The Sundara comes in a fairly robust box with a fabric insert nestling the headphones. Apart from the headphone unit itself, this box also contains a headphone cable, a 1/4'' stereo adapter, and a posh owner's manual.

Measuring 5 ft (1.5 m), the crystalline copper cable features a 3.5 mm male audio plug and terminates in a dual-entry 2.5 mm connection.

Design wise, the Sundara will be instantly recognized as a Hifiman headphone, taking many of its design cues from that prestigious lineage. With a suspension-style leatherette headband and deep hybrid PU leather/velour ear pads, it may seem a bit bulky at a glance. However, once you situate the headphone on your head and get everything properly adjusted, the weight seems to melt away.

Like other Hifiman models, the Sundara's technical chops center around a planar magnetic driver, well-known for delivering natural if somewhat-emphasized bass. But the Sundara packs all that and more to deliver a far-greater tune than any of its competitors.

Specs

Frequency Range: 6-75000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 37 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 94 dB

According to the specs, the Sundara offers an impressive frequency range - with a great deal falling outside the range of human hearing. Frankly, I'm inclined to say this sounds like a bunch of malarkey, but the frequency range is packing a huge amount of detail. Impedance remains low, at 37 ohms, and you could easily drive these from a portable device without the Sundara sounding like garbage. However, in my own experience, planar magnetic drivers always seem to benefit from some power, so an amplifier might be a nice accessory to have. Finally, SPL may seem a tad bit low, but fits for an open-back model. Listening to this headphone in a quiet room, you shouldn't run into any hiccups where volume is concerned.

Low End

The Sundara’s lows come across as natural, but with plenty of energy in tow. The planar magnetic design adds a little emphasis to the sound, resulting too in a more pronounced (but not unpleasant) bass. Rest assured, though, the bass isn’t as intense as it is on the higher-end Edition X V2, so if you’re not a bass head, you may still end up enjoying the Sundara.

Midrange

When it comes to the midrange, this headphone can sound a bit recessed. The detail is all still there, and the sound remains clean and articulate, but the mids get upstaged by those intense lows and lovely highs. Far from a total loss, the sound here simply leaves me craving more.

High End

Somewhat bright, but not so intense that it hurts, the high-end offers an impressive amount of detail. Though the highest high notes might sound a bit smooth, overall the high end remains resolving, complimenting the Sundara’s intensive low end.

Soundstage

With plenty of room and depth to any given track, the Sundara sports a beautiful soundstage. The dynamic sound signature helps this along, adding the impression of extra space between lows, mids and highs.

Other Observations

Lighter than its Audeze competitors, the Sundara delivers comfort in spades. Brilliantly comfortable hybrid earpads provide a snug mix of soft, breathable velour and noise-isolating leather.

The sound is the greatest perk of the Sundara, though. Here Hifiman has crafted a rich and resolving reference sound - with a beautiful, natural low end tacked on for good measure. Thanks to this sound, these headphones can handle everything - and they sound fantastic doing it.

Recommendations

For those who need brand recognition to enjoy their music, I can easily recommend the Sennheiser HD 660S. Sure, it sports a plane-Jane dynamic driver and it's made with more plastic than metal, but it's Sennheiser, damnit. Still, for the price of $499, you might yet find a better model.

If mids and highs are your figurative cup of tea, skip the Sundara and opt for a Grado RS2e for $495. This headphone uses a dynamic driver just like the HD 660S, but it's also hand-made by a bunch of Yanks across the Pond in New York. And the mahogany driver housings go a long way in maintaining a more accurate sense of tone.

However, where natural, lifelike bass is concerned - the true point of excellence for planar magnetic 'phones - the Sundara rules the roost. The sweet low end easily complements a subtle and refined mid-range and works flawlessly with the slightly-smooth high-end to produce a sound that is at once dynamic and reference-grade.

Final Analysis

For a mere $499, the Hifiman Sundara delivers a sound well north of its price range. offering an intense and immersive listening experience that will drive you wild. Thanks to its accomplished low end, sophisticated mids, and buttery highs, the resultant sound can handle almost anything - making this the perfect headphone for anyone who needs a near-perfect listening experience in a durable no-muss package.

Find more Hifiman headphones at the Hifiman Store at Audio46.com.