Hifiman Sundara

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by ufospls2, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. 9suns

    9suns [insert unearned title here]

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    To me it sounds like "sandalia" (spanish for "sandal") :D

    Btw, it's nice to see some progress by Hifiman, this headphone looks well built, I hope the QC is on par with the looks.
    Now they only have to make their whole product line coherent, now the problem is that their 500$ headphone looks "more expensive" (all aluminum, no plywood, etc) than their 6000$ planar flagship (it even has the same earpads)...oops :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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  2. Resolve

    Resolve Acquaintance

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    I've done some more testing with it and I really can't figure out how they thought that the cup positioning is appropriate given that they don't swivel. It's not that the weight is bad or that it's poorly distributed, it's that the cup angle can't be changed to suit my head. I imagine this will be the case for many people as well.
     
  3. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Old at heart, young in other places

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    I mean, a swivel is another part that could eventually fail over time so I can sorta understand why they'd want to omit it, but at the same time, shouldn't the pads be plush enough that they conform to your head somewhat? Didn't seem to me (in video, yet to see these cans in person) that the headband was particularly rigid either, so I'm surprised to hear it's so unaccommodating.

    In other news, waiting for the local shops to get this baby in so I can give it a listen. I don't need another pair of cans any more than I need another stick up my arse, but the measurements and impressions are pretty impressive nonetheless. Will probably come back with impressions... eventually.
     
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  4. Resolve

    Resolve Acquaintance

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    The pads are good actually. They're just at the wrong angle, both for comfort and for the optimal sound.
     
  5. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    Seems to me that if everybody and their brother can figure out how to make cups swivel without durability issues, HFM oughta be able to suss it out. And sorry about the existing stick up your arse.:eek:
     
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  6. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Yup, Hifiman's headphones do look like a constant work-in-progress. There's no end to this. But I have to give them that they're getting better and better. Steps made are fairly small, but there's a progress.
     
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  7. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    And it works better indeed. Some people for sure got lost in their previous names.
     
  8. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Tried these at the last Arizona meet and was pretty underwhelmed. The first thing I noticed was lack of comfort due to high clamp and none adjustable cup swivel. They were light weight but felt cheap with the materials used. Sound was much closer to HE-400i than HE560.

    Sundara Frequency Response ( bad noise conditions so higher smoothing used):
    [​IMG]

    HE-560 Red, HE-400i Green, Sundara Yellow:
    [​IMG]
     
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  9. M3NTAL

    M3NTAL Friend

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    My thoughts are pretty similar with regards only to their audio performance. I feel that the HE-560 is still a better phone on technical merits. Focus A Pads and some light mods help the HE-560 a bit. The 560 at $350 right now would be my choice.
     
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  10. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Hifiman pulling a Sennheiser HD660S I guess.
     
  11. Scubadude

    Scubadude Almost "Made"

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    Also keen to see and hear what replaces the HE-560 in the $1k segment. Judging by initial impressions of the Sundara (sounds like Sandero the French word for small crappy car) and my enjoyment of the HE560 it should be good!
     
  12. PTS

    PTS Friend

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    I got to directly compare the Sundara to my stock HE-4XX for around ten minutes at the recent Source AV meet. From my brief impressions, I agree with cskippy, they sound very similar to one another. I would like to spend more time with the Sundara though, if only a loaner pair would magically appear.
     
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  13. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    You've made my day with this one :D
     
  14. Junki

    Junki Acquaintance

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    I just grabbed one on eBay for $399 using their one-day 20% coupon code. As a previous owner of the 4XX, which I sold because I ended up preferring my modded, cracked, and rather beat-up M1060, I'll report back with impressions once I get these on hand.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2018
  15. songmic

    songmic Gear cycler East Asia edition

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    Sorry if I’m beating a dead horse, but I thought the name sounds like Thundara (tier 2 Thunder spell in Final Fantasy). Anyway it sounds way cooler than Susvara, I think they shoulda been named the other way around.

    Actually never mind, Sundara reminds me of sundry (as in sundry accessory).
     
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  16. skem

    skem Friend

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    I like HiFiMan's products, and currently use the HEK v1 as my primary can. But I admit, it's somewhat veiled and I'd like to find something a bit more present. Since we here at SBAF don't consider price to be an important factor, I thought why not see if Sundara might be an option. Here are my impressions for those interested.

    [​IMG]

    Disclosures / Preferences / Chain

    My audio preferences are for smooth, detailed, naturalistic sound; and I tend to like things a bit warm. I don't tend to put a lot of focus on slam or sharp transients. I do put a lot of focus on acoustic-instrument timbre, which maps on to requiring a reasonable frequency response and low distortion. I listen mainly to acoustic jazz trio. My standard headphone is the HEK v1, which served as an A/B headphone for this test. Any other comparisons are based purely from memory. My standard amplifier is the ZDS with a vintage 1953 Fivre tube, set to low output impedance. While many will say the ZDS impedance (~3 Ω) is too high for planars, I find it's fine except on heavy electronic music. I don't make judgments about distortion unless listening to a solid-state amplifier (0.1 Ω). DAC was Benchmark DAC3.

    Physical Impressions
    Aesthetics wise, this is a headphone that many guys will like. It has a matte black finish and looks clean and lightly industrial. The design is simple. The absence of plastic is nice. The matte finish shows fingerprints a touch and may get glossier after a bit of handling. It looks well made, very masculine, not cheap, not elegant.

    The standard cable is, I think, a silicone-insulated 5-ft cable. I like it because it is very flexible. The main plug is a right-angle 1/8" (3.5mm) TRS. It comes with an adaptor to 1/4" TRS. The headphone-side plugs are also 1/8" TRS, and thus it is not compatible with HEK cables, which are 2.5 mm instead 3.5mm, but on the flip side it's easier to make your own cables for Sundara.

    The resistivity of the drivers measured at 38.0 Ω and 37.4 Ω (right, left), which is a touch better than the 33–34 Ω I measure on the HEK. The sensitivity was better than HEK. I didn't evaluate it carefully, but I would guess probably +4 dB. Sundara has more presence than HEK, which makes this tricky.


    Ergonomics
    The first thing I noticed is the Sundara is very light. In part, this reflects no-frills construction. The lower part of the headband is made from stamped steel that is twisted rather than molded into the wishbone mounts. The earcups don't swivel at all. These are not expensive looking. For all these limitations, the upside is low weight so that they are easy to wear for a long time.

    I found the clamping force to be nice (better than HEK, which is a bit floppy on my small head) but still more comfortable pressure-wise than HD650/660. The headband is adjustable across a wide range of sizes: I usually use the smallest setting on HEK, but I had to extend out two notches on Sundara, so this works well on small heads. I didn't pay attention to whether they would fit on particularly large heads.

    The earpads are small, round, and hard. There's no tactile love from the pleather. I have somewhat large ears and I had to fold my earlobes into the opening in order to get any seal at all. They're also somewhat thinner than other HEK earpads. The upside of pleather without fuzz is they don't get warm in the way the HEK v1 does. The sound quality changes more dramatically with objects on the outside of the open-back drivers than with the HEK—which is a consideration if you like to lay back and listen with head on a pillow, for example.


    Sound Impressions
    I started out with well-recorded choral music. I felt there was a lot of presence in the 4K region (also 8K overtone), causing counter-tenors to sound too forward. There was poor response from the Baritones, which were recessed and also under-detailed. Moving on to some electronica (Goldfrapp), I felt that there was a lot of "treble slam," to coin a phrase—too much for me. It wasn't so much etched as shouty. One often hears the term one-note bass; well this was one-note treble. Or maybe shelf-step treble. The effect gave a mildly painful quality to the treble. I've heard much worse (HD800). I also felt that, while listening loudly, that treble was noticeably distorted.

    The Sundara was also a bit one-note in the bass region at times. Both on electronic and acoustic music, the mid-bass did not fill out around ~100Hz. It had slam, but not honesty.

    Interestingly, here is where I noticed that I did not like the Sundara on the ZDS (with Fivre) compared to my the solid state. Although the HEK is less sensitive and has lower impedance, it still sounds better (to me) on the ZDS than on the solid state, as ZDS smooths some etched quality I sometimes hear on HEK and adds just a enough warm overtones without losing detail. That was not the case with Sundara, which seemed merely to lose detail on the ZDS and prefers the tighter control of solid state. This may be a distortion issue on Sundara.

    Listening to acoustic instruments, there was distinctly less tactile detail in acoustic double bass on Sundara compared to HEK. Piano sounded somewhat synthetic. Saxophone sounded great on Sundara, perhaps largely because key overtones are right in the region where Sundara seems to have a treble step up.

    Conclusions
    I like Sundara better than Sennheiser cans, which I feel are either not detailed enough or achieve detail with messed up frequency response. I liked Sundara better than the LCD2C, which was good, but a bit clunky and had other issues. Compared to flagship HEK and HE6, I felt Sundara's one-note bass and one-note treble made it less interesting. It sounded cleaner than HEK, but the sound was not full. On the up side, it had plenty of slam and was fast enough (for me); and it doesn't have that annoying HEK veil. I usually associate these qualities as suggesting the headphone would be more suitable for pop and electronic music, for which I feel the HEK sucks (and prefer HE6). But that was not true in the case of Sundara. I felt Sundara was less good for electronica than HEK because it was shouty in the treble and one-note lean in the bass. Counterintuitively, I liked Sundara with acoustic Jazz, which puzzled me for a minute. How was it that individual instruments did not have as correct a timbre as they did on HEK, yet overall the presentation was still very good? It then dawned on me: the Sundara really emphasizes the percussion, and that makes it swing. Overall, a pretty good can, but it doesn't overtake HEK v1 or HE6 for me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2018
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  17. Junki

    Junki Acquaintance

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    I'm going to try to keep this short because frankly I just want to want to go back to listening to these.

    I got the Sundara today and have been listening to it. I've also done some comparative critical listening between it and my modded M1060, which has survived my personal headphone roulette that has seen the demise of E-MU Teak, the HE4XX, and the HD650 (which I later re-bought in the form of the HD6XX).

    Setup

    DAC/AMP: NFB-11.28
    Critical listening: Last Jedi Trailer and a handful of tracks I've become very familiar with.

    TL;DR:
    To describe how I feel about it succinctly: I'm seriously impressed with the HIFIMAN Sundara. I've owned and listened to the RBH HP-2, M1060, HE4XX, HD600/6XX, Noble K10U, E-MU Teak, and the Sundara is easily the best non-speaker audio thing I've listened to. To my ears, it is dead neutral with impressive performance throughout its frequency response.

    Sub bass and bass

    Bass is taut, textured, emotional, extremely well extended, and definitely not one-note. Its bass performance is almost as good as the M1060, but the M1060's more powerful magnets and 106mm diaphragm pushes its low frequency performance just ahead as a matter of physics.

    Midrange

    I was worried that the midrange might feel a bit sucked out on these, but I don't get that at all. In fact, the midrange on these feel super smooth and impart an incredibly realistic amount of body and space to both male and female vocals. Also imaging! Probably the first orthos I've heard with actual depth! Vocals appear front and center, how I like it. Tonality! OMG. Vocals feel so real on these.

    Treble

    My disappointment with the HE4XX was that it often strayed into sibilance for me, and when it didn't, high notes sounded slightly compressed / smeared / one-note. Ori pads and some felt tape in some key areas helped a lot, but the issue was always there. To my ears the M1060 were just a way better listen due its significantly better transients, technical performance, and smooth listening. But! But these... M1060 and the HD6XX sound immediately veiled/muffled/distant in the treble department compared to the Sundara. This is the first time I've heard the "veiled" sensation for myself beyond reading about it. It is real.

    At the same time, the treble on the Sundara is not sibilant at all. It's just clear, present, smooth, and neither forward nor recessed compared to the rest of the frequencies. Probably the most resolving pair of headphones I've listened to (the Noble K10U are more resolving, but that's sort of an unfair comparison and arguably artificial in its presentation of detail).

    Summary

    The Sundara is an incredibly cohesive listen with very good technicalities. I can't find any faults with it. I really like it. I'm surprised by how much I like it. Unlike Tyll, I personally consider the Sundara a neutral or even slightly warmish headphone. Bass is incredible in quality and quantity, midrange has body and space and tonality, and treble is resolving and smooth. Average soundstage with great imaging.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
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  18. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    [​IMG]

    Hey Guys,

    After having had to sell all my gear apart from the CA Atlas to pay some medical bills, I was hoping I would be able to buy a less expensive pair of headphones so I still had something over ear. Now, that is not to say the Sundara is a cheap pair of headphones, they aren’t, but in comparison to the Susvara, they are certainly more affordable. I’ll do a quick comparison, then talk more about just the Sundara, as its hardly fair to do a hardcore direct comparison between the two.

    Susvara does everything better as you might expect. Better imaging, deeper soundstage, a bit more bass, far higher quality of clarity, detail and dynamics. However, with all that being said, the Sundara, in my humble opinion, rocks.

    They are a bit bass light for me, especially sub bass wise. I listen to lots of weird electronica, so this is something I pay close attention to. I’ve been boosting the bass a little bit with EQ, and it really helps. I know EQ isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind using it at all. The bass is a bit “one note” in comparison to more capable headphones. There is a bit of a lack of dynamics, but for the money, its some of the better bass I have heard. Definitely gets a thumbs up from me, with a bit of a boost from EQ.

    The mids are a tiny bit pulled back, but I’m not hearing any hardcore suck outs that make them funny sounding. Again, in comparison to the Susvara, these are less capable at rendering the small details in the music, but they are no slouch.

    The treble is great. Its to my preference, a tiny bit bright. I think that some who are sensitive to treble might find these a bit troublesome in comparison to some of the competitors in this price range. However, they are not as bright as the HE560, sort of a middle road between the them and some other darker headphones.

    One thing to note which I have never experienced before is that at lower volumes, these don’t really shine. I think this might be due to their lack of dynamics and micro detail. Something like the Susvara is great at any volume, but the Sundara really starts to shine at medium to high volumes.

    These headphones are sort of a medium sensitivity at 94db/mw. Way easier to drive than the Susvara, but not as easy as some headphones. You will definitely benefit from some sort of amp with these headphones. Right now, I’m using my iFi Micro iDSD BL, and it seems to be a great pairing. Its just something to consider, as people who buy this headphone might not already have an amp in their stable, and it is an added expense to consider.

    The build quality, so far, is actually pretty darn solid. They don’t feel “premium” like some headphones do, but again, at the price these can be had for new, its perfectly acceptable. What is *not* acceptable is the report of people having driver failure out of the box, or a couple weeks down the road after buying them. There is a tiny bit creaking if you flex them back and forth, but once they are on your head there is none to be noticed. The adjustments to get them to fit your head are **really** stiff. Its not easy to get them to move. I guess this is preferable to the HE1000V1, which had a tendency to become too loose in terms of headband adjustment. These don’t swivel at all, which is not good for some peoples heads. The Sundara fit me just fine, and are pretty comfortable, but some might struggle.

    The cable, for the price, is ok. Could be a little bit longer, but its not too bad. I think if you are going to be using these for a good long while, a cheap cable upgrade might be worth it in terms of ergonomics. Its something I might look into. Whilst the 3.5mm connectors at the headphone end are a better idea than the 2.5mm’s present on other Hifiman headphones, its kinda dumb that you can’t use other Hifiman cables with these. I hope Hifiman sticks with the 3.5mm from here on out, rather than continuing to change their standard.

    I think that for the price, and just in general, these are a great pair of headphones. I prefer them to the LCD-2C, which is almost double the price. I also prefer these to both the AEON closed and the AEON open. The reports of drivers dying is very worrying, but so far my pair are ok. If something goes wrong, I will definitely report back. In terms of sound, these are more to my preference than the HE560, which was a what, $1000(?) headphone just a few short years ago. It appears that Hifiman, whilst picking retarded prices for their TOTL headphones, is trickling down some of the things they have learned in making those TOTL cans, and that is great!

    All in all, the Sundara is a great headphone for the price in my opinion. If you can get it on sale, even better.
     
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  19. Abhishek Chowdhary

    Abhishek Chowdhary Friend

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    At last a good headphone from HFM. No major treble issues this time. Just a minor treble hardness but that is perhaps due steely upper midrange. For a modern planar they have good note weight; even the upper treble sounds natural this time something several HFMs have failed at , good timbre (except for the upper midrange). Bass is quite flat and extends well for most of the music. It didn't sound as dirty as the measurements suggest. I thought these were quite a bit better tuned than the CA Cascade.
     
  20. Ad-astra

    Ad-astra Rando

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    do you guys consider this phone as midfi? can't afford he6 lol
     

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