The HIFIMAN Sundara open-backed headphones are a step up from the from the HE 400 series. With a significantly wider frequency response and faster response rate, I was interested to find out if these new improvements warrant the higher price tag.
IN THE BOX
HIFIMAN Sundara headphones
1.5m detachable headphone cable (3.5mm Headphone connector; 6.6mm adapter)
The sides of the ear pads are made from leather, while the front has a soft spandex-like material. These headphones don’t feel particularly heavy for their size, and the ear pads spread the weight evenly around the ear. They felt just slightly tight for me, but they keep a good seal. The two tier headband feels durable and snug over the head. The ear cup adjusters have metal inlets that snap in place and allow for a precise fit. Once I got used to the firmness, I found it provided all-round comfort for long periods of listening.
DESIGN and FEATURES
The outer grills on the HIFIMAN Sundara provide sturdy protection without taking away from the aesthetic design. The look is simple and refined. These headphones have planar magnetic technology; the drivers are lighter in weight, which reduces distortion of high frequencies and vibrations in a speaker. The diaphragm is thinner than the HE 400 series, which gives it a very wide frequency response (6Hz-75kHz). The Y cable has a connecter that is designed at a 90 degree angle. This is good to have on a portable player because there is less strain being placed on the jack. Overall, these headphones are solidly built.
The general sound on the HIFIMAN Sundara is smooth and natural. There is a transparency throughout the frequency spectrum, and nothing is over-emphasized. It’s really well balanced. At 35 Ohms, these headphones work fine on an iPhone, but the volume is not super high. And with a phone amp, the sound is brought to another level. The bass on these is clear and sufficient, but not extremely warm or weighty. If you’re a hip-hop listener, the bass might not do it for you. The mids are really easy on the ears, and perhaps my favorite aspect of the sound. The higher treble has very slight sibilance at louder volume levels, which only becomes clear on certain vocals and tambourines.
I was listening to Lorde’s latest album, and I felt a little sizzle on some of her songs. In general, vocals have a pleasing presence but aren’t extremely close. Still, there were nice subtleties in texture. Acoustic guitars have a nuanced timbre and feel punchy; Paul Simon sounded fantastic, so folk and country really excel. Drums sound natural and deliver a nice snap. Though brass had some good character to it, again, I found the soprano to be a little piercing. Pop music has impact, and the clarity of these headphones really comes through in this genre.
The soundstage on the HIFIMAN Sundara is also very impressive. This becomes especially apparent when listening to rock and classical. You can hear the expansive width and depth of the arrangement. The price of the HIFIMAN Sundara is pretty high compared to the HE 400 series, and some might question if they’re worth the upgrade. But if you’re listening to the Sundara at home or in the studio (or using a powerful phone amp), these headphones are definitely worth trying.
Frequency Response: 6Hz – 75kHz
Impedance: 37 ohms
You can order a pair of HIFIMAN Sundara headphones at Audio46.