Bluetooth audio was a joke among the audiophiles, although fait accompli, this is understandable because usually Bluetooth Audio while being convenient, are heavily compromising audio quality, while some of the manufacturers tried to provide some higher-end and better sounding Bluetooth headphone, it is still at the initial stage and still fail to impress the audiophile fella. When I noticed that Hifiman Ananda BT is available upon one of my headphone gathering/event that I attended, I request a review sample immediately after I tried them, a million thanks to Stars Picker Audio for lending me a review sample right after the event. The Ananda BT is a wireless version of the Hifiman Ananda, because I never try the wired Hifiman Ananda, my review will solely touch Ananda BT only. Now, cross our finger together and pray the Ananda BT will be the game-changer.
Audio Quality (900 USD approximately in Malaysia)
I have paired Hifiman Ananda BT with my Huawei Mate 20 and playing Tidal Hifi and Spotify Premium.
The audio quality of Hifiman Ananda BT is splendid, no matter what genre of music I threw at it, Ananda BT is able to play it with enough authority, coherency, realism without losing composure. Be it Classical, Jazz, Vocal, Pop or Hip-Hop, Ananda BT play them excellently, the tuning is remarkable and I really can’t find any fault in term of audio quality of Ananda BT, Hifiman has done it all for us, from the DAC until the headphone, the matching and tuning is really great. Although amplifier/DAC matching is quite fun for audiophile, but it is a trial and error process and involved too much money, for those who only wish to enjoy music on the smartphone wirelessly, I can’t help but think that Ananda BT with a Tidal Hifi music streaming account is a good ticket for people to enter audiophile gate. I do understand that a 900USD headphone is quite expensive but it really saves a lot of matching works.
Now back to audio quality, like I said before, I really can’t find any fault with the sound, the tonal is balance and never get the treble nor the bass to bleed into midrange, while the midrange is always detailed and full sounding, soundstage has an average width and depth albeit good height, instrument separation is decent and sound is a little nearer (intimate) to your ears (not a distant sound) but vocal and Pop music really favored this tuning approach, classical music worked like a champ too, piano has a good weight, note is precise and timely, violin sounded clear and airy with good extension and never sounded thin, always has good weight to the tonal, sounded nice and I really love it. Bass has enough impact, punch, and depth, quality is good but doesn’t expect a rumble effect that you will usually get from dynamic driver, everything sounded natural and has enough of air, can’t complain much, really.
Treble is clean and has a good extension, it might not be super airy but not bad either, the detail level is good enough. The midrange, is quite coherent and intimate, it is not colored and has excellent body to the sound, midrange is not only good for audiophile vocal recording but even if you listen to normal pop the vocal still sounded clear and intimate, without any sibilant issue, the midrange is transparent, clean and always has good distance(Slightly forward) between the voices and your ears, the tuning here is absolutely expertly done. Bass has good decay and speed, the impact is plentiful which dig quite deeply, tightness is good and I do wish there is more rumbling at the lowest end but definitely not a deal-breaker, everything is nice and heavenly-matched. While the imaging is great, the soundstage still can be improved in terms of width and depth, as a complete package, the audio quality of Hifiman Ananda BT is remarkably great and expertly tuned. Everything sounded real and full-bodied, the overall sound quality leaves little to complain about.
On a side notes
I have actually brought Anada BT to 2 of my friends to audit, they are not an audiophile by any mean but were individuals that really appreciate and love good music. The first friend, addressed as S here, is enjoying the sound but the time that he experienced the headphone is quite short but I see him quite like the presentation of the sound, maybe he will need some time to grow love with Ananda BT as the listening period is not that personal anyway at that time, but the experience of him is very positive, especially on the sound quality of the Ananda BT, he even requested me to lend to him for few days for true analysis of the sound, after this review I will be left the Ananda BT with him for few days, I will upgrade his impression if he has any feedback of the sound.
The second friend, J, though, was beyond astonished with the sound. Is was already 12A.M. in the morning after our gathering on a photography event (it is actually at my neighborhood country) and I have promised him I will bring a headphone for him to test (admittedly I intended to poison him but deep inside I believe the tonal of the headphone suit him very much), we were both very tired that night, he was eager to try the headphone because from what he told me, he has been searching for ‘Heaven sound’ for too long (he experienced ‘Heaven sound’ once, when he was in Japan listening to a Bose QC35 II, he bought the headphone right after he went back to his country but in that time he said the sound quality is not like what he experienced in Japan, he even stop listening to it after 2-3 times of usage), so I open the Spotify app (we have bad internet connection that night so Tidal is impossible), and he listened to the music he was so familiar with, and told me, he listened to those songs almost every day for 3 years, but I let him rediscovered the songs in 3 minutes, he was totally immersed in the music, and I can tell how deeply he connect with music that night and getting emotionally, soul-fully and ‘Eargasm’ satisfied that night/morning, when we finished the music enjoyment session it was already 3A.M, damn! He is getting very interested in the headphone and might be getting one in the near future. That is why such a simple Hi-Fi Bluetooth headphone might be the best bet to non-audiophiles, they need not know why the thing can sound so good and how to make your system sing, they just want to enjoy the music, Ananda BT is a one-stop solution.
I am not an expert of Bluetooth audio but I can see wireless audio especially true wireless IEM can be so famous lately, it is really convenient and manufacturers surely have up their game in term of audio quality (which really are mediocre in the past), that’s why you will surely see me reviewing a lot of wireless gear in the nearest future because I am one of them that believe wireless audio is the future, even if the audio quality is still unable to be on par with highest-end headphone combine with the highest-end source and headphone amplifier, but it surely will dominate the market, even if I appreciate the convenience of the Bluetooth technology, but if it didn’t sound good it is not important at all, we audiophile will not even care about how they look nor how they are being wirelessly convenient, we only have sound quality in mind. So it really needs to be sound great for the money, to make it all count.
Ananda BT touched the base and is quite advanced in term of technology:
-Offer up to 24 bit/192kHz through USB (A type C to Type C cable included) and 24 bit/96 kHz over the Bluetooth.
-Hifiman’s NEO Supernano diaphragm (NSD), 80% thinner than the previous design
-Supported high resolution streaming such as APTX-HD, HWA, and LDAC
-Plug and play 3.5mm microphone (included)
-Built-in DAC (same DAC filter setting as RSR2000 player) and headphone amplifier
-Rated 10 hours of music playtimes and charge from 0-100% of battery in 2.7 hours
Build Quality, Comfort, and usability
Build quality of Ananda BT is quite good even for its price, it is quite solid with a nice build, I can’t hear any squeaking sound or encounter any quality issue during the entire review period. Headphone itself has good heft but I actually thought it was a lot heavier judging from the size (it is a full size open back wireless headphone after all), you will need a lot of space if you wish to travel with it but as the nature of open-back headphone, we really don’t recommend this for outdoor use, it leaked badly and offer no noise isolation at all.
Comfort level is excellent as well, I didn’t even feel a tiny bit of discomfort while using the headphone, the earpad is large enough to cover up my whole ears and the ear pad is really comfortable, cushion enough even if wear it for hours.
The connectivity of the headphone is simple enough, paired it and it will be paired automatically the next time you turn on the headphone and Bluetooth signal of your smartphone, there is an on-off button at the headphone which doubled as play/pause button, another smaller button must be pressed when you connect the charger to the type C port, or else it wouldn’t even charge, one thing I don’t like here is I can’t adjust the volume through the headphone, volume must be controlled through your smartphone. Battery life is impressive as well, battery life is rated as long as 10 hours and in lieu of my testing, and it can easily last me well over few days of average usage and only see some drop in battery life. I didn’t like the blue LED indicator to keep blinking when you listening to the music, in a dark room it is really annoying.
I see Ananda BT as a complete package, you have a device that combined Bluetooth receiver, DAC, headphone amplifier, headphone and all cables in between, which cost about 900USD, all of these are matched and already tuned by Hifiman, to me if you really don’t want or not interested to match the DAC, amplifier and headphone by yourself, and you only want to purely enjoy the music in a simple way, Ananda BT is the easy answer. If you want a simple system to enjoy your music, give Ananda BT a try, in fact, two of my friends interested to try Ananda BT right after I introduce it to them, because they love good sound and music, but hate to own a complicated system. 900USD of the selling price is not that terrifying either if you factor in DAC and headphone amplifier.
Hifiman Ananda BT, a game-changer? DEFINITELY!