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FA-011 vs HE-400's?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

After reading this review, I was very interested in these headphones.  They sounded perfect!  Or as close as I could get to my wants and needs.  The only problem is that they seemed to be impossible to find.  I looked everywhere and could'nt find these things.  But then I stumbled apon a thread on reddit 8 days old saying that the new version of the FA-011 will be shipping within the next couple weeks from  http://www.noisymotel.com/ and www.topdogheadphones.com.  So there's a chance I could get my hands in these headphones after all!

 

Now before I started looking into these, I was looking to buy a pair of HE-400's.  I was also looking at the Mad Dogs, but based on some posts that I read, the HE-400 seemed like it sounded more fun (more bass and a bit more sparkle in the treble) while still having great mids.  I already own an Odac, and recently bought a Magni amp (O2 was to expensive).  Now I have more money to buy a pair of headphones.  So if anyone has experience with these two headphones I would really be interested in hearing your thoughts on which one you liked better and why.

 

Also if you could be more specific and compare their bass, mids, treble, and soundstage/instrument seperation to one another that would be awesome.

 

Suff about me.  The music I listen to is rock, alternative, orchestral (love those OST's), and electronic and budstep.  I will be using these at home on my laptop for music/movies/and gaming.  I don't care for privacy/isolation.

 

Hope you guys can help me!

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

bump

post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdacal View Post

After reading this review, I was very interested in these headphones.  They sounded perfect!  Or as close as I could get to my wants and needs.  The only problem is that they seemed to be impossible to find.  I looked everywhere and could'nt find these things.  But then I stumbled apon a thread on reddit 8 days old saying that the new version of the FA-011 will be shipping within the next couple weeks from  http://www.noisymotel.com/ and www.topdogheadphones.com.  So there's a chance I could get my hands in these headphones after all!

 

Now before I started looking into these, I was looking to buy a pair of HE-400's.  I was also looking at the Mad Dogs, but based on some posts that I read, the HE-400 seemed like it sounded more fun (more bass and a bit more sparkle in the treble) while still having great mids.  I already own an Odac, and recently bought a Magni amp (O2 was to expensive).  Now I have more money to buy a pair of headphones.  So if anyone has experience with these two headphones I would really be interested in hearing your thoughts on which one you liked better and why.

 

Also if you could be more specific and compare their bass, mids, treble, and soundstage/instrument seperation to one another that would be awesome.

 

Suff about me.  The music I listen to is rock, alternative, orchestral (love those OST's), and electronic and budstep.  I will be using these at home on my laptop for music/movies/and gaming.  I don't care for privacy/isolation.

 

Hope you guys can help me!

Soundstage and instrument separation aren't even in the same ballpark as the HE-400. The bass is very tight and controlled on the FA-011 and is one of the best I've ever heard in that aspect from an open-backed headphone. The HE-400 bass is less punchy, but I believe it is more full-bodied and satisfying. The HE-400 perform better for movies and gaming as well, in my experience. In all actuality, I'd kind of describe the FA-011 as sort of the "HE-400 lite" and it might be plenty good enough for your needs.

post #4 of 19

It's been a while since I owned the FA-011s, so being this is going off of memory, take it w/ a grain of salt.

 

I definitely agree with ninjames about the soundstage and especially the instrument seperation being on another level w/ the HE-400.  The  bass on the the FA-011s is very impressive for an open dynamic can, as ninjames also stated, but I actually prefer the bass on the 400 as it doesn't seem quite as intrusive, in my opinion.  The 011's sounded like a basshead can to me, even though the bass was fairly controlled, whereas the 400 is a better all-arounder.

 

I found the the Fischers were very good with electronic and dubstep, and weren't bad with rock and jazz, but I much prefer the 400's for just about every genre I've thrown at them.

 

The 400 is definitely a better headphone, I think, but it should be for the difference in price. If you can strectch your funds for the HE-400 I would recommend it.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjames View Post

Soundstage and instrument separation aren't even in the same ballpark as the HE-400. The bass is very tight and controlled on the FA-011 and is one of the best I've ever heard in that aspect from an open-backed headphone. The HE-400 bass is less punchy, but I believe it is more full-bodied and satisfying. The HE-400 perform better for movies and gaming as well, in my experience. In all actuality, I'd kind of describe the FA-011 as sort of the "HE-400 lite" and it might be plenty good enough for your needs.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by yonitaun View Post

It's been a while since I owned the FA-011s, so being this is going off of memory, take it w/ a grain of salt.

 

I definitely agree with ninjames about the soundstage and especially the instrument seperation being on another level w/ the HE-400.  The  bass on the the FA-011s is very impressive for an open dynamic can, as ninjames also stated, but I actually prefer the bass on the 400 as it doesn't seem quite as intrusive, in my opinion.  The 011's sounded like a basshead can to me, even though the bass was fairly controlled, whereas the 400 is a better all-arounder.

 

I found the the Fischers were very good with electronic and dubstep, and weren't bad with rock and jazz, but I much prefer the 400's for just about every genre I've thrown at them.

 

The 400 is definitely a better headphone, I think, but it should be for the difference in price. If you can strectch your funds for the HE-400 I would recommend it.

Thank you both for the replies.  So it sounds like HE-400 is the superior one, which is what I expected.  My only question now is which is more easily amped, or rather, which would be a better pair with my magni amp and odac?

post #6 of 19

I also have been trying to get my hand on a pair of FA-011 but unfortunately they always seem to be out of stock everywhere.

post #7 of 19

I tend to disagree here with some points, but agree with others. I prefer the FA011, but then again they arent comparable headphones. For starters the hifiman is a planar magnetic headphone, so huge difference there. Personally i like bass, and i like to enjoy music rather than analyse it, that being said im not saying the HE400 is unenjoyable, it favors very well here. Im just saying the FA011 is more fun. 

 

Taking money into account the FA011 gives you much more. Better materials, better build (depending on which version), and better comfort. The HE400 gives you more expensive drivers, in a plastic case with an ok headband, but not renown for its comfort or build quality. Its not crappy, but not great, one thing it certainly is is 2-3 times the price at least. 

 

Personally i firmly believe that for that money (FA011 pricing), there is no better can for comfort, versatility, look, and material design (woodies for under $200!?!?!). The bass is not shy at all so for electronica and dubstep these destroy the HE400. FOr classical youd be far better with the HE400, for rock and alternative this would be a mixed bag with a slight nod to the FA011 for grit and depth of bass. Now this may seem a little controversial here, but im going to say it all the same: the HE400 bass is like most planar magnetic or orthodynamic basses, people rave about them for "depth" and detail, which is hard to deny, they bring detail in spades! But in my honest opinion the bass cant compare in quantity and subjective tightness to an effective and good sounding traditional driver relaying far more air movement. Now again this is just my opinion, and i am a basshead. So sure a planar magnetic bass can be very large and tight and detailed and super dooper with a cherry on top, but its subjective to the style of music you listen to and what you compare it to. To those used to the higher end $500-$2500 cans which for the very vast majority have far more "sophisticated" bass, designed specifically for the classical and jazz listener, something designed for electronica would possibly offend them. Big bass or "deep" bass, which is a term i HATE because to me at least, depth~  as a term should refer to how low in this case a frequency is reached. Yet here members tend to use it as an adjective or even superlative rather than a measure.  ANywho, big bass or "deep" bass will mean one thing to a classical listener noting the impact on a well traveled verse of timpani, bassoon, or cello set, and will certainly mean another thing to an electronica enthusiast listening to a square sawtooth sinewave as found in say dubstep- or a reverb driven pan drum detuned as a kick like youd find in other genres of "doof". Neither would be satisfied by the others interpretation. 

 

So how much do you value bass over detail or vice versa? THe FA011 for a conventional driver and for its price point is quite detailed, but not like a planar magnetic driver. The HE400 for a planar magnetic driver at its price point (one of the cheapest planars on the market) has quite good bass, but not like a traditional driver specifically tuned in the design vein of the FA011. Its all personal taste really, for me its the FA011 all the way. For sound, for price, for build, and for wood!

 

Ill have my pair in a week or so when they hit Noisy Motel, I pre prdered via their website to get the best deal, and ensure i get a set before their all snapped up again, (just like i did with the WA7 from A2A). The new revision looks AMAZING.


Edited by mrbigsby - 2/17/13 at 12:01am
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdacal View Post

 

Thank you both for the replies.  So it sounds like HE-400 is the superior one, which is what I expected.  My only question now is which is more easily amped, or rather, which would be a better pair with my magni amp and odac?

I have the Magni + Modi and have listened to a Magni + ODAC and the HE-400 absolutely love the combination. They can be driven with lesser amps like the Fiio E7, but I found that going from my Fiio E17 and Little Dot MKIII to the Magni resulted in a much more full-bodied sound with the HE-400. At this point, the general rule is that the HE-400 don't require a lot of power, but they love it when they can get it. The Magni puts out plenty in that regard. The FA-011 pairs well with it as well, though you have less play on the volume pot (which is already lessened due to the fact that the Magni doesn't have a great volume pot).

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbigsby View Post

I tend to disagree here with some points, but agree with others. I prefer the FA011, but then again they arent comparable headphones. For starters the hifiman is a planar magnetic headphone, so huge difference there. Personally i like bass, and i like to enjoy music rather than analyse it, that being said im not saying the HE400 is unenjoyable, it favors very well here. Im just saying the FA011 is more fun. 

 

Taking money into account the FA011 gives you much more. Better materials, better build (depending on which version), and better comfort. The HE400 gives you more expensive drivers, in a plastic case with an ok headband, but not renown for its comfort or build quality. Its not crappy, but not great, one thing it certainly is is 2-3 times the price at least. 

 

Personally i firmly believe that for that money (FA011 pricing), there is no better can for comfort, versatility, look, and material design (woodies for under $200!?!?!). The bass is not shy at all so for electronica and dubstep these destroy the HE400. FOr classical youd be far better with the HE400, for rock and alternative this would be a mixed bag with a slight nod to the FA011 for grit and depth of bass. Now this may seem a little controversial here, but im going to say it all the same: the HE400 bass is like most planar magnetic or orthodynamic basses, people rave about them for "depth" and detail, which is hard to deny, they bring detail in spades! But in my honest opinion the bass cant compare in quantity and subjective tightness to an effective and good sounding traditional driver relaying far more air movement. Now again this is just my opinion, and i am a basshead. So sure a planar magnetic bass can be very large and tight and detailed and super dooper with a cherry on top, but its subjective to the style of music you listen to and what you compare it to. To those used to the higher end $500-$2500 cans which for the very vast majority have far more "sophisticated" bass, designed specifically for the classical and jazz listener, something designed for electronica would possibly offend them. Big bass or "deep" bass, which is a term i HATE because to me at least, depth~  as a term should refer to how low in this case a frequency is reached. Yet here members tend to use it as an adjective or even superlative rather than a measure.  ANywho, big bass or "deep" bass will mean one thing to a classical listener noting the impact on a well traveled verse of timpani, bassoon, or cello set, and will certainly mean another thing to an electronica enthusiast listening to a square sawtooth sinewave as found in say dubstep- or a reverb driven pan drum detuned as a kick like youd find in other genres of "doof". Neither would be satisfied by the others interpretation. 

 

So how much do you value bass over detail or vice versa? THe FA011 for a conventional driver and for its price point is quite detailed, but not like a planar magnetic driver. The HE400 for a planar magnetic driver at its price point (one of the cheapest planars on the market) has quite good bass, but not like a traditional driver specifically tuned in the design vein of the FA011. Its all personal taste really, for me its the FA011 all the way. For sound, for price, for build, and for wood!

 

Ill have my pair in a week or so when they hit Noisy Motel, I pre prdered via their website to get the best deal, and ensure i get a set before their all snapped up again, (just like i did with the WA7 from A2A). The new revision looks AMAZING.

Yup, yup, you really have a point here.  I've read some people's impressions of the HE-400 here on HF.  They were actually dissapointed by the supposedly big bass impact they had.  I honestly do believe that I am a bit of a bass head, which is the main reason I stared this thread.  

Another concern is the mids.  I'm paticularly attracted by the words "lush" and "vivid" and "colored" when someone describes the mids of a headphone.  With the HE-400, the mids are described as acccurate and clear, which isn't bad but in my experience I would prefer lush, and vivid mids even though they are supposedly in-acccurate.

The main thing that got me interested in planars is the speed their supposed to have.  The sound is suppoesed to be really fast and dynamic on the HE-400.  Compared to a dynamic driver, it blows it away.  I'm just wondering, to an inexperienced ear, would one even notice the difference in speed from say the HE-400 vs the FA-011?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjames View Post

I have the Magni + Modi and have listened to a Magni + ODAC and the HE-400 absolutely love the combination. They can be driven with lesser amps like the Fiio E7, but I found that going from my Fiio E17 and Little Dot MKIII to the Magni resulted in a much more full-bodied sound with the HE-400. At this point, the general rule is that the HE-400 don't require a lot of power, but they love it when they can get it. The Magni puts out plenty in that regard. The FA-011 pairs well with it as well, though you have less play on the volume pot (which is already lessened due to the fact that the Magni doesn't have a great volume pot).

Thats good to hear.  That rules out one reason I would choose one over the other.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdacal View Post

Yup, yup, you really have a point here.  I've read some people's impressions of the HE-400 here on HF.  They were actually dissapointed by the supposedly big bass impact they had.  I honestly do believe that I am a bit of a bass head, which is the main reason I stared this thread.  

Another concern is the mids.  I'm paticularly attracted by the words "lush" and "vivid" and "colored" when someone describes the mids of a headphone.  With the HE-400, the mids are described as acccurate and clear, which isn't bad but in my experience I would prefer lush, and vivid mids even though they are supposedly in-acccurate.

The main thing that got me interested in planars is the speed their supposed to have.  The sound is suppoesed to be really fast and dynamic on the HE-400.  Compared to a dynamic driver, it blows it away.  I'm just wondering, to an inexperienced ear, would one even notice the difference in speed from say the HE-400 vs the FA-011?

Thats good to hear.  That rules out one reason I would choose one over the other.

Audiophile terminologies are a PITA to get used to. "lush" and "vivid" are typically good, they mean that the midrange is full-bodied and not lacking in any way. HE400's midrange is laid-back, so it is relaxed rather than lush "in-your-face" sounding. Take that however you will.

 

"Coloured" is a mixed bag, it means the sound signature is significantly non-linear and bumpy, enough-so that the headphones add a layer of so-called "colouration" on top of the original music. Some dig it, but IMO it is a sonic aspect that detracts from a headphone's performance from a purely audiophile standpoint.

post #11 of 19

I don't buy the HE-400 vs basshead argument.  Basshead headphones are intentionally calibrated at production to have more bass than neutral.  You can achieve same effect with the HE-400 using EQ.  Like I told a Pro900 owner one time who wanted more insight on the bass of the HE-400 after the Pro900, I said ''well EQ your HE-400's bass up another 12db like the Pro900's is and then see how it sounds and hits.''


Edited by TMRaven - 2/19/13 at 6:37pm
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I don't buy the HE-400 vs basshead argument.  Basshead headphones are intentionally calibrated at production to have more bass than neutral.  You can achieve same effect with the HE-400 using EQ.  Like I told a Pro900 owner one time who wanted more insight on the bass of the HE-400 after the Pro900, I said ''well EQ your HE-400's bass up another 12db like the Pro900's is and then see how it sounds and hits.''

Not everyone wants to EQ, especially when using headphones on the move. Also by this rational you should just buy any headphones and EQ them later to suit your needs?

 

Its not a "vs basshead argument". Its just an opinion on the OP's original question, from a basshead....One who prefers FA011 over HE400 for my money. Both great headphones, just different in pretty much every way.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbigsby View Post

Not everyone wants to EQ, especially when using headphones on the move. Also by this rational you should just buy any headphones and EQ them later to suit your needs?

 

 

 

This argument has a fallacy, you're acting as if both the HE-400 and FA-011 are headphones meant to be used on the move.  I doubt they are-- especially not the HE-400.  That's a 'stay at your listening station' headphone.

 

 

What's wrong with EQ'ing a headphone to suit your needs?  Works wonders.  You can take some treble off the HE-400 if a song was mastered too bright, you can add bass to it if you want to Rave out to EDM, and keep it as original while listening to other songs you feel don't need it.  What makes less sense is buying something so expensive and not being as pleased as you could be with it because you're not wanting to release the potential of EQ, which is a shame, because the HE-400's bass by nature EQs very well.  It takes a while before it turns into sloppy mess like other headphones do oh so quickly.

 

(And this isn't to say you can't EQ the FA-011 either in different ways as well.)


Edited by TMRaven - 2/20/13 at 7:17am
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

I think this just might decide it for me: which has more treble?  I think I may be a bit sensitive to bright treble.

post #15 of 19

Speaking from experience of owning the HE-400 for quite some time (just upgraded to the HE-500), the HE-400s are an all-around great headphone for all genres and uses, but I would say it shines mostly for watching movies and anything that has that extra bass, such as electronic music. I must stress that these headphones MUST be well-amped to truly get the most out of them! The bass is recessed and the upper mids have no "pop" for the snares and such if you are just running them on an iPod or phone, and you just get the impression that they aren't as good as they really are.

These cans also react very well to a nice burn-in period. It seems to give them a more "full" sound, and I say the mids come out a bit more as well (female vocals are a big strength!).

 

All in all, I'd say the HE-400 is one of the best bang-for-your-buck headphones around currently and you absolutely cannot go wrong with them. I'm sorry for not being able to speak for the FA-011s; you can use what you already know about those to compare them to what I wrote.

 

Cheers, and happy listening!

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