Ananda

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

sound descriptions mine

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HIFIMAN Ananda

Ananda

 

The HIFIMAN Ananda is an orthodynamic over-ear headphone intended to be driven directly from portable equipment but can also be driven from most desktop gear.
It retails for around € 1000.- which is still quite a lot of money for a headphone.
For this you do get a smart looking (and very good sounding) lightweight and comfortable headphone. The black cups look very nice to me in combination with the metal and leather headband.
The earpads are VERY large, and also very comfortable but depending on head shape and size as well as haircut may not fit everyone. Fit and comfort was excellent for me and will be for most people I reckon.
The pads are not ‘flat’ but have the contours of the head in them, which ensures a good seal) and are slightly angled as well.

It is an open headphone so while it can be connected to portable gear and plays very nice from it there is absolutely no isolation from outside noises. Everyone around you can hear what you are playing and you can hear all ambient noises unattenuated.

specifications:

Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home usage directly from portable and desktop equipment
Driver type: orthodynamic
Pads: replaceable, slanted hybrid pleather/polyester cloth
Inner pad dimensions: depth: 20mm rear, 28mm front side, H=85mm, W=50mm
Collapsable: No.
Headphone connector: 3.5mm TRS (marked L and R)
Cable entry: double sided
Cable: replaceable,  3m. 6,3 TRS + 1.6m. 3.5mm TRS with 6.3mm adapter
Driver size: 80 x 50mm
Nom. power rating: not specified (assumed 1W)
Max. voltage: 5 Vrms (assumed 1W)
Max. current: 200 mA (assumed 1W)
Max. S.P.L.  130dB (assumed 1W)
Impedance: 25 Ω
Efficiency: 103 dB/1mW  (119dB/1V)
Weight: 400 g.
Clamping force: low/medium
Accessories: 3m. cable with 6,3 TRS jack plug  + 1.6m. cable  with3.5mm TRS with 6.3mm adapter, booklet, wooden box.

Sound description:

The tonal balance is quite similar to that of the Edition Xv2. Bass is a bit low in level but fully present right down to the subbass. It won’t rattle your teeth so not suited for bassheads. The tonal balance is neutral. It has a ‘fragile’ sound to it. There is a slight emphasis to the upper mids/lower treble which makes it sound present and clear.
The sound is quite open (has nothing to do with the headphone being open) meaning the instruments and voices are well separated and don’t mesh into a wall of sound.
It is not overly dynamic nor compressed sounding… just in the right proportions.
There is no sharp or piercing treble at all but is quite present and detailed as well as ‘airy’.

measurements:

Below the frequency response of the Ananda (Left, Right)

FR (aangedrukt)

Channel matching is quite good. Subbass response is excellent and goes down well below 10Hz.
Raw measurements of the area between <10Hz and 1kHz is actually ruler flat.
These plots, however, show the perceived tonal response at average to below average listening levels. This is close to how I hear it as well. Slightly lean and neutral and not missing subbass. Just not a ‘full bodied’ and warm sound signature.

The dip between 1kHz and 6kHz is smaller in reality than it measures because the so-called Concha-gain will make this measured dip smaller than it looks. This is because the drivers are angled and thus make use of the concha which ‘boosts’ frequencies under an angle.
A dip in this part of the frequency range is thus more desirable than a peak.
Treble extension is excellent. It goes well beyond 30kHz. It is highly likely the advertised 50kHz is real. The treble sounds detailed and ‘smooth’. Maybe a tad to ‘airy’ or ‘fragile’ for some people.
The peak around 8kHz is audible. A passive inline filter has been designed for it which removes this peak completely without affecting other parts of the frequency response.

Ananda filter.png

The peak gives it a somewhat ‘sharp countoured’ sound with lesser recordings but is not a real nuisance with well recorded music.

Seal

Seal can be an issue with the very large pads of the Ananda. Loss of seal with closed headphones usually means a substantial loss of bass. With open headphones this is less of an issue. The pads are shaped to conform to the head so ensure a decent seal in most cases. Below the effect when used with thick arm glasses and with a substantial seal breach versus a perfect seal.

seal loss

What is interesting is that a seal breach does reduce the subbass extension but lower bass (32-50Hz) levels actually increase slightly. No need to worry about a perfect seal.

comparisons

The Ananda looks like the Edition Xv2 and HE1000 so a comparison between these 2 headphone is logical.
Comparison of Ananda, Edition X and HE1000 (1/24th octave smoothing is applied).Ananda vs Ed X vs HE1000

The close relation is easily seen. Especially between the Edition X and Ananda. The Ananda has a higher treble peak around 8kHz though and a few dB more upper midrange/lower treble as well. This makes the Ananda slightly clearer/brighter sounding or the Edition X(v2) somewhat more ‘relaxed’ sounding. The price difference is not that big. The Ananda plays noticeable louder though.
The HE1000 is clearer and sounds a bit more detailed than the Ananda.
Even though the measurements at a first glance seem to say these are very close there are audible and appreciable differences between these headphones. Whether or not the sound of the 3x more expensive HE1000 is worth the sonic differences is a decision everyone should make for them selves.

As the HE560 is phased out the comparison with the Ananda is also logical.

Ananda vs HE560

As can be seen the Ananda not only looks much closer to the Edition X(v2) but also sounds much closer to it. The HE560 clearly has a different tonal balance.
The dip at 2kHz is deeper and the peak at 4kHz makes it a tad ‘sharper’ sounding as well.
Treble extension (‘air’) is also much better on the Ananda.

Below another interseting comparison between the Susvara and the Ananda.Ananda vs Susvara

Before one shouts the Ananda is a cheap Susvara I should help you out of this dream.
The Susvara is still in a different class and comfort differs as well. You can’t drive the Susvara from portable devices. In fact the Susvara needs a really good and powerful amplifier. In tonal balance these 2 headphones are close though.

Below another thing to think about, Sundara versus Ananda.Ananda vs Sundara

The Sundara is half the price of the Ananda. In shape and comfort as well as efficiency (how loud it plays from a device at the same volume setting) these headphones differ a lot. The Ananda is slightly ‘smoother’ sounding. The Sundara is more a worthy successor  of the HE560 than the Ananda is.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is an orthodynamic headphone its impedance is as good as ruler flat so a higher output resistance amplifier will have no consequences for the frequency response/tonal balance/damping. Driven with an amplifier with (0.2Ω) and (120Ω) output resistance.
Of course the levels are compensated as through a high output resistance the level will be 15dB lower.

120 Ohm R

The good news here is that the output impedance of the music source is completely irrelevant.

Below the distortion measurements of the Ananda (Right channel).

Note that this headphone was measured at ears-unlimited-logo where background noises were present in the demo room. As this is an open headphone the distortion levels and spectrum plot performance may thus be better in reality than as shown on the plots due to ambient sounds being measured along with the headphone.

Dist Ananda R

Below the distortion plot but displayed in percentages.Dist Ananda R percent

The distortion levels are very low. Below 0.5% in the lows is really excellent.
The 2nd harmonic distortion is most likely lower than the 0.2% shown in the plots. This is due to the limits of the measurement rig which are being reached.

Below the CSD of the Ananda. (Left and Right are superimposed)

CSD Ananda

The CSD looks a bit ‘messy’ compared to dynamic headphones and does show the 8kHz peak is a resonance and not just a frequency response thing. Also around 4kHz and in the highest frequencies resonances are seen. The membrane isn’t damped that well it seems.

Below the spectrum plot of the Ananda.

pectr Ananda R

Well, this looks a bit like a mess. One may wonder how audible this all is. The observant folks amongst us will notice that the green parts are down -20dB and the blue parts are already -40dB down. This means that the signal doesn’t die out as fast as with dynamic headphones. This behavior is seen with a lot of ortho dynamic headphones.
Around 9kHz there is some ringing visible.

The step response (Lef channel) below shows the sub-bass is just very slightly rolled-off.

step Ananda L

The higher frequency resonances directly after the initial rise are short lived and not worryingly high in amplitude.  Impulse response is at the proper level and shows excellent qualities with a only a small emphasis in the lower treble. Some low frequency ‘wiggles’ in a low amplitude are seen on the horizontal trace.
The plot shows a ‘bump’ around 0.4ms which means there is an audible emphasis around 2.5kHz which is not seen on the frequency plots, in fact it even shows a dip there. It does account for the ‘clear’ sound it has.

summary

Fit and finish, comfort, weight (for an ortho) are excellent. The very large earpads may not be everyone’s cup of tea though.
The sound signature is ‘neutral’ as in not ‘warm / full bodied’ and can be a bit bright with some less well recorded pop music or rock older music.
Classical and well made recordings sound very good on this headphone.
The fact that it can be driven to loud levels from portable equipment is a nice feature.
Proof that planar headphones don’t always need tons of power.

Perfect for home usage from any source. Not suited for portable situations where isolation is needed.
In the HIFIMAN range the 50% cheaper Sundara could be a very good lower budget alternative but has totally different comfort.
Above and around the Ananda price point there are quite a few good alternatives also outside of the HIFIMAN stable.

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