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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (12/10/2019: Schiit Gaming Dac/Amps 'Hel' and 'Fulla 3' added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. stavros.m
    i am just curious has anyone tried the new Astro Mixamp Pro TR, i am between this and the creative G6. Also for the creative G6 a completely noob question do you double amp it like its recommended for gsx 1000. Also i am trying dolby access and having issues it works when connected to my soundcard on my pc but not from a the syba sonic amp/dac. Is it possible for some amp/dac to stop dolby atmos.

    Thanks again for all the help
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  2. Shibbymaru
    Hi everyone.
    I created an acc for one reason to say THANK YOU Mad Lust for this great guide! I bought the AKG K712 PRO in pair with the Creative Sound Blaster G6 and I'm amazed. They work and sound perfect (I play FPS games and listen to Drum'n'Bass a lot) Been using them for almost 6 months now.
    Before I purchased them I've spent almost 3 days without sleep :) thanks!
    Last edited: May 3, 2019
  3. Yethal
    I think if you just retitle it as Ananda & Edition XX review and add paragraphs highlighting the difference it will be fine.

    You don't have to double amp the G6, it has a dedicated line output on the back (and an optical out if you'd like to add an external dac to it).
    Last edited: May 4, 2019
  4. PurpleAngel Contributor
    For PC use, go for the Creative Labs G6,
    for gaming console, leaning towards the Astro Mix-amp
  5. illram
    You could include a section for it but just say pretty much what you just said. I.e. "refer to my XX review, the only differences are x,y,z" or whatever.
  6. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    The main reason I sort of need them separate is because both reviews were asked for by two companies. Massdrop wanted my thoughts on the XX, and the Ananda loaner tour had a stipulation that I'd write about it. I think merging both isn't ideal at least when it comes to their asking of me. I've more ir less written out what I need to about the Ananda but just need a little of time making it a little more different. Didn't help that it was at the start of my work week, so my focus isn't 100%
  7. Yethal
    Soo, a copy&paste with a disclaimer?
    Evshrug likes this.
  8. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    My man. Pretty much.
  9. saifulmy
    Finally I just brought G6.
    1. I just want to ask, what the best setting using G6? I used on AC Odyssey XBox, but the sound feel like it came from speaker like echo some sort. I'm using on all platform, ps4, Xbox, Switch and PC.
    2. another information, i'm using this hdmi switch, 3 in and 1 out with Spdif output will it cause any performance?
    3. Lastly, why the G6 setting surround sound always show grey when i using on PC but when using PS4 and Xbox the Dolby light on G6 is light up, it is ok?
    Last edited: May 5, 2019
  10. jubeishock
    Fidelio X2HR or AKG K7XX ?
  11. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    Please read the disclaimers. A lot of this review comes from the XX review, though enough has changed, where it's not identical in the most important areas, mainly sound.


    HiFiMAN Ananda


    $849 as of May 1st, 2019, ($999 msrp)

    Where To Buy: Amazon.com, Headphones.com, Hifiman

    Disclaimer 1: A special thanks to HiFiMAN for sending these out as part of a loaner tour. As always, whether products are sent to me or not, I do my best in being 100% honest with my views and opinions. If I don't like a product, I will refuse to write a review of it or at least mention what I don't like about them, though I like to focus on products that people would like or at the very least are interested in. The only bias I have is to my readers and making sure they know about good products.

    Disclaimer 2: Due to how recent the Edition XX reviews was to this one, and how similar I find them to be, there WILL be some pasting and re-wording of that review here, as I feel the similarities are close enough that I don't feel the need to outright do a completely 'blank slate' review of the Ananda. If that bothers you, I apologize, but it was either that or just not review the Ananda and give brief impressions instead, since most of what I feel about it is exactly how I feel about the Edition XX. So again, there will be some copypasting in some sections, and restructured sentences that come directly from the XX review, with alterations made to fit my Ananda impressions. Thanks for your understanding.

    Hot off the heels of the Massdrop Edition XX review, I saw that HiFiMAN were doing a loaner tour for the Ananda, and I figured I'd enlist to see what sort of product the Massdrop Edition XX compared to in HiFiMAN's general lineup.

    Build Quality:

    The Ananda looks a lot like the XX with the exception of the premium hybrid headband. The cup design, cables, shape are all identical to the XX otherwise.


    The new hybrid headband design is immediately the first area on the Ananda that stands out compared to the Edition XX's basic, old school leather headband. The hybrid headband is solidly built, sleek matte black metal with some silver accents. There is a suspended, slim leather strap that allows the headphone to rest on the top of the head with near-perfect weight distribution. This is easily among the best styles of headbands in both durability and comfort.

    The metal yokes connecting the cups to the headband are also metal, and are reminiscent to Beyerdynamic DT770/880/990, in which they have a lot of grip, making hard to adjust the size extension, and having the unfortunate side effect of leaving marks near the 'dots' that indicate how short or how tall you have adjusted each side.


    I wouldn't dismiss the possibility of the extension become easier and easier to adjust as these metal parts wear out more and more. Just don't count on it to ever travel smoothly between the dots.

    There is a slight downside to the new headband design. Unlike the old headband which allowed some swivel horizontally, the hybrid headband's yokes only swivel up and down, so there may be a less perfect fit for some people.


    Since the cups are identical to the Edition XX review, I'll be pasting most of what I said there.

    The cups just ooze quality. I have experienced headphones with piano finishes, glossy/wooden finishes, slotted metallic finishes, and quite a few others, but I'd say I vastly prefer the tastefully silver and black open grill design on the Ananda. It is without a doubt one of the best looking cup designs I have seen on an open headphone. You can see right through the magnetic trace array to the other side, signifying just how open the Ananda truly is. The cups are asymmetrical, and are comically large in size. They will easily swallow the side of your head.


    Since the pads are identical to the Edition XX review, I'll again be pasting most of what I said there.


    I'm absolutely ecstatic at HiFiMAN's decision to continue using synthetic leather pads with a fabric top where the pads rest on the skin. The use of synthetic leather for seal also ensures that there is no sound escaping between your ears and the drivers unlike full velour or other fully fabric covered pads.

    The openings for the ear are incredibly generous in size, whether width, height, or depth. It is so big, and allows the humongous driver surface area to emit sound unobstructed even well beyond your ear shape. This likely aids in providing a truly tall soundstage. This may actually be one of, if not my favorite design of pads ever on a full sized headphone. There is so much space for sound to travel around your ears, it adds a new dimension in headphone listening. There is very thin fabric covering the driver area, which shouldn't cause any discomfort if your ears bottom out on the pads."

    The pads are held by some tabs, which aren't hard to feel out, making it easy to pop the pads off or snap back on if need be.


    The Ananda comes with two cables. A short cable that is similar to the one used on the XX, which terminates into a right angled 3.5mm plug with a 1/4" snap on adapter. The other is quite a bit longer and terminates into a beefy, straight 1/4" Neutrik plug (the XX does not come with this cable). The cables also look similar to the XX cable, but they are see through (you can see the inner wires), whereas the XX cable is see through but covered with an inner sleeve of some kind. Also the dual 3.5mm mono plugs that connect on the headphone side are silver on the Ananda, and black on the XX.

    The cables are a drastic improvement over my HE-400's old style connector which was personally a nightmare to deal with in terms of attaching/detaching, as well as in durability. My HE-400's cable already has exposed wiring due to those questionable connectors, even though I rarely use my HE-400 to begin with. It still works, but it's quite unsightly. The Ananda connectors being a very familiar 3.5mm, makes them a breeze to connect and disconnect.

    Final Build Quality Impressions:

    The hybrid headband makes the Ananda look and feel considerably more premium than the classic headband used on the Massdrop Edition XX. While I've never had a problem with the old headband in general, this is a considerable step up in aesthetics, construction, and comfort. The complaints being that they only swivel vertically, and don't allow for minor horizontal movement. That and the size adjustment is every bit as rough and hard as the old headband, if not more so, leaving marks on the metal.

    As for everything else, the Ananda is exceptionally built through and through. This is easily the best looking HiFiMAN headphone I've experienced to date. They look AND feel premium.


    The loaner unit sent to me came what I assume to be the retail box, which looks and feels every bit as premium as the headphones themselves. Inside you'll find a booklet, warranty card, and a compartment for the two included cables, and padded walls for the headphones.


    The Ananda, like the XX, is unsurprisingly in the upper echelons of comfort for a headphone of this size.


    The Ananda weighs in at 399 grams, which is just 21 less than the XX (420 g). I personally don't feel the difference between them. It may not be the lightest planar headphone out there, but there have been much, much heavier headphones.


    The Ananda's weight is almost perfectly distributed thanks to the suspension style leather strap. The leather strap has a suede underside, which allow it to rest comfortably without excessive heat buildup. While I never had any major issues with the classic headband used on older HiFiMAN headphones as well as the Edition XX, it's certainly worth mentioning that the hybrid headband used on the Ananda is even better, and a marked improvement in both looks and comfort. The only thing I'd like is if the strap had a little more give, as on my large head it's pretty much fully stretched out so there is SOME force being applied to my head. I don't see this being a problem for nearly anyone else, and it really is just a minor gripe, not a real problem.

    Ear pads:

    The ear pads are so large and spacious, I can't help but feel like they are absolutely sublime and among the very best in design, shape, size and depth. They aren't the most plush, and don't compress too easily. The surface contact area is quite large and depending on your head shape and size may or may not rest in uncomfortable areas on the side of your face. Personally, the pads rest in all the right spots on my head. Though due to the slight clamp, does make their presence obvious. On one hand, the huge size allows for such a large, immersive sound, but on the other, slightly smaller pads would likely feel just a little more comfortable, since these pads do touch such a large surface area around my ears.


    Like the Edition XX, the pads press in towards my head just a bit more than I like. It's not a 'clampy' headphone by any stretch of the word, but it was enough for me to notice. This area is completely subjective, as too much is almost as bad as too little, and I'm very picky with clamp forces in general.

    Final Comfort Impressions:

    Despite what I've said about clamp (again, subjective opinion), If I had to give comfort a rating, I'd put it under great, as the Ananda is one of few headphones I can wear all day without feeling truly fatigued by them. I readjust here and there, but I have used them for 8+ hour sessions daily without any real complaints. That says a LOT. They're really good, great even, as stated before. This gets a recommendation for me in terms of full sized headphone comfort. Had they weighed as little as say, the HE-4, and had slightly looser clamp, they would have scored likely near the top out of all the full-sized headphones I have used.

    Despite this being a repeat of what I said of the XX, the Ananda gets a half point boost in comfort due to the leather strap making weight distribution even better.

    Noise Control:

    Like the XX, and as you may have guessed just by looking at the Ananda, it is a very poor performer in isolation and leakage typical of its design. Seriously, don't expect any privacy in or out. You will want at least one room with the door closed between you and the next person if you need to keep it quiet.


    The Ananda shares a lot of what I've said of the XX, though there is a more neutral tonality, and the Ananda adds a little more clarity in the details, and definition. A lot of what I wrote about the XX applies here, so some may be repeated here, but I will attempt to add in the Ananda specific improvements.


    The bass is absolutely magnificent. The pluck of low range strings, the subterranean rumble in the deepest depths, and the thump demanded of today's electronic music is all there, and is represented masterfully. Nothing is overbearing, nothing sounds dronish, and it all honestly just sounds...correct, musical, and energetic without overindulgence, or anemia. Planarmagnetic headphones in general almost always represent bass well. The Ananda is no exception and highlights how accurate, defined and impactful bass should be.

    Doing some frequency tests, it can be appreciably felt all the way down to 20hz, and is balanced all the way up to the upper bass limits. As far as frequencies go, nothing in the bass ranges sticks out. Just pure balance, and represented evenly without emphasis or outright deficiencies. Quantity is hard to define, but I think at the very least, most will agree it is either close to neutral. Not enough to be basshead level, but enough to satisfy those who like a good amount of body, and fullness. So objectively, I'd say around the neutral line, but subjectively natural, true to life.

    In terms of speed, I feel the Ananda's speed in bass is faster and above the middle ground. Nimble, not slow of decay. It rumbles as long as it needs, and thumps with the agility one would expect of something perceptively correct. I've not heard much faster without thinness, and I have definitely heard much slower. Bass should have some decay, and it absolutely shouldn't linger too long. So for me, the Ananda bass speed is close to ideal.

    If you're someone who enjoys bass, and have plenty of bass driven sources, you will not be disappointed with the Ananda. This, however, isn't basshead bass. To my perception, this is bass how it is supposed to sound. So give it some bass heavy tracks, and listen to the Ananda absolutely jam out. Give it bass light tracks, and the XX remains reigned in. Put on an action film with explosions, and feel every rumble. There is plenty of fun, immersion, and energy, as well as restraint and control.

    There's excellent layering and texture all around. Not much more I can say without repeating what I've said in the beginning: The bass is absolutely magnificent. I don't have tools to measure distortion or the technical aspects of the bass, but subjectively, I will always hold my opinion in saying the Ananda's bass is excellent to my ears. If someone asked me what I think bass is supposed to sound like, I'd easily point them in the Ananda's direction. I don't think there's such a thing as 'much better' than the quality of bass on display here.

    Midrange to treble:

    The bass is not ever intrusive to any part of the midrange which will be beneficial in midrange clarity. The midrange is relatively well balanced and subjectively linear to my ears throughout most of the spectrum, though pushed back in forwardness. Vocals and other midrange aspects aren't as full as some of the more intimately voiced headphones. The presentation of sound isn't as forward as more neutral/balanced headphones. The Ananda will come off as slightly v-shaped.

    Let me at least talk about specific frequencies. These are my notes: Ananda dips slwoly at 1100khz to 1800khz, rise to around 4khz hotspot, dip after 5khz, 7khz hotspot, 7khz starts drop off to 7.5k (lowest point) , rise to 8khz, then drop off again to around 9khz, then slight rise to 10khz, good presence to 13khz with slow roll off to 16khz.

    The most laid back areas then are the area between 7khz and 9khz (not all of it, as there is energy at 8.5khz or so). In terms of hot spots, while the most prominence to me is between 4khz and 7khz, it isn't piercing or overly zingy.

    To sum up the midrange to treble sections, I'd say that the Ananda in these areas is slightly laid back but quite detailed in the very top end. Low midrange is linear and warm, higher midrange to low treble is a slightly laid back, and top end treble sparkles and extends quite well.

    When comparing the Ananda to the Edition XX, I feel the XX is ever so slightly warmer in tonality, with slightly more distant midrange, but it's hard to truly consider it much different. They share a definitive house sound to my ears.

    Soundstage and Imaging:

    With no processing:

    The Ananda's soundstage is very much planar-like, which means that it won't be as wide as the best open dynamic headphones out there, but gain in other areas. Planars tend to lose out on soundstage width but win out in depth and overall projection of a sonic image. A medium sized soundstage in terms of width, but with a noticeable strength of soundstage height, and excellent planar depth.

    The imaging properties of the Ananda are good, a little better than the Edition XX's imaging, which sounds slightly more hazy and diffused. The ability to draw an object in the virtual space is sharper on the Ananda, though I have other headphones with sharper imaging properties, like the HE-400.

    That being said, I do find the Ananda to sound CONSIDERABLY 'bigger' and more room filling. Directly comparing it to my HE-400 (the HE400 equipped with Dekoni Audio DT elite velour pads and which has an excellent amount of soundstage depth and good width), I feel the Ananda has it beat in allowing the sound to envelop a bigger, taller space. The HE-400 almost sounds compressed next to the Ananda. It is an obvious difference in the presentation of sound. The Ananda sounds more lifelike and less like a headphone.

    All in all, if you like complete intimacy, there are better options than the Ananda, as the Ananda does put you a little bit further away in comparison to closer presentations like the HD650 or LCD2. It's less "small lounge/front row", and more "concert hall/middle row". The soundstage is less headphone-esque, and so it won't put everything right in your face or in your head. I can't understate how impressive and how different the presentation is compared to a typical headphone.

    With surround processing:

    The Ananda is pretty brilliant when using surround dsps, like Dolby Atmos, SBX, Dolby Headphone, and others. It projects outward as well as the better headphones I have heard, with a truly expansive soundstage in all manner of its virtual dimensions. This makes the Anada an excellent tool for virtual surround gaming, or movie watching. In terms of sheer soundstage size, I believe a good dynamic like the AKG K702 has it beat particularly in width, though I still wouldn't dismiss the more natural quality to the Ananda's soundstage shape. Strictly as a gaming headphone with surround, there are better options, but the Ananda does it just fine. No real complaints. It manages to beat the XX I have on hand by a slight margin due to slightly more focused, sharper details.


    I do believe and would defend the Ananda's detail retrieval, but the slightly laid back balancing will not appease the more detail-oriented ears out there, or those who prefer the 'up close and personal' types of headphones where the sound is more forward and intimate.

    The bass has excellent speed, clarity and texture keeping it from muddying up details, the midrange is evenly balanced with just a slight tilt downwards, and the treble has a good sparkle, shimmer and is quite extended, but that drop off at 7-9khz does soften that range a bit. I think if they had kept that area more in line with the rest of the sound, the XX would have been a mostly neutral, supremely balanced headphone, which also comes with a possible problem of grating on the ears in those ranges. The clarity of its air is good, and sometimes great if the source isn't demanding a lot of low end. Not the most airy of headphones, mind you, but it can do that aspect well at times.

    I'd say the clarity overall is very good throughout most of the frequencies and classify the overall sound as clear and detailed if a little laid back.

    Sound Signature:

    It isn't the final word on ultimate neutrality, as it ever so slightly treads towards being a little v-shaped. A neutral-warm v-shape, with good high end extension, keeping the Ananda from sounding muddy or veiled. So if you like warm, warm headphones, the Ananda is NOT that, nor is it cold/analytical. Neutral warmth with sparkle is how I'd put it to my ears. Slightly more neutral compared to the slightly warmer XX.


    At 25ohm with sensitivity at 103db, these are certainly easy to drive planars, though I wouldn't go so far as to claim these are perfect straight out of a laptop, tablet, or cellphone. At the very least, any portable amp worth two cents and can hit high volume levels should be pretty good. My recommendation is to give it at least a decent portable amp's amount of power, as I feel they don't quite hit high volume levels even off a Sennheiser GSX1000 unless I max the volume out, which is far from ideal. For example, the volume off something like a Nintendo Switch was on the moderately lower side of my preferences. That makes it impractical for such a purpose.

    In terms of what type of amp flavor makes sense for the Ananda, considering its slightly more neutral-tilted than the XX (SLIGHTLY), it isn't picky with what type of flavor of amplification you give it. If you want to enhance its details, pick a brighter amp. If you want a more musical sound, add a tube amp. Seriously, the Ananda doesn't care. It will pair up well with whatever you want to use.


    The Ananda makes for a very high quality headphone for gaming. Even if you play strictly in stereo, unprocessed, focused, and hardcore, the excellent soundstage height and depth really have an added layer of immersion not found in many other headphones. The tonal balance really allows for anything from fun, casual gaming, to serious tournament play, though be aware that the area of sound between 7-9khz in particular is low in volume compared to the rest of sound. I personally think that area is more sheen than important sound effects, but it's something needing mention. For gaming with virtual surround (as I do), there's really not much better than what the Ananda has to offer. The soundstage, and positional cues are excellent, as can be expected from all the things I've mentioned before.

    Personal Recommendations


    The Ananda makes a strong case in terms of a headphone for all use cases, except maybe pure analysis of sound or if vocal intimacy is desired. Music is highly enjoyable and dynamic, gaming is an absolute pleasure, and even anime watching (which tends to always sound crisp/bright 99% of the time) is a treat. I believe they tuned the Ananda to be on the enjoyable side for most content thrown at it, and if so, they succeeded in that mission. I think perhaps some people will expect the Ananda to have flagship-y voicing in terms of detail-retrieval and microscopic analysis of sources. The Ananda is not that. A broader, more consumer-friendly sound is what I'm hearing with the Ananda.

    Real world practicality:

    I would keep the Ananda strictly as a home or private office headphone. It makes a poor choice in terms of portable or transportable uses due to the size, and extremely open design.

    Likes and Dislikes:

    • Soundstage height and depth
    • Really natural and high quality bass
    • Non-fatiguing even with good treble extension
    • Comfort
    • Slightly better definition and clarity to the details compared to the XX

    • 7-9khz drop off
    • Size extension hard to adjust

    Final Impressions:

    Sonically speaking, I can't find much fault here. It isn't perfect, and the mostly balanced, slightly laid back sound will not best the more specialized headphones in terms of basshead uses, detail orientation, midrange-centric duties, etc. The price of having a broad spectrum of things well usually means it won't be the best in any one thing, but it also allows the Ananda to be more appealing to a larger crowd. Those who want a headphone that does well in most areas overall. If detail retrieval and clinical analysis is the most important aspect to you, there are better options, at lesser cost. However, the total amount of strengths the Ananda has in most aspects of sound far outweigh any negative traits.

    The Ananda is one of those headphones that make me feel like they're the only one I'd ever need at home. HiFiMAN has brought out a truly spectacular headphone overall.

    For those that wanna really know the big difference between the Ananda and the Massdrop Edition XX, it's mainly in the sound signature being ever so slightly more neutral, midrange being a little clearer, with sharper imaging and object detail. The XX is softer sounding, more laid back, and details are a little more diffused/hazy in comparison. The Ananda is a more refined headphone, with similar house sound.

    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  12. HiCZoK
    Watched some reviews (still kinda looking around for ps4/pc wireless headphones(have porta pro for wired)).
    The biggest names are Corsair HS70, hyperx flight, steelseries 7, sony gold (v2) and sony platinum (the only model with 3d audio).
    I am interested in platinum since it supports both 7.1 and their proprietary 3d audio. I've also tried on hs70 in store and it seemed comfy but I did not had a chance to listen to it.
    I am not looking for accurate sound. Just fun, musical sound with warm bass emphasis. Everything I try, for nay price is always inferior to Koss Porta pro though... These are some hidden killers
  13. Find the Door
    Currently have a Jotunheim and X7 Limited edition with Sparkos full upgrade. Am thinking of downgrading from my HD800-S (black) to something like the Mobius?

    My fear with the HD800-S is that they'd be so expensive to replace and they're a bit uncomfortable at times. Is there anything that I can step down to that isn't a significant downgrade or is possibly an upgrade for gaming specifically?
  14. DrKrFfXx
    I would recommend the Massdrop HD58x for gaming, they are excellent for gaming, maybe not on par with the HD800S for soundstage, but for the price you could replace them infinite times over given your setup haha And in my opinion they have pinpoint accuracy imaging and very fun soundsignature for gaming.
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  15. Yethal
    SRH1840 were pretty great gaming cans. Similar sound signature to the HD800 just linearly worse.

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