General Information

Orthodynamic (aka planar magnetic) full size, open-back, over-ear headphones. Impedance: 22 ohms.

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Headphoneus Supremus
Good work!
Pros: Cheap
Cons: Too cheap
Already well documented that these are pretty good and nice bang for buck.

I got these used recently. Bought to use as parts, but Inhave to say I like them better than recent Hifiman 5XX and 400se. A little less grainy, more linear frequency response. Still a little sizze up top around 8kHz like Hifiman 4XX, wish they had a little more bass like 4XX.

Con: Too cheap. The price for higher strength magnets is probably just a few dollars. Hifiman charges hundreds or thousands of dollars difference between models. Fang’s phd was in marketing or nano tech? Good work!

edit: some more pics for your viewing pleasure.


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New Head-Fier
Pros: sound quality, very flat EQ, very good headphone at this price point. no weakness at all except leaking sound (it is open headphone so duh)
Cons: cheap cable but can be replaced by better cables with $20-$50 on ebay
best EQ from 400 series
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Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Lightweight/comfort, pricing, largely balanced signature, rhythm and pacing, versatility. ease of driving
Cons: Bass somewhat rolled off, inexpensive construction materials.
Introduction: The HE-400S is a planar magnetic headphone designed and manufactured by HiFiMAN. Since its introduction in 2015, the HE-400S has won numerous awards and received a large number of accolades, drawing much attention to the newest member of the HiFiMAN family. The HE-400S becomes the third in the HE-400x series, following the HE-400 (discontinued) and the HE-400i (still in production). The HE-400S becomes HiFiMAN's least expensive headphone, a full two hundred dollars cheaper than the well-reviewed HE-400i at $299.00 MSRP. When listeners heard that HiFiMAN was releasing a planar magnetic at the three hundred-dollar price point, the question many observers had was "Yes, but will it be worth anything?' I am here to report that the answer to that query is a resounding 'Yes.' Let's take a look at the HE-400S from HiFiMAN.
Technical Specifications
Driver Type: planar magnetic
Frequency Response: 20 hz-35,000 hz
Impedance:  22 ohms
Weight: 350 gm
Cable Length: 1.5 m
Connector Type: 2.5 mm x 2 (cups) and 3.5 mm right angle (termination)--also includes a 3.5mm to 1/4 inch adapter.
Design Type: Open-back
Gear: iPhone 6S, iPod shuffle 2G, FiiO E17K
Construction: The cups are primarily constructed of some sort of plastic-ish material. The headband is a synthetic leather that is quite comfortable. There are a number of settings for the adjustable band and I had no difficulty finding a setting that worked well for me. One very cool aspect of the design is that the drivers can be clearly seen when looking at the side of the cup housing. It's kind of neat to see, given how different it looks from a dynamic driver.
Comfort: I'll come right out and say it--these headphones are extremely comfortable. Partly due to weight, partly due to cup design and pads, the comfort factor with these headphones is high. I find myself wearing them for hours with no problems of ear discomfort. Stock pads are velour, but Focus pads are available for those who prefer pleather (more on this later).
Music: The music in this review was all simply standard iTunes files--nothing fancy.
Sound: The first word I would use to describe the sound of the HE-400S is engaging. The headphone draws you in. It grabs onto you and before long, you find you've been listening for an hour or more. That's how this headphone goes. It makes me keep putting song after song after song on. Oh, Mettallica sounds excellent--how about The Dixie Chicks? On and on it goes. These are if nothing else supremely musical headphones. They make me want to listen to music on them. And I have been doing an awful lot of that of late. The second word I would use to describe the HE-400S is easy-to-drive (Is that a word? It is now.). I had absolutely no issues driving the HE-400S to high sound levels using a shuffle or phone. Does it sound better with an amp? Yes, in my opinion it does. But it is by no means a requirement. These cans are just easy to drive, period.
The soundstage is wide and precise, with vocals and instruments placed in specific points in space. The individual parts are well delineated and spacious. There is no sense of crowding--there is plenty of room for everything and everyone. On Britney's "Everytime" her voice is front and center surrounded by a capacious piano and keyboards, the outro of which just seems to go on forever in a slow decay that is quite remarkable for its ethereal vibe. On Verdi's Requiem (Karajan, Price, Pavarotti, La Scala), the chorus's power is communicated perfectly by the HE-400S, with multiple layers of singers extending within the soundstage. Imaging is beautifully precise and at the same time, complex, with the natural echo of the La Scala theater suffusing the recording. This is a wide and detailed soundstage.
Detail is excellent in my view. A good example of this being the percussive parts on Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On." Bonham's lines during the verses sound literally like they are in the room with me. The guitar parts are well-etched and distinct from one another. On "Jesus Take The Wheel," the rich harmonic complexity of Carrie Underwood's beautiful voice is rendered perfectly. It sounds like I'm in the studio with her. Just beautiful. Rhythm and pacing are also terrific with this headphone. The music has drive. It has go-juice. It has gitty-up.
Treble is very good, if slightly laid back. On "Perfect Day" by Lady Antebellum, the ride cymbals are just slightly recessed, as is the high hat. On Journey's "Ask the Lonely," on the other hand, Steve Smith's cymbals and Steve Perry's voice have just the right amount of treble energy or bite. It's just about perfect. Overall, I would describe the HE-400S treble as being a bit on the warmish side, though it does vary from recording to recording. Some people have described the treble as smooth, and I suppose I could get behind that, too.
Mids are where these cans really shine brightest in my view. Going back to Verdi's Requiem, the richness of the vocals and massed strings is positively intoxicating. There is so much harmonic information here that it is almost overwhelming. Acoustic music (Alison Krauss, eg) is similarly inviting. Female vocals in general (Krauss/Sugarland/Heart/Dixie Chicks/Underwood) are rendered with such beauty that I find myself playing songs over and over again. This headphone really gets the midrange right. It's breathtaking.
Bass is somewhat rolled off on these cans. According to numerous HE-400S users, however, that bass lightness can be largely ameliorated by going with the Focus pads rather than the stock velour HiFiMANs. I personally have not done that yet, so I cannot comment personally other than to say that it seems a good number of folks have found the pad change useful.  Other than that, I do wish the stock pads provided a bit more sub bass energy. On Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About," the bass line, normally quite strong and driving, is just a tad anemic. Even my Superlux HD 681 Evo at fifty bucks provide substantially more bass energy. Don't get me wrong, the bass is there. It just isn't as powerful as I would like it to be. What bass is there is quite detailed, though. It is what I would term high-quality bass, just not high quantity.
Comparisons: I don't at the moment have an HD600 on hand, unfortunately, so I have chosen to compare the HE-400S to the HD598 instead. On Pat Metheny's "First Circle," Lyle Mays's piano is definitely more forward on the 598 than it is on the HE-400S. The treble of Paul Wertico's drums and cymbals is also more present. The vocals are clearer and there is much, much more detail, whether it is Lyle Mays's synthesizers or Metheny's guitar--on the 400S. It is simply the more detailed can. As for which evokes more emotion in me, I would say that is probably also the 400S, though the 598 is no slouch. But the 400S just over overwhelms with information. On the whole, what is the better can of the two? Better is a subjective term, clearly. I would say that for me, the HE-400S is the more detailed and nuanced can and I enjoy that added level of detail. If I could just have one, I would probably go with the HE-400S, but the 598 is a very good can, no doubt about it.
Conclusion: The HiFiMAN HE-400S is a remarkable headphone. It is lightweight and comfortable for long sessions. It performs at a level that exceeds its price, in some respects, by a lot. It competes effectively with cans costing two hundred dollars more. It is detailed and nuanced and has a spacious soundstage. Its midrange is world-class, its treble, excellent. Its bass can be augmented by using the Focus pads to strengthen the low end. At its price of $299, the HE-400S is a world-beater. Run out and get one. You will be listening to a lot of music, I can promise you that.
These are excellent sounding headphones. I much prefer them over the PM3. They kept me listening for hours and hours, even if I have the HD800 and He1000 just next to me. They are very very musical. One of the best bang-for-buck out there.
Very interesting remark about the PM-3, which I admit I have heard very little of. I agree about the musicality, which is one of their most endearing traits. I just keep coming back for more and more listening, despite the presence of other terrific cans nearby (as you identify as well). Glad you are enjoying them! I consider the 400S to be one of the great values in headphones at the moment.
Same here. I really find the he400s very musical. I can wear them for several hours without feeling fatigued. Excellent pairing with my fiio x7.


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