The impressions below are from about 8 months ago, all about the Hifiman Sundara. I hope some of you find them useful!
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 doublethe 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.