The Ananda comes from the genetics of Hifiman Edition X family, one of the best value headphones in the market. While the Edition X V2 was very similar to the former revision, mostly changing some structural elements (frame, pads). With the Ananda, Hifiman enhances the refinement process much more, taking the “X” family closer to the HE1000 line.
I am not sure if the diaphragm (or other part of the drivers) has undergone any technical changes, or if it’s because of the pads, which are different (and more comfortable than the former revisions), or because of some less evident differences in the frame, but the Ananda sounds different, and probably better, than the already accomplished “X”.
I have listened to the Ananda with several amps (Woo Audio 5, Woo Audio 22, DNA Stratos) and it showed consistency in its output quality.
For this review, I will be referring to the same test setup I used for the HE1000 V2 and Edition X V2:
Source: AMR DP-777 DAC with Acoustic Revive Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SPS
Amplifier: DNA Stratus with stock tubes
The Ananda sounds right armonically. It’s lush, rich sounding, and neutral. While the Edition X (V1 & V2) sound slightly on the bassy side, slightly too bloomy, the Ananda are slightly more neutral and slightly brighter. Both the X and the Ananda are super fluid, without zero hardness that can be associated, at times, with certain dynamic / orthodynamic setups.
The Ananda are even more “magical” than the X, because, very similarly to the HE1000, music doesn’t seem to be produced by a transducer at fixed distance form your head, but appears at different layers (think an onion), like it happens also with Stax SR-009. In this sense, it’s very “open” and “airy”, but not in the sense of being trebly: many headphones, even electrostatics such as Stax SR-007 SZ3 or L700, sound a bit closed in because of their darkness, for example. The Ananda manages to scatter sounds everywhere, without a “point of origin”, drawing all instruments precisely, decaying delicately.
The only deviation from total smoothness is a tiny hint of exaggeration in upper midrange, which can be noticed with screechy female vocals, such as in “Charles Lloyd & The Marvel”.
It has, otherwise, everything: bass and treble extension, smoothness, zero no dips/peaks in the frequency range, midrange beauty, and almost electrostatic speed.
It’s the third time I repeat the same thing: like the Edition X V1 and V2, the Ananda is a “best buy” in its price range, and it manages to push the quality of its “ancestors” a noticeable step further. It’s overall less colored than the X’s, equally easy to amp and easy to match with gear, very “right” out of the box, a bit more transparent given the tighter lower end.
On top of all this, the Ananda is even cheaper than the former revisions.