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HiFiMAN HE400i Over Ear Full-Size Plannar Magnetic Headphone

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In general the highs and mids of this headphone are slightly extended. These two areas are where the headphone shine. Vocals and instrumentals sound very detailed while wearing these.

HiFiMAN HE-400i - Reviews - Head-Fi.org HiFiMAN HE-400i - Reviews - Head-Fi.org

So when it comes down to choosing as always it is a matter of budget and preferences with the cheaper HE400i 2020 version offering a more monitoring and neutral character against the most warm and full bodied Deva. I would like to know what Allthetoys thinks about the build quality because I like the fact that all of the DT880 parts are replaceable and that Beyerdynamic promotes that aspect of their product. If it was only for the sound quality alone I would give HE-400i four and a half star. But taken into account also the price/performance ratio, the level of comfort and fairly good efficiency (for a planar headphone) I decided to give this audio product five stars. The HIFIMAN HE400i, despite being outdated still looks good, the construction of the grills is nice as you can see the drivers when there is enough light to reveal it. The build quality is a mix of plastic and metal, in my honest opinion it feels flimsy and the left and right cups aren’t aligned and it looks off when resting at headphone hanger/stand. I got my 400i as a 2nd hand unit so there are some marks of usage but overall it is definitely presentable. I don’t like the ear pads especially when I compare it with the SUNDARA, it feels itchy and warm to the skin surrounding my ears so the area under the pads becomes more sweaty.Last, but certainly not least important sound aspect I´m going to briefly analyse in connection with HE-400i is the overall transparency and resolution of the headphone. These sound aspects are closely linked, and while they are not absolute synonyms (see http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary), it´s obvious you can hardly have great transparency without having great resolution and vice versa. Headphones with great transparency (should) have optimal clarit, low distortion and sound free of significant peaks or unwanted resonances. Headphones with great resolution (should) have superb detail retrieval, ability to render even subtle information in music. As mentioned in PRaT section HE-400i have appreciably fast transient response which helps a lot in deciphering subtle details. Together with impressively low distortion across the whole frequency spectrum (see THD graph on http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/HiFiMANHE4002014.pdf) and generally smooth and cohesive „planar“ sound, we get, in my opinion, a headphone with a high grade overall transparency/resolution. However some headphones may have more accentuated or extended treble, which may lead to a sense of more detailed sound. Some listeners may prefer this and it´s usually a desirable quality for some genres like e.g. classical. Some headphones may have better bass extension (HE-560, LCD-2, LCD-X) with similar or better transient speed and that also leads into more detailed or textured presentation in bass/ sub-bass. On the other hand HE-400i, also maybe due to its warm/neutral sound signature, does not feel overly analytical. It does not present music like „all details are in your face“ but chooses more musical approach – it tries to present music as a whole, while keeping more than sufficient clarity. At least for me. 9/10. As a result we hear more detail and the overall sound is more clear and luminous but although this is not a bright or overly sharp headphone some users may find it fatiguing at the end. The HE400i proved to be a very capable performer for all kinds of music with great precision and transparency although with a rather ethereal and delicate sound to it. I PERSONALLY don’t think these cans are my thing. I was expecting a slightly warmer sound. I know planars can do it. But it seems this headphone was much more analytical for me anyways.

HIFIMAN HE400i Over Ear Full-Size Plannar Magnetic Headphone HIFIMAN HE400i Over Ear Full-Size Plannar Magnetic Headphone

With the new headband, the HE-400i 2020 looks more like a normal and modern headphone. I’m actually a big fan of the “old” headband design of the HE-400i, HE-560 and the HE-1K series, but I have to admit that this new one looks good and feels comfortable. I’s also very easy to adjust. Starting with the bass, the new release by Hifiman impresses from the first notes. Low frequencies are fast, accurate, full-bodied and refined. Performance up to the mids is identical with a slight boost for the Deva making for a fuller and warmer sound. The HE400se to me has a more neutral tuning with a good energy level, even more so than the HE400i 2020. Overall the balance to me is pretty good. Where the delivery of the music in the HE400i 2020 is softer and warmer, it with the HE400se is more to the point, energetic and focused. The 400i 2020 sounds more spacious and airy but it at the same time is less clear and clean sounding. The HE400se to me sounds more spot on, focused, tight. Both headphones have a musical delivery, but the i 2020 is warmer and smoother where the 400se is more energetic and rhythmic.

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These are really comfortable for hours at a time, both in ergonomics and sound. Bass goes deep, Mids are nice and Highs are sweet.

HIFIMAN HE400i 2020 Version Full-Size Over-Ear Planar HIFIMAN HE400i 2020 Version Full-Size Over-Ear Planar

The mids have that same touch of softness the bass has. Compared to the 400i 2020 version, the mids are also lighter in body and sound less warm. In exchange you get enhanced clarity and a very clean sound. The mids here are a bit less airy and spacious as with the previous model, and the note extension isn’t as elaborate. What you do get is great vocals, excellent clarity and a higher energy level. Where the 400i 2020 version’s mids were more edgy (with the upper part and the vocals), they in the se version are more balanced and linear. This review was prompted by a member suggesting that the Hifiman HE400i can present that interesting spatial quality that the Sennheiser HD800S. Alas, that is not the case. Maybe there is a hint of that but not more. The frequency response of HE400i shows more bass response which is good but also less energy in the important 1 to 3 kHz region. EQ therefore is mandatory to restore proper balance, resolution, deep bass and detail. Once there, this is a new headphone, producing a very enjoyable experience. Not all units of the same products are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. I will give the HE400i a pass without equalization. With EQ, I am happy to give the Hifiman HE400i a recommendation.Build quality, like with the HE-560 is excellent. After what happened to the HE-560’s recall, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the HE-400i but the unit I received was flawless. Well, I did only get it a few months after the launch, that probably helped as well. Never the less, I much prefer this new – smoky grey – color scheme over the weird blue the old HE-400 had. It just looks better and higher end. The box it came in is one of the prettiest I have seen from a headphone company. And I have seen a lot. (see pics) So if you’re thinking of getting these for portable use with a phone, like I was, you can say bye-bye to that. (unless of course you have a warm sounding amp/dac in your phone e.g the nexus 6p?). Regarding the soundstage of HE-400i, there has been written certain criticism here and there on the internet. This criticism I can understand but can not fully agree with. I will admit that the soundstage is not the strongest point of HE-400i sound presentation but I can´t agree that it is any small, average or even claustrophobic. If that would be the case, then you simply could not have such an amazing instrument separation, which is somehow presented in HE-400i sound. Maybe part of this criticism came from comparing HE-400i with HE-400, in which HE-400i, perhaps, came up short. I haven´t heard HE-400 so I could not compare both headphones but I could compare HE-400i thoroughly with DT 990 and at least briefly with other premier cans. And I came to a conclusion that the soundstage on HE-400i is, as a whole, realistic and reasonably big. From my point of view, the soundstage width really is not exceptional, it is about on par with DT 990, but in height and especially depth HE-400i has significant edge over DT 990. This results into more 3D sound in relation to DT 990. From the brief comparison with HE-560 I did not feel that the more expensive headphone had here such a big upper hand. I might be wrong though, because as mentioned, my time with (A-B ing) both headphones was limited. From my memory Oppo PM1 also did not seem to have much advantage here over HE-400i (and if at all, then probably in depth). Only when I heard cans like HD 800 or LCD-X it became obvious that there was substantial difference in soundstage expansiveness. However, what I like on HE-400i soundstage is that it comes natural and realistic: compressed mp3s with low dynamic range will truly sound narrower in width and generally flatter, high quality recordings (e.g. 24 bit/192 kHz FLACs or SACD files) with a decent dynamic range will sound a lot more 3D. Or, to put it in a different way, when the song is recorded with an expansive soundstage, HE-400i will clearly show it, without breaking a sweat. Bottom line: HD 800 is getting 10/10 here, HE-400i is getting 8/10 here, DT 990 is getting 7/10 here. The Hifiman HE400i 2020 version is fuller and more heavy sounding with more body from top to bottom. It is also more spacious and airy sounding, and has the better extension in the width as well as in note extension. The 400i 2020 compared to the se version sounds warmer, smoother. The se-version is lighter, more realistic and it sounds a lot more clear and clean. Its tuning is more neutral than that of the warmer HE400i 2020. Bass in the 400i 2020 is much bigger and the mids are weightier but you do get better extension and decay of the notes, with a wider sound stage. Treble is both headphones is easy and soft on the ears, nothing really spectacular to report here. I have enclosed the graph for the original version. There is some difference around 2 kHz with the response a bit higher. Whether that is measurement error or variations between units, is hard to say. Not sure why the bass steps down. I messed with it a ton but that step would not go away. The rest of the graph is very noisy unlike any other headphone I have measured. It is even worse than the original. I think these are indication of resonances throughout the response.

HiFiMan HE-400i review: High-end audiophile headphones for a

Bass quality on the HE-400i is better. The 400’s bass was more basic and had more body while the 400i’s bass is more detailed and layered: a better quality bass. Treble wise the 400 might be a little further extended but the 400i’s treble is more textured and detailed than before. The sharp side has been filed of. The construction of HE-400i feels rather solid, but the headphone is quite flexible in a positive way, as you can easily adjust the position of these cans on your head. After you place them on your head they stay firm and stable. New headband and Focus Pads are in my opinion also contributing to a better overall comfort. Some users have reported certain unpleasentness from the clamp pressure but I personally find it fairly comfortable. I´m a fan of FocusPads too, they are soft and pleasant to wear as your ears don´t get hot. Biggest impact in comfort department (in relation to the older Hifimans or other planars) was obviously achieved by weight reduction. HE-400i, being at 13,05 ounces or 370 grams, is substantially lighter than the older Hifimans (HE-500, HE-400, HE-6) or Audeze LCD- series. This contributes (and in a big way) to a very good overall comfort of HE-400i, which is miles ahead against LCD-2, about on par with Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro and a bit worse than on Sennheiser HD 800 (probably the most comfortable headphones I´ve ever worn) As far as other ergonomics goes I did not find anything particularly bothering, besides of the cable connectors which are not the easiest to screw and the length of the cable, which might be a tad short ( only 5 feet or 1,5 meter long, but of a very good quality) for a comfortable home listening - especially if you are using HE-400i with your main audio rig.For this price the HE-400i 2020 comes in a nice but simple box. The HE-400i is presented in a cut-out foam base, covered with silkish-velvet. It’s simple but nice. The 1.5m (4.9ft) 3.5mm terminated headphone cable can be stored in the middle of the box. The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve with a fixed complexity. Disclaimer: Hifiman sent us the HE-400i 2020 free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t have to be returned as far as I know. Treble on HE-400i is reasonably extended with a gentle spike around 9-10 kHz, which for me provides just the right amount of sparkle. There is less treble energy on HE-400i than on HE-560 or DT 990 but a bit more than on LCD-2 or Oppo PM 1. Cymbals, percussions, organ or string instruments like violin sound detailed and clear. There is no exaggerated focus on treble (like on DT 990) which may result into analytical tonality and fatiguing sound. Some headphones somewhat artificially boost treble which can give a listener sense of ultra detailness but usually such headphones (like DT 990) have V-shaped sound and that is not my preference. On the other hand HE-400i doesn´t sound artificial in treble but quite natural, sufficiently detailed and smooth. Treble is well integrated with other parts into frequency spectrum and contributes to the balanced tonality of HE-400i. OK, there are headphones which have slightly more detailed and still perfectly natural treble, namely HD 800 and HE-6 (these two headphones have the best treble I´ve heard so far), but on the other hand HE-400i offers (at least for me) sufficient treble oomph without harshness or sibilance. Sibilance or treble harshness/hardiness may occur very very rarely and only on pretty bad recordings ( usually badly mixed, highly compressed remasters in mp3 format) On decent recordings, even on compressed, modern date music with poorer dynamic range, there is virtually no sibilance or excessive glare. I am sorry for a comparison to speakers, but my Dynaudio Focus 110A (1800 € expensive) are in no way so forgiving of poor recordings while Hifiman HE-400i is in that regard much more listener-friendly audio product. What already sounds harsh or overly bright on my speakers is still perfectly listenable on HE-400i. Among headphones HE-400i is more forgiving of bad recordings than DT 990, HE-560, HD 800 or HE-6. In my opinion it even rivals LCD-2 (fazored) and is only slightly inferior to Oppo PM1 in this regard. This is also one of the reasons why HE-400i has non-fatiguing sound and why I am giving such a high grade also in this section – 9/10. According to Hifiman, the HE400SE offers outstanding audio at a very affordable price. Superior sound and realistic spatial separation bring out the best in any source. Let’s find out if that makes sense.

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