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**Hifiman HE-400 Impressions and Discussion Thread** - Page 3

post #31 of 18443
Thread Starter 

I owned the he-500 for about a week and then bought the he-400 about three weeks later. Of course I would love to have auditioned them at the same time. Just based on memory I would pick the he-400 every time even if they were they same price. The 400 simply has the sound signature that I prefer. Sometimes spending more money on "better" headphones doesn't always get you the sound that you like the best.

post #32 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post


Yeah, I know HE-500 and HE-5LE are sort or in the same trend of voicing, though I do imagine they're not quite voiced the same so it's probably not a fair comparison.  The reviews comparing 400 to 500, and especially 500 have a habit of being self-contradictory in the description of terms, or directly conflict with each other.   A headphone that is described as both bright and sparkly, can't possibly be laid back.  "Laid back" is a statement directly stating it's not bright and sparkly.  Yet some of these commentaries do say so. 

 

I realize HifiMan has lots of contradictions, I'd describe the 400 as both laid back and lively, but in no way sparkly.  The low end is a little laid back the mids are neutral-forward and the highs are slightly rolled off so as not to be fatiguing while still being detailed.  Ok, I can get that.  But bright & sparkly & laid back? 

 

It's not the HE-500 I'm ridiculing, just to be clear, it's the reviewers covering them with contradictory terms as though they're not quite sure themselves what makes the difference in sound presentation. I've heard HE-500 mentioned a lot as a defacto HD650 upgrade.  And from the description of "laid back" that would be about riight.  And yet, the HE-500 is supposedly brighter than HD650, while HE400 maintains the darkness (darker even) of HD650 while bringing the treble to life a little more. It's hard to keep track when comparing such differently voiced cans.

 

One thing I found interesting in common with all the reviews though was that everyone, despite self-contradictory descriptions, seemed to conclude that they like the 400 more for every-day use, and even though the 500, 6 are better for the "wow" factor, are lease pleasant for every day listening.  Reminds me of HD800 descriptions. And makes me wonder "why would I pay more for something I'd listen to less? :)

 

But of course, curiosity killed the Head-Fier... wink.gif

 



I think that after a certain point, vocabulary simply doesn't suffice for describing and comparing sounds. This being a prime example of that.

post #33 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I owned the he-500 for about a week and then bought the he-400 about three weeks later. Of course I would love to have auditioned them at the same time. Just based on memory I would pick the he-400 every time even if they were they same price. The 400 simply has the sound signature that I prefer. Sometimes spending more money on "better" headphones doesn't always get you the sound that you like the best.


Nice to hear someone say that.  You're not the first person that has, actually.  I liken it much to HD600 & HD650.  Technically 650 is better, but don't tell that to a 600 fan that can't stand 650, and the same situation again on HD650 & HD800.   800 costs literally 3x more, and there's an unsurprising number of people that like 650 far more.  And there's also the group that thinks 800 is better for everything.

 

Headphones are a funny thing.  The prices are going up with alarming swiftness at the "high end", and yet all the high end phones are so polarizing.  I'm glad I started with 400 first myself. I'm no basshead, but there's something amazing about the sound.  Had I gone with HE500 first, like you, I may have ended up looking at 400.  I like laid back, I like HD650, but the more alive sound isn't a bad thing, and for that reason I've been listening to K702 more often than HD650.  HE-400 may be "just right" even if HE-500 is "more refined" or "more neutral'

 

Since you've experienced both, what would you say you like more about 400 than 500 (or disliked about 500?)

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post



I think that after a certain point, vocabulary simply doesn't suffice for describing and comparing sounds. This being a prime example of that.



Yeah.  The funny thing with Hifiman is they have a peculiar house sound.  They describe it as neutral & warm.  And the FR graphs of all their cans show them to be very similar across all models, yet by most accounts, each model sounds amazingly different from one another.  Far more so than the FR charts would indicate they should.  I like what they're doing with having different models geared towards various full size speaker tonalities.  It's a neat "something for everyone" strategy instead of the usual "good, better, best." It sounds like (even if the 400's are "technically inferior", they're not promoting them as budget at all but as a different sound) the idea is "they're all the best, but they all are intended to have different presentations."  It's refreshing. At the same time they all share in their own way the "Hifiman house sound."  I can hear echoes of my RE-0s in my HE-400s despite RE-0 being analytically flat.

 

I think they're confusing the critics though as they try to segment them by "tier" rather than by the actual sound.  And 400 really throws them off.  We ALL are guilty of assigning dollar amounts to how good something is.  That 400 isn't cheaper so much due to product placement but due to new manufacturing blurs the lines.  Until 600 or 501 or whatever shoots down in price too.

 

 

post #34 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

One thing I found interesting in common with all the reviews though was that everyone, despite self-contradictory descriptions, seemed to conclude that they like the 400 more for every-day use, and even though the 500, 6 are better for the "wow" factor, are lease pleasant for every day listening.  Reminds me of HD800 descriptions. And makes me wonder "why would I pay more for something I'd listen to less? :)


 

 

I think you could equate that to something like a person and their vehicles.  For those fortunate enough, they might have a "3" series BMW as their daily driver for work, etc.  However, on Sunday afternoons when the work is done, then they get their Corvette out and go for an enjoyable spin.  Granted, they would have probably paid quite a bit more for their 'vette, but it still doesn't mean they would (or should) use it as their daily driver.  wink.gif

post #35 of 18443
Thread Starter 

I don't want to get into a comparison of the he400-500, as I've not had the he500 in a while and I don't want to rely on memory. For me, even a few minutes that it takes to switch out an amp and try the same headphone can leave me guessing. So several weeks without listening to the 500 makes me skeptical about the comparison. 

 

The he400 is almost too heavy for me. The he500 is way too heavy. I have ordered a headband pad for the he400 to take some of the pressure off the top of my head and have high hopes for more comfort. Again, I don't think this would bother most people but it does me. 

 

I found the he500 to be unexciting, too dry and neutral. And yes, I know that it needs be amped properly...I had the LYR at the time. When I listen to the he400's, it just hits the sweet spot for me. It's full of energy and has the bass extension that I personally like. I love open headphones with good soundstage that still manage to have a good bass response. The he400's do that and so much more. 


Edited by MattTCG - 4/9/12 at 4:24pm
post #36 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I don't want to get into a comparison of the he400-500, as I've not had the he500 in a while and I don't want to rely on memory. For me, even a few minutest that it take to switch out an amp and try the same headphone can leave me guessing. So several weeks without listening to the 500 makes me skeptical about the comparison. 

 

The he400 is almost too heavy for me. The he500 is way too heavy. I have ordered a headband pad for the he400 to take some of the pressure off and have high hopes. Again, I don't this would bother most people but it does me. 

 

I found the he500 to be unexciting, too dry and neutral. And yes, I know that it needs be amped properly...I had the LYR at the time. When I listen to the he400's, it just hits the sweet spot for me. It's full of energy and has the bass extension that I personally like. I love open headphones with good soundstage that still manage to have a good bass response. The he400's do that and so much more. 


Great review Matt. How would you say the HE-400's do for modern pop and rock? Better or worse than the denons? I don't just mean the bass impact and quantity though. After trying some grado's for a few days I've learnt that I can live with less bass if it means more clarity and energy and still enjoy my music that has a lot of bass. 

post #37 of 18443
Thread Starter 

I listen to a bit of everything. I really haven't found anything that the he400's do poorly with. Maybe with the exception of low bit rate material. These could be my everyday go to phones. Maybe even end game...maybe. The only thing holding them back for me is that the comfort could be better. It's not terrible and I'm adjusting to the weight of them. The clamp on the headband has relaxed to a comfortable level. And with the additional of an after market headband the comfort may improve even more. 


Edited by MattTCG - 4/9/12 at 5:55pm
post #38 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayleighSilvers View Post


Great review Matt. How would you say the HE-400's do for modern pop and rock? Better or worse than the denons? I don't just mean the bass impact and quantity though. After trying some grado's for a few days I've learnt that I can live with less bass if it means more clarity and energy and still enjoy my music that has a lot of bass. 



It's great for all rock music, where the imaging / instrument separation of these cans REALLY shines. You get a stunningly realistic 3D sense of how the band is physically set up and playing in-studio or live, and in well-mastered / recorded tracks, you could even distinguish where individual drums / different plucks of guitar strings are individually coming from. The vocals are dead-center and nicely forward, and with all the instruments going off all around, it's quite an experience.

 

Listening to Moonchild - King Crimson, right now. The cymbal hits are just so nice and real, gives me goosebumps.

 

For modern pop, it's very good also, especially with that tight deep bass. Mids aren't too lush so pop songs have great clarity, and treble is just smooth/dark enough that vocals aren't sibilant (pop music tends to be more sibilant due to poorer mastering) but aren't dull either.

 

In fact, there's not a genre that these do poorly on (edit: the only songs I don't quite enjoy these on are those of certain female Jpop singers...Hikaru Utada for example, something off about their vocals out of HE400's). Great all-rounder cans IMO.


Edited by jerg - 4/9/12 at 5:05pm
post #39 of 18443
Thread Starter 

I'd like to add that I've now tried the he400 with the Little Dot mk1+. I've listened on and off for about 24 hours. I won't go into paragraphs of detail here. Bottom line it sound good, but the fiio e10 still sounds the best with these phones. I may try to roll some tubes and see if I can get the sound signature that I'm after.

post #40 of 18443
In a short summary, what about the E10 sounds better than the Little Dot?
post #41 of 18443
Thread Starter 

I've been waiting for someone to ask about that. I think that it comes down to my sound signature preference more than anything else. The denon and beyers that I own are a touch bright. The audio gd and LD seem to roll off that treble just a bit and make it just right for my taste. But with he400's the LD rolls off the treble too much and you can't experience the wonderful detail and transparency they have to offer. The fiio seem to be more neutral and lets the he400's shine. Some have described the 400's "dark" and while I'm not sure I'd agree with that comparison, I do understand it. Most neutral amps will drive the 400's perfectly.

 

It's also possible that with a different set of tubes, the he400 would sound great with the LD.  I hope I've made this clear. It's not exactly that easy to communicate.

post #42 of 18443
Usually 'better' tubes roll off the treble even more. biggrin.gif

My MKII originally had some stock chinese tubes that were rather bright, but I eventually replaced the driver tubes with Mullards, and those are pretty warm in comparison. I'm liking my HE-400s pretty warm though. These things certainly bring the treble if the song calls for it. A bit u-shaped in that manner, but overall dark with nicely tamed upper mids and lower highs.
Edited by TMRaven - 4/10/12 at 7:15am
post #43 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I'd like to add that I've now tried the he400 with the Little Dot mk1+. I've listened on and off for about 24 hours. I won't go into paragraphs of detail here. Bottom line it sound good, but the fiio e10 still sounds the best with these phones. I may try to roll some tubes and see if I can get the sound signature that I'm after.


I haven't had any experience with the Little Dot MK1+, nor the FiiO E10.  However, with the HifiMAN EF-2A and stock Chinese tubes, I'll also indicate that combination wasn't too exciting with the HE-400 either.  Instead, I like the EF-2A with the stock Chinese tubes for use with my Fostex T50RPs that are modified.  It tends to match up better with those phones.

 


 

 

post #44 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post

 

I think you could equate that to something like a person and their vehicles.  For those fortunate enough, they might have a "3" series BMW as their daily driver for work, etc.  However, on Sunday afternoons when the work is done, then they get their Corvette out and go for an enjoyable spin.  Granted, they would have probably paid quite a bit more for their 'vette, but it still doesn't mean they would (or should) use it as their daily driver.  wink.gif


A good analogy.  In many ways I'd almost think the norm would be opposite though.  The alive and zippy cans as the weekend spin, and the warm laid back cans as the daily grind. 

 

That's the think that keeps me from being too interested in the "superior" 500's.   It's laid back.  Not that I'm not a big HD650 fan, I am, and for me there are absolutely times for that kind of relaxing sound.  But Since I got K702 I've found I more often grab them for most genres than the 650s (well before the 650s were blown), I think I tend to favor the more alive less laid back sound for most of my listening.  The HE-400 takes bits of both of them and makes a sort of "best of both worlds".  If I fix my 650's up I'll still have those when I want a treat of laid back sound, and my 702's when I want excrutiatingly neutral (which is surprisingly often.)  For my high end planars why not make them the every day cans?  Even if they happen to be the cheapest :)

 

I do laugh at how price influences the H-F crowd (including myself.) If the HE-400 were $700 with a flaky cable and a hard case, and the HE-500 were the new mass market priced ones with a reliable cable, I have half a feeling H-F would be abuzz with raves about how "HE-500 has a great mass appeal mid-fi sound like the favorite mid-fi HD650s, but they just lack the personality, presence and character of the pricier HE-400's with their dark, lush presentation, while having a fuller but less natural upper-mid section in comparison -- but for the price, if you don't need the vivid, liquid presentation of the more expensive HE-400, it's a great bargain for planar tech at the cost of some loss of bass presence in a heavier, less comfortable headphone."  rolleyes.gif   We know it's true...

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I don't want to get into a comparison of the he400-500, as I've not had the he500 in a while and I don't want to rely on memory. For me, even a few minutes that it takes to switch out an amp and try the same headphone can leave me guessing. So several weeks without listening to the 500 makes me skeptical about the comparison. 

 

The he400 is almost too heavy for me. The he500 is way too heavy. I have ordered a headband pad for the he400 to take some of the pressure off the top of my head and have high hopes for more comfort. Again, I don't think this would bother most people but it does me. 

 

I found the he500 to be unexciting, too dry and neutral. And yes, I know that it needs be amped properly...I had the LYR at the time. When I listen to the he400's, it just hits the sweet spot for me. It's full of energy and has the bass extension that I personally like. I love open headphones with good soundstage that still manage to have a good bass response. The he400's do that and so much more. 


Yeah the additional weight of the HE-500 was one of the things that concerned me about them as well.  That and the "failure comes built right in!" silver cable fiasco.  The Canare with the 400's is unwieldy and is arguably the single most microphonic headphone cable I've ever heard short of, maybe, the Super.Fi 5 IEM, but there's no doubting the thing is robust and built to last tongue_smile.gif  It does create both some nasty microphonics as the Y split ends touch, and makes a mess of tube harmonics at the amp end though.  Sennheiser still wins for reliable yet flexible, manageable, robust, and non-microphonic cables in the box.

 

Your description of the 500 is exactly what I feared about it.  I do like dry at times, but I have K702 now for that.  I thought K702 had a huge soundstage until I heard HE-400.  I still don't understand what massive soundstage 500  must have if people complain 400 is too small (yet K702 is too wide?)  But yes, if I want unexiting and relaxing, once I get my 650's fixed up, I have those.  And they're darned good at it on Lyr.  If I want neutral, analytical, revealing, dry, K702 is amazing, IMO it poseses 80% of what people love about HD800's upper end and a natural solid bass as well.  If I were buying a SINGLE headphone setup, I may consider 500 if I wanted to leapfrog the mid-priced options straight to summit-fi, and stick with a single presentation.  But it's much more fun to have a stable of different cans, and in that case, I'd want my "top of the line" to embody the best of my others at once.  And HE-400 does that.  The dark, lush low-end (that goes even lower) with the detailed and neutral mids & uppers from K70x but including the non-fatiguing rolled-off treble of HD650. Though at times the bass is a bit much, almost like a speaker setup with the sub tuned a little too loud for the speakers.  When I hear people complain that these don't have as much base as [insert closed can here] I'm convinced I don't want to try those rolleyes.gif  Turning down the volume solves that though and it all goes back into alignment.

 

(I disagree with the phrasing "mid-fi" in your review either for HE-400 or DT880/990.  H-F'ers commonly use that now, but a few years ago, 650, 702, and 880 WERE Hi-Fi, while Summit-Fi was Stax and Orpheus.  It's become vouge to confuse highest-end products with the definition of Hi-Fi.  Almost everything talked about at H-F is Hi-Fi, not mid-fi.  Heck, 650 & 702 both ran for $450-500 back then, and that was pre-inflation, so in todays money, those cans were priced more similar to HE-500 than HE-400.)  There are no mid-fi cans mentioned in this thread, anywhere.  They're all hi-fi! )  HD4xx....that probably counts as true mid-fi. 

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I listen to a bit of everything. I really haven't found anything that the he400's do poorly with. Maybe with the exception of low bit rate material. These could be my everyday go to phones. Maybe even end game...maybe. The only thing holding them back for me is that the comfort could be better. It's not terrible and I'm adjusting to the weight of them. The clamp on the headband has relaxed to a comfortable level. And with the additional of an after market headband the comfort may improve even more. 


 

I agree with most of what you said.  They're an amazing all rounder.  Every time I put them on and here that overly-dark tonal balance I want to hate them, then I adjust to it quickly and I end up liking them more when I'm done than I did the previous day.  They just keep growing on me and I haven't found a track yet I dislike on them.  Rock, jazz, chill/electronic/electronic-jazz, classical, baroque/quartet, opera (shockingly good here, it's the feeling of box seats on the rear balcony, and I'm not even a big opera person), world, "new age"....you name it.  Dave Matthews Live at Folsom Field is like being there.  Not in the front (where you'd get deafened) but out in the crowd.  K702 definitley gives the front-row vibe for everything.  It's a good pairing. 

 

As for comfort, I have mixed feelings.  At first I was thinking they'd never work.  They hurt, they were heavy and they clamped my ear sore in minutes.  After some fidgeting I've got them to the point that they're comfortable, actually comfortable, for at lest 2 hours, probably more but I haven't listened longer yet.  No mods at all.  Some tips I learned:

 

This depends entirely on the shape of your head, so you'll have to find the place that's right for you.   I put the headband VERY forward toward the front of my head. If you have a more pointed head it won't work, if you have a flatter head it works.  High foreheads need not apply.  I also keep K702 very forward, however HD650 has to sit back more otherwise the sound gets messed up (the joy of planars, the position of the ear cup has almost no effect on sound presentation....dynamics can be heavily altered by moving the cup.)

 

Also, are your hinges on the gimbel exceedingly stiff to the point they don't move around freely like on your Beyers, but rather take some force to move them?  A lot of the painful clamping seems to be the result of the cups not molding the hinges to your head.  That is to say the problem isn't pressure, it's unevenly applied pressure  I grab the cups and tilt them downward (grills angling more to the ground...or swivel them so the bottom of the cup gets angled more twoard your head than the top.   That fixed a lot of the early discomfort.  These (at least mine) have a much stiffer horizontal hinge than plastic frame cans. The advantage though is they stay in position once you set them until you take them off.

 

They're still heavy, nothing changes that, but with those changes I can very comfortably sit and nearly forget they're there.  They're more comfortable for the first 15 minutes than 702 by virtues of the very stiff velour backing foam that needs the heat of your head before it softens and moulds to your head on the AKGs.  The only real trouble is not moving your head in fear of the stiff microphnic cable knocking around cool.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

I've been waiting for someone to ask about that. I think that it comes down to my sound signature preference more than anything else. The denon and beyers that I own are a touch bright. The audio gd and LD seem to roll off that treble just a bit and make it just right for my taste. But with he400's the LD rolls off the treble too much and you can't experience the wonderful detail and transparency they have to offer. The fiio seem to be more neutral and lets the he400's shine. Some have described the 400's "dark" and while I'm not sure I'd agree with that comparison, I do understand it. Most neutral amps will drive the 400's perfectly.

 

It's also possible that with a different set of tubes, the he400 would sound great with the LD.  I hope I've made this clear. It's not exactly that easy to communicate.


Lyr does very well with them, IMO.  I suspect Headroom amps don't do as well.  They're slightly dark amps.  I'll try mine when I send my Lyr in for service.  Your experience mirrors that of mine with my Headroom and HD650.  Too dark, too small a stage.  My Fiio E11 convinced me my 650's could do more, so I bought a Lyr!

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

Usually 'better' tubes roll off the treble even more. biggrin.gif
My MKII originally had some stock chinese tubes that were rather bright, but I eventually replaced the driver tubes with Mullards, and those are pretty warm in comparison. I'm liking my HE-400s pretty warm though. These things certainly bring the treble if the song calls for it. A bit u-shaped in that manner, but overall dark with nicely tamed upper mids and lower highs.


I agree, after all the description of being dark I was floored when I noticed so much treble detail and neutrality in the mids.  It's only half-way dark colored.  I've seen the "u-shaped" description of few times, and I'm not sure I agree.  The FR charts don't confirm that either.  It seems like a bumped low-end, a neutral mid-range, a peak & flat plateu in the upper mids to keep them above the bass, the infamous 1kHz dip, and then mostly flat before rolling off.  Effectively it's a very neutral Beyer/AKG like presentation above the bass, and a...something between Denon and maybe Sony bass end and a Sennheiser-like rolloff of he extreme highs and upper mids. Or as Fang refered to it, "American speakers like JBL."  Despite the bashing Harman/JBL often gets, JBLs voicing is still oh so cool, and most venues I've seen amplified live performances in were using JBL, so I've never had a problem with sticking to that tonality.  It's a very addictive blend of dark and exciting.  Usually dark is paired with laid back and exciting with bright. 

post #45 of 18443
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

I do laugh at how price influences the H-F crowd (including myself.) If the HE-400 were $700 with a flaky cable and a hard case, and the HE-500 were the new mass market priced ones with a reliable cable, I have half a feeling H-F would be abuzz with raves about how "HE-500 has a great mass appeal mid-fi sound like the favorite mid-fi HD650s, but they just lack the personality, presence and character of the pricier HE-400's with their dark, lush presentation, while having a fuller but less natural upper-mid section in comparison -- but for the price, if you don't need the vivid, liquid presentation of the more expensive HE-400, it's a great bargain for planar tech at the cost of some loss of bass presence in a heavier, less comfortable headphone."  rolleyes.gif   We know it's true...

 


While the HE-400s of late, have been shipping with cables such as the silver cable, the 8' (or so) black Canare cable features a molded on TRS connector onto the Canare cable.  The HE-5LEs, on the other had, feature a slightly upgraded Neutrik TRS connector and Neutrik XLR connectors.
 

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