HiFiMan Sundara: An Honest Review

HiFiMan Sundara: An Honest Review

Written by Kenneth Sawyer, In Headset, Published On
November 30, 2023
, 307 Views

The Hifiman Sundara headphones are popular because they offer the transient response of premium planar magnetic headphones at an inexpensive price. These headphones let you hear properly separated lightning-speed snare strikes without remortgaging your property. Most headphones use dynamic drivers with a voice coil and magnet system and tiny diaphragms to make sound. Planar magnetic drivers employ magnets and small wires across the diaphragm. This design provides for a low-mass diaphragm for improved transient response. These inexpensive planars are audio’s worst-kept secret. We extensively tried them to determine if they lived up to the hype.

HiFiMan Sundara Specs

TypeCircumaural (over-ear)
DriverPlanar Magnetic
FitCircumaural
Impedance37 Ohm
Sensitivity94dB/mW
Frequency Response6Hz – 75kHz
ColourMatte Black
Weight379g.

PROS

  • Clear at all frequencies
  • Magnetic planar drivers
  • Detachable cable

CONS

  • A little deeper bass
  • less sound space than competitors

The HiFiman Sundara headphones are for who?

HiFiMan Sundara

Audiophiles and critics will love the Hifiman Sundara headphones. They resonate more naturally due to their open-back design. These sound best with a dedicated amplifier or audio interface with an amp.

HiFiman Sundara headphones are not for whom?

The Hifiman Sundara headphones’ open-back design makes them unsuitable for sound isolation or active noise-canceling. Sound enters through the open-back design. These are not for loud situations or tracking applications that cannot tolerate sound leakage.

Comfort

HiFiMan Sundara

Sundaras are often comfy. Weighing 372 g, they don’t grip too firmly on the head, and the earcups are comfortable. Although there is no side-to-side swivel or give, the broad earcups should fit most heads. The durable aluminium frame and leather strap make it comfortable on your head. Unless you have perfectly round ears, the Hifiman Sundara headphones feature a poor earcup design. They softly touched my medium-to-large ears on the inner ear cup, top, and ear lobe. Leather sides and velour head cushions make the earcup cushions substantial. Velour interiors prevent head overheating during lengthy periods. To improve head seal, these headphones’ earcup cushions were trimmed at the bottom from 2018 to 2020.

Build

A solid utilitarian construction, like Beyerdynamic’s no-nonsense style. The aluminium frame with ratchet motion size adjustments, drivers’ aluminium grille, and leather strap are durable. They weigh 372 grammes, less than most planar magnetic headphones, and the weight-dispersing headband helps. Despite their light diaphragms, most planar magnetic headphones are hefty due to the numerous magnets around the driver. Luckily, Sundara headphones have lighter magnets for acceptable weight. The 1.5-metre cable is straight, inflexible, and of worse quality than expected for its price.

Sound

Audiophiles raved about the Hifiman Sundara, raising my expectations. I had to get used to the audio characteristics when I first tried them. Switching from dynamic driver reference headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pros makes the Sundara seem cold and narrow.

Dynamic Punch: Downside

HiFiMan Sundara

Headphone makers say planar magnetic drivers provide quicker transient responses and more precise dynamics. Planar magnetic drivers definitely provide a quick transient response. Dynamic accuracy and punch are different. Interestingly, planar magnetic headphones lack this punch. Note that Hifiman Susvara and Audeze (LC-5) are severe exceptions. Certain music needs this animalistic impact. Dynamic drivers now give more dynamic punch. Not all planar magnetic headphones under $4000 are worthless! They can perform tasks that their dynamic counterparts cannot. See what Hifiman Sundara can do.

Detail and Subtle Low-End Response

The headphones are quieter than others we tested, despite their normal impedance. For example, lossless Apple Music music on an iMac with a McIntosh stereo receiver only becomes uncomfortable when I max out the app and receiver levels. These same settings with the Grado SR325x are so loud they might break the headphones. HiFiMan headphones accurately reproduce sub-bass recordings like The Knife’s “Silent Shout.” For subwoofer-like performance, search elsewhere. The deep lows are expressive and rich. In comparison, the Grado SR325x produces deeper bass. The Sundara duo reproduces Kendrick Lamar’s “Loyalty”‘s 34-second subbass well. As the sub-bass synth line drops, the drivers rumble each strike but never propel them ahead. The voices are clear and not harsh.

Stereo image and soundstage

HiFiMan Sundara

Large soundstage and a compelling and steady image in all directions. Unlike other planar magnetic headphones, the Hifiman Sundara headphones have no centre stereo picture consistency issues. Sundara headphones struggle to generate an atmosphere. Ultra-crisp transients may be to blame. Long as I Can See the Light by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a rootsy track that needs warmth (not the Sundara’s strength), lacks room for reverb. In this track, the hi-hat keeps time, while the sundara reproduces it without smearing. The clarity of this hi-hat makes it sound artificial. Lack of space reverberation makes the hi-hat sound like a machine.

FAQs

Should HiFiMan Sundara be equalised?

If you have the HiFiMan Sundara and want to maximise performance, you can equalise the headphones, but you don’t need to.

What to look out for before buying the Sundara?

These headphones are instruments to deliver the highest audio quality at the sacrifice of simplicity, not consumables. You must care for them and take an active role in their upkeep.

Should you purchase HiFiMan Sundara?

The HiFiMan Sundara is a great set of headphones for a dedicated listening place. It’s priced lower than other well-known high-end choices yet punches beyond its weight. The headphones don’t provide as much bass as some would want, but that’s typical of high-end audio. Most individuals seeking for affordable high-end headphones would like the Sundara, so we gave it our Editors Choice award without hesitation.

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