HiFiMAN HE-400

Average User Rating:
4.1625/5,
  1. BK201
    0.5/5,
    "Pretty much one of the worst headphones I have ever heard"
    Pros - Perhaps the bass extension
    Cons - everything else
    I really expected to like this as it seemed to be an audiophile favorite here. I listened to it for a few days to ensure that burn-in could occur, whether it be my brain of the headphones themselves.

    The problem with this headphone is that it's super harsh, harsher than the DT990. And interestingly it sounds dark.

    I don't know how they pulled that one off. At least the bass is fantastic, typical of orthos, but at this point, that bass extension and slam is pretty much useless due to that massive treble spike I'm hearing around the 10K+ region.
  2. Asr
    2.0/5,
    "Below- to average headphones"
    Pros - Good clarity, impulse response, open soundstaging
    Cons - Physical discomfort, lack of mid-range, ploppy bass, cable quality
    Review: HiFiMan HE-400 (revision 4)
     
    published on October 14, 2013
     
    he400.jpg
    (click for larger pic)
     
    - download a printable 4-page PDF version of this review (target goes to a location on my Dropbox)

    Intro

    I originally got interested in the HiFiMan HE-400 due to early positive impressions by other Head-Fiers and eventually bought my own pair in November 2012, new from HeadAmp. This review contains my thoughts on the headphones, which I owned up until August 2013. Caveat: for various reasons I didn't listen to these headphones that much while I owned them and used them only for about 65-80 hours. I don't personally believe that planar magnetic headphones burn in either, which is another reason that the headphones never got many hours on them.

    Equipment Setup

    - Source components: Plinius CD-101 (CD player) (Signal Cable Silver Reference power cord, directly into wall), desktop PC w/ headphone jack on Yamaha YSTMS50 speakers
    - Analog interconnects: Emotiva X-Series RCA
    - Headphone amplifiers: Burson Soloist, HeadAmp GS-X MK2, Schiit Magni
    - Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000, MrSpeakers Mad Dog 3.2, Fostex TH900
     
    The HE-400 (revision 4) was used only with the velour earpads, not the stock pleather ones.

    Evaluation Music

    - Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane
    - Andrea Parker - Kiss My Arp
    - Goldfrapp - Black Cherry
    - Helloween - 7 Sinners
    - Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious
    - Julia Fischer - Bach Concertos
    - Machine Head - Through The Ashes of Empires
    - Massive Attack - Mezzanine
    - Megadeth - Countdown To Extinction [MFSL]
    - Orbital - Snivilisation
    - Ruth Moody - The Garden
    - The Crystal Method - Vegas [2007 Deluxe Edition], Tweekend
    - The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land
    - Trifonic - Emergence
     
    Negative Aspects
     
    The flaws listed below collectively soured my experience with the headphones:
     
    - Comfort & fit: The HE-400 was very uncomfortable on my head mostly because of the headband, which wasn't padded at all and frequently left the top of my head sore. I also never got a full "seal" with the ear cups due to the size and shape of the frame—i.e., the headphones were just slightly too big for my head at the smallest slide setting and didn't "clamp" enough to my head either, leaving slight open space. That may in part explain some of why I heard what I did with the HE-400, and it's admittedly possible that my fit issues could very well have been the source of my negative experience with the headphones.
     
    - Cable quality & appearance mis-marketing: The HE-400's cable was one of the worst things about it to me. For one, the screw-in connectors were an annoyance to deal with (primarily because they were too small to easily turn) and always left me wary that they might break as well. In fact, I did break one of them from over-torquing and had to get a replacement cable through HeadAmp. Second, I thought the 3.5mm mini plug at the other end was a major error too for two reasons: (1) 3.5mm mini plugs usually indicate that a headphone can be driven well by portable & computer sources. I found this to not be the case at all with the HE-400. On my computer it required extra-high volume to sound loud. And on my amps it required high gain (where configurable) + high volume adjustment to sound loud. (2) I occasionally experienced sound drop-outs when I used the cable with a 3.5mm-1/4" adapter and frequently had to "shake" the adapter's connection to the headphone amp in order to regain sound. This occurred with all 3 amps, so it wasn't limited to a single amp. The problem was clearly with the cable's 3.5mm mini plug, as I've never experienced the issue with any other 3.5mm-terminated headphones.
     
    - Overall lack of mid-range: I put the HE-400 through every major music genre that I listen to (classical, bluegrass/folk, metal, electronica/trip-hop) and had a hard time appreciating it for most of them simply because I found the mid-range overall to be too recessed, which negatively affected my enjoyment. It was just way too thin-sounding and never presented instruments like bass guitars or other elements like male & female vocals as properly full-bodied. It severely detracted from atmospherics/ambience as well—on music that was atmospherically dark, like trip-hop and certain types of metal, the stylistic "darkness" that should've been there was missing with the HE-400. I don't mean sonic darkness, I mean that kind of heavy, creepy, menacing quality that some tracks can have (for example, Massive Attack's "Inertia Creeps"). And the HE-400 tended to shove key musical layers to the background, like drums/percussion. In that aspect it was like the sonic inverse of the Audio-Technica AD2000/AD2000X, which both bring percussion to the extreme foreground.
     
    - Boring bass: You'd think just having a lot of bass on a headphone would make it fun-sounding, right? Wrong. It depends on how it sounds, and the HE-400 had one of the most boring bass responses that I've ever heard. It reminded me of the "oonce oonce" bass in dance clubs—completely generic and indistinct with absolutely no real energy to speak of. Ok, the HE-400 had a lot of bass quantity. But the quality of that bass was just non-exciting, as it was just the equivalent of a generic-sounding bass "drop". There was just no impact, or force, or anything that sounded like the bass had some type of forward motion and wanted to keep pace with the rest of the music. And there was no tightness to it either, it was just a generic-sounding plodgy and ploppy blob. In fact, if there's one word that could sum up the bass for me, it'd be "ploppy".
     
    - Spiked & unrefined treble: Ok, a lot of headphones have unpleasantly spiked treble. The HE-400 was just another case of that to me, and I like treble too! I'm a fan of the treble in the Sony Qualia 010 and Sennheiser HD800 for example. But the HE-400 had just too much zing and sibilance that made my ears wince on too many occasions. And it was unable to stay clean at high volumes, on music that was especially treble-heavy—i.e., it tended to blur ambient electronica at points where the music got increasingly complex & trebly.
     
    - Over-diffusion: I'm generally not a fan of headphones that diffuse/separate the sound a lot, especially when it's obviously unnatural to the recording. (Case in point: HD800.) The HE-400 overdid this as well IMO and completely lost a sense of cohesion—it split apart bands way too much so they didn't sound like they were playing in the same room, for example. I'm pretty sure that most metal bands don't intend for their music to sound overly diffuse/separated and this aspect of the HE-400 especially annoyed me when listening to metal.
     
    Positives?
     
    Normally I'd try to balance a negative review with some positive aspects but unfortunately my experience with the HE-400 really turned me off to it, way more than any other headphones in recent memory. So I apologize if I can't come up with anything especially positive to say about it. I guess the best thing that I can say about the HE-400 is that it was technically competent—i.e., it had treble and bass, a fast impulse response, etc, but for me it strayed so far from the point of conveying music that it ended up registering as below-average in my personal rankings. Additionally, by the time I really started putting the HE-400 through its paces for this review, I also had the MrSpeakers Mad Dog 3.2, which I'd be inclined to say is the superior-sounding planar magnetic headphone for less money.
     
    As far as amping went, I used mostly the Burson Soloist and HeadAmp GS-X MK2, and only minorly the Schiit Magni. The Magni was able to drive the HE-400 effectively but that's about all it did—the HE-400 really didn't sound that great on it, especially compared to the Burson Soloist. The Magni was also unable to drive the HE-400 at ultra-loud, non-earsafe volumes without causing audible distortion in the bass frequencies (on extra-low/powerful bass notes). And although the Soloist and GS-X MK2 were better-sounding amps, neither of them helped to rectify my issues with the HE-400. The GS-X MK2 in particular only amplified its sonic flaws.
     
    Addendum - Review Notes
     
    My review notes are included here in their own section for convenience. These provide specific detailed info not included in the review. Notes start below the asterisks.
     
    ***
    Terrible cable quality at both ends (screw connectors too small to easily handle, connectivity issue when mini-plug used with 1/4" adapter). 3.5mm plug mis-leading, HE-400 nowhere remotely efficient enough for use with portable sources. (Needs High gain to achieve sufficient volume on Soloist and GS-X at moderate settings.)
     
    Overall passive, laid-back sound, in a V-type signature, with very emphasized treble and bass.
     
    Julia Fischer - Bach Concertos
    1. Strings clear & "shimmering", not too unlike HD800, but also diverges instrument sections widely. Very separated sound, not very cohesive. Almost too much channel separation. Treble overall reminiscent of HD800—has similar issue as HD800, causing wispy/glossy-sounding violins. Lacks subtle musical details that the OII would have (inflection, dynamics, bowing technique, etc). Lack of overall mid-range content negatively affects both violins & harpsichord.
     
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine - "Teardrop", "Inertia Creeps"
    1. HE-400 fails to portray analog-like warmth of Teardrop that should be there. Tape hiss doesn't add atmospherics either and is just “there” as background noise. Kick drum not very obvious as a kick drum either, also lacks distinction. Lacks percussive-hit drive into belly drums of Inertia Creeps as well. Drums sound slow and lack the fast vibration decay as heard on OII/BHSE. Dark atmospherics & ominous sound of track totally not conveyed by HE-400 either. 3D's vocals also lack a heavy intonation.
     
    The Prodigy - The Fat of the Land
    Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious - "Becoming Insane", "Vicious Delicious", "Change The Formality"
    1. Bass on HE-400 is low but also sounds very boring. Has quantity, but lacks "motion" and power—i.e., drive/punch/impact. Not tight either and is semi-plodgy. Sort of blobby & ploppy. Almost excessively ploppy depending on music.
     
    Helloween - 7 Sinners - "Who is Mr. Madman?"
    1. This recording especially shows faults of HE-400—drumming is barely noticeable on it. Shoved too much to background and doesn't sound like an integral part of the music. Polar opposite of something like AD2K which brings drums to extreme foreground. Bass guitars also completely lack fullness. Track completely lacks excitement of AD2K.
    2. For metal music specifically, HE-400's frequency balance skews more towards guitar string plucks/vibrations. Huge lack of general bass fill to bass guitars and vocals that more often than not offsets the intended atmosphere, so most tracks don't have an appropriate "metal" sound.
     
    Porcupine Tree - In Absentia - "Blackest Eyes", "Lips of Ashes"
    1. HE-400 lacks heavy/full sound that would add more to music. Guitars stick out too much in mix. Bass guitars detracted too much. Separated, diffuse sound lacks cohesion. Opposite of Grado-like where the band is close together and upfront. HE-400 splits the band too far apart. Treble is the aggressive element on HE-400, not the band's bass guitar as it probably should be.
     
    Beyond Twilight - Section X - "The Path of Darkness"
    1. HE-400 shoves male vocals to background too much and recesses them too much as well. Lacks heavy, dark sound on HE-400 that should be there.
    2. Not sure HE-400 would be ideal for black or tech metal due to lack of mid-bass & mid-range (male vocals too recessed, bass guitars detracted from too much as well).
    gevorg and EkehMayu like this.
  3. FullBright1
    3.0/5,
    "Buttery and TOO relaxed"
    Pros - Makes all dynamic headphones sound small by comparison
    Cons - Anything above 1Khz is missing
    Recently i received a new set of HE-400s and took them for a spin.
    I never made it past the first lap, so its time for the review.
    I found their sound to be a combination of overly flat mids and spiky distant trebles awash in a sea of syrupy bloated
    bass response with a touch of darkness throne in to hide any hint of presence or clarity.
    I use a Woo Audio Fireflies and a ResonEssence Concero HP and a Maxxed out version of the discontinued Headroom Max as my sources, so, im not under-powering the HE-400s.
    If you prefer overly flat mids and thick bass, then these are your best buy.
    On a positive note, as i define the HE-400s sound as bassy with muddy mids, , they can also be described
    as lush, rich, incredibly thick and wide, and very very warm......like a bear hug of low mids around your ears.
    Sound-stage is impressive.
    One thing is for certain, after you use the HE-400s for a while then change to any other headphones you own, your other headphones will ALL sound smaller.
    Much smaller.
    So, consider that as the other impressive caveat that the HE-400s can truly offer you along with the very nice sound-staging.
    Do they sound bad?......No, not at all.......they just sound thick, flat, and wide.
    Another way to think of their sound is if tubes in a headphone amp are very old and worn out and soft sounding..., that would be a way of describing the sound of the HE-400s...... very soft, very smooth, very round, very old analog.
    You keep thinking, "wow, these could be so great if i could just add some upper mids and some treble".
    And somehow the HE-400s are able to make their flatish - thickish- soft and round type of EQ tonality work, ,,,but that does not mean you have to like it.
    I suspect that as these phones need power to make them speak, that many of the reviews you read whereby they are described as "bright" or "shrill" can be explained by the user trying to power these with an Iphone or some similar type device
    which is starving the HE-400s and in that state they are going to sound brittle, especially at the top end.
    However, if you give them the power they need and crave so that they can produce as they should, then you are will discover that they sound quite buttery smooth and very warm and thick and dark.
    I like them, and i appreciate their sound, but my particular need is for more clarity in the mids and upper mids so that the music does not sound laid back and creamy smooth.
    The HE-400s are nice cans, and worth the money, but be certain you are looking for their sound, which is nothing at all like a set of good dynamic open back headphones like the wonderful Sony MDR -MA900s.
  4. DrikTheTroll
    3.0/5,
    "Flawed (at least mine was)"
    Pros - Clean engaging bass, very comfortable (for me)
    Cons - Harsh treble, annoying cable connectors
    Positives - clean extended, balanced bass. Lacks the physicality of an LCD-2, but that's not unexpected.
     
    These are large, heavy headphones, that I found surprisingly comfortable to wear  when used with the velour pads. As reference, I have a small head, am not particularly sensitive to pressure on the top of my head, but am quite sensitive to pressure around the ear. For me, these were way more comfortable than I expected based on experience.
     
    Build quality of the headphones seemed good - stock cable cover (not the cable itself)  was already separating at the Y junction however (purely cosmetic impact but not a good thing).
     
    These headphones seem to be generally well regarded, but for me there was one factor that made them unusable - the treble. Fair disclosure - I am not a fan of overly bright treble, however with the HE-400 something beyond simple brightness was happening - almost a resonance effect in the highs. The impact for me was that listening to the HE-400s for extended periods made my ears hurt (beyond simple fatigue).
     
    In some other posts, I have read about "tizzy treble" being tamed by carefully tightening the headphone cable connectors (which have a PITA design). This could have been my issue, but if it was it's certainly a design flaw. I could have had a bad unit, or my unit may have sounded as designed - I don't know. I do know that I could not listen to them for extended periods of time.
     
    These were known good HE-400s without previously discussed (and now long corrected) build issues.
  5. Giupy
    3.5/5,
    "Good entry-level planar"
    Pros - Good bass, wide soundstage, great detail
    Cons - Stock pads constrict the sound, cable connectors will kill the cable in a couple of years, relatively heavy and looks could have been better
    Hey guys!

    I know this is hardly the first review of these to ever be posted and I'm pretty sure everyone has covered all of the bases by now, but I've decided to throw in my two cents as well.

    Introduction:

    This is my first review here, so please don't lynch me.

    I've owned these for two years and they have a special place in my heart as that one gateway drug that led me, not only to planars, but also to the higher planes of audio... Or so I like to think. Things have changed in the past two years and if you are looking for a good value, open-back planar, this is still a decent choice, but you might want to just pick up the HE-400S, since it has many improvements over the original.

    Build Quality:

    Ok, so to get this understood right off the bat - the build quality is good. It is. High quality material was used, the headphones themselves are mostly metal, the headband itself is also metal with a leather exterior.

    However the design is not great. So to re-iterate, we have high-quality components, which have not been put together in the most ingenious of ways.

    While the headphone itself is very sturdy, it has its issues:
     
    1. The metal support for the headband si connected to the metallic casing of the driver through a screw on each side of the driver's casing. Now, the problem with these screws is that they have an uncanny tendency to unscrew themselves, so you have to screw them back in, which is quite frustrating. You don't even need to move around too much for it to happen, but it does.
     
    1. The cable connectors... Ah, the lovely, lovely Hifiman solution for cable connectors (thank God, they've changed these with the newer models). They're something similar to reverse coax connectors, but I'm not really sure what. Either way, as the metal headband support screws, these also unscrew all the time, which is very, very frustrating and very damaging to the cable, in the long run.

      This can easily damage the cable as you need to rotate it to screw it in. Sure, you can rotate it in the other sense to compensate for it, but most of the time you're not going to get roatate in the opposite direction exactly as much as it needs to be screwed in and that will cause tension in the cable, which, in time, will damage it. For example, my Canare 3m cable died after about one year of usage and I had to replace it with the Silver-coated OCC 3m cable from Head-Direct
       
    2. Stock pads constrict the sound and are not very comfortable. I'm sure that many of you are quite familiar with the "pads change the sound" phenomenon and it's true. The stock pads seem to take out some of the depth of the sound, it's like there's a very, very thin layer of plastic between your ear and the headphone.

      Additionally I spoke about the comfort. I am somewhat biased towards velour pads, because I like them more, due to not having them stick to my ears after long listening session.
       
    3. Another issue is the weight that so many planars have. The HE-400 weighs about 440g, that's a little more than Fostex's T20RP MK3, which weights 328g and the Oppo PM-2 which weighs 380g. Additionally, the Newer HE-400S only weighs 350g.

       
    4. The headband is not self-adjustable. I know a lot of people don't have a problem with that, but I prefer those, because they usually adjust accordingly, so I don't end up moving them by mistake and then not having the proper fit on my head and wondering what's wrong for a while... I imagine not many people run into this problem, though.
     
     
    Sound Quality:
     
    Ok, now here's the most important of them all. The sound quality.

    Setup: I'm currently using my desktop PC, using a Oehlbach XXL DAC Ultra connected via USB (32-bit, 192khz) into which I plug my HE-400 directly. I have also used them with a Creative Sound Blaster Zx and a Asus Xonar Essence STU, but I will just talk about how it sounds with the Oehlbach, because it is the most fresh in my mind.

    I'm using Foobar2000 as my player and my files are mostly FLAC or WAV, but I've also thrown in the occasional mp3.

    I listen to all types of music, so I decided that I'm going to "audition" them and present their capabilities using multiple genres. Some of the songs I used are:

    Michael Jackson - Thriller
    Aerosmith - Dude looks like a lady
    Queen - Keep yourself alive
    Disturbed - Indestructible
    Jesse Cook - Mario takes a walk
    Queen - Another one Bites the Dust
    Nova Menco - Journey
    Joe Satriani - Surfing with the Alien
    Steve Vai - Earthquake Sky
    George Benson - This Masquerade

    Guns n' Roses - Nightrain
    Diana Krall - Fly me to the moon
    Lee Ritenour - Night Rhythms
    Ola Gjeilo - Ubi Caritas
    Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

    Infected Mushroom - Heavyweight
    Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
    Christina Aguilera - Hurt
    Frederic Chopin - Grand Valse Brilliante (Interpreted by Valentina Lisitsa)

    The tracks which I found more relevant are in bold and I will provide an explanation of why I found them to be important to my listening impressions.

    So, right as you start listening to these, you can hear the immense soundstage and detail retrieval, they are really great, especially if you come from a closed-back headphone. Which I did, I tried them right after work, where I use a AKG K66. Not much of a comparison, I know, but it makes the WOW factor all the more obvious.

     
    Michael Jackson's Thriller is a big-time hit for me. I've always loved this song, ever since I was little, but hearing it on a pair of HE-400 is completely different than hearing it on... Say, my old NEI television set, on MTV. I love this song and I listen to it when I try out headphones because of the great imaging and spaciousness it provides. From the start, when the synth and bass come in, you can tell that everything has taken its rightful place, being set just where they're supposed to be, offering a beautiful, beautiful imaging. It's not just once I've found myself pausing after the howling of the wolves, wondering what my neighbor's dogs are doing and why they're going nuts... Then I just realize that it's my music.

    Aerosmith's Dude looks like a lady I use due to it's intermittent stereo sequence at that start. I generally blast the volume really high and see if there is any noise coming in between the guitar segments, in the quiet passages. While I did hear some noise, I later found out that the matter lies with my Oehlbach, not with my HE-400.

     
    Queen's Keep yourself alive is a great song to show off the nice, smooth mids and incredible detail retrieval of this headphone. As soon as the song starts, you hear the guitar. You hear the pick strumming the guitar strings. You hear the edge of the pick grinding against the edges of the thicker strings' exterior metallic wrapping. It's fantastic to hear this much detail and it is quite soothing.

    Indestructible, by Disturbed is, by far, my favorite workout sound... But as you can imagine, I don't really go to the gym with my HE-400, I simply enjoy the song at home, sometimes and that truly isn't difficult to achieve, as the HE-400 brings a great bang and slam with its bass, as soon as the instruments kick in. You can feel their "raw power" and their energy right off the bat, but sometimes it gets a bit too harsh (more on that later).

    Another one bites the dust, by queen, I find to be a great tool for listening to bass and sub-bass and boy, does this headphone shine here. The bass is nicely balanced and controlled, without being bloated or feeling artificial in any way. It has depth and it packs quite the punch. It's full and it's not the type of fatiguing bass I've seen with some very V-shaped response headphones. I truly enjoyed it, despite being more inclined to a more mid-centric orientation.

     
    Earthquake Sky is on this list because you can easily hear the nice slam of the drums, which really puts the lower range of these headphones to value.

    Nightrain is just on this list because it's my favorite song of all time and it proves that, even though I love Slash a lot as a guitarist, Izzy Strandlin was quite under-rated and its that specific underdog effect that makes the first solo of Nightrain my favorite guitar solo of all time... Also the highs sounded harsh and edgy. That was unfortunate, this is one of the few times in which the high quality version of the recording was a poorer experience to me than the low quality mp3.

    Funkadelic's Maggot Brain is a song I got into when I was in high school, just learning guitar. This is also one of the first lengthy solos I have ever learned, so it's quite special to me. Half of it sounds as smooth as a summer lake at dawn, really showing how the mids are well-balanced within the whole sound, showing off a very detailed sound. As for the other half, the higher-end of it all, it sound abrasive, if felt like sandpaper was being rubbed somewhere close to my ears, at times.

     
    Infected Mushroom's Heavyweight is good as it takes you through so many sound, building a complex imagery around you, showing you how well individualized this headphone makes everything, giving proper air between each instrument and having everything settle in just right.
     
    Christina Aguilera's Hurt, now that's a song I really enjoy and its depth gives me goosebumps every time. It's about regret, it's about not saying what you were supposed to, what you wanted to, at the right time, it's about missing out on important things in life, like family and the loss of a loved one and also about the difficulty to move on after such a tragedy, it's about... Those damn high peaks that ruin everything. There are seriously some weird high spikes in the upper range of the spectrum which can be heard throughout the song. There is also some slight sibilance and just a general sense of unwanted edginess and this time the fault is not with my Oehlbach, nor was it with my Creative X-fi Xtreme Music, nor with the STU...
     
    This, my friends, was the biggest flaw in sound quality I found with the HE-400. It can be partially resolved by equalizing the headphones somewhere between the 9-11k, but nobody really wants to do that. Nobody wants to spend a lot of money for a headphone in order to make it sound right. Of course, I'm not saying it sounds bad, but flaws like this can be quite bothersome, especially when they're so obvious in songs you really enjoy.
     
    Additional Notes:

    They're easier to drive than most planars, but I wouldn't recommend using them on your phone.
    They're not portable and are not meant to be, they don't fold, they're not closed-back, they don't have a carrying case/pouch.
    The HE-400 can be used as a small, mono speaker if you have a powerful enough amp.
    Hifiman HE-400 are moddable, they can be modded in many different ways in order to tweak either sound or comfort. I have not tried any of these mods, all I have done is change the pads on mine and I'm happy with the result.

    They come in a cardboard box, with a plastic support, but I don't care since I don't want to pay a premium for the packaging anyway.
     
    Conclusion:
     
    These are a beautiful way to into things, whether it is high fidelity audio, planar magnetic headphones or just another plane within the Nirvana of good music. Sure, they're a bit clunky, a bit uncomfortable, but they provide great value for the money. The sound quality is great, but it could be a bit better. They'll always provide a good experience, but most of the time they'll provide a great one.
     
    Within the context they were released in, all those years ago, I would give them four stars, but now with the existence of the much better, many-times-over improved 400S, I give them  three stars. Mounting that up to an average of three and a half stars, which I think is fair.

    Apologies if I forgot to mention anything (I'm writing this while at work, don't tell my boss!), I will update if I find it necessary and may return to post some pictures of the headphones.

    Thanks for reading, let me know if you have any question (though I doubt it, at this point).

     
  6. 1Infinity
    3.5/5,
    "Good for rock"
    Pros - Bass, head stage, dinamic range
    Cons - No studio monitor
    sorry my English is Google translate

    The sound of these hifiman immediately like it or hate it.
    They have a strong character, perfect bass, brilliant highs, medium tone mind incorrect.
    A few years ago I was involved with live recordings of classical music and I used the stax lamda pro (magic but delicate) and Sennheiser HD 600 (less magical but tonally correct) as monitor of post production.
    After so many years I decided to try this hifiman hoping it was a mix between strax and Sennheiser.
    Ok I was wrong, hifiman has a different sound.
    For two weeks I sailed between Acdc, metal, in exaggerated volumes.
    Then I got the Audio Gd NFB 28 and headphones were taken off, especially in balanced.
    Too bad the rest of the music I was interested less than usual, then I realized that the particular signature sound port to listen at high volume that kind of music.
    Loreena McKennitt's not good! His voice changes tone is darker, the musical instruments that are riding the midrange suffer.



    Il suono di queste hifiman piace subito o lo si odia.
    Hanno un carattere forte, bassi perfetti, alti brillanti, medi timbrica mente scorretti.
    Qualche anno fa mi occupavo di registrazioni live di musica classica e usavo delle stax lamda pro ( magiche ma delicate) e sennheiser hd 600 ( meno magiche ma timbricamente corrette ) come monitor di post produzione.
    Dopo tanti anni ho deciso di provare questa hifiman sperando fosse un mix tra le strax e le Sennheiser.
    Ok ho sbagliato, hifiman ha un suono diverso.
    Per due settimane ho navigato tra Acdc, metallica, a volumi esagerati.
    Poi mi è arrivato l'Audio Gd Nfb 28 e le cuffie hanno preso il volo, soprattutto in bilanciato.
    Peccato che il resto della musica mi interessasse meno del solito, poi ho capito che la particolare firma sonora porta ad ascoltare a volumi alti quel genere di musica.
    Loreena McKennit Non va bene! La sua voce cambia tono, è più cupa, gli strumenti musicali che sono a cavallo della gamma media soffrono.
  7. Stylus
    3.5/5,
    "Great but not for everyone"
    Pros - Unbelievable bass extension and punch, fairly wide soundstage, good imaging and separation
    Cons - Recessed mid-highs, minimal headpiece padding, poor earpad choices, mismatched drivers in my pair, strange ear fatigue
    First of all, I was not running these from appropriate amplification at the time (Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro breakout box). Secondly, I have exchanged these for some other phones, and have only had them for a few days (also potential defects). Third, I am relatively new to the hifi scene. Therefore I have deemed it fair to give them 3.5 stars in order to not ruin the average. I felt I had to after that guy gave 1/5 stars for some reason.
     
    With that out of the way, onto the review.
     
    EDIT: Please ignore the scales to the left, they do not reflect what I think. I can't change them for some reason.
     
    Audio path:
    FLAC 44.1 16-bit or MP3 V0/320, various genres -> JRiver Media Center -> ASIO -> Audigy 2 ZS -> Platinum Pro breakout box -> HE-400
     
    Previous phones i've owned are the Sennheiser HD202 (broken, piece of crap) and HD555's with the foam mod. I had the former for about a year and the latter for 3 or so.
     
    Design / Build
    1. These are Revision 2's.
    2. Personally, I think these look fantastic. They are how I would design headphones if given the opportunity. It reminds me of something like a sleek old muscle car with a modern facelift. The colour may look showy to some in photos, but in real life it's not quite the case. It's a nice, dark shade of indigo blue that doesn't look gaudy at all. In fact, they look much more attractive and unique than the HE-500's with its boring grey scheme.
    3. The housing appears to be some cheapish plastic, unfortunately. The paint job seems decent though.
    4. The mesh can be removed fairly easily by pulling out a plastic retaining ring with your fingernails. This adds some nice modding options (diamond/criss-cross grills anyone?) that can potentially affect the sound. You could probably paint the ring to give the phones some accents too.
    1. Apparently both drivers are wired in reverse polarity (I couldn't confirm this because I didn't have a mic). A few people argue that it has a negative effect though I can't say for certain.
    2. Cable is removable, though uses unusual mini coax connectors for the drivers. I guess they used them instead of mini XLR for cost reasons.
    3. Stock cable is not horrible as everyone makes it out to be (coming from HD555's, anyway). Bit too long and stiff though.
    4. I feel that the connectors detract from the aesthethics (and function) however, and they should simply be sticking straight out the bottom of the housing; instead of being recessed (makes it more difficult to screw on the cables as well).
    5. Earpads are a bit fiddly to put on, and they spin freely (not a big deal).
    6. The round things with Hifiman logos that hold the arms for the housings seem to do a decent job of retaining its position.
    7. On a whole, these don't feel or look like cheap headphones. They seem like they would take much more of a beating than the dynamics i've owned, and I don't see anything that would crack in everyday use (unlike the HD202 and HD555's). Not sure how they would cope being dropped onto a hard floor from waist height however.
     
    Comfort / Fit
    1. Repeating the words of everyone else, they are heavy. But when I first took them out of the box, they weren't as heavy as I thought they'd be.
    2. Weight only posed a problem in regards to pressure on the top of my skull. It was probably the most annoying thing comfort-wise about these. I never experienced any kind of neck pain.
    3. Headband padding is some faux leather and way too thin for my liking, especially with the weight of these. It was somewhat more bearable when I ripped the pleather padding off my dead HD202's and stuck them on though [​IMG]
    4. Included earpads (pleather) are not as soft as i'd like and made my ears hot fairly quickly. The optional Hifiman velour pads were actually stiffer than the pleather ones (???) and definitely not up to scratch to my HD555's stock earpads, but at least my ears didn't get too hot. Overall, they did improve the comfort noticeably though (and sounded a bit better too).
    5. It's possible to mount earcups from other manufacturers on. I've seen people mount Lawton Audio slanted leather cups and they look awesome.
    6. You can bend the headband to fit your head better (manual says so), though I felt no need to do so.
    7. All in all, actually not as uncomfortable as some people make it out to be. But I am constantly reminded of its presence, which detracts from the listening experience sometimes.
     
    Sound
    1. This is probably the part of the review I feel the most uncomfortable with as a budding headphone enthusiast. Bear with me. Also note that they probably weren't amped properly.
    2. I was excited, so when I first got these I soon plugged them into the only source I had my hands on at the time: Galaxy S II (with varying genres of FLAC files running through PowerAmp player). I did not expect anything amazing at all. And I got exactly that. Nothing to speak of. I could only just barely get them loud enough at max volume. To be expected of a phone, even though HiFiMAN says it's good enough for portable devices.
    3. I immediately plugged them into my Audigy 2 upon arriving home and started playing my favourite track: Give Life Back To Music by Daft Punk. I wasn't blown away, though I wasn't really expecting to be. I wasn't blown away when I went from my HD202's to HD555's either though.
    4. I then started to play some ambient music (stuff like Jonn Serrie, Steve Roach) because I wanted an idea of how immersive it could be. Wasn't blown away here either, but I noticed the soundstage seemed noticeably wider than my 555's, though the depth was about the same I think.
    5. Deadmau5 - I Remember - to test the bass impact and vocals. First of all, I am not a basshead. I was actually quite surprised here. When I heard the pulsating bass, it was strange, but not in a bad way at all. It sounded very much like a subwoofer, yet I felt no rumbling at my feet. I actually went to check if I accidentally turned my 2.1 set on. Still, they could have used a touch more bass quantity, though amping them properly probably would have done the trick. As for the vocals, they seemed less than impressive to me. They didn't really stand out and sounded a bit hollow to my ears.
    6. I enjoy some classical here and there. Played some woodwind stuff. Problem: Certain notes were quite uncomfortable to listen to, I blame the treble spike.
    7. I tested the bass further by doing some frequency sweeps within 20-200hz. The bass extension was truly something to behold. It really was like having a subwoofer mounted to your head (minus the physical rumbling).
    8. Throughout all that, I experimented with various angles and distances between the drivers and my ears. A couple of things to note: there was significantly more bass quantity when I held them about 2cm away from my ears. Slanting them inwards (like on the Audeze LCD-2) seemed to reduce the 'nasal' tone significantly and make them sound more speaker-like. In short, they are quite sensitive to positioning compared to most dynamic phones.
    9. Played some games, namely Mirror's Edge and Battlefield 3. Things like gunshots and explosions sounded lacking and hollow compared to my 555's, also I didn't feel as if anything took advantage of the bass extension. Then I wondered why the sound positioning didn't seem as good as the Sennheisers. Sounds coming from the front did not sound like they were quite in the center for some reason. I concluded that they weren't suitable for this purpose and I simply went back to my 555's for gaming.
    10. Watched some video reviews on YouTube for a bit. Voices didn't sound right. I then swapped over to the 555's. It sounded like it was in the center as it should. I was confused. Played some movies to triple check. Same problem. I was worried. I posted about it on Reddit, someone believed it was a driver mismatch issue.
    1. At this point I noticed my ears were tired and ringing more than usual (already had tinnitus). I didn't have them much louder than I usually have the 555's yet it fatigued my ears far more for some reason.
    2. I'm not sure what to think of burn in yet, but I left them burning in on my desk in a cardboard box at slightly higher than normal listening level for about half a day. No idea if it made a difference soundwise. But during the time I felt that familiar fatigue in my ears. I feel there's some kind of resonance or something that I can't put my finger on, causing strain to my ears. This was probably the biggest problem I had with these, with the sound positioning issue following very closely behind.
     
    Conclusion
    I really wanted to enjoy these. They are aesthetically pleasing and I was very excited about diving into the world of planar magnetics. Unfortunately, quality control issues and a bizarre fatigue problem ultimately stopped me from enjoying them. That aside, and truth to be told - most of what is going to be coming out of headphones for me isn't music, as much as I am very enthusiastic about the stuff. I want general purpose headphones for computer/entertainment use that is decent at everything - music, gaming, TV shows and film.
     
    I think I would have kept these if I had a dedicated listening setup for music. Heck, I don't even have a headphone amp yet. I have since replaced them with DT880's (Premium 600ohms, yes I need an amp, just trying to be future-proof here). I think they are a step up from the HD555's in every way for what I use them for. However, I do miss the HE-400's in a lot of ways. They provided a speaker-like experience. They sounded full and allowed you to feel the music, and just had this charm about them I can't put into words.
     
    Would I recommend these headphones still? Yes. These issues might not even bother you at all.
    It almost ticks all the boxes, but just misses a couple of critical ones for me.
    I eagerly await a successor so I can give HiFiMAN another fair go.
     
    I hope this review, though somewhat unrefined, helps people.
  8. titaniumgrade5
    4.0/5,
    "Warm but detailed"
    Pros - relatively detailed and fun to listen to
    Cons - need more treble detail
    These are warm but detailed. They are fun to listen to, like the other Hifiman products (I have a couple).
     
    I enjoyed using them and got a HE560.
     
    Will give them as a gift to somebody. They are nice open headphones for the price. I can expect they will enjoy them.
     
    Still working after a year of use.
  9. Stereocilia
    4.0/5,
    "Dr Fang is the Master of Chi-Fi "
    Pros - Price to Performance Ratio, Tone and Imaging,
    Cons - Break-in
    The price to performance ratio of the HiFiMan HE-400 is truly exceptional. The clamping force of new head band is tight and requires break-in. I prefer the the plush pads over stock pads for comfort. Once HE-400 is broke in, like a pair of old boots...they become comfortable but not super comfy..due to the weight of these cans being on the heavier side. 
     
    Equipment used for this review
     
    HiFiMan HE-400
     
    HiFiman HE-300
     
    Grado GS1000e
     
    Bose ae2
     
    Decware Zen Head amp
     
    Emmeline "The Black Bird" SR-71A amp
     
    Schiit Valhalla 2 amp 
     
    Modifies Play Station1 CD player
     
    iPod classic 160gb
     
    iPhone 4s
     
    ALO Audio 30pin line out dock cable
     
    AudioQuest cables
     
    All tunes sourced at CD quality bitrate 1,411 kbps, iTunes, Tidal music player, CD's, WAV files
     
     
     
     
     

     

  10. kops05
    4.0/5,
    "Hifiman He-400 + Fiio x3+ Gold plated male to male Audio Cable AUX+ Cayin C5"
    Pros - When Driven at the right way you will be impressed
    Cons - none so far
    This is one of my few reviews, Im not a type of person to give reviews when buying an item but this time I had too. I was looking for a good setting to have a portable hifi system and I knew to achieve this its not coming for cheap but also I had a budget. After reading many reviews I decided to go for these planar headphones the Hifiman He-400 and also bought the Fiio X3 to drive them with.I was so excited when I received them that I couldn't wait to try them on. But to tell you the truth I wasn't that satisfied! Yes its true you will hear instuments and clearness that with my other equipments I couldn't but I love to listen music load and perhaps without losing from quality thats why I spend around 400 Euros for them but with Fiio X3 at full power wasn't so impressed. I thought that these headphones were not driven hard enough so I decided to go for an Amp. My choice was between C & C BH  -  Fiio E12   - Cayin C5. But finally I choose the Cayin C5 and theres were the magic begins. BANG it was amazing. This great Amp was helping the Fiio X3 driving these beefy Hifiman. With the boost turned on from my amp I could still enjoy a crystal clear quality and I couldn't believe the sound was coming out from this equipment and getting the best from these headphones. Finally I spend around 500 Euros but now I can say they were well spent