A Planar Powerhouse for Portable Players? | HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Review

A Planar Powerhouse for Portable Players? | HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Review

Ananda has always had some challenges as part of HIFIMAN’s headphone line. Priced in between the HiFi budget favorite Sundara and the flagship gateway Arya, Ananda has stronger technical performance than Sundara, but didn’t come close to Arya’s exquisite sonic delivery. Add in headphones like the Edition XS and a price drop on the Arya, and Ananda seems like it’s starting to get squeezed out, without a clear identity. With its new look and technology, can Ananda Nano establish that identity for Ananda and solidify its place in HIFIMAN’s lineup?

Build and Design

Ananda Nano gives Ananda a bit of a facelift, with an all new silver/aluminum trim that provides a more distinctive look than the classic all-black finish of the original. Otherwise, the build feels mostly the same, though there seems to have been some slight adjustments to the fit, as Nano feels more secure, with slightly more clamp force than the original Ananda or Ananda Stealth models. It’s fairly lightweight, but there’s something slightly awkward about the angle and positioning that keeps it from being top tier in terms of comfort.

HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Review In the Box

In what might be a first for HIFIMAN, Ananda Nano comes bundled with a travel case, which has ample space for the headphones, cable, and possibly even a small DAC or player. The case has a hard mold, but it’s fairly thin and seems to be more designed for convenience than providing serious protection for the headphones. The package also includes a fairly standard rubberized cable with a 3.5mm termination and a 6.3mm adapter.

On the technical side, Ananda Nano uses two of HIFIMAN’s trademark technologies: Stealth Magnets and Nanometer Thickness Diaphragm. In addition, it sports a very low impedance for a planar magnetic headphone at 14 ohms, and it’s fairly sensitive with a 94dB sensitivity. This makes it among the most efficient open-back planar magnetic headphones on the market right now.


Ananda Nano feels just outside of the typical HIFIMAN house sound, with a little extra punch in the bass and a little more mid focus over high end brightness. While the soundstage is strong, it’s not as expansive as the Arya, and the image is presented in a more tactile and less diffuse manner than the typical HIFIMAN sound.

HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Review

One of Ananda Nano’s biggest standout characteristics is the bass. Ananda Nano hits hard and extends deep into the low-end. The dynamics and slam are excellent, and there’s good texture as well, with the bass rarely feeling washed out or bloated.

There’s a touch of warmth to the low mids, and Ananda Nano provides the most natural timbre of any version of the Ananda to date. While there’s strong instrumental balance, vocals can feel slightly overshadowed in the midrange –particularly male vocals in the baritone range.

The highs are balanced well with the rest of the tuning, and depending on your setup can hit slightly bright. Overall, there’s some air and good extension, but it doesn’t have quite the same spacious, airy highs that HIFIMAN is famous for.

The soundstage is moderate-sized with a solid three-dimensional feel. There’s a good sense of width and depth, but not as much height. The imaging is strong, with a holographic feeling and a good sense of weight to instruments and voices.

HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Review 

With the very low impedance and fairly high sensitivity in mind, we tested Ananda Nano with a wide variety of portable and desktop options. To fully test how easy it would be to drive Nano, we stuck with the stock 3.5mm cable. Ananda Nano sounded very good with the iBasso DC04Pro, providing surprising bass extension and slam, but needed nearly max volume. DC04Pro also gave the  highs some slight grain and sharpness to them that I didn’t hear on other sources. For the real test, I grabbed the ADV Accessport I use in my car to listen to podcasts and audiobooks off my phone, and while the resolution wasn’t there, the slam, dynamics and overall presentation was great.

In terms of DAPs, despite not being significantly more powerful than your average smartphone dongle, the Astell&Kern SR35 was excellent. Sonically it provided some smoothness in the highs that the treble sensitive might appreciate. It took to about volume level 100 (out of 150)  to really feel like SR35 was really giving Ananda Nano everything it needed. The iBasso DX170 was my favorite portable source, with just stellar all around performance – only needed 50-60% volume for unbalanced, and it was absolutely singing when I grabbed a Meze Balanced cable for it.

If I only had low power sources to listen, I would have been thoroughly satisfied with Nano’s sound and performance, but then I plugged it into some higher end gear with a bit more power, and it scaled up remarkably well. The SPL Phonitor SE in particular elevated it from “solid mid-tier planar magnetic headphones” to “incredible value and performance in a planar magnetic headphone.”

Comparison: HIFIMAN Ananda, HIFIMAN Edition XS

If you’re shopping for HIFIMAN headphones under $1000, you might also be looking at the Edition XS, which hits just a little bit different than the Ananda, or even just another Ananda. To help you make that decision, we’ve got the Edition XS along with the original Ananda to see how these somewhat similar headphones each differentiates itself.

HIFIMAN Ananda Nano and Ananda Comparison

In terms of the build and design, Ananda Nano primarily stands out with the silver/aluminum color trim, in contrast to the black on the other two. The core components for the earcups seem to be about the same, while the Edition XS has a different headband. While there are some nicer visual elements to the Ananda headband – which is closer to their high end offerings – I honestly find the Edition XS to be slightly more comfortable.

In terms of sound, the original Ananda is brighter than the Ananda Nano, with notably less bass. The timbre isn’t as natural, and there’s more tendency for tinniness in the treble. Edition XS is the hottest in the treble, but has very strong bass extension, extending deeper in the bass than the original Ananda. XS lacks Ananda’s warmth though and can feel a little cold or hollow, particularly in comparison to the more natural, full Ananda Nano.

In terms of sensitivity, Edition XS behaves more like HIFIMAN’s upper echelon, and doesn’t play very well with portable devices. Ananda Nano is the easiest to drive. In comparison with the original Ananda it seems that Nano’s lower impedance cancels out the lower sensitivity making it slightly easier to drive, and Nano feels more complete in lower powered gear than the original Ananda.

HIFIMAN Ananda Nano Edition XS Comparison

In the end, Ananda Nano stands out by providing the most natural sounding version of Ananda we’ve gotten yet, and adding a more warm, natural feel to the HIFIMAN headphone stable. While I preferred Ananda’s sense of weight and fullness, Edition XS is a great pick if you’re looking for less of a unique sound, and more of something that’s tuned like HIFIMAN’s flagship offerings on a budget.

Final Thoughts

The small tweaks that HIFIMAN made to the Ananda Nano really helps it fully realize its identity in HIFIMAN’s lineup. Ananda always had a sound that’s slightly warmer and more organic than HIFIMAN favorites like the Arya and Sundara, and the efficiency, which puts it on the opposite end of the spectrum as headphones like the HE6 and Susvara, which often serve as stand-ins for “hard to drive.” Ananda Nano takes these core aspects of the Ananda sound, and dials them in to achieve true sonic excellence that works with almost any source so you can enjoy them almost anywhere.