Alright guys (and girls)...
Long time lurker, first time poster. I just got my HE-400's today. With all the praise, especially for their bass, I was pretty sure I would be ecstatic. However, I can hardly keep them on.
The comfort is fine, but it's their overall sound that kills my ears. They are just too sharp in the treble. It feels like I am stabbing myself in the ears. I've read almost every page in this thread, as well as countless others, and thought I had a good understanding of what I was getting.
I should mention that I usually listen at pretty quiet volume, so the bass might be more recessed than normal. My audio chain is a Steinberg MR816x for my DAC-->unbalanced TRS to RCA-->Project Ember Amplifier. Just to cover the bases; Windows volume is at 100%, MR816x volume at 30%, low input gain on Ember, low output impedance (0.1 Ohm), and volume pot at 9 o'clock. This is my normal listening volume.
My other headphones for reference:
Beyerdynamic DT880/250 Ohm - First pair of headphones. Analytical, bright, but very clear and not harsh to my ears. IMO the only thing wrong with them is there should be more bass.
MrSeaker's Mad Dog w Alpha Pads - These are the perfect mid dominant headphones. They are darker and more laid back compared to the DT880s, however, they provide as much detail and have more natural sound. Their sound stage is narrower than the DT880s, but it has more depth. If the Mad Dogs had slightly more bass and treble they would be my favorite headphone.
Audio Technica WS99 - My favorite headphone. I thought that they might have too much bass being a "solid bass" series from Audio Technica, but I find that their sound signature is just about perfect for me. They have great positional accuracy and a descent sound stage. My only gripes are the slight mid bass hump, and the narrower sound stage probably because they are closed. They work excellent as a portable headphone and sound even better when amped. The bass tightens up and the sound stage and dynamics improve.
Beyerdynamic DT1350 - My favorite sound signature. I love the sound from these little cans! Absolutely amazing! The bass has authority without trampling over the mids, and the treble brings airiness and detail without being to tingy or harsh. My issue with these headphones is the comfort. I can't stand the pressure of on ear headphones. Stretching the headband helps some but kills the seal and the bass.
Hifiman HE-400 - What I thought would fix my gripes with the DT880. I have no issues with comfort with either the pleather pads or the velour pads. I listened to the pleather pads for a bit and It felt like someone had put a 6 Db spike around 9 kHz. This made everything very harsh to me. People say that there is excellent bass with these cans, and that might be true if there wasn't a huge harsh spike in the treble. The velour pads definitely helped smooth out the mids and highs, although they further tilted the headphones toward a brighter sound signature to me.
I am frankly saddened. I thought the HE-400 would be a good upgrade from the DT880 and the Mad Dog. I'm not sure if I received a faulty one, or if for some reason there is horrible synergy/ not enough power. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I am looking at the HD650 as it's supposed to be a darker more laid back headphone, but I'm not sure anymore.
Maybe I'm just a basshead.