hifiman sundara review-13-promising-facts-make-tt-a-great-pick

Hifiman Sundara Review [October 2023]: 13 Promising Facts Make It a Great Pick

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Different headphone with warm, neutral, and balanced sound. It has a lot of hype among audiophile enthusiasts. Is it a great pick? We will find out in Hifiman Sundara Review.

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Delivers great bass sound at an affordable price. Very good choice for mixing, listening and audio recording. Closed-back headphones have a strong build and design. Offer reasonably comfortable ear cups.

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I assume if you are a personal audio enthusiast, you might also know the Hifiman brand. Still, let me clear the air about how the brand got started.

Dr. Fang created Hifiman in 2007. He founded it in New York to manufacture high quality audio products for all audiophiles.

It’s also very interesting to note that Hifiman was the first brand to release a high-end portable audio player. The HM-801 was kind of the catalyst for the reference audio player many know today.

One of the many things that make the brand stand out is that they are a very innovative company. They spend a lot of time and put energy looking for something better in every model.

HiFiMan Sundara created a lot of hype. It’s hailed as one of the best entry-level planar magnetic headphones. But, to be honest, it’s a community favorite.

Does it have wider appeal as well? We will find out in this review.

The headphones have a lot of good points. But, at the same time like any enthusiastic products, they might not seem well suited for everyone.

Yet, I could see Sundara standing out from the competition. I know many of you are unfamiliar with this type of driver. The HiFiMan Sundara is a very robust set of planar magnetic headphones.

These are quite bulky as well. Planar magnets generally have a large amount of mass. The sheer number of magnets used in their design is a contributor.

The 372g weight is a little too heavy on the neck after a few hours. HiFiMan Sundara is open planar magnetic headphones designed for neutral sound.

They trap more warmth in your ears than the previous versions. They have a balanced sound profile and a wide and spacious soundstage. And they also have very consistent audio delivery.

But most open-back headphones like these are intended for use in quiet environments such as homes and studios only.

Based on a great sound profile, Hifiman Sundara is a big recommendation. They meet the quality of a smooth, relaxing, and engaging pair of headphones. Every audiophile should check them out.

1. What is in the Box- Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones?

The Hifiman Sundara open-back headphones come with the following elements in the box

  • HiFiMan Sundara 2020 headphones
  • 1/8″ TRS to L/R 1/8″ TRS cable
  • 1/4″ TRS to 1/8″ adapter
  • Manual

2. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones Release Date?

The Hifiman Sundara headphones came out in 2018. Thereafter, there have been a few tweaks and it, and the company has also updated the version in 2020. But these headphones are very popular and a community favorite.

3. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones Design and Build

Unboxing the Hifiman Sundara gave me the feeling of Beyerdynamic’s look and feel. The pair of headphones have a solid, purposeful build. I love the sturdy design and build.

The aluminum construction looks very attractive and has smooth sliding. It’s adjustable for moving up and down. There are also an aluminum driver grille and leather strap. They both look long lasting.

This set of headphones weighs 372 grams. It’s lighter than many other planar magnetic headphones. The weight-distributing headband further reduces weight concerns.

There are headphones with a low mass of the diaphragm. Still, they have so many magnets around the driver. This makes most planar magnetic headphones quite heavy.

Luckily, the Sundara headphones use lightweight magnets to keep the weight reasonable. The cable is straight, stiff, short, and 1.5m. It looks poorer than you’d expect at this price point.

I was not very familiar with this type of driver until I used them. The HiFiMan Sundara is a fairly robust set of planar magnetic headphones.

These are a little bulky. Planar magnets generally have a large amount of mass. This is the direct result of the sheer number of magnets used in their design.

Speaking of pads, HiFiMan has updated Sundara’s ear pads. This is a welcome change to make it easier to hear with your glasses on. This is not only the angle they hit the head for a better fit but also the fabric material.

Of course, cloth pads of all kinds mean that you may need a cloth-safe cleanser. There is a woven metal grill and foam that protects the back of the HiFiMan Sundara.

Like all open-back headphones, the HiFiMan Sundara let in outside noise. The actual material of the headband itself has not changed. This is fine.

Yet, it’s comfortable on the head. The padding isn’t the most important thing with these headphones. The grille is also to some extent, different. It has better protection for drivers.

They stay well without cutting into your melon. The Accord also seems more durable and feels more sturdy. It still splits Y into both earcups and ends with two 2.5mm jacks.

The other end is his gold-plated 3.5 mm L-shaped plug that fits with a 1/4 inch adapter. The ear cups fit my ears well, but like most cups, they tend to flatten out over time.

But, they’re replaceable. When you take off the ear cups, you’ll notice a patch of ragged adhesive on the back. This is quite annoying for me.

4. Features and Specifications- Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones

Indeed, I am very happy that Sundara has the most notable new feature which is the ultra-thin diaphragm.

If you go by the company’s claim this pair of headphones is 80% thinner than the diaphragm on the HE-400i and HE-400s. Thus, the driver produces very low levels of distortion.

Yet, the headset offers a very dynamic response. It’s very interesting, Sundara’s distortion values ​​are relatively very low.

Given the nature of the planar headphones, typical low impedance, and sensitivity, it’s not easy to drive.

The Sundara model I am reviewing now has a frequency response of 6Hz to 75kHz.  The impedance level is settled at 37 ohms. This is a very good choice for music enthusiasts.

In general, earphones’ sensitivity ranges from 80 to 125 dB. These cans have a sensitivity range of 94dB/mW. The headphones’ weight at 372g seems a little bulky for me.

The HiFiMan Sundara comes with a 2 x 3.5mm interconnection to connect to the PC, amplifier, or other sources.  I did connect my set of cans with a 3.5mm TRS cable with his 1/4 inch adapter for sources with larger jacks.

The plug is right-angled and it did well for me. You can store it on your desk. But, using this method can affect the interface and amplifier controls.

5. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones- Battery Life

Hifiman Sundara wired open back open headphones. They don’t have battery features.

6. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones- Wearing Comfort

When I opened up my newly bought Sundara box, the style appealed to me. Even in the community, these cans are very popular to exhibit style.  And I like the look of the ear cups.

They have a very rounded shape, and the minimalist design hits all the right cues. I don’t doubt it. Still, the headbands seem to tell me a different story.

There are a few silver accents that line up awkwardly on the lining of the vertical headband. This doesn’t look very impressive to me.

This minimalist design of the earcups makes a statement. The new headband is much better than the previous design and more comfortable.

The weight seems a little bulky. It’s not too heavy over the head, nor too tight. And it has headgear that avoids pressure points better than any other headgear I’ve tried.

A few of my friends who used the headphones did not find the ear cups rotating on their side. But for me, it doesn’t matter much.

I am happy, this pair of  Hifiman Sundara are more comfortable headphones.

Carrying these headsets all day long seems a little impractical. Still, the comfort issue with the Sundara isn’t that big of a deal.

So, if you’re prone to neck fatigue, you might not like to use them for long. I’m positive enough there will be some tweaks from time to time, but most of the time you don’t need to take it off.

At the angle where the padding is closest to the cheeks, the front padding is noticeably thinner. And they don’t feel sturdy up front, so that may not sound like a good thing, but promise only.

I would rather say these are reasonably comfortable open back headphones.

7. How Do Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones Deliver Sound?

I tried quite a few music genres with my set of Hifiman Sundara headphones. For example, classical, ambient, and drone are some of the genres that are perfect for Sundara.

I listened to classical tracks and I am indeed lost in soft musical nirvana. The cans delivered charming, pleasing, extra ordinary soft sound.

There is no deviation in the resolution needed to play the busiest of orchestral passages. But, I am a little unhappy because the Sundara can lack dynamics when it comes to speed and resolution.

I felt this lacking dynamic in the midrange. I will discuss more on this in the coming sections.

The Sundara isn’t powerless, especially compared to older headphones. It can bring out a lot of color on powerful bombastic recordings.

It’s also easy that it can turn into a thin, fragile, inadequate sound. To better understand I will break the sound profile into 4 parts.

A. How Does Hifiman Sundara deliver Mids?

I found the midrange is somewhat relaxed and very smooth. There is no screaming and even a little cooler. I don’t listen to music that seeks warmth and intimacy very frequently.

But, there is something with every piece of music, that gives a great listening experience. I played Tim Hecker’s “7000 Miles” with quite a few headphones.

But for me, it sounds better on the Sundara than on any other headphones. Why is it so? It is because of the Sundara’s airy, cathedral-like quality.

The Hifiman Sundara also does great justice to Bach’s organ chorale. It did deliver very well here also.

The speed of the open back cans also impressed me. It makes an excellent mix of driver speed and frequency response.

A combination of the blistering speed of the driver and relaxed frequency response delivers a smooth midrange. The driver seems to be a USP.

But, to be honest, I found a drawback as well. The Sundara’s midrange smoothness is of very good quality.  It comes at a cost because there is a loss of detail in the upper midrange.

All that said, I am still firm in my belief that Sundara resolves almost anything that gets in the way. Sometimes, it’s not always explicit and visible.

B. How is the Bass Performance of Hifiman Sundara?

The Hifiman Sundara is a very popular headphone among its community and for me also. This is all because of its clear and detailed midrange performance.

But, when it comes to strong bass response, it is not at par with others with strong bass delivery. I used a pair of Sundara headphones and my impression is that the bass on the Sundara is tight and well-defined. It’s a little on the downside. I didn’t feel the same impact or depth as some other headphones with stronger bass response.

But there is a reason for that. Why it’s less known for bass performance? This is because the Sundara is designed to produce a more neutral and balanced sound rather than a bass-heavy sound.

If you love critical listening and a more accurate representation of the music, this is a perfect pick. So, this is not the best choice for bass-heavy genres like electronic or hip-hop.

I would also endorse here that the bass performance varies depending on the source. The use of an amplifier also affects the bass performance.

So, it is always best to try it out with your own equipment before making a decision.

C. Hifiman Sundara- Treble performance

The Hifiman Sundara is a high-end, over-ear headphone. These over ear cans are well known for their exceptional treble performance.

The treble or high-frequency audio range is a very complicated feature. This is one of the most challenging aspects of headphone audio reproduction.

The Sundara’s treble is detailed, extended, and smooth without any harshness. I enjoyed a natural and lifelike listening experience. This includes genres of music that rely on high-frequency. For example, content such as classical or acoustic music.

Moreover, Sundara’s open-back design also helps to enhance treble performance. It allows for a more natural and spacious soundstage.

There is a very mild grain in the Sundara’s treble response. I didn’t like it to be very exciting. There are other collections of headphones with me to take care of this issue.

I tried and tested my pair of cans with ambient, classical, jazz or acoustic, or electronic music. And I didn’t run into these issues with most of these genres with which the Sundara excels.

For these genres, the Sundara treble delivers detailed, airy, and gorgeous audio performance.

D. Hifiman Sundara- Soundstage

The Hifiman Sundara is a highly-regarded over-ear planar magnetic headphone among its users. These cans are known for their spacious and immersive soundstage.

It’s always a great joy listening to music with these headphones. It sounds like the instruments and vocals are coming from different locations in the room.

That gives a sense of being in a concert hall or live music venue. This is different from traditional headphones. This can sound more “in your head” and less spacious.

For example, I was listening to a live recording of a band. And the headphone would make it sound like I was in the audience. I could feel the instruments and vocals coming from different parts of the stage. I could hear the drums sound coming from the back, and the vocals sound coming from the front. This creates a more immersive listening experience. That made me feel like I was at a concert.

The Sundara has a very well balanced sound signature. It has clear and detailed treble, and natural and well-defined mids. The bass is tight and controlled.

This means that the highs, mids, and lows are all well-balanced and none of them overpower the others. This is great for listening to a wide variety of music genres. It ensures that you will be able to hear all the different elements of a song with great clarity.

The Sundara would make the trumpet sound clear and crisp when listening to a jazz song. Still, you can hear the bass and drums. This balance allows you to hear all the different instruments in a song.

Wow, I enjoyed the full experience of the music!

These headphones are solid and sturdy in build quality. This means that the headphones are well-constructed are long lasting.

8. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones- Frequency Response

The Hifiman Sundara open back cans deliver excellent frequency response. These headphones have been very consistent for me for quite some time now.

The treble response may vary depending on fit and positioning. But, may not be too noticeable to most listeners.

With time and fine tuning, you should get consistent voice delivery every time. These headphones have good bass accuracy.

The fans of bass-heavy genres such as EDM and hip-hop may not get enough drone and rumble. This is the result of a lack of emphasis on the sub-bass range.

The low-mids are also slightly underemphasized. This can leave your music lacking body and punch. The highs and lows are balanced and flat, bringing just the right amount of warmth and richness to your audio.

The sound profile of HiFiMan Sundara is very neutral. It lacks deep bass due to its open design. But, the rest of the response is very well balanced and suits a wide range of content and genres.

Unfortunately, I missed the sound customization features such as EQ or presets.

9. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones- Noise Isolation and ANC review

Do you expect HiFiMan Sundara to block out your surroundings?

Open-back headphones really don’t. They are not designed to isolate you from the outside world. 

HiFiMan Sundara in particular blocks out very little noise. There are other Hifiman editions such as XS and other open-back headphones. They don’t block the noise.

The HiFiMan Sundara also has poor noise isolation performance. It doesn’t block out any ambient noise. So, you’ll hear ambient sounds like the roar of a bus engine, train, or the chatter of surrounding offices.

These headphones have poor leakage characteristics typical of open-back headphones. By design, it leaks a lot of audio.

Listening at high volume in an office environment makes it easier for people around you to hear your music.

10. Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones Audiophile- Review

In my few months of use, I find the Sundara has great features for headphones at that price. And I do agree every audiophile should check them out.

I will come up with more on audiophiles at a later stage.

11. How Does Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphone Perform in Gaming?

These open back headphones have excellent image quality. While I’m not a hardcore gamer, my friend claims Sundara helps find Warzone loot boxes much easier.

You can use these headphones wired with your Xbox by connecting a 1/8″ TRS cable to your controller.

But you will only receive audio. These are PS4 compatible with regular 1/8″ TRS or TRRS audio cables. If you want to use wired headphones with your PS4 controller these cable work well.

The headsets are also PS5 compatible with standard 1/8″ TRS or TRRS audio cables. You can use wired headphones with your PS5 controller.

12. How Do Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones Pair with Devices?

These headphones come with a TRS cable with a 1/8″ connector on one end and a 1/8″ connector for each ear cup on the other end.

There’s also a 1/8″ to 1/4″ TRS adapter. However, they don’t have an in-line mic, and so they can only receive audio.

13. Control and Portability- Hifiman Sundara Open Back Headphones

These are bulky headphones and are not suitable for outdoor use or regular carry.

Unlike the Hifiman HE-400i, the ear cups don’t swivel flat and take up a fair amount of space in your backpack or large bag. Also, no protective case or pouch is included.

  • Balance sound
  • Soundstage and imaging deliver well
  • Treble is detailed
  • Good construction
  • Good value for money
  • Doesn’t deliver well for all genres
  • Bass is not very consistent on some occasions
  • These are some grain in treble
  • Not very portable

Conclusion: Helping You Make Informed Decision Easy

HiFiMan Sundara is great for neutral sounds. The sound profile is very neutral and balanced. But it lacks a bit of thump and rumble due to its open design.

Their soundstage is wide and spacious, which helps create an immersive sound experience. It also provides a consistent sound so you don’t have to readjust it frequently.

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 is suitable for wired games. You can connect them to your PC, or connect to your Xbox or PlayStation console.

But, you can only receive audio through these headphones as there is no microphone. They’re very comfortable, but they do get quite hot in your ears.

So, you’ll want to take a break from time to time during long gaming sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Things You Must Know Before Buying

A: The HIFIMAN SUNDARA headphones are known for their balanced and neutral sound signature. They provide a detailed and accurate audio representation, making them suitable for a wide range of music genres and audio content.

A: Yes, the earpads on the HIFIMAN SUNDARA headphones are replaceable. This allows users to easily swap out the earpads for replacements or alternative options if desired, ensuring long-term comfort and usability.

A: While the HIFIMAN SUNDARA headphones are more efficient compared to some other high-end headphones, they can benefit from the use of an external amplifier. An amplifier can enhance their performance by providing more power and control, resulting in improved audio quality and a better listening experience.

A: The HIFIMAN SUNDARA headphones use a standard 3.5mm headphone jack for the cable connection. Additionally, they come with a detachable cable, which allows for easy replacement or upgrade if needed.

A: Yes, the HIFIMAN SUNDARA headphones can be used for gaming and watching movies. Their accurate sound reproduction and wide soundstage contribute to an immersive audio experience, making them suitable for various forms of entertainment beyond music.


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