HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth Review

HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth Review

6 February 2020 0 By Petros Laskis

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

You can buy it from Apos Audio – https://apos.audio/products/hifiman…id=c95e32681&_ss=r&&sca_ref=676352.9NrkRMN27k

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The test playlist – http://open.qobuz.com/playlist/5669033

Copyright – Laskis Petros 2020