Positive Feedback Logo

Hifiman Ananda-BT Bluetooth Headphones

01-18-2020 | By Michael Corsentino | Issue 107

Creating a killer pair of headphones which appeals to a broad spectrum of listeners, musical tastes, and listening preferences, is no mean feat. It requires a hard to achieve blend of sonics, aesthetics, build quality, convenience, comfort, and cost. Too much of one thing or too little of another and the experience can quickly begin to fall short. Add to that our increasing demand for high quality wireless sound and things become even more challenging.

Until now "HiFi" and "Bluetooth" have been contradictory terms, you could have one or the other, but not both. Hifiman's new and aptly named Ananda-BT, a Bluetooth version of their highly touted, much beloved Ananda wired over ear, open back, planar magnetic headphones changes all that. Combining cutting edge planar magnetic drivers, high definition Bluetooth technology, stylish industrial design and ultimate comfort the Ananda-BT smashes perceptions about what is possible with Bluetooth wireless headphones.

Hifiman Ananda-BT Bluetooth Headphones

Absent the power / paring, charging buttons, and charging port located on the bottom of the right ear cup, it would be hard to differentiate the Ananda-BT from its original wired sibling. As a wireless duplicate of the original wired Ananda, the BT version lacks volume, stop, start, pause and skip track controls. Curious omissions, as these amenities are typically standard issue with wireless headphones. Therefore, you have to rely on your source for control, a minor inconvenience given the bigger picture of what the Ananda-BT offers.

As much as I love the intimate, tune out the rest of the world experience great headphones provide, I'm not a fan of being tethered. Moreover with wired headphones, there's a lot more to worry about. In many cases you need a dedicated headphone amp, a DAC, a good set of cables, and a chair to be glued to. Because of this, more often than not I end up choosing the convenience of Bluetooth over the sonics of high fidelity cans. With the Ananda-BT everything you need for great sound is already built in, you simply establish a Bluetooth connection between the headphones and your source, and you're good to go. When I learned about the Ananda-BT I jumped at the chance to review them. Could I really have the best of both worlds, the transparency of open back planar magnetic drivers without the restrictiveness of wires? Would wireless planar magnetic headphones have enough power to adequately drive them? Would there be any bass? Would they live up to all the promised HiFi hype? Read on dear reader, read on! Spoiler alert: these are the best Bluetooth headphones this reviewer has ever listened to.

Driver Technology

At their best, open back, planar magnetic headphones have an open, airy, extended, and transparent sonic signature that's easy to love. However, bass is oftentimes scarified at the altar of transparency. This is due to the wafer thin film drivers used for planar magnetic sound reproduction. Historically this class of drivers excel at revealing macro and micro details, producing a shimmery mid range, a natural, musical presentation, and a non-fatiguing high frequency range. Until now this required a wired connection, a considerable amount of juice to drive, sometimes necessitating a dedicated headphone amp, and in many cases a bottom end that could leave you wanting more. Ideal drivers for classical music, acoustic jazz and the like, but less so for electronic music, R&B, soul, rock, pop, etc. Not so with the Ananda-BT, no one trick pony here. These are terrific all around headphones with all the best attributes you'd expect from planar magnetics, but with two big additional benefits, a cut cord and bass, lots of bass! On paper their frequency range is an impressive 8Hz-55kHz. I was repeatedly shocked and thrilled at the sonic breath, weight and heft these planar magnetics were able to deliver. Bass is tight and punchy with enough grunt and slam to satisfy even demanding bass heads.

The Ananda-BT's compelling and eminently listenable sound are the result of Hifiman's new Neo "Supernano" Diaphragm (NsD) that is 80% thinner than previous iterations, making them faster, more responsive, detailed and lush. I'm told the drivers are also considerably larger than other planar magnetics, one of reasons for their impressive bass authority. According to Hifiman, the window shade grill on the back of each ear cup is designed to reduce sonic reflections and help produce crystal clear sound. In fact the Ananda-BT did a fantastic job with every musical genre I threw at them. It's safe to say the Ananda-BT has not only redefined the way I think about what's possible with Bluetooth, but also planar magnetic drivers. The Ananda BT truly is a best of all worlds proposition.

Bluetooth & Electronics

The Ananda-BT supports APTX-HD, HWA and LDAC lossless HD Bluetooth codecs, producing stunning sound when connected to compatible sources such as NAD's M10 one box streaming solution (review forthcoming). That said, you don't need a high end, esoteric source to get premium performance from the Ananda-BT. They also dazzled when connected to my iPhone and iPad streaming Apple Music. Hifiman claims the Ananda-BT is capable of streaming up 24-bit/96kHz via Bluetooth. Streaming nerds are quick to point out that despite the Ananda-BT's cutting edge codecs the claimed 24/96-bit rate isn't possible due to Bluetooth's inherent limitations and DSD is not supported.

Guess what? I don't care, and arguably neither should you. I'm not counting zeros and ones. I'm listing to musical notes dance between my ears. It's how those notes sound that is the ultimate arbiter for me. That's all I really care about. As I said above, these are hands down the best Bluetooth headphones I've ever listened to. If a wired connection, for even higher bit rates and more fleshed out dynamics is more to your liking, the Ananda-BT includes a micro-usb cable for connecting to smart phones, tablets, and computers.

Not only does the Ananda-BT go toe to toe with several tethered cans I've tried well above their $999 price point, but in some cases they slay their wired brethren in overall performance and value. Hearing is believing, listening to the Ananda-BT it's clear wireless headphones for audiophiles have arrived. If you're anything like me, these headphones will have you smiling widely as words like "wow, amazing, and no way," flash through your head. In short order the Ananda-BT quickly faded into the background as I got lost in the thorough enjoyment of my music. They just disappear. I can't think of a better endorsement for a pair of headphones.


It doesn't matter how good a pair of headphones are, if they're uncomfortable to wear they're not going to get a lot of use, and instead end up collecting dust. It's that simple. I should know, I've got headphones doing just that. On my head the Ananda-BT are "set it and forget it" comfortable. The perfect mixture of medium weight—just over 1 lb, comfort—memory foam and leather clad ear pads, size and yoke tension. Long term use of the Ananda-BT never made my ears hot or uncomfortable. The asymmetrical ear cups fit easily over my ears, at no time contacting or compressing them. The Ananda-BT's hybrid headband design never felt heavy, burdensome, stiff or rigid, easily adjusting for the prefect fit. The wearable experience is soft and gentle, as close to floating on your head as is it gets. As someone who shaves their head, the way headphones feel during hours of listening is particularly important, as there's no additional cushioning to rely on. Anything overly tight, digging, pinching, too heavy, etc. won't fly. The Ananda BT is a winner in the comfort department.


As attractive looking as they are sonically pleasing, the Ananda-BT are a case study in performance meeting style. From the supple pebble leather and metal hybrid headband to the memory foam and leather clad asymmetrical ear cups, to the window shade open back, to the understated silver and matte black finish, these headphones are premium looking from top to bottom. These are cans you'll want to show off! I choose the Teklin's Asona model Wood Arch Headphone Stand in a walnut finish for its minimalist mid century aesthetic and very reasonable $29 price. They look great together.

Battery Life & Charging

The Ananda-BT's built in lithium-ion battery provides 10 hours of continuous use, and can be fully charged in 2.7 hours. I typically do this in the morning before leaving the house, or at night prior to going to sleep. Charging is accomplished by attaching the included micro-USB cable to the charging port at the bottom of the right ear cup and pressing the charging button next to it. A red light indicates charging in progress, green a full charge.

Much like a smart phone, the Ananda-BT's battery is rated for between 5-10 years of life depending on the number of charging cycles. At the end of its life the battery can be replaced by sending the headphones to Hifiman. After 15 minutes without a signal an automatic power down feature kicks in, saving power and extending use.

Listening: Playing the 44.1kHz/16-bit Flac of Billie Eilish's hit "Bad Boy" via NAD's M10 > Tidal > Roon, it's hard not to move along with the songs infectiously bouncy bass line. Dynamics were full, punchy and fat, bass round, full and snappy. Midband vocals were clear, energetic and up front in the mix. Details, tone, and separation were plentiful. If you're looking for the perfect track to demonstrate the Ananda-BT's pop and bass chops, this is it. My other go-to tracks in this category were Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize," and Sade's "The Moon And The Sky," both 44.1kHz/16-bit Flac via NAD's M10 > Tidal > Roon.

Switching gears to classical with Quatuor Hanson, Anton Hanson, Jules Dussap, and Gabrielle Lafait's fabulous All Shall Not Die - Hayden String Quartets "String Quartets (6), Op. 50," H 3/44-49, 96kHz/24-bit Flac via NAD's M10 > Qobuz > Roon detail, separation, and tone are king. The quartet's instruments are crystal clear with a palpable sense of space, air, and extension around them. The Ananda-BT were inky black during quiet passages, holding nothing back when bows met strings. The presentation was pure, natural, musical, and never fatiguing.

The Ananda-BT also did a fantastic job with Jazz. Blum's Nérija, 44.1kHz/24-bit Flac via NAD's M10 > Qobuz > Roon was the first of many jazz albums I listened to, including Ray Brown's Solar Energy. Adjectives like clean, crisp, delineated, musical, and natural come to mind, everything you want with acoustic music. Instruments were separate and easily identifiable within an acceptably wide if not super expansive soundstage, with a lovely sense of open back transparency overall.


The Ananda-BT gives you everything you expect from a world class pair of open back planar magnetic headphones with none of the drawbacks, no cables, and no headphone amp or DAC to worry about, you simply connect them via Bluetooth and start enjoying your music in all its high resolution glory. A molded plastic carrying case and USB mic are included for portability, phone calls, and gaming.

The Ananda-BT aren't finicky, pray at the audiophile altar headphones, they go where you go! You'll quickly fall in love their fabulous sound, untethered freedom of movement, and absence of sacrifices. I've used them for critical listening (god I hate that term), danced around my living room listening to Billie Eilish, made a fabulous red sauce streaming Pavarotti, and drifted off to a peaceful late night slumber with Windham Hill. These aren't your father's headphones, they're easy breezy carefree sonic showstoppers you'll be fighting to get back from your significant other. Recommended without reservation.

Ananda-BT Headphones

Retail: $999