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Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 44 28.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 84 53.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 25 15.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 4 2.5%

  • Total voters
    157

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, EQ and detailed measurements of the Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 open back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399.
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone open back review.jpg

It is typical Hifiman large cup configuration that seems to assume you ear are twice as long as they really are! :) If find the headphone attractive and comfortable to wear.

Let's measure its response using GRAS 45CA driving by Audio Precision APx555 analyzer. If you are new to my headphone measurements, I highly recommend that you watch my video tutorial on headphone measurements.

Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 Measurements
Let's start with our headphone frequency response measurements in the context of most preferred target response:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone frequency response measurement.png

It is clear to see the bass deficiency. Response also gets wavy from 500 Hz to 1 kHz and then we have some short fall in lower treble. Response then becomes cyclical with peaks that exceed our target. Net results is likely a flat and slightly bright sound signature. Subtracting the two curves gives us the areas we need to correct with equalization:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone relative frequency response measurement.png


The relative distortion graph has a lot of fuzziness:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone relative THD distortion measurement.png


The peak around 6 kHz seems like a clear design issue. But the roughness between 500 Hz and 3 kHz is odd and made me wonder if there is some room reflections. I rotated my fixture but it made no difference even though that made a substantial difference as far as reflections. I swapped the cups the other way around the distortions tracked the left channel so not a room issue. I then checked the other channel and surprisingly, was much cleaner:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone right channel relative THD distortion measurement.png

Notice how at 94 dBSPL (blue), there is essentially no distortion from 500 Hz to 4 kHz. This says there is some serious quality control issue here. Even beyond that, we have bass distortion that goes out of control at 114 dBSPL and again, around 6 kHz. Latter which likely is a series of resonances, should have been found and fixed during development as it has such a clear signature.

Edit: forgot to include the absolute distortion level graph:

Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone THD distortion measurement.png


Group delay is messy, no doubt due to the distortions we saw above:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone Group Delay measurement.png


Impedance is flat and low as planar magnetic drivers are usually so:

Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone Impedance measurement.png


I zoomed way in (inset) and we clearly see impedance changing due to resonance around 6.2 kHz. There are other peaks in there as well. So you don't even need the distortion test to know there is something here to be fixed.

Good news is that this is a fairly sensitive headphone which combined with low impedance should make it relatively easy to drive:
Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone review.png


Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 Listening Tests and Equalization
First impression was "OK" with glassy, flat sound with a tinge of brightness. That impression grew more negative once I developed the full set of filters and performed AB tests:

Most sensitive planar magnetic headphone Equalization.png

The bass correction which took two filters to shape it as inverse of headphone response was a given. This added warm and by itself made a good improvement. I then dialed in the filters up to 5 and sound was much improved but still needed some work. I am loathe normally in making corrections above those frequencies but here, I found it quite useful to remove some grittiness from the high frequencies.

Once the complex filter recipe was in place, the improvements were dramatic. Sub-bass response was excellent (a surprised due to high level of distortion). High frequencies were now much cleaner and balanced. And spatial qualities improved as well which is a strong feature of these large cups.

Conclusions
Objective measurements clearly show design issues and decisions. Even if you accept the tonality as is, there is no excuse for high levels of distortion at focused energies which indicate resonances. This is topped with one channel distorting much more than the other in critical area of our hearing. So by any measure, pun intended, this is a flawed headphone. Fortunately the out of box response is not annoying and with EQ, you get a nice transformation to something resembling highly performant headphone.

I can only recommend the Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 with equalization.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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OldTimer

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This is a review, listening tests, EQ and detailed measurements of the Hifiman Ananda Stealth V2 open back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $399.

Good news is that this is a fairly sensitive headphone which combined with low impedance should make it relatively easy to drive:
View attachment 338446
Hifiman at the top, hifiman at middle.
 
Last edited:

renaudrenaud

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Well, at the scale of a company, contrary to the speakers, there is no significant investment in measurement systems for headphones.

Do these companies never invest in a system capable of measuring their production? Do they not care?

Why are many in-ear monitors under €50 nearly perfect in compliance with the Harman curve, while these headphones, which are ten times more expensive, fall short?
 

dogmamann

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yes, all the hifiman headphones follow the same general curve
Hifiman is the topping of headphones. They make decent or great value for money stuff on paper but both don’t last.
 

phoenixdogfan

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The problem with all these Hifiman phones isn't the non-Harman compliant FR curve, it's their high levels of distortion, particularly at higher volumes. The FR can be adjusted to whatever curve the owner wants but that's probably only possible if the phones aren't harmonic distortion generators, and it seems these like the Susvaras are. For the money something like the Aune AR 5000 (which bears a strong cosmetic resemblance to the Susvara) are probably a much better choice.

As for the Harman curve, as I understand it, it represents the averaged choice of most listeners. That IMHO makes it a good starting point for personalizing a set of phones to your individual preference. It's really not a be all, end all, and should not be thought of that way. Rather it's something that will be most useful to most people to get close to their preference curve, making it much easier to finish the job. But non-compliance out of the box while a demerit is not necessarily a deal breaker. High distortion, however, should be considered to be exactly that. You can't eq your way out of that one.

Really looks like a budget model too, doesn't it?
 

Dunring

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I've had two of these, the current one has good channel balance, but the last was a nightmare I returned. Doing sweeps it had different channel imbance in different sides at different frequencies.
I'd recommend anyone at least use a phone decibel meter and online test tone generator. I check with a multimeter to make sure the ohm rating of each cup isn't too far off also.
 

IAtaman

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We don't have the distortion at 94dB broken down to its harmonics graph this time?

I think the really low bass shelf in the EQ recommendation is probably a good idea given the high distortion would cause a higher shelf to leak into the mids. Curious to hear how people who find Harman shelf muddying the mids will find this EQ. I think they are gonna like it.

aune ar5000 has lower distortion post eq to harman curve
Out of all Hifiman line-up was implied in the comment I think.
 
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