quite wide, it has a circular spatiality to it, sometimes you wanna turn your head to ‘’look’’ at the sound source, instrument surrounding you from every side possible. To achieve the best headroom level, you need to amp this sophisticated maestro well, otherwise, it will sound less open and airy.

IMAGING is one of the numerous highlights of SUNDARA, because whatever the numbers of instruments that play in the busiest music, it will play it at the same dynamic range, with same accuracy, definition and clarity. Again, it isn’t shown in a clinical way where it extracts some boosted highs or mids and takes it apart for you, it just divides all layers of sound equally and precisely. You swim in sound complexity and can pinpoint any instrument you want, even if the space between them isn’t boosted or lowered. Precise and highly revealing is the instrument placement, clear is the separation.

TONALITY is hyperrealist and has a high level of fluidity in balance. Yep, it has some liquid edge to its mid-range, avoiding any harshness or shoutyness to its vocal presentation. Tonal balance does have extra push in the treble but keep it laid back enough.

TIMBRE is transparent, wooly, soft on edge, smoothly textured and even unpredictable in nuance richness. I never heard anything like this before, and while it can be disconcerting at first and considered as warm or even dark, it isn’t as it have complex nuance to it that trigger your attention and ask for silent concentration.

BASS is fast, thigh and soft in impact. The extension is good, but they’re no sub-bass boost, so it’s not thick or heavy in the rumble. It’s rather flat full-bodied bass, with a slight boost in mid-bass so you can feel some slam when needed too. The texture is life-like, especially for an acoustic instrument like acoustic or slap bass, it’s not grainy nor dry, and do not bleed on mid-range. Separation is excellent even if definition is not very edgy, it’s hard to explain but the bass comes to you in a unique acoustic projection which makes it more appealing for the plucked bass line with natural extension than thick thumpy synth-sub already lacking in definition. Cello too sound light in weight but fast in attack and full in tonality. I would say that more you go up in frequencies range with the Sundara and more the definition became edgy and clearer, resolution always being at highest level possible.

MIDS are lean in presentation, ultra well layered with nuance in presence and attack. The level of transparency is incredible, as well as tonal representation. Vocal has a wide airy presentation to them, it’s not overly intimate and very natural in timbre with right amp pairing. The definition is rather soft, and I do not hear any unpleasant grain or sibilance even if they’re a slight push in upper mids that make female singer slightly more lively and present. An instrument like saxophone sound exquisite, full and airy, with a very articulate tonal modulation, adding it’s airy layers delicately over other sounds layers. The piano is a little less realist even if highly clear and nuanced, this instrument benefits extra weight in note impact in mid-range to be properly discernable in subtle pitch change which the Sundara timbre does not offer perfectly. When we listen to violin, this is again pure joy as if we can follow sound projection decay in spatiality, it’s not screechy or grainy, and attack is fast and precise, in fact, I rarely heard violin playing as beautiful than from the Sundara, it’s natural, airy, agile and highly accurate both in tonality and timbre. With this exquisite TRACK from Sokratis Sinopoulus Quartet, the Lyra sound so airy, natural, transparent and well-layered above other instruments, it’s near surrealist, as well, full-bodied acoustic bass stays in the back perfectly articulated, while well resolve piano and sparkly percussions are from each side.

TREBLE is most likely the more vivid and energic part of SUNDARA, but not in an aggressive unpleasant way, but delicately snappy one. These are very revealing sounding headphones and they easily dig lot of micro details. Strangely, I cannot consider these bright, but sure sharp and crisp, the highs are light in decay so whatever how fast is the percussions or instruments attack, it never mix or distort in transient response. As well, highs do not sound unbalanced with the rest of the spectrum, they stay in the back of mids and upper mids. Their definition is sharper than smoother mids layers. Acoustic guitar sound extremely clear, with a hint of metallic brilliance, it’s not as full sounding as I would like but make its articulation faster which sharpens overall imaging. Harpsichord has the same coldish treatment in timbre, but now you can listen to Pierre Hantai playing BACH ”English Suites” and take apart all note individually. I’m not sensitive to treble, and though the SUNDARA isn’t light in upper highs, I think nobody will find them aggressive.

PAIRING&AMPING

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With FIIO BTR5

This Bluetooth DAC-AMP can deliver 240mW@32ohm with its balanced output, luckily, the Meze balanced cable fits the SUNDARA. I need to push the volume to MAX to have high volume enough, and while the sound is coherent and enjoyable, it feels little congested and bass is tamed. With instrumental music or not too busy track, like vocal-based music, it will sound quite good, very smooth and clear enough, but you got less articulation and very intimate imaging. This is not a serious solution to drive these headphones, just temporary ones when you wanna wander around your home without leaving the Sundara alone.


With Ibasso DX90+JDS LAB ATOM

The DX90 has dual sabre ES9018 DAC which deliver highly clear and accurate reference sound, but while the ATOM is powerful for its size with up to 1000mW@32ohm, the SUNDARA are the type of headphones that prefer having too much power than just enough. Well, I can’t say the ATOM doesn’t deliver enough power as it can drive SUNDARA at dangerously high volume without creating distortion, but I can’t say either it push the dynamic range at it’s best. The soundstage is deeper than wider and out of your head which affects mid-range layerings definition, the bass did dig low but isn’t perfectly articulate and nuanced, treble seems to be a little more laid back too, lacking some grip and air. Tonality is about the same, its more about sound openness and attack that feel tamed a little, still a very listenable pairing!


With Xduoo XD-05Plus

At 1000mW@32ohm, the Plus has no difficulties pushing the Sundara at very high volume, but the AK4493 DAC and overall total harmonic distortion level is higher than the ATOM so the resolution isn’t as clean and transparent. As well, the bass is warmer, but when you add bass gain it adds some very interesting punch weigh as well as warmer overall tonality that tends to thicken vocal presence. The SUNDARA are slightly cold sounding so this extra warm is welcome and adds pleasant musicality to the cost of affecting some technicalities like imaging precision and attack decay. If you want extra meaty SUNDARA, this pairing is an interesting one, especially when you upgrade OPamp.


With Xduoo TA-10

Now, we have plenty of power to drive the SUNDARA, with its 2000mW@32ohm, the TA-10 opens the soundstage and makes it airier without losing the cohesive transparency of the whole sound. Bass isn’t thick or super weighty, but more extended and controlled, the acoustic bass is wonderfully natural and full of nuances. Layerings is slightly liquid, very lively and realist. The whole sound is smoother, due to the delicate way of dealing with the treble. Still, timbre lack a bit of thickness to it, perhaps this is due to AK4490 DAC or the hybrid tube amping. Here we have reference sound which is very flat, a little cold but very fast in attack-decay


With SANSUI AU-D5 (vintage Japanese Linear A Solid State amp)

This extremely powerful amp might not be the cleanest one int term of THD, but I cannot even turn it at half volume before making explode my ears with the SUNDARA. Who know if it’s euphonic euphoria or the effortless power, but this amp injects life and musicality like no other. Bass gain body and extension without losing its control and transparent layering, the mids became more present and slightly warmer and thicker making vocal lusher and more lively. Treble too gain body, keeping a good amount of brilliance in high harmonic while feeling more natural and less bright. The soundstage is now finally out of my head, very airy and spacious, which is what I expect from open-back headphones. This is my favorite pairing and the one that shows what SUNDARA is capable of, both in terms of technicalities and musicality.

COMPARISONS

VS SENNHEISER HD58X JUBILEE (150$)


I listen to those for a full day and really think they are among the best headphones you can get under 200$. The sound difference between dynamic and planar drivers is more about transient response speed in busy tracks, while the HD58X isn’t bad, it will lose clarity and lack fast articulation in imaging that the SUNDARA offer. The soundstage is slightly wider with the HD58X, but taller and deeper and more holographic with Sundara. As said, imaging is more capable in term of clean layering, which make the Sundara more transparent in timbre too. BASS is slightly fuller and thicker with the H58X, as well, it feels it have more sub-bass extension, the slam is more impactful too, but the bass line feels better separated from mids with the Sundara. MIDS are fuller and more textured with the H58X, it has more body but less transparency, it’s more intimate too. TREBLE is notably more detailed and delicate with the SUNDARA, we hear more micro details while the H58X add texture with its lower and mid-treble, giving lusher overall sound.
All in all, Sundara technicalities are better which is evident in imaging and transient response, but the bass and mids of H58X are more bodied and natural. So, if you are into sound value alone, at 150$ the HD58X Jubilee is unbeatable.


VS MEZE 99 NEO (200$)

These are closed-back and quite portable compared to SUNDARA, as well, they are extremely light so more comfortable with people that have small ears, cause for me, they put pressure on my ears making them less comfortable for long listening. Again, it’s a dynamic vs planar competition here, but the NEO isn’t as balanced as the HD58X. Simply put, the NEO is so inferior to the SUNDARA that it’s a depressing job to do this comparison. Soundstage sound boxy and imaging mixed up and congested compared to the more open sound and transparent sound layering of Sundara. BASS is way more boosted, boomy and uncontrolled, with considerable bleed on mid-range, while it’s flat, clean and flexible with the Sundara. MIDS are more recessed, thinner, grainier and have upper mids boost that makes them sound sometimes shouty. TREBLE is less balanced, less snappy and can add splashiness to cymbals.
All in all, the 150$ price difference makes you go from entry-level sound to TOTL sound with those and we don’t talk about small benefit returns. The NEO sounds like an immature, fun-tuned, unbalanced boom-box compared to the ultra-refined, nuanced and technically talented Sundara.

CONCLUSION

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HIFIMAN do an extremely impressive tuning job with the SUNDARA, it’s neither too warm or too bright and has a good amount of bass that is rarely found with Planar headphones. Once well amped, the SUNDARA show it’s true nature, which is an open, highly revealing sound with clear and airy imaging, beautifully balanced tonality and the fastest transient response I ever heard.

You can throw any music style to them, even the busiest classical symphony or jazz big band, and it will play it with articulate technicality, showing every instrument with smooth transparent resolution and snappy treble.

In the sub-500$ price range, their not a lot of choices for versatile Planar headphones, and while the HE4XX might be unbeatable in terms of value, the SUNDARA is surely the best deal for budget Planar ”End Game”. For 350$, this type of mature neutral sound is as much exquisite to listen to than revealing in technicalities, making the SUNDARA a perfect choice for those who search reference sound at an accessible price.


( For more honest reviews, go to my official website HERE )
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