HiFiMAN Ananda-BT review: the first wireless audiophile headphones
What’s there to say about the HiFiMAN Ananda-BT headphones? Well, let’s find out. While not the first Bluetooth planar headphones/earphones, the HiFiMan Ananda-BT is definitely the first serious audiophile attempt at full-sized wireless bluetooth headphones. Out of all of the companies that could have potentially made this attempt, I’m not surprised that HiFiMAN is the first to market here. The company has continually made a name for its self in the HiFi headphone market with audiophiles around the world.
The Ananda-BT can wirelessly stream from computers, smartphones, DAPs (digital-audio players), tablets, etc. at what HiFiMAN is calling “true high-fidelity bit rates, up to 24Bit, 96kHz” (24-bit/192kHz playback ability when wired to source via a USB-C cable). In our tests, the difference between wireless and wired was minimal. Both sounded phenomenal. As wireless/Bluetooth codecs continue to improve it’s becoming more a matter of which is more convenient (wired or wireless) than anything else these days.
With that being said, let’s dive deeper.
Design & Comfort
Let’s be clear: these are full-sized open back headphones. They’re big. Even on me (and we all know I have a big head). The Ananda-BT headphones are very comfortable though, despite their size. They sit nicely on your head and can be worn for long periods of time without any discomfort. The ear pads are made of bouncy foam and are coated with leather on the outside edges, a spandex-like material touches the ear, giving them a cool and breathable feel that doesn’t make your ears feel sweaty.
As for the actual design, like many other headphones these days, it’s a lot of plastic. They still seem fairly durable though.
The HiFiMAN Ananda-BT headphones sport a 10 hour battery life and in our tests, we found that to hold up pretty well. The one downside is if the battery dies, you can’t use them even with a wired connection and charging them to full battery will take you about 2.5 hours. The headphones do however automatically turn off after not being in use for a short period of time which is great so you don’t accidentally stop playing music and forget they’re just sitting on your head (which did happen to me) draining battery.
So how do they sound? Overall, the Ananda-BT sound very clear, detailed, and natural with good sense of warmth. The headphone does lots of things correctly, and I personally couldn’t find an obvious weakness in its presentation, especially considering it being a wireless headphone.
I found the bass to be very natural and effortless without affecting the overall sound. Lows have good recovery and speed as well, thanks to the ultra-thin diaphragm which results in having great decay, quickness, and punch all at the same time.
What I found just as impressive as the overall bass presentation is that the sub bass and mid bass levels are quite equal. The headphone can reach quite deep with its sub bass, but also gives good mid bass and presentation of the bass notes of instruments quite nicely. These particular headphones don’t have that amazing rumble that dynamic drivers give, though it’s not something I think many will mind missing due to the quality of the bass, which frankly, is amazing.
The Ananda-BT’s mid range sounds very crisp and clear with a very nice tonality and lively nature. The upper mid section is slightly elevated giving the whole mid-area a very lifelike feeling. Both female and male vocals sound very impressive. Instruments are also very well textured and positioned, making it very easy to focus from vocals to instrumentation thanks to excellent separation performance.
Transparency is top notch in the highs. I had great listening experiences with all kinds of music, the sound is highly detailed and crisp while also airy. I think people who are sensitive to high frequencies will even find these headphones enjoyable.
In terms of soundstage, I really loved what I heard. You can expect the kind of spacious soundstage that an open-back HiFiMAN usually offers. It has a sense of intimacy which contrasts beautifully from instruments further back in space. And while the space around transients has movement, it also feels a slightly compressed when arrangements become thick. I really felt they provide a wonderful listening experience.
The headphones come with a little pouch packed full of goodies, including a USB-A to USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-C cable, and a mic. The microphone included plugs directly into the aux port on the bottom of left earphone. While HiFiMAN is marketing this as great gaming mic, the fact of the matter is, it’s not that great. In our tests, the mic works, but the sound quality and clarity isn’t the best and to be honest, that’s to be expected with headphones like these. The mic certainly seems like an after-thought add-on type of thing.
The Verdict: HiFiMAN Ananda-BT
So are they worth the $1,000 price tag? To be honest, yes. The HiFiMAN Ananda-BT headphones are one of the most beautifully balanced headphones I’ve ever tested. They are easily the best wireless headphones I’ve ever listened to and it’s not even close. The HiFiMAN Ananda-BT prove that high fidelity audio can be achieved via wireless. You can grab them on Amazon.