Originally Posted by DangerToast
While I am loving the HE-400's overall, I have some concerns I'd like to discuss with all of you. I'll start by saying I have the revision 2 drivers (white) and the faux leather earpads. I listen mostly to flacs and use a sound card (Xonar DX) and a dinky amp (fiio e6). Even with the revision 2 drivers, I find these headphones can, at times, be distractingly sibilant and shrill. This is especially the case when a female voice is swelling or the symbols are crashing away.
My other question is about the stage - it sometimes sounds as if I'm standing at one end of a giant tunnel, and the band is playing 300 yards away, way down at the other end. By the time the sound reaches me, I've lost a little bit of the detail and everything sounds tinny (and even muffled, at times).
Lastly, with certain songs I feel like the sound lacks body.
Will burn-in address these issues, or does the sound of the HE-400 pretty much stay the same? Is three days of pink noise the answer?
Will a good amp fix these issues? Part of the reason I bought the HE-400's was because they don't require a super-high-end amp to work well. If, however, an amp will tone down the highs and give the sound a little more body, and maybe even fix the stage problems, I would be willing to invest around $300, but would like to stay lower. Can anyone recommend a good, portable (USB), "dark" amp or amp/dac combo that would take care of my problem?
Do the velour pads really make that big of a difference?
Should I just throw in the towel and try the HD600?
I WANT to love these headphones unconditionally. Sometimes when I'm listening to them I get so wrapped up in the sound that I can't imagine returning them. I find that vocals sound particularly crisp and colorful on the HE-400's (unless the singer gets too high up there, and that harsh sibilance comes into play). The bass is detailed and tight but still somehow packs a punch. If only I didn't cringe so often while listening to them...
Took me awhile to get used to all these issues you mention. Here are the "facts" from having spent time listening to them.
As your first "audiophile" phone, and these are just that, you are now in a world where you can hear, rather dramatically, the differences between recordings. On a good recording, good sound, ****ty recording, ****ty sound. That's life.
The shrill female vocal thing is more a recording issue that a phone issue, I have found. Many female artists I own have a "hot" midrange and are badly compressed, to the point that I have observed 0dB clipping in the recording. There is literally nothing to do about it. The sad thing is, I hear this as a weird staticky noise through my phones. Sibilance has not been an issue for me.
The "far away sound", to me, is again partly a recording issue. I find the HE-400 to be very forward, in general.
Lacking body is likely, again, recording-dependent. When I switch from Hip-Hop to metal, it is as if there is no bass whatsoever. This is partly true at the recording level, and partly true at my ears (its like driving on the highway for 3 hours and then entering a school zone - you feel you are going painfully slow). Is your car less fast?
A good amp, like the O2 most likely WILL be a good upgrade (the HE 400 will scale somewhat on better equipment). The most dramatic change for me was a less bloated bass - it was so tight and layered that at first I thought the sound was actually worse. Very quickly, I realized the O2 had fleshed out the impact and drama in the bass that I couldn't quite get from my laptop. NOT night and day change, but it was a change. The new Schiit Magni is cheaper and comparable, but it is still unclear whether or not it is the O2's equal. It lacks a gain switch (useful to help you match to different sources), and is not portable.
There has been a measured difference between Velours and Pleathers that personally I am not sure I can hear - though I spent minimal time with the pleather before switching to the velour. I think the Velours are better for comfort reasons. They are hard, but my ears don't sweat with them. As Jerg reminded me, make sure you twist the ear cups to align them with your head - major comfort improvement. The cups do twist, they are just so stiff it may not seem like it.
What tracks annoy you the most? It would be interesting to compare them to Florence and the Machine. That is by far the worst offender I've found so far. A shame because I love her music.
Edited by MrMateoHead - 1/12/13 at 9:58am