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Best Can to Date and the beast that killed my DT 880

A Review On: HiFiMAN HE-4

HiFiMAN HE-4

Rated # 177 in Over-Ear
See all 2 reviews
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $350.00
Mshenay
Posted · 846 Views · 2 Comments

Pros: Sound, very balanced

Cons: Amp is required

To start with, I've owned my Hifiman HE 4 for a few months now, and I've just recently heavily modified mine! The positives is all these mods don't do anything for the sound, but rather improve the looks comfort and usability of the headphone. 

 

That said though, many of you may remember the Frequency response graphs I posted a few months back,

 

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That Top Green line is the basic frequency response, or objective measurement of how the HE 4 sounds! 

 

Well seeing as the HE 4 is my new standard, I won't be doing any comparisons here, rather simply commenting on what I enjoy about it! Let's put some words to describe what the data shows! 

 

 

Amplification Needed and Recommended Sadly, the HE 4 is not an easy headphone to drive at an impedance of 38 ohms and an efficiency of 86DB. It responds well to a powerful amp. I drive them with about 5wpc at home and about 2wpc on the go. 

 

 
 
 

A quick song by song impression of my HE 4. 

 

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

Tales of Symphonia OST Disc 3{Motoi Sakuraba}(2004) -Deepest Woods [FLAC]

 

 

 

The first thing I noticed about the HE 4 when I first heard this song was the tactility the HE 4 had to it's mids, it wasn't as THICK as the HE 400, nor as gentle as the DT 880. For me the HE 4 has a wonderful tactile sound to the entire mid range spectrum. Every note dances across my ears on this track, the horns are wonderful as are the high notes in back ground. And the lowest notes around 110 hrz have a great body to them! 

 

Unlike my dynaW1000x, the HE 4 has a smooth nature the the treble. A good sense of attack without some of the grain the dynaW1000x can impart. Overall the HE 4 really captures the mood of this track, the tactile presentation of the spectrum adds to the beauty of the song and the picture it paints in my mind. 

 

In addition, the track features a nice depth to it, the HE 4 does a nice job of presenting each sound in a very 3D sound stage, again really making the music dance across my ears. 

 

 

 

VGM Acapella Volume 3{Smooth McGroove}(2013) -Aquatic Ambiance [FLAC] 

 

Going back to tactility and the depth and layering of the sound stage, this is a very busy track vocally, in addition it features a heavy use of vocal mids. The HE 4 how ever does a nice job keeping the tactility and body of each note, it's not as almost crampt as the W1000x get's when it's faced with acapella, nor is the bass and lower tones as distracting as they can get with the LA D2k.

 

So again, for this track the HE 4 does a nice job with balancing each and every sound, the tonal balance is wonderful and the layered sound stage really shines in this track. 

 

Jazz in the New Harmonic{David Chesky}(2013) -Transcendental Tripping [FLAC] 

 

This is a binaural track, meaning due to the recording technology used the sound  has been optimized for headphones

 

Man Those MIDS, again the thing I love about the HE 4 is the tactility to the mids! The perfect mix of attack and decay, makes for a wonderful feeling to the music! Going back to the sound stage and depth, this is another tack in which the HE 4 does a nice job. A very 3D presentation, plus the double bass in the background is perfect! Nice texture to the bass, and the extension to the lower notes is spot on. Again though, the realism of the sound is what I enjoy about the HE 4, you can feel it as much as you can hear it! 

 

 

Black Elvis/Lost In Space {Kool Keith}(1999) -I'm Seein' Robots [FLAC] 

 

I'm a bit of a bass head, and I prefer this track with a little extra volume. An the HE 4 scales nicely like the LA D2K does, the balanced sound signature holds up well to louder volumes. Which is great for the music I like to crank a little on the loud side [which for me is around 75dbs]

 

But the texture of Keith's voice is great, plenty of those wonderful wet "spittin" sounds as he lays down his lyrics, and a kick bass line too boot! Unlike the two closed backs I have, the HE 4 has the right mix of fun and technical presentation. No compromises! 

 

Master of Puppets {Metallica }(1986) -Welcome Home (Sanitarium) [FLAC] 

 

The HE 4 has a good tone for metal, like the DT 880 before it. Good sense of balance, and great speed, it keeps the nice edge to metal that I enjoy and the bass response is equally as impressive. Each of Cliffs notes are easy to identify within the sound stage of the HE 4.

 

Sublime {Sublime}(1996) -Down at the Pawn Shop [FLAC] 

 

Mmmm, "Downnn there at the paaawn shop" love the tone of the HE 4 for this reggae tune, bass is taut with good body, vocals are top notch, the softer sounds of Bradley's voice have a nice warm tone to the, where as the harder sounds have a nice edge! Not to mention the guitar work sounds wonderful, again the balance of the HE 4 shines through! Even better... the detail retention and presentation is great! About mid way through the track you can hear some one's voice about 30-40 feet back! It's those cool little details that make music special! Never know when a little detail like that winds up in a track. 

 

 

György Ligeti performed by Various Artists - Clear or Cloudy [FLAC] 

 

First of all this is an insane piece of classical work, very complex a great range of energy levels and dynamics...

 

Again, balance, balance, balance. The HE 4 has a great sense of tactility and balance to the entire spectrum, despite what I feel is a rather neutral signature, the HE 4 still excels with the aggressive nature of this track, the SUDDEN and very dynamic shifts throughout the song are again crystal clear and wonderfully tactile with the HE 4.

 

 

 

For me the HE 4 is the best of both my dynaW1000x and my LA D2k and it cost about 3/4 as both... even better all of this from a completely STOCK headphone! 

 

So for those of you looking for a very balanced headphone, the Hifiman HE 4 takes the cake. I suggest it to users with a semi powerful amp. At least 2wpc leaves you some nice head room, Additionally, the leaner dry sound of the HE 4 would pair wonderfully with those of you who enjoy tubes. Lastly, for the newer audiophiles this is certainly a headphone to get while you can, as the headphone sounds good with lower powered sources, but it really scales well with higher end gear! 

2 Comments:

Would you consider them better than the HE-400 model?
Thank you for the suggestion on the DAC @Mshenay and kudos for the excellent review here. I will definitely give these guys a try when/if I find a store that carries them!! Happy listening
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