I’m no stranger to HiFiMAN at this point having been lucky enough to review quite a number of their products. The planar magnetic Sundara is the newest to join the queue.
Right off the bat I was enjoying the unboxing experience. The box itself looks quite pleasing with an image of the Sundara gracing the cover, specs on the back, and was smaller than expected. Lifting off the lid sees the Sundara protected by a foam sheet and nestled in a fabric covered foam cushion. It has a reasonably premium look and feel, as I would expect if I were dropping 500 USD on a headphone. Accessories are scant though, limited to the cable and a preinstalled, threaded 1/4″ adapter.
In my experience with HiFiMAN, they’ve always nailed the visual appeal with their products, but build quality seemed little more that acceptable, or purely functional. Despite it’s low weight the Sundara feels quite robust. The construction is mostly aluminum with the plastic limited to the bass of the headband. The plastics seem to be of decent quality too with a satisfying matte finish, and when you flick them with your fingernail they sound fairly solid. The pads are a hybrid velour/pleather with a slight angle that helps with fit, something some might not like.
While the ear cups pivot horizontally, there is no forward/backward movement to fine tune how they interact with your head. Luckily they fit my tiny noggin well so comfort is good and the pads seal well. Though, being open back a good seal is a little less important here than on a closed back set of cans.
How do they sound? In one word: fantastic! I’ve been spending a lot of time with competitors in the 500 USD price range, specifically the Brainwavz Alara and ADANCED Alpha, and the Sundara finds itself with a signature that slots nicely between what those two offer. Where the Alara is slightly bass heavy and the Alpha on the bright side, the Sundara is straight up balanced with no particular area drawing my attention more than any other. This makes them a wicked all-rounder this is just at home with Venetian Snares as it is with Supertramp or Aesop Rock. Treble is clean and detailed, the mid-range full-bodied and tonally accurate, and the bass punchy and deep with zero bleed or sluggishness. The sound stage is plenty open too, refreshing after coming off the Alara which is quite closed in for an open back. To say the Sundara is a joy to listen to would be an understatement, and at 500 USD has quickly become my benchmark headphone.
Be on the lookout for my full review which will be coming up shortly. In the meantime, should you want to check out more Sundara you can visit HiFiMAN’s product page here, or join the discussion over on Head-fi.org.
Thanks for reading!