Hifiman he-400i Impressions and Discussion
May 31, 2015 at 11:01 AM Post #4,261 of 14,355

ashutoshp

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  I bought HE400i  yesterday, and after HD600 I am not that impressed.  bass seems to be more prominent but I can not see upgrade in definition. and somewhere in midrange I can hear hardness and distortion... also soundstage is clearly worse
 
Using with Dragonfly and Magni as an amp... I am driving them with enough power? ... may be better amp can do magic ...

I felt the same way the first 2 days. i think they need a day or two to get 'going'.
IMO, I think it also be may be more to do with the Dragonfly. Is it v1 or v1.2? I didnt like v1 because the sound was quite fatiguing which i guess is what you mean by hard. AQ did smooth it over with v1.2 but it can still be a little hard. i think the AQ dragonfly may gel better with a less bright headphone. The other annoying thing I find with the Dragonfly is its sensitivity to USB power noise. This noise appears to result in low signal-to-noise ratios because when I tried the Schiit Wyrd in front of the Dragonfly, it was remarkable, esp the soundstage. But the Wyrd is just too bulky to carry around, not to mention that it needs power supply from a wall wart. I am really looking forward to Audioquest's upcoming Jitterbug if it does the same thing and FWIW, at half the price of the Wyrd.      
 
May 31, 2015 at 1:09 PM Post #4,262 of 14,355

jkteddy77

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Hmm... ya know, I think I'll shell out another $200 to hifiman and at least try them. If I for some reason don't like them after some time, there are still plenty of HE-400s around to go back to.
I think you're right about the imaging, and since I listen to lots of metal and metalcore, the enhanced mids in the sound signature might be an improvement I never knew I'd like. I do hear people compare them to Grados sometimes. Thanks for the recommendation.
 
May 31, 2015 at 1:10 PM Post #4,263 of 14,355

jkteddy77

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After reading more reviews and opinions, I'm at least giving the HE-400i a shot. If for some reason it is so different I don't like it, There's still plenty of HE-400s around to downgrade back to. I do listen to a lot of rock and metal, so maybe this new sound signature will make up for any lost soundstage.
 
May 31, 2015 at 1:44 PM Post #4,264 of 14,355

ashutoshp

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Headphone comfort is subjective but THE most important characteristic. I've lost count of how many I've tried and returned because of poor comfort. SQ is secondary because if they don't feel comfortable, I have found myself walking past them subconsciously. I never kept the HE-400s for precisely that reason. But the HE-400i is miles better. 
   Isn't the soundstage thing blown out of proportion really for headphones?  In principle, Its a fairly un-natural way of listening.
   
   Just a thought because I know you gamers must be on top of this already- has anybody tried those amps/DACs that simulate the 5.1/7.1 experience (I think Creative makes some). 
 
May 31, 2015 at 1:58 PM Post #4,265 of 14,355

520RanchBro

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After reading more reviews and opinions, I'm at least giving the HE-400i a shot. If for some reason it is so different I don't like it, There's still plenty of HE-400s around to downgrade back to. I do listen to a lot of rock and metal, so maybe this new sound signature will make up for any lost soundstage.


400i is definitely better for metal and rock in my book.
 
May 31, 2015 at 1:59 PM Post #4,266 of 14,355

jkteddy77

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I've gone away from soundcards and external surround devices for quite some time now... i mean look at this gimmick from Asus' new Strix Line...
https://www.asus.com/Gaming/STRIX_71
 
What I do love is Asus' Motherboard audio though. My Asus Z97 Pro has very decent built-in headphone amp (advertised as able to amp 600ohm headphones. Actually works as well as the Fiio E10k I had straight through the front audio jack, just a tad more noisy of course.) and built-in internal soundcard, and it allows me to simply select 5.1/7.1 output in the sound driver's control panel, even with stereo headphones in.
 
What i get is a lot of games will read that my control panel is outputting in surround, and so the game will emit its digital imaging as I'm playing as if there were 5-7 speakers around my head. Of course it is all digital imaging, but the result is that I don't lose sound quality like many other 3rd party software or small external plugin soundcards that I've tried in the past. It sounds like stereo when I'm not playing games, but surround when I am. This is where that spacious soundstage area is important to me. It isn't even the distance of the soundstage that's most important, but the feeling that the sounds revolve around me in a circle that I love most about the HE-400. My old DT990 and AKG712 could never reproduce that circular field of sound.
 
I just ordered the HE-400i's as an upgrade, so I'll follow up on how they perform for gaming, positional audio, and spacial awareness vs. my HE-400's (Which I sadly have to send back for the HE-400i's to come to me...)
I am interested in how the HE-400i's sound signature makes my music, movies, and games sound as well. I'm not really an up-front kind of guy, I have always liked to feel as though I'm in the center of a large circle of sound, so I guess I'll see how I like it. Never tried a headphone with such emphasized mids before, and I've heard that can really affect the perception of space. I hope the soundstage at least seems to hold it's circular shape. 
 
May 31, 2015 at 2:05 PM Post #4,267 of 14,355

mandrake50

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  Headphone comfort is subjective but THE most important characteristic. I've lost count of how many I've tried and returned because of poor comfort. SQ is secondary because if they don't feel comfortable, I have found myself walking past them subconsciously. I never kept the HE-400s for precisely that reason. But the HE-400i is miles better. 
   Isn't the soundstage thing blown out of proportion really for headphones?  In principle, Its a fairly un-natural way of listening.
   
   Just a thought because I know you gamers must be on top of this already- has anybody tried those amps/DACs that simulate the 5.1/7.1 experience (I think Creative makes some). 

 I tend to think it is. When listening to headphones that are acclaimed for soundstage I hear differences in the size of the stage between those and others to be mere inches. Certainly not feet or meters. With a good 2 channel  system this can be many feet with instrument placement well outside of, as well as in front of and behind the speakers. With my setup I often think that instruments are placed well outside of the walls. But headphones, not so much. I tend to agree with Money. Imaging meaning sound localization within the very limited field presented by headphones is far more important.
 
Yes there are simulated 5.1 and 7.1 devices. In the past I used the Dolby headphone plugin for Foobar to listen with my HE 400s. It helped tame their wonky upper midrange and lower treble. The effect can give front to back depth to a recording (not so much width), but overall I felt there is just too much loss of quality to make it worthwhile. Now this is for music. Listening to movies, the trade off is much more acceptable. When traveling and using the laptop for watching movies, I use the plugin pretty much all of the time.
 
May 31, 2015 at 2:26 PM Post #4,268 of 14,355

Airlight

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I'm curious how many here have done any grill mods on their 400i?
 
Just removing the cloth from the stock grill cleaned the sound up to a very noticeable degree, removing very noticeable reflections that make the stock configuration sound fairly "boxed in". Plus it made the midrange sound more natural in general aswell, after getting rid of the reflection from the cloth (the cloth is actually quite dense weave, blowing on it once I took it off reveals that it doesn't let much through).
 
Keeping the grill on once cloth is removed is recommended from me though. Tried a more open metal mesh, but it ended up sounding weird. I didn't A-B back and forth, but after about 2 days with open metal grill, I felt the headphones lost that "wow" factor, and after another 2 days with the stock grill back on I was smiling again.
 
Jun 1, 2015 at 10:26 AM Post #4,271 of 14,355

ashutoshp

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@jkteddy77 "This is where that spacious soundstage area is important to me. It isn't even the distance of the soundstage that's most important, but the feeling that the sounds revolve around me in a circle that I love most about the HE-400. My old DT990 and AKG712 could never reproduce that circular field of sound."
    I think there's an element of of "getting used to" here as well. My family has a history of 'mild' claustrophobia and that is one of the reasons why highly isolated/noise canceling headphones make me nervous. I need to hear my surroundings to get a feel of where things are. 
    For example, I own a pair of V-Moda XS that are more closed in than I like but I find that they have very good soundstage imaging, but, I think I can say that now because I forced myself to get used to the sound profile I think. Also probably why most pro-recording mags always recommend the engineer to try out his/her mix on a set of speakers as well in addition to headphones.     
 
@mandrake50 "In the past I used the Dolby headphone plugin for Foobar to listen with my HE 400s. It helped tame their wonky upper midrange and lower treble."
   This is very interesting indeed. Maybe then they were less fatiguing because some frequencies got 'diluted' out? In the past, I've tried cross-feed to help tame the treble on my DT880s but couldn't get used to it because of the imaging now I think, but they were definitely easier on the ears.  
   Has anybody compared imaging of the HE-400 between a balanced or un-balanced set up?
 
Jun 1, 2015 at 11:06 AM Post #4,272 of 14,355

ashutoshp

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Just occurred to me from a previous loudspeaker setup that may have some bearing here. I used to own a pair of 4 ohm power (current) hungry speakers that were fed by Emotiva's XPA-200 amp. Each time I would crank up the volume, the soundstage would collapse and I mean drastically. After some (half-baked?) research comparing and eventually trying out products with different toroidal capacity, charge capacitors, etc., I came to a conclusion that the XPA-200 is not able to supply the requisite current needed to preserve the dynamics in music at higher volumes. Why am I adding this here?
 
   Because combined with the relatively low and steady impedance, planars may also need lots of current and any amp that is low on current will struggle to reproduce the imaging. I am hoping someone with some knowledge can impart more info.? For eg, an amp with a higher output current buffer (eg, Fiio E12) should be better than something with a lower output one like Fiio's E18.          
   For those curious, I actually sold off my passive set up and bought a pair of Emotiva's Stealth 6s because I got fed-up with matching components. It was bloody endless and my family, even my 6-year old boy, started questioning my sanity and the fact that the sizes of the boxes being delivered was just going up. Headphones are good that way because of their size. Besides, the Stealths scale like crazy.
 
Jun 1, 2015 at 11:18 AM Post #4,273 of 14,355

rovopio

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  Just occurred to me from a previous loudspeaker setup that may have some bearing here. I used to own a pair of 4 ohm power (current) hungry speakers that were fed by Emotiva's XPA-200 amp. Each time I would crank up the volume, the soundstage would collapse and I mean drastically. After some (half-baked?) research comparing and eventually trying out products with different toroidal capacity, charge capacitors, etc., I came to a conclusion that the XPA-200 is not able to supply the requisite current needed to preserve the dynamics in music at higher volumes. Why am I adding this here?
 
   Because combined with the relatively low and steady impedance, planars may also need lots of current and any amp that is low on current will struggle to reproduce the imaging. I am hoping someone with some knowledge can impart more info.? For eg, an amp with a higher output current buffer (eg, Fiio E12) should be better than something with a lower output one like Fiio's E18.          
   For those curious, I actually sold off my passive set up and bought a pair of Emotiva's Stealth 6s because I got fed-up with matching components. It was bloody endless and my family, even my 6-year old boy, started questioning my sanity and the fact that the sizes of the boxes being delivered was just going up. Headphones are good that way because of their size. Besides, the Stealths scale like crazy.

 
he-400i needs a 50mw and 1.32 Vrms for 110 db loudness according to http://www.apexhifi.com/specs.html
Honestly? The dt880 is more demanding than the he-400i on an average DAP (for my own personal use). Like... he-400i straight-up sounding good while dt880 more often needs more juice.
 
Jun 1, 2015 at 1:52 PM Post #4,274 of 14,355

ashutoshp

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he-400i needs a 50mw and 1.32 Vrms for 110 db loudness according to http://www.apexhifi.com/specs.html
Honestly? The dt880 is more demanding than the he-400i on an average DAP (for my own personal use). Like... he-400i straight-up sounding good while dt880 more often needs more juice.

Thanks rovopio. I'm thinking of 'current on tap', or how much is available in an instant, without clipping. For eg, think about the Magni 2 and the Magni 2 Uber. in terms of mW, they are comparable but where the distinguishing factor is the capacitance (4000 vs 6000 uF). The non-uber provides less instant power and should thus clip earlier leading to a loss of dynamic range compared to the Uber version. Now this loss can affect your ability to interpret changes in dynamic levels and by inference distances between instruments (music)/activities (games). Isnt this dynamic range what we as humans use to guage distance between objects emanating sound?  
   I think gaming is a good test between different amps because of the sudden changes in level (dynamic range) and to see what happens with SQ+imaging with each amp & HE-400i combo.  
 

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