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HIFIMAN Sundara Loaner Tour

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  1. Cruelhand Luke
    The Sundara arrived today. I appreciate the loan, thanks to the Hifiman team.

    In the next couple of weeks I'm going to be comparing them to: Modhouse Argons, Grado 325e, Fidelio L2, and maybe the AKG Sextett, for fun.
    Sources: an LGV20 or ZTE Axon.
    Spotify Premium
    Amps: AKG HP4E, Schiit Magni3, and Fiio A3.

    Some very quick impressions:
    Build quality is very good. The materials used and the fit/finish are what I would expect at this price point, I have no complaints. I really like the metal they used for the cups, it feels solid and premium without being overly heavy.
    Comfort: the jury is out...they are relatively comfortable, but a little more clampy than I like. I am sure I will get used to it or find a more comfortable position.
    Treble: not too bright to my ears (I am 50) nice details/clarity. Natural sounding
    Mids: very realistic/natural sounding. I like them so far, I'll need to listen to them more to get a good read on them, but so far I'm happy there.
    Bass: accurate, detailed sounding, if a little on the light side.
    Soundstage: not cramped or small, but also not quite what I would hope for from an open headphone of this size. If I was listening to these blind I would have guessed they are a semi open design with a relatively large soundstage, if that makes sense.

    I am impressed so far, I look forward to spending more time with them.
  2. Matpar
    I recieved mine today, thanks HiFiman team for this program and for the fast communication.

    I've just opened the box and testing them with the songs I know better, mostly DSD or high res flac, ranging from Jazz/Blues to Classic and Prog Rock down to some heavy metal :)

    So far I mostly agree with my fellow partner in the program above, since initial sensations are very similar.

    In particular I'd say the following:

    1) Comfort, fit, construction: sturdy, you can feel it might take some beating travelling around, and that are not just studio objects. A bit heavy (to me), but once on the head the weight is really balanced. Clamping is a bit on the strong side, but again I am less than used to these kind of headphones (the only one I have is a "vintage" K260 :wink: ), therefore I guess it is really subjective. In any case I feel some warmth around the ears after some time listening, but only when basically I wear them off. Otherwise I don't feel the need to fiddle that much with them, so no real complain in fitting. Cable is supple, minimal (in a positive sense) and in general material and presentation are coherent imho to the product placement. Maybe I would have added a bag (even a basic fabric one) for travel.

    2) Benchmark: I will not compare them that much since the closest thing I have is a pair of Audeze Isine 20, and this is why I wanted to try them out in the first place :) Main goal for me is to see how long I can keep them on my ears, and to see if I appreciate what I found attractive on papers (open back, planars, etc.). For sure I will exchange couple of thoughts over the Isine, but the only common bit there is that they both use planar tech.

    3) Driveability: I will use them mainly with portable sources, since it is my main setup, and mostly without amps.

    a) Macbook + Aune B1s
    b) DethonRay DTR1 Prelude
    c) Calyx M
    d) iBasso Dx200 amp1 and amp3 (as long as I don't sell it in the meantime lol)

    Further test needed there to be more precise :)

    4) Sound impressions: again, I am at the beginning but what I can say so far is soundstage is somewhat "intimate" and not that "arena like", which in general I personally like. I will try to set a bit of comparison between different DAP here though, since I believe a lot depends on them.

    so far I am using them with the Prelude, high gain but medium volume, therefore I'd say they are not that hard to drive. Details are ok and I love the mids, treble I find them "polite", and bass are maybe not that "visceral" but again here I need to rotate some DAPs before having a clear mind.

    Keep you posted :)
  3. Cruelhand Luke
    Everything I compare the Sundara to I always come away impressed with the clarity and cleanness of the sound. Without adding any harshness or sibilance the Sundara sounds clear and bright and clean.
    ....I just had an 'aha moment'...the sound is exactly what you would expect out of a dense metal cup. ...the cups feel like they are made by Calphalon, the sound is not metallic, but it is a cold/clean kind of sound. Very different than the sound of a wooden cup, for example.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  4. AMTilts
    Is the loaner tour still going on? If so I'd like to be considered if possible. I currently own the HE400i, M1060, and HD600, and would like to see how the Sundaras compare. I live in Pueblo, CO.
  5. turbomustang84
    I'm looking for a modern Hifiman that has a sound signature close to the HE-500
    If I could try one that came closer than my 400 or 4XX I'd buy it
  6. turbomustang84
    I'm definitely interested in trying these out I'm in Albuquerque New Mexico
  7. DW75
    Alright, I have had the Sundara for a couple weeks now on the loaner tour. Once again, I would like to say thank you to Hifiman for including me in the tour. After a couple weeks with this headphone, I have to say that I am not really a fan of it. My original opinion when I first heard the headphone a couple weeks ago has not changed at all.

    Equipment Used: SMSL M8A DAC (V3 with SABRE ES9028Q2M). Headphone amp is the Audio-GD C-2 (2017 Edition).

    Build Quality: This headphone is built well for its price point. It is nice to see the use of so much metal. The headphone appears like it would last for years, as long as the owner takes nice care of it. This is definitely a step up in build when compared to the previous HE400i. With saying that though, I am not impressed with the fact that moving the size of the headphone up or down results in scratches and wear happening to notches area. For the price of this headphone, this should not be happening.

    Comfort: I find this headphone extremely comfortable. It is far more comfortable than the HE400i. During the brief time that I owned the HE400i, I remember I would often experience jaw pain as a result of the very strong clamping force. The Sundara has the weight perfectly distributed on the head, and the clamp is just right. The pads are soft and very comfortable. Perhaps it is just the shape of my head, but I could easily wear this headphone for hours without experiencing any comfort issues. My ears fit inside the cups without touching anywhere as well. I would say that the Sundara is almost as comfortable as my Amiron Home, and the Amiron is also an extremely comfortable headphone.

    Sound Quality: To be honest, I am underwhelmed by the sound of the Sundara. This headphone has a neutral sound signature. My favorite type of sound signature on a headphone is neutral, or neutral with just a slight hint of warmth. I am all about neutrality, as well as detail retrieval in a headphone. With saying that though, this headphone is far too lean and thin sounding. There is a lack of sub bass, as well as mid bass. What bass it has, is clean and articulate sounding, but there is no impact or depth to it at all. It is fast in its response and very low distortion, but very thin. I am far from a basshead. I just find this headphone is completely lacking in that department. I don't find the Sundara to be a satisfying listen at all. It is very clean sounding, but complete lacks body. I do not find this headphone to be a good option for hard rock and heavy metal music, unless you put an EQ on it. There is a noticeable dip in the mid bass between 150-250Hz. This causes guitars and other instruments to lack fullness, and sound rather thin, hollow, and uninspiring. Midrange on this headphone is clean, and not fatiguing in any way. Vocals, however, have a slight veil to them. Voices are not presented in a realistic manner, and have a bit of a nasal and hazy presentation.

    Soundstage on this headphone is decent in terms of depth and dynamics, but is rather narrow for an open back headphone. Despite this though, instruments are nicely separated and easily distinguishable from one another. Imaging on the headphone is nice for this price level, but again, the presentation is somewhat closed in. Now, on to the treble. This headphone is greatly improved in the treble when compared to the HE400i. I owned that headphone a few years ago, and I ended up selling it. I could not stand its harsh, sibilant, and grainy mid treble response in the 7-9kHz region. The Sundara has a very clean and smooth treble response. It has decent extension, but I wish it was a bit more detailed. The Sundara is slightly on the bright side, but only slightly. However, it is not harsh, piercing, sibilant, or grainy at all. With saying that though, snare drums do not sound correct at all on this headphone. There appears to be issues happening at around 6kHz and 10kHz, and this results in snare drum hits just not sounding natural at all.

    I think this is certainly a decent headphone, but I am very hard to please. This headphone is just not for me. The narrow soundstage, small image, lack of bass impact, extension, and fullness really make this headphone a bland listen for me. When comparing the Sundara with my Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, the Amiron is just better in every way. Granted, the Amiron is a more expensive headphone, so this is not really a surprise.

    Once again, thank you to Hifiman for including me in this tour. I know that the tour is still happening for the Hifiman Ananda headphone as well. I have always wanted to hear the Ananda. I imagine that it is a big step up in sound quality when compared to the Sundara. I am wondering if it would be possible for me to be a part of that tour ? Thanks again to Hifiman for including me in the Sundara tour.
  8. Jestyrs
    Pensacola, Florida, United States

    Hello, I am interested in taking part if at all possible. My daily driver's are the AKG K612 Pro's, I have tested the HE-350's and the HE-400's. I have been following the Hifiman product line as I've been interested in finding a good pair of planar magnetic headphones. Hoping to enjoy these a bit more to get me to move to a better bracket of audio quality.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  9. TeamHiFiMAN
    Hi there, if you could post your location details in the Ananda tour thread just as you did for this one we can get you on the list.

    HiFiMAN Innovating the art of listening. Stay updated on HiFiMAN at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    turbomustang84 likes this.
  10. DW75
    Hey Mark, sure, I will do that now, thanks.
  11. madugo
    The sundara arrived today via the sundara tour.
    Thank you Hifiman for the opportunity to let me try it out.

    First impression:

    Since owning two hifiman headphone prior, the boxing material is similar as the others, but I was impressed with the built quality on the sundara even I previously read about the built quality of it. Maybe because I had bad experiences with the 400i built quality, as I had to return two times, both pair had broken ring around the cable jack. It was a nice improvement on the headphone jack of the sundara. The metal housing is very well made. I am actually a little envy and wish that my he5se has the same metal housing instead of the plastic one similar to 400i.

    Have not had a lot of chance to listen it yet, but the first impression is to me is this is a very neutral phone, the treble is on the bright side but very well controlled. a little boring compare to the he5se, which I was more impressed out of the box.

    Will have a more detail review once I am near the end of my tour time.
    turbomustang84 likes this.
  12. Jestyrs
    First Impressions: I am using these on a PC with a Focusrite SS comparing to my AKG K612 Pro's.

    I absolutely love the look of these headphones. Honestly nothing I'd change.

    The headphones fit well on each person in my home, and we all agree it is by far the most comfortable headphone any of us have worn. Light and stable, sits on the head very well without feeling like it has a tight clamp at all.

    The quality of the sound is quite good. The response is faster than anything I've noticed before though comparing these with my AKG's at a lower price point so far I just feel like the tone of these is lacking, I haven't put my finger on what it is quite yet, only been listening for about an hour now.

    I did try out the virtual haircut/barbershop and noticed the sound stage is quite good, giving a reasonable feel to the size of the room, however the precision of the sound seems low, making the scissors and clippers feel out 1-3 inches off the head.
    I also noticed with multiple playbacks, when the scissors go "up and over the head" they simply don't. The sound just plays as if there is no specific direction. My AKG's will give me chills when the clipper's get close to my ears, with these the clippers never actually get close to my ears. These also seem to bring some things a little more forward than I've heard before, like the sink water when Luigi washes his hands.

    Gaming in Overwatch gives me similar results in the couple of games I played, the sound imaging precision still feels slightly off for targeting spatially, but it's Overwatch, so not a big deal and not the best test for it, but I haven't had a chance to try anything better yet for gaming.

    Listening to Spotify and I find that the sound is outstanding in most of my playlist, again up against my AKG's (because these are my daily drivers.) I feel like some notes may be getting a little washed out, but the quality of those that don't seems absolutely beautiful.
  13. turbomustang84
    I received the Sundara's late yesterday and I've been listening to them all day and will wait on posting my impressions of the sound after more time..... however I will touch on appearance and build quality .

    First almost every review mentions the lack of swivel in the design and it does not have that adjustment but it really does not need it .

    It is flexible and just naturally adjusts when you put it on and I had several of my family members try it and it even was perfect on my huge melon as it was on my son in-law zippy the pinhead lol

    I love the look very understated and it is absolutely the most comfortable Headphone in the house except for my QC-25 travel Headphones.

    I think of the 5 Hifiman cables I've dealt with this is the best .
    I would rather have a screw on 1/4" adapter but that's not a big issue .

    I will say unlike my HE-4XX and HE-400 these take to and benefit from an EQ as well as scaling pretty good with better gear .

    Thanks to Hifiman for letting me try these and a full review will be posted after I fully form an opinion
  14. Jandu
    Love to give it a try. Currently using a host of different headphones, such as Senn 6xx, AKG 240, Shure and Focal. Also have access to a number of amp units to drive it, such as JDS, Sonic Frontiers, Cayin, Audio-GD. I am located in Calgary.
    turbomustang84 likes this.
  15. turbomustang84
    Unfortunately I had read plenty of reviews of the Sundara's and really expected them to have no Bass.

    To my surprise not only do they have bass but it's very quick and punchy and it does fall off in the sub Bass but with a Bit of EQ that the Sundara's actually take to quite naturally it can sound glorious .

    The party piece of the Sundara's absolutely is the upper mids and highs.
    Very clean and clear and with the speed of the driver a joy to listen to .

    I usually will not consider an upgrade to a headphone if it does not best the existing headphone that I have by at least 20 percent and with the Headphones in question being the HE-4XX and the HE-400 it's hard to not say it's twice as good as both .

    Will I buy them ? Yes and other than the HE-500 that I heard once years ago and has reached mythical status in my head these are the best Hifiman Headphones I've heard .

    I was lucky enough to receive a demo unit of the Geshelli Lab's Archel 2 the same day the Sundara's arrived and they go together like peanut butter and jelly.

    I thought after having the Focal Stellia's for a week no Headphones had a chance to surprise me but the Sundara's are very good and although not Stellia's good they don't cost $3000 either

    Hifiman's Loaner program has paid off with me as soon as I figure out the holiday expenses for my 8 grandkids I'll definitely be buying the Sundara's
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