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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

Ahmonge

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That will not improve with another headphone. Only with digital trickery you can get this done.
Sorry posting your thread about this issue without knowing you were answering hear at the same time.
 

jsm

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My acclimatisation to the Ananda (2020 version) took about two months, mainly because my previous headphones (Denon AH-D7200) had a very different tonality. As for where the sound image is formed listening with headphones, here is some interesting information:
but now I'm front in a choice I didn't expect to have, keep it and enjoying despite this V2 review and the previous post terrible pictures of faulty pads, or sending it back before the 30 days with a lesser budget for which one XD, the Aune is just arriving in EU it seems.
 

Brubaker

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That will not improve with another headphone. Only with digital trickery you can get this done.


I have headphones like the hd800s and Grado which manage to distance the sound stage more than others.... i feel this .... The Hifiman in question, being open, already has an advantage over closed headphones, so it won't increase much but perhaps with an 800 you could. or with digital delay ... right...
 

Ahmonge

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but now I'm front in a choice I didn't expect to have, keep it and enjoying despite this V2 review and the previous post terrible pictures of faulty pads, or sending it back before the 30 days with a lesser budget for which one XD, the Aune is just arriving in EU it seems.
My pads lasted two years. It's not an excessive period, but they're not the ones that have lasted the least (the ones on my beloved Aeon 2 Noire were so deformed that I had to change them after a year). After all, pads wear out or get deformed, sooner or later. Fortunately, the Ananda's pads are easy to replace.
 
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O Akroatís

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Grado makes the most absurd headphones in the galaxy. The most unlistenable headphones without EQ but the brightest and clearest with a very wide soundstage when you EQ them. Only after buying the SR80x and equalizing them did I understand the true power of this frequency correction system. Everyone should buy a cheap Grado, change the pads and EQ it. After this positive experiment I convinced myself to buy a Grado TOTL model... I bought a limited edition Grado "the White Headphone".... a tragedy... 50mm driver, wooden case, super cable... nothing to do. ...it was such an incorrigible headphone that after 24 hours it was already on its way to the seller...the frequency response graph was a meaningless scribble.... Grado is at its best with the economical SR60/80 x models and with a nice equalization.... spending 1000/2000/3000 euros on a Grado is the most absurd thing an audiophile can do... incidentally the SR80x and GW100x equalized and with large pads are among my favorite headphones and they are the only headphones that can match the soundstage of my 800s....
Do you have an example of equalizing your Grado? I still have an old SR60.
(May send in a PM)
 

Brubaker

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Do you have an example of equalizing your Grado? I still have an old SR60.
(May send in a PM)
sorry i have SR80x and GW100x , both with new 40mm X driver... i think sr 60 is a little different.... but you can try some eq from autoeq app for sr60 ...
 

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solderdude

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I have headphones like the hd800s and Grado which manage to distance the sound stage more than others.... i feel this .... The Hifiman in question, being open, already has an advantage over closed headphones, so it won't increase much but perhaps with an 800 you could. or with digital delay ... right...
Highly dependent on the HRTF and brain of the listener.
HD800 is the best in imaging (from all the others I own incl hifiman) but it is no more 3D to me than any other headphone. It is slightly wider and more 'stable' in image though.
Some claim to hear 3D even with cheap headphones. I kind of envy them. My brain does not play ball alas.
 

Joramun

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Not much improved over the old one I reckon..
I also have personal experience with QC issues with hifiman, I have one driver on my brand new HE400 that has a very audible distortion peak at 10khz.
Thankfully hifiman seems happy to replace them:)
Every time I ask in audio forums or reddit/twitter if Hifiman have fixed their QC issues I always get piled on. I'm assuming it's bots or fanboys or both. But if you dig deeper you will always see posts about their QC related issues.
 
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half_dog

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Some claim to hear 3D even with cheap headphones. I kind of envy them. My brain does not play ball alas.
I wouldn't say that I can hear but with some headphones (mostly with IEM) I can perceive/interpret some tridimensional sounds. Probably these might not be the best words. Some records can give an idea of distance(depth?), height, if it is an open space, a closed room (its size), if its reverbs. These "clues" are even better noticeable with unprocessed recordings. My brother likes to record in open space using a TASCAM DR40 with its mic in AB setup and the ambient sound (background noise) always amazes me with birds singing, the wind rustling through the leaves. You can perceive it coming from far away and getting closer, passing by and than leaving...
 

erniebert

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Really is more of the same. Just slight deviations above 5kHz and 1dB more lows.
At this moment the reviewed Ananda Stealth v2 with the current deal is the better choice....if only for the headband.... those cheap headbands (XS, 400SE) are not comfy for me.

Thanks for the feedback. I bought the Edition XS in March of 2022. Actually prefer it over the Ananda Stealth, with both EQ'd. It would be interesting to see @amirm review one.

I also bought one of those woolen snap-on headband covers and it solved the issues of fit and comfort with my smallish head.
 

Blorg

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Doesn't look too exciting as an upgrade from the non Stealth version. Looks like the group delay and distortion looks better than the previous model, but the coherency between 4k to 9k is not quite as good as the previous model, having a significant dip at 5.5k. Power required to get to 94db is now around double at 183mv vs previous 93mv, but does it at 28 ohm vs 33 ohm. Outside of that they are incredibly similar.
It has much better bass response than the original Ananda, it's much more present. I know Amir slates the flat bass but almost every quality open back in existence other than the DCA Stealth has at best flat (planar) or rolled off bass... this has much better bass response than something like the HD800S or HD600.

I think it's a bit disingenuous to keep harping about the "bass deficiency", anyone with any experience of open back headphones knows they almost never have a Harman bass shelf. The DCA Stealth I believe uses electronics to get there.

Look at this:
index.php

NO comments whatsoever about this lacking bass response. No comments in the review about it either.

Compared with this:
index.php


Big "lacks bass response" on the graphic when this is excellent bass response for an open back headphone, and leagues ahead of the HD600.

It's incredibly selective as to what to highlight as a "problem".

Sure if you want Harman bass you're going to have to boost this but it's a hell of a lot closer to Harman bass than something like the HD600 is.

What about distortion in the bass, as we are going to have to boost?

index.php

Literally off the chart on the HD600.

Higher than it could be on this, but it's a lot lower than the HD600.
index.php


Personally, I don't care about distortion at 114dB. But the HD600 is literally off the chart even at 104dB. While at 94dB, the Ananda Stealth has a peak around 0.5% THD in the bass, while the HD600 is at 2.75%. At 104dB, Ananda is under 2%, HD600 is off the chart, over 6%.

They do have a bit more distortion 1-3kHz but it still only slightly peaks above 1% at 94dB. While there are huge differences in the bass distortion, AND you have to EQ that up a hell of lot more on the HD600. Personally, I like the 1-3kHz dip, it's there not only on Hifiman but on the Sennheiser HD800S and HE-1, as well as many other high-end headphones. It's a deliberate choice made by multiple headphone manufacturers, not to adhere to Harman there. And Sennheiser made the same choice for their higher end stuff, Sennheiser thinks this sounds better too. If you want Harman-style upper mids though, yes, get the Sundara- it's much closer to that stock, and one of the most Harman-compliant headphones in existence. So there's that if you want it. Most seem to prefer the 1-3kHz "recession" though.

Personally- this sounds a hell of a lot better than the HD600 or HD650. Soundstage is incomparably better, and I don't think many who listen would disagree with that. HD600/HD650 are good headphones... but this is a lot better for me.

Very selective as to what is highlighted.
 

Chagall

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It has much better bass response than the original Ananda, it's much more present. I know Amir slates the flat bass but almost every quality open back in existence other than the DCA Stealth has at best flat (planar) or rolled off bass... this has much better bass response than something like the HD800S or HD600.

I think it's a bit disingenuous to keep harping about the "bass deficiency", anyone with any experience of open back headphones knows they almost never have a Harman bass shelf. The DCA Stealth I believe uses electronics to get there.

Look at this:
index.php

NO comments whatsoever about this lacking bass response. No comments in the review about it either.

Compared with this:
index.php


Big "lacks bass response" on the graphic when this is excellent bass response for an open back headphone, and leagues ahead of the HD600.

It's incredibly selective as to what to highlight as a "problem".

Sure if you want Harman bass you're going to have to boost this but it's a hell of a lot closer to Harman bass than something like the HD600 is.

What about distortion in the bass, as we are going to have to boost?

index.php

Literally off the chart on the HD600.

Higher than it could be on this, but it's a lot lower than the HD600.
index.php


Personally, I don't care about distortion at 114dB. But the HD600 is literally off the chart even at 104dB. While at 94dB, the Ananda Stealth has a peak around 0.5% THD in the bass, while the HD600 is at 2.75%. At 104dB, Ananda is under 2%, HD600 is off the chart, over 6%.

They do have a bit more distortion 1-3kHz but it still only slightly peaks above 1% at 94dB. While there are huge differences in the bass distortion, AND you have to EQ that up a hell of lot more on the HD600. Personally, I like the 1-3kHz dip, it's there not only on Hifiman but on the Sennheiser HD800S and HE-1, as well as many other high-end headphones. It's a deliberate choice made by multiple headphone manufacturers, not to adhere to Harman there. And Sennheiser made the same choice for their higher end stuff, Sennheiser thinks this sounds better too. If you want Harman-style upper mids though, yes, get the Sundara- it's much closer to that stock, and one of the most Harman-compliant headphones in existence. So there's that if you want it. Most seem to prefer the 1-3kHz "recession" though.

Personally- this sounds a hell of a lot better than the HD600 or HD650. Soundstage is incomparably better, and I don't think many who listen would disagree with that. HD600/HD650 are good headphones... but this is a lot better for me.

Very selective as to what is highlighted.

I agree! HD600 is a classic, but today it's bested by a lot of headphones. This Ananda IMO being one of them.
The only thing is that my HD600 works after 15 years with no issues - a couple of pad replacements through the years, but that's it.
Will this be the case for Ananda? Not sure...
 

Blorg

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Really is more of the same. Just slight deviations above 5kHz and 1dB more lows.
At this moment the reviewed Ananda Stealth v2 with the current deal is the better choice....if only for the headband.... those cheap headbands (XS, 400SE) are not comfy for me.
I'd agree with this, to me the Ananda Stealth and the Edition XS sound virtually identical but the Ananda has a much better headband.

I think if you buy the Ananda Stealth now, you will get the V3 rather than the V2. I have the V3. According to the spec impedance is lowered to 16Ω and sensitivity on their marketing images is 93dB... but if you actually get the box, it's 92dB, with a label stuck over whatever was there before. Edition XS spec is 18Ω/92dB, but both yourself and RAA measured the Edition XS impedance at 14Ω. So these specs now look incredibly close, to the point I'd wonder if they are the exact same cups with a different headband. I don't think I could tell them apart in a blind test, other than the feel of the headband, they sound identical to me.

1704971235406.png

IMG_20240111_180827.jpg
 

virtua

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It has much better bass response than the original Ananda, it's much more present. I know Amir slates the flat bass but almost every quality open back in existence other than the DCA Stealth has at best flat (planar) or rolled off bass... this has much better bass response than something like the HD800S or HD600.
I'm guessing the better graphed bass has to do either with 1. the new Ananda being less picky about seal (which would indeed be an important upgrade). or 2. Might have been seated on the fixture for better seal this time. (Didn't want to mention it and beat the dead horse about it though, because people have been down that route before during the original Ananda review but I digress), or both.

Something to keep in mind is to understand that Amir is very much focused on influencing manufacturers and industry to start adopting the Harman Target, so comments based on that. I think with his comments he's aiming to hopefully influence enough to see more manufacturers add that bass shelf in and not necessarily indicate to individual users that what they like or think is good isn't valid or something. At the end of the day, there is a large preference Window specifically in the bass regarding Harman Target, so even something as low as DF neutral-esque bass may be preferred by certain listeners (I believe I prefer it for example), but from a macro, industry view perspective it is a smart idea to push towards a target the majority of consumers will like. I do see what you're getting at though with the inconsistency of bass level judgement between the HD600 and Stealth Magnet Ananda, the Stealth Magnet Ananda is showing a bass response that is up there with the best currently outside of a few different harman bass shelfed outliers.
 

isostasy

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It has much better bass response than the original Ananda, it's much more present. I know Amir slates the flat bass but almost every quality open back in existence other than the DCA Stealth has at best flat (planar) or rolled off bass... this has much better bass response than something like the HD800S or HD600.
It is better in the lowest frequencies but similar/the same above that depending on where you normalize:
graph-30.png

This is indeed better than the HD800S and HD600.
I think it's a bit disingenuous to keep harping about the "bass deficiency", anyone with any experience of open back headphones knows they almost never have a Harman bass shelf. The DCA Stealth I believe uses electronics to get there.
In what way is it disingenuous? If it's true it's pointed out, I wouldn't call that "harping on". A couple of us have been trying out the AKG K245 and enjoying its sufficient levels of bass (I guess close to Harman 2018 bass shelf within 2-3dB but would need GRAS measurements to confirm). I have not seen evidence for use of electronics, passive or active, in the DCA Stealth.

Look at this:
index.php

NO comments whatsoever about this lacking bass response. No comments in the review about it either


Compared with this:
index.php


Big "lacks bass response" on the graphic when this is excellent bass response for an open back headphone, and leagues ahead of the HD600.

It's incredibly selective as to what to highlight as a "problem".

Sure if you want Harman bass you're going to have to boost this but it's a hell of a lot closer to Harman bass than something like the HD600 is.

What about distortion in the bass, as we are going to have to boost?

index.php

Literally off the chart on the HD600.

Higher than it could be on this, but it's a lot lower than the HD600.
index.php


Personally, I don't care about distortion at 114dB. But the HD600 is literally off the chart even at 104dB. While at 94dB, the Ananda Stealth has a peak around 0.5% THD in the bass, while the HD600 is at 2.75%. At 104dB, Ananda is under 2%, HD600 is off the chart, over 6%.

They do have a bit more distortion 1-3kHz but it still only slightly peaks above 1% at 94dB. While there are huge differences in the bass distortion, AND you have to EQ that up a hell of lot more on the HD600. Personally, I like the 1-3kHz dip, it's there not only on Hifiman but on the Sennheiser HD800S and HE-1, as well as many other high-end headphones. It's a deliberate choice made by multiple headphone manufacturers, not to adhere to Harman there. And Sennheiser made the same choice for their higher end stuff, Sennheiser thinks this sounds better too. If you want Harman-style upper mids though, yes, get the Sundara- it's much closer to that stock, and one of the most Harman-compliant headphones in existence. So there's that if you want it. Most seem to prefer the 1-3kHz "recession" though.

Personally- this sounds a hell of a lot better than the HD600 or HD650. Soundstage is incomparably better, and I don't think many who listen would disagree with that. HD600/HD650 are good headphones... but this is a lot better for me.

Very selective as to what is highlighted.
In fairness the only commentary Amir really gives in his HD600 review is that it is almost the same as the HD650, which he links to in the first paragraph. At which point you'd click through and see he does put "Bass deficient" on the graph and even writes below "Below 100 Hz, we fall short and short a lot when it comes to bass and sub bass region". He then goes on to say "there is excessive amount of compared to the (few) headphones we have measured in bass region".

I don't think there's any ulterior motive or being selective. At best you could criticize Amir for not spelling everything out in the HD600 review and just expecting people to click through to the HD650 review instead.

Can't expect him to predict the future either. HD600 review was back in 2021.
 

Blorg

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I'm guessing the better graphed bass has to do either with 1. the new Ananda being less picky about seal (which would indeed be an important upgrade). or 2. Might have been seated on the fixture for better seal this time. (Didn't want to mention it and beat the dead horse about it though, because people have been down that route before during the original Ananda review but I digress), or both.
The difference is real, I have both of them. Stealth has much better bass, similar to all the other egg Hifimans, the OG Ananda was the one out of all of those that had somewhat rolled off bass. This I think has more to do with Amir's method on that review than the Ananda, as no-one else had these issues. It was covered extensively at the time, both here and off-ASR.

Amir's OG Ananda review did have a seal problem that gave it excessively rolled off bass, but that's independent from the fact the Ananda Stealth has more bass than the OG did.

@sai has measured both on the same rig, you can clearly see the bass is less rolled off:
1704978593281.png

Crinacle OG Ananda measurement also shows bass roll-off. Here compared to the Arya Stealth (another egg shape) which doesn't have the bass roll off:
1704978970605.png

It's not just Amir or Sai or Crinacle or me, it's everyone else who has compared them... they all comment the bass extension is better. Resolve preferred the OG, but he also mentioned the bass extension was better. And that's my experience too, I have both of them right here and the bass is better on the Stealth.
 

Ahmonge

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Talking about the favorite low frequency response, I prefer the Harman curve for rock. pop... and the flat response for classical. That's why I usually listen to classical on my 2020 Anandas, and all other genres on my Aeon 2 Noires.
 

Blorg

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@isostasy thanks for pointing that out with the HD650, that he does bring it up. My more general point, though, is that a totally flat bass extension from an open back is extremely good, and for that matter there are even pretty universally acclaimed headphones that don't even have that, but have a roll-off (most dynamic drivers). There are also plenty of people who don't want full Harman in the bass on an open-back headphone.

Most of what are considered some of the very best headphones in existence have flat or rolled off bass. And this includes ones considered excellent by Amir.

I do like a bit of a bass shelf myself, I EQ this on and I'm good with Harman, so I am excited to see when a headphone does come with a bit of a bass shelf out the box. This is one of the great things I like about the Nan-7, it actually has already a little rise there. That is exceptionally well tuned, but very often, open backs with bass boosts have compromises elsewhere in the frequency response, or the bass boost itself is done badly and there is bloat. There are far more headphones with bloaty bass than Harman bass and that is far worse than no bass boost.

It's also the easiest thing to EQ, so I am more concerned with getting close to target in the rest. Flat bass, so easy to just EQ. A bad bass shelf, much harder to EQ. Deviations further up, harder to EQ. So it matters more to me that the rest is close to right and flat bass is just fine.

If it's Harman from 1kHz to 10kHz and totally flat below that, that's an excellently tuned headphone. And if you look at Harman compliance scores, the reality is many of these flat bass or rolled-off bass headphones actually have the highest target compliance. In the top 20 open backs, Sundara gets #2 after the $60k HE1 and Hifiman has a lot of other entries. Sennheiser also gets in there with the HD600, which is very rolled off. Because they nail the rest of the FR.

Sennheiser HE 1 Orpheus 2 99
HIFIMAN Sundara (post-2020 earpads) 95
Philips Fidelio X2HR 94
Sennheiser HD 560S 92
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (250 Ohm) 91
HIFIMAN Edition XS 91
Sennheiser HD 600 91
Moondrop Venus 90
Onkyo A800 90
Sennheiser HD600 (2020) 90
Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One 90
Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 89
HIFIMAN HE400se 89
HIFIMAN HE4XX 89
Little Dot GYFU 89
Sash Tres 45 (open back, leather earpads) 89
Stax SR-L300 89
Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X 88
HIFIMAN HE-X4 88
HIFIMAN HE400i (2020) 87

Rtings also score for "neutral sound", 65% of which is Harman compliance, other aspects including distortion and FR consistency. Again Hifiman dominate, followed by several Sennheisers all of which have bass roll-off.

Oratory has his EQs which include Harman scores, again Hifiman do very well: all of the current openbacks score 80-90, other than the Sundara which gets 95. Sennheisers with bass roll-off do almost as well, the HD600 doing the best at 91.

It does seem a bit like Amir is the outlier here in his findings on Hifiman... but with regard to the importance of a bass shelf, I just don't see it as that critical or something that deserves a ding, given that most of what are generally considered to be the best headphones in the world have either flat bass or a roll-off. And this includes stuff Amir likes, like the HD600/HD650. I just don't ascribe an open back having flat bass extension as a fault. To me, flat bass extension = excellent bass response. And if a dynamic manages only slight bass roll-off, like the Focal Utopia, that to me is a good mark too. I only think it really deserves flagging where the roll-off is severe. Like on the HD600, where in fairness, it is. Still makes up for it with the rest of the response though.

AKG is owned by Harman now and I do think their stuff has got better tuned as a result. I have an original Austrian K701 which is a bit of a disaster tuning-wise and the post-Harman N700NCM2 (hope I got that alphanumeric salad right lol) which is exceptionally well tuned. The K245 looks very promising, unfortunately for me I wear glasses and the atrocious seal variability you measured would rule it out for me. This wouldn't be such an issue for someone with 20/20 vision. This is another benefit of Hifiman, they seem to have very little seal variability.
 
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Robbo99999

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@isostasy thanks for pointing that out with the HD650, that he does bring it up. My more general point, though, is that a totally flat bass extension from an open back is extremely good, and for that matter there are even pretty universally acclaimed headphones that don't even have that, but have a roll-off (most dynamic drivers). There are also plenty of people who don't want full Harman in the bass on an open-back headphone.

Most of what are considered some of the very best headphones in existence have flat or rolled off bass. And this includes ones considered excellent by Amir.

I do like a bit of a bass shelf myself, I EQ this on and I'm good with Harman, so I am excited to see when a headphone does come with a bit of a bass shelf out the box. This is one of the great things I like about the Nan-7, it actually has already a little rise there. That is exceptionally well tuned, but very often, open backs with bass boosts have compromises elsewhere in the frequency response, or the bass boost itself is done badly and there is bloat. There are far more headphones with bloaty bass than Harman bass and that is far worse than no bass boost.

It's also the easiest thing to EQ, so I am more concerned with getting close to target in the rest. Flat bass, so easy to just EQ. A bad bass shelf, much harder to EQ. Deviations further up, harder to EQ. So it matters more to me that the rest is close to right and flat bass is just fine.

If it's Harman from 1kHz to 10kHz and totally flat below that, that's an excellently tuned headphone. And if you look at Harman compliance scores, the reality is many of these flat bass or rolled-off bass headphones actually have the highest target compliance. In the top 20 open backs, Sundara gets #2 after the $60k HE1 and Hifiman has a lot of other entries. Sennheiser also gets in there with the HD600, which is very rolled off. Because they nail the rest of the FR.



Rtings also score for "neutral sound", 65% of which is Harman compliance, other aspects including distortion and FR consistency. Again Hifiman dominate, followed by several Sennheisers all of which have bass roll-off.

Oratory has his EQs which include Harman scores, again Hifiman do very well: all of the current openbacks score 80-90, other than the Sundara which gets 95. Sennheisers with bass roll-off do almost as well, the HD600 doing the best at 91.

It does seem a bit like Amir is the outlier here in his findings on Hifiman... but with regard to the importance of a bass shelf, I just don't see it as that critical or something that deserves a ding, given that most of what are generally considered to be the best headphones in the world have either flat bass or a roll-off. And this includes stuff Amir likes, like the HD600/HD650. I just don't ascribe an open back having flat bass extension as a fault. To me, flat bass extension = excellent bass response. And if a dynamic manages only slight bass roll-off, like the Focal Utopia, that to me is a good mark too. I only think it really deserves flagging where the roll-off is severe. Like on the HD600, where in fairness, it is. Still makes up for it with the rest of the response though.

AKG is owned by Harman now and I do think their stuff has got better tuned as a result. I have an original Austrian K701 which is a bit of a disaster tuning-wise and the post-Harman N700NCM2 (hope I got that alphanumeric salad right lol) which is exceptionally well tuned. The K245 looks very promising, unfortunately for me I wear glasses and the atrocious seal variability you measured would rule it out for me. This wouldn't be such an issue for someone with 20/20 vision. This is another benefit of Hifiman, they seem to have very little seal variability.
Regarding flat bass in open backed headphones, the HD560s has pretty flat bass down to 40Hz, and even 30Hz is not too shabby:
The New Version of the HD560s has even slightly better extended bass than that, but not by much.

Then of course there's the DCA Expanse which nails it for an open backed:
 
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