The Ananda Nano builds upon the success of Hifiman’s original Ananda model, which has gained huge popularity for its evenly balanced, natural sound signature and incredibly good value for money. But with the release of the Ananda Nano, you can expect some significant changes with respect to tuning and performance. Will the new Ananda Nano continue to be the best mid-level planar headphone on the market?
What’s in the Box?
- Ananda Nano Headphones
- Hard-shell carrying case
- Detachable 3.5mm cable
- 1/4 inch adapter
Look and Feel
In terms of fit, the Ananda Nano maintains a similar comfortable feel to its previous model, with a slightly firmer clamping force. The earcups provide a soft and cosy fit around the entire ear, and the pads rest comfortably on the head without causing pressure along the jaw line. The suspension headband design keeps the cans light too.
As for appearance, there is little separating the Nano from the original Ananda beside the new silver-coated aluminum frame. Not ugly, but perhaps a touch boring.
Equipped with Hifiman newly integrated stealth magnet, the Ananda Nano boasts reduced interference and enhanced detail compared to its predecessor. It also features a new nanometer diaphragm borrowed from Hifiman pricey Susvara model, aiming to deliver lower noise, faster response, improved dynamic range, and better resolution.
While the Ananda Nano isn’t terribly difficult to drive, I did have to crank up the volume knob a bit more than usual for a headphone at this impedance. Using my surprisingly powerful Dragonfly Cobalt Amp/DAC, I had to push the volume up to about 85%.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz-55kHz
- Sensitivity: 94dB
- Impedance: 14Ω
- Weight: 419g
The stage is precise and realistic in scale. Although instruments don’t reach soaring heights, there is a slight elevation to the entire presentation, heightening vocals in the treble slightly above the ears. While not a particularly vast stage, the imaging is immaculately arranged, and distant instruments retain their rich resolution. Instruments feel intricately angled and generously spread, and in particular, variations in placement along the horizontal axis feel precise and nuanced to the smallest degree.
Also unique to this soundstage is its skillful ability project instruments in front of the head; usually, I talk about depth in terms of how far it can reach behind the head, and it does go behind the ear even if it sometimes falls into the stereo field. But the forward projection is particularly palpable. So, overall, you can expect a thoroughly holographic experience, and frankly, one that’s hard to come by under $1000.
The low-end strikes a tasteful balance. The sub-bass frequencies are not overly thick or chesty, but they still offer a satisfying visceral presence. The bass response remains relatively consistent from the low to high registers, providing a somewhat linear presentation. The texture of the low-end is smooth, contributing to a rich and sumptuous sound quality. It combines solid detail with a pleasing smoothness. And while you can’t call the Nano a bass-head’s headphone, when it comes to heavier mixes or music with a wall of sound, the bass is delivered with ton of power and momentum, especially with respect to modern genres. So overall, the bass integrates harmoniously with the overall sound, never overpowering the mix, yet never falling short on impact.
The Ananda Nano exhibits a slight dip in the low-mids. But for the most part, it is tastefully compensated by the presence of the warm bass, creating a balanced overall sound. However, the separation in the lower mids could benefit from a touch more clarity. Moving into the mids to upper-mid range, there is an abundance of snap in percussion and rhythm instruments, providing excellent definition and momentum. Instruments like electric guitars have an edgy and crispy quality, finely delineated and nuanced. Female vocals, in particular, sit slightly forward, establishing an intimate and engaging presence. And while the level of detail is top-notch, the sound signature seems to be most defined by its smoothness rather than texture.
The highs are again delicate and smooth, yet highly nuanced, revealing modulations that can almost feel exaggerated. At the same time, as mentioned above, breath and timbral details are less dry and more liquid. And while there is ample detail, vocals maintain a pleasingly rounded quality, free of any sharpness, even in the most intricate registers. Similarly, pianos, for example, have an almost muted or soft edge, adding to the overall fluidity and richness of their sound. But despite its refinement and tonal depth, the Nano’s high-end still retains a buoyant quality, imparting a sense of liveliness and dynamic movement within its richly colored profile.
The Ananda Nano adds a dynamic vibe to the original Ananda concept, pinching out a little low-mid presence for some extra snap and energy in the treble. Still, that smoothness keeps the sound refined and cohesive, effectively balancing a liveliness with an easy listening fluidity. And when combined with what is probably the most multidimensional soundstage you can get at this price, the Nano creates an insanely engaging and satiating listening experience. For sure, it would be my first go-to planar magnetic headphone under $800.