It’d been half a decade since the last time I tested a HIFIMAN product. In 2015, I used the legendary HE-400i which is still available today and had really good impression with the brand. A few weeks ago, I encountered this company once again when searching for the best sounding Bluetooth headphones on the market. The HIFIMAN Ananda-BT is not only the most expensive one but also highly-acclaimed as the best wireless cans for audiophiles. I decided to buy the headphones to see if it is worth the hype.
Design & Features
The HIFIMAN Ananda-BT has almost the same design as its wired version. Its build quality is good but many parts in the exterior are made of plastic, including the grilles on 2 earcups. Therefore, the design is a little inferior as compared to other headphones in the $1,000 price range. The product also comes with a tough carrying case, a boom mic and a USB-C cable.
There are only 2 buttons on the left earcup, which are the Power/Play button and the Charge button. Next to the buttons, you can find a USB Type-C port and a 3.5mm port. There are no buttons to adjust volume or skip tracks, so I often have to keep my phone around most of the time.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth multipoint is not available on the headphones. I only can connect them to one source device at a time. When I switch from my iPhone to my iPad, I have to disconnect the HiFiMan from my iPhone first and then connect it to my iPad. If you want to enter the pairing mode, you need to hold the Power button and once the headphones are powered on, double press the same button. This is quite inconvenient if you use the headphones with all of your devices like smartphones, tablets, TVs, or laptops. However, this is understandable as these headphones are built for audiophiles, so HiFiMan probably wants to avoid noises when connecting the headphones to 2 sound sources simultaneously.
The headphones have an open-back design to create a spacious and airy sound. This helps the headphones sound better but the sound isolation is terrible. That means you can’t use the headphones in a library because everyone can hear loud sound coming from the ear cups; You also can’t use them on the street, on a bus or airplane because they can’t block the ambient noises. Therefore, the Ananda-BT has very limited usage at home in a silent room. You even can’t enjoy music when your kids are around because you can hear their voices clearly.
The earcups are really spacious and the pads don’t touch my outer ears at all, so they make my ears more comfortable than ever. The Ananda-BT weighs approximately 1 lbs (440g) which is heavier than all wireless headphones I’ve used, however, I can wear them for 1 or 2 hours without no problem. The weight dispersing strap helps distribute the weight evenly and I just feel a little pressure on top of my head. The clamping force is easy on my head and earpads feel so soft. My ears still feel hot and humid after a while; If your room is air-conditioned or the room temperature stays below 76F, this shouldn’t be a concern.
The battery life of the headphones is acceptable at around 7-8 hours and a full charge takes over 2 hours. To charge the headphones, you will need to plug in the USB-C cable and make sure to press and hold the Charge button for 2 seconds to switch to the charging mode. By default, the USB-C port is used for USB audio mode.
I expected a lot from the Ananda-BT because these are the most expensive headphones I’ve ever purchased. Actually the headphones were not brand new, I bought them used as they cost $300 less. The previous owner told me that his ears are too sensitive for orthodynamic headphones despite them having thin diaphragms. I have to sacrifice the portability for the hope of an amazing sound. I was not disappointed at all because I found out the sonic bliss with the Ananda-BT.
Before trying the HIFIMAN, my favorite wireless headphones were the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless. The two target audiophile community with a crisp and clear sound but HIFIMAN managed to bring it to the next level. As expected, the headphones produce a spacious soundstage with an open and airy treble, thanks to the open-back design. Moreover, the treble is not edgy as heard on my recently reviewed AIAIAI TMA-2 HD headphones or some Beyerdynamic headphones. There is almost no unwanted harmonics to be found on the high-frequency range even when I crank up the volume. The soundstage is so great that I sometimes have to turn my head to find out if some instrument sounds or voices really come from the earcups.
The bright sound also reveals details that sound subdued on other headphones. The details and audio separation are unprecedented on wireless headphones. Having said that, if you haven’t used any audiophile headphones before, it might take a while to get used to the sound because it might be fatiguing at first and many people complained about the treble spikes. I’ve compared the Ananda-BT to some Beyerdynamic headphones and found out that the highs on the Ananda-BT are actually quite easy on my ears, they are well-controlled and don’t ruin my enjoyment with music and movies. Many other audiophile headphones would make the treble overly bright and a little harsh for average consumers.
The highs are blended nicely to the mids and as the result, the upper mids sound very clean and sweet; Therefore, you could really have a great time enjoying female vocals. The mids are flat and slightly recessed but still, they are full of details and the amazing separation also contributes to the wider stereo imaging. Overall, the mid range is musical and very natural for my ears.
The bass is another great advantage of the Ananda-BT. It is not large in quantity but the quality is admirable. I really appreciate that the bass is deep, punchy while not overwhelming other frequency ranges. I can feel the rumble in the sub-bass and I love the quick and natural bass.
Notice that the high-fidelity sound can reveal some imperfections of your audio source, therefore, I’d recommend you to use high-quality streaming services like Amazon Music HD to get the most out of the headphones. I also play music from Spotify since it has a larger music library but some tracks have slightly lower quality even when I set the music quality at the highest.
- Comfortable for such big cans
- Good build quality
- Natural and well-balanced sound
- Amazing soundstage
- A little heavy
- Hefty price tag
- No volume and track control
A few years ago, getting headphones with audiophile-quality was impossible but HIFIMAN manages to build a good package with the Ananda-BT. You no longer have to buy expensive DAC and Amp since they are built into the headphones. We also don’t have to worry about the mess of cable as we just need to turn on the headphones and enjoy the high-fidelity music. No other wireless headphones sound better than the Ananda-BT, therefore, we highly recommend it if audio quality is your priority.
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