Hifiman Ananda BT

The Ananda BT is the first attempt to make a Bluetooth version of a high-end headphone. I have already reviewed the “wired” Ananda, and consider it the best non-electrostatic headphone under 1000$: tonally right out of the box, rich of details, easy to amp, and absolutely deserving its price tag.
Selecting the Ananda as a “Bluetooth candidate” is a very clever idea, because it’s an extremely efficient headphone, making it easier to fulfill Bluetooth low power requirements.
The Ananda BT don’t require anything more than a device sending digital signal to it (either in Bluetooth mode or through USB cable). It incorporates a Bluetooth receiver, a DAC, and its amplification circuitry, inside itself. This means nothing else is required to enjoy it, apart from the playback device itself. No amp, no DAC… and obviously no cable (if you are going to use it in Bluetooth mode).

Operation

The Ananda BT is comfortable on the head, and despite integrating a BT receiver, DAC and amplification circuit, it weighs only 495 grams. Its frame is the same as the regular Ananda.
Operation is very easy: pressing the power button turns it on and flashing lights are shown. Pressing the power button twice will enter the pairing mode (light flash blue and green alternately). At this point HIFIMAN-BT-ANANDA will show up in the device’s Bluetooth connection list, and clicking connect will complete the pairing. Once performed once for a device, the pairing process does not need to be repeated. I found the Bluetooth connection stable.

Sound

The Ananda BT shares the same signature as the wired Ananda, when the latter is connected to a hifi system. Neutral sounding, lush, very clear, slightly on the warm side.
Compared to the wired Ananda out of a high quality amp (Woo Audio 5, Woo Audio 22), the Ananda BT behaves remarkably well, presenting the same level of clarity, staging, and only losing out slightly in bass control. The Ananda BT has a bit longer bass decay and midbass thickness.
What’s more interesting, though, is how the Ananda BT behaves against its wired counterpart connected to a smartphone (in my case, the Android-powered Blackberry Keyone with Neutron music player app). In such use, the Ananda BT trumps its wired sibling in clarity, soundstage, detail retrieval, transparency, imaging, staging. Everything is much better with the Ananda BT, which does sound hi-fi taking just digital signal wirelessly from a smartphone. The wired Ananda, out of a smartphone, sounds, but is much more opaque, less transparent, and loses its magic and doesn’t have enough separation, sounding like a 200 Euro headphone. The Ananda BT keeps sounding like a 1000$ headphone.

Bottom Line

As already stated, the Ananda BT is the perfect candidate to create a high-end Bluetooth headphone, and it perfectly succeeds. It’s a great choice for anybody not wanting to deal with an external dac, amp, and appreciating the idea of not being tied to a cable when wanting to listen to music in their house. It sounds great. Obviously, it would not be a a good for commuting, or for any noisy environment, because it’s not an isolating headphone, but it’s perfect for home, as well as for carrying it to hotels (for work) or any quiet environment away from home, becoming also a perfect “holiday” headphone.