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Hifiman Ananda Nano Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 79 40.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 88 45.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 18 9.3%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 8 4.1%

  • Total voters
    193

tikky

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How does the same company, with the same technology and pads, and their round-shaped headphones, measure less distortion each and every time, while all their higher-tech but egg-shaped earcups perform worse? It just doesn't make sense to me. The fit plays a significant role, and when you use a head simulator, the tests yield the same results.
 

solderdude

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Thank you. I understand all of that. The only thing that I cannot comprehend is how their system indicates less distortion at higher volumes.
That's for the same reason it happened with Tyll's measurements.
Background noise influences the measurements.
When the background noise is at the same level but the signal is 10dB higher the S/N ratio in the 100dB measurement is higher so distortion appears to drop but in essence you see more 'background noise' seemingly making distortion lower.
 

solderdude

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How does the same company, with the same technology and pads, and their round-shaped headphones, measure less distortion each and every time, while all their higher-tech but egg-shaped earcups perform worse? It just doesn't make sense to me. The fit plays a significant role, and when you use a head simulator, the tests yield the same results.
When you have a worse seal the bass goes up but sub-lows become less.
So the give-away is bass extension and level for seal issue in measurements.
With all those egg-shaped hifiman I always have to press down the pads to get a good seal. In reality, probably with a lot of people, depending on facial contours and how one wears them it is possible a lot of people don't get a perfect seal.

When playing them 'free field' (laying on a desk) there is no acoustic damping at all in hifiman. The older ones had some damping. When on the head they do have single sided damping (the front volume which helps.
My Edition XX has damping added to the front and rear, a treble peak filter and sounds fine this way. Still not as good as some of my dynamics and 400i/400SE/Sundara.
 

Human Bass

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So my ears didnt lie to me almost everytime I heard a Hifiman. I always noticed a high mids/lower treble harshness
 

tikky

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When you have a worse seal the bass goes up but sub-lows become less.
So the give-away is bass extension and level for seal issue in measurements.
With all those egg-shaped hifiman I always have to press down the pads to get a good seal. In reality, probably with a lot of people, depending on facial contours and how one wears them it is possible a lot of people don't get a perfect seal.

When playing them 'free field' (laying on a desk) there is no acoustic damping at all in hifiman. The older ones had some damping. When on the head they do have single sided damping (the front volume which helps.
My Edition XX has damping added to the front and rear, a treble peak filter and sounds fine this way. Still not as good as some of my dynamics and 400i/400SE/Sundara.

I see, so you have to press down the pads to get a good seal on a flat plated surface, which in reality makes the pad thinner and the diaphragm is getting closer. It should affect the measurements. And there is no acoustic damping either. I am not sure if we agree on the topic that egg-shaped earcups can mislead the measurements and it should be measured with the head simulator and not just an ear simulator.

On your Ananda test your first impression " Fit and comfort were 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. For this, you do get a smart-looking (and very good sounding) lightweight and comfortable headphone.
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."


I assume you liked the sound of them and if there was any audible distortion you would mention it.

I am pretty sure about Amir's measurement that egg-shaped Hifimans cannot be measured correctly with a flat plated rig.
 

Verig

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So my ears didnt lie to me almost everytime I heard a Hifiman. I always noticed a high mids/lower treble harshness
Anything below Arya is coarse. HE400 variants sounding almost broken to me. No surprise here that Ananda Nano is like Ananda. It's not totally useless, more usable than measurements look like, but still, pass.
 

Verig

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HE400se doesn't sound remotely broken.
For me it does. The first model was totally horrible, after that it got better but I can't listen to them. I've tried throughout the years.
I do realise that people seem to like them and ok, they are better than some dynamics in the price range. More believable and down to earth integrated sound especially with rock/metal. But still, very distorted and vague.
 

InfiniteJester

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For me it does. The first model was totally horrible, after that it got better but I can't listen to them. I've tried throughout the years.
I do realise that people seem to like them and ok, they are better than some dynamics in the price range. More believable and down to earth integrated sound especially with rock/metal. But still, very distorted and vague.

You can take a look at the graphs.
1000061857.png


This is very distorted for you but Arya isn't?

1000061858.png
 

_thelaughingman

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this was my simple Mod.
you can first try something similar on the outside to see if it works for you.
View attachment 361494
Do you think there would be any benefit to removing those grills and using the headphones without them? obviously the planar magnet is exposed but assuming that should have some minimal impact to the sound?
 

InfiniteJester

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Do you think there would be any benefit to removing those grills and using the headphones without them? obviously the planar magnet is exposed but assuming that should have some minimal impact to the sound?

I remember seeing graphs on some Hifiman models with and without grills and the FR indeed changed. I don't remember the details, sorry.

EDIT: It was the HE400se and I was wrong, the changes were probably inside measurement error.
graph (2).png
 

_thelaughingman

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I am assuming that with or without the grill, the THD wouldn't change significantly, but thats unproven unless measured.
 

Limopard

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Seems that the low-cost "hifimen" of the 400 series are their best ones (in a relative way).
 

Verig

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You can take a look at the graphs.

This is very distorted for you but Arya isn't?

I don't listen at 114dB SPL. 400 breaks in areas sensitive to hearing. Well, at least to my hearing. It's small, congested and boosts musically important frequencies really weirdly.
Headphones are much more an individual thing than speakers. I can hear certain distortion in Arya but it's very different frequencies and the soundstage is about a mile larger. So it does not bother me, the nature of experience is very different to 400. Arya feels "softly scattered" and the top end (for real instrument range that maxes out at about 8kHz for notes) distortion comes off as some extra energy and some brightness with certain material. I find that non-offensive, especially with large soundstage. A bit similar to Beyerdynamics in a sense, although Beyers really go overboard with it.
 

Ken Tajalli

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Do you think there would be any benefit to removing those grills and using the headphones without them? obviously the planar magnet is exposed but assuming that should have some minimal impact to the sound?
I wouldn't do it.
The grill is part of the construction of the earcups. Without the back grills, the cup would warp or crush. Though the cups are made of Alu, but they are fairly soft. The back grill together with a front plate, keep everything in shape.
Regarding the distortion, a good part of it, I suspect, are diaphragm breakups, and the rest are due to cup and grill.
Hifiman's quality control is also famous for lacking!
I wouldn't be surprised, the sample here could be faulty. Listening to the phones, they don't sound so distorted.
I once sent a pair (another model) back to Hifiman for replacement, because the diaphragm was partly stuck to the magnets. They were nice about it, exchanged them without any arguments, but still . . . , that pair should not have gone out in the first place.

P.S. removing back grill will not change the FR, keeping it from ringing, may tip the distortion pattern, that's all I said. In case you were wondering.

1712335915933.jpeg

1712335935397.jpeg

1712335961351.jpeg
 
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Verig

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Too much coffee... I see that I wrote in rather non-precise way. Distortion alone is quite difficult to hear with music (at reasonable listening volume) but distortion with spikes in frequency response together with soundstage make the difference. Basically how the sound scatters in a room, some things you notice and some you don't. With headphones it's really an individual experience and I'm not trying to argue that 400 are junk for everyone.
 

solderdude

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I see, so you have to press down the pads to get a good seal on a flat plated surface
Yes, so will Amir and all other test fixtures that aren't 'head shaped'.

which in reality makes the pad thinner and the diaphragm is getting closer.
Not really, the only thing that happens is that the top and bottom of the pads are squeezed a little so the driver-ear distance will be the same as on a manikin.

It should affect the measurements.
I don't think so.

And there is no acoustic damping either.
Of course there is. Good seal = damping.

I am not sure if we agree on the topic that egg-shaped earcups can mislead the measurements and it should be measured with the head simulator and not just an ear simulator.
You can't measure over-ear headphone with just an ear simulator.

On your Ananda test your first impression " Fit and comfort were 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. For this, you do get a smart-looking (and very good sounding) lightweight and comfortable headphone.
The distortion levels are very low. Below 0.5% in the lows is really excellent.
Yep, bass distortion is excellent with planar headphones.
And yes, they are comfy for me and a little seal loss isn't an issue with these headphones, in fact it improves the bass at the cost of some sublows (rumble).
Note that this is about the V1 Ananda and not the cheaper versions that exist now.

I assume you liked the sound of them and if there was any audible distortion you would mention it.
I don't listen loud and do not prefer Harman bass levels.
Distortion also isn't a big issue with headphones.
Most of the impressions are FR related.
I still prefer dynamics over most planars but did hear some good ones.


I am pretty sure about Amir's measurement that egg-shaped Hifimans cannot be measured correctly with a flat plated rig.
This is what Amir said about it:
The forward part of the pad is quite a bit thinner and I had a bit of difficulty mounting it on my GRAS 45CA test fixture. The suspension headband is not adjustable but was comfortable enough for me. But again, causes some difficulty in measuring as it would not let the cups go lower.
That said... the frequency response of the raw measurement does not indicate seal leakage.

I think the biggest issues of the egg-shaped drivers is partial resonances. There is evidence of this in my CSD IMO. This Ananda probably does not differ much from the XS.
 

Leiker535

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one wonders what the thin membranes are about.
Pure marketing. Hifiman is releasing Anandas and Aryas at the end of the each semester by this point. They might also be drawing from the appeal of eletrostats from their lightness fame.
 

AryaStealth

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With all those egg-shaped hifiman I always have to press down the pads to get a good seal. In reality, probably with a lot of people, depending on facial contours and how one wears them it is possible a lot of people don't get a perfect seal.
Arya Stealth have a strong seal, some people even called them a "torture device" on reddit. HE1000 Stealth have a comfortable seal (not perfect), so they can't offer the same level of sub bass extension by default (when both EQd to Harman with Oratory PEQ settings), however you can easily add some clamping force by taking off the earpads and bending a little the metal headband. I'm not sure though if Ananda's clamping force can also be increased the same way since it is designed in a different way.
As far as releasing newer generation of Anandas it would make sense if Hifiman at least upgraded their headband to an ajustable one like Arya's. So it is indeed pure marketing and for some unknown reason an even more bright generation of headphones (Ananda Nano and Arya Organic versus Ananda Stealth and Arya Stealth). Perhaps they established that an average consumer likes to hear the new extra details that are not there in the original recording. Who knows.
 

Leiker535

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There is a substantial lack of damping, even when mounted with a good seal.
Interesting to see the CSD. I had that headphone whole I was impressed by it's lightness in build, I always thought it had weird timbre in the mids and had some sort of resonance/echo in the region as well. Those measurements corroborate that. Also, most of the oval shaped have that exponential peak around 11khz that made the XS unlistenable for my young ears.

While it's not atrocious, even having really redeeming qualities like a big stage from having those huge drivers, the XS past the new toy syndrome period were an example for me of how golden eared folks, like those that praised them, overlooked or plainly didn't notice important flaws: plus one point to skepticism inside this hobby.
 
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