Hifiman Sundara

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

  1. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Hey Guys,

    I returned to the local headphone shop this morning to give the Susvara another listen, but while I was there I also listened to the Cascade and the Sundara. I thought I would share some brief impression on them as they are both new, and very interesting cans. I didn’t get to spend long with either headphone as I was in a bit of a rush, but here are some brief impressions below. Better than nothing, I suppose. Any questions, just ask! (Cascade impressions are in the Cascade thread :))

    Sundara: Wow! Build quality! Rock solid! Is it as nice as the Cascade? No. It is the nicest I have seen Hifiman do though. It is better than the Susvara in terms of build quality, which is kinda ridiculous. It looks to be the same ear pads as the Susvara too. Great sound IMO. Better than the 400i, and much more in line with the HE560, with maybe a tiny bit less bass. I didn’t notice any treble spikes drilling into my ears. Detailed and airy sounding. Really impressed with this headphone for the price.
     
  2. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    I was wondering why the price of the HE-400i dropped to $250. They must have been trying to reduce stock to make room for the Sundara.
     
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  3. ufospls2

    ufospls2 Friend

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    Yeah I think that is why. The Sundara is replacing the whole 400 line as far as I know.
     
  4. Resolve

    Resolve Acquaintance

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    I'll buy the replacement to the HE-560
     
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  5. Vorlon

    Vorlon self-important, pompous ass

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    Looks in pictures like the first HiFiMAN headphone with a built quality more or less up to the standard expected of its price range, but this early report on Head-Fi (driver rattle just like on HE-560) is not very encouraging... It seems this issue happens specifically with their single side magnet designs.

    Just got burned with the same problem on a cheap HE-560 that got sent back. As long as there are continuous or even sporadic reports of this happening, I´ll have to stay away despite being otherwise interested in their products. Good to see they are moving towards sturdier more aluminium based designs though.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  6. Resolve

    Resolve Acquaintance

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    I'll see if I can notice it when I audition them today. Which frequencies should I pay attention to when listening for this?
     
  7. Vorlon

    Vorlon self-important, pompous ass

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    It´s quite difficult to find with music as you need something like electronica with a lot of specific deep bass. If you are auditioning them on a PC the easiest way to check it is probably this site: http://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_subwooferkicktest.php (+ low bass test signals on Spotify work too)

    On defective drivers especially the 40 hz and downwards kickdrum samples from that site should show it. It sounds as if a cable would consistently hit something inside/there´s a hair on the diaphragm. May be on one or both channels and loudness can also vary. It sometimes takes like half a second to start, but after that it´s there and if you play the same sample again immediately it´ll be there all the time. It gets louder the lower the bass goes. My HE-560 rattled a lot on the right side and a little on the left. If it´s there it´s very easy to hear/well separated from the bass. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
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  8. Resolve

    Resolve Acquaintance

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    So I also spent time with the Sundara today and I left wanting to hear more. Even though I don't really have a need for another open-back planar, I was so close to buying them on the spot. Here's my analysis:

    Build Quality and Design: A

    I was very impressed with the build quality, certainly a huge improvement over their previous lineup. The new headband style looks amazing, as do the grills/cups. Two things to note, there is only minimal swivel to the yokes, which was a bit disappointing, but I don't think it matters because of how nice the pads are.

    Comfort: B+

    I am a total comfort freak, and if I can't wear a headphone for more than 6 hours comfortably I won't even consider it. When I first put these on it felt kind of weird to be honest. Since the yokes don't really have much swivel to them, you can't really adjust where you want the headphone to sit on your ears the way you can with something like the Aeon Flow. But after about 15 minutes I started to get more used to the fit and found that it was actually completely wearable. The Sundara is infinitely more comfortable than the HE-500, 4XX, and many of their older designs, but about on par with some of the newer ones. I'd also put this as a step up in comfort from the Fidelio X2, and close to the Aeon Flow. The one thing I wish they had added was an elastic or stretch type headband design, but most people will find the comfort of these to be just fine.

    Sound: A

    Definitely an improvement over the HE-400i (and its variants). Wide soundstage, excellent highs with no sibilance, smooth and detailed mids without any glare. I'd have to do a more discerning listen to compare the microdynamics and resolution but my initial impression was that there was nothing I was missing out on that other cans like the HD650 could deliver, and then on top of that these had the planar speed that I just love, all throughout, including a big strong yet reasonably tight bass presence. I'd be curious to A/B them with the AFO just to see which presentation I prefer, but I'd say that the Sundara is probably a bit closer to neutral, while the AFO is a bit warmer. I also think it's probably got a bit more bass presence than the HE-560, but I didn't get a chance to compare that directly.

    Overall: A-

    So why didn't I buy this? I might still buy this, who am I kidding I'm an addict. But part of me feels like there will be an HE-560 replacement with the same build quality as the Sundara for under $1000, and I'm tempted to hold out for that, and I'm also not really in the market for a new planar since I'm pretty happy with my AFO at the moment. But this headphone is probably better than what most of the current reviews are suggesting. I didn't hear any of the driver buzz that was a concern earlier with the HE-560 and other newer models (but I didn't get a chance to do the audiocheck test). I was thoroughly impressed, and would love to hear it again. If I do buy it I'll update this.
     
  9. Vorlon

    Vorlon self-important, pompous ass

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    I´d consider it a small miracle if this doesn´t happen within the next ~6 months max (probably within a few). The recent HE-560 sales went for so low prices it seems to me like a stock clearance operation before the new model is out.

    They must have invested significant cash into new CNC machines and so on in order to pull off these build quality improvements with the Sundara. No matter what they say in public, they have to be aware of the common public perception of build quality/QA being their biggest single obstacle. They´ll slowly be moving all of their headphones to this better level. Now I haven´t seen this can live yet, but it´s pretty funny that this looks in pictures to have better build quality than their flagship planar...

    Too bad you couldn´t get a chance to try the bass tests. If the rattle isn´t extra loud it´s very difficult to hear in store audition conditions. I´d still make sure to buy from a place with a good returns policy just to be safe. HiFiMAN needs to have a long track record of doing certain things differently before they earn the kind of trust some other companies enjoy in this regard.
     
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  10. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Yep, always buy from a legit dealer with a proper returns policy and warranty cover- or get a "known good" used unit that has survived a bit from a trustworthy seller when dealing with HFM*. Spotty QA/reliability and high prices are not a good mix.


    *Or indeed Audeze, especially with older stuff
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  11. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Well, @Tyll Hertsens put it on the WoF.

    Now I want to hear it even though I have utterly no need for it, so ... thanks, I think?
     
  12. Senorx12562

    Senorx12562 Case of the mondays

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    I ended up getting rid of my he500s and lcd2s because of reliability and comfort more than anything else, although I wasn't enamored of the sound quality of the Audezes either. The lcd2s had a driver fail about 30 days into my ownership thereof, although Audeze took care of it under warranty with no difficulty. The cable on the he500 was absolute crap, and when it failed, the company insisted that for them to do anything, I had to ship the phones, case, and all accessories to China. I knew that all they would do was replace the cable with the same p.o.s. that came with it, so I just bought an aftermarket cable and moved on. I loved the sound of the he500s though, in fact it is probably my favorite of all the hifiman 'phones I've heard (never heard the HE6 properly driven). The pads were terrible, and the weight was oppressive, so I sold them. The combo of their build quality and crappy customer service caused far too much stress. I would've been hesitant to buy another product from either company anyway, but since both companies' pricing moved to the level of a nice used motorcycle, it'll never happen. Still miss the sound of the he500s though.
     
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  13. TMRaven

    TMRaven Friend

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    Tyll's impressions and measurements make it look like the HE-560 for 500 dollars. Quite a steal.

    What's interesting is that Tyll didn't like the 560 enough to wof it, I wish he had a 560 to directly compare the Sundara to.
     
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  14. SSL

    SSL Friend

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    Tyll sez:
    Makes perfect sense if you've heard the 560. The hot upper mids really killed that headphone for me. Dry like the Sahara as well.
     
  15. TurbinoZ100000

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    I had a short listen with the Sundara last Saturday and I can pretty much agree with everything Tyll said. Granted, it was a bit noisy in the store, I had to use my OP3 as a source AND my ears were a bit fucked after the flu. But very nice, I thought. The weight and comfort were the biggest surprise as my last Hifiman was the HE500. I'm generally into a dark-ish, warmish sound signature so they were just a bit too lean and bright for my taste, but were I in the market for a budget planar, Sundara would definitely be at the top of my list.
     
  16. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    The Sundara I heard at RMAF wasn't anywhere near as lean or bright sounding as the HE-560 I heard prior. The Sundara had a nice bass and midrange response, being balanced and having decent weight and presence. Not as soft as the HE-1000 in the low end. However, it was still a bit too bright up top and had a steely sort of timbre. Regardless, I found it to have much more pleasant treble than the HE-1000 or HE-560, but it wasn't as balanced in that area as the HE-X v1 or HE-400S.

    Seems pretty decent for the money. Build quality and ergonomics seemed a nice step up from the usual HFM stuff. I'm sure mild mods could dial the treble in if you just so happen to want a Sundara.
     
  17. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    Weird, since it was announced i was expecting it to be more linked to the 400 not the 560. I wonder what they are cooking to replace the last one.
     
  18. Vtory

    Vtory Illogical Spock

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    The two HFM (unmodded) headphones I loved the most were he500 (technicalities) and hex v2 (tonality). Can I assume Sundara is somewhat mixing good things from these two? :eek:
     
  19. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    That's a good question. Though I never liked HSXv2. HEKv2 on the other hand...

    Btw. not sure if it's just me, but the word 'Sundara' seems so elegant...
     
  20. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Not just you, the Sanskrit they're choosing for names are much nicer than XX-###y designations :)
     
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