Focal Elegia or Hifiman Ananda?

So I’m looking to upgrade from my DT 1990’s, and I found 2 great deals (both are same price).

The 1990’s are impressive, but not really ‘engaging’ to me (even with EQ). The sound feels distant and doesn’t have the physical impact I want. There’s no ‘height’ in the soundstage; every sound feels small.
I don’t mind wide soundstage, but here, it’s like I’m “separate” from the music, instead of “in” it. Like there’s a barrier. I crank the volume to compensate, which causes fatigue.

I often like the impact of closed-backs, so the Focal Elegia seems very good. I would also use EQ if I had issues with timbre or overall tuning. They get some rave reviews for their sound.

But the Ananda also seems good. More detailed, realistic, taller soundstage etc. They also extend out to the front. But, are they similar to the 1990’s presentation? Or the issues I listed

I like technical performance, but mostly I’m looking for a fun listening headphone. Hope that’s enough info!

My vote goes to the hifiman edition XS. Absolutely dominant in the sub $1000 range IMO. Way better tuning, resolution, soundstage handling, bass, detail.

1 Like

The headband looks a bit cheap on those. I can’t find many comparisons since they’re new, have you tried them?
For context, the Ananda is £415 and Edition XS is £344

The sound quality obliterates the Ananda. The headband hasn’t been an issue for me personally despite hating them on circle can hifimans.

That’s nice to hear. Do they have a speaker-like sound, outside the head? I find the DT 1990’s are like that, it’s impressive, but for casual listening I don’t like it. I like feeling like I’m immersed in the music, not separated from it? If that makes sense

If you think the 1990s have that you’ll have your mind blown by the edition xs. 1990s actually have a relatively small soundstage for an open back.

1 Like

I should also add that they’re very capable of narrow soundstage if the mix calls for it

1 Like

I’ve heard they blow the 1990’s out of the water for realism and size. I do love that presentation, but it doesn’t engage me like closed-backs do?

I might get the Elegias for now, then eventually get Edition XS too. The 1990’s impress me a lot for technicalities and realism. But I still get more pleasure from Sony XM3’s (which sound pretty poor).
The Edition XS would be the upgrade to my 1990’s when the time comes

I get what you’re saying but that’s usually only the case with exaggerated soundstage and in my opinion the elegias don’t come close for overall enjoyment. There’s a bit of psychoacoustic trickery that some headphones abuse to make the soundstage seem big but what ends up happening is that you lose the close intimate parts and I think I can safely say that isn’t the case with the edition XS.

Maybe @ATK or @starence can elaborate a little on the staging and engagement level. They’re definitely no slouch at enjoyment.

1 Like

Thanks for the help. If it’s any more context, I sold my HD 599’s as they had a similar effect. I liked the tall sound, but it was so distant and mushy, I couldn’t use it for fun listening. Though they’re known for having issues with staging and speed.

Hey so - well I have a problem with Beyers personally. They are sibilant - and I’m not certain if they still have the dynamics as good as Focals or Fosters. The driver tech in these latter ones definitely plays some role there.

Beyers may also distort and not scale so well - my custom studio pro surely has those elements I’ve mentioned, and I kind of feel that way about the 1990s/1770s too. If Made in Germany is not a huge consideration - I think that’s what’s often glamorized there - and of course their build quality and customization possibilities etc.

Soundstage-wise, Focals aren’t too great either. Very nice imaging, but more like a sphere around your head. Hifimans go much further, every time.

I did mention though that I consider Hifiman Edition XS as a mid-fi endgame class pair of cans - again, it may still be better to try something like them before you buy. Blind purchases worked out for me, 3 times now. But I don’t recommend that for everyone else.

1 Like

i think that feels fair. it makes me want to try the arya stealth but i’m fairly content with headphones for now so i’ll leave it to reviewers to compare them but they just seem all around likable and safe.

1 Like

Yeah, where I live there’s no way to try out headphones - only the Bluetooth ones in tech stores. I have to spend forever taking in opinions, until I make a judgement.

The Focals seem to get wildly opposing thoughts (on all aspects; tonality, soundstage, imaging). But most of what I hear about Elegias makes me think “Yes! That’s what I want”. While the Ananda’s are described more closely to my open-backs, which I want to avoid (for pure pleasure listening).

I think regardless, I’ll still buy Anandas or Edition XS within the next year. Both Focal and Hifiman have been on my list for a while.

don’t get me wrong the elegias are great and punchy and fun and when they’re on a good sale they’re a good option. i’m not a huge fan of closed backs most of the time.

1 Like

Oh wait - you were talking about the Elegias? Oh for a moment I thought Elears. So my impressions were in part of the Elex (which are pretty close to Elears).

The Elegias… hmmm… I don’t like closed backs myself. I’ve even made my EMU Teaks open with modded grill cups.

I don’t think you can take any closed back over an open for the sheer natural airiness and the much reduced fatigue with the opens.

I don’t think I would consider Elegias - unless closed back is really something you desire.
I’m a basshead kinda guy listening to electronic, and yes, I want my bass, yet still I can vouch for the Elex and the Hifimans (in closed or semi-closed backs, the Fostex/EMU line is quite the thing).

So yeah I would not vouch for closed backs either. Gave me tinnitus, some of them, and for quite some time - thank God I’m fine now.

I have the Elex. That, with the Hifiman Edition XS completes my Holy Grail.

Even sound wise, I don’t think closed backs compete with the overall package. So there’s my two cents.

1 Like

I see you :nerd_face: you unstoppable planar bounty hunter!

honestly get the ananda it’s not even a close comparison, it’s a much better headphone. I tried the celestee before and it’s supposed to be a better elegia and i’d still take the ananda


This was my experience too. I actually preferred the Ananads over the OG clear, but I think source gear and preference is really important at that point.

Don’t buy blind. Try to audition both.

I’ll definitely get the Ananda, you’ve all convinced me. But I’ll get the Elegia first - I want slam and dynamics, and it seems they do it well. I quite like the less airy, closed-back sound (though Elegias are less claustrophobic than others, I’ve read).

I keep reading the Anandas are lightning fast, really resolving, but lacking slam (except in the sub bass). That’s what I want to avoid - my 1990’s have no slam except in sub bass, and I never feel “moved” by it. I will still get the Anandas as a 1990 upgrade though. Thanks for all the help

1 Like

Pretty sure the assessment here is correct as to which one would be the “better” headphone, but I don’t think you will be disappointed with the Elegia if you do go that way. I love mine. It’s primary pairing for me is with the BF2 > XDuoo TA-20 and it’s wonderful. Just be sure you buy a cable for them as the cable that comes with them is the worst I have seen. Evar!

Just my $.02. Happy Friday!