Review: Hifiman Sundara

Test winner in open class

Hifiman Sundara is not only the best buy in this class, you also get the best sound.

Hifiman Sundara
Published 2020-08-31 - 10:28 am
Our opinion
Perfectly balanced sound with potent bass and buckets of details. Super-defined sound image with almost complete qualities.
The size and weight can be inhibiting.
  • Type: Open, over the ear
  • Principle: Plan magnetic
  • Collapsible: No.
  • Microphone / remote control: No / no
  • Cable: 3.5m 6.35mm incl. 3.5mm adapter (1.5 meters, replaceable)
  • Elements: approx. 80 mm
  • Impedance / sensitivity: 37 ohms / 94 dB
  • Frequency response: 6-75,000 Hz
  • Weight: 372 grams (without cable)
  • Color: black

While most headphones use dynamic elements, some make their own elements, which use a different operating principle. Hifiman Sundara is among them, and here the membrane surface is also larger than usual. Sundara uses planar magnetic elements in open earbuds, it has its advantages, but also some disadvantages.

The earbuds at Sundara are by far the largest in this class, and each of them is connected but a cable that is easily replaceable. A shorter 1.5m cable is also included, but despite the low impedance, they are not particularly suitable for mobile phones. But they can be equipped with balanced cables, if you have a headphone amplifier with balanced outputs.

Hifiman Sundara in use

With low impedance and low sensitivity, Sundara is relatively nice to operate with an Audioquest Cobalt, connected to the mobile, although the towering physics of the headphones are not very suitable for portable use. They are better suited in the easy chair, plugged into the output of a Hegel H190, or the affordable headphone amplifier Shiit Magni 3+.

The high weight is elegantly compensated by the large, sloping ear pads and the wide band under the headband. Here the sound leaks in abundance from the grid on the earbuds, but to a lesser extent from the ear pads. Which uses artificial leather on the sides, and fabric on the inside. Sundara are by far the stiffest headphones in the test, and adaptation is not easy. You can bid gently on the metal hoop if you have to, but I found that they sat close and well on the head without physical modifications.

The plane magnetic structure in Sundara has a lower moving mass. A so-called Neo Supernano membrane, which is between 1 and 2 microns thick, is lighter than a dynamic membrane, and in theory it should provide a more precise and faster transient response.
It works like a charm in Sundara. In addition to a sparkling dynamic response, it actually has very convincing bass reproduction. Tight and potent at the same time, and the bass drives the rhythm of the music in an exemplary way. It also does not go very deep, but it is not so noticeable because it is super defined and not at all afraid to push.

But it is on resolution, transient response and detail that Sundara really excels. The vocal reproduction is neutral, open and full of timbres. Strings sound more believable here than on any other open headphone in this class, and the piano sound gets by far the most sonorous reproduction in Sundara.


Hifiman Sundara is the best hi-fi purchase in this class. The sound is more refined, airy and dynamic than the competition. The treble is silky soft, the bass potent, and the midrange is crystal clear and neutrally reproduced. The soundscape is perceived as large and open, and they thrive as well at Brockhampton as Beethoven. Sundara is simply a bargain for the price, and perfect for home use, although not very mobile friendly.

HiFiMAN Sundara measured with miniDSP EARS and REW. Compensated for what miniDSP thinks is subjectively linear.
A very nice frequency curve here. Again, the miniDSP microphone dips slightly at 4 kHz, which is an artifact.

Also in this test

Audeze LCD-1

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Audeze LCD-1: There is no better sound for portable use in this price range.

Compact, light and perfect for mobile. Glass clear and neutral sound, with live bass reproduction.
The bass rolls off early and the soundscape is not as fine-meshed and refined as the reference.

Neumann NDH 20

Non-engaging first attempt

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Appealing appearance, great aluminum finish and decent comfort. Seems to be a comfortable load on amplifiers, does not change sound very much from amplifier to amplifier.
The sound is dark, with too little detail at the top. It also sounds too sharp for our liking.

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Silky smooth sound rich in details, beautiful vocal reproduction and warm, full sound.
Limited sound pressure and deep bass.

Fostex T60RP

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Whether it is because they are semi-open is not known, but the Fostex T60RP has cleaner sound than most closed in the class.

Great resolution, rich bass and large room. Very musical presentation.
Very heavy duty! Forget about using these with your mobile. Slightly reclining treble. Looks like industrial hearing protection…

Denon AH-D5200

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Denon AH-D5200 is among the very best closed in its class.

Super nice and detailed sound image with lots of timbres. Nice workmanship and nice comfort.
The treble reproduction could have been a little more fine-grained.

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The most sensible choice

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Detailed, warm and open sound image with very potent bass. Excellent wearing comfort and high quality.
Requires a serious amplifier. May sound a little too soft for someone's taste.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Sharp analyst

The studio qualities are the strengths and weaknesses of Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, must be tested before purchase.

Super resolved and analytical. Steel control in the bass, very open and detailed sound, and excellent wearing comfort.
The analytical grade gives sharper, and less listening-friendly sound.

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Extremely comfortable ear pads. Great quality feeling, a lot of metal. Hefty bass, very entertaining listening.
Dynamics could have been more outspoken, and the bass faster. Takes some focus from the overtones and air in the music.
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