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Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by ProtegeManiac, Aug 2, 2017.
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  1. dgindlespergerd
    mindhead1 and trellus like this.
  2. bgoods1221
    Can anyone report how these cans perform in a gaming situation?
  3. Shroomalistic
    I didnt get a chance to read through this entire thread, I already own a pair of m560's and m1060c's and a modded set of t50rp'S ( I LIKE PLANARS) would there be any point on getting these. Are they that much better then the m560's which i mainly run open back and love? I really want to join the drop but I dont think i need them now. I like the fact that they are kinda in between the m560 and m1060. Bigger driver then the 560, smaller and lighter then the 1060 and also not as power hungry as the t50rp. Someine tell me not to do it cause im about to get em.
  4. jdoo
    They have a different character than the monoprice cans. I have 1060 and 1060c but not 560. Most things I like better about the 1060 but some things are nice about the 4xx. It is a compliment in my opinion to them and different enough to warrant them as a purchase if you can spare the 170 dollars but overall I would take the 1060 open or closed over them so imo you are not getting better just different. The 4xx are much more portable though.
  5. lowmagnet
    I ordered a pair of these from a recent drop. I've also got a pair of HE-400i, and honestly I prefer both the ergonomics and sound of these phones. I the clamping force of these help cover the gap around my jawline better and hold the bass.

    Mine had a defective right jack, and I had to send them back to NY for repair. In meantime I used the HE-400i pair as my backup.
  6. lowmagnet
    I use them on my gaming system, both with and without Windows Sonic spatialization (surround) and they perform rather well in FPS. Directional cues are very clear with the big panels these provide.
    ronfifer likes this.
  7. Humblepie
    Read my personal details for my reviews. I own all those.
    trellus likes this.
  8. Paddy
    To be honest in terms of sound i can't really tell the difference between the 400i and 4XX, maybe a tiny tiny difference in bass in the odd song but for the most part these headphones in terms of sound are identical which is why the HE4XX are such great value for money
  9. MixMasterMan
    Thank you guys for the feedback. I ended up holding off, and just recently picked up 400i's. Def what I was looking for in a different sound compared to 6xx line, and the extended treble is very relieving coming from the PM3's (my only other planar). I enjoy the 400i, much better. Thx again.
    heliosphann likes this.
  10. coolhandlukeboy
    So, after messing around in the equalizer of my DAC (Asus Xonar), I think I have nearly the perfect headphone in the 4xx. It is lacking a lot in the bass, but that also means it isn't very fatiguing to wear. It has bass, and yes it extends down... it just doesn't have much depth in the sub bass. I cannot hide my dissapointment at hearing sub bass frequencies (knowing they are being played), but not hearing any impact at all. That is the only problem I have with the 4xx... no equalizing and amping has corrected that for me, nor do I have reason to believe it will. I did hear a decent amount of distortion with the 4xx, but my amp took care of that.

    On the flip side... I just received my 6xx... too bad I can't return them. They aren't bad at all, but I fell in love with the isolation and added soundstage of the 4xx. I do not think the 4xx sounded perfect out of the box though. They sound good, but the highs were a tad too harsh, the bass was very lackluster. Interestingly enough, my 6xx sound great without any equalizing, but I equalized the 4xx to sound like the 6xx (without even knowing what the 6xx sounded like, which goes to show that I do like the sound of the 6xx and it is what I would want out of a headphone). If I had no way to equalize, I would likely have thought the 6xx to be the more resolving headphone.

    I also bought the Elemental Watson amp. I mean, wow, lol. It sounds freaking amazing. Was worth the price and the "perceived" risk of ordering a "fragile" amp from Singapore which had to make it all the way over to America. It's not that fragile, it took three days to get here, and it's absolutely stunning with the 4xx. The distortion that I noticed with the 4xx is now taken care of by the amp. Plus added soundstage, added warmth, just amazing...
  11. conquerator2
    I’ve been content with my own HE4XX for quite some time now. It ain’t perfect, but for the asking price it seemed to represent great value. However, I’ve long been curios about three new headphones, the Focal Clear, Audeze LCD-2C and Mr. Speakers AEON open, and today I took advantage of an opportunity to compare them.

    First, I want to thank Audigo, my local headphone retailer, for allowing me to do so. They let me spend over four hours in their music listening corner, where I also got to chat with one of the shop assistants who made this whole experience possible.

    I brought in my home rig, with Audio gd’s R2R11 at the forefront, and my trusty Roland Quad-Capture handling the USB duties (to my ears it sounds a bit better than R2R11’s own USB input). I listened to rock, instrumental music as well as pop and EDM, all carefully selected from my collection of well-mastered tracks that I know well.

    I compared each headphone with one another, trying to match volume as best as I could, and always reset by going back to my trusty HE4XX (or Clear). My genre taste is wide, from contemporary jams to older classics, and I do compose original music, so I did my best to put these headphones through the paces. These impressions are still of my own though, so do take them with a grain of salt please.

    First, let’s talk about the Audeze LCD-2C which, to my knowledge, I expected to sound similarly to the original Fazor-less LCD-2. Regardless of these facts, this headphone managed to impress me and was instantly easy to like. It has a fairly neutral tonality, with a slight treble-lite tuning, which makes them darker than all its competitors. I thought its bass response was fair, with nice texture, if quite not as deep and visceral as I was expecting it to be. Due to its slightly smoothed treble, the listening experience was completely fatigue-free, while taking little away in the way of clarity. In light of this, I was particularly impressed by its vast, spacious soundstage which I absolutely did not see coming. The overall imaging was likewise stellar, with the headphone surprisingly detailed overall. Vocals tended to be a bit more laid-back than I’d like, and lacked a dash of presence in the mix at times. The comfort was surprisingly good, perhaps the best of all headphones compared, and the cable was likewise very nice; wieldy and easy to use. This headphone’s biggest strength to me was the soundstage, its size and how much detail it was able to render despite its (overt) smoothness. My critique then, would also be pointed at this smoothness and how it made the headphone sound a bit soft and unexcited at times, vocals withstanding. As a package though, this Audeze scores high marks from me, and I was contemplating its purchase on the spot (still am). For the asking price, I think Audeze has done a tremendous job!

    Next, let’s talk about the Clear. This is the priciest headphone of the bunch and so my expectations were high. After following its thread closely, I had a certain picture in my head which this headphone did follow, for better, or for worse. Let’s start with the good; and there is lots to love. The tonality is, to my ears, spot on. Highs sparkle with clarity, but stay fatigue-free. The midrange is virtually flat to my ears, which is great as it allows each song to shine through (and it stays extraordinarily even too). The bass was probably the most impressive aspect to my ears, with the viscerality, and overall dynamics even, far above the headphones compared here. The bass had oomph for days, while staying reasonably tight and textured. This headphone sings with clarity just the same as it swoops down with thunderous impact. It is also a fairly revealing headphone, more detailed than its competition, however it is let down by one single aspect; its soundstage. It’s simply put, too small, and for me personally, somewhat belittles the rest of its technicalities that work so well. I subjectively appreciate soundstage width a lot, and it’s one of the aspects I evaluate carefully when I review headphones (yes, soundstage). While I was listening to most every song, enjoying myself in the process, I couldn’t help but think how much better this all would be if there was more space between the notes. This makes busy mixes blend more together than they should, and make spacious recordings sound intimate, and intimate sound narrow. I felt the Clear lost some of its composure when sounds were panned harder to the left or right which I attribute to this soundstage deficiency (they are not blurred per say, but you can only fit so many clearly in a confined space) The build quality is very good, though the comfort overall was a notch below the Audeze (I can’t believe I am saying this) which I attribute to the lack of a suspension-style headband (suspension + deep pads = almost always a win). The cable I wasn’t too thrilled with either, as it is chunkier and ultimately unwieldy compared to the supple LCD2C one. The case is very nice however! So, as should be clear (ha!), I liked almost every aspect of this headphone, notably its incredible dynamics and spot-on overall tonality, but both of which were somewhat brought down a couple notches by an abysmal soundstage (which I felt the Utopia handled much better, despite not being THE largest)… If you don’t care about soundstage, you WILL love this headphone. If you do, this is tough, especially since it did so much just right.

    Moving on, let’s talk about the AEON open! With this one, I too was fairly hyped about, though imagined its tonality might not be for everyone. After auditioning its bigger brother Ether (both the original which I owned, and the Flow), I was expecting that, just slightly scaled down. In some ways, I got that, in others, not so much. As you probably know, they come with filters, and I ended up settling on no filters in the end, as I only had access to one-notch white filters which I felt muffled the sound a bit too much, trading for increased bass presence. The overall sound to my ears sits somewhere between the Clear, which is square neutral, and the LCD2C, which is darker. The soundstage too I felt was square in the middle, with a moderately intimate portrayal of instruments. “This sounds like a great middle ground between the two, then!” you might say. Well, yes and no. I wasn’t a big fan of the tonal balance of the AEON. The bass has decent body and impact, similar to the LCD-2C, so that’s good. However, I found the lower midrange problematic, with a wee too much presence which made the headphone slightly muddy sounding. The rest of the midrange wasn’t as smooth to my ears as that of the others either, and here it is initially smooth but then gets a bit honky higher up, which gave unnatural presence to certain instruments (like pianos or mallets) while making the otherwise smooth vocals sound emphasized when it came to sibilants. For science, I subjected each headphone to the same ordeal at one point where I set the Clear as my starting point (reference) and would then go to each headphone to verify their tonality, and then back to Clear to adjust my ears back to its reference sound. The LCD2C passed this test, sounding simply a bit rolled off in the treble and less dynamic, but without an apparent shift in tonal accuracy. The HE4XX passed this too, merely sounding a bit brighter and more anemic in the bass, but again without obvious colorations. The AEON was the only headphone to fail this test, where right after the Clear, the lower midrange felt bloated and an audible unevenness in the mid-treble transition (sibilants) was apparent. Comfort-wise, it was very good, with the cable similarly awkward to handle like Clear’s. Carrying case was nice too. In the end then, to my ears, it was not able to eclipse any of these other headphones, lacking the smoothness and spaciousness of the LCD2C and the clarity and dynamics of the Clear. Mileage clearly varies on this one, but in light of the other contenders I was expecting a more refined experience.

    Well, now you might be thinking how does a cheaply 4XX tie into this? Well, contrary to my expectations, it turns out not bad at all! To begin with, it is the brightest of these three headphones, though unlike most other HiFiMANs, it never gets painful in the sibilants range (instead, this emphasis is moved higher up, where it is nowhere near as problematic to my ears). It also has the least bass punch, but what it lacks in punch it somewhat makes up in texture. It is only slightly less spacious than the LCD2C (still feels weird to say this), though again it makes that up in (perceived) sparkle and excitement, until they are both murdered by the Clear in this area. In terms of speed and detail retrieval, I thought it went toe to toe with the LCD-2C, though it again fell short of the Clear’s prowess (as I once again ponder what it could do if the soundstage was better). Comfort is quite good overall, though the design is bulkier than the sleek AEON and sleeker still Clear (but not the LCD2C) and the cables they come with are actually good (better than HiFiMAN’s own cables. I wish everyone ditched fabric / textile sleeved cables. They tend to be much less wieldy and keep their shape more / kink). Some time ago, I considered selling these, and after today I am glad I didn’t. I was surprised they did hold their own, taking some of the attributes of the LCD2C (spaciousness) and Clear (Clarity/sparkle) while lacking in others (bass presence and overall precision / cohesion) a teeny bit.

    Overall then, I did enjoy this audition quite a bit, though by the end my ears were very tired, and I stopped writing notes at that point. To my ears, the LCD2C was the easiest headphone to like, while the Clear was the easiest to fall in love with and just enjoy. I am disappointed the AEON did not do it for me, but such is life. I can also now rest easy knowing that the HE4XX is a great price / performance product that harkens back to the old days of HiFiMAN and value. This, coincidentally, piqued my interest about the Sundara and thanks to Audigo, I should be able to have a listen to that in a couple days. I can see myself ending up with either the LCD2C or Sundara when all is done (or both if one of them ends up replacing the HE4XX). It’s good to see that reasonably priced products are still present in the headphone game, which will hopefully stir even more competition in the future. I’ll put a couple useful statistics below to recap as well as summarize some of the important attributes. Thank you for reading!

    Sensitivity (least to most) – HE4XX > AEON > LCD2C > Clear

    Tonality (bright to dark) – HE4XX > Clear > AEON > LCD2C

    Bass Quantity – Clear > AEON > LCD2C > 4XX

    Bass Quality – even, none sounded one-notey or bloated

    Midrange – Clear > LCD2C = HE4XX > AEON

    Treble Quantity – HE4XX > Clear > AEON > LCD2C

    Treble Quality – Clear > HE4XX = LCD2C > AEON

    Clarity – Clear > LCD2C = HE4XX > AEON

    Soundstage – LCD2C > HE4XX > AEON >> Clear

    Imaging – equally good

    Composure – Clear = LCD2C = HE4XX > AEON

    Bang for buck – HE4XX > LCD2C > Clear > AEON

    Overall – Clear > LCD2C = HE4XX > AEON

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
    Drty LilBits, jaco61, joostdh and 4 others like this.
  12. Beau Cauchemar
    Great write-up, comparison, conquerator2! These are the exact headphones I would have selected to compare in terms of price-group and overall quality regard (with the exception of the Clears, but would have loved to include them as a bonus-round, upper-tier ringer.) Happy to hear that the 4XXs fared extremely well against them and I'll be honest, given how impressed I am with them it doesn't surprise me too much. Based on your listening notes, it does make me curious if the mods I've done and discussed with a bunch of people on here might be worth your time as the rankings mirror mine stock but they improved in nearly every category after the modding.

    Something I'd look into if you're serious about keeping the 4XXs. Great and thorough comparison nontheless so thanks for satisfying a bit of my (and others' no doubt) curiosity.
  13. bagwell359
    I have spent quite a bit of time with mods on these - with varying results.

    Bass - I ripped off some thread here using 1/4 OD poly tubing to make a round form that goes around the outside of the pads - stock. The bass is a lot more solid, has good but not perfect tonality (occasionally one-note/thick), but maybe 1 out of 15 cuts. It's close to what you get out of the HFM 500's, but perhaps more lithe over 75 Hz, and not having the reach the 500 has under 50. Also because the driver is further from your ears, you get some of that treble hardness many don't like. But on balance it stays - easy choice. I ran felt all around the tube, but didn't catch any difference.

    I used the same felt to give a run on the outside edge of the ear pad, under the screen - at times I felt that some brightness was tamed. It's staying.

    The big news is that I am coming out against removing the metal outer screen. I took them off and noticed a big change like others. I wasn't sure, so kept listening. "Grandma's Hands" by James Taylor on Chesky - the finger snaps. Empty, lacking body, not at all what it should sound like. I also found missing overtones, recording cues, obvious drop in bass, etc. I started playing games with the screens in my hands, in close, out far, everyplace in between. Then I used a screen that had the same pattern as the stock one (non magnetic from the Fostex 500). Not the same. The screens on these are magnetic, probably for a reason. I'd say it's akin to taking the rear plane off of your speakers. Clearly different. Likely worse, certainly not was intended. I've seen people believe in $5k power cables plugged into crappy aluminum house wiring coming from some distant source. I've believed in my own share of things that were not true - all the way to 100% baloney. Make your own choices.

    I've tried a number of ear pads, and I don't like them. The one most swear by are back ordered. Stock felt so far taking the day.

    Just to be clear these will never be HFM 500's, but, at $170 and a few bucks for mods I'm (or yours) using you get an all purpose phone, a bit short on definition but big on a pleasant overall gestalt.
    jaco61 and trellus like this.
  14. chrolls
    Did you ever consider replacing the fabric dust cover that's annealed to the grills with organza and leaving the stock grills in place? Maybe that could give you a sort of best of both worlds solution, preserving the magnetic nature of the grills without giving up dust protection, whilst removing the treble grain and more closed-in nature attributed by some to the presence of the dust filter. Did you notice any improvement in either of these areas alongside the drawbacks you experienced btw? I'm curious because I've put off modding the grill until I can grab some spares from Hifiman in case I dislike what the mods do, so I'm sorta at the mercy of other people's impressions.

    Also I'm assuming the out of stock pads you were referring to were the leather ZMF Ori pads? I purchased them myself and have been fairly pleased with their increase in bass quality and quantity, reduced brightness of the highs, comfort, and just overall increase in luxuriousness :). Maybe a mod combo of these pads and the aforementioned dust filter mod would hit the sweet spot? For what it's worth, the pads DO cost $60ish unless you can snag some in a potential future Massdrop, so it might be something of a value judgment either way I guess.
  15. chrolls
    Did you ever pad swap? In stock form I was pretty disappointed with the lack of bass impact. Experimented rolling up a paper towel into a c shape and sticking it between pad and driver. It definitely helped with bass impact, but still found myself dissatisfied with the overall nature of the headphones. Ended up just getting the leather ZMF Ori pads for around $50 and haven't looked back since. The bass impact isn't as present as it was with the paper towel mod, but still noticeably more pleasing and improved over stock.
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