HiFiMan HE4XX
post-14116323
Post #421 of 1,252

bagwell359

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 10, 2016
Messages
2,309
Reaction score
1,544
Location
NNW of Boston
Joined
Nov 10, 2016
Location
NNW of Boston
Posts
2,309
Likes
1,544
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.
I considered it, and know that some here like that configuration. But my Fostex knock off grilles already were stripped down, and I didn't hear any convincing difference, although the total time put in wasn't that great, so maybe it's a good thing.

I have to say "closed in" is a biased term. I might counter with "loss of the rear plane of the recording space". Even at the three best concert venues I know for acoustic music: BSO, Carnegie, and Mechanics Hall (Worcester), there is a boundary, reflections, diffusion and absorption. The notion of a note playing with no baffle seems pure from a conceptual standpoint, but in practice you've got to think about what you get vs what you lose, and what the designer had in mind. I like "open back" headphones because they seem to image better, seem more real - but "open back" is a term, all open back headphones I know actually are not totally open, just not closed to a lesser or greater extent. Or if you prefer "tuned". I like that. Are all cans tuned to the best level possible? No. And of course your perfect and mine are two different animals. So there is room for mods - but I've learned to be clinical about it. Remember the King has no clothes when it comes to what we want to be true - or the assertion that all changes must be good.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14118321
Post #422 of 1,252

Jerda

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Messages
366
Reaction score
59
Location
EU
Joined
Aug 1, 2017
Location
EU
Posts
366
Likes
59
Should I sell the HE-4XX to buy a pair of HE-560? :nerd::thinking:
 
     Share This Post       
post-14118412
Post #423 of 1,252

squee116

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
851
Reaction score
117
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Posts
851
Likes
117
Should I sell the HE-4XX to buy a pair of HE-560? :nerd::thinking:
No. The 560 is a more refined 4xx, but the price difference doesn't justify it. From all accounts you'd be better off moving up to the sundara.

Playing with the idea of selling my 400s and getting sundara. Debating if I want to keep or sell 4xx and 400i.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14121377
Post #424 of 1,252

coolhandlukeboy

New Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
24
Reaction score
4
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Posts
24
Likes
4
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.
I hear a lot of people recommending the Ori pads. I really might have to check them out. Did you lose much in the mids and the general open nature of the headphones?
 
     Share This Post       
post-14122789
Post #425 of 1,252

chrolls

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
16
Reaction score
7
Location
United States
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Location
United States
Posts
16
Likes
7
I hear a lot of people recommending the Ori pads. I really might have to check them out. Did you lose much in the mids and the general open nature of the headphones?
Not really, although I'm not sure how much I'd trust my opinion to be honest. I do try to research things into the ground before I buy them (like the HE4XX), but I degress. FWIW, to my ears the Ori's are a net gain at worst given the pleasantly reduced brightness, improved image solidity, and marginally more impactful and nicely tightened bass. If it committed any penalties as far as openness and the mids, I didn't notice. Still a value judgment either way. $60 ain't nothin. I suppose its saying something though that I'm as much a cheapskate I am yet I don't regret the purchase :), really at all. BTW I got mine for like 52$ in the last ZMF Massdrop, although I've heard of other people's experimentation with less expensive alternatives such as the Brainwavz hybrids.

Just as and aside, don't underestimate the improvements that sumptuousness, luxury, and comfort may afford. Craftsmanship. I thought the original pads were functional enough, but also pretty stiff, scratchy, cheaply made, and just kinda uncomfortable.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14124738
Post #426 of 1,252

luckybaer

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Messages
2,066
Reaction score
141
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Posts
2,066
Likes
141
Just received notification that my pair shipped. I guess I'll get them in the latter part of next week.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14132140
Post #427 of 1,252

coolhandlukeboy

New Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Messages
24
Reaction score
4
Joined
Apr 13, 2017
Posts
24
Likes
4
Not really, although I'm not sure how much I'd trust my opinion to be honest. I do try to research things into the ground before I buy them (like the HE4XX), but I degress. FWIW, to my ears the Ori's are a net gain at worst given the pleasantly reduced brightness, improved image solidity, and marginally more impactful and nicely tightened bass. If it committed any penalties as far as openness and the mids, I didn't notice. Still a value judgment either way. $60 ain't nothin. I suppose its saying something though that I'm as much a cheapskate I am yet I don't regret the purchase :), really at all. BTW I got mine for like 52$ in the last ZMF Massdrop, although I've heard of other people's experimentation with less expensive alternatives such as the Brainwavz hybrids.

Just as and aside, don't underestimate the improvements that sumptuousness, luxury, and comfort may afford. Craftsmanship. I thought the original pads were functional enough, but also pretty stiff, scratchy, cheaply made, and just kinda uncomfortable.
Good to know, thanks. I'm thinking about just buying them straight up, rather than waiting for a Massdrop drop for a slight decrease in price.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14153504
Post #429 of 1,252

Cruelhand Luke

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
1,886
Reaction score
1,531
Location
Morro Bay, California
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Location
Morro Bay, California
Posts
1,886
Likes
1,531
Website
thesoundword.wordpress.com
I have a Schiit Magni.....is this a good pairing for the 4XX?
 
     Share This Post       
post-14153510
Post #430 of 1,252

squee116

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
851
Reaction score
117
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Posts
851
Likes
117
I prefer warmer amps paired with it. Tube hybrid or tubes or the like. 4xx is brighter than I prefer though.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14153544
Post #431 of 1,252

Cruelhand Luke

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Messages
1,886
Reaction score
1,531
Location
Morro Bay, California
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Location
Morro Bay, California
Posts
1,886
Likes
1,531
Website
thesoundword.wordpress.com
I prefer warmer amps paired with it. Tube hybrid or tubes or the like. 4xx is brighter than I prefer though.
I'm middle aged, 'bright' doesn't hit me quite so hard. I'm cool with bright.
 
     Share This Post       
post-14153613
Post #432 of 1,252

heliosphann

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 3, 2015
Messages
2,629
Reaction score
2,339
Joined
Feb 3, 2015
Posts
2,629
Likes
2,339
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

Nice write up. Kinda an odd group to compare besides the AFO/LCD2C. :wink:
 
     Share This Post       
post-14155233
Post #433 of 1,252

Beau Cauchemar

Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Messages
70
Reaction score
46
Joined
Nov 5, 2016
Posts
70
Likes
46
I have a Schiit Magni.....is this a good pairing for the 4XX?
I've been running my 4XXs off a Magni 3 (my "lanai setup") and really enjoy the combo for the most part. I say for the most part because it can be a dash bright/light for some recordings (more so than when they're on my main, HA200 amp setup), but the eq on my DAP usually takes care of that. I wouldn't consider myself very sibilance-prone, but anyone not bothered by something a tad bright would probably really enjoy the 4XX/Magni 3 pairing.
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Cruelhand Luke
post-14167617
Post #434 of 1,252

Revmania

New Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 28, 2018
Messages
5
Reaction score
1
Location
Atlanta
Joined
Mar 28, 2018
Location
Atlanta
Posts
5
Likes
1
I just purchased these headphones from a friend (1st actual “audiophile” headphones). The Schiit Magni 3 is backordered until May 11th, anything else close to that price range that is worth buying/can give the 4xx enough power such as the Massdrop Objective O2?
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       
post-14167647
Post #435 of 1,252

expatriate

New Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Messages
7
Reaction score
8
Joined
Aug 28, 2014
Posts
7
Likes
8
Don't suppose anyone has a spare set of the ZMF Ori's they want to part with? I'm tempted to upgrade off the stock pads, as I haven't found them to be super comfy (not awful though).

I'll add another voice for the rear grill removal. I found that it does add a "bit" of air to the upper region, and might slightly round off those treble frequencies. I wouldn't say it's substantial (10% maybe?) but impressions make me think there was a small improvement.

Amp wise, I have a Fiio a5 that drives them quite happily.
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Revmania

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top